In a unanimous vote at the July 2011 annual meeting, the AOU Council approved a motion to move forward with planning to form a new society, with ultimate hopes of uniting and strengthening Western Hemisphere ornithology. The plan could involve a merger of AOU and one or more other ornithological societies into a western hemisphere ornithological society tentatively named the Society for Ornithology.
This new Society for Ornithology would result in a clean slate for designing new governance and new journals, as well as provide broad opportunities to promote the field of ornithology, ornithologists, and avian conservation. Most significantly, plans include development of four new journals housed under a single editorial office. Online journals would appear online monthly, and in paper form quarterly. Focus will vary from cutting edge basic research to descriptive ornithology and will include a new journal on avian conservation and management. This new editorial effort would result in cessation of the Auk, and perhaps certain journals of partner societies that join in this sweeping reform.
The new society might include regional sections and topical working groups that will meet bi-annually. Meetings of the unified society could be hosted bi-annually in years opposite of section and working group meetings.
Plans for further development of the Society for Ornithology involve immediate invitation to all OSNA societies and other ornithological groups interested in helping pioneer this historic change in western hemisphere ornithology. The Cooper Ornithological Society already has indicated a strong interest in the new effort, and talks are underway with the other societies.
A business plan is now being developed for presentation to the AOU Council and other partner groups by early February 2012. The AOU Council and partners will meet in Dallas in February to discuss and further develop the business plan. A comment period will be provided to members of all partnering societies following development of the draft business plan. The AOU Council will vote on this final business plan (from an AOU perspective) at the NAOC in Vancouver (August 2012). Until then, comments can be posted below or sent to AOU President-Elect Susan Haig email@example.com.
Additional details can be found in the presentation made at the AOU Business Meeting in August 2011, available under the Downloads tab or by clicking here: AOU 20XX Annual Meeting Presentation.pdf
Check the Ornithology Exchange regularly for further progress on development of the Society for Ornithology.
This announcement was originally posted in Comments about the Society for Ornithology forum topic.
- Aug 25 2015 08:56 AM
- by Sue Haig
We are writing to update the ornithological community on our efforts to develop a business plan for the Society for Ornithology. We understand that lack of details at this point can be frustrating. However, we are working as quickly and thoughtfully as we can so that soon you will have a better idea of what we are proposing and be able to comment on it.
The following timeline will give you an idea of where we have been and where we are going between now and the NAOC in Vancouver next summer.
- Ad Hoc AOU Committee AOU20xx proposes an idea to the AOU Council that a new society be formed called the Society for Ornithology. SFO would provide expanded service to members and ornithology as a science and broaden efforts on publishing the best possible science, foster future ornithologists, promote ornithology and ornithologist as scientists, and facilitate education and outreach. SFO would not be a merger nor a federation of societies. Rather, it would be a new society organized and operated as an NGO with a board of directors and salaried staff.
- The AOU Council approved a motion that instructed our committee to further develop a business plan for this new society. The draft business plan would be reviewed and discussed at the mid-year Council meeting in February 2012.[/font][/size]
- Sue Haig presented the concept of the SFO at the AOU business meeting in Jacksonville, FL.
- Announcement of the SFO Initiative was made on the AOU, OSNA, and Ornithology Exchange websites as well as the Ornithological Newsletter. Several birding magazines also reported on the initiative.
- We contacted presidents of each OSNA society with an invitation to help plan the new society. We had positive feedback from AFO, COS, and WOS. By positive, it means they were interested in seeing how things progressed. It did not mean they endorsed the concept. Other societies wanted to wait to see what we were planning. No society rejected the concept outright.
- Our committee, now called the SFO Steering Committee, organized five subcommittees to explore possibilities and costs for the new society in the over-lapping areas of: governance and management, publications, conservation, communication, and education and outreach.
- The subcommittees are working on their reports. Committees are made up of OSNA members from across the societies. We have specific members from AOU, AFO, COS, and WOS, however, at this stage no one is representing a particular society. Rather, everyone is brainstorming about their “perfect” society for the 21st century.
