Monday, May 3, 2010

H. Frederick Dylla Director's Matters

By H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director & CEO

America COMPETES focuses on funding, innovation, and information

In August 2007, the US Congress passed and President Bush signed into law one of the most significant pieces of legislation of the last decade that affects the Federal government's support for the physical sciences. The bill, known as the America COMPETES Act, put the funding of several important federal agencies that support the physical sciences on the path to double within a decade. Consequently, the funding for NSF, NIST, and the Department of Energy's Office of Science rose dramatically during the last three fiscal years. Because the term of this important bill expires on September 30, 2010, Rep. Bart Gordon, chairman of the US House Science and Technology Committee, is committed to reauthorizing the bill during the remaining months of this session of Congress.

On April 29, HR 5116, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 was passed by the House Science and Technology Committee, clearing the bill for consideration by the full House of Representatives later this month. AIP senior liaison for government relations Dick Jones provides a summary of this hearing in FYI #50. Given the importance of this bill for science, AIP and many scientific societies have expressed broad support for both the original 2007 bill and its 2010 reauthorization.

Most of the bill deals with science funding for the affected agencies. However, a brief but important section of the bill deals with how the scientific community accesses and preserves scientific information in the form of digital data and scholarly publications. In previous Director's Matters columns, I have written about the importance of this topic for organizations such as AIP and our Member Societies, who publish and promote scientific journals. Last year the House Science and Technology Committee convened the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable to provide recommendations on how to accomplish public access to federally funded research without jeopardizing the health of scholarly publishing.

The roundtable issued a report last January, recommending that the federal government include the academic and publishing communities in charting a path forward. A section of the new COMPETES bill titled “Interagency Public Access” provides important guidance to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for gathering input from and collaborating with non-federal partners, coordinating with relevant international organizations, and analyzing the economic impact of access policies. The bill's language also includes a means for continuing the deliberative and inclusive process demonstrated by the roundtable. The 2010 COMPETES bill is not law yet, but its prospects are strong. This legislation deserves our broad support.

Publishing Matters

AIP journals at the 2010 MRS Spring Meeting

Alison Waldron at 2010 MRS Spring Meeting Publishing staff showcased the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy along with other AIP journals at the 2010 MRS Spring Meeting. Visitors learned about AIP's newest journals as well as the new Scitation C³ platform and our professional networking site, AIP UniPHY. Those who filled out a survey—on how readers use online content—were entered in a drawing to win an iPod Touch. Biomicrofluidics also sponsored a well-attended symposium entitled "Micro- and Nanofluidic Systems for Material Synthesis, Device Assembly, and Bioanalysis."

AIP exhibits at the UKSG 2010 Annual Conference

UKSG Director of fulfillment and marketing Lori Carlin, vice president of publishing John Haynes, and senior marketing manager Bruce Shriver represented AIP at the United Kingdom Serials Group's 33rd Annual Conference, April 12–14 in Edinburgh, Scotland. This year's conference, the largest ever, attracted more than 850 delegates. Unlike most of the library and publishing conferences AIP staff members attend, UKSG puts librarians, publishers, and others in the serials supply chain on equal footing and offers a terrific opportunity for all players to exchange news, views, and information on the rapidly changing and developing global serials scene. It also offers a rare opportunity to meet face-to-face with European library customers.

The conference offered a broad array of plenary and breakout sessions on leading-edge trends in scholarly publishing. Major themes included the following:

  • The unsustainable nature of "Big Deals"
  • The future of scholarly communication and the role of social networking
  • Article-level usage metrics, trend in open access, and the limits of journal impact factor
  • Patron-driven, just-in-time acquisition models
  • Updates on ORCID, KBART, and ONIX-PL

A very active Twitter stream used the #UKSG hash tag. Several volunteers did an amazing job of summarizing each of the presentations in real time on UKSG's LiveSerials blog.

While the conference could be deemed an unqualified success, the ash cloud spewed by Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano delayed our intrepid travelers' return to New York by six days! They will no doubt recall this event when embarking on transcontinental travel for years to come.

PRC Matters

Physics Today helps bring researchers together

PT May 2010 cover What do string theorists, supercold-atom experimentalists, and high-energy particle physicists have in common? The search for the perfect fluid, which is the topic of three feature articles in the May issue of Physics Today. The special focus was inspired by a session at the 2009 AAAS annual meeting, organized by Peter Steinberg of Brookhaven National Laboratory and attended by PT editor Steve Blau. After the session, Blau approached speakers Barbara Jacak (Stony Brook University), Clifford Johnson (University of Southern California), and John Thomas (Duke University) about writing for PT. Interestingly, when atomic physicist Thomas was asked at the session how he learned about the related work in string theory, he said that Blau had alerted him four years earlier while working on a news story.

This week at AIP

Wednesday, May 5 (College Park, MD)

  • ACP Blood Drive
  • DBIS Advisory Committee Meeting

Thursday, May 6 (College Park, MD)

  • ACP Art Reception and Gallery Presentations, 5:30 – 7:30 pm

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For past issues of this newsletter, visit the AIP Matters archives.

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