Optometry and Contact Lenses (OCL) is a journal published ten times a year, covering all aspects related to eye and vision care. It publishes scientific and clinical articles as well as case reports focusing on ophthalmic optics, optometry, ophthalmology and related disciplines. OCL also contains interviews with public figures in the fields covered by the journal, book reviews of new and current publications in the fields of eye and vision care as well as association information from VDCO. In addition, each issue also contains a section called COE Continuing Optometric Education, featuring a COE certified article with a multiple choice quiz. COE participants can earn one COE credit when they achieve the passing score for the quiz. Each article is peer-reviewed before publication.
Involved in the OCL are 37 international experts for peer review, members of the DOZ Scientific Advisory Board and Wolfgang Cagnolati as editor-in-chief.
It is becoming increasingly important to be able to publish your own research.
DOZ Interview with Cagnolati about OCL
DOZ: Mr Cagnolati, you will be partnering with the DOZ-Verlag to produce the new scientific journal ‘Optometry and Contact Lenses’ starting in July. When did you first feel the desire to launch an international scientific periodical? Was there sudden spark of inspiration?
Wolfgang Cagnolati: Like many other representatives of the profession, I have wanted to create an internationally received German scientific periodical for the optometry sector for some time now. For example, Thomas Nosch, who qualified as a Doctor of Optometry (OD) in the USA, started publishing bilingual specialist articles in German and English in the WVAO journal ‘Optometrie’ when he was President of WVAO (ed. note: Scientific Association of Ophthalmic Optics and Optometry) and the subsequent ZVA (ed. note: Central Federation of Ophthalmic Optics and Optometry) in 1989 and 1990, to raise international awareness for German scientific and clinical findings on optometry. Unfortunately, the bilingual aspect of the specialist journal was relatively short-lived. Last year, when the DOZ-Verlag asked whether I could envision working with them to create a German peer-reviewed journal, I agreed – after some deliberation – knowing full well what that would mean for me.
What does it mean for you specifically?
Launching a new peer-reviewed journal means complying with the requirements for indexing by the National Library of Medicine (Pubmed) and other databases for evidence-based publications from the very first issue. In the early days in particular, this means sourcing enough scientific and clinical papers that meet these requirements. Along with all the other organisational imperatives, this is sure to present a huge challenge.
Even though the ophthalmic and optometric sector is relatively small, it already has quite a lot of international professional journals for its size. Given that they already publish texts by German-speaking scientists in the sector, why do we still need the OCL?
You are certainly right that the eye care sector as a whole already has many dedicated international specialist journals. Whereas there only used to be a few international journals for optometry and ophthalmology, for example ‘Optometry and Vision Science’ or ‘Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science’, most published by professional organisations, there are now more and more peer-reviewed online journals on the market. Many of these specialist journals charge authors publication fees, while some will even fully edit the manuscripts submitted in return for a significantly higher fee. From my previous professional experience, I know that German scientists and clinical practitioners in the optometry sector are interested in a German specialist journal, but often ask about the Journal Impact Factor (JIF; ed. note: The JIF is a calculated figure that reflects the influence of a scientific journal. It also indicates how often the articles in a specific journal are cited in other scientific publications annually), which reflects the importance of a scientific journal to a certain degree. To the extent that the next generation of professionals are being educated at colleges and universities, it is increasingly important for lecturers and graduates to publish their own research for national and international recognition. In this context, a German-language specialist journal like ‘OCL’ published as a print and partially online journal, will become increasingly important for German-speaking readers, and also for national and international authors.
Scientific articles published in OCL are peer-reviewed. What does that mean?
Peer review means that all scientific papers submitted are assessed by independent reviewers. In the double-blind peer review process we employ at OCL, the authors do not know the reviewers and the reviewers do not know the authors. Based on the review, a decision is made as to whether the paper submitted will be accepted for publication or not. In some cases, the manuscripts have to be revised in line with reviewer comments before they are accepted and published. Ultimately, the peer review process serves as quality control for the manuscripts submitted, ensuring the quality of the new specialist journal.
