IUCr journals

IUCr journals: past, present and future perspectives

These rapidly changing and challenging times in scientific publication provide new opportunities for publishers, authors and readers. For the IUCr this scene is set in the context of its core activities:- (i) service to crystallography and its cognate subjects, biology, chemistry, physics and materials, (ii) service to the crystallographic community, especially young scientists around the globe.

The technical editing, management and R&D staff of the IUCr journals in Chester is made up of 18 people who work closely with the Editorial Boards of the journals, 100 academic specialists in the fields covered by the six journals. The editors comprise the Journals’ Commission (JComm), which holds meetings at topical conferences, at the triennial IUCr Congresses, and at meetings of the regional affiliate societies (ACA, ECA and AsCA). Because our percentage journal ‘profits’ should be modest, we generate a reasonable surplus for good works by having as large a volume of activity as possible. Indeed 70% of the IUCr’s cash flow involves the journals, with 80% of this being Acta Crystallographica, 12% Journal of Applied Crystallography and 8% Journal of Synchrotron Radiation.

The founders of the IUCr foresaw the importance of its journals and entrusted their initial development to P.P. Ewald. Today the Editorial Boards are very conscious of the stewardship that they inherit. They are the most public spirited and conscientious group of people I have ever worked with, giving generously of their expertise in the service of authors and readers.

The quality of the journals is ensured by the teamwork of the Chester staff and JComm. The WWW has provided rapid and efficient communication between the IUCr staff and its Editors, streamlined peer-review procedures and permitted the development of additional author and reader services culminating in Crystallography Journals Online. This service includes the 50-year searchable index, a fantastic research tool. Digitization of all the 190,000 published pages going back to 1948 is in progress. As a result, preparation of CD-ROMs devoted to specific topics or works of individual authors will be feasible.

Staying at the forefront of crystallographic publishing requires not only state-of-the-art author and reader services, but also Editorial Boards of exceptional depth and breadth. In addition, the IUCr has a network of Commissions whose members provide an extra body of people who are accessible for consultation on specific matters; an example is the Commission on Crystallographic Nomenclature (Chair Sidney Abrahams). The IUCr also convenes expert working groups on particular topics; of special relevance to the journals are the Committees for Electronic Publishing (Chair Howard Flack), Crystallographic Databases (Chair Frank Allen) and Promotion (Chair Mike Glazer). The IUCr subsidizes worldwide distribution of its Newsletter to 15,000 readers, alerting them to journal activities with journal article highlights and special issues such as this.

In the following report the Managing Editor and the R&D Officer describe journal developments. Reports follow from the individual journal Editors who describe the trends in their scientific fields and sub-fields, and future themed issues. They also mention the new Co-editors that have joined JComm recently, and their scientific interests. We hope you find their reports useful and informative and invite your comments.

John Helliwell, Editor-in-Chief of Acta Cryst. and Chairman of the IUCr Commission on Journals