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I&EC's Century Of Progress

ACS's second journal responded to the changing needs of the chemical enterprise

by Linda Wang
July 20, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 29

Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
Several ACS publications, including C&EN, grew out of the Journal of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
Several ACS publications, including C&EN, grew out of the Journal of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry.

"Large streams from little fountains flow. Tall oaks from little acorns grow." These lyrical observations, penned by David Everett more than 200 years ago, describe the fruits of the American Chemical Society's second journal, the Journal of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry, and its history of responding to the dynamic nature of the chemical enterprise. Chemical & Engineering News, in fact, is one of the journal's outgrowths.

ACS launched the journal in January 1909 in response to growing demand from industrial chemists and chemical engineers for a journal dedicated to applied research. "There was a large portion of the membership that was not being served by a basic scientific journal," says Rodney Hader, who was on the staff of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry (I&EC), the Journal of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry's second—and longest—iteration, in the 1950s and '60s and then served as executive assistant to ACS's editorial director. "They were working on industrial applications of chemistry, and they needed a publication that served those interests." It was needed because the Journal of the American Chemical Society, which began publishing in 1879, focused primarily on fundamental research, he says.

The Journal of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry prospered during its first several decades. In addition to original research, I&EC also contained reviews of chemicals and equipment and some news of the chemical industry

In response to increasing demand for more news of the chemical world, in 1923, the journal created the I&EC News Edition. In 1943, the news edition spun off into a separate publication and was renamed Chemical & Engineering News.

Growth in the chemical industry accelerated after the end of World War II, and the increase in submissions of research papers reflected that growth. "There was no way that one publication could cover everybody's interests as they diversified in their specializations," says David Gushee, who was editor of I&EC from 1963 to 1970.

I&EC spun off the journal Analytical Chemistry in 1947. It launched the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry in 1953. And it created the Chemical & Engineering Data series (now Journal of Chemical & Engineering Data) in 1956. In 1962, I&EC split its remaining research papers into three quarterly publications: Fundamentals, Process Design & Development, and Product Research & Development. The journal launched Environmental Science & Technology in 1966.

Growth at this rate brings difficulties along with opportunities, and starting in the 1960s, Gushee says, there wasn't much left for the original I&EC to publish. "You can only stretch a balloon so far before it breaks," he says. I&EC continued publishing for several more years. But subscriptions fell, as did advertising, and the journal suspended publication in 1970.

The three quarterlies it spun off, however, continued publishing separately for 17 years, after which they were consolidated into the current I&EC Research (I&ECR). The journal has experienced enormous growth in the past 20 years, says Donald R. Paul, editor-in-chief of I&ECR and Ernest Cockrell Sr. Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas, Austin. I&ECR currently publishes nearly 1,200 papers per year, up from roughly 420 when he became editor in 1987.

In 1997, I&ECR introduced its Web edition. In 2001, the journal began publishing twice a month and implemented online submissions of manuscripts. New technologies have aided in the globalization of the journal, Paul says. Today, roughly 80% of the papers originate outside the U.S.

Paul says that it's important to remember where I&ECR, as well as the original journal's five spin-off publications, came from and to remember that their mission of serving the applied chemistry and chemical engineering community has not changed.

Although he can't speculate about the next 100 years, Paul says he's optimistic that I&ECR will continue to mirror the chemical enterprise and serve as a growth engine for the ACS of tomorrow.


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