March 2020 Recommended bylaws revisions

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Recommended bylaws revision


Results of committee's internal survey



Email 1 March 2020 from Kevin Huffenberger, Publication and Speakers Committee Chair, to Nils Halverson, Chair of the Governing Board:

Hi Nils,

Our best recommendation for bylaws revisions are attached. I can also provide the latex source when that is needed.

Following last week's governing board meeting, the Publication and Speakers committee conducted an internal, confidential, ranked-choice survey to assess the relative support for four strategies to deal with corresponding authorship for key papers. These were:

  • SO-like (suggested by the GB): designated email address for correspondence, hyperlink to author contributions supplemental document in acknowledgments.
  • IceCube-like: designated email address for correspondence, few corresponding authors listed in the acknowledgments.
  • Planck-like: individuals listed as corresponding authors on first page (could still use a designated email address).
  • No corresponding authors at all, just the designated email address.

Eleven of the thirteen members of the committee responded before the survey deadline, and the survey summary report is attached. Having no corresponding authors at all earned the most first place votes, but there was also nearly equal support for naming corresponding authors in the acknowledgments (IceCube-like) or up front (Planck-like). The SO-like strategy garnered the least support.

Based on these finding, it seems that the best way forward is the the IceCube-like strategy, as it was first or second choice for 7 of the 11 responses. This approach allows us to honor the work of individual exceptional efforts but also to fall back to a de facto no-corresponding author strategy, especially if such acknowledgments are causing conflicts. The strong support for no corresponding author indicates that, as a matter of policy, we should keep these special acknowledgments rare, and take care not dilute the meaning of an "exceptional contribution."

I think the GB should highlight the potential for conflict on the corresponding authors point as you ask for public comment. It may be a good subject for discussion at the collaboration meeting. Even among our committee, not everyone will be happy with this solution, but I think it is the most in line with the overall "will of the committee" as expressed through the survey, and fits logically with the conception of a key paper.

As for the reasoning for rejecting the SO-like proposal, some committee members expressed the view that such a supplemental author document would end up either being cursory (in particular, nearly the same for every paper) or, if not cursory, a large amount of work to compile on a paper-by-paper basis, with the need to discourage those who are overselling their contributions, and encourage those who are underselling. By some committee members, it was viewed badly that the SO-like strategy would require everyone to describe their roles on their own initiative, and that might undermine the purpose of a key paper, which is supposed to be inclusive. These criticisms were not necessarily consensus views on the committee, but in the end, as I noted, the SO-like strategy clearly garnered less support than the other approaches. We can go into further details if that is desired by the GB.

Best wishes,