Behind the books – Issues in Environmental Science and Technology – Royal Society of Chemistry

I think one of IEST’s strengths has been providing this rounded view that you don’t always find in single-author books, for example, and often not even in multi-author books. At the end of the day we invite authors to express a personal view – we like them to provide an overview of the topic that we’ve given them, but it is their own view. We’re not going to try and interfere with that from an editorial perspective and we try to reflect a wide range of those views.

Q: What have your personal highlights been?

The best part is always when an author delivers really good material – and so many of them do. A couple of years ago we decided to do a volume on Plastics and the Environment, which has stimulated quite a lot of interest and we managed to attract some very good authors for that including from industry and from policy.

We once sent Biodiversity Under Threat to Prince Charles but I don’t think we got more than an acknowledgement from one of his staff members – you never know who’s going to be interested in things!

Q: Which were the most influential or timely titles?

When selecting titles we take opinions of the Advisory Board and we horizon scan to a degree ourselves. We try to be very topical and sometimes ahead of the game – and sometimes that’s worked very well!

The ones that generate the most interest are often around waste management, which has always been a controversial topic. Most recently this included both Electronic Waste Management and Waste Incineration and the Environment, but a past title on Contaminated Land and its Reclamation was also very popular and went to a second edition. We tend to get into some of the policy aspects of these as well as the science aspects, and we aim to pitch at a level suitable for civil servants to read and advise politicians.

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One title where we were very much at the forefront was on Nanotechnology, which even now is quite a topical subject but we must have published more than ten years ago. There have been a lot of books following this, but we did very well because we were one of very few at the time.

Q: Who are typically your authors?

The vast majority are university-based, but we’re quite keen to get views from industry and from more policy-oriented people as well, and we’re quite successful sometimes in in getting those – we have also published views from NGOs and environmental pressure groups. Our policy very much is that individual articles within a volume express the views of the author and we’ll try and make a coherent volume, and we will always put in a preface that attempts to show the links between the different articles.

Q: Who are the highest profile offers authors?

We have been very pleased to attract many leaders of their fields to contribute. Recent examples are Richard Thompson of University of Plymouth, a government advisor and leading researcher on marine plastics, and Sir Stephen Holgate, a distinguished physician, government adviser and leading researcher on air pollution and health.  Our authorship is also very international: we go wherever the experts are.

Q: Can you tell us more about the landmark 50th issue of IEST?

The 50th issue is on Environmental Pollutant Exposures and Public Health. We felt that that was a topic that was ripe for review and growing in importance.   This is already a field which attracts much public and media attention and will no doubt grow in significance in the future.  The RSC and I have many ideas for future volumes which reflect the ever-shifting areas of concern over the environment, with the Circular Economy a topic currently high on our priority list.

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