Strengthening Our Global Commitment

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Science  27 Oct 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5236, pp. 559
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5236.559


Two and one-half years ago (see Science, 28 June 1993) Science launched a campaign to expand its international operations. The intent, fully endorsed by the AAAS Board of Directors, was to reach out to readers in Europe and Asia. Feedback received from readers, reviewers, and Science journalists in both regions during my visits there over the past 4 months indicates that our campaign is clearly gaining momentum, as emphasized by several recent changes. Before our U.K. office in Cambridge was opened, approximately 7% of Science Reports had a majority of European authors. As of this month, that figure has reached 25%. Over the same period, the number of Europe- and Japan-based members of our Board of Reviewing Editors has increased from 0 out of 45 to 18 out of 74, with comparable increases in non-U.S. peer reviewers. These reasonably satisfying early results have been achieved without any geographic quotas, through fair and equal competition among submittals. Our intention is to provide a rapid and fair review system conducted by an accessible editorial staff.

Meanwhile, Science has also expanded its international cadre of science journalists. Two full-time European reporters are now working out of the Cambridge office and another in Tokyo, with regular correspondents in Paris, Berlin, Heidelberg, Moscow, and Beijing. The result has been well over 100 pages per year of European news coverage and about double that amount of overall non-U.S. coverage. For example, this issue examines the special research support made possible in Germany by the Max Planck Institutes (two of whose researchers won Nobel Prizes this year) and includes an interview with the newly appointed head of the Max Planck Society.

All this is, of course, just a beginning. As demonstrated in London and Paris last week to European scientists and science journalists, our World Wide Web offerings have allowed us since June 1995 to inform connected readers throughout the world of our contents on the day of publication (see Science, 23 June 1995). In the past 5 months, the number of unique computer addresses that visit us weekly has grown to over 8000. As other journals join in this alternative means of communication, scientists everywhere will be all the better informed.

The exploration of enhancements to our printed media is only beginning. Like other diligent editors, we have been actively soliciting reader feedback. The next version of our “Science On-Line” Web pages will debut shortly, offering many of the features our browsers have most often requested. We want more than simply to quell readers' curiosity until their mailed copies arrive. Our “Beyond the Printed Page” section has already shown data on genomes, computer simulations, and molecular structures that enhance what print readers can see, and our forums for the ongoing discussion of critical policy issues in science have provided an avenue for direct reader-to-reader feedback in full public view.

Speaking of our blossoming Web pages (and of science journalists), beginning today, browsers of Science's Next Wave” will be able to explore the pros and cons of pursuing innovative alternatives to the traditional academic research career. The first of a series of features on alternative careers focuses on science journalism. Later we will present discussions of careers in industry, patent law, science policy-making, environmental work, teaching, and many more. Like all the rest in this series, the focus on science journalism will provide both resources (descriptions of the top U.S. science journalism programs, with contact information) and role models (access to a group of carefully selected journalists and scientists, most of whom were Ph.D.'s before making the transition to journalism). Readers will be able to interact directly with these career role models at our Web site. They will tell you how they made the transition and what you will need to know to make it yourself, if you choose. This effort is designed to help our young scientists and their increasingly beleaguered advisers keep up to date on careers that do not depend on yet more government grants, by answering such questions as, What in fact are the options? How does one make the right preparations? Where are the jobs?

In the near future, both “Science's Next Wave” and Science will be expanding their international offerings, with a special concentration on Asia. We think the need for such expansion—both internationally and into the new media of communication—is very real. Let us know your views.