History of Physicists in Industry: Final Report

Article excerpt

History of Physicists in Industry: Final Report; R. Joseph Anderson and Orville R. Butler; American Institute of Physics, College Park, MD; 2008; Available online at http://www.aip.org/ history/pubs/HOPI_Final_report.pdf For print copy, write nbl@aip.org

A five-year study of the work that physicists do in industry and the records they create was completed in 2007 by the History Center of the American Institute of Physics and reported in this final report. The AIP calls this the first systematic study of the organizational structure, communications patterns, and archival records of industrial physicists in the U.S., and it provides general guidelines for understanding and documenting their work (see page 2, this issue).

The study confirms that the organization and management of industrial R&D is volatile, changing in response to economic cycles, new managers and management philosophies, and a variety of other factors. It also confirms that historically valuable records that document R&D are at risk and, in fact, are often scattered and lost.

Part I traces the shifting funding and organizational structures of industrial research at the 15 corporations since World War II.

Part II surveys the extent of record preservation and the changing nature of records used in industrial research. Company policies regarding research records vary widely. …