Abstract / Description of output
Objective: To critically evaluate the outcome of the peer review process of the European Surgical Association (ESA) and its contribution to Annals of Surgery.
Background: The ESA was created in 1993 as an equivalent of the well-established American Surgical Association. Submitted abstracts and manuscripts were subjected to a stringent multistep peer review process to offer only the best studies for publication in the special issue of Annals of Surgery. A critical evaluation was felt necessary to identify factors that favored the acceptance of abstracts and manuscripts, respectively. The citations of the manuscripts published in Annals of Surgery and the outcome of the rejected studies were also researched.
Methods: All submissions to the ESA between 2002 and 2007 were analyzed and followed over a period of 2 years. A database was established to identify factors favoring acceptance. A comprehensive search was undertaken to identify plagiarisms and the 2-year citations of all accepted manuscripts and later publications of the rejected studies in Annals of Surgery or elsewhere.
Results: Altogether, 545 abstracts were submitted to the ESA during the study period. About one-third was accepted for presentation at the annual meeting, and, of those, 40% were published in Annals of Surgery. The majority of these studies originated from 4 European Countries. The only independent factors favoring presentation were randomized controlled trials and a sample size of more than 100 patients. All plagiarisms were identified before acceptance. Only 4% and 2% of the rejected abstracts and manuscripts, respectively, were published in higher impact factor journals than in Annals of Surgery. Twelve percent of the rejected manuscripts were eventually published in a later issue of Annals of Surgery, whereas more than two-thirds of the rejected studies appeared in a journal with a lower impact factor. The 2-year citations of the ESA manuscripts were in the range of all the other types of manuscripts published in Annals of Surgery. Only manuscripts originating from the American Surgical Association had slightly higher citations.
Conclusions: The ESA successfully spent its early years, providing high-quality manuscripts to Annals of Surgery. Only few rejected manuscripts reached higher-ranked journals. The focus should now turn toward stimulating other European countries to submit their best studies and attract more well-designed randomized controlled trials.