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How are you doing, Bruce Alberts?

For Bruce Alberts, the week Science linkurl:announced;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54026/ he would be the journal's new chief editor was, decidedly, "hectic." Already, "I've got a lot of people sending me advice on how Science magazine could be improved," he told me Wednesday (December 19). His response: Bring it on. "A thousand minds are better than ten," he said, so he's going to be collecting suggestions from all corners about ways to improve t

By | December 20, 2007

For Bruce Alberts, the week Science linkurl:announced;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54026/ he would be the journal's new chief editor was, decidedly, "hectic." Already, "I've got a lot of people sending me advice on how Science magazine could be improved," he told me Wednesday (December 19). His response: Bring it on. "A thousand minds are better than ten," he said, so he's going to be collecting suggestions from all corners about ways to improve the journal. It's taken him a little while to warm up to the idea of leading one of the world's top publications. In fact, he spent a month thinking it over. He wasn't too excited at the prospect of facing angry authors whose papers were rejected, taking on a whole new role at nearly 70 years of age, and, frankly, writing all of those editorials. "I'd like to write some of them, but I don't want to write 50," he joked. But after some consideration, he realized the opportunity was worth the effort. "The world suffers a great deal from irrationality," Alberts noted, and a journal like Science is a good platform for getting science into the minds of the public and policymakers. For people curious about his agenda, Alberts suggested looking at the linkurl:last speech he gave;http://www.nasonline.org/site/DocServer/speech2005.pdf?docID=741 at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Science, which he headed for 12 years. In it, Alberts emphasized the importance of science education and of incorporating science in policymaking. Another big issue he plans to tackle is peer review and publishing practices. "All of those issues, as you know, are in need of constant monitoring and improvement," he said. (You can linkurl:weigh in here;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/54009/ on suggestions the NIH is considering to improve its peer review.) Alberts is one of the busiest scientists alive, so adding another responsibility means he's in the process of drafting a form letter that he'll send to most of the 20 or so non-profit boards he serves on, saying he can no longer continue. One of the reasons cited in Don Kennedy's decision to step down as chief editor was the strain involved in commuting coast to coast. Commuting was also an issue for Alberts, who is based at the University of California, San Francisco, but he said he hopes to keep his visits down to one week per month, if possible. In the beginning, those trips will be important, he said: "I want to meet everybody [at Science], and understand who they are and what they do." You can listen linkurl:here;http://images.the-scientist.com/supplementary/audio/alberts.mp3 to my interview with Bruce Alberts, in which he talks more about why he originally didn't want the job.

Comments

Avatar of: Nejat Duzgunes

Nejat Duzgunes

Posts: 2

December 25, 2007

Your article indicates that Bruce Alberts thinks a journal like Science is a good platform for getting science into the minds of the public and policymakers.\n\nI would have to disagree with this otherwise hopeful statement. The discourse in Science, including the scientific articles, is meant for scientists, and even specialists. It would be very difficult for the public and policymakers to decipher the issues and scientific problems addressed by the current level Science.\n\nI would suggest that Science institute a website meant for the public and policymakers where scientific developments are explained at a level simpler than that of Scientific American. This would also be useful for individuals trained as scientists, since it is often difficult to follow the intricacies of even related areas of science.

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