Editor-in-Chief Ron Driggers summarizes the current state of Applied Optics and its plans for 2020.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

Happy 2020! This year so far has been a rollercoaster with all-time high stock market performance in the United States and now, as I write this editorial, a huge series of losses coupled to the spreading of the corona virus. In fact, at the University of Central Florida, we have sent students home for two weeks and are preparing to provide distance learning to minimize interactions and maximize social distancing. We will get through this as we always do and will take on any other challenges that need our attention, innovation, and action. We, as scientists and engineers, are always eager to do our part in providing important support in the way of solutions directly or indirectly.

I know I am late this year in providing an overview of the health of Applied Optics. However, overall, the state of the journal is good and it is improving. We continue to attract strong numbers of submissions, up 12% in 2019 over 2018. The number of published papers had held relatively constant over the previous four years at between 1,500 and 1,600 publications; however, this past year the number of published papers dropped below 1,450. We have been keeping a close eye on our acceptance rates since we do not want to become too selective and discourage authors from submitting to Applied Optics. It is our mission to serve the applied optical community while keeping a high quality standard. It is worth mentioning that the number of papers we receive from Asia continues to grow, comprising 71% of submissions and 63% of the published papers in the journal. Our Topical Editors have noticed that the quality of the papers submitted from this region continues to improve significantly. We have embraced the activity from Asia and have recruited new Topical Editors from the region in order to have an editorial board that better represents our author pool.

Our time to publication is an important metric for myself as well as our division and topical editors and journal staff. In 2019, our average time to publication was 91 days, which matched our lowest prior record. This is the time required to accept a manuscript, quality check, assign reviewers, provide a decision, obtain revisions, and complete the production process. Time to publication has dropped for many years and we are now in a stride that allows authors to be published in an extremely short period of time.

One initiative that I would like to highlight here is the change to a more practical emphasis on Engineering and Laboratory Notes (E&L Notes). E&L Notes now accepts papers that provide engineering tips, analysis, and laboratory measurements that are extremely useful to other scientists and engineers. We are making an effort to better differentiate them from research articles, instead providing useful notes that help scientists and engineers in their daily work; therefore, the requirement of originality is relaxed. The submission must still be significant (i.e., useful to the practicing scientist or engineer). Dr. David Haefner of the U.S. Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate is leading a team that will provide an emphasis on evaluating the usefulness of submissions. It might be that citations are not the metric to evaluate these papers, but we do hope that E&L Notes are downloaded and heavily read.

I am also proud of our ambitious schedule of feature issues. In 2019 Applied Optics published seven feature issues including two institutional focus issues (CREOL and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev). Our journal supports OSA Conferences with several feature issues each year. In 2019 we published expanded conference papers from Digital Holography and 3-D Imaging; Computational Optical Sensing and Imaging; Laser Applications to Chemical, Security and Environmental Analysis; and Light, Energy and the Environment. Check our Feature Issues listing regularly for newly posted calls for papers and status updates. There are eight in progress for 2020! Thank you to all of our guest editors for your efforts to organize successful feature issues.

Finally, I would like to thank our outgoing Editorial Board Members for 2019: Melissa Beason, Jean-Emmanuel Broquin, Alejandro Cornejo-Rodriguez, Jesse Frantz, Manuel Martínez-Corral, Brian Monacelli, Prasanna Pavani, Oliver Reitebuch, Ingve Simonsen, Guohai Situ, Anna Sytchkova, Lei Tian, Peter Tsang, and Libo Yuan. Your service and contributions to the community have been outstanding. I hope all of you stay safe and healthy. Please practice good social distancing and let’s treat all of our colleagues with care and support. Have a great 2020!

Ron Driggers
Editor-in-Chief, Applied Optics

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