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Helen Carter
Journalist

Clinical and Experimental Optometry, Optometry Australia’s award-winning journal, will continue publishing quality ophthalmic papers online in 2016.

The journal ceases print publication with the final hard copy edition, a special issue on Myopia Control, published in November 2015.

It has grown from a small journal of news and commentary when first published in 1919 to an internationally respected scientific journal that attracts nearly 200,000 downloads of papers per year and makes an important contribution to the continuing professional development of members.

The journal was originally called the Commonwealth Optometrist and has changed names and formats several times.

In 1929 the journal changed its name to the Australasian Journal of Optometry and in 1959 it was renamed the Australian Journal of Optometry, excluding New Zealand.

The founding editor William Kett wrote many of the papers in the journal. Although much of the journal’s content was republished from other sources, it encouraged discussion and pursuit of knowledge.

Kett remained editor for 42 years until his death in 1962 and was succeeded by Lloyd Hewett, after whom the journal’s J Lloyd Hewett Award is named. Hewett edited the journal for the next 17 years.

When Australian Optometry was launched as a newspaper in February 1980, the journal became a purely scientific, peer-reviewed publication. Editorship moved from practitioners to academics who developed a strong research component. In 1986 the journal was renamed Clinical and Experimental Optometry.

The current editor Emeritus Professor Barry Collin became editor in 1994 and is the journal’s second-longest serving editor, having served 21 years.

Professor Collin carefully guided the journal’s growth in the quality and quantity of papers, and under his direction it became a recognised international research journal.

‘When I started, we didn’t have many papers and I was frequently calling people and asking them to write something. If we were short, I would occasionally go home and write a paper over the weekend,’ he said.

‘I still edit every paper and push for good expression and proper grammar. We have a high rejection rate, more than 90 per cent of submitted papers, because we set a high standard and papers have to be of potential interest to our readers.’

Original papers and reviews are contributed from authors worldwide and in 2015 a record 291 referees from 27 countries reviewed the manuscripts.

Professor Collin said the biggest change had been the internet, which had streamlined the process, enabling faster distribution and return of papers.

An editorial board, associate editors and an executive committee were appointed in 2000, with Professor Barry Cole, who has now retired from the position, as chairman.

‘Together we tried to raise the standard and encourage people to write more and better papers,’ Professor Collin said.

‘The journal is well regarded among journals in the fields of optometry and ophthalmology but we are not at the top because in contrast to most other journals, we have two audiences: optometrists and vision scientists. We have a mix of research and reviews that attract citations, and clinical case reports that do not have citations but are of interest to practitioners.’

In 2002 the journal became cited and indexed in Index Medicus and MEDLINE, and in 2008 it was granted an ‘impact factor’ giving it status as a peer-reviewed journal of scholarly substance.

In 2001, New Zealand optometrists adopted Clinical and Experimental Optometry as their official journal, becoming partners with the aim of producing an even better journal. ‘This was our first step towards globalisation of our journal,’ Professor Collin said.

In 2002, The Hong Kong Society of Professional Optometrists adopted the journal as its official journal, with all members receiving copies. ‘This was a further step in consolidating our journal in the Asian Pacific region,’ he said.

The optometry association in Singapore followed in 2012, lifting again the journal’s standing.

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