Thesis Guidelines for the American Ophthalmological Society




The American Ophthalmological Society (AOS), founded in 1864, is the oldest American specialty society that has functioned without interruption into the 21st century. Election to the AOS is intended for the present or future leaders of American and International Ophthalmology, and membership requires the candidate to demonstrate scholarship in the form of a thesis. This thesis should be an original contribution toward the advancement of the science and art of ophthalmology. A thesis is more than a routine scientific paper.

Upon the recommendation of peers and following an evaluation of accomplishments, candidates for membership are invited to write a thesis. These guidelines are intended to help with the preparation of a thesis of which both the candidate and the Society will be proud. Detailed instructions on format, style, and manuscript preparation are included.

Selection of Topic

A thesis is a position or proposition, advancing an original point of view and supported by research or argument. It is a demonstration of scholarship that presents new findings or provides strong evidence to confirm or deny the value of a concept, procedure, or technique.

Appropriate topics for a thesis include, but are not limited to, clinical, applied, or basic research; observational and population-based studies; medical services research; bioethics position papers; laboratory biomedical research; innovative surgical techniques; administrative issues, and other investigations that advance the science and art of ophthalmology. The most important factors are: (1) that the impetus and creativity behind the research be predominantly that of the candidate, and (2) that the work be new and original and not previously published elsewhere.

The purpose of the thesis should be clearly articulated. Most theses involving biomedical research should include a hypothesis that is tested in the research. Theses should also include reviews of background material, detailed methodology, and succinct presentations of results. A thorough discussion should follow and conclusions should be formulated. In general, case reports are not acceptable, but case series may be included to prove or disprove the hypothesis.
Prior publication by any of the authors of material that is obviously similar to or substantially overlapping that contained in the thesis is not acceptable. However, the inclusion of portions of any of the author’s previously published research efforts may be employed in the production of a thesis and referenced as material that supports or contradicts the premise of the thesis.

Individuals may submit a thesis based on a significant portion of a multicenter study. The AOS permits a multi-authored thesis, reflecting the present pattern of research. However, the requirement of primary authorship of the thesis candidate must be met even though many others may meet and be listed as coauthors or have contributed in data collection or monitoring roles. The advisability of including such material in a thesis should be discussed with the Principal Investigator of the study and with the Executive Vice President before
embarking on the project. A written agreement between all contributors should be signed to avoid potential miscommunications.


Thesis Proposal

Candidates are asked to submit a proposal of their thesis in abstract form to the AOS office by the February following their invitation, which will be forwarded to the Committee on Theses for review and feedback. Your proposal should be brief, no more than one page, describing your research plan. Guidelines for your thesis proposal are as follows:

1. Concerns a topic that is relevant to ophthalmologists.

2. Includes at least one well-designed study with a clearly stated hypothesis. Well-designed studies can be experimental laboratory investigations, animal or clinical research, cross-sectional studies, case-control or case-cohort studies, extraction of data from databases with analysis, clinical trials, multi-center clinical trials, systematic reviews, meta-analyses.

3. Adheres to the highest current standards for scientific investigations that are pertinent to the proposed study. Examples of such standards are CONSORT, PRISMA, Delphi, Cochrane, registration on if appropriate.

4. Obtains permission of all proposed co-authors at the time of abstract submission.

5. Confirms that the design, literature review, analysis, provision of materials and patients, and writing were the responsibility of the candidate. Clearly notes the contributions of co-authors. Discloses conflicts of interest.

6. Calculates that there are adequate numbers of subjects to reach valid conclusions.

7. Details the methods that will be used to study each hypothesis.

8. Provides an extensive background for the proposed study, including prior research by others and, often, the candidate. Background includes why the research question is meaningful to ophthalmologists, what the pipeline of research is for this particular question, where the current work is positioned in the research stream, how the candidate assesses the importance of the work in the totality of the research stream.

9. Certifies that the work has not been previously submitted for publication, is being proposed specifically to qualify for membership in the AOS and will follow the publication guidelines of the AOS.

10. Respects the eclecticism of the AOS by making the thesis comprehensible to ophthalmologists from diverse backgrounds.

11. The committee on theses will review each proposal and may provide written feedback and ask questions about the proposal or suggest revisions. Candidates will be asked to respond in writing to the committee.




Thesis length is left to the author's discretion. Originality and quality are more important than the number of pages. The length of theses published in the AJO and Transactions of the AOS ranged from 20 to 132 printed pages.


