v31 #6 Don’s Conference Notes

by | Jan 30, 2020 | 0 comments

By Donald T. Hawkins (Freelance Conference Blogger and Editor) <[email protected]> and Leah Hinds (Executive Director, Charleston Library Conference) <[email protected]>

Note: A summary of this article appeared in the December 2019/January 2020 issue of Against The Grain v31 #6.

Shaping the New Status Quo: The 41st Society for Scholarly Publishing Meeting

Over 800 attendees from 23 countries assembled at the exquisite Marriott Bayfront Hotel in the beautiful city of San Diego, CA on May 29-31, 2019 for the 41st annual meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP). The theme of the meeting was “Shopping the New Status Quo: Global Perspectives in Scholarly Publishing”. It featured pre-conference sessions, two keynote addresses, a wide variety of concurrent sessions, a plenary preview of new and noteworthy products, and the traditional closing plenary with the Scholarly Kitchen “chefs”, in addition to a large exhibit hall with networking receptions following the day’s sessions.

Marriott Bayfront Hotel
View of San Diego Harbor

Against The Grain Trendspotting Initiative

(L-R) Heather Staines, Lisa Hinchliffe, Leah Hinds

One of the pre-conference workshops was a trendspotting session following up on a similar session held at last year’s Charleston Conference. Moderated by Leah Hinds, speakers were Heather Staines, Head of Partnerships, MIT Knowledge Futures Group, and Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, Professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The goal of the workshop was to establish an ongoing process for identifying social policy, economic, technology, and educational trends, and identifying their impacts on the information industry. This list of 9 trends provided a basis for small group discussions:

  1. All about analytics and algorithms, (move from descriptive to predictive),
  2. Who really knows anyway? (distrust of institutions previously trusted),
  3. Everything is computational, (artificial intelligence and machine learning),
  4. Content redefined, (abundance, formats, data, etc.),
  5. The carbon imprint (climate change and the environmental impact of publishing and libraries),
  6. Securing the record (cybersecurity and threats to intellectual property and content),
  7. The common good dissolves (defunding and eroding support for public goods),
  8. Just for you and just for me (personalization and customization of information environments), and
  9. The researcher’s way (information environments, workflows, and tools).

Following the introductions the audience broke into small groups that were asked to identify how each trend manifests itself in the information industry; its impact on scholarship, content creation, quality control, and information use; the speed and desirability of the changes coming in the next 3 to 5 years; the best case scenario; and the worst case scenario. It was interesting to note that at Charleston, nobody mentioned cybersecurity, but at this session, 3 groups did.  The results of the discussions were grouped into common themes, and a forthcoming report will identify the results and next steps.

Several other workshops and sponsored sessions rounded out the pre-conference sessions.

Opening Keynote: Scholarly Publishing in Africa: Impact Factor vs. Societal Impact

Dr. Mariamawit Yeshak

In her opening keynote address, Dr. Mariamawit Yeshak, an Associate Professor at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, said that scholarly publishing in Africa dates back only to the second half of the 20th century, and African output represents only 1.7% of the world’s scholarly publications. Africa is struggling to keep pace with the rest of the world. African Journals Online (AJOL)[1], a non-profit organization based in South Africa, provides access to African-published research. In 2000, it indexed only 50 English-language journals; today it covers 523 journals, mainly in the sciences, English, and French, 260 of which are open access.

Today, many African faculty members are publishing in top-rated journals with high impact factors. Although African researchers and universities are benefitting from their scholarly publishing, their society is lagging in many development indicators, and a number of challenges need to be faced:

  • Visibility: Most of the journals where African researchers publish are not published in Africa, so there is little local visibility. Scientific academies can help improve visibility by encouraging publishers to engage in producing local journals.
  • Communication: Research is not complete until it is communicated. Scientists should be willing to give public lectures and publish summaries of their work in local languages.
  • Language: This is the biggest barrier to disseminating research work. The language of most publications is English or French, but many people in Africa do not speak these languages. Solutions to this problem include translations of research work and publication in local languages.
  • Disconnects from indigenous knowledge: In Ethiopia, 70% of the society depends on traditional medicine. A two-way flow of knowledge benefits not only African society but humankind as a whole. Society benefits if research results are translated into marketable products and services.

