Tenor (noun)—(1) course of thought or meaning that runs through something written or spoken; (2) continuous course, progress, or movement.

The title of this editorial conveys best my plans for Applied Optics after shepherding the journal through its review and its golden anniversary. My plans are an evolution, a slight change, and a clarification of what Applied Optics has done so well for 50 years. My plans are not a rebranding or an alteration in the journal’s identity. Tenor connotes the essence of a message. Tenor indicates continuity yet, at the same time, progression.

The description of articles appropriate for publication in Applied Optics reveals best the tenor of the journal:

Applied Optics publishes peer-reviewed articles related to applications-centered research in optics, photonics, imaging, and sensing. Articles should concentrate on moving the potential of science and technology to the practical. Articles introduce new science or technology in an optics discipline in the form of increased understanding or a novel application of an existing topic. Articles are in-depth and should include the development and performance of technologies when applying theories.

In-depth for Applied Optics means the authors provide sufficient background to convey context, provide sufficient detail so that others can reproduce the results, and provide sufficient explanation so that the significance of the work is clear.

In OSA’s new article tracking systems, Prism, this statement appears prior to manuscript submission when authors select to submit their work to Applied Optics for review. Hopefully, this will cause authors to consider if their work is well suited to Applied Optics prior to submission and review.

Authors should be aware that a large percentage of Applied Optics readers work in applied fields. For example, according to the U.S. Patent Database, over the past 10 years more patents cite Applied Optics than any other journal in the JCR Optics category. To broaden the journal’s outreach to the applied community, within the next year, Applied Optics expects to launch an online feature to address practical issues encountered by engineers and students engaged in laboratory and developmental work.

To address the in-depth nature of Applied Optics, the journal will increase the number of invited papers and solicit more review papers. As evidenced by download counts, the commemorative reviews published earlier this year have been popular with readers.

The journal will continue to use special issues to ensure its content is vibrant and relevant. I have encouraged my editors to be on the lookout for developing areas searching for a technical home. However, anyone can propose a special issue. With a proposal justifying the special issue and a copy of the call for papers, I can request approval for the topic from OSA’s Board of Editors. Please contact me with your ideas.

My hope is that highlighting and being faithful to the tenor of Applied Optics will reaffirm the journal’s role in maturing optical science into optical technology and into optical engineering.

Joseph N. Mait

June 2013

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