A candidate is given 3 years to prepare a thesis, with the next thesis submissions due by January 1 of each year. In fairness to candidates who submit their thesis on time, and according to the Bylaws of the Society, no extensions are granted. A thesis may be submitted at any time for consideration prior to the deadline and theses are now being reviewed when submitted rather than at only one time of the year.

Underestimating the Time Required

The deadline for submission of theses is firm. One of the most common errors is a delay in initiating the task. Completing the project with time to spare is recommended.

Sources of Assistance

Authors are encouraged to seek assistance from a variety of potential sources.


Sponsors can be valuable sources of assistance in the planning, preparation, and review of theses. It is important to consult with one or both of them about potential thesis topics and outlines and to communicate progress at selected intervals. A near-final draft should be provided to both sponsors. Respected colleagues may also be asked to review a draft of theses. It is very important to allow adequate time for reviewers’ comments and for subsequent revisions.

Questions or Clarification

Any questions about structure and format that are not answered in these Guidelines should be directed to the Executive Vice President.

Review of Prior AOS Theses

A review of past theses related to the candidate’s topic is helpful. Theses are published in the AJO and in the Transactions of the AOS. Theses published in 2001 and later are available at and all AOS theses and papers since 1865 are available via a link to PubMedCentral that is provided under Transactions at Starting in 2018, accepted AOS theses are also published in the AJO.

Editorial Assistance

Although now published in the AJO, the AOS theses have a particular style and authors are required to format the manuscript specifically for the AOS. Professional editing is appropriate and frequently helpful as the authors are required to prepare a publication ready manuscript. 


For theses requiring statistical analyses, the use of a biostatistician or epidemiologist prior to undertaking the project can avoid later problems. The methodology, end points, and planned analysis should ideally be determined prior to collection of data.

Conflict of Interest

Candidates who disclose that they are paid consultants or owners of a company and consider a thesis proposal for research to evaluate efficacy of a drug or device from such a company, risk that the reviewers may find that the author cannot be appropriately objective.


Prepare the thesis in or convert it to Microsoft Word. Submit the single-spaced manuscript and figures through the AJO online submission portal. If accepted, the thesis is published in the AJO, and also in the Transactions on the AOS website.

Title Page

Include the full name and academic degree(s) and institution or location of each author in the byline. It is expected that the candidate qualify as the first and primary author and the other names should appear to reflect their contribution to the thesis. All authors should meet Authorship criteria; alternatively, contributors should be listed in the Acknowledgment. Provide the complete postal address, email, and phone number of the candidate for future correspondence. Funding and disclosure information should be submitted under Acknowledgments and not on the title page (see below).

Table of Contents

Include a Table of Contents for theses over 20 pages long. For items that are uploaded before the Title Page, such as the Abstract, you may use i, ii, etc. up to the Title Page, which is page 1.

Structured Abstract

A structured abstract of no more than 250 words is required. The abstract should be uploaded separately 4 the manuscript text file. Format as follows:


State the major hypothesis or objective of the study. This is generally one sentence beginning with, “To…..”


Describe the design of the study, noting randomization, masking, criteria standards, and temporal direction (retrospective or prospective) as applicable. Indicate the study setting (eg, institutional, multicenter, primary care, referral practice). Identify the patients or other participants by noting selection procedures, entry criteria, and numbers. Specify the intervention procedures and the main outcome measures.


Briefly summarize the principal results obtained. Results must be accompanied by data with confidence intervals and the exact level of statistical significance. Results must also identify any significant limitations or qualifications of the data and give suitable emphasis to positive and negative findings.


State the conclusions directly supported by the data, describe the clinical or research applications, compare to the prior literature, and indicate limitations of the study.


Manuscript Sections

In general, the text of the manuscript should follow the sections of the Abstract and include an INTRODUCTION to the study, including a clearly articulated hypothesis in the final paragraph; METHODS AND/OR MATERIALS sufficient for others to repeat the study; RESULTS that are limited to this specific study; and a DISCUSSION that answers the research related to the hypothesis, reviews pertinent and/or conflicting literature and establishes the importance, limitations and recommendations based on this study. Because of the length of some theses, a CONCLUSION section is permitted.

The first paragraph of the METHODS section should indicate whether the IRB approval was prospective (before the study began) or retrospective. Indicate precisely what the IRB approved. Name the IRB that approved the research or provide a statement and rationale as to why the named IRB waived approval. Indicate proper informed consent for both the treatment and participation in the research; HIPAA compliance, Clinical Trials registration, number, and location; and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee guidelines. If the IRB waived the need for approval of this research, then indicate adherence to the Declaration of Helsinki and all federal or state laws in your country. Authors cannot make the decision as to whether IRB approval is needed; your IRB should make that decision and provide a waiver if they feel it does not require IRB approval.

