The professional movement in science

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Abstract

During the past several years a growing concern has developed among scientists about the apparent lack of attention by professional groups to the more pragmatic details affecting their existence. This feeling is manifested in discussions about cutbacks in research funding, employment difficulties, the sort of research that should be proposed to meet the nation's needs, and whether past research has been relevant to these needs—to name a few examples. The majority of professional organizations seem to have fairly well-defined roles that often exclude them from effectively tackling these issues.

Many of the traditionally ‘pure’ professional societies, whose major functions deal with the dissemination of knowledge within a particular specialty, are attempting to respond to their members' professional concerns. For example, the American Physical Society (APS) addresses itself to such questions as manpower supply and demand and, through the newly organized Forum on Physics and Society, is vocally considering the science and society question. Efforts at embarking on an active program of professionalism, however, have stirred controversy and met some resistance. Similarly, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is moving towards devoting more time to the professional concerns of chemists. In engineering circles, the American Institute of Astronautics and Aeronautics (AIAA), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) have all opened Washington offices this past year.

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