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[ FUTURE OF PUBLISHING ] June 22, 2022

What I learned at the Society for Scholarly Publishing conference

By Paul Griffin, Director of Field Engagement & Special Projects

The Morressier team gathered at the start of June in Chicago for the Society for Scholarly Publishing conference. It was my first time attending, and I learned too many things to list in this blog (not least of which were some amazing Chicago facts from urban historian Dilla Thomas). It was exhilarating to see so many innovative approaches to publishing and virtual collaboration and to share our perspectives as well. Here are takeaways from some of my favorite sessions.

It was the first time back in person for many in the industry, and I enjoyed watching people remember how to interact with trade shows and meet old friends for the first time in over two years. We held a Nightcap lounge for attendees to stop by after dinner and wind down or relax after a long day of sessions. The Morressier team made plenty of new friends over the course of the three day conference.

Research information needs to be more accessible

In her keynote address, Dr. Jenny Heinberg spoke on important trends in the research world and how science has evolved over time. We’re seeing a shift from the rigorous means of traditional research publishing to a more seamless approach that accelerates the dissemination of information. Now, transparency, reproducibility of content, peer review, and content quality checks have never been easier.


Ethical science communication 

The world-class speakers in this session left us fully energized with the challenges, opportunities, and turning points for progress in how the publishing industry shares information with the wider world. Here are a few of the key topic takeaways from all three speakers.

Publishers need to find ways to communicate uncertainty that doesn’t undermine trust in the scientific process. A big part of this is the replication crisis and looking within our industry to rethink what objectivity really means in the scholarly publishing world today. Researchers need to learn how to craft a story around their scientific study because it’s crucial to improving the value of the work. Storytelling is an underrated skill and is needed to attract relevant audiences.


Emerging products in non-traditional formats

Non-traditional formats are what Morressier is all about, especially if those formats are video collections. So we were excited to hear more. Non-traditional research content formats are usually hard to access, preserve or catalog, making it more challenging to monetize, diversify revenue and meet the needs of members who own these research.

The questions that led this discussion included: Do researchers need publishers if they already have an audience? How do we index non-traditional research formats? Why is it so important to archive conference research and make it digitally searchable? These are all questions that the Morressier team thinks about every day. 


Digital accessibility in publishing

In this session, Todd Marquis Boutin, Senior Director of Accessibility, Straive, talked about the roles and responsibilities of digital publishers in improving content accessibility. He spoke on how assistive technologies can be vital in driving more accessibility in digital publishing. Additionally, organizations need to start an accessibility journey and select the right publishing partners in a bid to make research work accessible to all, including people with disabilities.


Disrupted journal production workflows

The two speakers in this session provided more insights on the industry trends shaking up the publishing sector. 

One theme that ran throughout was the need for flexibility. Publishers need the flexibility of services that can plug and play, pluggable into APIs like Orcid, cross ref, etc. They also talked about the flexibility of microservices, discrete pieces of software to solve one small problem. And while that may be helpful when it comes to specific steps in the process, we think the value of integrated and comprehensive technology solutions cannot be overlooked. Production workflows need to be simplified: IDs upstream in the process, more disclosures, and HTML workflows rather than PDF. 

Adopting new software in the publishing industry is often met with skepticism. But as the quantity of research grows each year, scalable solutions are essential for saving time and money. Quality has to be maintained, even as quantity grows.


The future of annual meetings and scholarly communications

In this session, speakers spoke about the big trends in the world of conference hosting, monetizing virtual events, and strategies needed to advance scholarly communication. Topics are obviously near and dear to our hearts at Morressier. The challenges and opportunities in hybrid conferencing and the need to rethink the approach to content quality took center stage in this discussion.


Lessons from Entrepreneurship in Scholarly Communications

In this last session, speakers discussed the entrepreneurship opportunities of scholarly communications and the challenges of new startups in the publishing industry. From finding the pain points to solve and building credibility to sourcing capital and building relationships, there's a need for a more proactive approach to making your business ideas a successful reality.



It was a whirlwind of a few days. I learned a lot about the challenges and opportunities facing scholarly communications and returned home full of ideas. The heart of what we do here at Morressier is to accelerate research breakthroughs by transforming virtual collaboration (at conferences or in content collections) and streamlining publishing workflows. It was clear to me, talking with societies and associations throughout the week, that everyone is looking for new solutions and new ways of engaging their communities. Technology organizations in the society and association market are here to help, experiment, and find solutions that make sure that science is shared with the world’s learners faster and more efficiently. 

As a way to give back to the STEM Community and Chicago, Morressier partnered with a local STEM non profit organization, Girls 4 Science. For every person who stopped by our stand, we agreed to donate $1 to the organization. I am happy to report that Morressier had more than 800 people engage with us, and we've rounded that up to $1,000 in donations to Girls 4 Science.

View of earth from space next to messaging on how infrastruture enables global community