by Heather Staines (Director of Community Engagement and Senior Consultant, Delta Think)
Against the Grain v34#3
On May 1-3, over one hundred and thirty attendees gathered at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown to conduct their first in person meeting since spring 2019. In a scaled down program designed to be “right-sized” for the smaller audience, in person, mixed offering, and remote sessions covered topics of perennial interest such as peer review, journal editorial policies, and new technologies, as well as newer subjects around diversity, equity and inclusion, new formats, and transitioning journals to OA. Co-chairs Kelly Hadsell (Federation of State Medical Boards) and Heather Staines (Delta Think) emerged tired but pleased by the reception of the long-awaited event. Next up, all session recordings are now available to in person registrants and virtual attendees, followed by some interactive sessions in the coming summer.
Due to budgetary constraints, we decided not to do a synchronous hybrid meeting, but to focus instead on capturing presentations and session interaction as smoothly as possible. The technical support staff were responsive, and, most importantly, did not make any of the moderators or speakers feel technically challenged when moving things along. When planning events in our present circumstances, you can’t have too much technical support. Attendees remarked about how well things played out and thankfully had little awareness of the rapidly changing behind-the-scenes developments to accommodate shifting presenter circumstances both onsite and online.
We were fortunate to have two wonderful plenary sessions. The opening keynote was given by Ms. Zoe Swann, a PhD candidate in Neuroscience at nearby Arizona State University, who spoke about non-traditional science communication (and played two songs she had written to demonstrate the effectiveness of her strategies). In addition to being a powerful speaker and talented performer, Zoe developed a low-cost effective treatment to help non-verbal stroke patients regain their speech.
Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Roger Schonfeld of Ithaka S+R kicked off day two of the meeting with a presentation focused on key trends in scholarly communications, which aligned well with the content for the meeting. Their joint presentation helped attendees peek beyond the immediate horizon to consider how their work connects with the wider scholarly ecosystem, including libraries, publishers, and technology vendors.
From a personal standpoint, I most enjoyed seeing folks “in real life.” We scaled back the meeting space to coincide with the lower attendance, and things felt roomy but not sparse. With attendees required to provide proof of vaccination and to wear masks, the safeguards put in place operated as they were intended. One attendee notified the organizers (and close contacts) of a positive test and immediately quarantined, and any concerned participants were offered free testing as well as the option of attending the second day by Zoom. To my knowledge, no additional positive cases were reported.
In addition to organizing interactive sessions around the recorded meeting content, CSE will continue to offer a virtual component in the Fall Symposium, which is designed to be a more intimate and interactive online experience. By creating a variety of in person and online offerings, CSE hopes to meet the needs of members and non-members alike.