(IUCr) 75 years of IUCr Journals: 1948 to 2023, an Editor-in-Chief's perspective
peter.suber's bookmarks 2023-09-10
"The IUCr came into being 75 years ago in 1948 and others will recount the history of its origins as part of these 75th Anniversary celebrations. Also, please see earlier histories of the IUCr (Kamminga, 1989) and of the IUCr journals, especially on their 60th anniversary (Authier, 2009). Right from the start, the IUCr recognized the importance of high-quality publication of crystallographic research and structural data with its own journal, Acta Crystallographica (Acta Cryst.). Acta Cryst. remained the sole IUCr journal for some 20 years, but in 1968, it was expanded into two sections: Acta Cryst. A for crystal physics, diffraction, and theoretical and general crystallography, and Acta Cryst. B for structural crystallography and crystal chemistry. At around this same time (and following a decision made earlier at the 1963 IUCr General Assembly) a new journal was founded: Journal of Applied Crystallography for reporting methods, apparatus, problems and discoveries in applied crystallography. In 1983, Acta Cryst. was further expanded into three sections with the founding of Acta Cryst. C to handle crystal structure communications, and in 1993 it was expanded again with Acta Cryst. D to provide a needed home for the increasing number of biological crystallography submissions. The following year, in October 1994, another new IUCr journal was founded: the Journal of Synchrotron Radiation for submissions across the whole remit of synchrotron science (and later free-electron laser X-ray sources).
A key development was the introduction of online journal versions in 1999. Up to this point, both the review process and journal publication, itself, took place almost exclusively in hardcopy form, and this author can just remember (as a new Co-editor in 2002) inheriting a `Not for publication – for review only' stamp to use on hardcopy submissions received and then sent out to review. Over the following five years or so, the review system became entirely electronic and eventually web-based. A number of other important changes came to the journals in this period, such as the advent of an open-access option for authors in 2004. Partly to take advantage of these changes, two new sections were added to Acta Cryst.: Acta Cryst. E in 2001 to carry structure reports online, and Acta Cryst. F in 2005 for rapid structural biology communications. In 2008, Acta Cryst. E became the first IUCr journal to flip to `open-access only' while in 2014 all the IUCr journals went to online publication only. Also, coinciding with the United Nations declaration of the International Year of Crystallography in 2014, the IUCr launched a new fully open-access journal, IUCrJ, to attract high-quality cross-cutting papers of broad scientific significance from all areas of structural science and crystallography. IUCrJ now covers seven main subject areas with papers pre-selected by the Main Editors prior to review.
Completing the complement of IUCr journals is IUCrData, fully open access from its inception in 2016, at least initially to take data reports formerly submitted to Acta Cryst. E. This was associated with the transformation of Acta Cryst. E from a journal focused on Structure Reports Online to one more focused on Crystallographic Communications. The transformation of Acta Cryst. E was necessitated in part by its removal from the main journal citation index in 2012. Both journals have continued to develop and evolve over the years with a Raw Data Letters section recently started in IUCrData, while Acta Cryst. E has become fully re-i