physica status solidi (b)

Cover image for Vol. 251 Issue 8

Editor: Stefan Hildebrandt (Editor-in-Chief), Sabine Bahrs (Deputy Editor)

Online ISSN: 1521-3951

Associated Title(s): physica status solidi (a), physica status solidi (c), physica status solidi (RRL) - Rapid Research Letters

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Reminiscences
Reminiscences by the journal's founder Karl Wolfgang Böer

During the year 1960 I was the director of the IV. Physics Department at the Humboldt University and also of the Bereich Dielectric Breakdown at the German Academy of Science, Berlin. At that time there were about 30 young scientists in my group and a lot of papers were written for publication. However, publication was slow at that time. It took an average of 10 months before we saw our work in print.
I wanted to change that and researched the actual and perceived bottleneck in publication, from the Editor's office to the correspondence with referees, to the actual typesetting, printing, binding and delivery of the finished journal. I decided, that with an excellent organization we could cut this time to about 45 days for Original Papers and to 14 days for Short Notes in offset printing.
The idea of creating a new and fast publication was born. I found open ears with my superiors and support from the Akademie Verlag. In order to get started we needed an international Editorial Board. Some close colleagues responded enthusiastically, others joint after I visited them in England, France and Belgium; still others became members when I approached them at the next international conference. They all promised to send us the first papers.
I had agreement from my co-workers in Berlin to hold off for a few weeks with submission of our papers until the Journal was born, in case we needed some of them to buffer possible short supply in the early months, before the Journal became better known. If we were right, our papers would still be out early. All of this seemed promising enough for a start.But there were problems ahead: The Springer Verlag started its own Journal in Solid State Physics at the same time, and got some of my editors to jump ship and join the competitor. We needed an extra attraction. The Akademie Verlag agreed to print in each Journal that we guarantee 50 days for full papers and 15 days for short notes after the paper was accepted for publication (and we held this time schedule for many years thereafter). Another shortcut was our intent to publish the English translation of the papers in solid state physics from the USSR long before they were published there; their English translation became available often only two years after submission. On recommendation of Prof. Rompe, I was connected via Klaus Thiessen, a young PhD who earned his degree at the Lomonossow University in Moscow, to see my Russian colleagues and ask them to sign an appropriate contract with us. Dr. Thiessen dampened my optimism, by saying that no paper has ever left the USSR until it was published there. We still went, negotiated and brought home the signed contract. Our colleagues in the USSR had, through us, an early contact to the world, and physica status solidi had another advantage.
A year later the Springer Journal folded, and our Journal, now printed in four languages was off to a good start. The political East-West conflict and the erection of the wall in Berlin with my daily crossing it from home to work, made me decide to accept an invitation to the USA. I resigned my positions in Berlin at the end of 1961. Prof. Görlich took my position as the Editor-in-Chief in January 1962.
There were two more events when I became active in forming the Journal, both in 1966: At an international conference in Budapest I relayed my experience of discussions with an American colleague who spoke fluently German, but not enough to ameliorate ambiguities in translation of some of our early papers, written in German. I felt strongly that the Journal provides a disservice to authors and readers by printing multi-lingually, and suggested that English should be the only language. This suggestion was accepted during the next board meeting.I also suggested the creation of a sister Journal, physica status solidi (a) to absorb applied solid state material. This again was done a year later.

I am glad to see the journal prosper, with new Editor-in-Chiefs, Egon Gutsche, and now Martin Stutzmann, and through a series of publishers, now in good hands with Wiley-VCH. My congratulation to the 40th anniversary.


Karl Böer
Kennett Square, January 2001


Dr. rer. nat. habil Karl Wolfgang Böer
Distinguished Professor of Physics and Solar Energy, Emeritus Solar Knoll
239 Bucktoe Hills Rd.
Kennett Square, PA 19348, USA
e-mail: solpax@aol.com

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