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Society for Social Studies of Science

Minutes of the Council and Business Meeting, 2002

Minutes of the 4S Council Meeting

6 November 2002

Milwaukee

Wiebe Bijker called the meeting to order at 3:15 PM.

Minutes of the 2001 Cambridge meeting were approved, as published on the 4S web site: http://www.lsu.edu/ssss

Council members were apprised of the redesign of the 4S web page.  There are now fewer levels for easier navigation to the most important areas directly from the home page.  These features include (1) Membership of council (with emails); (2) Composition of committees; (3) Links to other societies; (4) Information on prizes, prize procedures, deadlines, and past winners; (5) Direct links for nominations for prizes & council membership; (6) Change of address information; (7) Application form and dues payment by credit card; (8) General guidelines for local arrangements & for programs.

Publications Committee

Ulrike Felt, the new editor of ST&HV reported a smooth transition from Skip Fuhrman at Virginia Tech to the University of Vienna.  The main problem now is backup of manuscripts resulting in a lengthy wait time before publication.  It was suggested that the publisher, Sage, be requested to allow one extra article per issue.  However, it is also possible that this backlog is temporary, because it is relatively recent in the history of the journal.  ST&HV has returned to the policy of ending manuscripts to 3 or 4 reviewers, although a decision can often be rendered after two reviews that agree substantially on the recommendation.  A second problem is that of double submission: some authors continue to submit manuscripts to ST&HV or SSS before a final decision has been rendered by another journal.  A third issue discussed was the possibility of moving to web-based peer review.  This option will be reviewed during the next year.  The editorial board membership will be re-assessed after a review of the current membership terms.

Technoscience :

The report from the newsletter indicated a continuing problem with maintaining a complete and current list of email addresses.  Council indicated a concern that the current procedure was simply not working as designed, and a desire to return to production of the newsletter in hardcopy.  In order to keep costs low, this would be a relatively short newsletter, without including the time sensitive materials such as conferences and special issue deadlines that might be passed by the time the issue was received.  So long as the web site is frequently updated, the email address list may still be used to send announcements and job listings to members.  It was noted that  EASST members overwhelmingly rejected the conversion to an electronic newsletter as well.

Handbook Issues

The President noted the decision to collapse the Handbook Publications Committee and the Handbook Advisory Board into a single advisory body that would serve the review and approval process for the society.  This Advisory Board will be chaired by Michel Callon with Jessie Saul as Secretary.  The Editors are asked to present an outline of the volume in order to organize a session at the next (Atlanta) meeting where all Society members can have input into the Contents.  The complete Advisory Board will be appointed soon.

Prize Committees

The winner of the 2002 Bernal Prize for Distinguished Contributions to the Field is Michel Callon.  

The general procedure for the award of book and paper prizes is described on the web page.  Nomination letters are sent to 125 publishers. The Chair of each committee may send letters to those whose books were on the short list (these books may be reconsidered so long as they are eligible), as well as informing the winner and the publisher of the winning book.  The Prize Committee chairs should seek to hold Author-Meets-Critics session on the work of the winners. Composition of the committees are as follows: the Fleck Prize committee for next year consists of senior council members and the President, while the Carson Prize committee consists of council members in their second year of office. Nominations for the award may be submitted by any member of the society to any member of council. Nominations may also be made by email from the 4S web site. Eligible books for the 2003 deliberations have publication dates from 2000 through 2002.

The winner of the 2002 Ludwik Fleck Prize is Randall Collins for The Sociology of Philosophies and Lily Kay for Who Wrote the Book of Life . The winner of the 2002 Rachel Carson Prize is Steve Hilgartner for Science on Stage.

There was a discussion of the possibility of awarding a prize for a book in a foreign language.  The President will appoint a Language Committee (ad hoc) in order to address the issue and report back to Council next year.  The mandate of this committee will be broader than the Prize issue alone.  Finally, it was determined that when Prize Selection Committee members do not speak English as their native language, the list of books to be considered may first be narrowed by the native English speakers, in order to reduce the burden of reading.  However, all committee members will be equally involved in the selection of the final award.

