Champagne and Fireworks: Angewandte Chemie Celebrates Its Birthday


  • Dr. Peter Gölitz

    Corresponding author
    1. Angewandte Chemie, WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Boschstrasse 12, 69469 Weinheim (Germany)
    • Angewandte Chemie, WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Boschstrasse 12, 69469 Weinheim (Germany)

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A rousing force emanates from the important findings, which, in turn, inspires receptive natures to strive for achievements of their own. We produce our journal for such people. And we seek out these avant-garde. This constitutes our entire program. This program for Angewandte Chemie was formulated by Wilhelm Foerst 50 years ago, and still holds today. It is at the heart of this Editorial on the occasion of the journal’s 125th anniversary, in which a monument for the unknown referee is proposed.

In 1888,

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while Vincent van Gogh painted sunflowers, and Gustav Mahler composed his 1st Symphony, while Herman Hollerith installed the first punch-card driven calculating machine and Heinrich Hertz discovered fundamental physical effects, while Wilhelm Ostwald formulated his dilution law and Friedrich Reinitzer saw the first liquid crystals, while Emil Fischer worked on carbohydrates and just after Clemens Winkler had isolated pure germanium, Ferdinand Fischer (Figure 1) in Hanover edited the first volume of the Zeitschrift für angewandte Chemie. With this anniversary edition we celebrate the beginning of the 125th year of Angewandte Chemie. Fittingly, fireworks and champagne are featured on the front and back cover and are dealt with scientifically in two articles of this jubilee issue.

Figure 1.

Ferdinand Fischer, founding editor of Angewandte Chemie.

An earlier version of the journal, the Zeitschrift für die Chemische Industrie, began publication in 1887 but ran for only one year under this title. Much has already been written about these beginnings and the first hundred years of the journal, for example, in an Editorial in the special edition to mark the centenary (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 1988, 27, 3–4). The development of chemistry in light of 125 years of Angewandte Chemie will be illuminated by François Diederich, Chairman of the Editorial Board since 2004, in a review article in the second special edition, which will be published to coincide with the Anniversary Symposium celebrating 125 years of Angewandte Chemie on March 12 in Berlin. For this reason, and as some of the other articles in this issue also cover the history of chemistry, I shall leave this topic alone and spring straight to the most important point: to say thank you!

Thank you first to the “old guard”, the seven Editors in Chief who came before me and who gave Angewandte Chemie its character. It was Ferdinand Fischer (Editor 1888–1899) who laid the foundations for what was to come. He may be forgotten but the journal is more alive and renowned than ever. Wilhelm Foerst (Editor 1933–1945 and 1949–1966) did not prevent Angewandte Chemie from providing space for the criminal National Socialist (Nazi) ideology. However, his name is also synonymous with the new beginning and rise of the journal after the Second World War. It was under his patronage that in 1962 Helmut Grünewald (Editor 1967–1978) founded the English Edition. In his preface to the 75th year of Angewandte Chemie, Wilhelm Foerst formulated the journals program as: “A rousing force emanates from the important findings, which, in turn, inspires receptive natures to strive for achievements of their own. We produce our journal for such people. And we seek out these avant-garde.

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This constitutes our entire program”—and this is still as true today as it was 50 years ago.

Thank you to the current and past members of the Editorial Board and the International Advisory Board, who help the editors with ideas and also criticism. Many of them have contributed articles to this jubilee issue. Three new members of the International Advisory Board are introduced on the News page, and on the subsequent pages the current Editorial Board and International Advisory Board are presented.

Thank you to the owners and the publishers, the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker (GDCh; German Chemical Society),

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whose directors, currently Wolfram Koch, have always given Angewandte Chemie top priority. The publisher Wiley-VCH

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has, just like its predecessors, the Verlag Chemie and the VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, provided for the journal in an exemplary manner. Many co-workers in human resources or finance, in the marketing or production departments work in the background to make the editor’s life easier. Angewandte Chemie has also benefitted greatly from the incorporation of Wiley-VCH in the parent company John Wiley & Sons,

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which in the age of electronic publication is of fundamental importance. For example, thanks to the App

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developed for iPads Angewandte “mobile” can be read anywhere, just like the printed copy can be taken anywhere.

