Letter from the President
[Marv Hackert] Marvin L. Hackert

Fall is here and one can feel the pace of everything picking up as another academic year is underway for many of us. I hope you were able or still plan to attend one or more of our regional meetings with an opportunity to hear the latest science, view new developments in instrumentation, and reconnect with colleagues. The IUCr Finance Committee (FC) and Executive Committee (EC) met this summer in conjunction with the ACA regional meeting in Denver. I will comment briefly on a few of the financial and policy issues that were addressed.

[EC and FC members] Members of the IUCr FC and EC met in conjunction with the ACA meeting in Denver. (l to r) Standing: Michael Dacombe, Malcolm Cooper, Jane Robinson, Jonathan Agbenyega, Samar Hasnain, Peter Strickland, Masaki Takata, Wulf Depmeier, Santiago GarcĂ­a-Granda, Radomir Kuzel and Mitchell Guss; sitting: Hanna Dabkowska, Gautam Desiraju, Marvin Hackert, Mike Glazer and Luc Van Meervelt.

As noted previously, many good things are happening in our community but the financial challenges we face are significant. Last year the FC recommended that the EC consider the establishment of an IUCr Associates Programme. After reviewing the input received from our survey, the EC approved a modified version of the proposed voluntary IUCr Associates Programme that should be in place sometime next year. Meanwhile, the Chester office is working on ways to articulate the structure and benefits of the programme. We also discussed ways that the Chester office can provide a broader range of services economically to assist our country members and Regional Associates.

The IUCr is blessed with a dedicated and excellent staff in its Chester offices. One of the most important issues facing the IUCr over the coming year will be to find a new Executive Secretary. The IUCr has been fortunate having Mike Dacombe manage the day-to-day operations since 1993. The successful candidate is expected to manage the financial and administrative affairs of the Union, as well as having responsibility for the staff. The Executive Secretary works closely with our General Secretary (Luc Van Meervelt), and reports to the EC. The position has been posted, so if you know of good candidates encourage them to apply.

Our journals have undergone many changes during the past four years, including the introduction of the new open-access journal IUCrJ. Open-access journals not only provide easier access for readers but also benefit authors, as articles have increased visibility, are more widely read, are cited sooner and achieve higher citation rates. We are pleased to announce that IUCr Journals meet all the recently announced open-access publication requirements of the Wellcome Trust. For all open-access articles, the IUCr provides PubMed Central a PDF of the article, an XML version of the article plus supplementary information. Currently, two of the nine IUCr Journals are fully open access and the remaining seven include a mix of open-access and subscription-only articles.

Impact factors have received a lot of attention in recent years, probably too much. According to Thomson Reuters, over half of the IUCr journals have seen their impact factor increase since last year, IUCrJ received its first impact factor of 5.3, and Acta E: Crystallographic Communications was one of the first journals to be listed in the Emerging Sources Citation Index. As a Scientific Union, the IUCr wishes to promote best practice in the assessment of scientific research by institutions, funding bodies and other organizations. The IUCr recently signed DORA (San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment). This Declaration calls on the world scientific community to stop using journal-based metrics, particularly journal impact factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, and that such metrics should not be the sole basis for hiring, promotion, or funding decisions.

The IUCr has also endorsed another important international accord, Open Data in a Big Data World, which provides a detailed and reasoned account of responsibilities and opportunities for all stakeholders in the modern data-rich scientific enterprise. The accord was published jointly by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC). Our endorsement followed a careful study of the accord and crafting of a position paper that provides details of how the crystallographic community in general, and the IUCr in particular, respond to the challenges laid out in the Accord. The IUCr position paper is available at www.iucr.org/iucr/open-data.

ICSU and ISSC have partnered on other joint efforts, most recently in identifying sustainable development goals and targets. These collaborations led the two organizations to form a working group to study the benefits of a possible merger of ICSU and ISSC. An extraordinary general assembly of ISSC and ICSU will be held Oslo in October 2016, where members of both organizations will be asked to vote on the principle of a merger of ISSC and ICSU, and on a planning framework for the development of the new organization. There are a number of details that remain to be sorted out, such as the handling of dues, official national representation, the fate of ICSU working Commissions, ways to insure minimal representation of both the social and physical sciences, how to include medicine and engineering in the discussion of global concerns etc. The IUCr is fortunate that former General Secretary Sven Lidin will represent the IUCr as our delegate at the meeting in Oslo.

We have several important meetings yet this year. The 1st Pan African Conference on Crystallography to increase the awareness of crystallography and opportunities for African researchers meets in Dschang, Cameroon (October 6-11), and we have two remaining Regional Associate Meetings: LACA (Merida, Mexico, October 23-27) and AsCA (Hanoi, Vietnam, December 4-7). Our next Congress IUCr XXIV in Hyderabad, India, in August 2017 will soon be upon us. I cannot emphasize too much how important it is for the future health of our organization that we recognize the need for diverse representation in all phases of the IUCr - this starts with the nomination of delegates, and nominations for officers and Commission members to be voted on in Hyderabad. In September the IUCr emailed instructions to Chairs of all our Commissions concerning recommendations for the membership and Chair of each Commission. The EC expects to see a proposed membership that has gender balance representative of the field. Our goal is to make the election process more transparent and this requires that the delegates know the names of the nominees well in advance of the General Assembly meeting. We have therefore asked each Commission to submit their slate of recommendations to the Executive Secretary by May 1, 2017.

On a sad note we mourn the passing of long-time IUCr employee David Hoare (1966-2016). Our sympathies go out to David's family and many friends. David, as well as his expertise in databases, web programming and contributions to the World Directory of Crystallographers, will be greatly missed.

Thank you all for your continued support of our collective mission to support and advance crystallography around the world. Please do not hesitate to contact me or any member of the EC with your suggestions for how the IUCr can work more effectively to serve you.

Marvin L. Hackert (m.hackert@austin.utexas.edu)