Despite the challenges, African universities are using bibliometric and scientometric data to measure the progress and impact of their faculty members. As a result of their publishing in high-impact journals, faculty members are being promoted and the ranking of African universities globally is improving. At Yeshak’s university alone, 5 full professor and 15 associate professor positions were created in 1½ years.

Keynote Address: Technology and Inclusion

Betsy Beaumon

In her keynote address, “Why Inclusion Matters to Technology and Technology Matters to Inclusion”, Betsy Beaumon, CEO, Benetech, noted that 1 in 7 people have a disability, and only 33% of these people are employed, compared to 70% of the overall population. Such people are underrepresented in the top growing fields, especially in the global south where the employment rate is only 10-20% due to cultural stigmas and lack of access to jobs. Fortunately, this problem is solvable, and some of the global technology giants are starting to work on it.

Digital by itself does not equal inclusive. We can help create possibilities to solve this problem today; education is critical. Benetech empowers communities with software for social good, focusing on equity, justice, and inclusion. For example, it has created Bookshare, the world’s largest online library of ebooks for people with reading barriers due to disability (such as the inability to hold a book). Some university presses are now active in putting their books on Bookshare. Other capabilities of Bookshare include reading an audio version of books or making them available in Braille.

In a culture of inclusion, bars, bedrooms, and baby carriages are some places where people use access provisions. Closed captions are becoming common in movies, and there is now a phenomenon called the “curb cut effect”. But laws do not change things so we need to change the culture. Digital inclusion is critical because we live on the internet and use many tools every day. Website developers are referring to Section 508 of the ADA to make them accessible, thus creating better publications.

Today, software fails because developers do not think about people needing accessibility. Many large companies like Apple are emphasizing accessibility that can be turned on when using a phone. Microsoft has a Chief Accessibility Officer and an active hiring plan. Many visually impaired people are becoming software developers. Education technology has suffered from the “we will worry about them later” mentality. Companies are trying to promote college courses on accessibility.

AI has much promise in homes. Privacy is a problem with all the data that is being collected. People are working on audio systems for deaf people, and “be my eyes” is a system for blind people. Digitizing math is a difficult problem. Many text readers cannot handle images (photos, math equations, chemical notation, etc.)

Why isn’t the accessibility problem solved when we have all these tools? Leaders must determine that they will be inclusive. How can industry lead? If a book can be born digital, it can be born accessible, but many things must come together to make this possible. Benetech can certify systems accessible.

We want inclusion–don’t leave millions of people out. Will you be ready? Possible actions for publishers include getting certified by Benetech[2] and contributing to Bookshare.[3]

Interactive Scholarly Works and Enhanced eBooks

This panel discussed how scholars are stretching the boundaries of e-books to create more dynamic, interactive, and media-rich works. It was kicked off by Jason Colman from University of Michigan and Michigan Publishing Services, who spoke about how Michigan spent the last four years building their own digital publishing platform. They focused on enhanced e-books since 80% of scholars have rich supplemental content to add to their books. Michigan also has published an interactive scholarly work, “A Mid-republican House from Gabii,”[4] with a 3D model allowing readers to explore the model and text together. (This was very labor intensive, requiring thousands of hours of work!) Jasmine Mulliken from Stanford University Press described “Enchanting the Desert,”[5] a digital project including essays about and images of the Grand Canyon.  Alexandra Ohlson from LOCKSS discussed preservation approaches, including options such as Webrecorder and Emulation. The panel was chaired by Craig Van Dyck, Executive Director, CLOCKSS Archive.

