An Update on Recent Initiatives

From Special Sections Editor John Bartlett

Since its launch in 1993, the Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology has grown from an inaugural issue containing only nine papers - and with one issue each two month for the first few years - to a specialist journal serving the needs of the sol-gel community with monthly issues containing 20 to 30 papers. Throughout its nearly-30-year history, one of the sustained features of JSST has been its role in publishing Special Issues containing collections of papers from key conferences within our community - in particular, the biennial International Sol-Gel conferences. Over their history, these Special Issues have evolved from collections of all papers presented at the conference (often spanning multiple issues and even multiple volumes of the journal) to the more focused approach of including papers presented by our Plenary and Invited Speakers, together with Ulrich Awardees, Lifetime Achievement Awardees, newly-elected ISGS Fellows and Poster-Prize winners. The more focused approach to building our Special Issues ensures that they serve as a permanent indicator of the cutting-edge work of some of our leading practitioners at specific times in our history, and as the foundations for future innovations and innovators to build upon.

At a recent meeting of the JSST Editorial Board and Editors, it was agreed that JSST would explore the development and launch of the Topical Collections (TCs) series, in which leading practitioners spread across the internal sol-gel community would be invited to contribute papers (either review articles or original work) to a series of thematic Special Issues addressing selected topics. Through this initiative, JSST seeks to:

  • Attract new (and existing) authors to publish their best work in JSST;
  • Enhance the journal’s profile;
  • Reach a wider and more diverse audience.

Initially, over 50 topics were proposed as potential foci around which to build TCs. This initial list was subsequently refined to include 13 inaugural thematic areas around which to develop TCs, including:

  • TC-01: Sol-Gel History;
  • TC-05: Batteries via Solution Processing, Including Non-Oxide Based Sol-Gel Processes;
  • TC-06: Perspectives on Past Achievements and Future Opportunities in Sol-Gel;
  • TC-07: Sol-Gel Research in Japan;
  • TC-08: Women in Sol-Gel;
  • TC-10: Hybrid Materials;
  • TC-11: Applications Close to Industry;
  • TC-13: Greener Synthesis Approaches;
  • TC-20: Nanocomposites;
  • TC-21: Nanoporous Materials;
  • TC-36: Sol-Gel Research in China;
  • TC-37: Sol-Gel Research in Latin America.

The diverse range of TCs includes rapidly evolving science and technology areas such as batteries and hybrids; sol-gel science and technology underway within selected regions such as China, Japan and Latin America; and important topics for the future of our community of practice, such as Women in Sol-Gel. Celebrating the work underway within specific regions provides an interesting insight into the geographical spread of our community, as shown in the Figure which summarises the countries contributing the highest volume of publications to JSST from 2016 to 25 March 2021.

There are clearly many other possible thematic areas that remain to be explored for future TCs (in specific areas of science and technology; regional collections; and topics of importance to our community) and it is our intention that the TC initiative will become an important and continuously evolving feature of JSST. We would welcome any suggestions that you might have for other possible foci for future TCs.