Highlights of the 2015 ISMTE Annual Meeting

Conferences

by Deric Corlew, VP of Business Development at Research Square

Two weeks ago, a few of my colleagues from Research Square and I attended the 8th annual North American Conference of the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors (ISMTE) in Baltimore, Maryland. The conference brought together experts in the management of peer review and publication for academic and scholarly journals, and this year’s conference covered important issues such as publication ethics and the challenges of supporting authors from China and other emerging research centers. Here are some highlights from the event:

  • Dr. Jeffrey Beall, who manages a blacklist of journals with questionable ethical practices, led off the conference with the keynote on the issues resulting from “predatory” publishers who exploit authors seeking an outlet for their work. Beall’s discussion of publication ethics emerged as a theme at this year’s conference and was followed by panels on unethical publishing and author services. The panel on unethical author services focused on the issues raised by the recent peer review scandal, which resulted in retractions from several major publishers. The panel culminated in a call for the formation of a set a standards to separate reputable author services companies from those with questionable ethical practices and insufficient quality standards.
  • Issues resulting from the growing research output in China emerged as another major theme at this year’s conference. Yan Shuai, the Associate Chief Editor of the Tsinghua University Press and Dr. Xianyong Yin, a Biostatistics professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, participated in a panel on the publishing environment in China and outlined the challenges faced by Chinese researchers and publishers. I participated in a separate panel explaining the need to support authors from emerging research centers and outlining how publishers and author services companies can work together to better serve authors from China and around the globe. [Editor’s note: Deric’s slides can be viewed starting at page 399 here.]
  • Kurt Spurlock, the Quality Manager for Research Square’s manuscript preparation services, and Ashley Smith, an Academic Illustrator who supports researchers through Research Square’s figure formatting service, led a workshop to help outline best practices for writing author guidelines. Kurt and Ashley shared examples from their experience working with AJE authors and discussed ways that author guidelines can be improved to increase clarity for authors. The session was well attended and will be followed up by creating an online community and venues to continue the discussion around editing and formatting guidelines. [See Kurt and Ashley’s slides starting on page 137 here.]
  • Dr. Audrey Huang, the Director of Marketing and Communications at Johns Hopkins University, closed the conference with a talk outlining her innovative approaches to promoting research at Johns Hopkins. As in an earlier panel including Alice Northover from Oxford University Press and Charlie Rapple from Kudos, Dr. Huang’s presentation emphasized the need for new strategies like videos to involve careful consideration of audience as well as content to help researchers and institutions get the word out about their work, regardless of medium. All three speakers pointed out that finding a broader audience for scientific research should be done with a spirit of experimentation, not only in terms of trying new things but also in terms of managing these efforts so that clear results can inform future attempts.

Because ISMTE creates a forum for those most closely involved with authors, it enables practical discussions on how to improve the publishing experience for academic researchers, and this year’s conference provided many examples of those types of discussions. Research Square works closely with ISMTE and helped organize the conference in Baltimore, and we look forward to participating in future meetings. ISMTE’s next conference will be in London on October 15, and they are also hosting their first Asian conference in Singapore in April of 2016.

Deric CorlewDeric Corlew is Vice President of Business Development at Research Square. Deric works with the academic and publishing communities to find new ways to partner with researchers and improve the process of disseminating research results. He has a bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology from the University of Washington and a PhD in English and Comparative Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.