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Charleston In Between Conference Report

by | Apr 11, 2024 | 0 comments

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Note: Access to recordings of these sessions are now available (see below for links)!

By Christine Anderson

The Charleston In Between conference brought together academic librarians, large and small publishers, and service and product vendors for two half-days of open dialogue around Publishing Integrity. 

Held virtually over March 19th and 20th, the gathering of diverse industry professionals took a deep dive into the critical issue of publishing integrity within academic and scientific research. With engaging presentations and insightful discussions, the conference provided a platform for examining challenges, exploring solutions, and fostering collaboration within the scholarly publishing community.

Day One Highlights:

Setting the stage with thought-provoking discussions, Mohammad Hosseini, Assistant Professor at Northwestern University’s Department of Preventive Medicine, delivered a compelling keynote address on the importance of integrity in research and publishing. He pointed out that research integrity is not just about the person, it’s about the institution.

Institutions should offer stewardship, respect for everyone involved, enable support systems, promote interaction between trainees and mentors, and advocate rules regarding all aspects of research. There is so much information available, it can be difficult for researchers, students and educators to find the resources needed. Investing in technology and systems that can sift through to find the relevant information are increasingly important.

Curtis Brundy, Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Communication and Collections at Iowa State University, explored the role of institutions and libraries in upholding research integrity. He gave a knockout session on battling paper mills, along with a powerful call to action for librarians to join the movement of sleuthing and bounty hunting through platforms like PubPeer, which is monitored by publishers to ensure integrity.

It’s been the volunteer sleuths and Retraction Watch who are really holding the line and the field needs libraries to take on active roles to help clean up published work. Just sleuthing works cited sections can help—and librarians may earn a few Amazon gift cards in the process through incentive programs. 

Nandita Quaderi, SVP and Editor-in-Chief at Web of Science at Clarivate presented on How to Define Integrity Standards in Publishing with Integrity. She underscored the responsibility of everyone in the field to protect publishing integrity. 

There can be tens of thousands of journals at a time, which means it can be like looking for needles in a haystack. “We are spending more and more time on evaluating journals…All of our effort is on protecting this wall of publishing integrity,” Nandita said. 

She also pointed out that publishers are not penalized for transparency when issues are discovered. Publications are embargoed from the Web of Science for two years to give them time to clean up their work and show their work on retractions and policy changes. The industry needs to destigmatize retractions, which will encourage the spread of responsibility in publishing integrity.

Day Two Highlights:

The second day of the conference delved deeper into the challenges and solutions surrounding publishing integrity within the scholarly community. 

John Chen, Director of Development at Tech Science Press, offered perspectives from a small publisher. He shed light on the struggles small publishers face from the threats of paper mills. Because paper mills are constantly evolving, it makes facing them an even bigger challenge.

Michael Streeter, Director of Research Integrity & Publishing Ethics at Wiley, shared insights from a large publisher’s standpoint. Michael said there cannot be conversation around publishing integrity without discussing generative AI. He highlighted the need for scalable solutions and collaboration between researchers, institutions, and publishers. 

Though AI has certainly been front and center in the discussion of publishing of late, humans play our own role. There is an ongoing need for more open dialogue settings to discuss the pressures researchers feel to publish and the role differences in global cultures play. More attention is needed to this human factor and not just the technological one.

Martin Delahunty, Company Director at Inspiring STEM Consulting, emphasized this importance of the human factor in maintaining integrity in publishing. Industry professionals need to be granular in how to track retractions. There needs to be a differentiation between papers where there is a genuine mistake made from those of intentional fraud. 

Phill Jones, Co-founder of the MoreBrains Cooperative, examined the potential of technology in addressing integrity issues. Overall, predatory publishing practices went unchecked for too long due to a lack of synchronicity across the industry in what these were and what they looked like. 

It is clear now that no publishing model is immune to fraudulent data publishing. Some targeted journals show as many as 46% of published articles were generated by paper mills. While Large language models have lowered the cost of creating models to generate text, they have also made it more difficult to detect. 

There were a couple of overarching themes throughout the two days of discussion. 

  1. The underlying problem of priority of publication over high-quality, rigorous research.
  2. The need for more judgment-free spaces to have further open dialogue around researcher use of paper mills. 

The conference concluded with a lively series of power pitches, featuring innovative solutions and initiatives aimed at promoting integrity in publishing. Performing these pitches were Neil Christensen of Morressier; Gareth Dyke of Reviewer Credits; John Willinsky of Public Knowledge Project; and Elliott Lumb of Signals. 

Access the Presentations:

For those who missed the conference or wish to revisit the presentations, videos of the speakers are available for viewing:

Charleston In Between provided a valuable forum for industry professionals to come together, share insights, and explore strategies for upholding integrity in research and publishing. As we continue to navigate the evolving landscape of scholarly communication, the conversations sparked at this conference will undoubtedly inform and inspire future endeavors.

For more information about the conference and future events, please visit Charleston-Hub.com.

Report compiled by Christine Anderson.

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