A track record in publishing

By Ian Shepherd and Cath O'Driscoll

With the exception of the Transactions of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Chemical Society, 1868-1882, the Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry was the first in the UK devoted to the subject of applied chemistry.

The first issue appeared in January 1882 and was edited by Watson Smith, lecturer in technological chemistry at Owens College, Manchester. Initially published monthly, the volume of the journal grew from 500 pages in 1882 to about 1000 pages in 1889 and about 1200 pages in 1902, when it was first published twice a month.

At first, much of the emphasis was on dyestuffs and new plants and processes, with the growing number of papers in applied chemistry over subsequent years reflecting the changing nature of the industry over this period. Some of the more notable contributions included papers on The production of clean coal by H Lewis, The inversion of reactions in catalysis by P Sabatier, Recent progress in the chemical study of the vitamins by JC Drummond, and The physical chemist in search of purity in an impure world by Ernst Cohen.

But apart from original scientific papers, the journal also carried other material of general chemical interest: notes on important industrial developments, trade reports, a correspondence column and short reviews of books. It was this review section, begun as an insert in 1918, which in its expanded and modified form was later to become the basis for the society’s magazine Chemistry & Industry, first published as a separate entity in 1923. The first editor was Stephen Miall, while the novelist JG Ballard was once numbered among its staff of more recent editors and sub-editors (see Ballardian).

JSCI was discontinued in 1950, largely because its vast coverage had made it too hefty, and was superseded initially by the Journal of the Science of Food & Agriculture (1950) and the Journal of Chemical Technology & Biotechnology (1951). These were later joined by Pest Management Science and Polymer International. Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining and website www.biofpr.com were launched in 2007, and Greenhouse Gases: Science and Technology in 2011. (see Publications)

Since 1993/94 SCI has co-published its journals with John Wiley & Sons, a partnership that has helped the Society to navigate the major changes in science publishing over the past decade. Today, most readers find articles from SCI journals online rather than in their libraries. Top journal stories over the past few years include a study on diabetes prevention and soya beans, the prevalence of allergy-causing latex in food packaging and research indicating the health benefits of strawberry daiquiris.

Members who changed the world

The history of SCI has been largely influenced by the inventors and scientists who came together and founded the Society back in 1881. More information about those notable scientists and inventors can be found here.