• NAI Central could consider carrying out a detailed review of publications by NAI-funded teams on an annual basis. To enable this review, NAI Central could develop and maintain a single unified database of the NAI publications. Furthermore, NAI Central could develop and maintain the procedures and tools needed to analyze the impact, relevance to astrobiology, originality, and interdisciplinary character of publications, with feedback to individual NAI members, individual NAI nodes, and the NAI as a whole. Although computerized techniques and the expertise of information-technology specialists will play an essential role in this effort, scientists with broad experience must be involved in the evaluation of individual publications. The NAI director could have a role in the evaluation of papers, and self-evaluation by the principal investigators of the individual NAI nodes could be useful.

  • The details of how the database is organized and how the evaluation is carried out are the responsibility of the NAI. However, the committee offers the following suggestions: (1) The individual nodes could include a detailed bibliography of the papers actually published during the reporting period as part of their annual reports; (2) papers in preparation would not be included; (3) the bibliographies could include complete citations, including titles and abstracts or links to abstracts; (4) the analysis would only consider papers in refereed journals or books; (5) duplicate entries in the master database would be avoided; (6) the disciplines and NAI node affiliations of each author could be part of the database and could be available for analysis; (7) measures of impact, relevance to astrobiology, and originality could be part of the database and available for analysis; and (8) only papers that acknowledge the NAI explicitly, either for support or for inspiration, would be included in the analysis. The committee recognizes that the details of the database will require additional thought and consideration beyond that which was feasible within the context of this study. To successfully accomplish item 7, for example, requires a determination of how to measure such things as impact, relevance, and so on. Similarly, determining the criteria for item 8 may require the adoption of a policy concerning the leveraging of NAI funds with those from other sources.

Recommendation: The NAI should encourage and cultivate interactions with non-NAI astrobiology teams and organizations throughout the world. The committee suggests the following actions to implement this recommendation:

  • Care should be taken to ensure that the NAI promotes an open program that engages the entire astrobiology community and scientists in related fields of endeavor to avoid the perception that it and its activities are exclusive privileges of NAI membership.

  • The NAI could continue its efforts to develop astrobiology at the international level through co-sponsored educational activities (e.g., the Pilbara field conference with the Australian Center of Astrobiology) and public outreach (e.g., sessions at international conferences such as those of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life and the IAU-sponsored Bioastronomy meetings).

  • The NAI could make its existing Web site a more effective portal for astrobiology by promoting access to it by all interested parties (not just NAI members) and by more inclusive coverage of pertinent astrobiology science, sources, and non-NASA sites.

NOTES

  

1. The NAI Web site can be found at http://www.nai.nasa.gov.

  

2. C.E. Manning, S.J. Mojzsis, and T.M. Harrison, “Geology, Age and Origin of Supracrustal Rocks at Akilia, West Greenland,” American Journal of Science 306: 303-366, 2003.

  

3. S.J. Mojzsis, T.M. Harrison, and R.T. Pidgeon, “Oxygen-isotope Evidence from Ancient Zircons for Liquid Water at the Earth’s Surface 4,300 Myr Ago,” Nature 409: 178-181, 2001.

  

4. A.D. Anbar and A.H. Knoll, “Proterozoic Ocean Chemistry and Evolution: A Bioinorganic Bridge?” Science 297: 1137-1142, 2002.

  

5. Y. Shen, A.H. Knol, and M.R. Walter, “Evidence for Low Sulphate and Anoxia in a Mid-Proterozoic Marine Basin,” Nature 423: 632-635, 2003.

  

6. S. Ono, B. Wing, D. Johnston, D. Rumble, and J. Farquhar, “Mass-dependent Fractionation of Quadruple Stable Sulfur Isotope System as a New Tracer of Sulfur Biogeochemical Cycles,” Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 70: 2238-2252, 2006.

  

7. H. Ohmoto, Y. Watanabe, H. Ikemi, S.R. Poulson, and B.E. Taylor, “Sulphur Isotope Evidence for an Oxic Archaean Atmosphere,”



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