Want to Know How Researchers Feel About Scholarly Publishing? Let’s Ask Them

This standing-room-only session featured 3 panelists discussing their perspectives on scholarly publishing and the role that researchers play in it. After short presentations, the audience was encouraged to contribute their views. The panelists and their concerns were:

  • Andrew Conway, Claremont Graduate University: He publishes in American Psychological Association (APA) journals, is Associate Editor of one of them, as well as for a startup journal that is not working with a publisher. Many professors are frustrated with big publishers and are looking to smaller startup journals, but students must publish in large journals because of tenure requirements.
  • Laura Crotty Alexander: University of California at San Diego and VA San Diego: She publishes in scientific journals, but it is difficult to find the one that is the best match for her research. She is frustrated by publishers frequently asking for more money.
  • David Salas-de la Cruz, Rutgers University: He studies the interfaces between proteins and carbohydrates and is under pressure to get a grant and tenure within 5 years. Some of that time must be used for setting up a lab, recruiting students, etc. He wrote a historical paper to get a publication record and a higher impact factor. A major worry is timing and the need for fast publication times.

Here is an edited transcript of the interaction with the audience and the panelists’ responses.

  • Can a publisher replicate a researcher’s work? How has research changed when you engage with students and have to show them how to do the research?
  • Honesty is most important with students. Make sure they have a good ethical standard. Negative data is just as important as positive.
  • You have to help students get published and talk to them about issues, impact factors, etc. We used to mail our manuscripts to the journals, but now the process has completely changed.
  • Rejection rates can be high because graduate students were doing data dumps as manuscripts without a lot of analysis of the data. Don’t submit if you are not ready–know what the journal wants.
  • How important is it to publish in an OA journal?
  • It is very important. I took money from my grant to devote to OA charges.
  • Many grants mandate that everything will be published OA.
  • Not only OA is important but so is peer review. Sometimes OA data becomes viral and then it is considered previously published and becomes hard to get it on a conference program, so people tend to hold results close.
  • Some reviewers discount the importance of OA.
  • What is wrong with putting things online?
  • Social sciences are now following the model of transparency and at the same time submitting it to a traditional journal.  Younger people are most comfortable with that.
  • Sometimes you must hold back the data because you are not done mining it.
  • How do you feel about open peer review?
    • If you have tenure, it is easy to sign your reviews. Younger colleagues are not encouraged to sign their reviews. It’s a power issue.
    • If you get into trouble with a review, that will impact the granting process.
    • It is important to put constructive comments in a review rather than just saying that the paper is not appropriate for the journal.  Collaboration among reviewers is a good approach. Some journals publish reviewers’ comments along with the papers.
  • We have many new metrics. Do researchers pay attention to them?
    • Faculty members are using metrics in tenure discussions. How should we measure impact? This is evolving rapidly.
    • In the beginning, you want to get a grant but then you must prove that you are publishing the research results.
    • When you must get something published to satisfy your grant, you want a journal with short publishing times.
  • Should we be publishing in our societies’ journals?
    • Yes, we know the people there and their work. If we publish in a for-profit journal, we get negative feedback from the society, even if our article was rejected by the society’s journal!
    • I don’t submit to for-profit publishers.
  • Where are you going to support your work and is there something the library can do for you?
    • I rely on the library system because they have access to any journal I have ever wanted. They are helpful now in the days of so many journals.
    • Libraries are doing workshops on impact factors and other subjects. We are there for you!
  • Any editorial office will add value without increasing turnaround time.
    • I would love to tell my staff where we can add value to you.
    • Get to know the discipline and how it is changing.
    • I like it when the editors find mistakes!
    • Students are very impatient and are not used to waiting to get their work online.

An Honest Conversation About Global Academic Publishing: Paywalls, APCs, and Ever-Increasing Volume

Representatives of three publishers discussed the following issues:

  • Why do publishers launch so many journals?
  • Are too many articles being published?
  • How can paywalls be justified?
  • Why are APCs so high?
  • As the world moves toward OA, how do we meet the challenges of the people we serve?

Beth Craanen, Director of Publications, The Electrochemical Society (ECS) wondered how we can build a sustainable and inclusive future for academic publishing. She said that we are not an inclusive industry now.

