4S Council Meeting, 23 March 2015

Members participating: 4S President: Gary Downey; 4S President-elect: Lucy Suchman; 4S Council Members: Vivian Lagesen, Claire Waterton, Daniel Breslau, Shobita Parthasarathy, Abby Kinchy, Kelly Moore, Tania Pérez-Bustos, Sulfikar Amir, Wen-Hua Kuo; 4S Officers: Treasurer Paige Miller, Secretary Stephen Zehr, Program Officer Wes Shrum.

The meeting was called to order at 8:15 AM US EST by Gary Downey.

Approval of the Fall Council Meeting minutes.  Lucy Suchman moves to approve, Claire Waterton seconds.  Minutes are approved unanimously.


Lucy Suchman discussed the Barcelona 4S/EASST meeting.  Work is continuing on the development of a contract.  We are still waiting on a contract from the Barcelona group.

New Business:

Conflict of Interest Guidelines: Kelly Moore led discussion on conflict of interest guidelines in 4S prize committees.  Moore indicated that the proposed set of guidelines is adapted from the U.S. National Science Foundation.  Discussion: Claire Waterton questioned what we would do in the case of student papers where names of authors are not attached.  Moore suggested that in cases of anonymity, the committee simply use good sense.  Lucy Suchman recommended that in this situation, we ask reviewers to indicate whether they recognize any papers and authors and, if so, recuse themselves.  Moore made a motion to approve the guidelines.  Waterton seconded.  A vote will occur after the meeting.  [A subsequent Council vote approved the guidelines.]

6S Charter: Shobita Parthasarathy led discussion.  Parthasarathy asked for comments on proposed changes to the 6S Charter.  There are two key changes.  One is to elect rather than appoint 6S representatives and the other is to extend the commitment from two to three years.  Parthasarathy noted that additional duties would be required of elected 6S representatives.  There was no further discussion on the proposal.  Parthasarathy made a motion to approve.  Downey seconded.  A vote will occur after the meeting.  [A subsequent Council vote approved changes to the charter.]

Formation of standing 4S Web Committee:  Wen-Hua Kuo led discussion.  The recommendation is to form a standing 4S Web Committee out of the 4S Digital Publications Subcommittee.  Kuo made a motion to approve.  Lucy Suchman seconded.  Kuo noted that the proposal recommends four new positions: 4S Digital Publication Committee Chair, Web Content Editor, Backchannel Editors (two), and Social Media Editor.  The proposal lists the duties of each.  Suchman asked for clarification about the positions and whether appointees would be compensated.  Gary Downey clarified that the key issue before Council is the formation of a standing committee.  If approved, issues of appointment and compensation could be handled by the President and Council based on decisions about workload and other relevant issues.  Downey proposed three amendments: (1) add the position of Web Design Editor; (2) allow the President, in consultation with the committee chair, to modify the position titles for members over time and as appropriate; and (3) establish a routine in which a committee chair appointed by the President recommends the other committee appointments, to help ensure strong working relationships within the committee. Kuo asked about the start date for these new positions.  Downey indicated that there needs to be flexibility on the start date.  The formation of a standing 4S Web Committee was approved unanimously.

Technoscience in multiple languages:  Tania Pérez-Bustos led discussion.  Pérez-Bustos suggested that items appearing in a non-English language in 4S web venues (e.g., Technoscience, Backchannels) be accompanied with a brief summary in English.  Council had no objections to this recommendation. The new Web Committee will have authority to implement.


