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Society for Social Studies of Science

Fall 2015 4S Council Meeting (Denver, 11 November)

The meeting was called to order by President Gary Downey at 3:10 pm.

Present: President Gary Downey; President-elect Lucy Suchman; Council members: Vivian Lagesen, Wen-Hua Kuo, Kelly Moore, Abby Kinchy, Claire Waterton, Sulfikar Amir, Tania Pérez Bustos, Shobita Parthasarathy, Daniel Breslau, Gwen Ottinger; Program Officer Wes Shrum; Treasurer Paige Miller; Secretary Stephen Zehr; 6S Members: Bryn Whiteley, John Lunsford, Erika Amethyst Szymanski

Summer 2015 4S Council Meeting Minutes:

Vivian Lagesen motioned to approve the minutes.  Daniel Breslau seconded.  The minutes were unanimously approved.

Announcements:

Gary Downey announced the University of Wollongong’s decision to eliminate the STS program adding that this issue would be included in new business.  Council expressed concern about the decision.

Downey announced that the STS Infrastructure Award proposal was unanimously approved by Council in a vote held prior to the meeting.

Future Meetings:

Lucy Suchman indicated that preparations for the Barcelona meeting are on track.  Daniel Breslau, Lucy Suchman, and Tania Pérez-Bustos from 4S are involved in an advisory role.  Erika Szymanski added that 6S members are helping coordinate graduate student activity.

Suchman announced that the 2017 4S meeting will be held in Boston.  Wes Shrum indicated that the society has received a good hotel deal for the Boston area.

Downey announced that we’ve received a new proposal for Bali in 2018 to go along with the proposal received from Sydney.  Shrum requested that Council make a decision soon to secure a good hotel deal.  Downey replied that we need a thread of Council discussion followed by a vote.  Council agreed to the goal of making a decision by 15 December. [Discussion subsequent to the meeting has pushed back this target date.]

For 2019, 4S has received bids from Chicago, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia.  Wes Shrum requested a Council decision soon to secure the offered low rates.  The dates under consideration range from late August to early September.  A discussion and vote will occur after the meeting.  Per its earlier decision, Council will seek to avoid overlap with the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. [A subsequent Council vote placed New Orleans at the top of this list.]

Data Sharing in STS:

John Parker of Arizona State University joined the meeting.  Gary Downey reviewed the history of Council’s approval of $15,000 for a group of 4S members to develop a data sharing plan for STS scholarship.  Parker indicated that the appointed committee members had obtained matching funding from NSF.  The committee has met and developed a report.  Parker reviewed some of the advantages of data sharing in STS for Council and added that the committee had also discussed data management plans.  Parker indicated that the committee still has $14.5K left in their budget and asked for Council recommendations on courses of action.  Kelly Moore suggested that the committee propose streams of sessions on data sharing and management at forthcoming 4S meetings.  Moore added that the committee should work to build a consensus within STS about the importance of this activity and recommended using ESTS as an avenue for debates and discussions about data sharing and management.  Lucy Suchman recommended that the committee raise questions about the constitution of data for discussion, noting that the issue involves ethics and context.  Abby Kinchy recommended holding workshops at annual meetings to go along with the panel sessions.  Claire Waterton mentioned the presence of a data archive in the UK and the need for compliance with archival requirements.  The committee might obtain information about procedures used there.  Shobita Parthasarathy brought up questions about intellectual property issues and suggested that the committee work through that as well.  Parthasarathy added that we should be engaging with junior scholars on these issues. 

Downey concluded the discussion by indicating that the next step is for Parker to work with Suchman to develop an ad hoc committee to carry this work forward.  Parker will liaison with Council on progress.

Denver Program Update:

Daniel Breslau indicated that this is the largest stand-alone meeting: 1200 papers, participation from 41 countries, with significantly increased participation from Latin America and Asia.  Breslau mentioned that some abstracts were rejected due to poorly written English, making them impossible to evaluate.  Overall, 3-4% of abstracts were rejected.  Breslau also noted the problem of late cancellations and no-shows, indicating that 30-40 papers out of the 1200 will likely not be given.  Program data and registration data are not linked and program organizers tend to keep people on the program when their attendance is in doubt.  Breslau recommended the development of stronger linkages between program data and registration data.  We also need to work on improving institutional memory with regard to program management, something that Breslau will be doing with future program organizers. 

Downey noted that there could be overlap between STS Making and Doing events and other entertainment events scheduled for the conference.  Downey recommended that the program chair be allowed to add one or two entertainment events to the conference, but keep them separate from the STS Making and Doing component of the program.

Committee Reports:

Prize Committees:
Tania Pérez Bustos announced that the Mullins Prize Committee had received 21 papers.  Deliberations are ongoing.   Bustos also noted that there is very limited geographical distribution among the submitted papers.

Lucy Suchman indicated that she will follow the prior year’s practice of announcing awards on a month-by-month basis in Technoscience.   Committee chairs agreed that deliberations can be completed by 15 December.

Claire Waterton announced that the Carson Prize Committee received 60 books.  There are now two contenders for the prize. 

Kelly Moore announced that the Fleck committee received 73 books.  They are close to a final decision.  Moore also noted that some nominated books would not have been sent by publishers without authors’ efforts to remind them. 

Sulfikar Amir announced that the STS Making and Doing Committee received 82 proposals from 60 countries.  After review, they narrowed down acceptances to 70.  Since some of the proposals were actually paper submissions, the committee now expects 52 presentations.  The biggest challenge for the committee is to identify three winners out of the 52 presentations.  Amir added that the committee has in place a crowdsourcing option, with 40% of final decision based on attendee recommendations and 60% from the committee’s assessment.  Committee members will receive a private showing to facilitate their deliberations.

