Welcome to the first issue of Development for 2006. If you are reading this in hard copy, or if you have already seen a PDF from this issue online, you will have noticed a change in design that, we hope, makes the journal even more attractive and easy to read. We also hope that the new contents page will allow you to scan what is in the journal more quickly.

One other change to the format of the journal will become apparent later in the year: the introduction of a `short reports' section. Although Development has never set a minimum word limit, we sense that there has been a tendency on the part of authors to assume that Developmentis not interested in shorter papers, and it is to redress this impression that we have introduced a section specifically for short reports. Let us make it clear that this section is not somewhere to publish half a piece of work, nor should it encourage the `salami slicing' of papers. Rather, we want this to be the place to publish short, highly significant papers that will change the field of developmental biology. If anything, to publish in the short reports section should be seen as even more of an achievement than to publish in the main section of the journal.

And changes to the journal will not just be limited to changes in print. Thanks to the many responses we received to our recent reader survey, we now have a clear picture of how you would like to see the journal develop online as well; feedback that we intend to put to good use. Your feedback was not just valuable to us, but also tremendously encouraging. For example, over 80%of the respondents to the first question in the survey rated Development as being essential reading. It is through your feedback that we are able to develop the journal to ensure that it continues to meet your changing needs. So our thanks go to all of you who gave us your thoughts and feedback on the journal last year, either directly or through our survey. Congratulations also to Ana Virginia Sanchez, Claire Labrousse and Jane Hewitt, who won iPoDs in our survey's prize draw.

Some of our online developments have already occurred; others will take place in the future. One immediate change is that you will no longer be asked if you want to buy reprints when you publish in Development. This is because we have replaced paper reprints, which are clearly declining in popularity, with free electronic versions. As a result of this change,corresponding authors will automatically be sent a toll-free link instead of a reprint form. Previously, Development gave authors 50 free reprints. This link will provide 250 immediate and free accesses to an author's paper,without the need for a subscription. Authors are free to place this link on their lab website or to distribute it to colleagues who request a copy of their paper. We hope that this change will prove convenient and valuable to authors and readers.

The toll-free link is just one way in which we are increasing free access to the journal's content. Another is the free release on the journal's website of Development's archive dating back to 1987, an initiative that results from the digitisation of Development's back issues from 1987 to 1991 (see http://dev.biologists.org/contents-by-date.0.shtml). In making all of these papers freely available online, we contrast with several other journals that charge to gain access to their older archives. And The Company of Biologists (CoB) is not stopping here: as some of you might remember, Development's previous title was The Journal of Embryology and Experimental Morphology (JEEM). CoB would also like to scan the back issues of JEEM to complete the archiving process back to 1953. But we need your help to do this, as some of the older issues of JEEM are missing from the Company's shelves, so if any of you have back copies of JEEM that you can donate to the project, this would be greatly appreciated. Please note that copies are destroyed in the scanning process, so we must ask for donations rather than loans.

CoB is not just a non-profit publisher that strives to increase free access to its journals' content; it is also a charity that supports biological research in different ways. One example of such support is the CoB Travelling Fellowship scheme, through which Development sponsors young scientists to make collaborative visits to labs around the world (see http://dev.biologists.org/misc/fellowships.shtmlfor more information). Many of you have contributed to the Travelling Fellowship Fund by donating your referee payments to this scheme,contributions that CoB has matched for some years. In fact, so many referees have chosen this option that it is no longer sensible for the Company to administer individual referee payments. CoB has therefore decided to discontinue the practice of paying referees so that it can increase the funds directly allocated to the Travelling Fellowship scheme. This should allow CoB to reduce the administrative costs associated with such donations, thereby making the most effective use of its charitable funds.

Although CoB provides a supportive environment in which Development can prosper, it is the journal's editors who set the journal apart and maintain its high standards. Denis Duboule has been an editor of Development since 1995, and so it is with great sadness that we announce the news of his departure from the journal. Denis has over the years worked enormously hard for the journal, performing the difficult task of handling papers from a variety of fields. He has done this while carrying out the most superb science himself, being awarded in the process the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine (1998), the Marcel Benoist Prize (2003) and the Grand Prix de Biologie Charles-Léopold Mayer from the French Academy of Sciences (2004). These are magnificent achievements, and we are so grateful to Denis that he has been able to find the time to help make Development the success it is, and to do so with his characteristic charm and rigour. We wish him well for the future.

As Denis leaves, we welcome Ken Zaret from the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia to Development's editorial team. Ken's interests include the mechanisms by which inductive signals regulate genetic programs in development, including changes in chromatin structure and epigenetics, and this exciting area is one in which we encourage new submissions.

A final change for next year concerns `Development and Disease'. This is a very important section of the journal - one that highlights the application of developmental biology research to studies of human disease. However, we and the other editors of Development have been concerned that, on certain occasions in the past, papers have been published in the main body of the journal that would have been more appropriate for the Development and Disease section. As such, their broader significance might have been missed. To address this problem, the roles of Ken Chien and Stu Orkin, the editors of the Development and Disease section, have been changed. In future, Ken and Stu will no longer be handling papers directly but will, instead, be overseeing the selection of accepted papers for the Development and Disease section. In this way, we hope to apply more consistent criteria for publication in this section of the journal and to ensure that papers with significance for disease research are not missed. Of course, if an author would prefer for their paper to appear in the main section of the journal, they need only say so!

As many of you will be aware, the NIH and the Wellcome Trust have published public access policies over the past year (see http://publicaccess.nih.gov/publicaccess_manual.htmand http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/doc_WTD002766.htmlfor more) that place certain responsibilities on grant holders when they come to publish their research. It is CoB's aim to put in place a policy that will help authors to comply with the requirements of these policies, and with those of the Research Councils UK's recently announced public access policy (see http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/access/index.asp). To this end, we are currently seeking clarification on several important issues that these policies raise. However, in the meantime, we would like to advise authors as to how they can comply with the requirements of these policies. First, we ask you to familiarise yourself with the public access policy of your funding body, as each of the above organisations makes specific requests of their grant holders. Second, CoB will be changing its exclusive license agreement to allow NIH-funded and Wellcome Trust-funded authors to deposit their author manuscripts in the PubMedCentral (PMC) repository. (An author manuscript refers to an author's unedited, accepted manuscript files and not to the typeset, copyedited journal PDF file.) This deposition should only take place after acceptance and where a Development paper has been funded (in part or in whole) by a NIH grant awarded on or after May 2005 or by a Wellcome Trust grant awarded after October 2005. Developmentpapers funded by older grants should not be deposited in PMC, as such papers would have been published under the terms of our previous copyright or exclusive licenses, which do not provide for a paper's release in PMC. Any NIH or Wellcome Trust funded papers that are appropriately deposited in PMC can be released six months after their date of publication (when all of Development's content becomes freely available online at the journal's website) but not before. Where authors have paid an open access fee,an author manuscript can be released in PMC immediately upon the paper's publication in Development. If you have any queries, please contact Jane Alfred at Development.