ECS publishes 3 journals which had 1,900 institutional subscribers in 2018, 42% of which were OA. Subscriptions are being leveraged to get to more OA publications. In 2019, subscription prices were raised for the first time in 4 years. Its digital library, ECS Plus, has over 1,000 subscribers and had 3.1M downloads in 2018. A Read & Publish model has been successful. Subscription prices are published, so there is no need to spend time negotiating pricing. ECS works with the Copyright Clearance Center to get authors to publish their journals. The long term goal is that research is meant to be shared. As a promotion, ECS took their paywall down for a week in April 2019 and allowed subscribers to download articles at no cost.  One result was that ECS’s business models are not built around APCs, and 91% of its articles are published OA at no cost to authors.

Tim Vines, Managing Editor, Origin Editorial, a consulting firm advising publishers on peer review, said that the journal system is inefficient. Many researchers are rushing to get their work published, and deciding which articles to accept is expensive for publishers. Each time an article is submitted to a journal, it must be reviewed again, and APCs must be paid, so the APCs are covering the costs of reviewing and rejecting up to 90% of the articles submitted.  Vines noted that $4,000 is a high price to pay for publication. High APCs are excluding many researchers, particularly those from low- and middle-income countries, from publishing in selective OA journals. This graph shows the effect of APCs on acceptance rates.

APCs are currently based on market rates and are increasing rapidly.

A solution to this problem is to separate publication and submission fees and create a network of brokers who would review articles and find journals that are interested in them. The number of submissions that authors must make (now averaging 2.5 per article) would be minimized; Vines estimates that half of the articles could be accepted without any additional peer review, and trust in publishers by authors would be enhanced.

Wayne Sime, CEO, Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) discussed Plan S, an initiative to promote OA publishing[6] and the key issues that societies face as a result. ALPSP supports the aims of Plan S to escalate movement of journals to a fully OA business model but it must be recognized that the complexity and short time frame of the transformation could introduce unintended consequences and barriers because funding is not universally available to all publishers. A survey of consortia of publishers, especially small ones publishing fewer than 5 journals, found that the vast majority of them are willing to work together towards the goals of Plan S.

Most publishers are thinking about article transition models, such as evolving traditional models funded by CC-BY licenses. It is notable that there have not been any subscription cancellations as a result. Transformative models are most attractive to consortia.

At the end of his presentation, Sime announced that the deadline for compliance with Plan S has been moved from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021, which will help mitigate one of the barriers to implementing Plan S.

I Didn’t Know That Was Possible: Cutting Edge Technologies and Techniques to Challenge Cultural Norms

The room was full for this dynamic panel presentation from a group of tech start-ups who came from a research background. Each presenter was a researcher who started a business to address a personal pain point from their own research work. It was chaired by Isabel Thompson of Holtzbrinck, who participated remotely and noted that each of the speakers was originally from outside the industry. Sometimes you need that outside perspective to get innovative thinking. The first speaker was Abeni Wickham, CEO/Founder of SciFree AB. Scientific Freedom[7] aims to automate the peer review workflow. According to an OECD poll, the number one thing researchers wanted is greater transparency in the peer review process, so this was the goal. Next, Tyler Whitehouse, President and CEO of Gigantum, discussed his open-source, cloud-based collaboration platform[8] which allows the researcher to automate tasks, configure containerized environments, and bundle code, data, environment, and results. The final speaker was Pascal Gallo, Founder and CEO of LakeDiamond.[9] Their Swiss-based labs produce diamonds for high tech applications. “Diamond is the new silicon.” They used blockchain to fund their new business, thereby disrupting the traditional model. The session closed after a lively audience Q&A session.

Metrics of Success: How to Measure the Impact of OA Books?

