A Message To All Readers and Authors of JCSE

This is an update on the status of the Journal. As many readers will have deduced, I have run the Journal essentially by myself since the early days. I have not been as effective as I would have liked, and in particular I have had great difficulty in getting adequate reviews, and far too many papers remain in preprint form. I have been working on a major revision of the Journal management software in order that more of the administration can be automated and the management can be devolved to a wider group (this is not feasible at present because some operations require direct manipulation of the management database). This is not quite complete, but the previous version of the Journal has been subject to hacking attempts, and I have decided that it will be better to switch to the new version as soon as possible, rather than spending a lot of time trying to understand the code I wrote over 10 years ago. The new version incorporates much better security, including password encryption as well as thorough checking of user inputs for hacking attempts.

One aim of the redevelopment is to move to a ‘community’ approach to the operation of the Journal. Thus, previous authors will be asked to undertake reviewing of papers, and suitably qualified prior authors to take on the role of paper editor. In both cases there should be a reasonably large number of candidates, so I do not expect the task to be too onerous for individuals.

Unfortunately I am in the ‘vulnerable’ category for the Covid-19 virus, and while I shall be trying hard not to catch it, I need to ensure that there is some form of succession planned. At this stage I am therefore seeking support from anyone prepared to assist. In particular, I am looking for:

  1. Programmers/web developers: The new version of the website is written in PHP using the Laravel framework, with the MariaDB database (essentially the same as MySQL). PHP is similar to most modern object-oriented languages, but with a particular focus on functions that are useful for web servers. The Laravel framework helps to ensure well-structured programs, and provides reasonably intuitive access to the database. It does require some time to get used to the programming style, but once familiar with it is quick to develop. In addition some pages use Javascript to provide functions at the users’ browser. The program is close to completion, but I need to get a few more people familiar with it so that they can handle maintenance and development in the future. If you would be interested in helping, more information will be available on https://www.jcse.org/new_version/programming.
  2. Journal Management: A fundamental objective of the journal is to provide a service that is free to both authors and readers, supported by the community. So far the inevitable costs have been covered by a small amount of funding from advertising, plus some funding from me. For the future the legal status needs to be clarified and issues such as ownership, management and copyright sorted out. The Journal was initially sponsored by the International Corrosion Council, and I hope that this may provide a suitable ‘base’ (I hope that this will be discussed at the ICC later this year). In addition it will be necessary to obtain some income to cover the costs of running the server (Google advertising may be sufficient if the costs can be kept down). Further information will be available on www.jcse.org/new_version/management.
  3. Translation of command text: While it is not intended to translate individual papers, the new software has been designed to facilitate the presentation of user messages in any language for which we have a translation. If possible the translation files will initially be produced automatically (e.g. by using Google Translate), but subsequent editing by native speakers of the relevant language will ideally be needed. This will be handled via a web page that will need to be developed, but once this is available the editing itself will not require programming skills.
  4. Additional Journals: The new software is designed to facilitate the creation of new journals, and we should be happy to assist anyone wishing to introduce such a journal, providing it meets the fundamental ethos of JCSE (i.e. not-for-profit and free to all authors and readers).

Bob Cottis, Exeter
June 2020