- AOU Council meets to evaluate business plan. Presidents of WOS, AFO, and COS will participate in this meeting. Other OSNA presidents are welcome to join us if they are interested.
- SFO Committees revise business plan according to feedback at the Council meeting.
- SFO steering committee solicits comments from interested OSNA societies and AOU members. Other societies can solicit opinions from members as they deem appropriate.
- SFO steering committee meets monthly via teleconference with interested OSNA society presidents or representatives to revise business plan.
- SFO steering committee refines plan as per recommendations from OSNA societies.
- SFO steering committee meets with OSNA presidents at NAOC to further discuss plan.
- SFO committee chairs present proposed plan to AOU Council with a request to fund the launch of SFO.
- Other OSNA societies can vote to join SFO, reject joining SFO, or choose to join at another time.
- Proceed with development of SFO as approved by AOU, if not other societies.
You can post comments here or send them to me directly. Thanks so much for your patience with this important endeavor.
on behalf of: Bonnie Bowen, Jed Burtt, John Fitzpatrick, Frank Gill, Dylan Kesler, Brian Olsen, and Stan Senner
- Aug 25 2015 08:56 AM
- by Sue Haig
Societies, and perhaps their members, will soon be called on to comment on the business plan being developed by the Society for Ornithology committee this weekend (Feb.11-12) in Texas. As they ponder that plan, perhaps they should also consider alternatives to the SFO, a bold measure with sweeping consequences for ornithology and for the ornithological societies. Might there be other ways to address the concerns that motivate the SFO proposal, while retaining the identity, history, and culture of the individual societies?
An alternative proposal has been on the table since February 2010. At that time, representatives of the American Ornithologists' Union, Association of Field Ornithologists, Cooper Ornithological Society, Raptor Research Foundation, Sociedad para el Estudio y Conservación de las Aves en México (CIPAMEX), Society of Canadian Ornithologists, Wilson Ornithological Society, and Waterbird Society met to discuss a proposal that initially suggested a merger of the societies. Over the course of a full day of very productive discussion, it became evident that merger was probably too radical a step, but that a federation might be a structure that would address the concerns that many societies shared about their futures and that of ornithology. All societies committed to pursuing the idea of a federation by undertaking trial efforts focused on publications and meetings and by forming a steering committee to explore how a federation might be configured and joint efforts pursued. The plan to which all societies committed called for an evaluation at the 2012 NAOC in Vancouver of the trial efforts and the outcome of the steering committee's work. For reasons detailed in this document the agreed-upon plan was not fully executed, but it could be tried either as an alternative to a merger or as a first step leading to a potential merger in the future.
For this reason, the federation concept documents are being shared with the ornithological community at large. Follow the link below to download the file.
Last Updated May 10 2012 08:23 AM
- Aug 25 2015 08:56 AM
- by Mercedes Foster
As the number of articles, discussions, and files related to the prospective Society for Ornithology grows, we wanted to provide a single location to access everything about the subject.
We know it can be difficult to find all comments, which are posted in various forums. Each society set up its own discussion forum and some people also posted comments in response to the articles. To find all articles and comments, click on the SFO "tag" located at the top of this page, beneath the title "Follow the ongoing society discussions" and the date. It will bring up an index of every item with that tag, including the comments that have been posted in the various Forums.
- AOU and Other Societies to Evolve Into New Society for Ornithology. Article posted by Sue Haig on behalf of Bonnie Bowen, Jed Burtt, John Fitzpatrick, Frank Gill, Dylan Kesler, Brian Olsen, and Stan Senner, 5 August 2011 (51 comments)
- AOU 20XX Annual Meeting Presentation. PDF posted by Sue Haig, 9 August 2011
- Comments about the Society For Ornithology. Forum topic started by Sue Haig, 1 Aug 2011 (7 comments)
- Update on Society for Ornithology Business Plan. Article posted by Sue Haig, 15 November 2011 (6 comments)
- RRF Response to Society for Ornithology. Letter posted on Raptor Research Foundation website, 18 November 2011 (48 comments on RRF website: http://www.raptorres...for-ornithology)
- Another way forward? An alternative to the SFO that societies have considered.... Article posted by Mercedes Foster, 9 February 2012 (no comments)
- Strategic Planning for the Proposed Society for Ornithology. Press release posted by John Faaborg, L. Scott Johnson, Kim Sullivan, Jorge Perez-Eman, Erica Nol, and Bob Beason, 24 February 2012. After the press release, various societies sent emails to their members with messages about the outcome of the SFO strategic planning meeting in February. If another society sent a similar email, feel free to post it on OE and we will add a link to it here.
