February 2010 Newsletter:

Minutes of the BSN Annual General Meeting 29th June 2009

HRB Lecture Theatre, University of Edinburgh

In attendance - In excess of 30 members of the Society
In the chair: Fran Ebling (EF)

  1. Apologies for absence

    Stafford Lightman

  2. Approval of minutes of 2008 AGM, Bristol

    The circulated minutes were approved as a true and accurate report of the meeting with no corrections. Proposed, Julian Mercer (JM); Seconded, Alison Douglas (AD)

  3. Matters arising

    None that do not appear elsewhere in the agenda

  4. Appointment of Trustees

    Given the Charitable status of the BSN and under the auspices of the Charities Act 2006, there is a requirement for and an active role for the Trustees of the BSN. NB. The Trustees are legally responsible for the financial regulation of the BSN.

    The current trustees are Stafford Lightman, Joe Herbert (JH), Phil Lowry (PL, Chair) and Mary Forsling (MF). PL has indicated that he would like to step down from the Chair and the Board of Trustees. The steering committee has asked JH to act as the new chair and John Russell (JR) if he is willing to joint the Board and they have given their agreement. This action was formally proposed by FE and seconded by AD.

    Gareth Leng (GL) asked whether there was a defined term of office for trustees as this would provide a safeguard and allow ordered succession. FE indicated that a term was not defined but that it was a sensible suggestion and that this would be brought up with the trustees at a meeting with members of the steering committee on 30-6-09.

    ACTION – FE To check regulations and discuss with trustees.

  5. Approval of revisions to the Rules of the BSN

    Following a meeting lead by the Charity Commission and attended by AD and the steering Committee meeting in Feb 09, the steering committee/Trustees appointed an accountant (Greenhalgh & Co) to prepare the Society accounts and to review the Rules/constitution of the BSN. Based upon their report new Rules had been drawn up.

    The current rules have been amended on the basis of this specific advice so that the working practices of the BSN are clearly defined and so that we remain true to the original constitution of us as a charity (as the British Neuroendocrinology Group). Copies of the existing and new rules were circulated to all BSN members prior to the meeting by email. The principal changes were to:
    A. define the name of the society
    B. define how honorary members are created, and their status
    C. define the subscriptions payable by student and honorary members (none)
    D. define the voting rights of ordinary, student and honorary members
    E. define the structure and maximum size of the steering committee, and for how long elected individuals serve
    F. define how members can be co-opted to the Steering committee
    G. define how Trustees are appointed
    H. clarify the roles and responsibilities of the office holders
    I. define how the Editor of the Journal of Neuroendocrinology is appointed and states that this person is an ex officio members of the steering committee
    J. clarifies the duties and the procedures at the AGM
    K. clarifies the duties of the Trustees and of how the finances of the society should be inspected and made available to the Charity Commissioners
    L. defines how the society can be dissolved.

    No comments had been received prior to the AGM.

    Colin Ingram (CI) asked if MF should be listed as a trustee, in the documentation generated by Greenhalgh & Co. FE explained that he had been in contact with MF to ascertain if MF wanted to remain as a Trustee but that the answer had been ambiguous.

    ACTION – FE to check intentions of MF re serving on the Board of Trustees. Post meeting note: MF has confirmed that she wishes to retire as a Trustee. She will continue to be an Honorary Member of the BSN

    The proposed changes were therefore proposed for acceptance by GL and seconded by Megan Holmes (MH).

  6. To receive and approve the Trustees Report and 2008 Accounts (circulated by email prior to meeting) and Grant schemes

    AD informed the meeting that Greenhalgh & Co had prepared and audited the accounts. AD thanked Jane Robinson for having completed this task for the BSN for a number of years indicating that the change to Greenhalgh & Co was a requirement of the Charity Commission.

    AD reported that 5 international travel grants and 3 lab research visit grants had been awarded and that for the first time the number of summer vacation scholarship applications had exceeded the committee were able to award (n=6) given their agreed budget.

    In addition the BSN had contributed financially towards supporting:

    • an outreach programme run by Imperial College London.
    • The Practical Biology website

    Total expenditure on grants circa£16,000.

    FE indicated that while the BSN needs to maintain a financial reserve, it is also not the intention that it continually accrues money. Thus the steering committee were discussing the possibility of setting up a small grants scheme. This would be an onerous task given the need for peer review of applications and it was hoped that, if this scheme was developed and approved, the Trustees would take on this role.

    Simon Luckman (SL) asked if all applications, apart from the summer vacation scholarships had been funded and whether it was possible to make the existing schemes more generous. GL expressed concern re a small grants scheme and pointed out that there are already a number of other small grants schemes many of which are targeted at junior staff, but supported SL's suggestion of extending the existing schemes in particular the lab visit grants as these are a means of fostering collaborations and thus even positions. This view was echoed by Andrew Louden (AL)

    Dave Grattan (DG) noted that a research visit grant can appear on a young neuroendocrinologist's CV and thus be beneficial to career prospects.

    JR made the point that many institutions look towards grants that will generate indirect costs and this would not be the case with such a small grants scheme.

    CI noted that the international travel grant scheme was a good means of increasing internationalism and suggested that we promote this. Julian Mercer (JM) replied that the BSN has always encouraged and normally supported applications for small meetings.

    CC asked what financial commitment would there be towards ICN 2010. AD responded that as before BSN will offer significant support but it is being estimated that the travel costs will be less than to Pittsburgh, registration for the meeting will be ~500EURO and BSN will be sponsoring a symposium.

    FE thanked the meeting for its input and direction supporting increased investment in the lab visit scheme and other existing grants schemes rather than development of a BSN small grants scheme.