What does the peer review process say about the quality of a publication?
As all manuscripts submitted are reviewed by scientists and clinical practitioners from the respective field, it generally vouches for the reputability of a scientific/clinical paper.
OCL’s Scientific Advisory and Editorial Board includes both doctors and optometrists. Do you think that the mix of professions will be welcomed by the industry? Or is it perhaps even something that the sector urgently needed? If so, why?
It’s true that our Scientific Advisory Board is comprised of optometrists, ophthalmologists and specialists from related disciplines and we are particularly proud of that. This mix of professions is crucial to the quality and reputation of OCL. I am convinced that our Editorial and Scientific Advisory Board meets all requirements of a peer-reviewed journal and will also be well-received by readers and the respective professions.
OCL will also become the association mouthpiece of the Vereinigung Deutscher Contactlinsen-Spezialisten (Association of German Contact Lenses-Specialists), replacing previous association publication ‘die Kontaktlinse’ in this function. How much of VDCO will be in the new OCL?
OCL will be VDCO’s communication medium, fully replacing ‘die Kontaktlinse’ as the VDCO journal from 1 January 2022 on. I am the Honorary Chairman of VDCO and have been working as a journalist since 1990. Peter Abel, the co-founder of VDCO and father of optometry in Germany, had a major influence on me with his international focus. Accordingly, the OCL project is inspired by VDCO’s scientific and clinical curiosity.
You are also Chairman of the Quality Association for Optometry Services. How much of the RAL Quality Association will be in the new OCL?
The quality and test regulations of the Quality Association for Optometry Services (GOL) currently define the gold standard for the provision of optometry services in Germany. Continuing professional development is mandatory for optometrists who work for providers with the RAL quality mark for optometry services, as well as all other optometrists listed in the register of German optometrists. Every issue of OCL will feature an original article with multiple-choice questions that can be answered online on the OCL website. Readers who pass this test receive one COE point (ed. note: Continuing Optometric Education). These COE points are currently recognised by GOL, the Swiss Ophthalmic Optics and Optometric Association (SBAO) and VDCO as continuing professional development credits.
And how much of the human, the optometrist, the practitioner, in short of the personality of Wolfgang Cagnolati will be in OCL?
Anyone who knows me knows that I will give 100% to a project like Optometry and Contact Lenses.
What optometry-related topic is closest to your heart?
The fields of optometry and ophthalmology are now so broad that I find it hard to choose just one topic. However, I’m particularly interested in binocular vision and paediatric optometry/ophthalmology, as well as the anterior and posterior segment of the eye as a whole.
Scientists have to publish as part of their profession. Does OCL offer open access?
Yes, some articles will be published as open access papers, in particular the English language versions. However, the same procedure applies for all authors. The articles submitted in English or German need to comply with the OCL guidelines for authors. While papers submitted in German will be published in full in the print edition and featured on the website with abstracts in German and English, articles submitted in English will be translated by the publishers, and then published in full length in both the print version and on the OCL website.
At what point would you say that starting OCL was a worthwhile endeavour?
When the Medline/Pubmed indexing process has been completed and ‘Optometry and Contact Lenses’ has established itself among experts as a reputable and recognised journal, both in terms of readership and the quality and quantity of specialist articles, launching the OCL project will definitely have been worthwhile.
Let’s finish up with some specifics: What is the first peer-reviewed article in the first issue of OCL about? Or if you don’t want to reveal the whole topic, can you at least give us a clue?
The first issue of OCL will focus in particular on refraction and visual defects, as well as covering some other fascinating topics. From 2022 on, we plan to bring out more issues on specific topics. For example, the January/February 2022 issue will be all about diabetes and the eye. Leading authors from the optometry and ophthalmology sectors in Germany, Great Britain and the USA have already committed to delivering relevant papers for this issue.
Judith Kern interviewed Wolfgang Cagnolati