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November/December 2004

Sigma Xi International Newsletter
Volume 3, Number 11/12
November/December 2004

This 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 newsletter, please use this online form.

Past Issues

In This Issue

New Online Tools for Citation Searching
A very useful development in recent years is the ability to search online for papers citing a particular publication. Released in 1997, Thomson ISI’s
Web of Science was the first service to enable online searches of the references cited within publications. A commercial service, Web of Science is available only by subscription. November saw the debut of two new citation searching services: Elsevier’s Scopus and the beta test version of Google Scholar. Scopus, the self-proclaimed “world’s largest abstract and indexing database,” is also a commercial service, and Google Scholar, currently in the beta test version, is free. Each of these services offers a slightly different cross-section of the scientific literature. Table 1 below compares some of the features of the citation searching services. Although Google Scholar does not have the coverage, search utilities or additional information management features of Scopus and Web of Science, it is a good start for those without access to the commercial services.

  Web of Science Scopus Google
access commercial service commercial service free service
# of titles: ~8,700 14,000 ?
customized searches? yes yes not yet
contains content back to: 1945 1999 (abstracts to 1966) ?
notable features: contains older material wide coverage, including 100% of Medline content includes books and records from Open WorldCat Project
# of Open Access journals: ~250 400 ?
Table 1: Online Citation Searching Services

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Japan’s Enrollment Problem to Arrive Early
For several years, the federal government in Japan has been preparing for anticipated problems due to “shoshika,” or the declining birthrate. Many current reforms in Japanese higher education are being driven by the increasing competition for a smaller number of potential students. The population of 18-year-olds in Japan peaked at 2 million in 1992, and by 2000 had dropped to 1.5 million. Based on this trend, it was predicted that the number of applicants would equal the number of places at Japanese institutions of higher education in 2009. A recent report from the Ministry of Education now predicts that this situation will occur by 2007. The resulting shortfall in revenue, not only from tuition but also from entrance exams, will cause universities to have to transform and consolidate. Universities are already intensifying their outreach to two populations that have traditionally received less emphasis--nontraditional and international students. Effective April 2004, Japan’s national universities became “national university corporations” and received an administrative independence of sorts from the federal government. As a result, faculty at the national universities are no longer government employees with guaranteed jobs. [Source:
World Education News & Reviews and Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)]

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Participation in the International Polar Year
The International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have issued a call for preliminary expressions of intent from those seeking to participate in International Polar Year (IPY) 2007–2008. At its most fundamental level, IPY 2007–2008 is envisioned to be an intense, coordinated campaign of polar observations, research, and analysis that will be multidisciplinary in scope and international in participation. Providing a framework and impetus to undertake projects that normally could not be achieved by any single nation, the IPY will use today’s powerful research tools to better understand the key roles of the polar regions in global processes. It will run from 1 March 2007 until 1 March 2009 to allow for two field seasons of research in both the Arctic and the Antarctic. Expressions of interest are due by 14 January 2005. See the
online announcement for complete details and to submit expressions of intent. [Source: ICSU Insight]

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Wellcome Trust Advances Open Access
The Wellcome Trust, the U.K.’s largest biomedical research charity, is in talks with the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) about creating a “European PubMed Central.” This virtual library of biomedical research would be freely accessible to any individual worldwide. With a goal of making the results of its funded research freely available, the Wellcome Trust is also considering mandatory placement in a public access archive within six months of publication for all of its grantees. Moreover, the Wellcome Trust is already collaborating with NLM and the U.K.’s Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) on a project to digitize the backfiles of approximately 15 historically significant medical journals. Hosted on the PubMed Central Web site, the first digital content should be available in early 2005, with the project completion scheduled for 2006. [Source:
Open Access News]

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Teaching Science Portal
The
Teaching Science Portal aims: to link education decision makers and scientists to projects and resources supporting quality science education, to collect and share information on ICSU and Interacademy Panel (IAP) educational and training activities, and to provide examples of best practices in science education and training. This collaborative project developed out of an initiative by ICSU’s former Committee on Capacity Building in Science. It includes information on education systems and hands-on science education programs from many countries as well as the science education and training activities being carried out by the ICSU member organizations. In effect, the portal is a clearinghouse for information on what these international science unions and national science bodies are doing to help develop the next generation of scientists.

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Scientist/Activist Awarded Nobel Peace Prize
In October, Dr. Wangari Maathai of Kenya was awarded the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her grassroots work in ecologically sustainable development. Maathai is the first female African and the first from the region between Egypt and South Africa to receive this honor. More than 25 years ago, she founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya; this movement is known for, among other things, mobilizing women to plant 30 million trees to combat deforestation. To date, the Green Belt Movement has spread to at least six other African countries. Formerly a professor of veterinary anatomy at the University of Nairobi, Maathai was elected to the Kenyan Parliament in 2002 and appointed Assistant Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife in 2003. She joins the ranks of several other Nobel Peace Prize Laureates who were scientists, including Joseph Rotblat, Andrei Sakharov, Norman Borlaug, Linus Pauling and John Boyd Orr. [Source:
SciDev.Net]

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Developments from TWAS General Meeting
TWAS, formerly known as the Third World Academy of Sciences, has changed its name. The acronym will remain the same but the organization will now be called The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World. This name change was adopted at the 15th General Meeting last month. Also at the same meeting, the winners of the 2004 TWAS prizes were announced. They were: Mohammad J. Malakouti of the Faculty of Agriculture at Tarbiat Modarres University in Tehran, Iran for agricultural sciences; Jorge Kalil of University of São Paulo’s School of Medicine in São Paulo, Brazil for biology; Miguel Angel Blesa of the National University of General San Martín in Buenos Aires, Argentina for chemistry; Adolpho José Melfi of the University of São Paulo in São Paulo, Brazil for earth sciences; Aizhen Li of the Shanghai Institute of Microsystems and Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai, China for engineering sciences; Yiming Long of Nankai University’s Nankai Institute of Mathematics in Tianjin, China for mathematics; Shiv Kumar Sarin of the Department of Gastroenterology at G. P. Pant Hospital in New Delhi, India for medical sciences; and Spenta R. Wadia of the Department of Theoretical Physics at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India for physics. Finally, the establishment of the Trieste Science Prize to honor outstanding scientists from developing countries was announced. The next newsletter issue will contain more details about this prize.

