Home 9 Blog Posts 9 Don’s Conference Notes- Creating the New Possible: Shaping the Future from Lessons Learned: The 2022 New Directions in Scholarly Publishing Seminar

Don’s Conference Notes- Creating the New Possible: Shaping the Future from Lessons Learned: The 2022 New Directions in Scholarly Publishing Seminar

by | Nov 27, 2022 | 0 comments


By Donald T. Hawkins (Freelance Editor and Conference Blogger)

This seminar (the 6th in a series) was organized by the Education Committee of the Scholarly for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) and consisted of a keynote address followed by 6 plenary sessions that discussed new directions in the following subjects of high current interest in the scholarly publishing industry:

  • Leadership (the keynote address), 
  • Career development, 
  • Open access, 
  • Publisher collaborations and access to content, 
  • Peer review, 
  • Technology, and 
  • Data science. 

It extended over 1-1/2 days on September 21 and 22 in Washington, DC and attracted 90 on-site and 125 virtual attendees (I attended virtually), which set an attendance record. 

Keynote Address: New Directions in Leadership

Rajendrani (“Raj”) Mukhopadhya

Rajendrani (“Raj”) Mukhopadhyay, VP, Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Respect, American Chemical Society (ACS) began her keynote address by noting that what worked in 2020 will not work now. We are in a period of uncertainty and difficult times, but leadership can help us get through it. There are many ways to lead; how do we do it now? ACS decided to embrace and advance inclusion in chemistry, so it created the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Respect (DEIR) which had the goals of dismantling barriers to success and creating a welcome and supportive environment in which all employees can thrive. A DEIR Educational Resources Guide provides guidance for this effort. 

This word cloud illustrates the wide variety of terms that can be used to describe leadership.

Who do we see as leaders? How do we describe styles of leadership? Do they work? Personal characteristics of leaders include compassion, heroism, assertiveness, inspiration, team builder, positive, authentic, thoughtfulness, selfless, empathy, vulnerability and willingness to take risks. Leaders must not be afraid to make decisions. Mentorship and sponsorship are very important.  Leaders must be approachable, willing to learn, and willing to speak up, but it is difficult to expose your vulnerability. Sometimes we mistake technical expertise for leadership.

Challenges leaders face today include the pandemic, social and political unrest, climate change, artificial intelligence, and inflation. Work has become divorced from location, and must be meaningful.  There must be boundaries between work and personal life.  Expectations are changing as younger generations of people enter the workforce. We need to respect our teammates and co-workers, recognize their work-life balance, and understand the difference between managers and leaders. Many leaders struggle with a lack of resources for training.  Leadership is lonely. Make sure you won’t burn out trying to reach corporate gains. People are pushing the boundaries of their job descriptions. There is a lot of risk today in visionary leadership. Think about what kind of leaders we need today.

New Directions in Career Development

The announcement of this session noted that the pandemic forced our industry to take a new direction almost overnight with an immediate transition to working from home. Although this swift transition in work culture has its benefits, it might have left some workers concerned about the future development of their careers. Without an office, how is productivity measured, and how does one continue to advance in their professional role? Most importantly, how can we continue to support each other, our colleagues, our direct reports, and our supervisors as we strive to develop and grow as professionals? 

The speakers briefly addressed career opportunities in a virtual and hybrid working environment and then participated in a group discussion.

Lily Garcia Walton, Chief People Officer, Silverchair said that we need to create a more inclusive workplace. People are redesigning their lives and thinking more about their work. Communication is important, but all people must be included for a positive impact. One way to do this is to shift to a developmental focus in performance reviews. What does success mean to you? We still have a lot to learn. 

Stacey Burke, Director, Publishing Marketing and Sales, American Physiological Society, observed that the digital portion of marketing for education let her grow her development. Her biggest issue was working from home; the IT infrastructure needs to be revamped. We must recognize that some people want to go into the office. Current leadership is taking a better approach to the working from home environment. Flexibility is very helpful. People need to be able to talk openly about their ideas, so leaders must manage meetings and make sure that everyone has a voice. 

