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美国院士是如何“炼成”的? 精选

已有 20338 次阅读 2011-5-9 11:13 |个人分类:国际视窗|系统分类:博客资讯| 院士, 美国, 科学院, 选举

      

      (科学网/编译)

 

国家科学院选举:通向院士之路

2005524PNAS(《美国科学院院刊》)(Vol.102 No.21 pp 7405-7406),

Bruce Albert

美国科学院院长(现任《科学》总编)

KennethR. Fulton,

美国科学院执行主任,PNAS出版人

 

 

每年春天,也就是四月底、五月初的时候,国家科学院都要增选新院士。拥有院士身份表明你在学术界得到了广泛的认可,但是很多科学家并不清楚院士增选的流程到底是怎样的。其实这并不是有意为之:选举流程如果很神秘,对谁都不好。不过随着时间的推移,选举的环节确实变得越来越复杂,这部分地反映了科学领域迅速膨胀的现状。这种复杂度也反映了学术界的一个共识:不能让任何个人或者小团体对选举结果产生不良影响。在这篇社论中,我们将尝试解释一下这个不为大家所熟知的流程,此外,我们还将讨论一下为了让选举对年轻人和女科学家更有吸引力,我们都做了哪些工作。

要成为候选人,首先从提名开始。尽管非正式的方式会提出很多候选人,不过正式提名只能由院士提交。每份提名材料应当包括候选人的简历、一份250字左右的概述候选人学术成就的说明——也就是当选理由——以及数量不超过12篇的代表性论文和著作。之所以做出篇数限制,是为了强调质量而不是数量。一旦获得提名,这份候选材料就会送到科学院31个专业领域中的某一个专业委员会主席手里,例如化学、分子与发育生物学或者数学(全部列表请见www.nas.edu/sections)。

每个专业都有自己遴选候选人的流程,由该专业的院士多轮投票筛选候选人。有些专业的流程相对简单,直截了当,有些则比较复杂,颇费周折,包括召开选举协调会、核心委员会选举以及其他各种各样的环节。如果候选人同时在两个(或者两个以上)的专业领域获得提名的话,情况就更复杂了。不过正如图一所示,所有专业领域的选举最终都要经过两次选举——也就是所谓的“非正式选举”和“正式选举”,至于为什么这么叫,已经无可考据了。候选人一旦顺利通过这两轮选举,就有机会被更广专业的院士们来评选了。31个小专业被归为六个大领域,候选人要首先通过这六个大领域的选举。

此外,候选人也可以由多位院士联名提名,也就是组成“自愿提名小组”(VNG),或者由国家科学院成立的“临时提名小组”(TNG),专门提名某个或者某些领域中的候选人。2003年,在“21世纪提名与选举特别委员会”的提议下,国家科学院委员会就组建了六个这样的临时提名小组——每个领域一个小组:数理科学,生物学,工程与应用科学,生物医学,行为与社会科学,以及应用生物学、农学和环境学。这些临时小组负责提名较年轻的男女候选人,他们的工作促使各专业提名更多的女性科学家和年轻候选人。

科学院章程规定了每年新增选院士的人数(目前不超过72人),每年科学院委员会都会分配各领域名额,在分配名额的时候,委员会会考虑目前科学院的规模以及增长较快的领域。

每年二月,这六个领域的院士委员会——每个委员会都由本领域的院士代表组成——会召开各自领域的会议,讨论所有已通过各专业委员会评选的候选人的资格。如图一所示,自愿提名小组和临时提名小组提出的候选人也会被加进来。

六大领域最终要提出自己的名单,人数为本领域名额的150%,并且按照得票多少排序,因为名额限制问题未能进入这个名单的候选人将在下一年选举中自动获得相关小专业的提名。

这六份大名单组成一份所谓的“优先名单”(Preference Ballot),连同每位候选人的简历以及在“正式选举”名单上的排名,在每年三月初提交给所有院士,院士们必须给所有六个领域投票,而不仅仅是投自己的领域,而且选出的人数要达到最低要求,投票才算有效。投票结果经过统计整理制成图表,在每年四月底年度大会的院务讨论会上展示,参会的院士就“最终名单”进行表决,“最终名单”由得票最高的72名候选人组成,其中每个大领域的人数不得超过该领域的上限。其余候选人组成第二份名单,同那些在前期投票过程中未能通过各领域院士委员会的候选人一样,将自动获得下一年度相关专业提名的机会。