- AOU message: Outcome of AOU Mid-Year Council Meeting (3 comments)
- COS message: Information on a new society for ornithology for COS members (2 comments)
- SCO-SOC message: President's Message regarding SFO, originally published in Picoides 25(1), page 2, titled President's Message (PDF link) (2 comments)
- A Vision for The Society for Ornithology, an article and a document posted by Sue Haig, 12 March 2012.
- Societies have started asking for feedback from their members about involvement in SFO planning:
- Discussion of AFO’s association with proposed Society for Ornithology (2 comments)
- AOU Members Response to SFO Vision (5 comments)
- SCO-SOC: President's message regarding SFO
- WOS' role in the Society for Ornithology
- (2 comments)
- Report from WOS Council meeting concerning SfO Proposal
- Candidates for Board of Directors of Cooper Ornithological Society share views on SFO proposal (2 comments)
- Update on SFO: Participating societies form planning committees (24 April 2012) (2 comments)
- AOU announces representatives to planning committees (1 May 2012) (2 comments)
- Thinking Critically About a "Vision for the Society for Ornithology" - Commentary and Analysis by John Marzluff (4 comments)
- Comments Solicited for Emerging Plan to Initiate SFO (29 May 2012)
- Society for Ornithology: New DRAFT Governance and Publication Plan, July 2012
- Comments re: 19 July SFO Bylaws draft
- New SFO Plan and Fact Sheet (7 August 2012)
Feel free to leave comments on this or any of the preceding articles or forum topics. We have created a new forum specifically for community feedback on the SFO planning process and documents but please also feel free to comment on specific articles and forum posts that are not part of that new forum.
- Report from WOS President regarding AOU-COS task forces (11 Oct 2012)
- Aug 25 2015 08:56 AM
- by Chris Merkord
A meeting held in Dallas, TX, 10-11 February 2012
Over the last several decades, profound changes with far-reaching consequences have occurred in the practice of science and in the diversity and capabilities of communication options (e.g., electronic publication; open access journals). These changes apply to all scientific fields and have produced a cascade of effects that challenge scientific societies generally and ornithological societies in particular. It is time for the ornithological community to embrace these challenges and benefit from the opportunities they offer.
The Committee for the Development of the Society for Ornithology (SFO) has formulated a new vision for the future of ornithology in the Western Hemisphere that aims to advance the scientific understanding of birds, enrich ornithology as a profession, and promote a rigorous scientific basis for avian conservation through research, publications, education, and outreach.
The SFO Committee met with the AOU Council and presidents of the Association of Field Ornithologists, Society of Canadian Ornithologists/Société des Ornithologistes du Canada, Cooper Ornithological Society, Neotropical Ornithological Society, and Wilson Ornithological Society to explore avenues to re-vitalize ornithology and its professional organization.
The Committee had considered various options and developed a draft proposal. Key components of this tentative plan includes formation of a non-profit society governed by a Board of Directors composed of professional ornithologists and members of the philanthropic and business community; management by a professional staff; a new suite of journals, monographs, and books; cutting edge innovations in communications; a renewed dedication to science in support of conservation; and international efforts in outreach and education that span all ages and career stages among members.
After two days of discussion, the group elected to move forward by developing a structure for a Society for Ornithology that will result in dissolving the original Committee to make way for a new committee with equal representation from all interested ornithological societies.
In the coming months, members of all interested societies will be asked for input into the planning process. Please watch for a message from your society president within the next month that will link you to relevant documents and encourage comments from all interested ornithologists. A public forum for discussion will be held at the NAOC V in Vancouver, BC in August 2012.
