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Transformative times for scholarly publishing at SSP 2o23

What a whirlwind week at the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s Annual Meeting. We sat down to try and share the highlights of this conference, and it's hard to get it all into one blog! So instead of trying to sum up every session we attended, or every inspiring conversation we had, here’s a list of superlatives.

Most thought-provoking question

All of the sessions sparked many questions for us, and there’s never quite enough time to ask them all. One question has stayed with us. In a session on research integrity, featuring stories of publishers facing mass retractions, paper mills, and other threats to integrity, one attendee asked: 

While we embrace transparency in facing research integrity, and in fact its critical within our publishing community, how do we address the fact that public acknowledgment of research fraud or misconduct has a negative impact on the public’s trust in science? 

There’s a lot of nuance in this question. We need to be transparent about misconduct, and embrace the fact that retractions are a powerful testament to our commitment to an always-improving scientific record. But outside of the research community, how do we communicate the context of these changes, without damaging trust? And further, what information do we withhold about research fraud so bad actors don’t get any new ideas? 

There are no easy answers, but we remain committed to transparency and the importance of communication and collaboration across stakeholders.


Session most likely to get stuck in your head

This one is easy: it has to be Metadata the Musical! Big congratulations to everyone brave enough to get up on stage and sing about Persistent Identifiers. Some favorite songs included “How do you solve a problem like metadata?” and “Sweet Peer Review,” sung to the tunes of The Sound of Music's "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" and Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline." 

But songs and costumes aside, this session was also a really interesting look at the role of semantics and metadata in publishing infrastructure and maintaining a clear and consistent scientific record. Without tools like these, we limit our ability to uphold research integrity.


Future leaders of the scholarly publishing conversation

Here’s where we try to sum up some of the common threads of the conference. It turns out, the title of the conference says it all: trust, transparency, and transformation. 

The value of research lies in its trustworthiness. That trustworthiness comes from the way scholarly communication is set up to validate, evaluate, and build discourse around each new idea. But that trust can falter, especially in a polarized world, without transparency. We had several interesting conversations about retractions: their critical importance to transparency within the scientific community and the powerful statement they make about the iterative nature of science overall, against the public risk of those retractions when their importance is reduced to a headline about fraud or misconduct. 

Whether we are talking about retractions, or image manipulation (another area well covered by Wednesday’s amazing keynote), there were many questions about how we proactively pursue research integrity as an industry. Everyone, from the author to the editors and reviewers to the publisher, has a stake in this issue. We expect to continue these conversations for years as we harness the power of technology to identify issues of misconduct at unprecedented rates, while confronting the systemic issues that drive fraud in the first place.


Most memorable moment

The most memorable moment was maybe not a single moment, but instead a similar line of thinking that kept reappearing and reinforcing itself throughout the conference. 

We are finally at a turning point, where the publishing community is willing to embrace vulnerability and address research integrity challenges in a collaborative, transparent way. The willingness to ‘look under the hood’ and get a holistic view of how pervasive paper mills are, or the degree of invalid research that’s out there is inspiring. This commitment will lead to innovation: new ideas that breathe new life into legacy publishing infrastructure and workflows. 

(A runner up for most memorable moment has to be when the Morressier team stumbled into Powells Bookstore and spent an hour or so listening to a poetry slam. An incredibly inspiring way to end our day on Friday!)


Most likely to succeed

We left SSP with renewed enthusiasm in everything happening in scholarly publishing, so we’re confident that everyone will succeed. The innovation, the ideas, and the passion of this community is truly amazing. With the right stakeholders at the table, and the right collaborations in place, we're ready and able to collectively bring this industry into the future. 

We would be remiss if we didn’t congratulate our team at Morressier, on top of all the attendees. We are so proud to say that we won the People’s Choice Award for Innovations in Scholarly Publishing on Friday at the Previews Session for our Research Integrity Suite. Check out more in our video about these dashboards:

HubSpot Video

It was exciting as always to share a few days with our colleagues and peers across the industry. See you all next time, and if you'd like to learn more about our Research Integrity Suite and didn't manage to stop by the booth, you can get in touch here

guide to research integrity