4S Council Meeting, 28 October 2009

Crystal City, Virginia 2009

The meeting was called to order by President Michael Lynch at 3pm.

Present for all or part of the meeting were present & former Council & Officers (Lynch, Lezaun, Kleinman, Waldby, Wakeman, Murphy, Herzig, Timmermans, Edel, Myers, Matsumoto, Wajcman, Shrum) as well as Reporting Guests (Harsh, Fujigaki, Steward, Healey, Allen).

Lynch welcomed incoming council members and introduced all present. A moment of silent was taken for Olga Amsterdamska’s recent passing.

The minutes of the 2008 Rotterdam meeting were approved as published on the web.

Shrum announced that this is the first 4S meeting where nearly all of the basic functions of the meeting are done by 4S members themselves. This has been a gradual evolution, but it is the first time that no meetings planners have been involved. He will write a brief guide describing the current 4S process of distributed meetings management.

Daniel Kleinman reported on the activities of the Publications Committee, which centered on the supervision of STHV, Technoscience, and the web page. The committee met immediately before Council and accepted the report of ST&HV as submitted by the editors. The backlog of articles awaiting publication has been reduced and the category of Revise and Resubmit is now used infrequently. A new category used is accept on condition of substantive revisions subject to re-review. The policy is to get two reviews and a 3rd if the others are split. The backlog has been reduced but not eliminated. The idea of a mentoring system for non-English speaking authors was discussed. An agreement has been reached with Sage to try to put more articles in each issue. Online First publication is used to make articles available one year in advance of print and with a permanent web address. There was a decrease in 2008 submissions but this year they are back to normal levels and it is hoped that this will stabilize at about 90-100 submissions per year. The average review time is now about five months to a first decision. The editors of ST&HV reported their impressions that the level of commitment and thoroughness of review have declined, as reviews are often delayed and have become cursory. Note that the policy of the editors is not to have more than one paper by a (first) author under review at a given time.

The Publications Committee recommended that (1) a new and permanent email address for ST&HV be established through a commercial provider; (2) the stipend to the managing editor be increased to $24,000; (3) the acceptance of a new ‘best paper’ prize, as instituted by ST&HV journal editors within the past year. The Council accepted these recommendations and endorsed the annual prize. The 2009 prize should be awarded at the 2010 banquet meeting. It was recommended that the editorial board be involved in the selection of the award in future years and that the editors consult with the Publications Committee on the process of selecting the winner.

4S Web Site issues. Murphy made the suggestion was made to have a web-based location where authors can be matched for sessions without the papers being put into pre-organized sessions.

Two projects are needed according to the 4S webmaster. One is a graphic redesign. The other is migrating to a new Content Management System. Coffee Consulting recommends outsourcing the technical part. This will involve an expenditure of approximately $2000 for software such as Drupal, one of the leading open source content management systems. There is no cost for software and can be hosted most places. Only four people now edit the site but it could be more later. However, some members of council who had recently been involved in such issues recommended that we stay with the Contribute package, which is working well for us at the moment. Council was requested to provide feedback about general satisfaction with the web site and desired features. No one really uses Discussion boards & other interactive systems. People want the 4S site to do just a few things, but primarily it should provide information and allow registration and abstracting in a user friendly manner.

2009 Crystal City Meeting

Barbara Allen gave the report of the Program Committee (she was co-chair with Daniel Breslau). This was the first year using the All Academic system and they were generally satisfied with the system. It was recommended that in the future people be asked to add keywords to their papers for individual submissions. There is a new session format this year on Friday to have breakout workshops in one large room. No need for unusual peer review: most abstracts were accepted. The program chairs thought it worked very well having two program chairs, one of whom is in the city where the meeting takes place.

Technoscience issues. Event counts are back up where they should be, thanks to Kathryn. Council was requested to solicit names to find someone to replace Chris Kortright, whose term is up in January.

Nominations Committee Lakoff

Election Results for 2009-2011: new council members: Javier Lezaun, Maria Puig dela Bellacasa, and Natasha Myers

Travel awards

Gabrielle Hecht’s report on the 2009 travel awards was presented. For the 2008 meeting in Rotterdam, approximately $14,000 was awarded; for the 2009 meeting $20,000 was awarded, including special provision (4S Economic Stimulus Package) for underemployed scholars and junior scholars who have already received the Ph.D. Difficulties of working through the History of Science Society in the implementation of awards were discussed. Hecht recommended an online application system for travel grants.

