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Marcia McNutt tapped as editor-in-chief at Science


Courtesy of Marcia McNutt

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has appointed former US Geological Survey (USGS) director Marcia McNutt as editor-in-chief of the its flagship journal, Science.

McNutt headed the USGS under US President Barack Obama before stepping down in February. Before her stint in Washington, she was the chief executive officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California. She will assume her new position at Science in June, succeeding biochemist Bruce Alberts, who has held the position since 2008.

McNutt knows the journal well: she served on the senior editorial board from 2000 to 2009, when she had to resign her post to join the Obama administration. The advisory role offered insights into the machinations of the magazine as well as introductions to the staff, but McNutt says that she has no hard agenda coming in. “I think it’s dangerous … to come in with too much of a set agenda, because that can mean that you are speaking too much, and not listening enough,” McNutt says.

McNutt trained as a geophysicist, and she stresses science communication as opposed to the business of publishing. Nonetheless, she ventures into trends toward open-access science and says publications such as Science and Nature will need to adapt to a new world in the years to come, and one where legislators and governments may decide when science must be placed into the public domain. “Regardless of what the journal policy may be, these policies may be dictated to us,” she says.

Soon enough she is talking about different financial models and revenue streams at home and abroad, weighing subscriptions versus ad revenue and online access versus the traditional print publications. She says that the goal is to be at the vanguard of change without leaving the traditionalists behind. By the end, she is starting to sound like a veteran publisher.

“The first job of any editor-in-chief is to make sure that your journal stays in print,” she jokes.

Photo courtesy of Marcia McNutt


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