1996 Vice President - Publications' Report


David C. Lane

23 July 1996

The following information is drawn from extensive and continuing discussions throughout the year between the VP(Publications) and: the Editor (Graham Winch), the two Managing Editors (Jac Vennix and Andy Ford) and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

1. General State of Affairs

The following sections report on the general state of affairs of Society publications during the past 12 months.

1.1 Publication Record and Votes of Thanks

The Society publishes the President's Newsletter and the Review. Khalid Saeed's President's Newsletter contained a wide range of news and comment on the activities of the Society and on Society members and was mailed to those members individually in 1995. Thanks are due to him for his sterling efforts.

As planned, four numbers of the System Dynamics Review were sent to individual and institutional members in the last 12 months, the constituent papers covering the full breadth of activities in the field from theory to practice. The two Managing Editors, Jac Vennix and Andy Ford, have been very active during this period in making this happen and Graham Winch has expressed his particularly gratitude to them for this. Thanks are also due to the various authors and anonymous referees for their work. However, it is only right that the primary thanks of the Society go to Graham Winch who, as Editor, is responsible for the co-ordination of all of this effort.

The VP(Publications) moves a Vote of Thanks.

1.2 Membership Numbers

Appendix 1 shows Society memberships - and hence the circulation figures for the System Dynamics Review - as provided by John Wiley.

Institutional members (cited as 'Full') have fallen by 6, the largest change being a drop of 8 (= 13%) in the US.

Total membership has dropped by 55, nearly 8%. This is primarily explained by a drop in Members and Special (reduced rate) members. Members in the US dropped by 24 (= 10%). Possibly more significant is the drop in Special members, which has fallen from 43 to 2. This effect was most noticeable in the US (fall of 21) and in Western Europe (fall of 6) but is roughly proportional across the world.

There may be an issue here concerning the Society's ability to hold on to people who move up from Special status but a more detailed study would be needed to probe this question.

1.3 Increase in Full Price Membership

A letter to Julie Pugh from John Wiley, dated 7 June 1996 and copied to the VP(Publications) states that the Full price membership will be increased to $255 in 1997. This is an increase of $30 (13%) and follows an increase of $30 (15%) made the previous year. The institutional price was $100 in 1991, implying a compounded annual increase since then of nearly 17%. The individual membership fees are unchanged.

1.4 Encouraging the Submission of Conference Papers to the Journal

As agreed last year, a policy of active pursuit of high quality conference papers has been introduced. The Editor asked Society members to select and pursue papers from ISDC94(Stirling) whilst Khalid Saeed (as Conference Chair and then Society President) has selected and pursued papers from ISDC95(Tokyo). The Editor reports that papers have been submitted as a result, though "not an enormous number".

1.5 Journal Backlog

The Review is not knee-deep in a backlog of articles. This continues to be a concern for the VP(Publications). The hope is that the situation will ease as a result of having a series of special issues with guest editors. The VP(Publications) and the Editor have discussed the possibility of decreasing the publication frequency of the Review but the Editor feels that such a serious step is not yet called for. However, action is needed to secure the health of the Review. This should be borne in mind when considering the following actions which are aimed at encouraging further submissions.

2. Planned and Continuing Actions

The following sections report on publications-related actions which have been taken or which are planned or proposed for the next 12 months.

2.1 Encouraging the Submission of 1996 Conference Papers to the Journal

Confirmation would be welcome that, as agreed at the Tokyo Policy Council meeting, the proceedings of the 1996 conference will be searched and authors of high quality articles encouraged to submit to the Review in a manner similar to that reported in 1.3.

2.2 Posting of Review Details on the Internet

The VP(Publications) has suggested that some information on Review articles should appear on the System Dynamics Bulletin Board. The Editor has agreed and the VP(Publications) is working on the arrangements for this. Having contacted John Wiley, it is clear that abstracts may not be posted because of copyright and so the current plans are for titles and authors to be listed as each number is published. The VP(Publications) will complete the 'sounding out' of the interested parties and the setting-up of this initiative after which the Editor will take over.

