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

Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?

August 28, 2015

Everyone is excited by discoveries of new dinosaurs – or indeed any new fossil species. But a key question for palaeontologists is 'just how good is the fossil record?' Do we know fifty per cent of the species of dinosaurs ...

Fractals patterns in a drummer's music

August 28, 2015

Fractal patterns are profoundly human – at least in music. This is one of the findings of a team headed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen and Harvard University ...

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.