In 2015, we enjoyed extensive celebrations of the journal's 350th anniversary. These celebrations represented a ‘springboard and not a mattress’ and they have stimulated a range of changes and developments, including the information provided on citations to articles published in The Royal Society's journals. The Royal Society is a signatory of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) (http://www.ascb.org/dora/). This declaration challenges the role played by the impact factor (IF) as the main means for evaluating science and promotes the assessment of research on its own merits, rather than on the basis of the journal in which the research is published. As part of its commitment to aid the realization of the goals of DORA, The Royal Society has taken an initiative to provide a range of citation metrics for each of its journals. The current details for Philosophical Transactions A are provided at: http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/citation-metrics and, of these, I would highlight the citation distribution. This demonstrates that, as is the case for every academic journal, the IF conceals a huge range in citation counts; therefore, it is very misleading to treat a journal's IF as an indicator of the quality and significance of all the papers published in that journal during the period in question.
During 2016, Philosophical Transactions A published 26 theme issues on a wide variety of topics in the physical, mathematical and engineering sciences each having current relevance and potential longer-term significance. As in previous years, several of these issues were based on information presented at one of the Royal Society's prestigious Discussion or Theo Murphy meetings. Notable examples of these include:
—–‘Antarctic subglacial lake exploration’ ;
—–‘Catalysis making the world a better place’ ;
—–‘Communication networks beyond the capacity crunch’ ;
—–‘Unifying physics and technology in the light of Maxwell's equations’ .
The majority of the issues of Philosophical Transactions A derive from submissions received from prospective Guest Editors (http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/guest-editors). We welcome the receipt of new proposals for theme issues which are focused on a research topic within our sphere of interest, are scientifically coherent, will be of general interest and considered significant by scientists in the particular field. Examples of such theme issues published in 2016 included:
—–‘Fullerenes: past, present and future, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Buckminster Fullerene’ . This issue was dedicated to the Nobel Laureate, Professor Sir Harry Kroto, who died on 30 April 2016;
—–‘Quantitative mass spectrometry’ ; and
—–‘Raman spectroscopy in art and archaeology’ .
We look forward to publishing a similar range of interesting and influential theme issues in the coming year. Presently scheduled highlights include:
—–This issue, ‘Metal organic frameworks and coordination polymers' which are novel and remarkably versatile materials comprised of an array of cations bridged by organic molecules that have considerable strategic potential;
—–‘Optical angular momentum’ to mark the 25th anniversary of the original and influential paper on this topic by Les Allen et al. .
—–‘Cometary science after Rosetta’ which will report on the ground-breaking discoveries of the European Space Agency's very successful Rosetta mission that came to an end on 30 September 2016; and
—–‘Ocean ventilation and deoxygenation in a warming world’ considers the effects of climate change on ocean circulation and ventilation and the resultant consequences on marine ecosystems.
This journal's general policies and procedures continue to evolve. Notable recent changes include:
—–The requirement that authors provide an ORCID when submitting their manuscript. Thus, ORCID provides a unique identifier for all researchers, which serves to distinguish authors with similar names and simplifies searching of publications databases (http://blogs.royalsociety.org/publishing/from-january-youll-need-an-orcid/).
—–Authors are being encouraged to deposit preprints of their articles in subject or institutional repositories (http://blogs.royalsociety.org/publishing/what-makes-preprints-so-attractive/).
—–The Royal Society has formed a partnership with figshare to enhance the discoverability of supporting data for articles (http://blogs.royalsociety.org/publishing/making-data-discoverable-with-figshare/).
Meeting the challenge of producing a new theme issue of this journal every two weeks involves many individuals who have the requisite expertise, experience, commitment and judgement. A vital component of our publishing model is that each issue of the journal is guest-edited by leading authorities in the field. The role of the Guest Editors is crucial to ensure the accuracy and comprehensive nature of the information presented and to maintain the journal's high standard of scholarship. I thank each and all of the scientists who have undertaken this role so effectively.
The scientific knowledge and judgement of Members of the Editorial Board is indispensable in our consideration of the nature and content of prospective new issues. Also, the widespread geographical locations of these Board Members enhance the journal's international profile and ensure that we are informed about scientific and other relevant developments that have occurred, or are in prospect, outside of the UK. I thank all of the Board Members for their many constructive contributions during the past year. In particular, I wish to thank all those who are leaving us after serving two consecutive 3-year terms. As in previous years, we have recruited several new Editorial Board Members to ensure that the journal has immediate access to first class expertise across the full spectrum of our scientific remit. I welcome each of these new Board Members and look forward to benefitting 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 professional production of the final product. We receive very positive feedback from our Guest Editors concerning the support they receive in this respect. These activities are led by Ruth Milne and Thadcha Retneswaran, 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 society's other journals. Last but by no means least, I wish to record my appreciation for the considerable support that I, in my role as the journal's Editor-in-Chief, receive from Bailey Fallon, the journal's Commissioning Editor, throughout the year. An important aspect of his role is to monitor all aspects of the journal's performance and present relevant information to the Editorial Board, thereby encouraging informed debate and considered development of the journal's policy and practice, notably at the Board's annual meeting.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.