ISMTE’s annual conferences are ideal spots for editors, managing editors, and publishing professionals to come together to share ideas and learn about what’s going on in the world of editorial management and peer review. This year’s US meeting, held from August 20-21st in Baltimore, was the society’s largest yet, with over 200 attendees. Each year, there are a number of recurring themes that cover the hot topics and issues affecting the work of editors, reviewers, and managing editors across the globe. Below are just a few of the highlights:
A number of sessions centered around publication ethics, whether focused on authors, reviewers, editors, or publishers and staff. This year’s conference kicked off with a keynote from Jeffrey Beall. Dr. Beall is an associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado who’s led a years-long quest against “predatory publishing,” a blanket term covering unethical publishers and authoring services. These services flood the academic marketplace, and are tracked by Dr. Beall in his blog. The keynote sparked a lot of debate about the growing number of ethical cases and retractions, as well as the future of open access publishing.
Dr. Beall was also part of a panel on how to combat predatory publishing practices. Don Samulack, of Editage, announced the beginning of a Coalition for Responsive Publication Resources as a possible cross-publishing solution meant to validate ethical publishers and vendors.
Another ethics session, led by Kathleen Lyons, from Nature Publishing Group, and Debra Parrish, from Parrish Law Offices, focused on coordinating a journal’s best practices with legal requirements. One of the key takeaways was the suggestion for editorial offices to be prudent with wording. From a legal perspective, “We strictly follow COPE guidelines” is much more restrictive than “We generally follow COPE guidelines” when it comes to particularly troubling cases. The session reminded us of the importance of being careful about exactly what makes it into public author guidelines.
Public relations and author marketing
There were also several sessions on the growing importance of public relations and author marketing. Alice Northover, from Oxford University Press, and Charlie Rapple, from Kudos, gave a fascinating presentation about the different tools Kudos provides to authors to help support themselves, as well as the role publishers and public relations play in getting articles out to the mainstream media and public. The first half of the talk centered around some of the tools publishers have to help market journals and authors, as well as some of the misconceptions around public relations, social media, and advertising. During the second half, Charlie spoke about Kudos and how it allows authors to share publications through e-mail and social media, enrich content by adding contextual links, and measure downloads, citations, and altmetrics.
Dr. Audrey Huang’s plenary address, entitled “Science Out of the Box” was a really helpful demonstration of how labs at Johns Hopkins University are using toys to explain complex medical and chemical concepts to a non-medical audience. These videos can raise public awareness and be a potential link for funders. During this year’s Speed Networking session, conference attendees were encouraged to create and record their own Out of the Box video to explain a peer review concept.
With the growing influx of Chinese scholars serving, as authors, editors, and reviewers, China is annually a large part of the ISMTE discussion. This year, Xianyong Yin, from UNC-Chapel Hill, and Yan Shuai, from Tsinghua University Press, shared insights on the publishing environment in China. The presenters spoke at length about the author and reviewer experience in China and how they interact with journals. One thing that really stood out here was that there are over 5,000 STM journals based out of China. About 80% of these aren’t published by traditional publishers, but by research institutes, universities, and societies. The presenters also spoke about a project led by CAST (China Association for Science and Technology) called PIIJ (Project for Enhancing International Impact of China STM Journals). PIIJ is a centralized initiative to increase the scope of English language journals based in China through better promotion of content and collaboration with international scholars, among other initiatives.
The prevalence of predatory publishing in China was a popular discussion point, following on from Dr. Beall’s keynote. As Chinese scholars are often the target of paper mills and other unethical practices, vigilance and increased awareness on the part of all peer review management professionals will help create consistency and allow Chinese scholars to continue to flourish in the academic publishing world.
Aside from these sessions, ISMTE also offers networking opportunities as well as an Exchange Forum where managing editors can put their burning questions to their peers. Of particular note, this year were questions about best practices for running iThenticate similarity reports and how often to run them, as well as thoughts on validating author and reviewer e-mail accounts. Responses were all over the map, but they did give attendees a lot to think about. These forums are always fascinating, and this year’s topics ranged from plagiarism checks to authenticating reviewers. For the past two years, ISMTE has partnered with COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics). COPE now offers a one-day seminar the day before the ISMTE conference. Because ethical issues are such a huge part of peer review management, it’s a natural fit and this year’s COPE seminar was an excellent addition to the week. Hopefully this partnership will continue at future conferences.
With the next US conference already set for August 2016 in Philadelphia, and the next COPE/ISMTE European conference scheduled for October 12-13, 2015, along with the first ever Asian ISMTE conference in April 2016, there are plenty of opportunities for peer review management professionals across the globe to see what the society has to offer. As someone who’s been an attendee of the meetings for the past five years, the learning and networking opportunities are invaluable.
Image Credit/Source:International Society of Managing & Technical Editors