Pagination and Margins

Manuscripts should be typed single-spaced and right margins should be unjustified. Pages should be numbered consecutively with page numbers in the lower right corner. Line numbers must be inserted in the left margins of each page.

Text Font

Text font should be 10-point Times New Roman.

Headings Fonts

Four levels of font headings are used in the text. These headings are demonstrated below. The first level of font heading in the text should be used for the headings Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion.


  • Font: Times New Roman
  • Size: 11
  • All Caps
  • Bold
  • Paragraph Spacing: 6pts before, 2pts after
  • Line Space: Single


  • Font: Times New Roman
  • Size: 10
  • All Caps
  • Bold
  • Paragraph Spacing: 6pts before, 2pts after
  • Line Space: Single

Heading 3: Bold, Mixed Case, .1" Indent

  • Font: Times New Roman
  • Size: 10
  • Mixed Case
  • .1" left indent
  • Bold
  • Paragraph Spacing: 2pts before, 1pts after
  • Line Space: Single

Heading 4: Bold, Mixed Case, Indented, followed by a period and regular text.

  • Regular text continues 4 here.
  • Font: Times New Roman
  • Size: 10
  • Mixed Case
  • Indentation: Special: First Line: .2"
  • Bold
  • Paragraph Spacing: 2pts before, 1pts after
  • Line Space: Single

Style Guide

Use the most current American Medical Association Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors, 10th edition, 2007 as a guide for style. Of particular importance in the style manual are the sections on abbreviations of clinical and technical terms and units of measure (Chapter 14) and statistics (Chapter 20). The book is available at some bookstores or medical libraries.

Rounding Off Digits

Round off the digits to the right of the last significant digit. If the digit to the right of the last significant digit is less than 5, the last significant digit is not changed. If the digit is 5 or greater, the last significant digit is rounded up to the next higher digit. For example, 47.746 is rounded to 47.7 years, 47.763 is rounded to 47.8 years. (See sections 18.4.2 and 19.7.1 in the AMA Manual of Style.)

Numeric Equivalents and Percentages

Numeric equivalents must precede all percentages. Percentages are not allowed for sample sizes of 10 or less.

Example: Of 80 patients, 20 (25%) had retinopathy.

P Values

Designate probability, using an italicized P but no zero before the decimal point. When P values are used, the actual P value (eg, P=.032) is preferred to an inequality (eg, P<.05).


Restrict abbreviations to those that are widely used and understood by all ophthalmologists. Avoid using abbreviations that have meaning only in the context of the thesis. The first time a term is abbreviated, the term must be written out in full followed by the abbreviation in parenthesis; for example, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Do not use periods after abbreviations.


Number of References

The number of references cited is at the author’s discretion, and authors are solely responsible for precise references in the correct format. In the past, this number has ranged 4rom 26 to 586 with an average of 120 references. The references must be in current AMA reference format and should have been reviewed and recommended by the author and selected for their quality, pertinence, and thorough historical significance relative to the topic. PubMed offers a useful reference checker at

Citations in the Text

References should be cited in the text, tables, or figures in consecutive numerical order and designated by superscript Arabic numerals. Reference numbers are placed after commas and periods but before colons and semicolons. For a two-author reference within the manuscript text, list both author names; for three or more authors in the manuscript, list the first author followed by “and associates,” “and colleagues,” or “and coworkers.” Do not use “et al.”

Examples: Smith and coworkers4,5 reported.
Findings were as follows5-8:

References should be numbered consecutively in the text and in the reference list. If you use an automated reference numbering software (eg, Endnote or Reference Manager) the linkage must be turned off. The references must be verified by the author(s) against the original documents. PubMed offers a useful reference checker at

Listing of References

References to journal articles should follow the current AMA format and include:

1) Authors' surnames and initials (list 6; for more than 6 authors, list the first 3 followed by "et al.")

2) Title of Article

3) Journal name in italics (as abbreviated in PubMed)

4) Year

5) Volume number

6) Issue number

7) Inclusive page numbers

References to books should include:

1) The author or authors

2) Chapter title (if any)

3) Editor or editors (if any)

4) Book title

5) Edition (other than the first)

6) City of publication

7) Publisher

8) Copyright year

9) Inclusive pages of the chapter or section cited


Journal article: Robinson MR, Reed G, Csaky KG, Polis MA, Whitcup SM. Immune-recovery uveitis in patients with cytomegalovirus retinitis taking highly active antiretroviral therapy. Am J Ophthalmol 2000;130(1):49-56.