This panel explored what researchers understand about the reach of OA books, how they are measuring it, and what they would like to see in the future. Doug Dechow from Chapman University opened the discussion with the author’s perspective. He co-edited a festschrift for Ted Nelson in 2015 titled “Intertwingled.” It was published OA by Springer Nature,[10] and the authors had differing reactions: academics were happy that it would be OA, but authors from outside academia were less than thrilled. In Computer Science, OA is “a dirty word.” Agata Morka from Springer Nature, who also moderated the panel, covered the publisher’s perspective. OA books have seven times more downloads, but numbers don’t always tell the whole story since there are blind spots in the methodology used to create OA metrics. Next, Rick Anderson from the University of Utah covered the librarian perspective, and spoke about trust, relevance, and usefulness in the context of OA metrics. Kevin Hawkins from the University of North Texas Libraries closed the panel. He is Co-Project Director (co-PI) for a Mellon funded project, “Understanding OA Ebook Usage: Toward a Common Framework”.[11] The working group is working to build a “Data Trust” as an “independent intermediary among industry stakeholders, compiling and analyzing data on behalf of the members of the trust.” Findings of their final white paper are included in the slide pictured below.

A close up of a slide

Can Subscriptions and OA Play Well Together?

Currently, OA publications are supported by Author Processing Charges (APCs) levied on article authors, their institutions, or their funders. Subscriptions are considered to be a separate alternative. Speakers in this session considered the possibility of subscription and OA journals cooperating to provide an alternative to APCs.

Raym Crow, Managing Partner of the consulting firm Chain Bridge Group, described the “Subscribe to Open” (S2O) model which targets existing subscribers and procurement systems and invites them to convert their subscription journals to OA. If all subscribers participate, then access becomes open. The publisher controls the risk of this process and can provide for changes in demand for their journals. The process is repeated every year and allows publishers to return OA journals to subscription access if necessary. Publishers must agree to a slight reduction in revenue which is covered by a small increase in cost to readers.

The S2O model was adopted by Annual Reviews, Inc., a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and interacting knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society. Richard Gallagher, President and Editor-in-Chief, Annual Reviews (AR), noted that academic publishing is currently in turmoil, and S2O is possibly a way to make content available to all.[12]

Knowable Magazine was established by AR as a digital magazine to bring complex scientific knowledge to a wide and varied audience.[13] Another of AR’s journals, the Annual Review of Public Health experienced a significant growth in readers when it became OA. It had 160,000 downloads in March 2019. Before the journal became OA, it had about 2,000 institutional subscribers, which grew to 12,000 afterwards. The increase came from readers in a wide variety of disciplines: academia, healthcare providers, legislatures and government agencies, a pollution control agency, the Air Resources Board, etc.

AR explored several options to moving to OA: APCs, Read and Publish, philanthropy, and leveraging of existing relationships and systems (the one chosen). The process began in 2015; approval from the Board was obtained in 2016, and a grant was received from the RW Johnson Foundation in 2017. The first OA product was produced in 2018. The reaction from librarians has been positive; if the experiment is a decisive success, more OA titles will be added in 2021.

Ann Michael, former CEO, Delta Think, described an OA data and analytics tool that was launched in 2017 to help people use data and make usable data sets. Its users include publishers, academic libraries and consortia, secondary markets. The motivation for making data open is to make it accessible. Increased usage makes products better; benefits to industry include more analysis done by an audience wider than current subscribers. Many subscribers are commercial and non-profit organizations; to accommodate them, a two-year option with a deeper discount was offered.

SSP Previews: New and Noteworthy Products

David Myers

Moderated by David Myers, Owner of DMedia Associates, Inc., the final day of the conference opened with a session of 5-minute “lightning” talks by representatives of 13 organizations describing their new products.  Innovation—doing the same things better— is no longer a luxury but is essential in today’s environment. It leads to disruption, which is doing new things that make the old things obsolete.

