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August 2004

Sigma Xi International Newsletter
Volume 3, Number 8
August 2004

This monthly electronic bulletin is designed to keep subscribers updated on developments in Sigma Xi’s international activities as well as provide links and topics of interest to researchers around the world. To submit an item to the newsletter, contact the Manager of the International Program at international@sigmaxi.org. You can also download and print a PDF version of this issue. To subscribe to this monthly newsletter, please use this online form.

Past Issues

In This Issue

Modern Modes of Internet Communication
Part 1: Sharing Content via RSS

New Internet technologies seem to develop almost faster than the average user learns them. In the past 5–10 years, several new capabilities for communicating via the Internet have been created, and now there are many ways to share information other than via Web pages and e-mail. RSS, a special version of XML (Extensible Markup Language), was developed in 1999 by Netscape as an easy way to share Web content. RSS most commonly is used to stand for Really Simple Syndication but is sometimes interpreted as Rich Site Summary or RDF Site Summary. Basically, RSS creates lists of items—most commonly a title, a précis and a link to the full text on the originating Web site—in reverse chronological order. RSS files are referred to as channels or feeds. In order to properly view an RSS feed, you need a special type of program called an RSS reader or RSS aggregator. One of the most popular uses for RSS is sharing news. Just as news outlets traditionally syndicate their print articles, they are now also using RSS feeds to syndicate their news electronically. This means that you can use an RSS reader either loaded on your computer or on the Internet to read the news from one or more RSS channels. You can even add someone else’s feed to your Web site, and it will automatically load the latest files. An example of this is the “LATEST NEWS” box on the Third World Academy of Sciences’
Web site. This box contains a news feed from SciDev.Net.

How can RSS feeds benefit you the researcher? You can regularly monitor many different channels for information pertaining to your area of research, science in your region, or even job postings. Those interested in current information now have an option other than subscribing to receive periodic e-mail updates. With RSS, you can read the feeds online and not clutter your inbox with separate e-mails from each of the sites that you monitor. Services such as Bloglines help you search, subscribe, publish and share news feeds and “blogs” (discussed next month in Part 2). Most of these services charge a small fee, but Bloglines is one of the free services. When you log in, you can see a list of the feeds you have chosen to monitor, and next to each one in parentheses is the number of new items posted since the last time you read that particular feed. It saves time in not having to go to each site each day; if there is no number next to the name of the feed, you know there is nothing new for you to read there. If you need an e-mail to remind you to read the feed or to let you know when a new item containing certain keywords is posted, these features are also available. You can even clip and save items on one Web page for others to see. This could be very useful if, for example, you want a group of people such as your research group or students in your class to read about certain developments. Some RSS sources cover developments in one particular publication, and others cover developments in across a number of publications. A few good English language sources for science and engineering news RSS feeds are:

For further information about RSS and its uses, Moffatt’s article posted on EEVL, the Internet guide for engineering, mathematics and computing, is a good place to start.

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France to Create National Research Agency
In June, the French government announced plans to establish a new national research agency modeled on the US National Science Foundation. The justification for doing so was two-fold—first to be a visible demonstration of the government’s commitment to science, and second to contribute towards the goal of investing 3% of the gross domestic product in science by the year 2010. The agency would administer grants based on peer-review of their scientific merit. This announcement was met with mixed reactions; a press release from the Secretary General of the National Union of Scientific Researchers (SNCS) questioned the need for an additional government agency. A committee recommended that the agency be funded by revenue from the upcoming privatization of some federal companies as well as the sale of some of the nation’s gold reserves. The budget for the national research agency will not be set until November 2004.

This development comes during a tumultuous time in French science. SNCS launched a “Let’s Save Research” (“Sauvons la Recherche”) protest campaign in January 2004. This action was in response to the conversion of 550 permanent positions to limited-term contract positions and a decreased level of funding at the public research institutes. More than 3000 researchers signed the campaign’s petition threatening resignation from their posts if their concerns were not adequately addressed; more than 2000 did submit their resignations in March. The following month, the government announced several concessions, including the reinstatement of the 550 permanent positions and the creation of 1000 new research positions at French universities. The “Let’s Save Research” campaign does have representation on the working group currently drafting a science strategy and research priorities for the new research agency. [Source: The Scientist]

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Discussion Forum Launched on Intellectual Property and Public Health
The World Health Organization’s Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health (CIPIH) is hosting an online discussion forum for the next few weeks. They are soliciting feedback on their framework paper addressing the effect of intellectual property rights on public health. Established last year, CIPIH’s purpose is “…to collect data and proposals from the different actors involved and produce an analysis of intellectual property rights, innovation, and public health…”, specifically examining the creation of new treatments against diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries. They anticipate that this
general forum will highlight several specific issues to be addressed in subsequent discussions. Contributions to the forum may be made in English, French or Spanish. [Source: Open Access News]