Shrum reported the results of a review by a professional accounting firm that recommended, among other things, the addition of a second person as treasurer. B. Paige Miller (University of Wisconsin, River Falls) was recommended as Associate Treasurer, with her main responsibility to continue implementing the travel grant program. However, in the event that something happens to prevent Shrum from making expenditures on behalf of the Society, Miller will also be able to perform these duties. Council approved her appointment.


Matthew Harsh reported on the operation on the mentorship program, which has been in operation for several years now. There is a shortage of mentors given the increasing numbers of requests. The suggestion was to put a link in the registration system itself, integrating it into the registration process. This year 112 persons were involved in the program, which is a record number.

Prize Committees

NEW Edge Prize

Michael Lynch discussed the procedure used by the first David Edge Prize committee in order to produce 45 article nominations (30 from journal editors). The first David Edge Prize will be awarded at Friday’s banquet. The mechanisms are still being developed but these worked very successful the first year to bring in nominations. Last year’s senior council cohort agreed to develop the procedure for the first prize as well as read and evaluate the papers.

The Bernal Prize, Ludwik Fleck Prize, & Rachel Carson Prizes will be awarded at the banquet as usual.

Nicholas Mullins Award

Nina Wakeford reported on the acquisition and evaluation of 54 papers for the Mullins award. Rewrittten Ph.D. dissertation chapters dominated the competition. It was noted that dissertation chapters per se are ineligible and cannot be considered. The proactive outreach by the committee generated many more papers this year than in recent years.


New Initiatives

Catherine Waldby reported on the activities of the New Initiatives committee. Seven proposals were forthcoming and one was funded for $15,000. The lead time for the proposals might be increased to generate more proposals in the next iteration. Lynch and Waldby both endorsed the referral to committee for discussion of the criteria for the award. It was suggested that ‘standard’ workshops be lower priority than innovative workshops that serve other functions as well, especially if they relate to regional themes.

Student Affairs

Gareth Edel reported there will again be a professional development event on looking for a first job (Thursday) and a student business meeting (Friday). The junior/senior mixer will be tonight.

Ethics & Public Policy

Wenda Bauchspies reported on the successful initiative for 4S to become a member of ICSU and ISSC. Council nominated one 4S member, John Rudolph, for ICSU Science Education Committee. 4S also nominated one young scholar for travel participation to Bergen, Norway for ISSC.

The Nomination procedure for 4S involvement in international committees is to first go to current Council members to see if there is interest and after that to go to the general membership. However, because these individuals will be representing the Society, there must be some endorsement by a council member. This year ICSU requested nominations for science education, the World Data System and data & Information. This international involvement may increase in recent years, as overtures from two other organizations have been received, the Third World Academy of Science and the Pacific Science Association (Burke Burnett-Secretary, Pacific Museum).

Future Meetings

Yuko Fujigaki reported on planning for the 2010 4S meeting. A decision had been taken at the 2006 4S meeting to meet in Tokyo with the Japanese Society for Science and Technology Studies (JSSTS). Planning has proceeded rapidly and substantial funds have been raised for assistance with the meeting, which has been scheduled on the Komaba Campus of the University of Tokyo from 26-29 August. A web site will be provided for efficient booking of Tokyo hotels in the area. However, abstract and registration will be handled through existing 4S software.

The 2011 meeting will be held in Cleveland. It will be a co-located meeting with HSS & SHOT, November 2-6.

Peter Healey made a presentation on behalf of Oxford University for the 2012 meeting with EASST, discussing the options for meeting rooms, accommodations, and overall organization of the meeting. Fred Steward (EASST President) reported on two visits to Oxford and meetings with the proposers. After further discussion, a decision will be made soon.

The 2013 site has not been determined.

2014 Buenos Aires with ECOSITE (Latin American STS society).

2018 Wenda Bauchspies looking at African sites, specifically Maputo and Nairobi.

Treasury Issues

Lynch proposed to continue the policy of consistency of the Secretariat and the ST&HV stipend. The Secretariat allocation will be increased to $24,000, commensurate with the new ST&HV allocation.

Status of the Treasury & Membership Issues
At the time of the meeting 4S memberships stands at 1298. The Interim Budget report was presented by the Treasurer and accepted by Council. Given the large amount of work that 4S members are doing now, in the absence of a professional meetings planner, it was proposed that any significant preparatory role (Publisher’s Exhibit, Mentoring Program, Catering, Student Volunteer Management) be given a stipend of $500 to partial offset costs.

The meeting was adjourned at 6:00pm.

Draft Minutes, Not Yet Approved by Council