Alison Belan, Director, Strategic Innovation and Services, Duke University Press, said that working from home has been a large positive experience because it allowed people time to weather the pandemic. Duke’s attitude is “we’re a great place to work”. Resignations have forced them to compete for new talent, so home workers have provided access to a larger talent pool. It is important to design workplaces to support a wide variety of people. 


Early career people coming into an organization recognize that we are presently in a time of transition for managers, which is a challenge for career development. When you enter an organization, you must be your own advocate and be able to say what you need or what you do not understand. Get connected with the right people and recognize how important your personal brand can be. Work hard to establish it, which is not easy for everyone. Managers and leaders can help by regularly checking individually with their staff members. 

Networking in a community is very important because we often get jobs through people we know rather than applying for them. Know yourself: what is your true purpose and why are you in an organization? Time in self-reflection is time well spent. Have a plan for where you want to end up. Organizations must get to know their people and where their talents lie. Good leaders are not afraid of change. Sometimes you must lead and show people what you are doing. 

Attending conferences is important for career development because of the opportunities they present for networking. We need to think about equitable ways to allocate the budget for this and make sure the opportunity gets spread around.  Make sure that the virtual component is available to all the early career people. 

There is still a need for all the traditional publishing skills such as copy editing etc. Analytical and process management skills are also needed. Data analysis skills are important but do not need to be complex; they can be as simple as knowing how to make a spreadsheet. 

New Directions in Open Access: Welcome to the “5-Minute Open Access University”

This session took an unusual perspective on open access (OA) and simulated a university approach. 

Heather Staines

Heather Staines, Senior Consultant, Delta Think, was the Dean and introduced the session with a presentation on “How Did We Get Here?”

Milestones: How Did We Get Here? 

After World War II, governments got involved with science and universities. Publishers began launching journals; for example, Pergamon Press went from 40 in 1959 to 150 in 1965. Access to research shifted from individual subscribers to institutional libraries, and readers disconnected from the publishers. Where you publish became important as Journal Impact Factors appeared.

Journal prices doubled between 1975 and 1985, and journals moved online, which provided enhanced access but at a higher cost. The Big Deal, launched in 1998, provided access to more journals with pricing based on an institution’s previous spending.

In 2002, OA was born with the Budapest Open Access Initiative. Commercial publishers became active, and governments got involved, mandating articles they funded through grants be published OA. By 2020, there was a push for Global Equity and the “Nelson Memo” focusing on data, robust metadata, and identifiers, was issued by the Office of Science and Technology Publishing (OSTP). As a result, we have moved from open data to open science. Here is what the future may look like:

Heather’s review was followed by the following 5 “courses”:

