Archive for July, 2012


Posted by cdj On July - 26 - 2012

The Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation recently released “Operations and Management of Earthquake Engineering Research Infrastructure during FY 2015 – FY 2019” outlining general plans for NSF-supported earthquake engineering research in the USA over the next five years. Called NEES2, the plans seemingly mirror the existing (NEES – George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation) structure on a reduced scale.

NSF states that “under the NEES2 operations cooperative agreement, NSF-ENG will support four to six major earthquake engineering experimental facilities that provide the following key attributes: unique, large-scale experimental capabilities located in the United States critical for addressing earthquake engineering research grand challenges; the capability to be fully operational as of July 1, 2014; and a clear strategy/plan to ensure that the facilities will effectively support a strong external user base. In addition to the experimental facilities, the other major component under NEES2 operations will be a user-driven, community cyberinfrastructure that includes an experimental data repository; computational, simulation, and collaborative tools; access to high performance computing resources; and hybrid simulation capabilities. NSF-ENG plans a solicitation to be issued on/about October 2012, with at least a 120-day window for full proposal submission.”

The “earthquake engineering research grand challenges” probably refer to the 2011 National Academies Press report “Grand challenges in earthquake engineering research: a community workshop report” and to its 2003 predecessor which help shape the existing NEES, “Preventing earthquake disasters : the grand challenge in earthquake engineering : a research agenda for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES)” both of which can be read online.

A History of Earthquake Engineering Published

Posted by cdj On July - 20 - 2012
Earthquake and Engineers Earthquakes and Engineers : An International Perspective by Robert K. Reitherman is newly available from ASCE Press. Reitherman, a professional architect and executive director of Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering (CUREE) has traced our understanding of earthquake phenomena and an evolution of architectural, planning and engineering techniques designed to resist seismic damage. The 742 page book is engagingly written and provides extensive sources for those interested in the history of engineering technology and science.

US – Japan Wind and Seismic Effects Panel

Posted by cdj On July - 13 - 2012

The Proceedings of the 43rd Joint Meeting of the U.S. – Japan Panel on Wind and Seismic Effects, held in August, 2011 at the National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management, Tsukuba, Japan are now published. Proceedings feature ten technical papers on aspects of the Great East Japan (Tohoku) Earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 (M=9.0). Impressively, this collaborative meeting of Japanese and American technical experts in wind and seismic design began in 1969 in Tokyo and continues today with sponsorship of Japan’s Public Works Research Institute (PWRI) and the U.S. National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). Published proceedings are available in the NISEE e-library.

Why do scholarly journals persist?

Posted by cdj On July - 3 - 2012

Recently a colleague was searching for an earthquake engineering journal article not in our library. The research reported in the journal article was survey results conducted under federal government sponsorship. The citation and link to the scientific article, published in Nuclear Technology in 2011, could be found but without a personal or institutional journal subscription, acquisition represented an expensive one-time purchase for an article of possibly marginal additional value to the research enterprise at hand. What to do? Is buying articles individually cost-effective over time?
For scholarly journals, measures of real value are often hard to ascertain. The Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge “Impact Factor” (a ratio of citations received to the number of articles published during a selected time period) and related measures are frequently used to rank journal importance but access costs, price per article, scholarly heft and reputation, readership, Google Scholar citation counts, local faculty involvement in the journal, etc. can all provide other indicators of a journal’s value. The “Impact Factor” rankings may encourage self-citation in some large journals and not all journals [notably some non-English journals published outside North America and Western Europe] are included in impact assessments. Do journals really matter for research anymore?

Homepage for ANS journal Nuclear Technology

Today’s availability of instant, low-cost electronic publication; large and generally low-cost or open-access electronic back files of journals; open public-access scholarly publication repositories (such as the University of California e-scholarship or NISEE’s e-library; growing data libraries (for example in earthquake engineering research - NEEShub); increased online education with inclusive learning resources (Coursera and EdX for example); make the economy of scholarly journals hard to understand. Why do scholarly journals in earthquake engineering persist and multiply? Are these journals of enduring value?

Part of the answer to journal persistence must be that a major function of research universities is to create knowledge and to disseminate this knowledge through teaching and publication. Research productivity and academic reputation are frequently measured by publication accomplishment, – i.e., peer-reviewed journal publications. Scholarly journals must provide an effective research communication function for those who generate and consume research. But these journals are adapting new technologies to this purpose and can act as for-profit, scholarly article e-repositories rather than traditional journals. Do the journals persist for more than simple economic gain?

Looking more closely at some scholarly journal homepages suggests another measure of journal value. The previously-mentioned Nuclear Technology journal homepage is simple, principally offering membership access and social network presence for the American Nuclear Society (ANS) knowledge base. Only the abstracts for the journal are available to the uninitiated and to search engines. The journal homepage offers select access to content beyond the homepage through membership and subscription. This homepage even advertises possible careers in the “#1 ranked federal employer, U.S-NRC”.


Homepage of Earthquake Engineering & Structural Dynamics

Compare this selected-access oriented page from the ANS with a leading, commercially-published, journal focused exclusively on earthquake engineering: Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics. This journal homepage also provides intellectual social membership opportunities in the form of quick access to “most-accessed” articles, “most-cited” articles, “latest” articles; a “new issues and article alerting service”; a “career” search. The names of the journal’s three distinguished co-editors are provided. The journal’s Impact Factor is given; a membership or subscriber login for further access is presented. Visitors are provided notification of the journal’s standing as the publication of the International Association of Earthquake Engineering.

Scholarly journals (in earthquake engineering at least) may persist despite lower-cost research communication alternatives because these journals offer a publication platform that boasts an exclusive confederacy of scholarship as a vehicle for research accomplishment. Readers and writers are members of the confederacy. This is like a social media model of knowledge dissemination. Scholarly journals seem to address successfully the quest for belonging to a knowledge network as clearly as communicating knowledge and research insight.

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