Editorial: “Good things speak for themselves …


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… and they need propaganda.” This quote from Bertolt Brecht is one of the guiding premises of my work, perhaps the most important one after “quality first!” The International Year of Chemistry (IYC)

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has come to a close. It created much propaganda for chemistry, although critical reflection also had its place. Our goal should now be to continue the many activities of the IYC and establish an ongoing dialogue between chemistry, as a natural science and a branch of industry, and society. The ChemistryViews portal

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(including the newsletter ChemViews) developed by Wiley-VCH and ChemPubSoc Europe offers a platform for this dialogue. And Angewandte Chemie, as a journal of the German Chemical Society (Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker, GDCh), will also play its part.

The 50th volume of Angewandte Chemie International Edition has also come to a close, and many “good things” were published in it. It began with a fireworks display of Reviews and Essays in Issue 1/2011, which the Chairman of the Editorial Board, François Diederich, opened with a look back at “25 Years Full of Chemical Discovery”. Triggered by IYC activities, issue 4 was fashioned entirely by women: all articles had women as corresponding authors! It is alarming that such an issue was necessary, but it is encouraging that it was possible, particularly when one considers that all contributions came out of the regular submission process, that is, they were not solicited! Issue 21 was published on the occasion of two Angewandte Chemie symposia in Beijing and Tokyo, and nearly all Communications were from Chinese and Japanese authors; there were also Reviews from G. M. Whitesides et al. on chemistry and the worm and from F. Diederich et al. on the role of aromatic rings in molecular recognition. The issue was introduced by an Editorial by the 2010/2011 GDCh president, Michael Dröscher who commented on the journal’s anniversary. The breathtaking rise of China as a research nation was demonstrated by Issue 32, the front and back covers of which were decorated by the Great Wall of China as a banderole (front cover picture: Zhen Yang et al./Schindilactone synthesis; back cover picture: Qi-Lin Zhou et al./asymmetric hydrogenation of ketones).

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In an Editorial in issue 36 Richard Zare raised the question “Why help a scientific giant?” Should Western countries, and in particular the USA, help China that has become a fierce competitor on all markets of the world? His answer was a clear yes! Issue 37 was published in conjunction with the GDCh national congress (Wissenschaftsforum) and included, among other things, an Editorial by Peter Atkins, whose textbooks have guided generations of chemists, as well as a Review by B. Rieger, F. E. Kühn et al. on CO2 chemistry. The issue also included a collection of contributions initiated by the German Research Foundation (DFG) that demonstrated the international collaborations of German chemists. A rare special issue in Angewandte Chemie was dedicated to the centenary of the Fritz Haber Institute (FH) of the Max Planck Society (Issue 43). Besides an overview of the history of the institute by B. Friedrich et al., it included an Essay on “Fritz Haber: The Damned Scientist” by M. Dunikowska and L. Turko from Haber’s hometown of Breslau (now Wroclaw). A review on CO oxidation—which all five current Directors of the Institute wrote together!—and one on methane chemistry was followed by an impressive variety of contributions in the fields of catalysis and surface science. The main lecture at the anniversary celebration was given by the famous Columbia University historian Fritz Stern (Figure 1); his extensive work on German history between 1870 and 1933 as well as on the role of leading scientists such as Albert Einstein, Paul Ehrlich, and Fritz Haber on the one hand and his personal relationship to the topic (Fritz Haber was his godfather) on the other hand made his speech a special moment in the history of science and politics. You can read the manuscript of the speech, authorized by Fritz Stern, in this Issue: “Fritz Haber: Greatness of Person and Country”.

Figure 1.

Fritz Stern (right) and Gerhard Ertl (left) at the symposium celebrating the centenary of the FHI.

The 50th volume of the International Edition concluded with an Issue 52 centered around a grand Review by Albert Eschenmoser: “Etiology of Potentially Primordial Biomolecular Structures: From Vitamin B12 to the Nucleic Acids and an Inquiry into the Chemistry of Life’s Origin—A Retrospective”. In it, the author, a true master of organic chemistry who can look back on more than sixty years of chemical research, presents not only the sequel to his legendary review in the jubilee issue 1/1988 celebrating the 100th volume (1988) of Angewandte Chemie (“Vitamin B12: Experiments Concerning the Origin of Its Molecular Structure”), but he also reflects on exemplary “why questions”, such as “Why RNA?”. Issue 52 began with an Editorial by Helmut Schwarz, the president of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, “Fundamental Research Needs Excellent Scientists and Its Own Space.”

Speaking of Editorials: The start of this section (see also my Editorial in issue 19) is the most important change in the 50th jubilee year of the Angewandte Chemie International Edition. In Editorials, notable scientists with something important to say comment on chemistry in the widest sense of the word. The spirit and import of the Editorials section are best demonstrated by the titles and authors of the contributions published to date (Table 1). The next two Editorials examine the ethics of publishing and citing (Jan Reedijk) and the Nobel Prizes in Chemistry (Roald Hoffmann).

