The year is coming to an end and it is a fitting time to reflect on where we have been, how far we have traveled, and, most importantly, where we are heading. For Optometry and Vision Science, this year is best marked by the transition to online publication in January 2016. It will be years before we can fully appreciate the impact and sagacity of this decision, but make no mistake, the move towards online publication began more than 30 years ago with the development of powerful personal computers, emergence of the internet, and software that enables new routes for communication and information archiving. The publishing world has been forever transformed by the internet, and now mobile devices continue to drive innovations in how we read news, how we receive personal and professional alerts, and how we share our ideas, our knowledge, and our achievements. Old media has given way to new media, and press releases are now accompanied by tweets and a myriad of other social media options that help connect us to each other and the world around us in new ways. The actual content available has not changed much, but the volume has and these changes now undeniably encompass scholarly publishing too and there is no going back. Transitioning the Journal to an online-only publication is the best way to ensure its long-term survival and vitality.
Old habits die hard, and making new ones can be just as difficult. The printed journal was familiar and simple to use—you pick it up, open the page, and enjoy. I have heard from readers who nostalgically described their routines and relationship with the printed journal that involved scanning each new issue for new ideas and updates. Receiving Optometry and Vision Science now requires new behaviors and extra effort—finding a device that is comfortable and easy to use (e.g. a tablet, laptop, or phone), visiting the Journal website, and performing some sort of authentication to gain access before you can enjoy. The editorial office, our publishing staff, our society, and our society staff are aware of these challenges and working together to make access to the Journal as simple and intuitive as possible.
Although the way readers access OVS content has changed, the Journal’s core purpose and focus have not. Authors, society members, and readers should rest assured that despite this transition to online publication, our path remains aligned with our founding vision—to advance eye care and vision science by providing a global forum for ideas, discoveries, and clinical evidence. Likewise, the Journal’s content priorities also remain unchanged. In 2016, Optometry and Vision Science published 243 pieces. Fig. 1 is a word cloud constructed from the 2100 title words from these articles where more frequent words are represented by larger font sizes. Our community continues to value contact lens research, myopia, refractive error, and children’s vision. The clinical case reports continue to emphasize topics in clinical imaging, retinal diseases, and macular degeneration. I am glad to see glaucoma, tears, randomized, and clinical trial as emerging key words. The Journal will be actively pursuing opportunities to increase the number of publications related to these topics going forward.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
– R. Buckminster Fuller
Beyond publication, an increasingly valuable service that the Journal provides to our authors is distribution and notification of publication through a wide network of traditional and new media channels. Historically, less effort and investment was required to announce new publications. However, as the number of articles published continues to increase and the number of predatory journals expands,1 authors are wise to seek publishers who offer more than publishing. Making sure that our author’s work is not only published but discoverable and accessible is a high priority for Optometry and Vision Science. To that end, Optometry and Vision Science now has a Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Optometry-and-Vision-Science-Journal-284736237938/) and Twitter presence (https://twitter.com/optvissci), and we will increasingly rely on these new outlets to help ensure that our author’s good work gets the attention it deserves. In October of this year, the Journal website added links that make it easy to share articles via social media, e.g. Twitter and Facebook.
So, what will 2017 bring for Optometry and Vision Science? We will kick off the year with a much-anticipated Feature Issue titled: Eye and Vision Changes from Head Trauma. Dr. Tony Adams has helped bring this issue to life with the assistance of Lead Guest Editor, Dr. Gregory Goodrich, and an excellent supporting cast of Guest Editors. Beyond this exciting content, one visible change will be a redesign of the Journal’s graphical style. Articles will have a clean modern design with additional information on funding, author contributions, and a revised reference format. These changes are intended to improve the online reading experience. The Journal’s editorial staff and board will expand to improve our responsiveness to authors. Don Mutti and Andrew Mick, both experienced topical editors, will now serve as Associate Editors for the Journal. Their recruitment is a clear statement of priorities. Reducing the time required for peer review and time to publication after acceptance is a top priority. In 2016, the acceptance rate dropped to a new low of 31% and the editorial team will continue to set high expectations for authors to ensure that Optometry and Vision Science maintains its reputation for publishing quality science. The international reach of Optometry and Vision Science continues to expand, as do the number of international submissions. In 2016, nearly 70% of the total submissions received were from authors outside the USA. The Editorial office is developing new instructions for authors to provide more explicit guidance that is easily accessible for these new authors and for experienced authors regarding new journal policies and practices. Expect extensive revisions and new standards for clinical case reports in 2017. The Journal will also produce educational modules over the coming year to provide guidance for reviewers and topical editors. The ultimate target is to increase community engagement in scholarship—first through education and then through participation as authors and reviewers.
Finally, one of the important long-range priorities for Optometry and Vision Science is to enhance the number and quality of evidence-based clinical publications. One manifestation of this priority for 2016 was forging a collaboration with the Cochrane Eyes and Vision group. Their long-term goal is to increase the number of published systematic reviews in the vision community. To that end, they have partnered with leading journals in optometry and ophthalmology. At the annual meeting last month, Associate Topical Editor Jimmy Le contributed to an OVS workshop on Authoring Evidence-Based Publications. We look forward to moving the vision community in this important direction.
None of what we accomplish as a community of scholars would be possible without the generous contributions of our authors, reviewers, topical editors, our esteemed Editorial Board, and a talented Managing Editor. I want to publicly acknowledge their hard work and dedication to helping to define scholarship in vision science and optometry. Best wishes for a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year.
Michael D. Twa, OD, PhD
Optometry and Vision Science