Superficial concerns

Surface Review and Letters
December 8, 1995

Surface Science, when it first appeared in the early 1960s, filled a void, and although never cheap, became the accepted journal for most surface physicists and chemists, at a time when the subject was expanding rapidly. Later the publishers saw fit to separate the technology contributions into Applied Surface Science. Now that the subject area is mature, and some cynics may even detect a decline in surface research, how will this new arrival fare? It is not only competing with Surface Science, but also with Physical Review, Journal of Chemical Physics, Journal of Physical Chemistry, Langmuir and a host of other society and institution journals.

In addition to having an editorial board of eminent and influential surface scientists, a shrewd marketing ploy has been to publish papers from the Tenth Interdisciplinary Surface Science Conference held at the University of Liverpool at the end of March 1994, in the December 1994 issue. This series of conferences has traditionally attracted a high standard of contributions, and the organisers of the conference will be well satisfied with the result. The regular issues are subdivided into letters, articles and reviews, and perhaps, like its illustrious forerunner, these divisions will become separate journals. There is a curious idea in the reviews, namely the notion of "spotlight topics" which are a set of review articles on a specific subject of surface science. The topics are said to be chosen because of their new or fast-breaking nature. In this first volume, there are two such spotlight topics. The first on "Surface crystallography by direct inversion of scan-energy electron diffraction spectra" comprises a brief overview and three articles, and it is a useful set of papers with a valuable general informative instructive intention. The second, "The geometric and electronic structures of the C3 x C3 phase of group III, IV and V atoms on Si(III)", comprises three articles and is very specialised. I am not convinced that this latter set is particularly new and fast-breaking, and it causes me to question the editorial purpose.

The production quality is excellent, and the photographs in monochrome and colour have been reproduced well. Virtually all of the contributions are from the rather pure school of surface science and this appears to be the editorial intention, judging from the membership of the editorial board which is predominantly academic. We therefore find papers on highly specified single crystal surfaces, covered with submonolayer quantities of adsorbed molecules or atoms in a highly ordered structure. Most of the contributions are concerned with the solid to gas, or ultra-high vacuum interface at the most fundamental level. Surface science has spawned many techniques with different acronyms, and most have been represented in this first volume. The content is very scholarly and academic, and there are only two co-authored papers by industrial contributors out of the 97 papers in this first volume. I believe this is a pity. Is the intention to exclude surface science in real applied situations from the journal? Judging from the samples given, the answer seems to be yes.

I could find no mention of the refereeing policy and none of the papers in the first volume appears to have been revised; only the submission dates have been given at the head of each paper. Publication of most of the contributions has been made within six months of submission, if the issue dates were kept, and this is good by most standards.

So, will we be advising our libraries to take out a subscription to this new journal? Any establishment with a group of surface scientists should do so. At the present cost and with its very high quality, both of production and scientific content, Surface Review and Letters is excellent value.

Peter Dobson is a lecturer, department of engineering science, University of Oxford.

Surface Review and Letters

Editor - S.Y. Tong and D.K. Saldin
ISBN - ISSN 0218 625 X
Publisher - World Scientific
Price - $390.00
Pages - Bimonthly

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