May 2001
Volume 1, Issue 1
Free
Editorial  |   May 2001
Welcome to the Journal of Vision
Author Affiliations
Journal of Vision May 2001, Vol.1, i. doi:10.1167/1.1.i
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      Andrew B. Watson; Welcome to the Journal of Vision. Journal of Vision 2001;1(1):i. doi: 10.1167/1.1.i.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Welcome to the Journal of Vision. We hope you will enjoy our inaugural issue. It is the product of efforts and ideas of many individuals, notable among them Denis Pelli, Rachel Necker, Bruce McClelland, Steven Shevell, Suzanne McKee, Joanne Angle, Cindy Fuss, David Beebe, the Journal of Vision Editorial Board, the ARVO Board of Trustees, the team at ScholarOne, and many others. It is also an evolving entity, and we hope you will let us know how it can be improved. 
When we envisioned this journal, our ambition was to create a vehicle that would serve, in a pure and optimal way, the publishing and reading needs of working vision scientists. Inherent in this dream was the notion of a digital, networked, or online journal. All of the content of the journal would be represented in digital form, and primary access to that content would be through digital networks such as the internet. These two attributes, realized now in the Journal of Vision, offer an array of wonderful and powerful functions and capabilities that cannot be gained by other means. 
At first glance, it may appear that the principal difference between this journal and a print journal is the medium: one appears on a screen, the other on paper. But the medium is not the message. The viewing surface is perhaps the least significant distinction. Indeed, many of our readers may prefer to read on paper. JOV, therefore, includes both screen-oriented (HTML) and print-oriented (PDF) versions of each article. But if not electronic display, what are the distinctive features and advantages of a digital, networked scientific journal? 
It is often said that journals serve two functions: a news function and an archive function. To these I would add a linking function, and an access function. The news function, through which a journal notifies a community about a new idea or empirical result, is served exceptionally well by a digital, networked journal. Electronic mail and an automated alerting service allow Journal of Vision to notify a reader of the appearance of a new article or a new issue. In the future, we will enhance this service to notify a reader only when papers on specific topics are published, or to notify an author whenever their paper is cited. 
But a news story is more than a headline. Beyond the notification element of the news function is the communication element. The journal must provide the author with expressive tools that enable effective communication of the scientific work. In this regard a digital journal has distinct advantages. Not only can it incorporate traditional text and simple graphs, but also detailed images, color graphics and images, as well as animated graphics and movies. In the near future, scalable graphics and images will be available. These expressive media are of particular value to the vision scientist. Never again will we be limited to describing our stimuli, now we can show them! 
Other tools at the Journal of Vision author's disposal are source code of computer models or experimental methods, tables of numerical data, and interactive demonstrations. Because the marginal cost of digital storage is low today, and will be lower tomorrow, there are few practical limits to the material that can be included. And the hierarchical nature of a digital hyperlinked publication means that inclusion of numerous diverse resources can be accomplished without clutter: resources are made visible only upon request. 
Finally, news is only news if it is timely. Instead of waiting the traditional year or more to see one’s article in print, Journal of Vision authors can broadcast their work to the world in just twelve weeks. This extraordinarily fast publication time is made possible by the paperless workflow of the journal, which is again enabled by its digital, networked nature. 
The archive function of a journal — the secure and permanent storage of published articles — is of paramount importance both to authors and to the scientific community. Permanence is perhaps the most common concern that authors may have about submitting their work to an online journal. But ironically, digital journals, composed of bits that do not decay, and endowed with the capacity to be perfectly and cheaply reproduced, may be more secure than their paper counterparts. Journal of Vision and ARVO have guaranteed that all articles will be permanently archived, and for those who have more faith in the persistence of tangible things, an annual archive will also be produced on optical disk. 
But an archive is useless without access. A digital, networked journal has the capacity to excel at the access function, since copies of each article can be delivered on demand, essentially without cost, to anyone, anytime, anywhere in the networked world. But to achieve this access utopia, it is essential that the journal impose no barriers whatsoever between reader and material: no subscription fees, no membership requirements, no requests for passwords or other information. The acid test for effortless access is the “one-click” test: is it possible to reach a desired article — from a citation in another paper, from an author’s website, from a colleague’s email — with a single click? And to do so from any networked device anywhere in the world? With the Journal of Vision, it is, and always will be. Journal of Vision ensures this result with two design features. The first is that each article will be assigned a unique and permanent URL (uniform resource locator) and DOI (digital object identifier). The DOI is a new means for identifying and locating digital content, a feature that we will discuss at greater length on a future occasion. The second feature is that the Journal of Vision does not charge readers (or require registration) for access to any content. Consequently the assigned URL or DOI will always take you directly to the article, with no annoying and delaying requests for money or information along the way. While this is of enormous benefit to readers, it may be of even greater benefit to authors, whose goal is always to achieve the widest possible distribution of their work. 
Scientific reports are never solo performances. Invariably they depend upon prior works: for methods, theory, and precursor results. In printed papers, they link to this prior art through bibliographic references. The diligent scientist will, in time, and if geographic and economic conditions permit, seek out some of that prior work to verify and enrich their understanding of the subject. In the Journal of Vision, this linking function is accelerated, enlarged, and extended to the future as well as the past. Each bibliographic reference is accompanied by a link, either to the article itself if it is available freely on the internet, or to a search of a public citation database such as PubMed, where additional information on the reference as well as related publications will be returned. We also expect to participate in CrossRef, a collaboration among publishers which will allow direct linking from reference to article (when available), or to the abstract. Journal of Vision also currently provides two specialized searches from the entry page for each article. The first is to related articles on PubMed, the second is to articles in Journal of Vision which cite the current article. Soon we will extend this latter search to find all published articles, in whatever journal, which cite the present article. These are forms of linking to the future which are impossible in printed articles. As these features demonstrate, the networked nature of the Journal of Vision makes each article a nexus in a web of related scientific information. 
In this, our first issue, we have taken a conservative approach to the adoption of advanced technologies and features. We have designed a simple interface that places the articles at the fore, and that relegates all else to an accessible but unobtrusive background. We have only assumed that the reader possesses the most widespread and well-tested access tools and technologies. However, our digital aspect equips us with a fluid and evolving nature that will allow us to optimize our interface and to seamlessly integrate new tools and technologies as they emerge. Examples in prospect are SVG (scalable vector graphics) for scalable high quality representation of graphics, MathML, for standardized representation and rendering of sophisticated mathematical expressions, and XML, a general, standardized means of representing complex digital objects such as scientific articles. PNG and other advanced graphic formats will allow more accurate color rendition of visual stimuli. The DOI, mentioned earlier, will allow efficient cross-referencing of articles in other online publications. And of course, as we enter this new age of information, the future will bring digital magic as yet undreamed of. We are ready. 
But in the end, it is the science that matters. This shiny new vehicle would be but a digital illusion without content of the highest quality. I look forward to fascinating reports that clarify and deepen the mystery that is vision. I have enormous confidence in the dedication and skill of our editorial board. With their efforts, and your own, the Journal of Vision will achieve its goal, to break down the barriers of time, space, and energy that separate scientists from their science. 
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