Bringing together the Research Triangle’s scholarly publishing community

Partnerships / Scholarly Publishing
SSP Durham regional networking event panel

Kevin Smith, Greg Raschke, and Sarah Michalak discuss the future of scholarly publishing at a recent SSP regional networking event held at the Research Square offices. Photo by Jocelyn Dawson.

by Jocelyn Dawson, Journals Marketing Manager at Duke University Press

When you think about the major hubs for scholarly communication in the US, a few places spring to mind: Boston, DC, Chicago, New York, Silicon Valley. But those of us living in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina know that when you look at the number of organizations supporting academic research and publishing, our area hits above its weight.

The region is home to three university presses (my employer, Duke University Press, as well as Oxford University Press and the University of North Carolina Press), three major research universities (Duke, NC State, UNC-Chapel Hill), and many groups supporting the dissemination of academic research (Dragonfly, Dryad, J&J Editorial, Research Square, Technica Editorial Services, among others). So when the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) launched regional programming in Boston in April 2015, I watched with interest. Librarians have organized events around scholarly communication in our area, and a local group of the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors (ISMTE) meets regularly, but the rest of the publishing community has been as likely to see each other at annual conferences on the other side of the country as here at home.    

When the SSP board discussed the success of the Boston event and expansion into new regions, I was eager to suggest Durham as the next location. Ben Mudrak of Research Square, whose office is two blocks from mine but whom I met at an SSP conference a flight away, signed on as co-organizer. After a few months of planning, the first SSP regional event in the southeast took place on October 8 in the offices of Research Square in downtown Durham with around 50 attendees.

The event started off with networking followed by a panel discussion, “A Q&A with University Leaders on the Future of Scholarly Publishing.” The panelists included Sarah Michalak, Associate Provost and University Librarian at UNC-Chapel Hill; Greg Raschke​, Associate Director for Collections and Scholarly Communication at NC State​ University; and Kevin Smith, Director of Copyright and Scholarly Communication at Duke University. The panelists shared how they have responded to the changing budget landscape and offered their visions for scholarly publishing ten years from now. There was lively debate over the idea that the journal brand might decline in importance as librarians and individuals within disciplines carry out more vetting, peer review, and quality-assurance tasks. Panelists discussed library publishing models as well as how the publishing industry might evolve into an à la carte, service-provider model rather than the traditional, beginning-to-end publication model.

Moderator Ben Mudrak was prepared with a list of questions but never made it past the second thanks to the audience’s engaged (and at times passionate!) participation. It was clear to all that the conversation was just beginning, and we are looking forward to another event this spring.

Jocelyn DawsonJocelyn Dawson is Journals Marketing Manager at Duke University Press and an SSP board member.