John Faaborg (AOU President), L. Scott Johnson (AFO President), Kim Sullivan (COS President), Jorge Perez-Eman (NOS President), Erica Nol (SCO/SOC President), and Bob Beason (WOS President)
- Aug 25 2015 08:56 AM
- by Sue Haig
The SFO Vision Statement below represents the initial efforts to plan the Society for Ornithology. The document was prepared over the past year by senior ornithologists from across North America. It will now be used by a new committee comprised of 4 representatives from each of the ornithological societies in the Americas interested in helping further plan SFO.
Between now and the NAOC in August 2012, the following will occur:
- The original committee to form the SFO will disband in a few weeks.
- A new set of SFO planning committees will be formed, comprised of 4 representatives from each society interested in further exploring the SFO’s structure.
- Societies have until 15 April to decide if they want to participate in this next round of planning.
- There will be a final planning document ready to present to all attending the NAOC.
- We will have a special session to listen to comments and provide feedback about the plan at the NAOC.
To share your thoughts with your society officers, consider commenting in one of these ongoing threads:
- Aug 25 2015 08:56 AM
- by Sue Haig
Some members of the various ornithological societies in the United States have written and circulated a document that proposes the replacement of the six existing ornithological societies with a single successor, the "Society for Ornithology." The purported benefits of this proposed restructuring include increased Western Hemisphere collaboration between ornithologists, a transformed journal publishing system, a new governance system, an altered funding model that targets additional funding sources (including corporations and foundations), and a range of conservation and education initiatives.
The proposal is written with a sense of urgency, which appears based on the assertion that the six ornithological societies are on unsustainable financial trajectories and have shrinking memberships and duplication of effort in the form of journal publication, volunteer staffing of committees, annual meetings, student mentoring, and conservation outreach. As the solution to these perceived problems, the framers of the document envision collapsing these organizations into one.
In recent months a variety of perspectives on the Society for Ornithology proposal have been put forth from the governors of the ornithological societies. While formal polling of all memberships has not been completed, Raptor Research Foundation and Wilson Ornithological Society have stated their opposition to the proposal while Cooper Ornithological Society and The American Ornithologists' Union appear generally in favor of the proposal.
[Editor's note: You can follow the ongoing Society for Ornithology discussions, including responses from societies and individuals, right here on the Ornithology Exchange.]
With upcoming joint meetings where the proposal will be discussed more thoroughly and society opinions crystallized, all members of United States ornithological societies might be interested in the following discussion of elements of the Society for Ornithology proposal before they may be called on to vote to disband their organizations in favor of a new unified society1. The issues reviewed here might stimulate useful discussion in the best interest of U.S. ornithology.
The proposed Society for Ornithology would represent a dramatic reduction in the diversity of professional societies and a concentration of power in far fewer people. Rather than building on the strength of the U.S. ornithological societies, the proposal would reduce the number of societies from 6 to 1, the number of board members by 80%, and the number of journals by 40% in response to a 30% decrease in overall membership.
The number of directors of U.S. professional ornithological societies would be reduced from greater than 89 to 16, only nine of whom would be guaranteed to be professional ornithologists and the rest from industry and foundations. Prior membership in and service to the society would not be a prerequisite for these new Board members recruited from industry and/or philanthropy. They would be allowed to join the new society solely for the purpose of seeking election to the Board. Board members would also be selected for their "political access" and "philanthropic potential" rather than expertise and past service to the discipline. In the current societies, the Bylaws can only be amended by a vote of the membership. Under the new proposal, the Board would be able to amend its own bylaws without putting their desired changes to a vote of the membership.
