When leadership at the American Academy of Optometry realized eye-care practitioners needed an outlet for clinical case reports, they decided it was time to expand their publication offerings in line with the Academy’s mission to advance optometric practice and improve patient care.

In the fall of 2023, the Academy announced the launch of Clinical Insights in Eyecare, the first Open Access journal devoted exclusively to optometry case reports. Clinical Insights in Eyecare uses the Scholastica Peer Review System, Production Service, and Open Access Publishing Platform.

Recently, we reached out to the journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Joseph Shovlin, to learn more about his team’s experience getting the journal up and running, their publishing process, and why they chose to use Scholastica’s single-source article production service. Read the interview below.

Q&A with Dr. Joseph Shovlin

Congratulations on the successful journal launch! Can you share a bit of background about the publication and your journey up to this point?

JS: For members of the American Academy of Optometry, we have a flagship journal, Optometry and Vision Science, that covers research in optometry, physiological optics, and vision science. But we felt like there was a void in not having clinical case reports. So, for several years, we tossed around the idea of maybe starting a second journal. Once we had the plan for Clinical Insights in Eyecare, we were looking for support to get it up and running, and that’s where Scholastica came in with the peer review and publishing tools we needed and the production service. After reviewing Scholastica and other journals using the software and production service, we felt it was a great fit for us.

The Academy is a kind of hybrid group. We have a lot of researchers and clinical scientists, but we also have a lot of clinicians who practice every day in a clinical setting. So, we wanted to create something that might benefit everyone relative to investigations and reviews, and I think we’ve done that with this journal.

In this short period, I believe we’re up to 86 submissions already. So, there’s a lot of interest. We’ve worked to raise awareness of the journal in academic centers like schools of optometry around the country. Another great source for submissions is when we have clinicians practicing in clinical settings. For example, we have a big push in the Veterans Administration Association.

The case reports we seek don’t have to be exceedingly rare or unusual, but they must be highly relevant to clinical practice. So, they must highlight relevant diagnostic dilemmas and applications of clinical technology.

We also always include an editorial from the associate editor and myself and a point-counterpoint on a pertinent clinical question that can be viewed in different ways, which we encourage folks to respond to. So, I think it’s worked well so far, and we’re always looking for new ways to enhance the experience for our readers.

Why was making the journal fully OA important to your team?

JS: As I mentioned, it was important to us for Clinical Insights in Eyecare to serve clinicians, as well as researchers, so we wanted to make it as accessible to as many individuals as possible. We also thought this might be a way to encourage more readers to consider joining the Academy or to have a more active role in the organization.

How does the Scholastica Production Service fit into your overall publishing process?

JS: We, of course, have a rigorous peer review process to start. The associate editor and I look at submissions initially. From there, they go to a topical editor, and then the topical editor assigns two reviewers knowledgeable in the subject area. If we decide on a provisional acceptance post-review, we’ll move into necessary revisions, and then manuscripts that make it through that process go to publication. Currently, we have an acceptance rate of around 58%.

Accepted submissions then go through copyediting. We use J&J Editorial’s copyediting services, and Scholastica helped us set up accounts for them in the Scholastica platform, so it’s a seamless workflow. We like that we can manage everything in Scholastica. We send manuscripts to J&J folks for copyediting and communicate with them in the Scholastica platform, and then approved articles move straight to the Scholastica Production team, who also work in the platform and handle typesetting and proof review. So, it’s been very straightforward for us.

What are your primary publication development goals for 2024?

JS: We have a few things on the horizon. Currently, we publish every other month, but we want to go monthly, and now that we have a good number of submissions, we’re getting close to being able to do that. We’d also like to get added to PubMed. Once we have another issue with five case reports, we’ll be ready to go for that by applying to PubMed Central. It’ll be helpful that Scholastica’s Production Service offers full-text XML in PMC format to support that. We are also looking into getting some sponsorship from manufacturers and outside sources to help with funding.

So, there’s a lot to look forward to, and it’s been a nice ride for us up to this point. We’ve gotten some great feedback, and when we look at the number of hits to our website it’s been growing every month.

Scholastica thanks to Dr. Joseph Shovlin for taking the time for this interview! We encourage you to visit the Clinical Insights in Eyecare website to learn more about the new fully OA journal!

Tales from the Trenches