Letter from the President

Letter from the President

[Yuji Ohashi]The meeting of the IUCr Executive Committee this year was held August 3-4 in Leuven, Belgium. I would like to highlight three important decisions.

The first decision concerns a new initiative on how to invite developing countries to become members of the IUCr. The number of member countries or Adhering Bodies of the IUCr is only 39 or 40, respectively. Many countries are members of the Regional Associates (ACA, AsCA and ECA) but not members of the IUCr. This is primarily because members of the IUCr are required by the Statutes to pay a subscription fee. Although the fee for Category I is just CHF 1,000 (about USD 800) per year, the payment is not so easy for National Associations with small numbers of members. I know several African, Central and South American or Asian countries in which there are only a few crystallographers. According to the new system, the IUCr strongly recommends crystallographers in such countries to form a country group and to establish a single Adhering Body to become a member of the IUCr. The subscription fee should be divided among the countries making the group. The Executive Committee expects more than one Adhering Body will be formed in this way in the area of each Regional Associate. Each country in the group would have the same rights as ordinary member countries except for the voting rights in the General Assembly, which depends on the Category of the Adherence. We hope that more than 20 countries will become new members of the IUCr in the next General Assembly following adoption of this system. The IUCr will offer a licence to one or more institutions in such countries to access IUCr online journals at a very low price. The IUCr believes that in this way new crystallographic initiatives will be able to start in such developing countries.

The second decision is that Acta Crystallographica Section E should be changed to be open access by 2008. Since this online-only journal was launched, the number of submitted manuscripts has been increasing exponentially. This is a delightful and successful event for the IUCr. However, the editorial work to make the journal has become huge. From a financial point of view, a serious crisis will arise in the near future if nothing is done. To avoid the crisis, it is reasonable to ask authors to pay to make it possible for everybody to read Acta Crystallographica E freely without a subscription - that is, the open access system. The submission fee is expected to be modest and only payable on acceptance. The detailed procedure is in preparation, including a provision for developing countries.

The third decision is a small change of the election procedure for IUCr officers. At the last General Assembly in Florence, there were many discussions by the delegates of the National Committees concerning the election procedure. The Executive Committee has considered the Statutes and By-Laws in detail and noted that it is possible to change the nomination procedure in order to encourage timely nominations from the National Committees without changing the present Statutes and By-Laws. The revised procedure is that following initial consultation with the National Committees (as is present practice) the Executive Committee will nominate one or two candidates for each position. Once they have been informed of these nominations, Adhering Bodies that wish to make further nominations will be asked to form a group of Adhering Bodies representing more than six voting rights in order to nominate additional candidates one month before the General Assembly.

The information concerning these nominees will be sent to all the National Committees before the General Assembly. The Executive Committee expects that this will provide time to enable sufficient discussion within each National Committee before the General Assembly meets. Of course, the present deadline of 36 hours specified in the By-Laws for nominations by delegates will still be applicable. The Executive Committee always wants to do the best for the IUCr by accepting the proposals from the National Committees.

These decisions will be sent to all National Committees in the near future. The Executive Committee heartily welcomes constructive opinions not only from National Committees of member countries but also from non-member countries.

Yuji Ohashi, yohashi@spring8.or.jp