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SSP 2023 Day One

by | Jun 5, 2023 | 0 comments

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by Leah Hinds, Executive Director, Charleston Hub

The Society for Scholarly Publishing’s 45th annual meeting took place May 31 – June 2 in Portland, OR. The agenda was jam-packed with great content and opportunities for networking.

Day One: Wednesday, May 31:

The registration check-in area was located in the large lobby area outside of the exhibit hall. The posters were also located in this area, which was dominated by a huge Foucault pendulum swinging above our heads from the high ceiling. The check-in process was quick and easy, and once I had my badge I was ready to go attend sessions.

Registration check-in area and entrance to the Exhibit Hall.
Foucault’s Pendulum

Wednesday’s programming started with an afternoon of Industry Breakout Sessions. These sponsored sessions are a great way to catch up with the latest case studies, advice, and expertise from industry thought leaders.

DataSeer: Open Your Research Toolkit: Following introductory remarks from Heather Staines and Adrian Stanley, Tim Vines showed how DataSeer can help promote Open Research by monitoring and showcasing research outputs. Tim used a slice of cake as a metaphor for all the different pieces that go together to form an article. However, for the last three steps of the research process, the “cake” is missing.

On average, funders spend $200-300k per piece of research, but most outputs never become public and money is wasted. Missing outputs harm science – researchers can’t verify articles without data and code, can’t repeat the research, can’t join/link outputs without metadata. The solution – ensure all data outputs become public at time of publication, made more urgent recently with the OSTP memo and the NIH DSMP. For the last part of the presentation, Tim had an interview/conversation with Marcel LaFlamme, Open Research Manager at PLOS, about their use case with the Open Science Indication.

Ex Ordo: Purpose, Pressure, Persistence: 6 Things We Learnt about the State of Scholarly Events

Paul Killoran, Founder and CEO of Ex Ordo, opened the session with some background about the company and it’s transformation starting with the events of 2020. “Events have always been the true social network of Academia,” he said, and he feels strongly that some things can never be digitized: love and when two researchers meet over a beer.

Laura Harvey, Chief Customer Officer, joined in February and jumped in by starting with a project to interview scholarly societies to build a picture of what are their challenges and opportunities today. Six key insights:

  1. Maintaining and growing membership was a core concern. One key way of doing this is through great events.
  2. Widespread lack of integrated systems – many manual workarounds, different providers for different stages. Challenges in having those providers “talk to each other.” Integrating events workflow into wider systems.
  3. Overstretched teams – not enough time to spend enough time making sure their events are high quality.
  4. Service providers need to have robustness, reliability and support.
  5. Moving away from “fully hybrid.” Some sort of hybrid or blended events, secondary to in-person approach.
  6. Gaining insight into events in challenging – granular analytics but also wider insights- how many people signed up after the event. What do we do with the insights? Customer problems/pain points that stood out were staff bandwidth, integrations, and support. Ex Ordo’s focus will be on powerful time and stress-saving event tech, flexible integrations, and dedicated support.

Laura then handed things back over to Paul for a big announcement. Ex Ordo has secured a $3 million investment to enhance scholarly conference platform. They deliberately stayed away from VC culture, since they wanted investors that would understand their company values and not just look for a massive “unicorn” to flip the world on it’s head. Paul Peters, board chair and significant investor, spoke about the announcement and plans to scale up the company with new hires planned in the near future.

The Opening Keynote was titled “Double Trouble: Inappropriate Image Duplications in Biomedical Publications” by Dr. Elizabeth Bik. Dr. Bik is an image forensics detective who left her paid job in industry to search for and report biomedical articles that contain errors or data of concern. She has done a systematic scan of 20,000 papers in 40 journals and found that about 4% of these contained inappropriately duplicated images.

Dr. Elizabeth Bik. Photo by Melanie Dolechek in the Whova App.

Dr. Bik defined different types of scientific misconduct, ranging from accidental to intentional/malicious, but also acknowledged that behind each misconduct case is a sad story. There are many reasons why a scientist might commit fraud – an ECR bullied by senior supervisor, a researcher on a Visa, etc. There are multiple names on a paper, and though it isn’t always clear who is responsible, all authors will be damaged.

Example of an image duplication with alteration

According to Dr. Bik, most journals are very slow to respond. 65.5% of issues have had no action taken 5 years after being reported, and only 0.3% have issued an expression of concern. This would be a quick way to respond pending further investigation. She closed the presentation with a list of take-home ideas and a wish list:

Four Take Home Thoughts: 1. Science is about discovering the truth. Misconduct goes against that. 2. It takes a village: reviewers, journals, institutions, Funders. 3. How can we distinguish fake from real? AI helps, generates 4. Tremendous cost of science misconduct (scientist trying to reproduce fake papers, science as a whole)

Wish List: 1. Please use expressions of concern much more generously than they are being used. 2. Journals would make more use of the PubPeer dashboard or make it easier to contact the editors, contact person at every journal. 3. Legal access to journals. Unpaid, don’t have access through a university.

Following the opening keynote there was a welcome reception and grand opening for the exhibit hall. That’s a wrap for Day One! More tomorrow.

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