The year 2015 was a very important one for this journal. Thus, on 6th March, Philosophical Transactions celebrated the 350th anniversary of the publication of its first issue and the birth of scientific publishing. This important occasion was celebrated by a series of events including:
— An exhibition that displayed treasures from the Royal Society's archives connected with the journal, plus information obtained in the on-going project ‘Publishing the Philosophical Transactions: the economic, social and cultural history of a learned journal, 1665–2015’ (http://arts.st-andrews.ac.uk/philosophicaltransactions and http://royalsociety.org/journals/publishing350/history-philosophical-transactions/).
— Science stories, a series of short films in which Fellows of the Royal Society discuss the stories behind the papers and show that, in science, there is no final chapter.
— A ‘History of Science’ conference, which examined the transformations and challenges in scientific publishing over the past three and a half centuries and considered future possible developments.
— A special issue (number 17) of the Young Scientists Journal (http://ysjournal.com/), which comprised accounts of the research accomplished by schools in receipt of a Royal Society Partnership Grant. Each of these grants enabled research to be undertaken by pupils with the help of a professional scientist.
— The publication of a special theme issue ‘Celebrating 350 years of Philosophical Transactions: physical sciences papers’ (http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/celebrating-350-years-philosophical-transactions-physical-sciences-papers), which, in addition to the Introduction , contained 16 commentaries, each written by a current author and focused on a major scientific advance in the physical, mathematical or engineering sciences since 1665 published in Philosophical Transactions. Each commentary placed the advance in its historical and scientific context, indicating how the new knowledge influenced developments within its scientific field and beyond. A corresponding special theme issue of Philosophical Transactions B was also produced (http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/celebrating-350-years-philosophical-transactions-life-sciences-papers).
— Two 2-day debates concerning ‘The future of scholarly scientific communication’. The Royal Society convened a diverse group of major stakeholders—including researchers, research funders, university leaders, policy makers, publishers and data experts—to present ideas and exchange views on how scientific information and ideas might be communicated in the future. Questions considered included: ‘Is peer review fit for purpose?’; ‘Measuring science: why do we need to measure research quality?’; ‘Why is reproducibility important?’; ‘The importance of scientific integrity to research and innovation’; ‘The journal article: is the end in sight?’; ‘The economics of publishing and sustainability’. A summary of the main points of the presentations and the subsequent discussions during the 4 days of information exchange is available (http://royalsociety.org/∼/media/events/2015/04/FSSC1/FSSC-Report.pdf).
Philosophical Transactions A commenced 2015 with new branding and a new website. During this year, in addition to the celebratory issue, the journal published 25 other theme issues. As in previous years, several of these issues were based on information presented at one of the prestigious Royal Society discussion or Theo Murphy meetings. Notable examples of these issues include: ‘Before, behind and beyond the discovery of the Higgs boson’ ; ‘The new chemistry of the elements’ ; ‘Arctic sea ice reduction: the evidence, models and impacts’ ; and ‘Feedbacks on climate in the Earth system’ . Also, the journal always welcomes new proposals for prospective issues that focus on a research topic in the physical, mathematical and engineering sciences of current significance and impact. Examples of such theme issues published in 2015 included: ‘Research achieved with Diamond and future perspectives’ ; ‘New geometric concepts in the foundations of physics’ ; ‘Heterotic computing: exploiting hybrid computational devices’ ; and ‘Tsunamis: bridging science, engineering and society’ .
We look forward to a similarly interesting range of theme issues in 2016. Thus, this year, in addition to the considerations of quantum probability and the mathematical modelling of decision making presented in this issue, the journal will publish scholarly accounts of a wide range of other topics in the physical, mathematical and engineering sciences, including: the impact of catalysis on society; the current relevance of Maxwell's equations; communications networks; fullerenes; and atmospheric effects of solar eclipses.
The challenge of producing a new theme issue of this journal every two weeks is considerable and involves many individuals with the requisite expertise and experience. The scientific knowledge and judgement of Guest Editors and Members of the Editorial Board is indispensable in the maintenance of the journal's high standards of scholarship. In recognizing this, I wish to record my appreciation to each of the Guest Editors involved in the production of the published theme issues and those who are engaged in the preparation of the new volumes that have been accepted for publication. Given the range of scientific topics covered by Philosophical Transactions A, the role of the Editorial Board is vital to ensure a professional and an informed evaluation of each prospective issue prior to acceptance for publication. The wide geographical spread of the countries in which these scientists are based considerably enhances the journal's international profile. Furthermore, the Members of the Editorial Board, each of whom is a leading authority in her/his field of science, are a vital source of guidance and ideas. I thank all of the Board Members for their many constructive contributions during the past year, especially those who are leaving us after serving for two consecutive 3-year terms. As in previous years, we have recruited several new Members to the Editorial Board. These appointments will ensure that the journal has immediate access to expertise across the full spectrum of the physical, mathematical and engineering sciences. I welcome each of these new Members and look forward to benefiting from their expertise, judgement and advice.
I am pleased to record my appreciation of the professionalism and efficiency of members of the Royal Society Publishing Staff who, once a theme issue is approved, ensure the production of the polished final product. These activities are led by Ruth Milne and Matthew Eland, the journal's Editorial Coordinator and Production Editor, respectively. Also, I thank Debbie Vaughan and Felicity Davie, of the Royal Society's Marketing Department, for raising the profile and enhancing the general awareness of this and the Royal Society's other journals. Finally, I wish to record my appreciation for the considerable support that I, in my role as the journal's Editor-in-Chief, receive on a regular basis from Bailey Fallon, the journal's Commissioning Editor. Thus, throughout the year, Bailey ensures that all of the many facets of the journal's operations progress proficiently and productively. Also, Bailey plays an important role in monitoring the journal's performance and in initiating strategically significant developments.
One contribution of 14 to a theme issue ‘Quantum probability and the mathematical modelling of decision making’.
- © 2015 The Author(s)