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Top 5 Publishing Insights’ Takeaways from the Society for Scholarly
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Column: Minutes of Meeting

Author: Na Ma

Title: Top 5 Publishing Insights’ Takeaways from the Society for Scholarly Publishing Meeting 2019

Address: San Diego, California

Date: May 29th , 2019


On May 29th, the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP)held the 41stAnnual Meeting in the beautiful city of San Diego, California, which focused on global perspectives in scholarly publishing. The conference was open to the public and SSP members, with approximately 200 people in attendance. The conference included insightful programs, peer-to-peer dialogues, and inclusive networking opportunities.



Keynote Speaker Betsy Beaumon, CEO, Benetech, giving a speech on why inclusion matters to technology and why technology matters to inclusion.


Betsy Beaumon, CEO, Benetech, spoke about how technology is changing the expectations of consumers, the geographic reach of solutions, and the very definition of publishing. Betsy is a social entrepreneur and engineer, who is committed to creating inclusive access to the world’s information through software that is built for social good.



Attending the New Member Breakfast on the first day of the meeting.


During the day, conference participants had the opportunity to choose among various sessions to attend. Topics focused on external pressures on publishing, going to market, tools and technology, publishing on a smaller scale, and non-traditional aspects of publishing. Here's a quick rundown of the top five sessions I attended and what I learned from each:


Session 1 Independent-Publisher Planning for Plan S: The Findings of a Multi-Publisher Workshop


The session on Plan S and its impact on the scholarly community was among the most popular. The goal of Plan S is to make all scholarly publications immediately available through Open-Access, starting in 2021. Rich Dodenhoff, Susan King, Karen Halm, Dana Compton and John Sack provided an overview of the Plan S and some of the unique challenges we are facing in its planning and implementation. The realization of Plan S will usher in a substantial change in the landscape of scholarly communication, with significant impact on the current publishing models. There has been a broad spectrum of concerns expressed by publishers, scientists, institutions, and other publishing-related bodies. The immediate problem, however, is finding a path to take that will address everyone’s concerns while effectively supporting success of the Plan S objectives. It is truly a team-work approach that is needed to move forward productively.


Session 2 Exposing the Scholarly Record in Post-Trust World


There has been increased demand for open workflows in recent years due to the rapid growth of academic publishing. The speakers Natalia Ortuzar from Wiley, Jessica Polka from ASAPBio, Jennifer Sanders from IOP Publishing and Alberto Pepe from Atypon shared their experiences on making positive changes to support and advance the open science movement. My takeaway from this session is that the idea of open and transparent publishing workflows can greatly promote research integrity and ethics, thereby improving the reproducibility and validity of research findings throughout the various science disciplines.


Session 3 It Takes a Village: Developing a New Publication from Conception to Infancy


The requirements and efforts to launch a new publication in the academic community are complex. The speakers Jeremy Nielsen from the Radiological Society of North America, Darla Henderson from American Chemical Society (ACS) Publications and Sarah Andrus from Oxford University Press shared their experiences on recent journal launches and their insights and suggestions for starting a successful new publication. My takeaway from this session is that the work requires input and effort of a team—members of the editorial board, editorial office, marketing team and other departments. There are different strategies for the pre-launch and post-launch efforts, each of which nurture the idea and promote the visibility at these particular steps. It is essential, at every step, to work within the framework of the primary goal for launching any new title into the realm of literature.


Session 4 Building a Brand on “Concrete Research” – How Smaller Publishers Maximize Their Niche


Our ways of accessing information have changed dramatically since the establishment of media-on-demand. This new means of content availability allows small publishers to overcome the barrier of their size and turn it into a strength for capturing their particular audience effectively. The speakers Lauren Kane from BioOne, Rachel Zillig from ICE Publishing and Sophie Mohin from Mary Ann Liebert shared how they play to their publishers’ strengths, build their brands, and overcome the historical limitations of their relative sizes. My takeaway from this session is that the key to sustaining a publishing model for the small- to medium-size publishers is to find their niche of focused interest and play to their strengths.


Session 5 Exploring New Journal Communication Formats: Insight and Experiences from the Launch of New Multimodal Offerings


Scientific communication is more than just publication of manuscripts. Publishers are always striving to provide value-added features to the journal’s offerings. The speakers Trina Arpin from Cell Press, Joe Puskarz from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Randy Townsend from the American Geophysical Union shared their challenges and actionable solutions in launching new communication initiatives that will promote journal content in new communication formats, for example, the Video Abstract from the American Academy of Pediatrics. My takeaway from this session is that a foundation of careful planning is necessary to provide traction for the launch of new features/products. Ultimately, the final product will be influenced by the output complexity, the organization’s resources, and how much the author can contribute to the process.


Wrapping up my experience at the 41stSSP Annual Meeting, my two insightful and knowledge-enhancing days were made possible by the SSP committee members working diligently behind the scenes to ensure a productive and interesting conference. I strongly encourage early-career fellows to apply to the SSP Fellowship Programand hope to see some familiar faces next year at the 42ndSSP annual meeting.