A Message To Readers from AOA President Dori Carlson, O.D.

January 20, 2012

As anyone who follows media knows, there is an ongoing evolution – some would say revolution – in the way people get their news and information.  Every day, we learn of major publications that are shifting to online presences, new technologies such as e-readers that help audiences interact with publications in new ways, and social media tools that shape the media choices we make.

Seeking to keep the AOA at the forefront of those changes, and meet the needs of an evolving membership base, the AOA Board has examined our current publishing operation and decided to chart a new direction.

Beginning in February, Optometry: Journal of the AOA will be available online only.  Manuscripts now in review will be published as online, open-access articles, linked from the AOA’s main page.  The January 2012 issue will be the last one printed and mailed to our members.

Like so many changes in publishing, this one is fast-moving and based on external and internal realities.  

  • While the change is sudden, the realities of publishing costs and financial priorities have long been in place.  Over the past decade, the AOA Board has regularly reviewed the costs of producing Optometry: Journal of the AOA.  As postage and production costs continued to escalate, the calculus became less favorable.  At a time when we faced a continuing decline in the Journal’s readership and advertiser interest, this December we learned that all options for continued publishing came with dramatically increased costs. 
  • The profession will continue to have Optometry and Vision Science.  AOA Board members, including myself, have begun talks with the American Academy of Optometry to ensure professional research has a home and optometry’s expertise in vision science and health maintains its pre-eminent position in the public.  AOA will continue to highlight the profession’s scholarship and interest in evidence-based care through our Clinical Practice Guidelines, the online education tool EyeLearn, and expanded AOA News coverage of clinical issues.
  • The AOA has gained a great deal of traction in e-publishing.  AOA First Look appears daily and is read by more than 8,000 AOA members each day.  The AOA News is read online as an animated .pdf by 2,000 members; 6,700 members read the NewsfromAOA blog each month.  These channels are very cost-effective, measureable and offer an immediacy that a peer-reviewed publication cannot offer.   We plan to incorporate practice management and clinical information in the AOA News, bringing members clinically relevant information quickly and cost-effectively.

On behalf of the members of the AOA, the AOA Board and the vision care community, I want to thank Dr. Paul Freeman for his dedication, scholarship and craft in serving as the Editor of Optometry: Journal of the American Optometric Association.  In the 13 years he has served as Editor, he has distinguished himself as a forceful voice for the profession and shaped the Journal into a publication of which we have been proud.

I also want to thank the members of the Journal Review Board, who review the manuscripts and contribute to advancing the profession’s knowledge and stature, for their contributions. 

We intend to publish already-submitted articles online-only over the coming months, to honor commitments to authors already made.  It is our understanding that Elsevier will continue to host archived editions of the Journal at optometryjaoa.com as part of its commitment to subscribers.

This decision was a difficult one for the AOA Board to make.  However, by freeing resources and offering the opportunity for new member benefits, we believe it is the right decision.  We look forward to introducing new communications channels and keeping in touch with you whether through print publications, e-publications, AOAConnect, e-mail messages or at a meeting.

We invite you to be part of this process. Over the coming months we will be seeking your ideas about communications, asking what you want to see in the expanding AOA News and hosting discussions on AOAConnect about the future of communications.  With your involvement, the changes to publishing will mean exciting new opportunities for participation and the advancement of your professional association.


Dori M. Carlson, O.D.,
President, American Optometric Association


  1. The printing cost issues are undestandable, but it does not make sense to loose this valuable asset altogether. Having only one peer reviewed journal for US based optometrists is a step backwards for science and the profession. While Optometry and Vision Science, is a great journal, the time to publication will increase for submissions, and not all AOA members are fellows. Truly a loss. Thank you Dr Freeman, Editors and staff.

    • Let’s take this line of thought another step. If the cost of printing is the issue, why doesn’t the AOA continue to publish “Optometry” as an online-only journal? Printing and postage costs would virtually be eliminated. What are the other costs of production? Are they significant enough for the AOA to abandon the journal altogether? Is the AOA willing to release to its membership the details of the financially-prohibitive reasons to continue publishing that are alluded to in this press release? If AOA member has been climbing, how can it say “Optometry” readership has been declining? Is this decision really being made just so the AOA is better able to provide more benefits to its members?

  2. Shame to see the journal go, but as Editor-in-Chief of ‘CL and Anterior Eye’ (the journal of the BCLA) I can add that publishers make a considerable charge for on-line publication too. In fact the costs of on line publication only is not that much less than hard copy version. Of course there is a saving in postage though. It would seem logical to try the on-line version only first but the other factor that would have been looked at by the publishers/AOA would have been the ‘download statistics’ for the journal. Also, publishers can track usage on line via Science Direct or PubMed or Scopus etc. so I guess that the publishers felt usage of this journal was low. Nonetheless, it’s a shame for the profession to lose a peer-reviewed journal that also had a citation index when it takes a lot of hard work to get a journal to that level in the first place.

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