Thank you in particular to all the editorial staff (see Figures 2 and 3 and the names in the Masthead). The many Reviews and Minireviews, Essays and Highlights, Obituaries and Conference Reports need to be invited or selected from the articles offered, the innumerable Communications that have been submitted over all these years had to be evaluated and referees selected. The accepted manuscripts have to be edited and proof-read and innumerable “last-minute” corrections be taken care of. It is a lot like the Task of Sisyphus: In the evening all the manuscripts are finally taken care of, the next morning though the electronic in-basket is fuller than ever; and when an issue is published the Editorial Team is already working on the next three, four, or five issues. However, every manuscript received is a sign of trust from our authors, and every new manuscript offers the privilege of a “first look” into exciting new results.

Figure 2.

The senior editors of Angewandte Chemie. Jens Ackermann, Neville Compton, Stephen Horner, Haymo Ross, Frank Maaß, Guy Richardson, Peter Gölitz, Diane Smith, Volker Jacob (from left to right).

Figure 3.

Most of the Angewandte team, including production staff.

Thank you to the referees, who advise the editors in their decisions and give the authors valuable suggestions for the improvement of their manuscripts. It is about time that a “monument to the unknown referee” was erected! Auguste Rodin′s The Thinker could be most apt (Figure 4). That, very rarely, in spite of strict refereeing, manuscripts are published in Angewandte Chemie that later turn out to be incorrect, is something that the editors take full responsibility for—and offer several methods to set the record straight, ranging from publication of a “Corrigendum” to the “Withdrawal” of an article. That these methods need seldom be employed is something for which we are indebted to our referees, and naturally, to the careful work of our authors.

Figure 4.

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin.

Thank you, of course, to the authors: It is after all the authors who choose Angewandte Chemie for the publication of their work, or who accept the invitation from the editors to present new results or inspiring ideas to a worldwide audience. All these many authors are represented by the authors of the articles in this anniversary edition, who get a special vote of thanks. To be able to collect articles from 16 Chemistry Nobel Laureates in one issue along with articles from many members of the Editorial Board and the International Advisory Board—in such diverse forms as an Essay or an Interview, a Review article or the classic Communication, demonstrates the loyalty of the international community to Angewandte Chemie.

Thank you finally to the readers, for whom we launch the fireworks of this special issue, hoping to ignite in them further inspiration and sparks of creativity. Reader resonance is no longer measured by the print run of a journal but in the number of full-text downloads per article, and this key statistic demonstrates that the resonance of Angewandte Chemie is huge and extends far beyond chemistry and into the neighboring disciplines of biological and material sciences and into medicine and physics. Readers are often authors, authors are often referees, referees are often readers—and so it goes on. One of these is shown in Figure 5: Robert Burns Woodward was an author and reader of Angewandte Chemie, and placed great emphasis on the use of language in publications. On one occasion he wrote in a letter, brought to my attention by Jeffrey I. Seeman: “It is a very valuable asset to a chemist to be able to formulate his ideas, describe his experiments, and express his conclusions in clear, forceful English. Further, since thought necessarily involves the use of words, thinking is more powerful, and its conclusions are more valid, in the degree to which the thinker has a command of language.” Ideas can be expressed more clearly and precisely in the mother tongue than in a foreign language. It is thus particularly pleasing that Angewandte Chemie, even in its 125th year, still appears with a significant part of its content in German, although the English language version is by far the more-widely read these days.

Figure 5.

Robert Burns Woodward with a copy of Angewandte Chemie on his desk. The picture was taken by Walter Lwowski (Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA) and provided by J. I. Seeman (Richmond, Virginia, USA) and W. Maio (Las Cruces): thanks to all three of them.

The editors are committed to maintaining this spirit, and are determined to make the whole 125th volume a fireworks display. With this issue, a good start has been made, in issue 10, which will coincide with the Anniversary Symposium in Berlin on March 12, 2013, there will be articles from the speakers and further members of the Editorial and International Advisory Board. The jubilee celebrations to which all readers are cordially invited (see advertisement in this issue and the journal’s homepage) are not over then, and like a strobing firework many other anniversary years for Angewandte Chemie shall follow. The problems that chemistry is asked to solve today are a guarantee for many publications by the chemistry avant-garde of the future. Peter Gölitz

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