Letter from the President

Letter from the President

[Henk Schenk]I am proud of our six journals, their quality and their staff. The journals belong to the highest in citation rankings in their class, give great value for money, particularly compared with commercially run journals, and, moreover, they provide easy access through the Internet. Our community sets the standards and maintains them through the Commission on Journals chaired by John Helliwell. As a not-for-profit organization, the IUCr is also able to keep the journals  reasonably priced. There is even a substantially reduced rate for individual crystallographers: personal subscriptions to our journals are real bargains! In my laboratory it is a tradition that the oldest staff member is a personal subscriber and it is really great to have the most important crystallographic journals on your own desk! Therefore I am surprised that the total number of personal subscribers is not higher. Today, with web access to the brand new articles, and in due course also to all back issues, it is even more attractive to subscribe. In this Newsletter you will find more information or you may contact our Promotions Officer Andrea Sharpe (as@iucr.org).

As Durward Cruickshank wrote [Acta Cryst. (1998), A54, 687-696, or in Crystallography Across the Sciences, same pagination], at the end of World War II such famous crystallographers as Paul Ewald, Martin Buerger and Henry Lipson formed ideas to set up a new international journal of crystallography and other services for crystallographers. Their ideal way to organize this was through an international society or union, representing the new crystallography. And so they did. As we know today they were very right in founding the Union and starting Acta Crystallographica. In 1948, the first year of Acta, 348 pages of high quality scientific papers were published containing many highlights that are still well known. We now own six journals and in 1999 published almost 1500 high quality papers in 7700 pages.

In principle the journals are still run in the same way as in 1948, although all the processes involved (editing, refereeing, technical editing) used to be in the hands of volunteers. The editing and refereeing are still done by top scientists who volunteer to keep the standards of our journals high. The technical editing is carried out by the Chester staff and this has led to many improvements such as ‘Crystallography Journals Online’ and an emailalerting system, and a web-based refereeing process is being developed.

The six journals form a treasure-trove for the IUCr and give us a large responsibility to keep them alive and vibrant. So we as individuals must support our sextet and there are many ways to do this:

  • submitting our best scientific work,
  • convincing our library to subscribe or maintain subscriptions,
  • subscribing personally to one or more of the six,
  • including in all our publications any relevant citation to papers in the six,
  • serving as a (fast) referee,
  • suggesting improvements, etc.

My last paragraph is about something completely different. As ex-Chair of the subcommittee on the Union Calendar I know that many congresses are organized all over the world and luckily also in emerging countries. Last January I was much impressed by the meeting on ‘Characterization of Nanocrystalline and Amorphous Materials’, organized in Ismailia at Suez Canal University by a Committee of the Egyptian Crystallographic Society chaired by Professor Karimat El-Sayed. The programme, the organization and the meeting place were all excellent and well over 100 participants met in an international setting!

Henk Schenk