Table 1. Editorials 2011.
1Gölitz, PeterEditor, Angewandte Chemie50 Years of the International Edition: More Substance than Appearance
1Diederich, FrancoisETH Zürich, Chairman of the Angewandte Chemie Editorial Board25 Years Full of Chemical Discovery
4Smith, DianeSenior Associate Editor, Angewandte ChemieWomen in Chemistry
15Kreimeyer, AndreasResearch Executive Director, BASF SENew Technology Horizons: Chemistry as Innovation Driver
19Gölitz, PeterEditor, Angewandte ChemieEditorials
21Dröscher, MichaelPresident, Gesellschaft Deutscher ChemikerAngewandte Chemie International Edition Celebrates Its 50th Birthday
25Desiraju, GautamIndian Institute of Science, BangaloreScience in a Changing World
29Schlögl, RobertDirector, Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck SocietyChemistry’s Role in Regenerative Energy
33Wild, Hanno et al.Senior Vice President, Bayer Healthcare AGThe Importance of Chemistry for the Future of the Pharma Industry
36Zare, RichardStanford UniversityWhy Help a Growing Scientific Giant?
37Atkins, PeterOxford UniversityEducating Chemists for the Future
40Thiel, WalterDirector, Max-Planck-Institut für KohlenforschungTheoretical Chemistry - Quo Vadis?
44Lee, Yuan-Tseh et al.Academia Sinica, TaipeiChemistry, Science, and Our Sustainable Future
46Besenbacher, Flemming et al.Aarhus University and The Carlsberg FoundationScientific Social Responsibility - A Call to Arms
50van Santen, RutgerEindhoven University of TechnologyProblem Solvers and Thinkers
52Schwarz, Helmut et al.Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and Technische Universität BerlinFundamental Research Needs Excellent Scientists and ist Own Space

Good things and propaganda: Brecht’s advice holds true for a journal as a whole as well as for the individual articles in it, and a good cover picture is propaganda at its best: for the journal, for the paper it’s connected to, and for the authors. Of the roughly 40 contributions per issue, we can offer 10 % a platform for increased visibility in the form of different cover picture pages. “A picture’s worth a thousand words”, and the power of these pictures has made artists out of many a chemist; the creativity behind the cover pictures continues to amaze and astound us. You will be impressed if you visit the Cover Gallery on the journal homepage.

Issue 1/2012 contains, for the first time, a special final contribution (“And Finally”). In this case, Jens Nørskov et al. report on the development of a mobile web site (“CatApp: A Web Application for Surface Chemistry and Heterogeneous Catalysis”). “And Finally” provides an opportunity to present contributions that don’t fit into any other section of Angewandte Chemie. The decision on what ends up in this section will, of course, be guided by “quality first!”

You might think that Angewandte Chemie doesn’t need propaganda, especially if you know that the number of fulltext downloads has grown enormously again in 2011. Furthermore, roughly 12 % more Communications were submitted last year, altogether ca. 8200 (!) Communications were received, 800 more than in 2010. Since the rejection rate is just below 80 %—Angewandte stands for “Klasse statt Masse”—this figure equals about 160 more Communications to be published. As we published ca. 300 Communications more the publication times could be shortened significantly: In the last quarter of 2011 50 % of all Communications were published in less than two months (from online submission to online publication). To offer a particularly attractive anniversary volume of the International Edition, the Reviews section grew by 40 %, the section Minireviews by 60 %, and the section Essays by 100 %. Overall, 2430 (almost 25 %) more pages were published than in 2010.

Notwithstanding this stunning development, we continued with propaganda throughout the anniversary year, not least with a reception for authors, referees, and readers at the Pacifichem meeting at the end of 2010 in Hawaii as well as with the two mentioned symposia in Beijing and Tokyo which were organized by the GDCh and the Chinese Chemical Society and the Chemical Society of Japan, respectively. And also the Editorial Board members celebrated the anniversary at their annual meeting in Weinheim, a pleasant small town in southwest Germany, where the editorial office and the publisher Wiley-VCH are located. Snapshots from these events are shown on the next two pages.

But propaganda also has its dark side, as another German writer, Heinrich Heine, wrote more than 100 years before Bertolt Brecht, in the poem “To Fritz St.” (excerpt):

“Die Schlechten siegen, untergehn die Wackern, Statt stiller Glut lobt man nur helles Flackern. Vergebens wirst du den Parnaß beackern, Verstehst dus nicht, noch vor dem Ei zu gackern. Auch mußt du … oft in in die Posaune schmettern. Und bald wird dich die Galerie vergöttern.” A loose translation: “The bad win, the good lose out, instead of burning embers, only bright light counts. You’ll search for muse in vain if you don’t learn to cluck before the egg. You need to.. blow your horn. And they′ll adore you soon.”

In this vein: If we must have propaganda, then for “good things”—for good work resulting in good manuscripts, for a good journal, for chemistry: in year one after the IYC, the 51st year of Angewandte Chemie International Edition, which will be followed next year by the 125th volume of Angewandte Chemie.

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Peter Gölitz