    ACTION - STEERING COMMITTEE

    The accounts were proposed for acceptance by GL and seconded by Mike Ludwig (ML).

  7. Membership Secretary/Treasurer's report

    AD reported that membership of the Society was currently 166, which was an increase of 10-15 members (membership increased to 167 during the course of the AGM, care of wireless internet and AL!)

    AD reported that Wiley Blackwell charge £76/member which will increase £2-3 this year but AD recommended to the meeting that the subscriptions for membership for 09-10 should remain at the same value as for 08-09.

    Clive Coen (CC) asked that it be made very clear to foreign members that the differential costs paid were due to increased shipping costs.

    The motion to maintain the subscription fees at their current level was proposed by JM and seconded by DG.

  8. Re-appointment of an Examiner of Accounts: Greenhalgh & Co

    The steering committee proposed re-appointment of Greenhalgh & Co as Examiner of Accounts. This was proposed by AD and seconded by Kirsty Smith

  9. Meeting Secretary's Report

    Helen Christian reported that there would be no stand alone meeting in 2010, when the ICN meeting would be held in Rouen. The dates of that meeting being July 11-15th
    In 2011 the meeting will be hosted by Imperial College London
    In 2012 the meeting will be hosted in Aberdeen

    There was a short discussion as to the timing of the meeting June vs September. June was seen to work well for many members given semesterisation in some institutions and the occurrence of conflicting meetings in September.

    JR asked if there were any plans for collaborative international meetings? HC responded that there were no official plans at present.

    JR noted that we currently offer a concessionary price for attendance at the meeting to INF members who are not BSN members and asked that this is made clear on registration forms for future meetings.

  10. Journal of Neuroendocrinology Editor's Report

    DG reported that the transition of the office from London to Dunedin was progressing smoothly, with excellent support from Wiley Blackwells. The first three months of the office running from Dunedin had relied upon staff in London due to a delay in appointment of staff, however, this should be resolved very soon.

    DG reported that since the last AGM:

    • the Impact Factor for the journal had increased to 3.25
    • 2-3 new senior editors (FE reminded DG that it is stated that a specified proportion of the Editorial Board is drawn from members of the BSN)
    • Time to first decision has decreased to 33 days (49d in 06, 44d in 07, 38d in 08). The aim is to achieve 30days.
    • some concern that there was a drop in submission rates, principally from the USA (possibly due to Obama stimulus package) and UK.
    • No special issues planned
    • Encourage submissions from members
    • Acceptance rate ~56% (70% in 2008, but this is possibly due to reviews)

    DG reiterated that he would also like to promote the journal further by marketing BSN sponsored symposia under the banner of the Journal, as the goodwill generated leads to increased submission rates. FE noted support for this initiative but the mechanism must be through the BSN. John Morris (JMo) also noted support for this proposal.

    ML asked if reviews were still encouraged. DG responded that reviews of meetings talks were not necessarily beneficial in terms of IF but that more substantial reviews could be.
    DG and the publishers are exploring production of an annual 'reviews edition' of the Journal. This would comprise combined field overviews possibly by a group of symposium speakers. The publishers may be willing to pay an honorarium for the authors of substantial reviews.
    CI noted that to change an Impact factor, reviews need to be published early in the year and have free access

    GL asked if the requirement for open access publishing by some funding bodies could explain the decrease seen in submission rates and whether the BSN should consider supporting open access publication fees? Ian Dunn commented that MRC funded work must be published with open access and the fees could be an issue for these people. DG noted that the Journal offers an option for open access (~£1500) but that uptake was very low.
    GL suggested that the steering committee investigate the costs of allowing members to publish with open access.
    ACTION - STEERING COMMITTEE

    DG reported that he had created some Virtual issues, these are generated from papers from 2007-2008, by grouping papers about specific topics. Currently issues cover, Circadian Rhythms, Stress, Food and appetite, Reproduction and Oestrogen action in the brain.

    CC reported that the 1st two years of the Journal were now listed on line but there was no PDF link. JR noted that it was possible to access PDFs for these papers but not through PubMed.
    ACTION - JMo to investigate.

  11. Journal of Neuroendocrinology Secretary's Report

    JMo reported that despite the changes in the publishers, we are still working with the same people. Since the last AGM we have signed a new 5 yr agreement with Wiley Blackwells.

    Over the course of the year:

    • Julia Buckingham stood down as Editor in chief. JMo on behalf of the BSN noted sincere thanks to Julia for her hard work and the success that it brought to the journal. DG has taken on the role of Editor in chief.
    • The renewal rate is 98% and increasing which is at odds with most other Journals. There has been an 18% increase in profits to ~£120K to the BSN.
    • Readership has increased, mostly online. Downloads increased 43%. The society must consider whether it wants to maintain a printed copy of the Journal. This was debated with the feeling of the meeting being mixed.

    JMo reported that Wiley Blackwells are very good at consortia management and that returns should be as predicted for the current year, however, they are less confident for the future and expect the tougher market conditions to have a greater impact in 2010.

    JMo reported his and the BSNs thanks to the Editorial team and Wiley Blackwells.

  12. Election/Co-option of Committee Members

    No current members of the steering committee are due for re-election this year but it was noted that some will be due to stand down next year. To maintain geographic and scientific coverage FE encouraged members Cambridge and Manchester and those with Clinical interests to consider standing and serving on the committee.

    JR asked if the committee had considered having an international member. FE commented that it was possible and that DG was indeed an international member who sat on the committee but that additional international nominations would be welcome.

  13. Any other competent business

    None

  14. Date and location of next meeting

    Rouen July 2010