Letter from the President
[Gautam Desiraju] Gautam R. Desiraju

The IUCr’s major activity is the publication of its journals and books, because the profits from these ventures are what make all our other activities possible. The IUCr tries its best to encourage areas of crystallography that are particularly vulnerable in these hard times, and this is only possible if our journals are subscribed to, and authored by large groups of scientists in the mainstream areas. This is simple marketing strategy. The journals are now overseen by a Journals Management Board which reports to the Executive Committee, and which has representation from each of our journals as well as the Executive Committee itself and the Finance Committee. Samar Hasnain, our Editor-in-chief, and Peter Strickland, our Executive Managing Editor, have been very active in formulating new policies and strategies for these (frankly) challenging times. The whole scientific publication business is undergoing major changes and we in the IUCr need to keep abreast of these changes, even as we try to maintain the scientific and technical standards for which we have become well known.

A most exciting recent initiative from the Union with respect to our publication activities is the decision to start a new, open access, high impact journal called simply IUCrJ. The journal will publish high-profile articles on all aspects of the sciences and technologies supported by the IUCr via its commissions, including emerging fields where structural results underpin the science reported in the article. Please go to the web site www.iucrj.org/ and see for yourselves what this new journal is all about. The first issue of the new journal will coincide with the beginning of the International Year of Crystallography 2014, and the first submission has already been received. In keeping with our aims of securing a high impact journal, submissions will undergo preliminary screening by a panel consisting of the five Main Editors (E. N. Baker, C. R. A. Catlow, G. R. Desiraju, S. Larsen, J. C. E. Spence). Three votes in favor will make a manuscript eligible for refereeing, and it will be immediately assigned to a Co-editor. The seriousness with which we are all taking this new initiative is evidenced by the fact that three of the Main Editors are past or current Presidents of the Union. We also have a very distinguished Editorial Advisory Board (www.iucrj.org/m/services/editors.html). The Union is taking a proactive approach to obtaining excellent submissions to IUCrJ and I invite all crystallographers, and physicists, chemists and biologists who use crystallography and/or one of the techniques covered by our commissions in their research to send their best, contemporary work to the journal. There can be no better way to affirm our identities and to celebrate the very important year that will begin shortly. Through your participation IUCrJ can become the natural home for the best of our science outputs that is both comprehensive and influential.

A brochure regarding the International Year of Crystallography has been recently prepared by UNESCO. Please see www.iycr2014.org/events/publications/crystallography-matters! and download your copy. I would like you to look at it, and disseminate it widely to your colleagues and friends. When I was browsing this brochure I looked at the map of the world that shows countries that adhere to our Union (see article here) I noted that most of the countries that do not belong to the Union are from Africa and Latin America. There are also some isolated countries in the other continents that do not adhere. As I mentioned to you before, I think one of our aims for IYCr2014 is to ensure that as many of these countries join the IUCr, as is reasonably possible. While visiting UNESCO recently in connection with preparations for the IYCr, I was struck by the fact that many African countries are actively interested in developing crystallography, although there is very little scientific activity going on at present. This makes the concept of a laboratory in those countries (something I talked about in the last newsletter) particularly appealing. South America is slightly different. Scientific activity ranges from quite advanced to fairly rudimentary. Once again, the traveling laboratory idea is being explored and fine tuned for 2014. The 1st Latin American Meeting of Crystallography is being held in Córdoba, Argentina, in early November this year and will provide a major opportunity for crystallographers in the region to get together. The Vice President, Claude Lecomte, and I plan to attend and we will try to get some more Latin American countries to join the Union.

I request all of you to make plans to celebrate IYCr2014 in a fitting manner.

Gautam R. Desiraju (desiraju@sscu.iisc.ernet.in)