More Than a Journal

Science  05 Jan 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5501, pp. 13
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5501.13

As the year turns, many of us think about change, from New Year's resolutions to new ventures. At Science, the New Year is an occasion for examining our journal, reflecting on ideas that have been given to us, thinking up some new ones of our own, and exploring how we might improve the service we give to our community of members/subscribers.

Some of the new changes are in Science itself, and are reflected in its organization. For example, you found this editorial in a new place—after the Table of Contents, as it is in many other journals, and as it used to be in this one. Before you even got this far, you might have noticed that the Table of Contents itself has been reshaped and grown, so that a third page now supplies expanded information about our online products, about which more later. And as you read on, you will note a reorganization of several of our short features about new developments in science.

There will also be important changes at the level of the masthead, though not until February. Our Board of Reviewing Editors (BoRE) undergoes its annual cycle of renewal as some members reach the end of their appointments and new ones are taken on. The BoRE has become an important feature of how we do business, enabling us to secure highly qualified preliminary reviews of manuscripts by outside experts. Their commitment has been a vital asset to Science. The work of the BoRE, combined with electronic submission (presently involved in over two-thirds of our manuscripts), now gives us faster decisions without sacrificing authoritative review.

We are also adding a smaller, Senior Editorial Board with a different though related purpose. Its members will provide advice on how well we are meeting the needs of their disciplines; help us maintain the contact we need to identify and then attract the best papers; meet annually with the editors as we establish goals for the coming year; and help us deal with the special challenges that occasionally arise in the evaluation process. John Brauman, Science's deputy editor for the physical sciences, will chair the group, and Philip Abelson will also continue, keeping an eye on technology. The new additions to date will be well known to many of our readers: Joseph Goldstein, Richard Losick, Sir Robert May, Marcia McNutt, and Chris Somerville. Two and perhaps three more members, in astronomy and the physical sciences, will be added to complete the roster.

In the title of this editorial, I have tried to emphasize that we are more than a journal; our subscribers are members of a nonprofit scientific society that exists for its members. Other units of the AAAS work on behalf of science policy, improvement of science education, and international outreach. Here at the journal we do our own kind of outreach, by providing online products serving particular science communities. Two examples: STKE—the Signal Transduction Knowledge Environment—provides background, research results, and a discussion forum for an active group of specialists. It will be the template for similar projects—in, for example, aging research. Our particular concern for younger scientists led to Next Wave, a site supplying advice on careers, funding opportunities, and the like. We opened a special section for postdoctoral fellows last month.

Finally, we have a new feature for members. Knowing that for many scientists timing is everything, we have taken advantage of our online capacity to make certain papers available practically at the moment they pass peer review and are accepted. In this program, called Science Express, we will select two or three papers each week that we believe may be especially timely or important to our readers. After acceptance these will be posted online, weeks before their appearance in print. Science Express papers will be available to individual subscribers to Science Online as of this issue and to all AAAS members later in January. Why are we adding even more pressure to our production schedule? Answer: We know that you want to see papers important to your research, to your teaching, or to satisfy the itch of curiosity that brought you to science in the first place, sooner rather than later. We certainly do!

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