Neil SmartNeil Smart talks about his new role and past experience, and how he sees the journal's research focus developing.

What initially prompted your specific interest in coloproctology?

I worked in a fantastic unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead as a PRHO in 2001 and again as SHO in 2003. Well-functioning, well-organised, great team ethos, inspirational consultants and one in particular, Mark Mercer Jones (MMJ) – a superb mentor. It convinced me as a then aspiring neurosurgeon that colorectal surgery was the right specialty for me.

What areas are you keen to see more studies on that could feature in the Journal?

Those that focus primarily on the needs of patients, the outcomes of our surgery that are important to them. We need to get better at putting the patient at the heart of our research processes, working in collaboration with them. I’m also keen to see more collaboration between surgeons within the field of research – build bridges not walls. We need to work together for the benefit of our patients. The studies developed by ESCP on acute colitis, parastomal hernia and anastomoses are great examples of the collaborative culture that has increasingly become the norm over the past decade in Europe.

Why is it important to drive research and progress in coloproctology?

For the benefit of our patients. Better outcomes, fewer complications, and improved quality of life are the goals.

What prompted your involvement in Colorectal Disease Journal over and above the day job/s?

I started as a junior editor in 2011 – prompted by two very important mentors Ian Daniels and Nader Francis when I was a senior trainee, just after passing my FRCS exam. I wanted to see the other side of the publishing process. I was fascinated by how it works (or doesn’t if one considers some of the famous cases such as Wakefield’s Lancet paper) and how much I could learn from it – especially from my editorial mentors Najib Haboubi and John Nicholls. Once I started, I felt that I had found the right path for me.

What have been some of the most important/memorable papers to feature in the Journal?

PROSPER 2013. High quality RCT that was difficult to do, in part because of the changes in fashion, which have subsequently reversed, at least in the UK. Relatively complex methodology (2x2 factorial design), it is testament to those surgeons who collaborated together to deliver it. It has been brought into sharp focus in the UK due to the mesh controversy that has made pelvic mesh almost taboo.
Also, a very memorable moment for me was a manuscript from 2012 regarding smartphone apps from Steve O’Neill and Richard Brady highlighted the dangers of modern technology, especially the untried and untested. It highlighted to me the way the world was going. I still hadn’t foreseen the interconnectivity that we would now have in the world of coloproctology and academia due to social media.

What is the first paper you were involved in getting published in a Journal?

After a few letters and case reports, my first proper original manuscript was in DCR in 2007 with MMJ on transperineal rectocele repair – a single institution cohort looking at biological mesh to reinforce the rectovaginal septum.

What do you want to achieve as editor of Colorectal Disease Journal?

For patients, to publish research that benefits them. For readers, to publish research that helps inform their everyday practice by focusing on benefit for patients. And for authors, to deliver a high quality and fair peer review process in a timely fashion.

ESCP Affiliates