With moments to spare before the official launch, the Royal Society has published the first paper in its new journal dedicated to research at the physical-life science interface.
With moments to spare before the official launch, the Royal Society has published the first paper in its new journal dedicated to research at the physical-life science interface. The date was set before anything had been submitted, and the first paper in the journal Interface was finally published online on the eve of the 5 May launch.
So close was the call that the authors of the first - and at the time, only - paper were not present at the Royal Society’s suitably stately launch celebrations. Nevertheless, they were warmly proclaimed ’the first of the first of the first’ by Royal Society president Lord May. May considers himself a suitable champion for the new journal - having started with a PhD in theoretical physics in Australia before circumnavigating the globe to become professor of zoology in the UK.
There are several examples of high-profile cross-disciplinary researchers within the Royal Society, says May, some of whom illustrate the obstacles set against such enterprise. Take for example Roy Anderson FRS, professor of theoretical epidemiology at Imperial College, London, whose mathematical models formed the basis of government advice on the course of the foot-and-mouth disease crisis in 2001, recalls May. Anderson’s role was criticised vociferously by a number of veterinary scientists, microbiologists and molecular biologists who considered that their disciplines, and not mathematics, held the answers.
Key areas for the journal will include chemical biology, biomaterials, and systems biology. The fact that the Royal Society represents science as a whole, rather than any single speciality, puts it in a strong position, says Phil Hurst, editorial and reviews coordinator on Interface. ’It can act as an honest broker,’ he said.
No date has been set for the first printed issue of Interface. As papers are accepted they will be published online until there are enough pages to fill a hard copy. Eight papers have now been accepted. The first paper to appear online on The Royal Society Publications website describes how structural analysis tools have been used to study the cornea of the eye in order to predict response to disease and injury.
The authors of the paper, from the University of Dundee, UK, are delighted with the result. ’The journal scope fits our work,’ said Ahmed El-Sheikh, lecturer in the Department of Civil Engineering. ’Our research is on the interface between physical and life sciences and we felt the new journal would be a suitable medium for telling the academic community about what we do and hopefully receive some useful feedback,’ he told Chemistry World.
The blurring of research boundaries affects many academic institutions and organisations, including the RSC. ’We recognise the growing importance of inter-disciplinary research, which we see in the submissions to many of our journals and which influenced our decision to launch Lab on a Chip in 2001,’ says Peter Gregory, managing director of RSC publishing. ’What is particularly encouraging is the active role not-for-profit publishers like the RSC and the Royal Society are taking in such ventures,’ he added. ’Like-for-like, journals published by learned and professional societies are generally of higher quality and are cheaper than those published by commercial publishers and therefore represent greater benefit and value to the scientific community.’