Issue Date: May 14, 2012
ACS On Campus
Most chemistry students, especially graduate students and postdocs, would jump at the chance to get sage advice on publishing their research or launching their careers—particularly if that information is offered for free on campus in a one-day event.
The American Chemical Society has developed the ACS on Campus program to meet these needs. The program, which launched in January 2010 and has since expanded, showcases the society’s resources and delivers additional information to students as well as faculty members, librarians, and others at universities in the U.S. and around the world.
Attendees benefit from networking opportunities while participating in seminars on topics such as the basics of peer review, ethics in scholarly publishing, career building and development, and the effective use of tools such as SciFinder, the ACS Network, and ACS online journals. The program is modular and tailored to fit the needs and goals of the hosting campus, notes Sara Rouhi, manager for library relations within ACS Publications Sales.
“ACS on Campus is a fabulous way for the society to engage and help students across the nation and in other countries,” says ACS President-Elect Marinda Li Wu, who has participated in two of these events.
Jennifer Novotney, a chemistry graduate student at Cornell University, says she benefited from the topics covered at the ACS on Campus event at her school last month, which she helped plan. “The publishing sessions were beneficial to my success as a chemist,” she says, “while other sessions such as one on résumé writing will help me in my job search.”
The ACS on Campus program began as a Publications Division initiative aimed at helping communicate the value of the chemistry library and librarian to patrons who no longer visit the physical library, says Rouhi, who came up with the concept. “People tend to forget that many of their online resources come to them courtesy of their librarian,” she explains. “We wanted to make the librarian the hero by bringing resources to campus to demonstrate what librarians and ACS can do together for students and faculty members.”
ACS on Campus has since evolved into a cross-divisional society outreach program supported by several ACS units, including Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), Membership & Scientific Advancement, Education, and Careers. It is developing into a program aimed at helping the society’s “core demographic—graduate students and postdocs, who are at the beginning of their careers trying to get tenure or jobs,” Rouhi says.
Through this program, “we want to give back to the people who are in our author and reviewer pools, as well as those who are reading and submitting to our journals,” Rouhi adds. One goal is to augment the information they receive from their advisers and academic programs.
ACS on Campus also aims to introduce ACS as a membership and professional advancement organization, Rouhi says. And the society runs focus groups during the events so students, faculty members, and librarians can provide feedback on ACS products, services, and policies.
At each location, students, faculty, and librarians from nearby campuses, as well as representatives from local businesses, are invited to participate in ACS on Campus events, which are open to the public.
Since its inception, ACS on Campus has visited numerous sites including Vanderbilt University; the University of Southern California (USC); Purdue University; Texas A&M University; Shandong University in Jinan, China; and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. This year, the program made its first stops in Europe, at Sapienza University of Rome and the University of Münster in Germany.
The University of Münster event in March drew more than 160 people, Rouhi says.
Attendees seemed eager to gather information on how to get their articles published, according to Heike Seidel, a University of Münster librarian who helped coordinate the event. Many were also interested in Rouhi’s talk, “Ethics and Copyright in Scholarly Communication: What You Need To Know.”
And students appreciated the presentations and discussions on career options, Seidel says. Panelists, who included a patent attorney, a librarian, and an industrial R&D chemist, shared their work experiences. C&EN Senior Editor Sarah Everts, who is based in Berlin, contributed her perspective as a science journalist.
In the midst of a “very positive and vivid atmosphere, attendees also enjoyed talking to journal editors and ACS staff—something they rarely have the chance to do,” Seidel says.
Likewise, at Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry (SIOC), students welcomed the opportunity to network with ACS employees and officials during the ACS on Campus visit last month, according to Kuiling Ding, the institute’s director.
Students spoke with Wu, who gave a presentation about her career path. She preceded that talk by making brief remarks in Chinese about her family history, relating that her parents had left China in the 1940s to pursue graduate studies in the U.S. Helping students and faculty members on campus “has been a gratifying experience,” says Wu, who also participated in the ACS on Campus event at USC in 2010.