The number of ornithological journals would be cut from eight to five with all of the new journal editors being selected by the same Board of Directors, a structure preadapted to reduce diversity of thought. The new journals would abandon the reputations and influence of names up to and over a century old to enter a crowded publication space. The purported lag in journal quality of U.S. journals behind their European counterparts bemoaned by the authors of the Society for Ornithology vision proves not to be accurate: the average pooled impact factor of the top three U.S. and European ornithology journals over the past 10 years is not significantly different. In fact, U.S. ornithology journals generate more total citations and per journal citations than European ornithology journals as of 2010. Finally, certain kinds of ornithology (e.g., applied or conservation) would be limited to a single journal, thereby relegating conservation and applied ornithology in the U.S. journals to second-tier outlets.
Taken together, these changes represent a dramatic concentration of power and dramatic deviation from longstanding practices of the existing ornithological societies.
Diversity and Equity
As ornithologists, we recognize the principles that structure natural communities and the benefits of species diversity within those communities that allow coexistence of multiple species. The Society for Ornithology vision responds to perceived problems in the ecosystem of professional societies by proposing a dramatic reduction in diversity. The current configuration has a generalist (The American Ornithologists' Union), two historically geographically segregated generalists (Wilson Ornithological Society and Cooper Ornithological Society), one technique specialist (Association of Field Ornithologists), and two taxonomic specialists (Raptor Research Foundation and Waterbird Society). This type of niche segregation is exactly what one would expect to find in a set of species in an ecological space and it is what has allowed these societies to co-exist over an extremely long period of time. Ornithologists should recognize, however, that strength in a system derives from diversity rather than from reduction to a monoculture.
It is indeed true that membership in these societies has declined from 1999 to 2011. Assuming that this is a secular and not cyclical pattern, it might conceivably result in the merger of societies if they perceive that they would achieve benefits from an economy of scale. But despite the membership numbers, five of the six societies appear to have a positive net cash flow as recently as 2010, with only Cooper Ornithological Society (COS) showing a $286 loss, according to the vision document. These numbers do not suggest a financial crisis anywhere near the magnitude claimed by the proposal for the Society for Ornithology. What they suggest is that ornithological niche space is successfully partitioned by a large generalist AOU and several focused geographic and taxonomic specialist groups. Where friction exists it is primarily between the large generalist and a once focused regional society (COS) that has expanded to duplicate much of what the AOU does exceedingly well. COS may well face significant challenges if it does not adapt or hybridize. The Society for Ornithology is essentially a proposal to hybridize, but adaptation by COS to serve its historic niche better has not been critically evaluated. By using the COS to bring an international, professional focus on western ecosystems that celebrates their great diversity and addresses their unique conservation issues, COS could survive and thrive. A similar argument has been made for the smaller taxonomic specialist organizations whose larger geographic focus would not be met by a national Society for Ornithology. Sharpening focus and distinction among existing societies promotes diversity and overall system stability, even if budgets must be updated.
The resources available within the various societies are significant. For example, the current investment funds of Cooper Ornithological Society are in the range of $1.3 million. Prudently managed, these funds could yield a 4% return in perpetuity ($52,000 per year) to subsidize journal publication and other activities. The Waterbird Society had over $500,000 in investments at the end of 2011, and other societies also have substantial resources. The proposed Society for Ornithology structure would presumably take over these resources (probably in violation of the intentions of many of the donors who built these endowments) and a single board of directors would control these resources.
In sum, the vision document for the Society for Ornithology does not make a convincing argument that dramatically less diversity in professional ornithological societies is financially needed or that it would result in a stronger profession. It is equally or more likely that the strongest professional environment would result from organic changes in the societies themselves in response to changing membership numbers without throwing out the structures themselves. The United States is a large country and certainly can support more than one professional society. Should the membership be available to only support fewer professional societies, allowing this to happen through initiatives from within those societies would allow for adaptation to a changing environment without homogenization of the field and concentration of power in the hands of very few.
There are major differences between the proposed governance structure of Society for Ornithology and those of the six existing professional societies that should be troubling for their members.
First, the total number of board members who would make decisions about matters of interest to professional ornithologists would be shrunk from at least 89 board members of the existing six societies to 16 total board members (or up to 24 as mentioned in other places in the proposal). This is a massive reduction (likely 80%) in number of people responsible for the professional conduct of the discipline, far greater than the 30% reduction in membership observed across the societies. Who would be these 16 ornithologists?
