Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub

increasing recognition of the extent to which scientific men can be of assistance to one another by frank and full interchange of knowledge regarding current work. At present, there is no central agency which can serve as an exchange for such information. The saving of time and expense represented by the ability to draw upon such a source of knowledge can hardly be overestimated. It pre-supposes on the part of the individual investigator not only the willingness to make periodic communication regarding his own work, but also the willingness to take the small amount of time necessary to fill out the enquiry cards which must inevitably be used if the information supplied is to be rendered promptly and easily available to others.

Naturally the industrial laboratories working on problems which directly affect their competitive relationships will not find it possible to participate very fully in this type of interchange of information. In so far, however, as work which they carry on has significant relations to the issues of fundamental science, there is reason to believe that they too will be willing to coöperate in this

program. (c) There is in preparation a catalogue of research personnel

which when complete will supply full and accurate information regarding the professional equipment and accomplishments of all scientific research men, with their addresses The Research Information Service has already received so many important enquiries covering this field as to make it clear that there is a very genuine need for information of this character. If a university or industrial concern desires a competent research man in a special field, there is at present no means of getting the necessary information save by slow correspondence with a considerable group of individuals or agencies, where the information may or may not be actually available. It is hardly necessary to argue the utility of a

service of the proposed type. The labor of preparing the data in an accurate way, and the difficulties of keeping it up to date, are obvious, but they are in no sense

insuperable. (d) It is planned to develop a library of sources of research

information. This would include bibliographies, systematic abstracts, digests, hand books, and other convenient periodical or special sources of information concerning research. There has already been prepared as a preliminary step a catalogue of bibliographic and abstract

periodicals of the world. (e) For the use of the several Divisions of the Council, there

has been prepared a catalague of scientific and technical societies with information concerning the time and place

of meeting (f) An index of approximately 12,000 cards has been pre

pared, covering all foreign reports received by the Re

search Information Service. (g) A plan has been devised for improving the status of

scientific publications, and especially for rendering abstracting and the construction of hand books more satisfactory. It involves coöperation with the several Divisions of the Council in the conduct of systematic enquiry concerning the status of publications in special fields and possible methods of improvement.

With respect to bibliographic listing and abstracting the following features of the general plan deserve remark: (1) Formulation of carefully considered and thoroughly

tested rules for the preparation of abstracts in any given field of science. The inadequacy of indices is due chiefly to the fact that the title of an article is assumed to be an accurate and complete guide to its contents, which is very rarely the case. It is highly desirable, therefore, that a system be devised which will present in the briefest and most precise

form the actual significant contributions in a paper

regardless of its title. (2) The editorial requirement that a suitable abstract

prepared in accordance with these rules be submitted

with a manuscript when offered for publication. (3) That this author's abstract, after proper editing, be

published in a periodical abstract journal (possibly

monthly) for the appropriate science. (4) That all abstracts be held in type for at least one

year, in order that the materials may be reclassified according to subject and reprinted as an annual

topical review. (5) That as essential parts of this annual topical review

for any given field of science, there be also published

complete author and subject lists. (6) That such lists be accumulated and published in

separate volumes at intervals of five or ten years.

The ideal execution of this general plan will demand international coöperation by developing methods, and by the assistance of special scientific groups, to establish suitable abstract or other periodicals. As a matter of fact, encouraging progress has already been made with several of the more important scientific journals which have adopted the

substance of the proposals involved in this program. (h) Although this Division is in no sense primarily re

sponsible for the publication policies of the Council, it has contributed substantially to their development. These policies involve the publication in a bulletin series of important scientific papers which do not find any natural place in extant scientific journals, and also the circulation of reprints of important papers published in media reaching but a limited circle of readers. Already there have appeared several reprints and the following bulletins; Number I, “ The National Importance of

1

a

Scientific and Industrial Research," by George Ellery Hale and others; Number 2, " Research Laboratories in Industrial Establishments of the United States of America," compiled by Alfred D. Flinn; and Number 3, " Periodical Bibliographies and Abstracts for the Scientific and Technological Journals of the World," compiled by R. Cobb. It may be added in this general connection that the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences constitute the official organ of the National Research Council, and that in addition to the record of the Council's transactions, there are here published certain of its scientific contributions, including reports of its more important committees.

[blocks in formation]

It is out of the question within the limits of space available to enter in any complete way upon the work of the seven Divisions of Science and Technology, mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this chapter. Including, as these do, the interests of physics, mathematics, astronomy, geodesy, meteorology, seismology, vulcanology, engineering in all its branches, chemistry and chemical technology, geology and geography, the medical sciences, zoology, botany, and agriculture, anthropology and psychology, it would obviously be impracticable to attempt any detailed description of the scientific research work which is being developed. Two considerations, however, deserve explicit emphasis.

In the first place, these Divisions are composed of scientific men, selected by their peers for their reputation as competent investigators in their several fields of work. These groups come together and discuss with exhaustive detail the most urgent needs in their own research fields and the most practicable methods of meeting these. The projects which they then decide upon as deserving immediate attention represent the most mature and well-considered opinions of the men best qualified to judge. In this sense the projects to which the

Council commits itself are based upon a scientific concensus of opinion such as has never before been available in this country.

The second consideration, and one of perhaps equal importance, is that the Council in its effort to stimulate and promote research has found one of its largest fields in the development of coöperative research enterprises, for which there has also been hitherto no adequate national provision. This coöperation may occur as between individual scientists working in the same field, for example, physics or chemistry, as between scientists in different fields, as between research organizations like universities and government bureaus, as between state agencies or state and federal agencies, and finally, as between the consumers, so to speak, of research represented by the interests of commerce and industry. Every one of the great fundamental problems confronting modern society leads out in the effort to solve it into a large group of related but often distinct sciences. For example, the problem of fuels is in part one of chemistry, in part one of geology, in some portions of the world one of forestry, in part one of transportation, etc. Food production, distribution, and consumption similarly involve a wide range of scientific problems, partly zoological, partly botanical and agricultural, partly chemical, partly bacteriological, etc.

The organization of the Council is peculiarly adapted to permit the easy assemblage of groups of competent scientists to deal with such fundamental issues as these, with which no single government agency and no other single scientific agency is at the moment at all competent to cope. One or two illustrations of the kind of thing the scientific Divisions of the Council are attempting to accomplish may be permitted.

We may take one instance from the field of coöperation among scientists and one from that of coöperation among the users of scientific research in the industries. The cases are chosen to exhibit the possibilities of coöperation, because it is at that point that our present national organization of research is most defective, and the need for an agency such as the

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »