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Fred Dylla Director's Matters

By H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director & CEO

A vision for open scholarship

Our friends in the humanities are leading an Internet-age initiative meriting science’s attention and participation.

DPLA screenshotIn the April 25th issue of the New York Review of Books, Robert Darnton—a Rhodes scholar who became a distinguished historian and then Harvard’s library director—presented "The National Digital Public Library Is Launched!” That exclamation point in the headline reflects Darnton’s optimism about transforming the information environment via the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

Though the essay never specifically mentions scientific publications, it calls to mind the brightest Internet-age possibilities for the communication of science, which have been enhanced considerably by the move from the static printed page to the flashing and interlinked images on a screen. No one yet knows exactly how the evolving communication prospects for science intersect with or complement the DPLA’s promise, but the question invites thought.

The DPLA “harkens back to the eighteenth century” and the Enlightenment’s faith in the free flow of ideas, Darnton wrote. He invoked the physicist and statesman Benjamin Franklin and the science-minded Thomas Jefferson—who, even while serving as U.S. vice president and then president, presided over the early republic’s leading institution for communicating scientific advances, the American Philosophical Society.

The DPLA’s founders have resolved to build “an open, distributed network of comprehensive online resources...in order to educate, inform, and empower everyone.” A closely related resolve permeates science: the intention to increase public access to the scientific literature online. In effect, Darnton alluded to public access in his opening line, which called the DPLA “a project to make the holdings of America’s research libraries, archives, and museums available to all Americans—and eventually to everyone in the world—online and free of charge.”

But as has been discussed frequently in this weekly AIP communication and elsewhere, “free of charge” cannot mean “free of cost.” That’s why scientists’ open-access vision directly reflects the tension in what Darnton called “two currents that have shaped American civilization: utopianism and pragmatism." For centuries science’s communication system has evolved with publishers adding substantial value to researchers’ manuscripts and to the research enterprise itself. Online distribution of journals has significantly lowered the cost of distribution to a much wider audience, but cost of producing the so-called first copy has actually increased because of the rich and useful complexity of electronic formats.

Like the DPLA, which Darnton attributed to “a grand coalition of foundations and research libraries,” the American Institute of Physics and AIP Publishing are working with other scholarly publishers, libraries, research funders, and others to find pragmatic ways to realize the vision of the widest possible access. In my view Darnton is right that we now “have the technological and economic resources to make all the collections of all our libraries accessible to all our fellow citizens.” It’s a grand vision that scientists share, but it’s important to remember that science’s part in it must follow a careful pragmatic path forward in order not to jeopardize the essential independent review that the scholarly journal enterprise brings to science.

Physics Resource Matters

Physics Today wins industry award

Excel Award banner

Physics Today's 2013 variable data calendar, given to print and online advertisers, took gold at the recent Association Media and Publishing Excel Awards ceremony held in Washington, DC. The organization presented awards in various categories, including editorial, design, and advertising and marketing. PT's winning entry took first place for promotional publications: direct mail—single piece. Each calendar was personalized by inserting the advertiser's first name into all 12 of the calendar's images.

Career Network honored as a "Top 100 Employment Site"

Weddle's GuideCareer Network (CN) is pleased to announce that its Physics Today Jobs site has again been selected a “Top 100” employment site on the web by WEDDLE’s LLC. Called the “Zagat” of the online employment industry by the American Staffing Association, WEDDLE’s announced this distinguished honor in conjunction with the publication of WEDDLE’s Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet. A detailed description of Physics Today Jobs is featured in the book, and offset with the other “Top 100” sites from the thousands of total listings for ease of reference by recruiters.

Physics Resource Matters

ACP school supply drive

school suppliesThe ACP Event Committee is spearheading a school supply drive to support the students of Riverdale Elementary School through Thursday, August 15. A list of needed supplies can be found in the pantries.

Physics Resource Matters

AAPT and "Going Green with Portland"

AAPT PortlandMore than 1,100 educators and students convened in Portland, OR, for the AAPT 2013 Summer Meeting, July 13-17. Portland State University hosted the workshops. Sessions dove into such topics as teaching online courses, authoring interactive textbooks, the next generation science education standards, best practices in educational technology, research in math education and education research at the boundary between biology and physics. A special event celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Physics Teacher; Gary White, former director of SPS, was named its new editor. Lillian Christie McDermott was recognized with the Melba Newell Phillips Medal. McDermott’s foundational work in physics education research has strengthened AAPT’s programs and benefited the overall physics education community. Her award lecture, and those of the other plenary speakers, is available on USTREAM.

Portland State University’s Science Outreach Society and the Oregon Ballet Theater presented, “Physics Center Stage,” and demonstrated the physics concepts of force, impulse, inertia, and conservation of angular momentum.

AAPT at Portland

SPS sponsored a poster session and reception for undergraduates. Three students were recognized for their exceptional research posters, and all presenters received a certificate. SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma also joined many other exhibitors with a booth in the active exhibit hall. Many attendees stopped by and shared their experiences as SPS chapter advisors and mentors.

The meeting also featured a two-hour session about the NSF-funded AIP Career Pathways Project. The project aims to determine key factors common to physics departments that have demonstrated success in preparing students for entering the STEM workforce upon completion of their bachelor’s degree. Four talks, including one by SRC Director Roman Czujko introduced the project to the AAPT community and discussed the nine site visits to physics departments that had a strong record of placing physics bachelor’s recipients into the STEM workforce. Representatives from the University of California-Davis, University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire, and Gettysburg College presented talks detailing their programs and efforts. The session was well received and will be followed this fall with workshops designed for both faculty and students.

A more detailed summary of the meeting is available on the AAPT website.

Physics Resource Matters

Physics Today, August 2013

PT August coverCover: The deep-sea drilling vessel Chikyu (“Earth” in Japanese) is designed to drill 7.5 km under the sea floor, with the help of a derrick tower that stands 70 m above the ship’s deck. An international collaboration recently used the Chikyu to drop sensors into and retrieve samples from holes drilled into the fault responsible for the massive 2011 Japan earthquake. And during the coming decade another collaboration will attempt to drill a hole through Earth’s crust and into the upper mantle. (Photo courtesy of JAMSTEC/IODP.)

Coming Up

August 4-8

  • AAPM 2013 Annual Meeting (Indianapolis, IN)

Tuesday, August 6

  • SPS Interns closing program (College Park)

Wednesday, August 7

  • All-hands update and ice cream social, 2 p.m. (College Park)
  • AIP Publishing monthly “WOW” drawing (Melville)

Wednesday, August 14

  • Staff birthday breakfasts (Melville and College Park)
  • Summer ice cream break (Melville)

Through August 15

  • ACP school supply drive (College Park)

Monday, September 2

  • Labor Day. AIP and AIP Publishing closed. (Melville and College Park)
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