Second, the Society for Ornithology mandates that a portion of the Board members not be professional ornithologists, but rather interested people from industry and foundations who would be able to join the society for the purpose of being elected to the Board. The proposal indicates that a person with no prior service to ornithology could be approached to serve on the Board and then join the organization for that purpose. The new Board structure would reduce the number of professional ornithologists represented on the board to nine, according to the proposal. This is an extremely narrow funnel through which the business of all American ornithology is to flow. What will be the influence of corporate Board members? How would having an executive from the wind energy industry on the Board of the Society for Ornithology influence positions taken by the only professional society representing ornithologists in the United States? How could the diversity of the six existing societies possibly be represented in nine individuals, who must hold their own against the pressures and priorities expressed by foundations and corporations on their own Board? This is a recipe for disaster.
Third, the corporate and foundation members of the Board of Directors would be nominated by the existing Board, giving the Board extraordinary power.
Fourth, Board members are to be screened in some unspecified manner for their ability to have "political access," "philanthropic potential," and other characteristics. This is highly unusual for a professional society, and signals a dramatic move away from the professional society model and more toward that of an advocacy organization. Advocacy sounds great until you consider what the positions of Board members selected for their wealth or political ties might want to advocate. In addition, including Board members that have political agendas greatly compromises the society when developing position statements. The qualifications for a professional society Board membership should be expertise in and service to the discipline, not wealth or political access.
Finally, the proposed Society for Ornithology breaks dramatically with all of the six existing ornithological societies in that it would allow amendment of the Bylaws by a 75% vote of the Board of Directors without going to the membership. All existing U.S. professional ornithological societies require that amendments to their bylaws be approved by between half and two-thirds of its membership. The Society for Ornithology Board would have the power to fundamentally change any aspects of the organization on their own. This power would be given to a Board with almost half of its members coming from outside professional ornithology.
The proposed Bylaws are obviously a work in progress, but it is evident that they have not been reviewed by an attorney in the state where the incorporation would be done and in their current form would be legally insufficient most if not all states because of their lack of precision.
The desire to develop a new set of ornithological publications appears to be a key motivating force in the proposal to eliminate the six existing ornithological societies and their journals. The goal is articulated as remedying the citation gap between European and American ornithology journals, which is attributed, at least in part, to switching publishers to a large house such as Wiley-Blackwell. Several aspects of this proposal deserve discussion.
First, the number of journals would be cut by ~40% under this scheme. The current eight journals (The Auk, The Condor, The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, The Journal of Field Ornithology, The Journal of Raptor Research, Waterbirds, Ornithological Monographs, and Studies in Avian Biology) would be replaced by five (Ornithology Letters, Advances in Ornithology, Conservation and Applied Ornithology, Discoveries in Ornithology, and a new Ornithological Monographs). This means that work that may be out of favor in the leading journals (e.g., descriptive, natural history notes) would have fewer potential outlets in the domestic ornithological literature.
Second, the proposed journals lack imagination. Essentially they create an ornithological analogue of existing, highly respected, interdisciplinary journals. Ornithology Letters would compete with Science, Nature, Conservation Letters, Ecology Letters, and the like for high impact, short articles. The new Conservation and Applied Ornithology would compete with Journal of Wildlife Management, Conservation Biology, Biological Conservation, and Ecological Applications for the top conservation and management articles. The current journals distinguish themselves in being widely focused on bird biology and the application of this biology to solve real-world problems. This distinction would be lost in the proposed new journal structure. If the journals are to be revamped, they should provide unique outlets rather than duplicate and compete with existing venues and certainly should take advantage of the hundreds of years of combined history and reputation that the existing journals represent.
Third, it is not so obvious that American journals are lagging behind their European counterparts or that creating entirely new journals would be the solution. The ISI impact factors for the top three American and top three European journals are remarkably similar (Figure 1).
Figure 1. ISI impact factors 2001–2010 for top three ornithology journals from the United States and Europe.
Figure 2. Pooled distribution of impact factors, 2001–2010, for top three ornithological journals from the United States and Europe.