  • Geology 201: Metals and Gemstones (Maridath Wilson, Head of Scholarly Resources, Boston University)
  • Green OA: Requires works by faculty to be deposited in the institutional repository.
  • Bronze: There is no fee to the researcher, library, or funder, but access can be rescinded by the publisher at any time; is this OA at all?
  • Gold: Requires payment of article-level fees, and has issues of transparency because libraries do not have access to actual costs; many libraries do not have staff to process invoices.
  • Platinum/Diamond: No article-level fees. This is found mainly in the humanities and raises questions about long-term preservation.
  • Conclusions: Ongoing questions are about transparency and stability. There is no consensus on what a transformative agreement means, but libraries need to be clear. The role of consortia will be important in the future.
  • Sociology 301: Equity in the Global Content Arena (Sara Rouhi, Director of Strategic Partnerships, PLOS) said that any conversation about equity is ultimately about power. The golden rule is that whoever has the gold makes the rules! Power comes from the brute force in enmeshed systems that we cannot see. Equity means custom tools that identify and address inequality. It must start at the highest levels. Justice means fixing the system to offer equal access to tools and opportunities. Concrete things that an organization can do include examination of the ease of publishing (is gold OA the only way?), the ease of reading (how much content is closed?), and the products (do they reflect the needs of the communities served?)
  • Biology 400: Symbiotic Transformations (Moriana Molchanov Garcia, Scholarly Communications Librarian, University of Rochester) defined symbiosis: a close and sustained relationship between two different species of organisms. Not all relationships are equal, but they are profoundly affected by changes. We are currently going through an environmental change in publishing and must rethink partnerships, for example, libraries with publishers. Where on the symbiotic scale are you?
  • Business 502 (graduate-level only): Licenses and Other Legalities (Sarah Forzetting, Associate Director, Acquisitions and Collections Services, Stanford University) discussed risk management and OA license agreements from a librarian’s perspective. There is still no standard language for OA licenses. Who is responsible for evaluating the terms of a deal? Using risk management, students will be able to review and evaluate terms of a commercial OA license and assess and plan to mitigate operational risks. The license agreement defines a risk management plan; it is important to define which risk you want to manage. Guiding principles: we cannot risk manage a theory, a plan must take a systems view, and the system must not be overly complex. Information gathering is very time consuming. Librarians are used to working at a consortial level; they must provide staff and tools to manage the risks.  Discussion questions:

Environmental Sciences 600 / Capstone Project: Sustainable OA: A Case Study (Bill Moran, Publisher, AAAS/Science) said we need to unlock our potential. Capstones bring everything together. The 3 pillars of sustainability are social impact (Why do you do what you do?), economic viability (How do you fund what you do?) and the capacity to deliver now and for the future (What supports what you do?). The capstone is to optimize the scientific enterprise. Equity is important, quality matters, and quantity for profit only is not aligned with our mission.

New Directions in Publisher Collaborations and Access to Content

Allison Belan described the Scholarly Publishing Collective, which is a collaboration between nonprofit scholarly journal publishers that is managed by Duke University Press and offers a variety of services to the publishers.  Here are some of the catalysts for collaboration.

Some editors are happy their journal is OA but the problem is that OA cannot sustain them. Increased efficiency comes through standardization, so Duke began discussions with publishers about committing to be open and to be forthright about it. Books operate differently from journals; especially in the humanities, writing a book significantly enhances the author’s career. E-books are still being sold through collaborative ventures by publishers, who can ask libraries if they would be willing to contribute towards making the book open. 

Ralph Youngen, Sr. Director, Digital Strategy and Business Integration, American Chemical Society (ACS) said that publishers have been working together to build some interesting things, which has been a result of changes in their mindset. Publishers were failing to keep pace with their constituencies and with knowledge of how their products were being used. By working together they became more efficient in a non-competitive way.

Seamless access and Get Full Text Research (GetFTR) help establish key relationships between individuals and their institutions. They can even work together. We are in a time of experimentation, and we need to meet researchers where they are. Publishing on Science Direct has helped ACS by generating referrals to them. 

Andrea Lopez, Director of Sales, Partnerships, and Initiatives, Annual Reviews noted that Annual Reviews developed the Subscribe to Open (S2O) community of practice and decided not to trademark the name hoping that other publishers would adopt it. 

The community began with 14 participants and now has over 100 around the world. Currently 12 publishers are using S2O to support 95 journals, and it is expected that in 2023 there will be 15 publishers publishing 145 journals.

New Directions in Peer Review

Yael Fitzpatrick, Editorial Ethics Manager, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), discussed the ethics of peer review, starting from these initial thoughts;

  • It is preferable to deal with ethical questions before publication, 
  • The right thing to do is often not the easiest thing to do,
  • Don’t jump to conclusions,
  • Remember the difference between the research and the individuals, and
  • Empathy does not equal bias.

