It can take months or even years for research to go from ideation to publication, with the vast majority of findings generated along the way often restricted to the offline world — hidden in printed posters, computer files, and the pages of lab notebooks. Thankfully, this is starting to change as the scholarly ecosystem gains an increased appreciation of the value of early-stage research and recognizes how much knowledge goes missing when these findings aren’t shared. SPIE is a frontrunner in identifying the need for increased visibility and dissemination of early-stage research. We interviewed Patrick Franzen, Publications and Platform Director at SPIE, to discover how the team went about developing an early-stage research strategy with Morressier and why they believe it is so important to elevate this research.
Morressier: Tell me a bit about your organization?
Patrick Franzen: SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, is an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science, engineering, and technologies. We have an active membership of roughly 20,000 individuals, but we prefer to focus more broadly on our full community of nearly 255,000 global constituents. Our focus is bringing people together and organize and sponsor approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions, and educational programs annually. The biggest of these, Photonics West, attracts more than 20,000 attendees. We also publish 11 peer reviewed journals, have a large books program, run many educational courses as well as a variety of other programs for the optics and photonics community.
Additionally, we embrace our not-for-profit status and mission, and completely embrace our status by supporting the community in the form of scholarships and awards, outreach and advocacy programs, travel grants, public policy, and education resources. In 2019, SPIE provided over $5.6 million in community support.
Morressier: What inspired the SPIE team to review their early-stage research strategy?
Franzen: SPIE has a long history of publishing early-stage research in the SPIE Digital Library. We present 5,000 – 6,000 posters annually through our conference program and currently capture most of this research through proceedings papers later on in the publication process. We have not been able to capture the posters themselves, however, and this represents a real loss of important scientific research and accompanying discourse. Plus, clearly not everyone can attend all conferences in person – and some cannot attend even one. So, there’s an issue of accessibility as well. SPIE has been working to preserve this early-stage research or “gray” material for a long time. Being able to now preserve poster presentations through our partnership with Morressier is an extension of the work we have already been doing, and a development we’re excited to offer our community.
Morressier: How are you incorporating Morressier’s services into your workflow and portfolio?
Franzen: We see Morressier as a fantastic enhancement to the onsite meeting experience. First, through the SPIE conference app, attendees will be able to preview posters ahead of time and fully organize their onsite experience in away that best meets their scheduling needs. But even more exciting, attendees will not need to physically be in the room during the poster presentation. Some of our meetings are very large, logistically spanning multiple convention center halls, plus adjacent hotels. It can be a challenge for attendees to beat a session in person, or there may be multiple sessions they want to attend happening at the same time. It’s part of the reason why we record conference sessions—so attendees can view those they missed at a later time.
With the Morressier integration, we can set up digital kiosks at SPIE meetings to allow attendees to interact with the poster sessions from anywhere.We think this will revolutionize the experience for attendees. In addition, it will provide a lot more visibility for the authoring researcher, giving them the opportunity to engage with more attendees before, during, and after the conference.
We will be looking to start digitally capturing and publishing posters from one of SPIE’s conferences later this summer or early fall.
Morressier: What is your advice for other organizations that are looking for a digital solution for their meetings?
Franzen: Involve your volunteers and leadership and do what you can to ensure your community will embrace this approach. I would also advise anyone looking at this to think outside of the meeting itself. It’s a holistic solution with many extended applications. For instance, data and analytics from conference content allows for a better understanding of your publications program’s future.