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Indian Journal of Ophthalmology - Promises kept, objectives met

Honavar, Santosh G

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Indian Journal of Ophthalmology: January 2020 - Volume 68 - Issue 1 - p 1-2
doi: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_2323_19
  • Open

Greetings from the editorial board of the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology (IJO). It has been 32 months since the new editorial board took over. Our dream was to make IJO bigger, brighter and better, to support and represent the soaring academic aspirations of Indian ophthalmologists and chronicle the beautifully unfolding story of growth of Indian ophthalmology; all this, in synchrony with cutting-edge technologies and global trends.[123] We had resolved to work on the quality of the scientific content; timely, objective and dispassionate review process; and transparency and punctuality in every aspect of the publication pipeline of the journal.[123]

The members of our Editorial Board have worked very hard to bring about the desired changes. At the outset, manuscript categories were redefined and standardized checklists were introduced to help the authors optimally format their manuscripts and the reviewers to be objective in their comments.[23] Based on the readers’ feedback, the mix of manuscripts was re-engineered to try and hit the sweet spot - a combination of deep expert reviews, clinically oriented original research articles, exciting "bench-to-the-bedside" translational concepts, interesting surgical techniques and well-illustrated case reports, photo essays, and ophthalmic images - all with a unique teaching point and something good and engaging for everyone.[123] The IJO cover page features a vivid, new, eye-catching image every month [Fig. 1]. IJO publication timeline was put on track - table of contents (ToC) and the soft copy of the journal are now sent out by the third week of the previous month and the print version is shipped out by the first week of every month. We are further advancing the publication schedule this year to make the ToC available by the end of the second week of the previous month and to ship the print version on the first day of each month.

Figure 1
Figure 1:
A collage of cover page images of Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, January to December 2019

New Initiatives

Special issues were designed to comprehensively cover recent advances in each subspecialty. Cataract special issue in December 2017, Retina special issue in December 2018, Pediatric Retina special issue in June 2019, and the issue dedicated to Ocular Oncology in December 2019 have brought together well-curated articles by the international authorities. Special issues on Community Ophthalmology, Refractive Surgery, Neuro-ophthalmology, Uvea, and Ocular Surface are in the pipeline. The first-ever supplement of IJO will be published in February 2020.

One of the new features is the IJO Living Legends Series. The objective of this Series is to chronicle the highly inspiring lives and times of ophthalmologists who have brought about paradigm changes in the specialty and bring their life's message succinctly to the readers.[3] We fondly hope that the young ophthalmologists may get duly inspired, imbibe some of the values that the legends stood for, get charged with their pervasive positive spirit and inexhaustible energy, and set their paths to follow the footsteps of the legends. Prof. Bruce Spivey, Prof. Bradley Straatsma, Prof. Sohan Singh Hayreh, Dr. Jerry A Shields, and Dr. Carol L Shields have been featured thus far and we are working on featuring several such inspiring legends in the months to come.

Our new section "Innovations in Ophthalmology" is designed to provide publication opportunities to young innovators and designers to showcase their prototype ideas, with the hope to draw the attention of incubators and start-up investors to nurture these ideas to commercial success. The section "Perspectives" provides insight into sociopolitical issues relevant to our professional lives. The section dedicated to consensus statements and preferred practice patterns will evolve as dedicated AIOS committees finalize such standards.

New Enthusiasm

We were able to enthuse the authors to primarily consider IJO to publish their important works of research. The total number of submissions (over the 2016 baseline) increased by 30% in 2017 and by a whopping 110% to touch 2140 in 2018. As I write this, there are already 2317 submissions in 2019 and we are likely to hit the magical number 2400 (indicating 140% growth over the baseline) as we end the year [Fig. 2]. Despite the phenomenally rising numbers, we have kept our heads cool and hands busy and have adhered to our promised timeline of the first decision in about 6 weeks - thanks to energetic Assistant Editors, supportive Section Editors, workaholic Associate Editor, and highly committed and self-motivated Reviewers. The average time from manuscript submission to a final decision (including review, revision and re-review) has been reduced from the 2016 baseline of 202 days to 96 days in 2018 and further optimized to 79 days in 2019. We have revitalized the editorial board by recruiting a few new assistant editors this year. We plan a critical review of the performance of the members of the editorial board once the 3-year term is completed in April 2020 and hope to infuse some fresh talent. Internal training of the reviewers to bring in objectivity in the peer-review process is also planned. The rising number of submissions has necessitated a larger number of articles to be published every month. To keep a balance of expenditure (mailing charges depend on the weight of the journal), we have planned to keep the issues optimally lean for 8-9 months a year and publish mega-issues three to four times a year.

Figure 2
Figure 2:
Graphical representation of number of manuscript submissions to IJO over the years

New Impact

IJO, we believe, is certainly making a positive impact on the way Indian ophthalmology is practiced. We have plenty of positive feedback about the improved quality, readability and practicality of the manuscripts. More and more members seem to eagerly wait for the new issue of the journal every month. About 50% of AIOS members access the monthly eToC within 72 h after it is released, which is quite remarkable. Apart from the print run of about 20,000 copies to reach every member of AIOS, it is the free online access that opens the window to the world. Online hits have touched an unprecedented high of 225,000 this year! You may be proud to know that IJO is among the bouquet of journals offered by the American Academy of Ophthalmology ONE network.

One of the objective assessments of a journal's academic relevance is the Impact Factor, which scaled up to 0.977 in 2019. Although we are bound by the needs of our authors and readers to include several case reports, photo essays and ophthalmic images, which increase the denominator for the calculation of the impact factor and potentially drive it down, we are working hard to further improve the Impact Factor by concentrating on the quality and uniqueness of the articles to make IJO publications more citable. We have proposed to create a dedicated channel for case reports, photo essays and ophthalmic images by initiating a sister journal - IJO Reports (which will be available only online once it matures and is indexed), while the main IJO would concentrate on original articles and reviews. This will help boost the impact factor of IJO and save cost to the society. An online-only Video Journal of Ophthalmology is in the planning stage.

AIOS leadership has been extremely supportive and it is their collective vision that Team IJO translates into action. On behalf of AIOS and Team IJO, I thank the readers for their constant support and encouragement. Finally, I urge the readers to voluntarily opt-out of hard copies to help save the trees and resources - please email [email protected] with your name and AIOS membership number indicating your desire to Go Green.

1. Honavar SG. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology - New beginning, new aspirations, new trajectory Indian J Ophthalmol. 2017;65:333–4
2. Honavar SG. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology: Right on track Indian J Ophthalmol. 2018;66:1–2
3. Honavar SG. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology - On the right path Indian J Ophthalmol. 2019;67:1–2
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