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Society for Social Studies of Science

Committee Reports

Publications Committee 2013


Publications Committee (Kelly Moore (Chair), Leandro Rodríguez Medina)

This report describes the discussion and action items at the Publications Committee 4S Council Meeting, October 10, 2013, and a report of the meeting between the editors of the Handbook of Science and Technology Studies and members of 4S on October 12, 2013.

Publications Committee, 4S Council Meeting

1. Report of the Editor of Science, Technology and Human Values: Ed Hackett, Editor and Katie Vann, Managing Editor (see attached Report to the Publications Committee)

Discussion followed the presentation of the report.

a. Special Issues and Review Essays. STHV continues to solicit special issues; the Editor noted that many of these issues draw attention to issues related to disenfranchised groups. There was praise from Council members for this arrangement, and for the effort to balance special issues with regular publications. Similarly, STHV now solicits review essays, which are peer-reviewed. Again, there was enthusiasm for this new publication form.

b. Submissions: There was discussion of the pre-review system used by the Editors to quickly reject papers that they deem inappropriate for STHV. This method results in a high rejection rate. Council Members discussed the merits of this system and found it to be appropriate and valuable in handling the number of submissions, and ensuring that reviewers were not unduly burdened by papers inappropriate for STHV.

c. Publication Committee members praised the increase in the STHV impact factor, and its move up on the rankings of comparable journals. Moore and Clark Miller queried whether the citations to journal articles were up or down; the Editors reported that they were up.

d. The review criteria have changed this year. There was general agreement on the new review criteria, and in general, for the quality of the reviews.

e. The Editors propose to merge the categories of Contributing Editors and Editorial Advisory Board into one category. This would enable to the journal to include more people in the review process and make use of the many forms of expertise available across the two categories. The Publications Committee and Council found this to be an acceptable practice.

f. The Publications Committee discussed the Editors’ decision not to send rejected papers to Sage Open Access, for an author fee of $99 with a 10% STHV royalty. No decision was made on this issue.

g. Sage has requested that STHV carry out podcasts with authors of particular articles. The Publications Committee and Council were not enthusiastic about this, since it was not clear what value the podcasts would have. No formal action was taken on this matter but there was enthusiasm for the idea.

h. Sage would like STHV to organize journal material for teaching, by submitting to Sage 5 topic areas, and roughly five articles/topic, with an introduction to each topic. Kelly Moore expressed enthusiasm for getting the articles to the classroom, but was concerned about the labor and coordination that this would entail, given that the work would be carried out in conjunction with specific editorial board members. No formal action was taken on this matter.

i. There was discussion of whether and how to make STHV a free-standing journal, such that 4S would own the content. No motions or other action was taken on this matter.

2. Report of the Digital Publications Subcommittee (Katie Vann, Laurel Smith-Doerr and Margy Avery)(see attached Report)

a. At the 2012 meeting, the subcommittee was formed and charged with exploring digital publication options for 4S, including the possibility of a digital journal.

b. There was discussion of the relative costs and labor inputs of three digital platforms that might support a digital journal.

c. A wide-ranging discussion about possible forms of digital publication that 4S might undertake, ranging from blogs, to the use of social media, to a repository, to a journal. The merits of each of these approaches, and their possible relationships to each other, were discussed. There was agreement, as at the 2012 meeting, that two social studies of science journals were too little to capture the volume of 4S scholarship, and that the current forms of these journals were not well-suited to capture the diversification of forms of communication (visual, map, audio, etc.). Most of those present were enthusiastic about getting a modest digital format started fairly quickly, and then working on something larger, although there were concerns expressed about whether path-dependency would lock 4S into forms that were not appropriate building blocks for larger initiatives, and that without a journal, web traffic might be limited. There was also discussion of the value of models such as the Stanford Philosopher’s Index.

d. Abby Kinchy reported that Cultural Anthropology has become a highly successful digital publication. She agreed to contact the current editors of CA, and to write a report for the Publications Committee that describes the CA platform, costs, and work structure.

e. With respect to funding a digital initiative such as a journal, there was discussion of seeking foundation funding (e.g., Sloan, Mellon), and the value and limits of having short-term university funding for a journal.

f. Other key issues discussed were the merits of open access, and the value of indexing.

g. The Digital Publications Subcommittee (to be assigned) was charged with investigating next steps for digital publication and dissemination, including making recommendations on media forms, budgets, and interfaces with existing publications and forms of communication including Technoscience.

3. Report of the Handbook Subcommittee, Stephen Zehr (Chair), Linda Layne, Trevor Pinch, and Judy Wajcman). (see attached). See also Report of the Editors of the Handbook of Science and Technology Studies (Clark Miller, Laurel-Smith Doerr, Ulrike Felt, Rayvon Fouche) to the Handbook Subcommittee (attached).

Stephen Zehr reported that the Handbook publication schedule was proceeding on schedule, and that the Editors had received 95 proposal submissions as of September 15, 2013. Other issues that were in the report, including the way that the Table of Contents is being developed, and the need to include authors from diverse geographic areas, were briefly discussed.

4. During the 4S 2013 conference, the Editors of the Handbook of Science and Technology Studies will hold an open session to hear the concerns and suggestions of 4S members. That Report is attached.

Handbook of Science & Technology Studies, 4th edition.

Report to 4S: October 11, 2013

Clark A. Miller, Laurel Smith-Doerr, Ulrike Felt, Rayvon Fouche, eds.

Current status and activities, 4S 2013: The call for proposals for the 4th edition of the Handbook of Science & Technology Studies was completed September 15, 2013, and generated 94 chapter proposals from 251 authors, representing a broad diversity of countries and research domains within the field. The editors met at length on Wednesday, October 9, 2013, to review these proposals and begin to assess their quality and appropriateness for inclusion in the handbook. Based on this assessment, the editors provided a report, later that day, to the 4S Publication Committee, chaired by Kelly Moore. On Thursday, the editors hosted a roundtable session for members of 4S to discuss the handbook. The editors presented their plans and expectations regarding the handbook, the form and structure of chapters, and the process for completing the project. Input was solicited regarding what 4S members would like to see in the handbook, the audiences for which it should be designed, and what makes for useful and usable handbook chapters. Approximately 30 members attended and provided extensive and valuable input. Later on Thursday, the editors met for dinner with the editors of the two previous handbooks, also receiving extensive, valuable input about how to successfully manage the handbook process. Finally, the editors met on Friday with the 4S Handbook Committee, chaired by Steve Zehr. Together, the editors and the committee constructed a plausible timeline for the book, including especially key dates for the submission and committee review of a draft table of contents in mid-December 2013. Miller also met with Margy Avery from MIT Press to confirm their continued interest in the book and discuss the handbook process.

Timeline: The current timeline for the book anticipates publication in time for the 2016 4S meeting. This is a tight but plausible timetable that would entail publication approximately 8 year subsequent to the 3rd edition. Approximate interim dates:

• Dec. 2013 – editors meet to establish and submit draft TOC, which is then reviewed and approved by 4S Handbook Committee

• Jan. 2014 – editors negotiate with authors and finalize TOC, submit proposal to press

• Apr. 2014 – authors submit draft chapter outlines, reviewed by editors; editors negotiate contract with press

• Aug./Sept. 2014 – authors submit draft chapters, reviewed by editors

• Dec. 2014 – authors submit final chapters, submitted for external review

• Feb. 2015 – external reviewers provide final reviews

• Apr. 2015 – authors submit final chapters

• May 2015 – manuscript submitted to publisher

• Aug. 2016 – handbook published for 4S meeting in Europe