Journal article with organization as author: The Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand. Clinical exercise stress testing: safety and performance guidelines. Med J Aust 1996;164(5):282-284.

Book: Rootman J, Stewart B, Goldberg RA. Orbital surgery: a conceptual approach. Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven, 1994:1-394.

Book chapter: Macsai MS, Mannis MJ, Huntley AC. Acne rosacea. In: Mannis MJ, Macsai MS, Huntley AC, editors. Eye and skin disease. Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven, 1996:335-341.

A reference to a study that has been accepted for publication but is not yet published or reference to an Epub article should be identified as "forthcoming" rather than as "in press." The reference should name the journal or other publication in which the study will appear.

Unpublished data, such as studies in preparation or submitted for publication, posters, and unpublished abstracts the reader cannot retrieve in a literature search, are to be incorporated parenthetically in the text.

Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) and other abstract references are discouraged. If used, ARVO abstract citations should appear parenthetically within the text, not as bibliographic references, in the exact format recommended by ARVO. Citations should include: (1) name of first author, (2) "IOVS", (3) year, (4) volume number, (5) "ARVO E-Abstract", and (6) program number. Eg., (Roska BM, et al. IOVS 2002;43:ARVO E-Abstract 1415).

Personal communications should be cited parenthetically in the text, as in this example: (Evans DW, written communication, September 1, 1997). The Corresponding Author should provide authorization for use of this personal communication.

Internet references should be limited to important Full-Length articles that are not available in print or have been updated on the Internet since initial print publication. If a print reference is available, it should be used. The online reference should be listed with complete information including title and authors with the addition of the URL address and accession date. The URL address and availability must be confirmed again with any revision submission. Because Internet articles frequently are not available at a future date, the authors must make a print copy of the material they are referencing 4rom the Internet, hold it indefinitely, and provide it to the AOS at any time in the future. Do not use ePub information if in print.

Internet Reference: International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform requirements for manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals. Available at Accessed June 12, 2012.

Acknowledgments / Disclosure

The American Ophthalmological Society requires the thesis candidate to accept full responsibility as the primary author for all aspects of the submission; however, multiple authorship is encouraged to accurately reflect the contributions of each author. Enhanced disclosure information is required 4rom every author in a specific format. The following information should appear, in the order indicated (labeled A through D), in the Acknowledgment section of the thesis (just prior to the References). The information will appear in the AJO publication, as well as the Transactions of the American Ophthalmological Society. This information should not appear on the Title page of the manuscript or in the Methods section of the manuscript.

Use the Following Template for the Acknowledgment:

A. Funding/Support (including none): any government and non-government support must be acknowledged.

B. Financial Disclosures: The Disclosures should capture the essence of the information contained in the AOS modification of the International Committee on Medical Journals Disclosure Form linked below. Provide all disclosures now or in the previous two years that relate to any commercial companies or devices employee, consultant, advisory, or ownership positions, and whether unpaid, paid directly to any of the authors, or paid to institution of the authors; speaker bureaus, lecture fees; grant support, equity payments; patents; advisor to investment companies; and expert witness testimony. Do not state, "no financial conflicts" as this is not what is requested in this section, but rather all "financial disclosures" are required, and should be consistent with the ICMJE disclosure forms. If you have no financial disclosures, you may state this.

Please complete the AOS Thesis Author Disclosure Form. (

C. Contributions of Authors in each of these areas: design and conduct of the study collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; and preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript. After each component, provide author initials in parentheses, SAMPLE: Contributions of Authors: Design of the study (AB, CD, EF); Conduct of the study (AB, EF, GH), etc. Each author must have a specific role in the manuscript however, the thesis candidate must have an identifiable contribution to each component of the thesis. Overall management/supervision of a laboratory alone or a position of chair alone does not constitute an authorship role.

Please complete the. AOS Thesis Contributions of Authors and Sponsors Form. (

D. Other Acknowledgments: Statisticians and medical writers or industry writers might fulfill the criteria for authorship of the thesis and should be recognized in that role. Otherwise recognize statistical consultation, medical writers or industry writers in the acknowledgment. Include the name and affiliation of the individual. The AOS does not accept theses that do not accurately reflect who wrote the content. Editorial assistants, photographers, artists, laboratory associates, and others who simply assist in preparation of the theses should not to be acknowledged, however valuable their service. Limit personal acknowledgment and include only professional colleagues involved in the thesis.

Figures and Legends