Publications Committee Report: Kelly Moore led discussion.  Moore announced that Ed Hackett has negotiated with Sage for additional pages in ST&HV.  Negotiations also are ongoing to increase the number of annual issues to eight starting in 2017.  Moore noted that adding pages will increase the workload, which may require us to reconsider annual compensation for the editor and managing editor.  Also, we may need to reconsider our contract with Sage.  Discussion between Moore and Lucy Suchman ensued about the current rate of compensation for the editor and managing editor.  Suchman suggested that we obtain comparative information from other journals.  Gary Downey indicated that, in principle, he favors increasing compensation for the managing editor as the workload increases.  Downey also noted the inequity between the resources and work the society commits to the journal and what it receives from Sage.  The contract renewal time with Sage will be an appropriate point to seek an increase in compensation.  Suchman added that there is need to develop a sustainable model for workload and compensation for the managing editor.  Wes Shrum added that the overall workload is related more to manuscripts received rather than the number of journal pages.  Shrum also noted that the costs of the journal to the society are due largely to hard copy production and distribution.  Perhaps we should move to on-line only journal distribution?  Downey clarified that the workload per manuscript increases as it approaches publication, so increased pages and annual number of issues would increase workload independently of the total number of manuscripts received.  No action was taken by Council on this issue.  The idea of moving to on-line only or an on-line option for member subscriptions will be discussed further, both within Council and with Sage.

Kelly Moore also sought feedback about the balance between special issues and regular issues in ST&HV.  In response, Downey indicated that Council had recommended some years ago that ST&HV publish no more than two special issues per year, but such is always at the discretion of the editor.  There was no further discussion on this issue.

Kelly Moore encouraged submissions to Engaging Science, Technology & Society.  Moore informed Council that funds have been requested for a reception to launch the new journal at the Denver 4S meeting.  Moore noted that it would be too expensive to open it up to everyone, so perhaps it could be limited to managing editors.  Lucy Suchman preferred that we open it up to everyone, with a cash bar to reduce costs.  Gary Downey indicated that he encouraged a larger event, but a smaller one had been recommended by journal staff.  Daniel Breslau said that the event would have to be Thursday evening due to events scheduled for all other evenings.  Suchman suggested that the journal launch could be incorporated into the opening welcome reception to encourage attendance and increase visibility.  Council members expressed preference for this last idea and it was decided to move in this direction.

Handbook Report and Update: Gary Downey indicated that things are moving smoothly on the Handbook.


Adding a check-box on the registration page for donations to 4S: Gary Downey led the discussion.  Downey indicated that two recommendations have been put forward for Council consideration.  One is to add a check-off box for donations for student travel.  The second is to increase membership fees to increase support for student travel to annual meetings.  Lucy Suchman expressed support for the addition of a check-off box for student travel and also possibly another one for support of ESTS.  Downey recommended that we do this on an experimental basis and prioritize student travel.  Kelly Moore recommended that we increase membership fees due to the costs and value of additional 4S activity.  Moore noted that other societies have check-off boxes for various causes in their membership forms.  Paige Miller added that the society has increased its annual expenses by about $50K (especially by launching the new journal) and has now reached steady-state budget management, so higher membership fees may be warranted if Council approves new initiatives.  Downey suggested that he appoint a committee to consider raising membership fees and asked about committee membership.  Moore recommended that the committee be composed of Council members and one outside member.  Suchman recommended a simplified committee arrangement.  A decision was reached that the committee would be formed by Downey and led by Suchman.  Abby Kinchy added a recommendation that we consider raising membership fees for faculty, but not for students.  Claire Waterton agreed with this recommendation and added that several check-off amounts be included.  Council members expressed some concern about a check-off box for ESTS, but favored one for student travel.

Gary Downey announced that Kaushik Sunder-Rajan has agreed to chair the student travel grants committee this year.  Sunder-Rajan’s committee will work on increasing transparency in criteria for decision-making. [Downey subsequently appointed Moore to co-chair the committee.]

Paige Miller briefly presented the current budget situation.  The current balance is close to our recommended steady state.  Miller projected net income for the year, but added that this figure does not take into consideration additional ad hoc expenses.

Resolution on Teaching Evolution: Gary Downey proposed that we use the new threaded discussion tool at the website to discuss the Resolution under consideration by the Society.  All voting members of Council will consider the Resolution, except for one Council member who has a conflict of interest.

Nominations for Council: Claire Waterton indicated that we have 22 nominations under consideration.  The nominees’ credentials were discussed.  Following the Council meeting, Stephen Zehr will send voting instructions that will likely involve a two stage voting procedure to reach a suitable number of candidates.  Once that list is obtained, Claire Waterton will apply the Council’s decision tree for Council candidates and begin contacting nominees to gauge their interest in standing for election.

Meeting was adjourned by Gary Downey at 10:10 AM.