Scientific societies face 'modern challenges'

September 12, 2013

An article published in the September issue of BioScience highlights the challenges facing biological societies and offers insights for scientific societies to respond and adapt to the changing dynamics of 21st century science.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) surveyed 139 biology societies to better understand the composition of the community and how this community has changed over time. Organizational leaders were asked about the size of their organization's membership over the last fifty years. The majority of the groups increased in size over time, but many societies experienced membership declines in the 2000s. Smaller scientific societies experienced more significant membership declines than larger organizations.

The survey findings appear in "Dynamism Is the New Stasis: Modern Challenges for the Biological Sciences" published in BioScience.

"There is compelling evidence that the landscape of how professionals and students interact with scholarly societies is changing dramatically," said Sheri Potter, the lead author of the article and Director of Membership and Public Programs for AIBS. "These organizations play multiple, critical roles in advancing science, but as largely unstaffed or minimally staffed, dues funded organizations, they depend on the ongoing voluntary commitment of individuals to achieve their mission. As individual needs and expectations change, societies must be prepared to change with them."

AIBS Executive Director, Dr. Richard O'Grady said, "Past surveys conducted by AIBS highlight concerns from organization leaders about membership, funding, and journal sales, and also demonstrate the desire of individual researchers to belong to a professional organization in order to gain access to scientific meetings and to be part of the professional community."

"AIBS has been actively studying the issues facing biology societies for the past few years so that we can understand needs and challenges," stated Susan Musante, an author of the article and AIBS' Director of Education. "We are excited to share our findings with the broader community and hope that it will generate dialogue both within and across organizations."

Explore further: Active participation in voluntary organizations declining faster than checkbooks can keep up

Related Stories

Economists find in large groups, money facilitates cooperation

August 27, 2013

(Phys.org) —Early human societies consisted of small, tight-knit groups of individuals who knew each other. Members probably cooperated with one another based on prior experience and the expectation that individual beneficiaries ...

Recommended for you

Ancient Egyptians used metal in wooden ships

August 31, 2016

A piece of wood recovered at a dig near the Great Pyramid of Giza shows for the first time that ancient Egyptians used metal in their boats, archaeologists said Wednesday.

Reconstructing the sixth century plague from a victim

August 30, 2016

Before the infamous Black Death, the first great plague epidemic was the Justinian plague, which, over the course of two centuries, wiped out up to an estimated 50 million (15 percent) of the world's population throughout ...

New species of pterosaur discovered in Patagonia

August 30, 2016

Scientists today announced the discovery of a new species of pterosaur from the Patagonia region of South America. The cranial remains were in an excellent state of preservation and belonged to a new species of pterosaur ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.