尽管院士们将最终名单作为一个整体来投票表决,参会的任何一位院士都可以要求单提出某位候选人进行讨论,专门进行表决。不过这样的“苛求”非常罕见。

第二年四月的年度大会上将介绍和欢迎这些新当选院士,在过去两年里,新当选院士的平均年龄是56岁。每年新当选院士名单的名单和介绍发表在PNAS网站上。

有人可能会问,这套选举流程的最终结果值得耗费这么大的人力物力吗?这么精心挑选两千名院士有必要吗?这是个很重要的问题,答案至少有两点,首先,原则上讲,每位院士都应当为其所在领域的年轻科学家们做出表率,让他们知道什么是一流的科学。其次,美国国家科学院同其兄弟组织——美国国家工程院和美国医学院——一道为我们的“运行部门”——“国家研究委员会”的公共服务工作提供支持。这四个组织共同组成了“美国国家研究院系统”,负有为联邦政府和各州政府提供广泛政策咨询的责任。咨询的范围非常广泛,从干细胞研究、生命科学领域博士后和年轻科研人员的现状到饮用水的砷中毒风险,以及未来气候变化等等。“国家研究院系统”平均每个工作日至少出台一份报告,大大增加了美国公共政策制定过程中的科学性。

 

下略两段有关美国科学院院士在PNAS投稿的讨论。

 

Every spring, in late April or early May, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) elects new members. Membership in the NAS is a widely recognized sign of excellence in scientific research, but most scientists are not familiar with the process by which members are elected. This lack of information is certainly not intentional; no one gains when the elections are shrouded in mystery. However, the election’s successive ballots have become more complicated over time, in part reflecting the rapid expansion of scientific fields. The complexity reflects a consensus process designed to ensure that an individual, or small group of individuals, cannot have an undue influence on the election. In this editorial, we attempt to shed some light on this poorly understood process. In addition, we describe recent efforts to make it more welcoming, especially to women and to younger scientists.

Consideration of a candidate begins with his or her nomination. Although many names are suggested informally, a formal nomination can be submitted only by an Academy member. Each nomination includes a brief curriculum vitae plus a 250-word statement of the nominee’s scientific accomplishments—the basis for election—and a list of not more than 12 publications. The latter limit helps to focus on the quality of a nominee’s work, rather than the number of publications. Once a nomination has been prepared, it is sent to the chair of one of the Academy’s 31 disciplinebased Sections, e.g., chemistry, cellular and developmental biology, or mathematics (for a complete list, see www.nas.edusections).

Each Section has its own procedures for identifying potential candidates and for winnowing the list through successive ballots of Section members. Some of these procedures are simple and straightforward; others are lengthy and complex, involving screening panels, caucus ballots, and other mechanisms. And variations occur when candidates are nominated by two (or more) Sections. But, as illustrated in Fig. 1, all Section procedures culminate in two mandatory ballots—named, for reasons lost in history, the ‘‘Informal’’ and ‘‘Formal’’ ballots. Successful candidates then go forward as nominees for consideration by increasingly broad segments of the membership, beginning with the six discipline-based Classes into which Sections are grouped.

Candidates can also be nominated by a group of members by petition (a Voluntary Nominating Group or VNG) or by a special group appointed by the NAS Council to search for candidates in a specific field or set of fields (a Temporary Nominating Group or TNG). In 2003, on the recommendation of the ad hoc Committee on Nomination and Election in the 21st Century, the Council appointed six of these TNGs—one for each of the six Classes: Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Biological Sciences; Engineering and Applied Sciences; Biomedical Sciences; Behavioral and Social Sciences; and Applied Bio-logical, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. These TNGs were charged with identifying and nominating younger candidates, both men and women; the work of the TNGs also has stimulated the nomination of women and younger members among the Sections.

The Academy’s bylaws specify the maximum number of members who can be elected annually (currently 72), and each year the NAS Council determines the number of members that can be elected from each Class. In allocating these Class quotas, the Council takes into account the current size of the Academy and the areas in which it might grow.