Here are the new products described:

  • American Society of Plant Biologists: Domain Informational Vocabulary Extraction (DIVE): Allows authors to curate key terms and concepts and integrates journal terms with objects in genomic databases.
  • Copyright Clearance Center: RightsLink Author and OA Agreement Manager: Uses machine learning to engage authors at every step of production and provides aggregated billing and cross-publisher reporting.
  • Editage: Automated Document Assessment: A manuscript readiness solution for publishers that provides manuscript assessment, peer review assistance, publication ethics, and post-acceptance assistance, and readability scores.
  • Exeter Premedia Services: Provides editorial services, data services, artwork and design, and project management. The flagship product is Kryia which makes publishing simple and automates submission to external databases without need for knowledge of the requirements of online repositories.
  • Kudos: Helps researchers plan and report on communication activities.
  • LibLynx: Cloud-based identity and access management for online resources of publishers and libraries
  • Molecular Connections: Escalex for finding food regulations in a database of over 10 million articles indexed over the past 15 years and a workflow system to support the indexing process.
  • Morressier: A platform for sharing early-stage research allowing scientists to discover information and be discovered by digitizing conference presentations, poster sessions, etc. before, during, and after conferences.
  • Paper Digest: An AI-based article summarization service so that researchers can learn more in less time through overcoming language barriers. Users enter DOIs of articles of interest and receive summaries.
  • Research Square: Allows authors to post a paper as a preprint when it is submitted to a journal. Articles can be reverted to a preprint if they are rejected.
  • Ripeta: Provides credit reporting for science. Disseminates practices and measures to improve the reproducibility of scientific research.
  • SciScore: Scans methods sections of scientific articles to test the percentage of resources that should have a resource research identifier (RRID). Warns authors of problematic data such as contaminated cells before publication.
  • SelfStudy: Provides personalized learning from existing assets and adds value to content with learning and teaching solutions.

The audience voted on the best product, and Paper Digest was the winner.

Flipping Out: Plan S, Read-to-Publish, and Humanities Publishing

Allison Belan, the session moderator from Duke University Press, began by covering scope and definitions. The scope of the discussion was limited to Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Journals, and “Flipping” subscription-based journals (not born OA). Allison also acknowledged that the discussion would be limited by who was in the room, so to speak, and wouldn’t cover independent society publishers, fully OA publishers, and small/medium colleges.

Panelists included Lisa Hinchliffe, University of Illinois, Robert Dilworth, Duke University Press, Emily Poznanski, DeGruyter, and Mathew Willmott, California Digital Library. The moderator posed a series of questions to the group:

  1. What are Plan S and “transformative agreements” and how do they address or impact HSS publishing?
  2. Do the requirements in these emerging mandates and levers pose particular challenges for HSS scholarly culture and publishing?
  3. Will such agreements, when pursued at scale, sustain the publishing operation?
  4. Is your approach to OA strategy for HSS different than for STM?
  5. What do you think are the most viable models for sustaining HSS scholarly publishing?

The audience was encouraged to share their experiences and challenges as well.

Community Approaches in Scholarly Publications

Scholarly publishing deals with various types and sizes of communities. But what do we mean by “community” and why do we need them? This session was introduced by providing the following definitions of a community:

  • A group of people who have come together with a shared purpose,
  • A group where information flows in multiple directions, not just out from the center,
  • A place where participants can learn, and
  • A group to which members feel like they belong, therefore committing to it.

We need communities because they provide a sharing environment for group accomplishments that cannot be achieved individually.

Speakers in this session were asked to use no more than three slides to answer the following questions:

  • What does “community” mean to you and your organization?
  • How is your community approach unique?
  • What question would you like to pose to the audience?

Howard Ratner, Executive Director of CHORUS, said that CHORUS tries to reduce the burden of OA and OA mandates, so it focuses on 5 services and maximizing the effectiveness of identifiers.

  • Question for the audience: What was the best outcome of a community-led effort and why was it successful?

Alice Meadows, Director of Communications, ORCID, said that a community is an intentional collective of people who gather to address common interests and goals. It commits to empowering its members to govern its operations and guide its development. Successful communities are central, essential, and inclusive. They may be a leap of faith for members but are more than just a membership. Messaging and technology may be complex.

  • Question for the audience: How can we get better at bringing existing communities together rather than creating new ones?

Jessica Polka, Executive Director, Accelerating Science and Publication in Biology (ASAPbio), a non-profit organization to promote innovation and transparency in life sciences communication, said that researchers share their work according to cultural norms and may be reluctant to share preprints because they might get scooped by others. ASAPbio therefore began an ambassador program to stimulate conversations about preprints.

