Spring Council Roundup
The SfN Council met May 19-20 in Washington, DC, for its annual spring meeting. The following highlights key discussion items.
SfN FY2015 Financial Outlook
Council assessed SfN’s fiscal outlook, balancing the Society’s sound financial footing with current external “headwinds” caused by science funding pressures. In light of these pressures, and their potential impact on SfN revenue, Council passed a flat FY2015 budget that continues important programming, makes careful reductions, and invests selectively in key opportunities. In doing so, Council balanced a desire to be intentional about providing value to members while ensuring financial stability for the coming year. Key areas of investment include the launch of eNeuro, the continued enhancement of online programming, and a strong technical infrastructure that enables the Society to serve its diverse, global membership.
Membership Pressures and Focus on Member Value
As the field continues to experience external funding challenges, membership too is feeling pressure. Council is responding with a focus on creating more tangible, year-round value for members. Through the work of the Advisory Group on Member Value, Council is looking to develop a framework for delivering critical programming to segments of the membership based on their specific needs to both strengthen affiliation and to reinforce the value of joining SfN.
Council had an extended exchange with eNeuro Editor-in-Chief Christophe Bernard about the direction and goals of the new publication. John Maunsell, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Neuroscience, also reported on the continuing strength in submissions and the quality of excellent science being published.
Committees reported to Council on the programmatic activities, priorities, and strategies being conducted. With a focus on year-round value and learning, a number of committees are producing new programs in multimedia formats to enhance learning opportunities for SfN members. These resources are foundational to the online member programs platform being developed under the guidance of the Online Programs Advisory Group in collaboration with other committees, including the Professional Development Committee, Committee on Neuroscience Departments and Programs, and Trainee Advisory Committee. The platform, which will be available early next year, will include a growing array of webinars, podcasts, and video resources initially focused on professional development and training topics.
Council remains focused on SfN’s mission to communicate science to public audiences, and BrainFacts.org continues to meet this demand with accessible, accurate content. With more than 3.6 million page views, BrainFacts.org delivers compelling up-to-date information to a growing international audience (more than 47 percent of site visitors are outside the U.S.) and will soon be accessible on mobile devices with a “responsive” site. The site’s social media presence continues to grow, with more than 15,300 followers on Facebook and 9,800 on Twitter.
International Eligibility for Election of Officers
As SfN programs and activities reach into global arenas, and as international representation among the volunteer leadership continues to be a priority, Council took a historic vote to extend eligibility of all officer positions to all regular members in good standing, regardless of the country where they live and work. This move reflects SfN’s commitment to serve its mission and the global neuroscience field.
Council also discussed the topic of scientific rigor (including data misrepresentation, poor experimental design, and proper scientific analysis of data), and the recent coverage of this issue in both the scientific and mainstream media. Council noted the areas where SfN is well positioned to provide leadership, training, and professional development support and resources on this critical issue facing the field. Looking ahead, several events on the topic are planned for Neuroscience 2014, including 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 plans to continue the conversation at its strategic planning meeting this summer.