This edition contains our second review article. Very different from the first (Kai Griebenow et al, Int. J. Vib Spect,[www.irdg.org/ijvs], 3, 1, 8), this one covers a very broad and highly topical area – the structure of skin and hair and the use of vibrational spectroscopy in analysing them. The article, written by Kathleen Martin who works in the cosmetic field, is very detailed, easy to read and well worth reading.

Prof. Tom Klapötke at the University of Munchen is always supportive of IJVS. IN this edition, he and his colleagues have supplied a paper on a series of organic salts containing heavy elements. The consequence, is that the frequency of vibration is low. Tom’s paper includes spectra recorded in the Raman shifts as low as 80cm-1. This points up an advantage of Raman over infrared – it is easy, with the right equipment to read the complete spectrum 3500  nearly Zero cm-1. [OK, I know I’m an old Raman specialist – on the other hand I have, in the fact, struggled with far infrared (400 Zero cm-1)].

Last time I wrote a very lightweight introduction to the use of polarised light in vibrational spectroscopy with particular reference to Raman measurements. The article has obviously created some interest because as you will see in the Dear Reader section, we have some queries and replies. Neil Everall from ICI Technology has supplied a follow up article on the use of polarised light in studying polymers. Neil describes the piece as a tutorial and again I recommend it highly to you. I thin it is the most useful source on this subject I have read. Neil is to be thanked.

Two editions ago (see Int. J. Vib. Spect, [www.irdg.org/ijvs], 2, 4, 4), Robert Alexander described to us how microscopic measurements mainly in the mid i.r. but also to some extent in Raman scattering are of value in Combinatorial Chemistry. Dr. Christophe Fromont, a young post-doctural fellow from my own department here at Southampton has written a detailed survey for us on “Solid Phase organic reactions”. In reality, Christophe’s piece is so comprehensive it counts as a review rather than a feature article and is a “good read” to anyone with an interest in organic chemistry.

Dr Andy Brookes, at what was the UK Office of the Government Chemist, LGC has been building up a Raman service available to the UK and other customers. As a result he needs to survey Raman users and potential users and has asked us to carry out a survey for him. Internet Journals must be the ultimate way of doing this job so we agreed – another first for us. Andy’s particular need is to try to assess the level of interest there is in developing large computer searchable databases of Raman spectra.

Personally, I am very keen to see large and expanding databases appear and have been involved in trying to push the matter along since 1988. At that time, the F-T machines were being developed and it was clear that Raman would have a real future in routine analysis. I remember that under the auspices of Sadtler we held a meeting and tried to get agreement from all the manufacturers to generate a series or library of spectra in a format acceptable to them all but somehow nothing happened. Since then each manufacturer has offered a small database, Aldrich have generated a library and Sadtler have been active but the problem is that the market is too small for several competing libraries to be viable. Unless sales are reasonable, no publisher is going to invest the huge sums involved to develop a usefully large library. I’m a bit ‘long in the tooth’ to flog away at this one any more, so with relief and best wishes I hope Andy Brookes will get something permanent on the rails.

Always on the look out for innovation we start this edition with a regular feature – Manufacturer’s Announcements. Hardly innovative I hear you say. Our announcements are much more comprehensive than the 50-100 words plus mini picture typical of most periodicals. We will publish formal and fairly detailed descriptions of length up to around 1000 words and appropriate figures and also application notes. Obviously, I will check the copy for errors and/or pornographic content but these announcements are the responsibility of the manufacturers and cannot be covered by my seal of approval.

Bill George at the University of Glamorgan in South Wales has sent us an article on the vibrational spectra of alcohol dimers trimers and larger conglomerates. You might feel the monomer of ethanol is the only interesting homologue of this lot and you might further feel that spectroscopy seems to be a little over the top as a tool in its enjoyment. However, this would be a mistake because Bill uses fundamental mode calculations to assist him in his work. When originally submitted, Bill’s article was a fine description of an interesting piece of science but the style made its understandable only to folks already familiar with methods of calculating, from first principles, the frequencies of fundamental modes. I therefore, asked Bill George to rewrite the piece carefully taking the reader with him and assuming you folks are new to this area.

I learned a lot from this piece so ‘give it a go’. If you find any points hard to follow – send an email to Bill George (copy please to the Editorial Office).

A few weeks ago, I was invited to give a short talk on the use of the internet/web in publishing as part of the UK’s Infrared and Raman Discussion Group Spring meeting held, as it turned out at the University of Glamorgan.

I described how IJVS works and then went on to think about the future. My view is that within 25 years we won’t be using scientific libraries as we know them now. Papers will be available on the web and all references will be linked. As a result, one will be able to read a paper and follow a chain of references from one’s desk. The huge lengths of shelves supporting hundreds of dusty tomes will be redundant. The snag with all of this is cost and profits and the role of the journal publishers.

The cost of generating a journal solely on the web is around 10-15% of the cost of doing the same job in a paper format. Further, a web journal can offer colour, photographs, and shortly in our case movement and short film clips at a trivial cost increase. As a result, there really is no need to charge for journals published on the web. Sponsors (Perkin Elmer in our case), inclusion of advertisements (Applied Spectroscopy and many of the free journals are already supported in this way, in paper format) or a revised form of page charge would cover the cost easily. A modest charge paid by the authors of each paper would be sufficient to cover the cost of production.

Where does this leave the publishing houses like Elsevier or Wiley or the learned Societies? All of these organisations are profit making. The learned societies hope to earn cash from their journals to support their other activities. And this is the rub. The principle titles are owned by organisations unlikely to see free publication as anything other than a threat. If they won’t agree to link references, the concept of removing the need for a scientific library remains a pipe dream. Seems sad! But then King Canute was clearly pretty miserable when he got his feet wet!

Have you any thoughts on this very important matter?