Downey announced that the Edge Committee had completed its work and the winner will be notified.

Downey announced that the 4S Mentoring Prize Committee has not produced a report.  Some questions have been raised by committee members about differences in the meaning of mentoring cross-nationally, which the committee is currently discussing.

Downey indicated that there has been some confusion about past membership on the Bernal Prize Committee.  A database of past committee members will be generated and located on the web to assist in institutional memory.  The membership of the committee has traditionally included the 4S president along with the current winner and other appointees.  Downey noted that he altered the formula for membership this year since the current winner did not express interest in participating.  Four people were appointed: Ulrike Felt (chair), Paul Edwards, Joan Fujimura, and Alan Irwin.  Suchman opened up the idea of enlisting Council to help form the Bernal Prize Committee.

4S Membership Rates and Benefits Committee: Lucy Suchman discussed several committee recommendations.  The first is to improve how we advertise the benefits of 4S membership. 

The second involves offering an opt-out option for print copies of ST&HV.  In response to this recommendation, Council members raised the question of whether the Sage contract allowed us to do this.  Apparently, Sage currently requires that we send print copies.  However, we may renegotiate this item in future contracts. 

The third recommendation involves increasing professional membership rates from $45 - $50 and the “reduced rates” from $22 to $25.  The committee also recommends adding a third “sustaining member” rate of $100.  This rate would be voluntary and proceeds would be used for a fund to assist 4S students and members from non-OECD countries to travel to 4S meetings. 

The fourth recommendation is to add an automatic renewal for memberships. 

The fifth recommendation is using the forthcoming combined meeting for a one-time offer of a reduced cost membership (20% off) to 4S for current EASST members.  This would be done on a one-year trial.   In discussion, Council recommended adding students to the EASST/4S discount. 

Overall, Council is on board with these recommendations.  Suchman made a motion that we accept the recommendations.  Shobita Parthasarathy seconded the motion.  The motion was approved unanimously.

Publications Committee: Kelly Moore indicated that rapid progress is being made on the Handbook.  Moore expects the Handbook to be innovative and outstanding.  There will be an option to order the Handbook with registration at Barcelona.  MIT will also offer an option for purchasing and downloading individual chapters for those who do not wish to purchase the full volume.  Moore indicated that she will work further on marketing the book.

Moore reported that the citations ranking for ST&HV is rising.  The rate of acceptance is currently about 20% of submissions.  Overall, the journal is doing very well. 

ESTS is enjoying a successful start.  Moore indicated that there are several ways for people to contribute to the journal.  Contributions from senior people are especially important for its success.  Plans are also underway to apply to gain access to the Social Science Citation Index.

Moore recommended that additional members be added to the Publications Committee due to its expanded work demands.  Moore also reminded Council that Katie Vann has an increased workload and proposed that we increase her wages.  Moore also recommended that Daniel Kleinman be added to the Publications Committee.

4S Budget: Paige Miller indicated that Vann’s salary is set to increase next year due to a prior agreement.  Miller predicted that the surplus for the year will be $30 - $40K.  Some expenses were lower than anticipated and the society has received additional income.  Miller predicted that we’ll end the year with a balance somewhere in the $460 - $470K range, which places us within the steady-state range recommended by Council. 

4S Web Committee: Abby Kinchy described efforts of the committee to develop the 4S website and social media presence.  Kinchy asked Council for input on updating the “resources” link on the website.  Kinchy recommended adding another member to the web committee to take on this task.  Downey noted that the committee chair has the power to reconstitute the committee to achieve its goals.  Council members suggested adding more students in web development in exchange for annual meeting registration waivers.   Shobita Parthasarathy questioned the linkage between web work and meeting registration, noting that there could be complexities in this coupling.  Parthasarathy also recommended decoupling the recruitment of students for web work from 6S.  Parthasarathy added that Tania Pérez Bustos and Jennifer Henderson have recruited many people to contribute to Backchannels, but it is not yet well-read and there have been relatively few comments on content.  Parthasarathy suggested that we recruit chapter authors from the forthcoming Handbook to contribute to the blog and generate excitement about their work.  John Lunsford mentioned several other methods for increasing traffic at the blog site.

Nominations Committee: Claire Waterton reported the results of the Council and 6S elections.

Update on 6S: Bryn Whiteley reported that 6S officers now serve 3-year terms to increase continuity.  6S has started an initiative to support graduate student conferences.  The first conference was the graduate student STGlobal Conference held in Washington, DC.  There was good representation of 4S members at the conference.  6S supported several activities at the conference involving professional development and social activities.

Travel grants: Paige Miller reported that 4S received $10K from NSF and $5K from the Asian fund to support graduate student travel to the annual meeting.  The committee received 115 proposals; 29 grants were offered; 25 grants were accepted.  Council members expressed some concern about the transparency in the decision-making process.  Apparently, some complaints have been received by those who were rejected.  Committee members will work on increasing transparency in the future.

Resolutions and Reports Committee: Vivian Lagesen indicated that there has been minimal activity in the past year, but expects a submitted resolution from 4S members in the near future. 

4S Statement of Purpose Committee:  Downey indicated that this work is ongoing and requires further development.

New Business:

Gary Downey recommended that in the future Council consider expanding its membership from 9 to 12 members.

Regarding the University of Wollongong situation, Downey indicated that the dean is proposing to eliminate the STS undergraduate major, which would likely include loss of staff.  Downey recommended that Council discuss and possibly respond to the Wollongong situation.  Lucy Suchman recommended that we express our concern, but questioned the appropriateness of 4S interventions in the actions of specific university administrations.

The meeting was adjourned by Gary Downey at 5:45 PM.