The New Face of L&O

June 1999

On July 1, 1998 I became the new Editor-in-Chief of L&O. It is truly an honor to have been selected for this position. My personal recollections of anxiously opening decision letters from previous L&O editors will keep me from ever taking my responsibilities lightly!

With the new administration come some changes. The most important one that authors must be aware of is that all manuscripts, reviews, proofs, and requests for status reports should now be addressed to:

L&O Editorial Office
343 Lady MacDonald Crescent
Canmore AB T1W 1H2, Canada
lo-manager@aslo.org, voice 403/609-2456, fax 403/609-2400

All queries concerning editorial policy should be addressed to the Editor-in-Chief at the same address or lo-editor@aslo.org.

A vexing problem that I hope to resolve personally is the submission of poorly prepared manuscripts. These consume the time of Associate Editors and reviewers unproductively, and thus impede the progress of well prepared papers. To prevent this, I will cull manuscripts with obvious deficiencies immediately upon receipt. To avoid this fate, authors should ensure that their manuscripts comply with the L&O manuscript submission checklist, which is posted in full at the on the manuscript preparation Web page. Authors without Web access can request a copy of this checklist from the L&O Editorial Office (address above). Examples of the kinds of things on this checklist are:

  • The cover letter contains the corresponding author's full address (surface mail, E-mail, telephone, and fax), the names and compete addresses (including E-mail) of four people that are qualified to review the paper (these people cannot have a potential conflict of interest; this includes any close asssociation with any author), whether the submission is to be considered as an Article or Comment, a statement that the manuscript contains only original data, that it complies with the L&O Ethics statement, and a statement that applicable publication charges (detailed in the L&O manuscript preparation Web site) will be paid if the paper is published in L&O.
  • The manuscript is typed double-spaced on A4 or 8-1/2x11 inch paper, uses a standard 12-point font (Times Roman preferred), has 1-inch (2.5-cm) margins, the first line of each paragraph is indented, and the text is unjustified (ragged) on the right margin.
  • All figures and tables are cited in the text and numbered in the order that they appear. All references are checked against original sources.
  • The text is thoroughly proofread, spell-checked, and if the author is not fluent in English it has been corrected by someone who is.

The final item on this abbreviated list is necessary because the number of submissions from authors whose first language is not English is increasing rapidly. While we welcome these, too many of them contain serious grammatical errors that prevent the science that they contain from being fairly assessed. I do not have the time that would be required to bring these manuscripts up to the L&O standard, but I maintain a list of volunteers who are willing to assist non-English speaking authors. The way that this works is that if the Associate Editor decides that a paper is worthy of further consideration after being sent for review but it has grammatical deficiencies s/he will ask me to send it to an English-language volunteer for repair. The role of the volunteer will be limited to fixing language problems; i.e., s/he will not be expected to comment on the scientific content or organization of the paper. No volunteer will be asked to help with more than two papers per year. I invite anyone interested in assisting foreign authors in this way to send me an E-mail; please indicate the subject(s) of interest to you.

A major administrative change that will significantly reduce the time between acceptance of a manuscript and its appearance in print is that copy editing is now being done by Allen Press rather than by the L&O Managing Editor. The journal is simply too large for a single individual to be able to keep up with the flow of accepted manuscripts.

Scientific publication is evolving rapidly and L&O is very active in this area. We now receive manuscript submissons electronically (as PDF files), which greatly reduces the time required to process and review manuscripts. Beginning with Volume 44 (1999) ASLO members can access L&O on the Web in a form that exactly replicates (PDF format) the printed journal (click on the "Instructions" then the "Reading L&O online" buttons on the L&O website for details). A CD-ROM archive containing all back issues (Volumes 1-43) is currently in production and will soon be available. Selected (so-called "featured") papers are posted in PDF format on the Web as soon as they are typeset (up to eight weeks earlier than the printed version is mailed); these featured articles are freely available to anyone with Web access (click here for details).

Over time, it is possible that the printed version of L&O might evolve into a thin volume of easily browsed summary material (abstracts, figures, tables) that would lead interested readers to the Web, which would contain the complete text as well as rich new information resources (e.g., video clips and "clickable" direct links to references). At the end of each year, a CD-ROM containing all of the Web content would be mailed to subscribers for their personal libraries. Some visionaries even foresee decoupling the review process (i.e., certification by L&O that the manuscript is good science) from actual journal publication (see Phelp's paper).

Electronic publication has the potential to liberate L&O from the restrictions that are inherent in printing and mailing a paper journal. Thus freed, L&O could expand in size and scope to serve the aquatic science community more effectively. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out over the next decade. One thing is certain: my tenure as Editor-in-chief of L&O will be a busy and interesting period in my life, and I am looking forward to the challenges of this position.

From the Editor

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