Don’s Conference Notes

by | Apr 16, 2021 | 0 comments


Column Editor:  Donald T. Hawkins  (Freelance Editor and Conference Blogger) 

Against the Grain Vol. 33 No. 1

Column Editor’s Note:  Because of space limitations, the full text of my conference notes will now be available online in the issues of Against the Grain on Charleston Hub at, and only brief summaries, with links to the full reports, will appear in Against the Grain print issues. — DTH

New Directions in Scholarly Publishing: An SSP Seminar

This two-day virtual seminar was sponsored by the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) and attracted about 190 attendees.  It featured an opening discussion with 5 of the Scholarly Kitchen “Chefs,” followed by several panel discussions and a keynote address.

The chefs were given these questions to answer:

How is the research ecosystem responding to this year of disruptions and upset?

What can libraries, publishers, funders, and others do to support researchers, not just their research?

What do you see as productive positive responses to this year’s changes? 

A series of panel discussions followed on a variety of subjects:

• Navigating to the new normal.  A large part of the discussion focused on how the publishing industry can adapt to the needs of people with disabilities.

• Supporting researchers, not just their research.  The effects of the pandemic, especially on caregiving and the work/life balance.

• Preprints and the role of publishers and concerns of researchers.

• New directions in tools, visibility, and findability of research.  Why our industry lags behind the technology, the future of libraries, identity management, and the role of AI.

Magdalena Skipper, Editor-in-Chief of Nature, presented a keynote entitled “Post-Pandemic Scholarly Publishing: Will Nothing Really Be the Same Again?”  She mentioned data sharing, the role of AI, and concluded that science publishing will be more diverse in a post-pandemic world.

See the full report at  

Academic Publishing in Europe (APE) 2021

The 16th APE conference was held virtually on January 12-13, 2021.  Its theme was “The New Face of Trust.”  In her opening keynote “Open and Autonomous: The Basis for Trust in Science,” Professor Dr. Dorothea Wagner, Chair, German Council of Science and Humanities, said that COVID has had a historic effect on science and has been a game changer.  We should not miss the opportunity to learn from it.  Trust is like a “transmission belt” connecting science and society.  Science is a system of collective knowledge production, with publications being the primary medium of its primary impact on society.  Trust casts a new light on the autonomy of science;  a major issue that must be met is plagiarism, which violates the standards of good scientific practice.  The pandemic has demonstrated how strongly devoted most scientists are to improving the public good.

The following keynotes and plenary sessions discussed subjects such as:

Reinvention or Return to “Normal”?  Scholarly Communications at a Crossroads:  Present trends shaping our industry are the road to OA, the expanding research cycle, and the purpose of societies.  Financial and budgetary pressures exist throughout the industry, and progress in innovation has largely been stalled. Significant health and emotional issues have arisen.

Opening Doors to Discovery: How Partnerships are Key to Advancing Open Science.  The road to open science has been long; its implementations have taken several decades.  We need to speed up this process.  COVID has been one of the most sought after topics of all time.  We must embrace openness.

Financial Transparency and the Cost of Quality.  OA has combined access with research;  publishing in selective journals remains important.  Users want transparency about prices and value.  Future publication costs will shift from an APC model to a modified flat fee based on the recipient institution’s publishing history.

Beyond the Paper, the Data, and Then a Bit Further: Capturing More of the Research Workflow.  Registered reports accept articles based on the research methods used and then undergo a second peer review to judge whether the conclusions are supported by the data, which produces more reproducible and creditable results and allows null results to be published.  Data management is integral for transparent and reproducible research. Data should be FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable).

In her second day keynote address, “From Complexity to Transparency: How the OA Switchboard is building a cost-effective collaborative Infrastructure Solution for an OA-driven scholarly Communications Landscape,” Yvonne Campfens, Executive Director, OA Switchboard, noted that the OA Switchboard builds trust by developing challenging topics in the transition to OA.  Open is better for science, and OA business models are becoming more diverse.  Several challenges are blocking a faster transition to OA:  redistribution of money in the system, transparency, and prohibitive costs.  The OA Switchboard is a central information exchange hub that builds trust.

Other second day sessions included:

New Dotcoms to Watch featuring presentations by representatives from 6 startups in scholarly communication.

Collaborations Built on Trust, which focused on the humanities and social sciences which are rapidly becoming digital by using OA, the future of the monograph, the “Subscribe to Open” model that offers participants discounts on journal subscription prices.

Climate Action. Influencing Policy and Tackling Real-World Challenges – How Can Scholarly Collaboration Support Rapid Action?  Climate change is a complex array of challenges, and journals and publishers have a duty to advance our understanding of it and make the science heard. 

The System Development Goals (SDG) Publishers Compact, which has developed 17 SDGs in cooperation with the United Nations.  Publishers can be agents of change through their publications

Balancing the Need for Rapid Sharing With the Need for Rigorous Evaluation — the Role of Preprints and Peer Review:  Preprints speed up science and allow faster dissemination, but there is no preprint business model.  Springer Nature has created In Review, a server where authors can host preprints while they are being reviewed. Review Commons, developed by a consortium of publishers and reviews, links preprints with reviewed articles after they are published.

The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery: More Than 10 Years Later:  This session was named after a book published in 2009 by Microsoft Research and covered such topics as recycling the “waste” (data not used in a research project but which may be useful in future research), the Novel MAterials Discovery (NOMAD) repository for unneeded data, and a vision of the library of tomorrow which will contain books, research journals, a connection to the data used in the published articles, and centralized metadata.

STM Research Data Year 2020: A Review:  There has been a massive growth in the number of articles linked to data sets.  Data science can revolutionize the way science works.  Publishers and researchers must work collaboratively.  We must change how we evaluate and incentivize researchers and encourage them to share their data.  The International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical (STM) Publishers has launched the Research Data Year to assist publishers who are supporting researchers in these efforts.

• The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) is moving toward a “web of FAIR research data” and services related to it.  It will be a federation of existing services in a virtual space for science producers and consumers;  it will start in Europe and is envisioned to grow into a worldwide organization.  However, we must recognize that countries have different structures which must be accommodated.  The overriding principle is that EOSC is being developed for researchers and will succeed only if it follows a multi-stakeholder approach.  Data must be accessible by people as well as by machines in order to deliver services to scientists.

See the full report at  

Owning, Licensing, and Sharing Digital Content:
A NISO Virtual Conference

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) held this virtual conference on January 21, 2021 to examine issues affecting digital content.  Traditional business models are being strained, so many other considerations must be considered.  Speakers addressed sharing digital content and the effect of copyright laws, including fair use;  perpetual access to books and digital access to them;  consortial approaches to sharing;  controlled digital lending and its implementation;  and the Internet Archive and digital content.

See the full report at  

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 (  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 50 years.


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