“…yielding place to new, and TOS fulfills itself in many ways.” This modified quote from Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King” seems particularly appropriate for this issue. For one thing, editor Larry Atkinson will be retiring effective December 1997. We are urgently in need of a new editor, and mention this on the off-chance that someone out there has always dreamed of assuming the mantle of editorial authority. Don’t be shy, speak right up.
But there are other changes in the magazine, changes which may be evident to the careful reader. A natural evolution appears to be taking place here in the nature of articles we are receiving and consequently the nature of the magazine itself.
A brief recap: Oceanography was originally conceived as a collection of highly readable review articles which would explain exciting new directions of various subdisciplines in terms that readers from other specialties could understand. That promise was fulfilled for the first six years so as an apparent pent-up demand was fulfilled. During that time there were also some specialized research articles of the type found in professional journals. Certain issues of the magazine were devoted to a single topic, such as Modeling and Prediction (Vol. 5, No. 1) and Technology Transfer (Vol. 6, No. 3). New columns were introduced—The Future of Oceanography, The Oceanographer’s Toolkit, book reviews. The ratio of general-review to specialized articles gradually became smaller, but the general nature of the magazine was the same.
And then, in 1995, a distinct change occurred. Since then we have received almost no review articles, and not very many of the professional-journal type either. Instead, we are seeing an increase in what some might call grey literature—workshop reports, policy pieces, reports from national or international committees, and things that read suspiciously like planning documents for large programs. This issue represents a culmination of that trend: almost every article falls into the “report” category. Although the next year will feature a series of technical review articles it is clear we are not returning to the content we began with.
Now, this is not a bad thing. In fact, one could argue that it is a very good thing. Workshops and committee activities play a large role in determining the directions that science takes, and they are normally invisible to the general community. One might say that Oceanography is providing a badly needed service by giving these articles a much wider dissemination than they would otherwise have. But it does represent a definite sea-change, “into something rich and strange” (Shakespeare, The Tempest).
— Connie Sancetta