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China Establishes 1st Award for Women Scientists
In July, partnering organizations announced the creation of the Chinese Young Women in Science Fellowship, the country’s first award specifically for female researchers. The 100,000-yuan (~€ 10,000) award will be issued to four scientists each year between 2004 and 2008, with at least one award per year going to a researcher in western China. Jointly created by the All-China Women’s Federation, the China Association for Science and Technology, and the China National Committee of UNESCO, the awards are being sponsored by L’Oreal China. Each year, the award will focus on a different field. This September, the awards will be made in life sciences. According to a survey done by the All China Women’s Federation, 37% of all science and technology workers in China are women. [Sources:
SciDev.Net and China Daily]

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Did You Know?
The US National Academy of Sciences administers several awards to recognize outstanding researchers in multiple fields, including several geared toward young researchers (Award for Initiatives in Research, Richard Lounsbery Award, NAS Award in Molecular Biology and Troland Research Awards). Nominations for all of these awards are due by 10 September 2004. The nomination form can be downloaded
here. [Source: Sci-Tech Library Newsletter]

The Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN) is an intergovernmental network charged with fostering global change research in the Asia-Pacific region, increasing developing country participation in that research, and strengthening interactions between the science community and policy makers. Their 2004 Call for Proposals describes grants to support research and workshops related to any of their fields of interest: climate change & variability; changes in coastal zones & inland waters; changes in atmospheric composition; changes in terrestrial ecosystems & biodiversity; and human dimensions of global change. Proposals must involve three or more countries, at least two of which must be developing countries. The deadline for receipt of proposals is 22 September 2004. [Source: SciDev.Net]

The UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) is accepting applications for Research Training Grants until 31 October 2004. The grants support studies on one or more of the TDR target diseases; studies should be for a postgraduate degree or the acquisition of specialized skills. Applicants must be citizens of and employed in least-developed and developing “disease endemic” countries. Complete program details and application instructions are available online. [Source: SciDev.Net]

The Kresge Foundation’s Science Initiative awards challenge grants to upgrade and endow scientific equipment in colleges and universities, teaching hospitals, medical schools and research institutions worldwide. Eligible projects include scientific equipment and renovation of space necessary to accommodate such equipment. The program will pay for 25% of a total project cost, and the remaining amount must be raised from other sources. Proposals are accepted throughout the year, and more details are available online.

Australia’s Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) administers more than 300 International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS) each year. Prospective students should apply directly to one of the 40 participating institutions. The scholarships cover tuition, fees and health insurance for either two years if enrolled in a masters program or three years for a doctoral program.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation supports 6- or 12-month research visits in Germany through its Humboldt Research Fellowship Program. Researchers under 40 years of age in any field who already hold a doctoral degree are eligible to apply. Applicants are responsible for designing their own research projects and identifying German hosts. Applications are accepted year-round.

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Additional Readings of Interest
This new section is designed to call attention to important news and articles that are not covered within the issue.

“China, Brazil and India Lead Southern Science Output”
David Dickson’s synopsis of a paper analyzing published research, citations and research investment by country [Source: SciDev.Net]

“Scientific Publications: Free for All?”
Report of the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on the issue of open access [Source: Open Access News]

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Upcoming Meetings
Engineering Education in Sustainable Development 2004 Conference; Barcelona, Spain; 27–29 October 2004

World Engineers Convention (WEC2004): Engineers Shape the Sustainable Future; Shanghai, China; 2–6 November 2004

Annual Ibero-American Research & Development Summit (AIRDS) “Bridging Technology Through Innovation Exchange—Measurement Science Meets Bio-Science;” Albuquerque, New Mexico, US; 9–11 November 2004

7th World Congress of Bioethics; Sydney, Australia; 9–12 November 2004

Global Forum for Health Research: Helping Correct the 10/90 Gap, Forum 8; Mexico City, Mexico; 16–20 November 2004

UNESCO Colloquium on Research and Higher Education Policy “Knowledge, Access and Governance: Strategies for Change;” Paris, France; 1–3 December 2004

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For more information on any of the programs mentioned in this newsletter, please contact:

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
P. O. Box 13975, 3106 East NC Highway 54
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 USA
Telephone: +1-919-549-4691 or +1-919-547-5246
Fax: +1-919-549-0090
E-mail: international@sigmaxi.org

 

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