It's hard to believe, but a full year has passed since OSA launched Optics Express. From the start, we had several aims: 1). to be recognized as a peer-reviewed optics journal at the level of quality associated with the OSA, 2). to publish the best in optics science and technology with minimal delay to authors, 3). to provide convenient means through the Web for publishing material with video and audio-video and other multimedia components, and 4). to allow a world-wide readership immediate access to the results of new research in optics. Now we can give an assessment of where we are, and say where we plan to go in the future.
© Optical Society of America
It’s hard to believe, but a full year has passed since OSA launched Optics Express. From the start, we had several aims:
- to be recognized as a peer-reviewed optics journal at the level of quality associated with the OSA,
- to publish the best in optics science and technology with minimal delay to authors,
- to provide convenient means through the Web for publishing material with video and audio-video and other multimedia components, and
- to allow a world-wide readership immediate access to the results of new research in optics.
Now we can give an assessment of where we are, and say where we plan to go in the future.
From the perspective of our users, both authors and readers, we believe Optics Express can be called a noteworthy success. Twenty-seven issues - over 1100 pages - have been published. More than one out every four articles contained multimedia features (video or video and audio) and many more took advantage of the opportunity to include color images freely. It’s becoming rare to see a plain black and white illustration. From the wider perspective of the entire science community, we are clearly regarded as setting a standard. We have been flattered to be taken as the model for several new all-electronic journals in planning or recently in operation.
Approximately 1600 individuals in 48 countries have requested a free subscription to our Table of Contents notification service. More anecdotally, we hear from some of our authors and reviewers that while their students were originally hesitant to submit to Optics Express because it was new and untested, they are now demanding to use it for publication of their work.
A major step in any journal’s growth is its inclusion in citation collections. This is a factor in any author’s submission decision. We’re extremely pleased that Optics Express will be included in the well-known Science Citation Index published by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI). This will begin this summer, a record short time for any journal, and will include all 1998 articles. From the start, articles from Optics Express have been linked to other articles in Optics Express, allowing direct on-terminal parallel reading and comparison. We look forward to providing this service in conjunction with other journals as they acquire our networking capabilities.
The world at large has also been noticing Optics Express. For example, articles have appeared in issues of the Chronicle of Higher Education and The Economist. Both articles noted the innovative approach taken to journal finances. There are real costs that have to be met, and our approach places main responsibility on authors. OSA expects in the long run to balance its books with income primarily from fees modeled on page charges. This allows open access via the Internet, without further fees or registrations or account numbers, for readers all over the world.
One financial milestone has already been reached. OSA has received its first royalty check from the Copyright Clearance Center for Optics Express articles that were downloaded by institutional users. The amount was small but it was a step in the right direction, and amounts collected in this way will help hold down authors’ fees.
The PDF publication format pioneered by Optics Express is quickly becoming the international standard in physical science. The American Physical Society, the European Physical Journal, and the Acoustical Society of America have either already started, or have outlined plans for starting, new journals that follow our lead, and still another start-up is expected from the Institute of Physics Publishing. There is also talk of forming an informal coalition to further develop this model and improve its ability to serve the scientific community.
On the editorial side, Optics Express has benefited from the efforts of a superb group of dedicated Associate Editors, whose names you will find every issue in the masthead. We want also to mention by name a few members of the OSA staff who contributed nobly and notably to the journal’s start-up and to its present good shape - Frank Harris, Peter Lombardo, Jennifer Martin, Chris Mayfield, Terry Dowdy, and especially Deborah Herrin. Together with the authors, reviewers and Associate Editors, they have all tolerated a sequence of malfunctions and upgrades that would sound familiar to anyone who has ever been in the position of relying on new combinations of software and hardware to get a complicated job done.
What does the future hold for Optics Express? The only thing certain about the future, as we all know, is that it is difficult to predict. However, it is fairly easy to project continuing improvement and continued acceptance by the optics community. Multimedia options are being increased and expanded. More standardized author tools are being worked on, and we expect that our record of average rapid response and publication can be maintained. We believe that Optics Express now provides the promptest route to publication, including a pair of peer reviews, that is available in the physical sciences.
Ultimately of course, it is the community of readers and authors in optics who determine the rate of success of a venture such as Optics Express. So far, we are quite encouraged by your response.