Ethical questions do not often occur in peer review, but in today’s widespread distrust of the truth, they are important, and it is important to handle them properly. Two big questions that need addressing are:

  • Using AI to study image forensics.  There is a feeling that it should be easy to press a button and find everything that is wrong with an image, but unfortunately, this is unrealistic.  Significant developments in AI have been made, but this is a very large and complex problem.
  • The speed of addressing ethics concerns. Because of the lack of resources, the massive number of articles being submitted, the number of people involved in processes, and a need for multiple levels of review, we cannot expect things to happen quickly and must also be aware of the consequences of the decisions being made.

What can (or should) publishers do or not do? 

  • Be as communicative as possible, especially with whistleblowers.  
  • Build partnerships. There has been a tendency for publishers to be very siloed to maintain confidentiality, which can be maintained and which is necessary in our industry, but collaboration is still possible and can be very beneficial.
  • Support efforts for improvement.
  • Materials can be subpoenaed in court, so maintenance of records is important.  The publication record should be updated appropriately.
  • Publishers are not investigative bodies, so they should not try to investigate, mediate authorship disputes, or consider intent. In many cases, publishers do not have the jurisdiction or the authority to resolve disputes. Investigating is a very time consuming activity.

John Fisher, Distinguished Professor and Department Chair at the University of Maryland discussed the role of peer review. Many experts are well suited to comment on scientific work and evaluate its significance, impact, quality, rigor, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Challenges in reviewing are the huge number of journals and requests by editors to conduct reviews. There is simply not enough time to review all the journals published. 

Reviewers must cope with challenges: too many journals, not enough time to review all of them, and unknown biases of reviews and editors (which can be combated by ensuring that everything is done anonymously). Reviews establish quality, guide scientific fields, identify those that are growing or diminishing, and help to define the future.  And scientists authoring successful articles frequently receive funding for further work. 

Paige Wooden, Sr. Program Manager, American Geophysical Union (AGU) presented an interesting bibliometric analysis of the literature of peer review. COVID had a significant effort on peer review. The number of articles with “peer review” in their title or abstract sharply increased in 2019, which can be attributed to the outbreak of COVID. 

This graph shows the fraction of articles for which invitations to review were accepted, broken down by geographical region.

Editors are feeling they need to send out more requests each year for review, and some feel women decline requests to review more than men (which is true). Do female editors invite more female reviewers than male editors? This graph shows that the difference is minimal.

When the editor is a woman, do females agree to review more?  A graph similar to this one yields the same result: no they do not, and the difference is very small.

This table summarizes current problems with peer review and possible solutions.

New Directions in Tech

This popular session kicked off the second day of the seminar. Three entrepreneurs described their products and services following which a discussion focused on changes in our industry. 

Leslie McIntosh, CEO, Ripeta, explained that “ripeta” is Italian for “repeat”. Ripeta supports trust in science by scanning author manuscripts looking for variables that indicate trust in research.

Authors receive instant feedback on the quality of their articles.

James Harwood, Founder, Penelope.ai, described how Penelope checks academic manuscripts and integrates with publishing platforms. Submitted manuscripts are subjected to over 100 checks, and marked up so that authors can make corrections.

Anita Bondrowski, CEO SciCrunch noted that SciCrunch is working with journals and using SciScore to produce a score for the journal which assists researchers, editors, and funders to improve quality and reliability of their work and perform some of the functions done by editors, such as rejecting articles with low scores. Research integrity is thus enhanced.

In the discussion period, speakers were given topics to address.

Benefits of automating MS workflows and peer review. 

Computer automating decision-making gives information to editors and authors so they can focus on what they need to do. There are always risks: some algorithms may produce output that looks like what a young researcher might do. What are people finding now that they have better tools? Automation allows functions that were previously impossible such as cross checking names, affiliations, and funders, automatically recommending journals and peer reviewers, and detecting problems that authors could not previously see. 

