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How to Participate in the Membership Consultation?

This consultation is now closed.

The consultation is open to all PCG-SCMP members and it will run for three months (15 June - 15 September). We hope that this will provide sufficient time for useful and constructive discussions.

Please email your views on the PCG group name to the PCG-SCMP committee at: PCG-SCMP@JISCMAIL.AC.UK

Contributions will be posted on this website, so that different views can be read and discussed.

So please follow the discussion here or by clicking on the discussion tab.

PCG-SCMP Committee

PCG Group Name: Membership Consultation

Dear Members,

As some of you know, the issue of the Physical Crystallography Group name and whether it should be changed was discussed at the AGM in Keele (13th April 2011). The potential name changes discussed pertain only to the PCG (BCA), and not the SCMP (IoP) ‘half’ of the joint group name. Views about a possible name change expressed at the AGM are briefly summarised below.

The name Physical Crystallography Group, whilst it has clear historical reasons, may have ceased to be an accurate representation of our membership and activities. For a long time, and certainly over the last 3-4 years, the majority of the PCG active members have been scientists (solid state chemists, condensed matter physicists and materials scientists) working on functional materials (mostly extended solids, and molecular solids to a lesser extent). This has also been reflected in our conference-related activities. For the last few years, essentially all of our BCA Spring Meeting sessions have been on some aspect of structural science of functional materials. Significantly, those sessions closer to our core current active membership have been much better supported than those closer to our ‘physics heritage’. Our Winter Meetings have been held in conjunction with the ISIS Crystallography User meeting and have been extremely successful, attracting audiences both within and outside the PCG-SCMP membership, e.g. members of the RSC Solid State Chemistry group – which again reflects our scientific appeal, direction and identity.

The name “Physical Crystallography Group” (vs. Chemical) sounds outdated and at odds with modern trends in science, as it suggests rigid boundaries between subjects. Nowadays, when most top-quality research is interdisciplinary and strict division lines between subjects are fast disappearing, the naming system that follows subject (and, perhaps inaccurately, by association, departmental) sub-divisions seems rather anachronistic.

Similar crystallographic associations have groups/special interest groups (SIGs) which reflect the interdisciplinary nature of modern scientific research much better than the BCA groups. For example, the ACA has a Materials Science SIG; the ECA has a Crystallography of Functional Materials SIG, whose mission statement and themes essentially mirror the PCG interests and activities. A new name, such as “Functional Materials Group”, would not only be a much better representation of our group’s scientific direction, activities and membership profile, but it would also provide better alignment with similar international bodies; other name suggestions would be most welcome. Some felt that a name such as “Functional Materials Group” would remove the fundamental aspects of crystallography from the PCG remit – currently implicit in the “Physical Crystallography Group name – and not represented elsewhere within the BCA. The PCG should continue to champion crystallographic methods and developments to the wider BCA community and perhaps “Applied Fundamental Crystallography” would be more appropriate. For maximum scientific impact and visibility of the group, it is important to consider in this context where our group members publish their best research work and get funding.

Based on these and other considerations and opinions, we would like to initiate a PCG-SCMP membership consultation and establish the majority view on whether the name “Physical Crystallography Group” is still an appropriate and accurate representation of our active membership and their areas of work and interests, and if not, what alternative name would be more suitable.

PCG-SCMP Committee