All of the journals show an upward trend during this period with the European journals increasing at a greater rate. But the average pooled impact factor for 2001–2010 was not significantly different by continent of origin (Figure 2). The three European journals do show significant increases in citations in the last 2–4 years, but a significant overall disparity in average impact factor simply does not exist (1.46 vs. 1.31). Notably, these increases were achieved without changing the format of the journal, nor has any new journal broken out in ornithology in the last decade (with the exceptions of Avian Conservation and Ecology, which is not yet ISI-listed, and the transition from Wilson Bulletin to Wilson Journal of Ornithology).
Going beyond the top three journals shows that American journals are on the whole not performing worse than European journals. In 2010 there were 7 ISI-listed U.S. ornithology journals and 10 European ornithology journals. The U.S. journals were cited 13,726 times while the European journals were cited 11,284 times. The mean number of citations was therefore greater (1,961 per U.S. journal vs. 1,128 per European journal). The mean impact factor was greater for the European journals but not significantly so (1.17 vs. 0.86).
It would seem that notwithstanding the recent increases of a few of the European journals on the metric of impact factor (however limited that metric may be), American journals still generate more citations total and per journal as of 2010. This results in part from the number and diversity of journals housed in U.S. professional societies. No other ISI-listed journals provide a dedicated outlet for raptor or waterbird research, and the only ISI-listed journal emphasizing the neotropics (Ornitologia Neotropical) is a U.S journal.
This review of actual citation statistics might lead to the conclusion that some U.S. journals would indeed benefit from better distribution as suggested was the explanation for increased citation of some European journals. But this does not require new journals or a new society and could be pursued by any of the existing professional societies for their products.
Fourth, the number of professional ornithologists voting to elect the editors of the four new journals (ignoring the monographs outlet for the moment) would be cut from more than 89 to nine or fewer. This means that the four editors of the proposed four ornithology journals in the U.S. would be picked with input from the same nine ornithologists plus their fellow Board members from industry and foundations. This Board would have unprecedented powers to select editors for all of the U.S. ornithology journals who might share similar philosophical positions that could be reflected in their editorial decisions. This would have the effect, whether intended or not, of limiting debate and points of view within the scientific literature.
Fifth, the proposed journal structure suggests that all conservation and "applied" work would go in a single journal, as if conservation relevant work were not "science" that belonged in the top journals. The current journal structure gives those working on conservation and applied issues several options for outlets for manuscripts that are high quality and respected. The proposed "conservation only" journal threatens to narrow these options, even as the vision for the new Society is advertised as promoting conservation throughout its operations. Many ornithologists would continue to seek non-specialty journals for conservation work with broad implications (e.g., Biological Conservation, Conservation Biology) and the new conservation-only journal would likely face considerable headwinds. Part of the benefit of the current system is the ability to publish a conservation or applied article in the top-ranked U.S. ornithology journals based on the quality of the research. This incentive would be removed if the conservation/applied journal were explicitly conceived of as being less selective than the top two journals, as is proposed in the vision for the Society for Ornithology.
1 Societies may or may not be required to call for a vote by members, depending on the law of the state where the society is incorporated.
- Aug 25 2015 08:56 AM
- by John Marzluff
The SFO Governance Committee is interested in comments, ideas, questions people might have as we form the initial document to implement the Society for Ornithology. Thus, we are attaching a very preliminary document for your perusal, etc. Please indicate if you would like a response from the committee regarding your comments (i.e., PLEASE RESPOND) or if you are happy just posting the comment. Either way, we are striving to make the new society the best it can be and will welcome your input.
The publications committee will also post their evolving document once they are further along in their discussions.
NOTE FROM THE OE ADMINISTRATORS: We have not enabled comments on this article. Comments on this article should be posted in this new forum on SFO planning. You may continue to comment on other articles but we thought it best to keep comments on the SFO planning process and documents in one place to facilitate discussions and to make it easier for the SFO planning committee members to find your comments.
- Aug 25 2015 08:56 AM
- by Ellen Paul