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Instructions for Authors and a Fresh New Look

Twa, Michael D.

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000001122

Beginning this month, Optometry and Vision Science will transition to a new style. Along with this new look, there are revisions to the Instructions for Authors that will continue to move the journal toward current standards in scientific publishing. For those who have followed my previous editorials, you will see these changes are consistent with earlier themes of transparency and reporting standards. Authors who have published in the journal over the past year will be familiar with most of these new requirements. I will highlight a few of the more notable changes here.

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In the past, Optometry and Vision Science had a structured abstract (Purpose, Methods, Results, Conclusions) with a 300-word limit. The abstract will now include an additional section, a statement of significance. This new statement will be limited to 50 words, leaving the remaining 250 words for the other sections. One question that has come up is the distinction between the Purpose and the Significance sections. The Purpose section should convey the rationale for the study and any hypothesis that may be the focus of the study. The Significance section should succinctly state what makes your research novel, interesting, and worthy of publication. The Significance statement must be clear and state why this work should be of interest to the broad journal audience of clinicians and researchers. Authors should not try to submit a shortened version of the abstract.

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Case reports will have several new standards and in general will be shorter and more focused on providing clinical illustrations of evidence-based practice and clinical insights. The rarity of a clinical entity will not be sufficient to justify publication. Case reports can be the source for new thinking and observations that stimulate future clinical or laboratory studies. Case reports and case series are brief, insightful discussions that highlight clinical findings, disease pathophysiology and classifications, diagnostic logic or dilemmas, strengths and weaknesses of clinical technologies, treatments, or complications of interventions that would be of interest to the broader community of providers, policy makers, clinicians, and basic researchers. While novelty is a consideration, significance is the priority and must be clearly stated in the abstract and throughout the manuscript. The case(s) should be well documented with the length of follow-up adequate to support the stated conclusions. There should not be an exhaustive discussion of insignificant or unrelated examination findings, clinical testing, or differential diagnoses.

Priority is given to cases that illustrate applications of evidence-based practice (e.g., clinical implications of new systemic hypertension management protocols), critical thinking, novel mechanistic reasoning, or those that have importance to public health or health policy implications (e.g., the effect of second eye cataract surgeries on binocular visual function). Clinical case reports could focus on efficacy of treatments, implementation or demonstration of clinical trial results, illustrations of diagnostic precision, or prognosis. Case reports may also be a suitable format to illustrate the health consequences of social, economic, and political factors that influence individual health status. See the revised instructions for authors for additional details and guidance.

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All contributors designated as authors must meet specific qualifications. Likewise, all who qualify as authors should be included as authors. Individuals who contributed substantially to the funding, design, and conduct of the study but not to the writing of the article should be listed in the acknowledgments. Each author must meet all of following criteria:

* Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; and

* Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and

* Final approval of the version to be published; and

* Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

The journal’s submission process now requires that the corresponding author identify the contributions of each of the authors, and these contributions are now acknowledged in the published article just before the references.

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References will now be formatted differently. A revised Endnote style file is available for download from the journal submission Web site:

Below are examples of new format for citing journal articles. Note that articles with 4 or fewer authors will list all authors. Those with more than 4 authors will list the first 3, followed by “, et al.” Another notable change is the use of title case capitalization rather than sentence case (used previously).

Quandt SA, Schulz MR, Chen H, Arcury TA. Visual Acuity and Self-reported Visual Function among Migrant Farmworkers. Optom Vis Sci 2016;93:1189–95.

King BJ, Sapoznik KA, Elsner AE, et al. SD-OCT and Adaptive Optics Imaging of Outer Retinal Tubulation. Optom Vis Sci 2017;94:411–22.

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Tests of statistical significance generally provide little useful information beyond what can be learned by looking at the distributions of the data. It is far more informative to know estimates of central tendency (e.g., the mean or median) and the variability of observations (e.g., the 95% confidence interval). Tests of statistical significance can fail to show significance because of small sample sizes or variable measures (or both). However, the reason for the lack of significance is lost when only the P value is reported. Conversely, large samples can elevate clinically meaningless results to something that is statistically significant. The preferred way to report data is to show the distribution of individual observations in a figure and allow readers to see the actual distributions of the data. Additional guidance on the journal’s expectations can be found in the May 2016 editorial: Twa MD. Transparency in Biomedical Research: An Argument Against Tests of Statistical Significance. Optom Vis Sci 2016;93:457–8. This article is available at

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Confidence intervals are the preferred way to report outcome measures and should be combined with a description of the central tendency (e.g., the mean or median). Confidence intervals indicate the precision of the estimated population parameter given the study sample characteristics. The 95% confidence interval is most commonly used, and overlapping confidence intervals indicate no statistically significant difference. When readers are provided with confidence intervals for observed differences between two groups, and the confidence interval of that difference does not contain 0, it is clear that there is a statistically significant difference between the groups.

It is acceptable to abbreviate confidence interval as CI in the context of reporting statistical parameters. However, to avoid possible confusion, authors should not use the common clinical abbreviation CI to indicate convergence insufficiency. Report confidence intervals as follows:

With positive, the em dash can be used to separate the limits of the interval, for example, “(95% CI: 4.25–9.75).”

When values reported span above and below 0, report the limits of the interval separated by to and include + and − symbols, for example, “(95% CI: −12.25 to +3.00).”

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When writing for Optometry and Vision Science, most abbreviations are unnecessary and will not be permitted; standard English is always preferred. Names of companies (IBM, CIBA, etc.), products (MATLAB, MNREAD acuity chart, etc.), or units of measure (e.g., LogMAR, mm, mmHg, mg/ml, C, kg, etc.) may be used as necessary. Jargon, acronyms, and nonstandard abbreviations are a barrier to clearly communicating your ideas and discoveries. Moreover, archival scientific publications will persist beyond the life of the authors and current expressions in the field. Articles published in Optometry and Vision Science must also be accessible to readers from a wide range of other scientific disciplines beyond vision science (some that may not even currently exist). For these reasons, the body text of the manuscript usually should not contain any abbreviations or acronyms. Careful consideration should be given to any abbreviations or acronyms thought to be standard terms that are widely accepted in the field, for example, HIV, IOP, MRI, ANOVA, AMD, and so on.

Almost all clinical abbreviations are nonstandard and therefore unsuitable for an archival publication. Examples of clinical abbreviations that are not permitted include OD, OS, OU, CI, CSF, PAL, PROSE, BF, BFS, BSCVA, VA, CL, CYL, VT, SPH, CF, BRAO, BRVO, ERM, ERG, SLE, IXT, and so on. Abbreviations and practices vary widely between clinics and across the globe. Vision science encompasses a wide range of scientific disciplines from genetics to epidemiology and from optics to engineering and computer science. It is common that readers outside clinical disciplines or vision science may use the same abbreviations to mean different things, for example, CI for confidence interval or convergence insufficiency. The use of abbreviations and acronyms is therefore strongly discouraged and rarely permitted.

Limited use is permitted in the abstract, figure legends, and tables, provided they are necessary and explicitly declared where they are used. If used at all, they must be declared separately in each element, for example, the abstract, each figure legend, and each table so that every element can be fully understood independently from the remainder of the manuscript.

The revised instructions for authors provide additional information and recommendations on reporting quantitative results, precision and significant digits, formatting P values, figure legends, graphical standards, and much more. The new standards are posted along with a table of contents and links to help provide an easy way to navigate and search the document.

We hope you find the new look appealing and easy to read and the new instructions for authors helpful.

Michael D. Twa

Editor in Chief

Birmingham, AL

© 2017 American Academy of Optometry