  • Question for the audience: How did you create a pathway for community members for all to become more progressively involved with your initiative?

Reid Otsuji, Data Curation Specialist Librarian at UC-San Diego, used a carpentries approach, which teaches data science and coding skills to researchers, to create a community. In this context, community includes partnerships with key stakeholders, coordination with instructors, and a collaborative infrastructure to address a need. The broad community provides resources that can be drawn on. Challenges of this approach include finding people with discipline expertise and instructor retention, local involvement and demand. Opportunities include collaboration with researchers, shared expertise, teaching experience, the local community, and demand. Libraries are good places to run a community because they are discipline agnostic.

  • Question for the audience: In most cases, community development efforts are easily established at the beginning, but as growth and stability occur, what strategies can be used to sustain community momentum?

Trial and Error: The Cruel Taskmaster of the Librarian as Publisher

Although library publishing programs are becoming more widespread, many library staff members are finding that publishing is not as easy as it seems. Speakers at this session described some of their experiences with library publishing.

R. Philip Reynolds, Scholarly Communications Librarian, Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU), outlined the following actions taken at his university:

The dean of the library said that in establishing services, librarians should never say no and promote the features of the proposed system and its ease of use. One of the services approved was journal publishing by the library. But on investigation, they received a wake-up call from an article by Kent Anderson in the Scholarly Kitchen listing 96 things publishers do (updated in 2018 to 102 things).[14]

In establishing a library publishing services, the question became “Are we doing what seems to be professional in publishing journals?” The publishing process can be broken down as follows:

Sharing the load:

  • Dividing up tasks,
  • Use a Digital Commons platform (such as bePress) to do some things that authors or publishers usually do,
  • Authors do copy editing and establish styles,
  • Editors must do most of the work, start doing basic copy editing, and find niches for new journals,
  • The library gets ISSNs and DOIs,
  • Other (unassigned) tasks are done by the university (HR etc.).

Help from friends is also useful:

  • The SSP Mentorship Program,
  • Library. Many librarians don’t look in the catalog for books about what they are working on.
  • Conferences provide opportunities to listen to how other people are doing things and what they are doing.

The SFASU library has listed the journals it has published on its website.[15]

Kevin Hawkins, Assistant Dean for Scholarly Communication, University of North Texas (UNT) Libraries contrasted two models for publishing books by libraries (the UNT library’s service is called Aquiline Books) and university presses:

Here is the Aquiline Books fee structure

The fee structure makes authors aware of the costs of publishing which are covered up front and vary by project.

Closing Plenary: The Scholarly Kitchen Live

(L-R) Angela Cochran, David Crotty, Robert Harrington, Rick Anderson, Lettie Conrad, Alice Meadows, David Smith, Ann Michael, Lisa Hinchliffe

Scholarly Kitchen chefs attending the conference assembled for the final session and discussed a wide-range of issues. The session was moderated by Angela Cochran, Managing Director and Publisher, American Society of Civil Engineers, and incoming SSP President. She presented a few statistics on the Scholarly Kitchen:  As of late May, there have been 643,635 page views to date this year (up from 554,072 last year). There have been 11,505,849 total page views since 2008 and 4,748 average page views per day this year (up from 4,310 last year. @Scholarly Kitchen has 20,000 followers.

We are entering into a great acceleration, especially of mergers, and an increase in OA. Everything seems like it is happening at once.

Here are the remarks made by the chefs.

Robert Harrington

Big publishers are morphing into data analytic companies, and there are many opportunities and pitfalls. For example, Elsevier has a significant repository of data on citations and readership, so they can predict trends and track how students are doing. Institutions may become reliant on these tools. There is now a rapid move towards digital textbooks, which lets them monitor how long students take to do their homework, etc. But it is hard to manage data, so institutions should think about their data policies.

David Smith

The capability is available to all of us to use technology and data if we can develop a business use for it. Compute power is the power supply of the information age. The academic work on AI, big data, etc. was done 40-50 years ago. It has never been easier and cheaper to do this. The scarcity is in the knowledge. Our world is not leveraging how big data can be used; we need to think about what a true scholarly infrastructure should be. We need to talk about dissemination, clarification, classification, and especially ethics. Quantum computing will be commoditized in the next 30 years.

