At its annual summer meeting in early August, SfN Council focused on long-range and strategic planning. The Society’s leadership discussed emerging trends within the organization and the broader neuroscience community as well as evaluated potential opportunities to enhance value and service for the field. The following overview highlights key discussions.
Financial Update and Strategic Investments
As a result of financial pressure on members and the field, SfN is experiencing modest revenue headwinds. The organization is carefully controlling expenses while still delivering compelling, high-impact programs. Council discussed the Finance Committee’s recommendations to ensure sufficient resources to serve members through this time. These recommendations included modest increases to a range of nonmember fees while minimizing the impact to members through lower increases to dues. Council also backed the Finance Committee’s recommendation to continue strategic investment in programs that support the field, extending the Strategic Investment Fund for at least three more years. This fund is made possible by SfN leadership’s long-term planning over the past 10 years to ensure adequate reserves that enable selective investment, despite the strained environment, in areas that will have the greatest impact to members.
Delivering Value To Members
The Society is focused on delivering programs and services that provide value to members in these challenging times. Recognizing members’ time and budget constraints, SfN is committed to offering additional opportunities for members to learn and engage outside of the annual meeting through online year-round programming. Council also recognizes the diverse needs of a global membership and will continue to leverage partnerships with international organizations to deliver that value.
Considering the broad membership and its evolving needs, Council revisited its governance strategy and took a comprehensive look at committees. As a result, the Membership and Chapters Committee and the International Affairs Committee are being merged into a single Global Membership Committee. This committee will work with other committees, chapters, and strategic partners to provide guidance on the development of SfN programs to increase membership value. Council also made revisions to the Scientific Vision Section of SfN’s strategic plan to expand the scope of the field and provided direction on a publishing strategy to be finalized in the fall.
Strategic Opportunities for the Field of Neuroscience
Council had in-depth conversations about scientific rigor and directions for training and the workforce. Through the work of the Scientific Rigor Working Group, the Society is considering a set of principles that will help guide future activities, addressing concerns about experimental design, data analysis, replicability, and other problems such as perverse incentive structures in science. The discussion will continue at Neuroscience 2014 with a symposium chaired by NINDS Director Story Landis, “Enhancing Reproducibility of Neuroscience Studies,” and the Empirical Approaches to Neuroscience and Society Symposium, “Improving Animal Models of Neuropsychiatric Disorders.” Council also formed a Workforce and Training Working Group to explore how SfN may best serve members’ evolving training needs and to consider novel programming aimed at neuroscientists at various career stages. Council will continue this conversation into the future to help crystallize the vision for SfN’s role in more actively supporting neuroscience training.