APS News

March 2022 (Volume 31, Number 3)

Governance Changes Bolster APS’s World-Renowned Journals

By David Barnstone

In late January, APS’s elected leaders unanimously approved a new governance structure for APS’s scientific publications. The new structure, which was developed in consultation with APS members, senior staff, and publishing professionals, is intended to strengthen and safeguard the excellence of the Physical Review journals and will be implemented in phases in the coming months.

“Our journals are among the best in the world, but their pre-eminence is at risk. Fierce competition, open access mandates, and other external pressures compelled us to carefully reconsider how we approach our editorial and publishing activities,” says Philip Bucksbaum, the 2020 APS President and past chair of the Governance Committee.

At the direction of the APS Board of Directors, the Governance Committee developed a proposal to address these looming threats to the Society’s journals. According to the committee, having the Editor in Chief (EIC) as both a senior staff position and a member of the Board hinders effective decision-making because it mixes scientific oversight with operations. Under the new structure, the EIC is an appointed, non-voting member of the Board, Council, and Board Executive Committee charged with overseeing the quality, relevance, scientific integrity, and editorial excellence of APS scientific publications, as well as the development and execution of APS’s publishing strategy. Additionally, the EIC chairs and is advised by a restructured Committee on Scientific Publications (CSP), reporting to the Board and Council, which includes both active scientists and publishing professionals.

These changes required amendments to the APS Constitution & Bylaws and revisions to the associated Policies & Procedures of the APS Board and Council. APS members shared their perspectives during a comment period from December 1, 2021 through January 15, 2022. The Governance Committee carefully reviewed these comments which guided revisions to the proposal presented to the Board and Council. Specifically, the added stipulations raised by members ensure that the EIC maintains responsibility for the scientific integrity of the journals, that a majority of the seats on the CSP will be filled by members of the APS community, and that a newly established Council of Lead Editors will have an advisory role in the selection of the EIC. The revised governance language was approved by the Board and Council on January 29, 2022.

“The comments we received from APS members were crucial to this process. They ensure that the changes we are making reflect the needs of the scientific community we serve,” says Bucksbaum. “I understand there is a sense that APS has become more business-oriented over the years. But the vitality of the journals depends on our ability to adapt to a changing publishing environment. And once this new structure is in place, we will be well-positioned to do so.”

To support these changes, APS will hire a Chief Publications Officer (CPO) who will manage the operations of the entire journal portfolio. The CPO will assume the responsibilities of the outgoing senior staff positions of EIC and Publisher, including sales and marketing as well as the production and editorial processes. The CPO will not influence editorial decisions about individual manuscripts.

The CPO will report directly to the APS CEO, Jonathan Bagger, who explains these changes by analogy: The Treasurer is an elected member of the Board who oversees the financial affairs of the Society. The Chief Financial Officer is a senior staff member who manages and executes the day-to-day operations of the Society at the direction of the Board. Similarly, the new EIC position on the Board will set the direction for APS’s publishing activities while the CPO will leverage their industry expertise to make that vision a reality.

“This new senior staff position will bring clarity and accountability to the APS publishing enterprise. They will also chair and be advised by a new Council of Lead Editors, bringing together leading scientists from the fields their journals serve,” says Bagger.

“I believe so strongly in our society journals,” says 2022 APS President Frances Hellman. “Modernizing the governance structure will leave us more nimble and able to continue to publish the preeminent journals in the world.”

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

March 2022 (Volume 31, Number 3)

APS News Home

Issue Table of Contents

APS News Archives

Contact APS News Editor

Articles in this Issue
Governance Changes Bolster APS’s World-Renowned Journals
April Meeting: From Quarks to Cosmos via New York
Physicists Address Global Challenges at Leadership Meeting
American Physical Society Takes On Scientific Misinformation
Frances Hellman’s Presidential Address
To Touch the Sun
APS Membership Unit Profile: The Forum on Diversity and Inclusion
The 2022 APS Medal and Society Prize Ceremony
This Month in Physics History
News from Government Affairs
FYI: Science Policy News From AIP
The Back Page