In early February, six Class Membership Committees—each of which is composed of representatives of all Sections in that Class—meet to discuss the relative merits of all of the nominees who have survived voting in the Sections. As illustrated in Fig. 1, the nominees of VNGs and TNGs are also placed in the mix. The end product from each Class Membership Committee is a rankorderedlist of nominees, composed of 150% of the total number of members that the Class is permitted to elect. Nominees who cannot be placed on the list because of this upper limit will be automatically considered again by the appropriate Section for the next year’s election.

The rank-ordered lists of nominees for the six Classes comprise a ‘‘Preference Ballot,’’ which is sent to all Academy members in early March, along with each nominee’s biographical material and information about his or her standing on the Formal Ballot. Members are required to vote for a minimum number of candidates in all six Classes— not just their own—for their ballot to be valid. The results are tabulated for presentation during the business session at the Academy’s annual meeting in late April. Members attending the annual meeting vote on the ‘‘Final Ballot,’’which contains the names of the 72 nominees who received the highest number of votes on the preference ballot, up to the maximum number permitted in each Class. The remaining nominees appear on a second list and—like those not ranked by the membership committees earlier in the process—are automatically reconsidered the following year by their nominating sections.

Although the final list is voted on as a group, any member at the meeting may request that a name be removed for discussion and a subsequent separate vote. Such ‘‘challenges’’ are very rare.

The new members elected each year are introduced and welcomed to the Academy by their colleagues at the annual meeting the following April. For the past 2 years, newly elected members have been 56 years old, on average. A list of the members elected this year can be found in the supporting information, which is published on the PNAS web site.

One might ask whether the end result of this election process is worth the large amount of time and effort that is devoted it. Why does it matter that the 2,000 members of the Academy are so carefully chosen? There are at least two answers to this important question. First, in principle, each member should serve as a role model for defining excellence in science for the next generation of scientists in his or her field. Second, it is this Academy—along with its sister organizations, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine—that supports the enormous public service efforts of the National Research Council, our ‘‘operating arm.’’ Known as the National Academies, this four-part organization is chartered to provide extensive policy advice to our national and state governments. The issues addressed cover a vast range—from stem cell research and the status of postdoctoral fellows and young investigators in the biological sciences to the dangers of arsenic in drinking water and of future climate change. By producing an average of more than one report every working day, the National Academies have greatly increased the wisdom of public policymaking.

Election to the NAS confers editorial responsibilities for this, the Academy’s official journal, established in 1914 as a journal for members to publish their own important work and the work of others. In 1995, PNAS introduced direct manuscript submission, whereby any author—member or nonmember—can submit his or her work directly to the journal. All papers published in PNAS are evaluated and approved by an NAS member; the PNAS editorial office secures the appropriate editor for direct submissions.

To honor newly elected members, the journal publishes brief biographies that accompany a research report in the journal, thus providing examples of role models of excellence in science. The journal has an open archive policy, with all articles made freely available to everyone on the web 6 months after publication. The PNAS web site receives nearly 2 million hits per week and conveys groundbreaking research to the scientific community and the lay public.

 

Bruce Alberts, President,

National Academy of Sciences

Kenneth R. Fulton, Executive Director,

National Academy of Sciences, and Publisher, PNAS

 

Fig. 1. Flow chart of the member nomination and election process. 1, Optional, as specified by Sectional

procedures; 2, subject to modification by Sectional procedures; 3, an intersectional candidate must receive

at least 25% on each Section’s Informal Ballot to advance to Formal Ballot and at least 50% of total Formal

Ballot vote tobecomea Nominee; 4, Voluntary Nominating Group (VNG); 5, Temporary Nominating Group

(TNG), which conducts informal and formal ballots subject to the same rules as Sections.

www.pnas.orgcgidoi10.1073pnas.0503457102 PNAS [1] May 24, 2005 [1] vol. 102 [1] no. 21 [1] 7405–7406

FROM THE ACADEMY: EDITORIAL

 

 

 

 

图标说明:院士提名和增选流程

1.       可能有的环节,按照专业领域增选流程进行

2.       如果专业领域增选流程规则有修订,则随之修订

3.       如果一位侯选人在两个或者两个以上专业同时参选,则至少需要在“非正式选举”环节上在每个专业获得至少25%的票数才能进入“正式选举”,并且至少在“正式选举”环节获得至少50%的投票才能成为“院士候选人”。

4.       “自愿提名小组”

5.       “临时提名小组”,需要按照专业领域增选流程规则进行非正式选举和正式选举。

 

 




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