Reflecting on The Society for Scholarly Publishing Conference

I spent a glorious bit of time in my hometown of San Francisco attending the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s 35th annual meeting in early June as one of the student travel grant winners. As anyone who’s attended a conference can surely attest, sometimes it is all you can do to take relevant notes, make it to the next session on time, and keep a grasp on the business cards you’re trading – so now that it has been a couple of weeks, I wanted to take the opportunity and reflect on some of the key points as I didn’t have the chance to during the actual conference:

Classroom by
Education by Chris Matthews for The Noun Project, 2012 CC0

MOOCs (if they stick around) are going to be huge for faculty, publishers, and librarians :

The plenary session that kicked off the first full day of conferences focused on massive open online courses (with which the University of Michigan is quite heavily engaged). As I detailed during one of my liveblogging posts during the conference, professors currently undertaking MOOCs are facing notable challenges, including gathering open(ish) content, the time necessary to adapt courses to the online platforms, and measuring the impacts on both student participants and the benefits for professors themselves. Most of the companies involved with MOOCs currently, Coursera, edX, and Udacity, are all just two years old (isn’t that insane?). They, and the entire concept of the MOOC itself, is still very much undergoing an evolutionary process. It is, I think, also an immense opportunity for librarians to get involved with faculty in a very tangible way. We have the expertise on locating sources and instruction – we can leverage it within this context as well.

Diversity is Great, or, Not Everyone Agrees on Open Access:

Open Access LockNormally when I go to a conference, it is comprised of a very specific subset of people – medical librarians, special librarians, etc. – SSP was a departure from that norm, and a very interesting one! I do not have much of an opportunity to interact with vendors or publishers in the course of my daily responsibilities as a University Library Associate at THL, so having publishers, consultants, and librarians at SSP was a bit of a revelation! I had some fascinating conversations with librarians who aren’t as gung-ho about open access as I am, and hearing that not all publishers were entirely against it. We clearly have a long road to travel before there is consensus, but I am hopeful solely to have found that venues like the SSP annual meeting exist, where we can come together and have open communication.

Altmetrics are Cool, But No One’s Got a Handle on them Quite Yet:

Bar graph 2012 by Ben King from The Noun Project, CC0
Bar graph 2012 by Ben King from The Noun Project, CC0

In a theme that very clearly connected my experience at the Medical Library Association conference in May with SSP, altmetrics was again a hot topic. In a very, very broad overview – there are lots of tools that can help look at alternative metrics (such as bookmarks, downloads, tweets, blog posts, etc.), including but not limited to ImpactStory, Plum Analytics, Altmetric [and via Scopus]), but challenges exist in both capturing and analyzing the information efficiently. Not all researchers are convinced they are worthwhile, although that cohort seems to be diminishing. There are concerns about “gaming the metrics,” though buying fake Twitter accounts for example. Then of course there is the larger question of meaning – does a retweet of an article DOI mean the same thing as a download? Does anyone read the paper? These larger conversations all need to be had, but thanks to leaders in the field, like PhD candidate Jason Priem, the movement is gaining traction and those conversations are gaining wider and wider audiences. Follow the conversation online through the #altmetrics hashtag. Also, to tie in the conference and altmetrics, check out this analysis of the #2013ssp Twitter stream.

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