Guidelines for APS Studies

(BAPS Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 127-128, Feb. 1978)

The American Physical Society has become increasingly involved in areas of knowledge that are the mutual and overlapping concerns of physics, physicists, and society. One need only consider the symposia on public affairs issues which were initiated by the Committee on Problems of Physics and Society (the precursor of the Forum), the symposia organized by the Forum and by the Society itself, the implementation of the Congressional Fellowship Program, the 1974 Topical Conference on Energy, the creation of the Panel on Public Affairs (POPA), and the completion of several summer studies concerned with energy. Through all these events, the Society has increased its involvement in public affairs: each activity has enhanced the potential for greater involvement by the members of the Society in such issues. These two complementary aspects must be clearly distinguished and both should be fostered. The Society, its members, and the public all profit from the development of mechanisms which can assist members in the exercise of their professional abilities in the public interest.

It is the intent of The American Physical Society to sponsor selected studies of matters which affect the general welfare to which physics can make important contributions.

Proposals for such APS studies will be reviewed first by POPA and, if recommended by that Panel, will be presented to the APS Council for authorization or rejection. Administrative oversight for a study will remain with POPA under the overall responsibility of Council, to which the final report of the study will be made.

1. Criteria for Acceptance

A proposal for a study should state its goals, how it plans to achieve them, and explain why The American Physical Society should lend its support to the study. Acceptance of a proposal will require favorable consideration of a variety of factors affecting the study and APS involvement in it. The following factors should be regarded as weighing factors--the stronger each can be established, the stronger the proposal.

A. Relevance to Physics/Physicists. There must be a contribution that physicists can make because of their training and experience as physicists. There must also be persuasive reasons why the APS should sponsor the study rather than another institution.

B. Public Interest. The proposal should describe the extent to which the results will be important in the determination of public policy.

C. Need. There must be clearly perceived need for the results of the study, with a proposed path to utilization by a user agency(s), an institution, or the general public. One measure of need will be the extent to which the prospective user(s) will finance the study.

D. Contribution. There should be a high probability of making a useful contribution.

E. Timeliness.

F. Interdisciplinary Cooperation. Individuals from other concerned disciplines and from the user communities should be involved in the study ab initio.

G. Organization. The proposal should contain a complete plan for conducting the study covering the salient items of Part II below.

H. Publication. The final completed report of a study will be made available to the general public.

2. Organization and Operation

Normally, the APS will be the contracting organization which will administer the study. Thus, the Society shall submit the proposal and see to it that the support funds are properly spent and that the objectives of the study are met. The release of the report shall not be subject to the approval of funding agencies.

The relation between the Society and the study it sponsors should not be forced into a single management form or style. However, proposals should address each of the following points. It will be appropriate for the author(s) to suggest individuals, list their qualifications, and their availability for each prospective position in the study.

A. Management

1) Chairman. Each study will be headed by a Chairman appointed by POPA (with the approval of Council) with line responsibility to POPA. An Executive Assistant responsible to the Chairman may be needed to manage the administrative details and will be appointed by the Chairman with the approval of POPA.

2) Review Panel. Council will appoint a Review Panel to monitor the technical progress of each study, to review its conclusions, and to verify the technical soundness of the final report.

3) POPA. The Chairman of the Study and the Chairman of the Review Panel will maintain contact with the Chairman of POPA and inform him of the progress of the study. POPA will follow the content of the study with respect to the public policy issues involved and submit comments to the Study Group and the Review Panel.

4) Timetable. In carrying out the study, it is desirable for the Study Group, Review Panel, and POPA to establish a timetable to insure that their individual functions are carried out effectively and thoroughly and that adequate time is allocated for presentation of the study to Council.

B. Financial Arrangements
A proposal should include estimated costs of the study, prospective external sources of support, and institutional arrangements for disbursements and accounting. Because of the Society's limited resources, direct financial support from APS will normally be small and of a "seed-money" nature.

C. Staffing
Full or part-time participants or consultants in a study will be appointed by POPA in consultation with the Chairman. A significant fraction of the study participants should be new to such studies as these. This will bring in fresh points of view, diffuse study experiences more widely, and establish a pool of experienced individuals who might be called upon in future studies. The proposal should also state where the study is to be conducted, list any arrangements made with the host institution, special facilities which might be required, and living arrangements.

D. Liaison
POPA will appoint someone, usually one of its members, to serve as a formal liaison between POPA and the study.

3. Study Report and Release

There shall be a final report transmitted by the Chairman, with the concurrence of the Review Panel, to POPA for comments. The Panel on Public Affairs and the Review Panel will then each recommend to the President and to the Council of The American Physical Society whether or not to authorize the release of the report for public distribution. In doing so, the Council attests that the study meets high standards of objectivity and addresses itself to the important public policy issues. This judgment is based on the integrity and competence of the Study Group, the Review Panel, and POPA, each performing their several functions.

The report shall be accompanied by a brief summary, stating the scope and principal conclusions of the study, in a form suitable for use as a press release.

Plans for the official release of the study shall be made jointly by the study group and POPA. Before Council has scheduled the final report for release as an APS- sponsored study, no reports or briefings concerning the results of an APS sponsored study shall be made by study members without prior approval of the Review Panel.

It is to be expected that members of the study group will meet initially with sponsoring agencies to discuss the scope of the study.

Under no circumstances should sponsoring agencies review, or appear to review, the content of the report during its preparation and before presentation to Council. After such presentation sponsoring agencies will be briefed, as requested, prior to public release. However, there should be agreement with them that no information released by them of any results should refer to an "APS sponsored study" until Council has scheduled the report for release.

4. Procedure for Initiation of a Proposal

Proposals for studies should be submitted to the Executive Secretary of APS who will then notify the authors of Council's action. The authors should discuss the proposal with POPA before it is formally submitted.