Acta Ophthalmologica– changes and development – including a change at the helm


  • Anders Heijl

Acta Ophthalmologica has now been published for 82 years, and the past decade has brought particularly dynamic change to the journal. Ten years ago the previous Chief Editor, Professor Niels Ehlers, spearheaded a significant revision of the journal's constitution, giving the five Nordic Ophthalmological Societies full control of the journal through a Board of Managing Directors. This development clearly paved the road for Acta's current role as the journal of the Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish Ophthalmological Societies. Thus, the journal I inherited as in-coming Chief Editor four years ago was well-managed, modern, and on-line, enjoyed loyal readers and authors, and was on sound ground economically.

My tenure as Chief Editor will soon end. The editorial office moves to a new country, again demonstrating Acta's role as the ophthalmic journal for all the Nordic countries.

During the years that I have served, the journal has continued to develop in positive ways. The number of manuscripts we have received has more than doubled, from 240 per year four years ago to over 600 in 2004. This increase has allowed a continuing increase in the quality of the published material. We also have been able to present more editorials and review articles. Advertisements are increasing and all major ophthalmic drug companies now advertise in almost every issue; this means a lot for the economy of the journal.

The rapid growth in manuscript submissions also stimulated us to make other changes. In 2003 Acta switched to an internet-based submission and review system using Manuscript Central as our service provider. We now have more Co-editors and Editorial Board Members with well-defined subspecialties, and a very large number of reviewers. Most manuscripts are handled by Co-editors or Associate Editors. This would have delayed the review process with the old paper-based review system, but since no time is lost in the mail any longer, Acta and our authors and readers can now benefit from the great increase of the total expertise of all editors that are involved in this new editorial system.

More large university library consortia are now subscribing to Acta, and we have also seen that Acta papers are cited more frequently internationally. The journal's impact factor doubled between 2001 and 2003, and is now 1.12. It is even more important to realise that many papers published in Acta are of high quality with solid conclusions that stand the test of time, and that they are therefore cited for a very long time. The citations half-life of Acta articles is in the best category accounted for by ISI, i.e. over 10 years. Looking at the total number of citations in ophthalmic journals, Acta has the impressive ranking as number 9 of 41 worldwide ophthalmic journals. In 2003 Acta was cited 3147 times, putting it second only to the British Journal of Ophthalmology among clinical ophthalmic journals published in Europe.

Acta has also not been hit with a reduction of the number of subscriptions, an otherwise almost universal phenomenon in the world of medical scientific publishing, and instead will now see a modest increase in circulation. The International Perimetric Society (IPS) has also elected to make Acta its membership journal. IPS is a truly international society, founded in 1974, with about 150 members around the globe. Previously, IPS published proceedings of its biannual Symposia in book format, but now has decided that they will instead submit its best contributions for publication in Acta Ophthalmologica. We also will publish IPS meeting abstracts, just as we have done for the Nordic Ophthalmological Congresses. IPS President, Dr Michael Wall, of the University of Iowa, has joined our board of coeditors, and the IPS Scientific Secretary, Dr David Henson, UK, has joined our editorial board. We welcome them, and, the IPS and its members. We are sure that their contributions will be of value for Acta, and hope that IPS members will enjoy receiving Acta Ophthalmologica. We look forward to serving more societies in the same way.

Beginning January 1 2005 Acta Ophthalmologica has a new Chief Editor, Professor Einar Stefánsson. An Editorial Office has opened in Reykjavik, which has taken over all new submissions from that same date. The Malmö office will continue to operate until 31 May, to ensure that the transition will be smooth and cause no delays in the editorial process. From my own experience I know that Professor Stefánsson has a great task in front of him, demanding and challenging but also very rewarding. He has been Chairman of the Board of the journal for the last four years, and I am sure that he is the best person for the job. I feel confident that Professor Stefánsson can and will continue to develop Acta Ophthalmologica to meet the needs of its readers and authors, and that he will further strengthen the journal.

I want to thank all those very many coworkers: the journal's Editorial Assistant, our Editorial Board Members, Co-editors and Managing Board Members for all the necessary help that they have given during my four years as Chief Editor, and I particularly want to thank the several hundred reviewers who unselfishly and unpaid have helped the journal not only to select the best material, but who have also spent hours and hours to assist our authors producing good articles for the benefit of our journal and particularly for all our readers.

Finally, I want to thank our readers for all the constructive input and positive remarks that I have received during the past four years.