Monday, July 18, 2011

H. Frederick Dylla Director's Matters

By H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director

Plugged in to physics, daily

Physics Today is one of the best-known publications for the physical sciences community. To maintain this high profile, the Physics Today staff has been hard at work to upgrade the magazine’s online presence. The Physics Today Online (PTOL) site has an average of 10,000 daily visitors, 85,000 subscribers to its weekly emails, and a large active presence on social networking sites. Whereas the print magazine is a monthly publication, PTOL is a daily source of news, research, and commentary. Subscribers can access online the entire content of the print magazine, plus back issues since its inception in 1948. (Portions are open to nonsubscribers.)  All visitors can also enjoy several features that are only available online—current news involving the physical sciences, from AIP Member Societies’ news to policy developments and politics to physics news updates, all fed with material from AIP’s FYI and other sources.

PTOL home page screenshotLast week our staff unveiled a newly designed site, a dynamic portal to physics news to attract the daily visitor. PTOL Editor Charles Day and Manager Paul Guinnessy have instituted several new features over the past year, including an opinion section called Points of View. The thought-provoking essays in that section, mainly written by members of the community, offer autobiographical sketches of the author’s career path or talk about issues that concern the community. Singularities consists of brief stories about research and the physical sciences community. One recent entry, “Embracing physics as a returning student,” is a Q&A between Physics Today’s Toni Feder and K. Renee Horton, the first African American to earn a PhD in materials science at the University of Alabama. The Dayside is Day's personal blog. His entry on 29 June, “A surprising reason to leave academia for industry,” might pique your interest—it’s a nice complement to AIP’s efforts to promote industrial physics through the Corporate Associates program. I remind you that the next Industrial Physics Forum, "Energy: Transition to a sustainable future," will take place at October’s AVS International Symposium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Another valuable addition to PTOL content is contributed material from reviewer Steven T. Corneliussen that appears several times a week in Science and the Media. Corneliussen, a science writer well known to the NASA and DOE communities, surveys several major publications for news of interest to the AIP community. To give you a flavor for what he covers, some of his latest entries discussed a letter in the Wall Street Journal that asked “Why can't the free market fund scientific research?” and an op-ed in the New York Times that invited its readers to participate in a debate about education reform.

The new look and new content of PTOL hint at significant behind-the-scenes reengineering that took place over the past year. Beginning with volume 64, the PTOL upgrade allows for full text searching across all articles in the print edition and also offers the content reformatted for a mobile edition.

Physics Today is a flagship for AIP, not only as our most visible product, but also as how our staff in College Park and Melville can work together to match the cutting-edge content that we produce with the latest technological developments. It is a model of how AIP can strengthen its publications and build links with our Member Societies and the wide community interested in the physical sciences.

Publishing Matters

AIP takes care of business at the SLA 2011 Annual Conference

SLA logoSeveral AIP staff members attended last month’s Annual Conference of the Special Libraries Association (SLA). This meeting is an excellent opportunity to connect with librarians who make collection development decisions regarding AIP journals. Mark Cassar, AIP publisher, delivered a well-received speech at SLA’s Physics-Astronomy-Math (PAM) Division Physics Roundtable on open access and the future of scholarly publishing. Our colleague Joe Serene, APS Treasurer and Publisher, described the innovative access initiatives that are being developed and promoted by APS. During the Vendor Update, AIP staff spoke about the recent launch of AIP Advances, our social networking venture, and our plans for 24/7 customer service in 2012. Among our other activities, we sponsored an open house for PAM members.

AIP staff at SLASince SLA members represent our core audience, we took the opportunity to announce our 2012 prices, which generated much interest among the attendees. From our conversations and a short survey, we discovered that they are very interested in the new three-year price protection program we’ve developed. The program will provide them with greater price stability and predictability during tenuous budgetary times. We’re encouraged by the positive response to our promotions, sponsorships, and talks, and we look forward to next year’s conference in Chicago.

Physics Resources Center Matters

Digital publishing company doubles revenues for the PT Buyers Guide

MultView teamRandy Nanna and Jeff Bebee, Physics Today's publisher and marketing director, respectively, recently visited MultiView (whose sales team is pictured here) in Irving, TX. The digital publishing firm, which is hosting the Physics Today Buyers Guide for 2011, provides search mechanisms and different enhancements that companies can buy to improve their search ranking on the guide's website. The revenue-sharing arrangement with MultiView has proved to be a success, with the guide's annual sales doubling from the previous year. Additional benefits include a more user-friendly website and less Physics Today staff time devoted to the guide. See the new interface at

Physics Today's online lead generator

PT online lead generatorWhen a company advertises in Physics Today, its ad and contact information are also included in an email to some 78,000 customers. It's like getting two ads for the price of one. To illustrate the concept to advertisers, PT created a short video and provided them with the video’s URL in a newsletter, in emails, and at conferences. Advertisers who read the newsletter had the opportunity to win a liquids travel kit by emailing PT with the correct answer to a question about the video. The interaction with advertisers was mutually beneficial.

What's Happening This Week

Thursday, July 21

  • Cosmic' Science Café.
    Strong theoryJoin renowned physicist and string theorist James Gates for an informal conversation and light fare. Presented by SPS and NOVA. 6:00 – 7:30 pm; RFD Washington, 810 7th Street, NW; Washington, DC.

Friday, July 22

  • SPS intern formal presentations.

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