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Potential Changes in U.S. Export Control Policy
In September, officials representing 21 different U.S. universities submitted a letter of concern to the federal government in response to potential changes in U.S. export control policy suggested in the U.S. Department of Commerce/Office of the Inspector General’s Semiannual Report to Congress (March 2004). According to the existing Export Administration Regulations, any release to a foreign national of technology or software subject to the regulations is deemed to be an export to the home country of the foreign national. These exports are commonly referred to as “deemed exports” and may involve the transfer of sensitive technology to foreign visitors or workers at U.S. research laboratories and private companies. Currently, Export Administration Regulations (EAR) do not require licenses for foreign nationals working with publicly available technology and software that: are already or will be published, arise during or result from fundamental research, are educational, or are included in certain patent applications. EAR currently considers only an individual’s most recent citizenship or permanent residency. At least two of the suggested changes would have a major impact on universities by requiring many foreign nationals who are currently exempt to obtain export licenses. It was suggested a) that technology for the “use” of controlled equipment should always require an export license, and b) that foreign nationals born in one of the “countries of concern” who will have access to controlled technology should require a license regardless of their most recent citizenship or residency. In October, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice replied that any changes to the deemed export rules or their interpretation “would occur only after the Administration obtains a thorough understanding of the possible ramifications of such changes through dialogue with the regulated community, including a public comment period” and indicated that “the Department of State’s Bureau of Political Military Affairs and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security have been directed to establish dedicated liaisons for communication with the U.S. research communities on the subject of export controls.” [Sources:
SciDev.Net and Nature]

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Did You Know?
The Singapore Millennium Foundation (SMF) offers approximately 35
scholarships each year to outstanding research scientists at the predoctoral and postdoctoral levels to support their full-time research efforts at a Singapore university or research institute. The research fields supported by SMF include: economics; engineering; information technology; physical and materials science; life sciences; and environmental science, renewable resources and water. SMF scholarships are open to all nationalities, and the deadline for applications and submission of supporting documentation is 31 December 2004.

Entries are currently being accepted for the 2005 Aventis Prizes for Science Books. The Prizes celebrate the very best in popular science writing for adults and children and are managed by the Royal Society, the U.K. national academy of science. Each year a General Prize is awarded to the author of the best science book for adults, while a Junior Prize goes to the author of the best children’s science book. Books to be entered must be in the English language and available for purchase in the U.K., but there are no restrictions on the nationality or residency of the author or publisher. Entries must be submitted by the publishers and received by 7 January 2005. [Source: International Network on Public Communication of Science and Technology listserv (PCST-L)]

UNESCO is calling on young, developing country researchers with advanced degrees to apply for the UNESCO/Keizo Obuchi Research Fellowship Program. The program grants a total of 20 fellowships of US$6,000–10,000 each year to researchers in one of four areas, including environment and information and communication technologies. The applicants must apply through their respective country’s National Commissions, and the application must be received at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris by 14 January 2005.

Applications are being accepted until 15 January 2005 for the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) Young Scientists Summer Program 2005. Each summer, the program brings together about 50 graduate students from around the world to work on policy-related research related to their graduate studies. Students in math, engineering, and natural and social sciences work closely with IIASA’s senior scientists on interdisciplinary, global change-related projects within the Institute’s three theme areas.

The Royal Society of New Zealand is currently accepting preliminary proposals for Marsden Fund research grants. Emphasis is placed on originality, high-quality research, encouraging the best researchers and raising the international profile of New Zealand research. The projects must be either carried out in New Zealand or, if their nature demands that they be carried out elsewhere, by New Zealand-based researchers. Preliminary proposals should be submitted by 10 February 2005.

The Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) created the Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud International Prize for the Promotion of Scientific Research to encourage research that could lead to important scientific advancement in specified topics. The current topics under consideration are environmental protection and the combat of desertification; petrochemical, metal and plastic industries; and water and agriculture technologies. Entries for this prize should be submitted prior to 28 February 2005. [Source: SciDev.Net]

The World Food Prize recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world. The US$250,000 prize recognizes contributions in any field involved in the world food supply: food and agriculture science and technology, manufacturing, marketing, nutrition, economics, poverty alleviation, political leadership, and the social sciences. The deadline for nominations each year is 28 February 2005.

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Upcoming Meetings
Meeting on Nordic Science Outreach; Copenhagen, Denmark; 12–13 January 2005

Education for a Sustainable Future; Ahmedabad, India; 18–20 January 2005

International Conference on Research Trends in Science and Technology; Beirut & Byblos, Lebanon; 7–9 March 2005

Science in Society Forum 2005; Brussels, Belgium; 9–11 March 2005

Sixth International Scientific Forum: Aims for Future of Engineering Science; Hong Kong, China; 23–30 March 2005

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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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