Student Activities and Travel Grants Committees

Steve Hilgartner and Kim Fortun discussed the award of the travel grants.  The main issue now, because of the increasing numbers of applicants, is whether to award more and smaller travel grants, or to award fewer and larger grants.  This year there have not been any complaints about the procedure, possibly because it is becoming known that the grants are awarded on a competitive basis.  However there is still a problem of unused awards, that results when people receive an award but then decide not to come to the meeting.  For this reason, council has agreed to make awards up to 120% of the amount of the NSF grant, with the understanding that 4S may have to make good on the awards from core funds, should all of the offers be accepted and used. 

The main selection criteria will be acceptance of a paper at the meeting, other participation in the meeting (such as discussant or organizer of a session), alternative funding, and receipt of previous awards.  Awards in consecutive years will not be made, unless other applicants are not available.  A preference might be given to underrepresented topics if other criteria are not sufficient. 

The President reported that two students will now be asked to represent students at council, with overlapping terms of two years.  Shobita Parthasarathy and Rob Doubleday reported excellent use of the STSGRAD listserv for students.  This year there are two lunch sessions, including one that focusing on jobs and postdocs, and another business meeting.  There will also be a social event after the banquet.  Council approved an annual expenditures of $300 for a student lunchtime event (for instance, on publishing or jobs) at the annual meeting.  Council also approved a $100 fund for sundry expenses of the student representatives. 

Program and Local Arrangements for Milwaukee

There was a discussion of the practice of having "streams" of pre-arranged sessions and topics at the annual meeting.  This year there was less emphasis on streams, but they are still apparent on the program.  The concept of streams at the annual meeting is to gain visibility for new or neglected bodies of work or themes in social studies of science.  Hence, there is no topic that is 'guaranteed' as a stream at all 4S meetings.  There can also be 'linked sessions' (indicating by numbering).  

There were some problems with the website, including the inability to register as part of a prearranged session, which caused one session to be cancelled.  There was also a problem during the last month, when abstracts disappeared from the web page.  General satisfaction with the conference web page was not registered.

Recent program chairs will continue to serve ex-officio on the program committees for future meetings in order to provide guidance and continuity to the committees.

Program and Local Arrangements Committees for 2002

Roland Bal has agreed to head the program committee for the Atlanta meeting, which will be jointly held with SHOT.

Future Meetings Committee

Wenda Bauchspies gave the report of the Future Meetings Committee. The 2003 meeting will be jointly held with SHOT.  The 2004 meeting will be held jointly with EASST in Paris, hosted by the STS group at the Ecole des mines.  This meeting must be held the last week of August or first week of September owing to constraints on room availability.

The 2005 annual meeting will be an exclusive 4S meeting. 

Nominations Committee

New council members for 2003-2005 are Yuko Fujigaki, Gary Downey, and Wenda Bauchspies.

Visions Committee

President Wiebe Bijker discussed his decision to accept in principle all of the recommendations by the Visions committee, originally appointed by Sheila Jasanoff.  The recommendations and final report have been available on the web site since June.  They include retaining the original and current name of the society, to delay having the main 4S meeting in Asia owing to concerns about attendance (in favor of having a 'satellite' meeting), to reintroduce policy and politics, to engage scientists and engineers in a more active way, to introduce career development activities.  This may include spending some money for a job matching site (up to $2000 for setup and $1000 for maintenance).

Ethics and Public Policy

The first initiative was undertaken this past year, with the establishment of an ad hoc Ethics and Public Affairs committee to report to the present.  The committee, chaired by Rachelle Hollander, submitted its report, which was discussed by council.   The President noted the statement on Freedom of Speech written in response to the inclusion of some members of the society in a list questioning their activities in the wake of 9-11.  This statement was taken up and adopted by the AAAS.  A new, standing committee on Ethics and Public Policy will be appointed after the final report of the committee is received.  They will ratify a procedure to be followed in the event an issue is raised.  It was stressed that the issues addressed by the committee should not be narrowly American in focus.  It was also agreed that the new committee will not be involved in "police work" for the society.  The formal plan should be submitted by April in order to have member comments by the next annual meeting.

Secretary-Treasurer's Report

Shrum reported on the status of the 4S treasury as of October 2002.  Membership and revenues are at a relative high point and there are not current problems in this area.  The overall financial picture is good.  Regular membership in 4S provides ST&HV to all members for a reduced price relative to regular individual subscription prices of about $70 (while institutional subscriptions are about $220).

The meeting was adjourned at 6:15 pm.