Ann Michael

Privacy concerns, bias, and job replacement are coming to the fore. Innovation outpaces our ability to manage it. It is hard to mitigate risks. If we listen to each other, we will respect each other. What do we do to prevent embedded bias in AI? Be respectful and understand that just because it is your opinion, it is not necessarily right. The exciting thing about AI is that we can learn from each other.

Lettie Conrad

Listen to all the voices and shine light on different perspectives so we don’t build bias into systems. Slow down a little; speed is venerated, but biases come in when we move quickly. Look at who is being left out of the conversation. When we slow down we are better able to cope with change. Get lots of different advice and go outside your sector.

Rick Anderson

The acceleration and creation of new knowledge is wonderful but it puts lots of pressures on scholarly creation. The number of articles published and number of journals have grown steadily over the last century by 3-5%/year, which is a result of research growth. More research means more journals, which leads to more rejected articles, pressure for new journals, still more rejections, more soil for predatory journals, and proliferation of more narrowly focused legitimate journals. The pressure on authors to secure money for APCs is growing.

Lisa Hinchliffe

Transformative agreements have arisen with the question of how do we scale what is needed. Most libraries are seeking to pursue costs neutrally, but they may not be neutral for the publisher. Some read-only institutions may eventually stop paying because there will not be a need to pay to read, so all the costs be borne by publishing institutions. We will then know who the reading institutions are and who the publishing institutions are. Read the fine print in the agreements and recognize that transformative agreements primarily benefit publishers who were previously dependent on subscriptions.

Alice Meadows

Plan S people have given us a sense of urgency. We should be ready to be leaders and become a community. It’s much easier to focus on areas where we cannot agree. We must get better by focusing on where we can cooperate and collaborate.

Questions and opinions from the audience:

  • What can blockchain do to help scholarly publishing?
  • How much are we thinking about text and data mining as a business operation?
  • Technology should be solving human problems in publishing.
  • How do we increase the coverage geographically of the Scholarly Kitchen?
  • We want to encourage people to submit guest posts.


The 42nd SSP meeting will be held May 27-29, 2020 at the Westin Waterfront Hotel, Boston, MA.

Donald T. Hawkins is an information industry freelance writer based in Pennsylvania. In addition to blogging and writing about conferences for Against the Grain, he blogs the Computers in Libraries and Internet Librarian conferences for Information Today, Inc. (ITI) and maintains the Conference Calendar on the ITI website (http://www.infotoday.com/calendar.asp). He is the Editor of Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage, (Information Today, 2013) and Co-Editor of Public Knowledge: Access and Benefits (Information Today, 2016). He holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley and has worked in the online information industry for over 45 years.

Leah H. Hinds was appointed Executive Director of the Charleston Conference in 2017, and has served in various roles with the Charleston Information Group, LLC, since 2004. Prior to working for the conference, she was Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions for the College of Charleston for four years. She lives in a small town near Columbia, SC with her husband and two kids, where they raise a menagerie of farm animals.

[1] https://www.ajol.info/index.php/ajol/pages/view/about-AJOL-African-Journals-Online

[2] https://benetech.org/our-work/born-accessible/certification.

[3] https://www.bookshare.org/cms/partners/publishers

[4] https://www.press.umich.edu/9231782/mid_republican_house_from_gabii

[5] https://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=25726

[6] https://www.coalition-s.org/

[7] https://www.scientificfreedom.org/

[8] https://gigantum.com/

[9] https://lakediamond.ch/

[10] https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319169248

[11] https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/143840

[12] https://www.annualreviews.org/page/subscriptions/subscribe-to-open

[13] https://www.knowablemagazine.org/page/about-knowable-magazine

[14] https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2018/02/06/focusing-value-102-things-journal-publishers-2018-update/

[15] https://scholarworks.sfasu.edu/journals.html


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