Friday, 2 March 1990 Washington, DC
1. SCIENTISTS ARE BEING URGED TO SHUN OVER-PRICED JOURNALS.
Chronicle of Higher Education, reporting on a session at the AAAS
meeting two weeks ago, quotes Fred Spilhaus, Executive Director
of the American Geophysical Union, as suggesting that scientists
not only refrain from publishing in the low-quality, high-cost
journals that have proliferated in recent years, but also refuse
to serve such journals as reviewers or editors. But identifying
the journals may be hazardous, according to an earlier story in
the Chronicle. When Henry Barschall, a retired University of
Wisconsin physics professor, wrote an article comparing physics
journals for cost-effectiveness, he was slapped with a lawsuit by
Gordon & Breach Science Publishers, whose journals ranked on the
bottom. "Cost-effectiveness" was taken as the cost per printed
character devided by the frequency with which articles are cited.
Cost per character varied by a factor of 80; the ratio of cost to
"impact" by a factor of 850! Also being sued are the American
Institute of Physics, which published Barschall's article in
Physics Today, and the American Physical Society, which printed
it in the Bulletin. The Chronicle reports that Gordon & Breach
has threatened legal action against other critics of its prices.
2. PRIORITIES ARE ALWAYS MORE IMPORTANT IN TIGHT BUDGET YEARS.
Rep. Bob Traxler (D-MI), the Chairman of the House Appropriations
Subcommittee with jurisdiction over both NASA and NSF, made it
clear this week that he does not expect either agency to receive
the full amount requested by President Bush for FY 91, but he had
little luck in persuading administration officials to identify
which programs they would prefer to cut. Erich Bloch may have
come the closest; in defending NSF's $47M request for the Laser
Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, he declared, "It's
a bargain compared to the SSC," but later retracted the remark.
3. "THE CURRENT PITIFUL LEVEL" OF LOW TEMPERTURE PHYSICS FUNDING
by the NSF will be discussed during the March Meeting of the APS
in Anaheim. A community meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, March
14 at 7pm, was called by the "Low Temperature Advocacy Group" to
form a Correspondence Committee to communicate the concerns of
low temperature physicists to their elected representatives. The
notice is addressed to those who "are fed up with the miserable
level of agency funding for university-based small science."
4. THE PRESIDENT'S MOON/MARS PLAN IS MISSING A FEW CRUCIAL PARTS,
according to a National Research Council study released today.
The study panel, headed by Guy Stever, concluded that a less
"labor-intensive" transportation system than the shuttle fleet is
needed (they have a hard time saying "robot"). Critical research
needs include artifical gravity and nuclear propulsion. When
asked for details about Moon/Mars in the Traxler hearings, Allan
Bromley said he was unable to obtain hard information. Traxler
suggested he file a request under the Freedom of Information Act.