Go to AAPG DataPages Archives. Search your name as an author, and a number appears that represents how many papers, abstracts, presentations, notes and other contributions AAPG attributes to your scientific legacy. I propose that DataPage citations (or “DPC” for short) reflect contributions to AAPG and affiliated societies and serve as a quick-look technique for how well each of us is doing to fulfill AAPG’s mission to produce good science papers and presentations.
A few questions:
What is your score?
What is your plan to improve your score?
How do you measure up to the Powers Medalists?
In the interest of full disclosure, my goal for the last 25 years, and with this article is to help you improve your score.
Since 1945, AAPG has awarded 74 Sidney Powers Medals. How have the Powers Medalists ranked regarding scientific paper output on DataPages? Together, this elite group has contributed more than 2,200 papers and presentations, out of 188,000 total papers and presentations on DataPages. Sidney Powers himself wrote 118 papers, abstracts and notes. However, many of these were in journals not participating in DataPages.
The average for all 74 medalists is 33 DPC. Overall, the average and the median age is 70 years, and the youngest was 53 (Max Steineke; A.I. Levorsen 54) and the oldest 89 (Frank Clark). As in Nobel prizes, it is common for scientists of complex sciences to produce their peak work at older ages (Fairhurst and Sternbach, 2019). Geoscience is one of the most complex sciences, combining all the others.
The background of contributors varies widely, but three major categories fall out: researchers, explorers, and executives. Many explorers became researchers and university professors in their later careers, so there is some blurring between the categories over lifetimes of achievement.
Researchers are the high producers, many who work full time in research departments or universities. Their main goal is to write papers, encourage students to publish and leave a published legacy. This group of Powers medalists ranges from 50 to 140 DPC.
The second group is the explorers. The famous quip applies that “drillers don’t write, and writers don’t drill.” The Powers medalists in this category are the exceptions. They are drillers who write. Their papers are practical, full of hard-won business-applicable geoscience and case studies, and they are foundational to the Discovery Literature. This group assembles at the 10-30 DPC level for the lower portion, and 30-50 DPC for the high-end contributors.
Then there are the executives and the influencers. This group includes many inspirational leaders, executives and well- known celebrities and champions of AAPG. Starting in 2006, in addition to the Sidney Powers Award, AAPG has awarded 15 Halbouty Leadership Awards. Both are considered AAPG’s top awards for science and leadership. Many Powers Medalists who were executives of the distant past would fit well today into the Halbouty Award category.
The Core Curriculum
When I attended Columbia College, the dean required all undergraduates to read about 100 books in both contemporary civilization and literature humanities. The authors included ancient and modern savants like Plato, Aristotle, Rosseau, Hobbes, Locke, Mill and others. Completing this core curriculum was required for graduation.
In that same vein, looking up all 74 of the Powers Medalists, I downloaded 100 key papers that all AAPG members should read. The papers fall into three categories, and the method of communicating the message varies. Most of the creativity inspired papers focus on stories of overcoming challenges. If they could do it, why can’t we?
Many medalists focused on reserves and economic forecasts. Their main vehicle of communication is pie charts and graphs.
But my favorite category is for what I call the “method-ists”: those geoscientists who propose a methodology to find more energy. Their vehicles of communication are maps, cross-sections and event histories covering three and four-dimensional thinking. Examples include Dan Busch, deltaic genetic packages; Levorsen, systematically exploring unconformities; or Peter Vail and Bob Mitchum, dissecting sequence boundaries and sedimentological packages.
To facilitate AAPG members creating their own core curriculum, we encourage you to download Powers Medalists papers from AAPG’s DataPages. There are so many more great papers, but these scientific gems are a historical foundation on which we build our own contributions to fulfill AAPG’s core mission of practical science.