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Letter from the President

[Henk Schenk]Thank you for the enthusiastic emails in response to my last letter. More than 10 offers for translations in different languages and suggestions for the future children's website were received. Continued input will be greatly appreciated!

The Executive Committee (EC) held its yearly three days of intensive meetings in Nancy, France - including a full day devoted to the journals. Important actions taken included: the closure of full-text access to Crystallography Journals Online to non-subscribers, the launch of a new electronic-only journal, the introduction of a Journals Grant Fund (JGF), and the Africa Initiative.

It was always our plan to make the full functionality of the Online site available to subscribers only, with partial functionality available to others. From September 2000 summaries of articles are free, but viewing and downloading articles is restricted to subscribers. Full information and registration procedures may be found at the journals web site (

The new electronic-only journal, Acta Crystallographica Section E (Structure Reports Online), will be starting in January 2001 and manuscripts are being accepted. Notes for Authors are available at the web site. Subscribers to Acta C will receive Acta E free; Acta E will also have a new subscriber category by which contributors to the journal will be eligible for a reduced subscription rate. Another step into the electronic future!

The Executive Committee is concerned that institutions in many countries, including some within our group of Adhering Bodies, are unable to subscribe to our Journals for economic reasons. To help these institutions keep up with crystallography, we have established a Journals Grant Fund (JGF). Institutions from countries with economic problems may apply for a grant towards part of the subscription costs for each of our Journals. A Sub-committee of the EC will then rank the applications and make recommendations to the EC. Annually, 20 three-year grants will be awarded. In 2001 we will start with 20 one-year grants, 20 two-year grants and 20 three-year grants. More details may be found on the IUCr web site (

Another exciting item on the EC agenda was our Africa Initiative (AI). When Jan Boeyens joined the EC in 1996 he proposed that a crystallographic network be set up in the southern part of Africa. In the past triennium Jan has established an Affiliated Centre for the use of the Cambridge Structural Database in Africa, sponsored by the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC), the South African National Science Foundation (NSF) and the IUCr. Groups from all over Africa have free access to the database through the Centre. Another achievement was the UNESCO-sponsored transfer of a single-crystal diffractometer from the CCDC to Nairobi, where it is now in operation. In Nancy, the EC decided to sponsor two PhD positions for students from countries in Southern Africa to study for a PhD in South Africa. When they return to their home countries this will strengthen the AI further. Jan and I found much enthusiasm for this programme. Likely co-sponsors include the NSF, South African industries, the CCDC, the International Council for Science, and other charities. The PhD programme may eventually comprise six to ten positions! In Nancy we described our AI at an ad-hoc meeting with representatives from Bruker, Nonius, Philips and Rigaku who shared our enthusiasm. It may be possible to ship used instruments to places in Africa with arrangements similar to those that accompanied a Nairobi installation. The manufacturers know where good equipment awaits a second life. PhDs in the AI training programme may well return home to well equipped crystallographic laboratories. Our AI is really gaining momentum!

Hendrick Schenk