Academic journal article Michigan Academician

Publications of the State Academies of Science

Academic journal article Michigan Academician

Publications of the State Academies of Science

Article excerpt

Reprinted with permission from Science and Technology Libraries, 19:1(2000): 21-37, [c]2000 by the Haworth Press.

ABSTRACT

Since their origin, state academies of science have promoted and disseminated regional scientific research through the publication of journals and conference proceedings. For the most part, these multi-disciplinary publications have been overshadowed by the more voluminous, specialized publications of the larger scientific societies and publishers. Nevertheless, an examination of the titles currently published by the state academies of science indicates that on the basis of content, subscription levels, library ownership rates, indexing/abstracting practices, and professional citation levels it can be concluded that the publications of the state academies of science remain an important means for the distribution of scientific research.

INTRODUCTION

Although greatly overshadowed by the larger national and international professional societies, state academies of science play an important role in scientific research and education in the United States. Originally established to improve local and regional scientific communication and research, state academies of science now contribute to science education by sponsoring junior academies and science fairs as well as providing a forum for graduate students and other young researchers to make their initial research presentations at the academies' annual meetings. In addition, most academies contribute to the body of scientific literature by publishing members' research in conference proceedings and/or journals.

Just as the state academies are now overshadowed by the larger more prestigious professional societies, the publications of the state academies of science are overshadowed by the more voluminous, more prestigious specialized scientific journals published by the large societies and for-profit science publishers. Consequently, the question arises "how relevant are the publications of the state academies of science?" This is not a new question; J. McKeen Cattell argued almost 100 years ago that "there is no excuse for presenting researches on utterly diverse subjects in one volume because the authors happen to be members of the same academy" (1902). State academies of science have ignored such pronouncements and have continued actively publishing refereed journals and conference proceedings containing research from all areas of science.

HISTORY

With the exception of reports within academy publications themselves, coverage of the historical development of the state academies of science has been limited. However, two writers Bevan (1951) and Midgette (1991) provide interesting accounts of the history of the state academies. In "Science on the March: A Modern State Academy of Science," Arthur Bevan details the early history of scientific professional societies in general and state academies of science in particular. More recently in To Foster the Spirit of Professionalism: Southern Scientists and State Academies of Science, Nancy Smith Midgette provides an exhaustive historical account of the growth of the state academies of science in the South from the early days in the 1890's to the present day southern academies.

While the first state academies of science were founded in the late 1700's in Maryland (1797) and Connecticut (1799), most state academies of science began in the late 1800's or early 1900's. Since at that time most of the scientific research and advanced education in the United States occurred in the Northeast, it was there that professional societies were initially organized and meetings were convened. Due to limits in communication and transportation, scientists in the South, Midwest, and West were isolated from much of the national professional activities located in the Northeast. As a result, local and state academies of science played an essential role in the development of regional scientific research and education. …

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