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March 21, 2019

JAMA Ophthalmology—The Year in Review, 2018: Embrace the Change, Maintain the Core

Author Affiliations
  • 1Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2Editor, JAMA Ophthalmology
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019;137(5):481-482. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2019.0160

There have been more changes to some parts of JAMA Ophthalmology in the last 5 years than perhaps any other period in the journal’s history. The journal reaches its sesquicentennial year in 2019, celebrating the 150th anniversary of what began as the Archives of Ophthalmology and Otology in 1869. It’s not just that the impact factor has grown 76% from 3.8 in 2012 to 6.7 in 2017—although that’s an important quality index measure—nor is it that the number of manuscripts received per year has climbed 63% from 939 to 1529 during the same period. It’s not even that the percentage of women on the Editorial Board has grown from 34% to 50% in 5 years, although that’s an important step toward greater diversity in leadership. Some of these and other statistics for 2018, including the top articles covered in news and social media and cited by other journals,1-6 can be seen in the Table.

Table.  JAMA Ophthalmology Statistics for 2018
JAMA Ophthalmology Statistics for 2018

These changes revolve around the digital conversion of the journal, completed in 2014 and continuing to expand. While paid subscribers and those with institutional licenses have complete access to all published content in the journal, all 30 000 recipients of the electronic tables of contents can directly and freely access all content on the day of publication from anywhere in the world. In 2018, there were almost 3 million article views and downloads from the JAMA Ophthalmology website. While you read this editorial over the next 5 minutes, approximately 28 articles will be viewed and downloaded from JAMA Ophthalmology around the world; this article readership will continue at that rate or higher every 5 minutes over the next year. While reading these articles, physicians claimed 4424 category 1 CME credits, a 306% increase from the 1090 credits claimed in 2013. Some readers may resist the changes that accompany this digital conversion of the journal. They may prefer the print version as one of our 11 979 print circulation readers. However, print circulation is not the same measure of a peer-reviewed journal’s success as it once was. During 2018, the highly regarded sister journal JAMA Internal Medicine had nearly 9 million article views and downloads and an impact factor of 20, but also has a print circulation of only about 7000.

Nevertheless, the digital version of articles may be easier to read on a tablet or desktop where a split-screen presentation allows one to read the text on the left side of the screen while simultaneously viewing the relevant figures, tables, references, or supplemental content on the right side of the screen (Figure). For more than 50 years, research articles have featured an abstract (currently 350 words) immediately following the title. Since 2016, Key Points (100 words describing the question, findings, and meaning of the study) now follow the title and appear before the abstract. In this fast-paced world of social media, sound bites, and instant messages, readers want this Key Point distillation of research articles. They then may choose to pursue more information from the abstract and dive deeper into the article for methods, tables, figures, text, and online supplemental material that subsequently provide the scientific methods and details to support interpretations and conclusions. In addition, invited commentaries and editorials on research manuscripts, another added value desired by journal readers, have risen from 29 in 2012 to 67 in 2018, a 131% increase.

Figure.  Split-screen View of JAMA Ophthalmology
Split-screen View of JAMA Ophthalmology

The split-screen view of the JAMA Ophthalmology website at https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology allows articles to be viewed on tablets, desktops, or large-screen phones so that the text can be viewed side by side with figures, tables, references, or supplemental material.

While the journal leadership, and hopefully most readers and authors, embrace these changes, the editors are committed to embrace these changes and steadfastly meet the mission and core values of the journal. The journal’s mission statement is to be the indispensable source of ophthalmic knowledge by promptly publishing innovative, clinically relevant research through consistent and authoritative peer review and, thereby, to be the first choice of authors for their important manuscripts. The core values support the editors in their quest to provide high-quality peer-reviewed research of unquestionable scientific integrity, sensitive to patient and research participant rights, and published in an ethical and scholarly way. Thus, the modern-day social media posts, Key Point summaries, and multimedia content still must adhere to the journal’s core values, so that authors and readers can be reassured that the material published in JAMA Ophthalmology remains the indispensable source of ophthalmic knowledge. What also has not changed during this digital conversion is the need for and dedication of peer reviewers,7 whose insight and advice to the editors contributes to the imprimatur of the journal. The past year was no exception, and the editors once again publicly thank all of the journal reviewers for their vital contribution to this cause, including the rapid, authoritative consultations and reviews of the Editorial Board and Advisory Committee.

While the last 5 years have seen extensive changes to the journal, there are more innovations to come, including visual abstracts, easier connections to relevant publications in other JAMA Network journals (for example, articles on retinopathy of prematurity in JAMA Pediatrics or on optic nerve disease imaged through optical coherence tomography in JAMA Neurology), and a greater use of multimedia materials. Stay tuned for the next 5 years.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Neil M. Bressler, MD, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Maumenee 752, Johns Hopkins Hospital, 600 N Wolfe St, Baltimore, MD 21287 (nmboffice@jhmi.edu).

Published Online: March 21, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2019.0160

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Bressler reports receiving personal fees from the American Medical Association. No other disclosures are reported.

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