These tools interact with authors and the staff of publishers. Tools should be author-facing and provide feedback quickly and directly to them. Feedback can be tailored to produce different changes in behavior depending on who it is for, which will motivate authors to fill out a checklist and review and correct their work earlier in the process. 

Automation and research integrity.

Automation acts as a gatekeeper to identify plagiarism, do mass audits, work with funders, and let authors learn how to revise their articles. It also becomes a gateway to self-improvement and education. 

Science and the world have changed. We have new systems and processes. Trust in science will be lost and need to augment our systems to allow us to move forward. COVID has greatly affected publication. Its most surprising and challenging effect was an increase in the speed of publishing. 

Adoption of new technologies is a very slow process, but it allows a massive engagement with the community of authors and reviewers. People are ready to see tools in action. Researchers may not understand the publishing world, which has changed our perspective of the publishing process. Lack of communication between players in the system is surprising. We should all understand the system better. 

Ecosystems of startups and publishers.

We now have schools that will teach us how the system works. Innovation will be promoted if the technical barriers are reduced and new support systems are created to foster this process. Why do societies and publishers exist and why are they trustworthy?  Publishers should improve their willingness to try new technologies which will let the next generation see that these tools are successful.  

Where will these tools be in the next 10 years?

We will be using the data to gain insights and will see these tools becoming part of the journal workflow. The publishing system will be more diverse. Authors expect to use modern tools.

Peer review will still have a human look. AI can do a lot but not everything. We are very far away from replacing the peer review system which we may not want to do. 

The acceleration in numbers of papers being written will overwhelm the publishing system if it does not start adopting new technology. Technology is our friend. 

New Directions in Data Science and Scholarly Publishing

The final session of the seminar featured 3 speakers discussing how and why they are using data. Lillian Selonick, Assistant Managing Editor, PNAS described how data at PNAS is being used for editorial workflow optimization.  With over 21,000 articles submitted, peer review at PNAS is a major operation requiring 30 editorial staff members. An Editorial Workflow Optimization Project was launched to establish a baseline for the staff. 

Some results:

  • Qualitative data provides vital context for quantitative data,
  • Transparency is key, and
  • Organization should not be an afterthought.

Dylan Ruediger, Senior Analyst, ITHAKA S+R described data publication from the researcher’s perspective.  He noted that researchers in general understand the value of publishing research data, but they struggle to integrate it into their workflows. Some researchers are reluctant to share their data. 

Data sharing is most effective in data communities (fluid and informal networks of researchers who voluntarily share and reuse data). Reuse is important because it introduces new market dynamics.

The Nelson Memo outlines data opportunities for publishers. In it, OSTP issued guidelines for federally funded research and mandated that 

  • Data must be deposited simultaneously with publication of the article to which it applies, thus ensuring that data will get into the communities that will most use it. 
  • Researchers will now be allowed to use grant funds to pay for services to prepare the data for publication. 

Data must not only be deposited but also used, which means that it must be found by users. We must not lose sight of the communities that are actually using the data. 

Christina Drummond, Executive Director, OA Book Usage Data Trust said that the Trust, funded by the Mellon Foundation, was formed to advance the community-governed sharing of quality and interoperable data on usage of OA books. An initial report1 on OA book usage is useful.

Questions to be addressed include

  • How can we foster the open exchange of book data? 
  • How is that data being used? 
  • Where is it coming from? 
  • What standards are applied to it? 

Organizations expect to integrate data into their operations, so it must be of high quality. They also need to know how to interpret the data. 

We need community agreement on the meaning of data sharing, and we need to create standards. Data creator partners are being sought for a pilot project.  Most organizations have an IT person, but what about a data person (Chief Data Officer)? Engaging with people who are actually in communities is critical. _____________________

The 2023 New Directions seminar has been scheduled for October 4-5.


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.

  1.  Hawkins, K and O’Leary, B, “Exploring Open Access E-Book Usage”, http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/8rty-5628


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