2.3 Reciprocal Featuring of Review and Systems Thinker Information

In 1994 the VP(Publications) agreed with Dan Kim of Pegasus Communications (publisher of the Systems Thinker) that the Review and his newsletter could regularly feature information on both the contents of the other publication and on how to subscribe to it. The Editor has not advanced this idea as yet but has agreed that it is still worth pursuing. The VP(Publications) will consult again with Pegasus and John Wiley to re-confirm the details of such an arrangement.

2.4 Role of Associate Editors

The need to emphasise the responsibility of Associate Editors of the Review to seek submissions was discussed at the Tokyo meeting. After much discussion, the Editor continues to feel that applying such pressure will not be effective.

However, the Editor would welcome suggestions and nominations for additional Associate Editors who would be more pro-active in encouraging submissions.

2.5 General Request to Encourage the Submission of Articles

The VP(Publications) very much welcomes all actions by members of Policy Council to encourage the submission of articles to the Review. Please continue to urge your Doctoral students to write a paper, your colleagues to convert a conference article into a journal article and your consultant chums to send in good pieces that might be suitable for Notes & Insights.

2.6 Reinstatement of Archives Section of the Review

The VP(Publications) has long felt that a re-energised Archives section of the Review is both desirable from a research point of view and useful in smoothing the flow of publishable pieces. The Editor has now agreed and the VP(Publications) would like to take the next steps with this idea. The plan is to use the section to disseminate good contributions, to re-publish pieces that have had limited exposure or which are hard for modern researchers to access easily and to publish previously unpublished articles of significant historical - but also sustained - interest. Some pieces from Dynamica and selected MIT D-memos are obvious candidates. The primary aim will be to keep quality high and to publish only pieces that are of interest to today's Review readers. No more than one Archives piece will be published per Review number and it is hoped that not all numbers will contain such a piece.

This approach is consistent with past usage of the section. The previous contributions in the Archives section were very effective in gaining wider interest in, and recognition of fine pieces of work (Point 2.7 below is an additional reason for welcoming this approach).

To advance this initiative, the VP(Publications) proposes to approach possible candidates for Editor of the Archives section. That person's task is to survey the relevant literature and documents and to draw up a list of suitable pieces that are worth showcasing. He/she will also be responsible for making any re-publication arrangements that may be necessary.

2.7 Abstracting of Review Articles in International Abstracts in Operations Research

After an approach by the VP(Publications), from second quarter 1996 onwards, International Abstracts in Operations Research (IAOR) has been drawing on the Review as a supplemental journal.

IAOR publishes abstracts of papers published in the world's major OR/MS journals, such as Management Science, European Journal of Operational Research, Journal of the Operational Research Society, Interfaces, etc. These are "primary journals," meaning that every article has its abstract and a contact address included in IAOR. Additionally, a selection of appropriate abstracts are drawn from 'supplementary journals', such as OMEGA, Systems Research, Simulation, IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, etc. Because articles in IAOR are cross-referenced and indexed in a variety of ways, it is used by researchers to scan the literature of OR/MS for pieces that might interest them. IAOR is published 6 times each year and is taken by 680 subscribers spread throughout the world. 495 are Intitutional subscribers. North America: 30%, Europe: 46%, Central & South America: 6%, Africa: 1%, Middle East: 1%, Asia: 9%, Australia & New Zealand: 5%.

System dynamics work has not tended to be cited previously in IAOR but with this new initiative the situation has changed dramatically:


  1. Historical average: 0.45 citations/issue


  2. 6: 2 JORS + 3 EJOR (special ed., 1992) + another 1


  3. 17: Selection of SDRev pieces back to 1990

In the future, the graph will drop to 1 or 2 every other month but will hold steady.

At no cost to the Society, this opportunity has created an important pathway to our work for researchers in related fields. It increases the chances of having our work read and cited more widely and it expands our opportunities to press the endogenous feedback perspective and to see it diffuse further into the world of OR and MS. Policy Council members are encouraged to spread the word about this additional reason for publishing in the Review.