By: Roque Calvo, ECS Executive Director
In April 1902, upon the conclusion of the Society’s first meeting in Philadelphia, the Society’s first president wrote the column below, which was printed in the Society’s first publication, explaining the rationale to form the American Electrochemical Society.
Evidence accumulates on every hand that the analogue of the specialist in science is the society which specializes. Whether for good or ill, whether some of its influences are narrowing in some directions or not, the society which specializes is the necessary corollary of the scientific specialist; the latter came perforce into existence, has made the whole world his debtor, and is recognized as the present factor for progress; the former is coming perforce into existence, will soon make the world its immeasurable debtor, and will be a wonderfully potent factor in future scientific progress.
Such is the force, the necessary condition, which has brought into existence The American Electrochemical Society. … Its functions should be those of bringing electrochemists into personal contact with each other; of disseminating among them all the information known to, and which can be spared by, their co-workers; to stimulate original thought in these lines by
mutual interchange of experience, and by papers and discussions; to stimulate electrochemical work all over the world. …
Such a society … being, therefore, a necessity, a pressing need, its formation was inevitable. It came. … The results have justified the insight of the projectors of the society, the first meeting has been an enthusiastic success, the organization now exists, its future is one of assured usefulness. With confidence we stand out to sea.
-Joseph w. Richards
Transactions of the American Electrochemical Society
Vol. 1, No. 1 (1902)
As a staff member of ECS for 36 years, I am a student of our history, and so, have great admiration for Joseph Richards and the other scientists and engineers from that era who had the vision and courage to break away from the American Chemical Society. They founded the Society because forces at that time created the “necessary conditions” to bring into existence a new organization dedicated to the advancement of electrochemistry. One hundred and fifteen years later this same dedication to electrochemistry prevails and the science has advanced to become the key to progress in communications, transportation, and medical technologies, and offers solutions for clean water, renewable energy, and the general sustainability of our planet. The growing importance of electrochemistry has stimulated a robust publications program at ECS; and we are experiencing revolutionary changes that have created both challenges to our future and opportunities to advance our science at a pace never before experienced.
In response to the dramatic changes in research publishing, ECS has launched the Free the Science initiative with the goal to take down the paywalls and create unobstructed access to the ECS Digital Library for researchers, and really anyone, from anywhere in the world. Similar to the Society’s original formation in 1902, this initiative was started because there were forces that created the necessary conditions for ECS to advance content dissemination toward open science—the open exchange of information. Free the Science is an initiative that supports the creation of a completely new model for publishing that will drive the broadest access of the important research in our library. ECS is embracing this opportunity to advance our science and address the associated challenges created by the broken scholarly publications system. The ultimate goal is to stay true to our foundersʼ ideals and secure the Society’s future as a steward and leader of dissemination in electrochemical and solid state science and technology.
ECS is leading an inevitable change that will revolutionize scholarly communications, and building a model to disseminate science to fully accomplish our mission. The Society’s current leadership has demonstrated the same vision and courage as the founding fathers but we face many challenges and the future of ECS is only assured with the support of our community. As we pass another milestone in time, we look to the future and say once again, “With confidence we stand out to sea.