Attendees of the SIOC event, who totaled roughly 100, also interacted with ACS representatives including Denise Creech, director of the Division of Membership & Scientific Advancement, and Susan King, senior vice president of ACS Publications’ Journals Publishing Group.
SIOC students, like those in Germany, seemed eager to attend talks that provided “the inside story on how papers are selected for publication,” observes Hong Kong-based C&EN Senior Correspondent Jean-François Tremblay, who attended the event.
Many were actively engaged in talks given in Chinese about publishing, he says, such as “Publishing in English: Tips for Non-native Speakers,” which was presented by Norah Xiao, science and engineering librarian at USC. She helped organize the ACS on Campus event at USC and participated in the events in China.
The publishing-related sessions were equally valuable to Ang Zhou, a chemical biology student at China’s Peking University, who attended the ACS on Campus event at his school last month. He says he was intrigued with Xiao’s talk and with a presentation by Miguel A. Garcia-Garibay, associate editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. His talk, “Basics of Scholarly Publishing and Peer Review,” provided advice on how to choose meaningful research topics and publish papers, Zhou says.
“Although the day’s presentations about ACS and the SciFinder software were authoritative and helpful, I benefited most from the firsthand career experiences shared by the speakers,” Zhou says. “They provided an overall view of the academic career path that was invaluable to me,” he adds.
He also gained a better understanding of the resources ACS can provide and now has a “stronger desire to become an ACS member in the future,” he says. “I want to be able to get guidance and support from ACS throughout my academic research career,” says Zhou, who plans to pursue graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
Like Zhou, Angela DiCiccio, a chemistry graduate student at Cornell, says she “greatly benefited from learning about the resources that ACS has to offer” during the ACS on Campus event she helped plan on her campus.
The event drew more than 100 graduate students and postdocs from Cornell, Syracuse University, the University of Rochester, and a few other universities in upstate New York, according to C&EN Editor-in-Chief Rudy Baum, who gave a talk entitled “What Is It You Do Again? Why Effectively Communicating Your Science Matters.”
Those who attended the Cornell event also heard presentations on the ethics of scientific publishing, résumé writing, work/life balance, and mastering the use of SciFinder. The event included a new session on the National Science Foundation’s “broader impacts” criterion in evaluating funding proposals, which requires researchers not only to address the intellectual merit of their work but also demonstrate how it could benefit society.
In addition to covering a broad range of topics, the event provided a valuable opportunity to network, says DiCiccio. She enjoyed talking with Baum as well as William D. Jones, associate editor of JACS, and Richard Eisenberg, editor-in-chief of Inorganic Chemistry, to learn more about their roles as editors, she says. “It was awesome to meet students with similar interests from nearby universities,” with whom she plans to collaborate on future service projects or networking events, she adds.
Plans for more ACS on Campus events are in the works, including one scheduled for June 5 at Pennsylvania State University.
As the program grows, Rouhi is now working alongside Jennifer Taylor Howell, a program manager in Membership & Scientific Advancement, and Jamie Weiner, product promotions manager at CAS. They are developing a vision for how they can build on the successes of the program as they move forward, according to Taylor Howell.
The program is undergoing a period of transition during which it will draw in additional content and resources from across ACS, so dates for future events beyond the one at Penn State have not yet been set. Still, Taylor Howell anticipates scheduling events in the fall at universities in Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, the U.K., and the U.S.
As the ACS on Campus team goes to various communities, it will continue to work to meet specific needs and share insights and experiences that will support students in their professional growth, says USC’s Xiao. “At the same time, we hope to inspire students to develop a passion for chemistry.”
The program seems to be achieving those goals. “Overall, I think the event on our campus was a good reminder of the public impact of our work as chemists,” Cornell’s DiCiccio says. “At the end of the day, I returned to my lab feeling energized and enlightened,” she says. “It made me want to go back to the lab and make a major discovery that will be of benefit to society.”
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