physica status solidi (a)
© WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
Editor: Stefan Hildebrandt (Editor-in-Chief), Sabine Bahrs (Deputy Editor)
Online ISSN: 1862-6319
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physica status solidi: Serving the Solid State Physics Community since 40 Years
In 2001 we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of physica status solidi! This provides us not only with a worthy occasion to look back at four decades of successful science publishing under very specific and not always favorable boundary conditions, but also challenges us to find new ways of how to adapt the publication of peer-reviewed scientific papers to the rapidly changing requirements and opportunities of the information age.
When in 1960 Prof. K. W. Böer convinced the Akademie Verlag in Berlin of the necessity to start a new journal dedicated to the timely publication of important results in the exciting and thriving field of solid state physics, the main argument was that by an optimized organization of the journal production, the average time between acceptance and publication of a paper could be reduced from an average of then 10 months to less than 2 months. Apparently this plan fell on fertile grounds and so physica status solidi was founded on December 12, 1960. The first issue of the new journal was published on July 1, 1961, and contained nine original papers plus several short notes, covering a broad spectrum from insulators and semiconductors to metals. The desired rapid turnaround for the production of the journal was indeed achieved by a close cooperation between the Editorial Office in Berlin, then lead by Dr. S. Oberländer as the first Managing Editor of physica status solidi, and the printing facilities of the "Thomas Müntzer" Druckhaus, Bad Langensalza. This close collaboration between the Editorial Office and the printing facility as a matter of fact has survived during the last 40 years despite of various attempts to change to cheaper horses in the middle of the race. As a result of these longstanding excellent relations between the Editorial Office and the Printers, physica status solidi until today has maintained a strong tradition in publishing accepted original papers as well as large conference proceedings in very competitive times, even when special handling is required.
Shortly after physica status solidi was founded, the construction of the Berlin wall in August 1961 changed the political boundary conditions of the journal quite considerably. For many years afterwards, the journal became a major forum for scientists behind the iron curtain to disseminate their results also in the western world. But also many research groups from the West published their results in the journal, attracted by the rapid publication time, the good service provided by a competent Editorial Staff and, probably also by the fact that physica status solidi has always provided these services without expensive page or reprint charges. When Germany was reunited on October 3, 1990, as a result of the overall political modification in the East-West relations, also the situation of physica status solidi again changed considerably. Visible signs of this turbulent history are rather frequent changes concerning the ownership and the people responsible for the journal. Thus, following the reunification of Germany, the traditional Akademie Verlag became part of VCH Publishing Group, Weinheim, in 1991, which again was incorporated by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. leading to the formation of Wiley-VCH Verlag Berlin in 1997.
Understandably, each of these changes in ownership were accompanied by periods of personal uncertainty, unrest, new policies of the Publishers, and, maybe less understandably, a complete move of the entire Editorial Office to a different location twice in the last ten years. Fortunately, despite of these sometimes adverse boundary conditions, physica status solidi has survived in good shape and even has improved its impact in solid state physics slowly but steadily. One reason for this is the strict separation between money and science: the Publishers determine prices, marketing, infrastructure, etc., but the scientific responsibility for the journal has always been and will remain in the hands of the Editor-in-Chief, who is controlled and supported by the many eminent scientists belonging to the Editorial and the Advisory Boards, and who runs the journal in direct collaboration with the Editorial Staff headed by the Managing Editor. Obviously, the long and winding history of physica status solidi is connected to an equally long list of names of those who have contributed to the past and present standing of the journal. Prof. K. W. Böer, the founding Editor-in-Chief, left Berlin already at the end of 1961 for a better fortune in the United States and was followed by Prof. P. Görlich, who was Editor-in-Chief from 1962 until his death in 1986. His position was taken by Prof. E. Gutsche, whose difficult task was to successfully steer the journal through the dire straits of German reunification and the immediate problems which ensued. I followed Prof. Gutsche in 1995 as the fourth Editor-in-Chief, and I am still learning how difficult it actually is to combine strict scientific peer review with commercial science publishing in the age of the internet.
Of course, much of the success of a scientific journal is due to the dedicated work done by the people at the very heart of it: the Editorial Staff and the Managing Editor. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. S. Oberländer (1960-1969), Dr. W. Borchardt (1969-1971), Dr. H.-J. Hänsch (1971-1999), Dipl.-Phys. K. Müller (1999-2000), and Dr. S. Hildebrandt (since 2000) as the heads and representatives of the Editorial Office in Berlin for their invaluable contribution throughout the last forty years! It is their dedication to all the many details and problems on the way from a submitted manuscript to a published article which in the end determines whether the journal will fly or die.
Many improvements were made during the past 40 years to keep physica status solidi in pace with the rapid developments of science publishing. Already in 1970, the journal was divided into two series (a) and (b) in order to provide a more focused publication of the quickly increasing number of submitted manuscripts in the areas of applied and basic research. Since 1988, physica status solidi also publishes Special Issues and Conference Proceedings and by now in this field has acquired a very good reputation of high scientific quality combined with timely production. In 1995, new Regional Editors were appointed in Europe and America in order to bring the journal closer to the physics communities there. Internet access to the journal was established in 1996 and has helped to double the impact factor of physica status solidi since then. Also in 1996, the first Rapid Research Note was published. The aim of this new manuscript format is to publish important results in typically two or three weeks by consequent use of electronic media for submission, review, and production. Finally, let me mention further changes which were made very recently: the number of issues per year has been increased from 12 to 15, allowing a better coordination of conference proceedings and normal original papers or review articles. Two new paper categories, "Editor's Choice" and "Feature Article", will bring colour to the journal by providing free colour images for particularly interesting manuscripts. And last but not least, as of now physica status solidi is included in the Wiley Online Library Early View service, where accepted papers can be accessed online weeks ahead of the publication in print.
We hope that these changes will turn out to be improvements and will help to keep physica status solidi alive and well for many years to come. Obviously, all these efforts would be in vain without the continued support and dedicated work of our authors and referees, to whom we extend our most sincere gratitude for their contribution throughout the years!
Garching, March 2001