Transparency, Integrity, AI, and DEI in Publishing: Takeaways from SSP 2024

We were thrilled to attend “Inflection Point: Setting the Course for the Future of Scholarly Communication,” the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s 2024 annual meeting, held in Boston. The East Coast location made it easy for many of our team members to join in the fun, reconnect with partners, and meet new people (and dogs!).

Brief summary of the event

Deborah Blum delivered the opening keynote, “Publishers in the Age of Mistrust.” She discussed the challenges of trust in science, both in the past and today, highlighting that trust has significantly declined, especially since the pandemic and political divisions. She emphasized the need for journalists and publishers to be transparent and openly share information, recommending thorough fact-checking, training science editors, and using storytelling to connect with skeptical audiences. Mentioned also was the importance of recognizing the human side of science and the value of repeating accurate information—just as false information is often repeated, true information should be, too. Effective communication is key to rebuilding trust. She wrapped up her talk with a call to maintain integrity and transparency to handle the current climate of mistrust.

Research integrity was a major topic. Tools like Retraction Watch and NISO CREC recommendations (Communication of Retractions, Removals, and Expressions of Concern) are important for maintaining integrity and informing everyone when research is retracted or flagged. AI in scholarly publishing was another hot topic. While AI can enhance our work, human involvement is necessary to avoid biases. Key tools in this area include Cactus Communications PaperPal, Wiley’s new AI-powered Papermill Detection service, and Elsevier’s plans to create a tool intended to capture integrity issues related to the submission and editorial processes, researcher networks/cartels, reference manipulation, and other trust signals.

The conference also underscored the need to preserve qualitative data in humanities research, addressing challenges like funding, data management, and compliance with the 2022 OSTP memo , which requires open data for government-funded research. Collaboration between researchers and publishers is important, with a focus on using good metadata and infrastructure for long-term data preservation. Sessions highlighted projects like slavevoyages.org and the Scalar Project, which use digital tools to share historical and cultural data.

Chats at Crossref’s corner

During the exhibitor sessions, we ran Crossref Participation Reports for members who stopped by our booth. One organization found out their funding data was not being deposited, highlighting a gap in their metadata practices, which they plan to fix with their vendor in the future. Another organization, despite excellent scores in other areas, discovered a low score for License URLs. It was a good opportunity to talk about information that can be included there, like how License URL can link to closed content terms of use, and not just Creative Commons licenses.

Several organizations with high metadata contributions realized they needed to attach ROR IDs to author affiliations, which improves discoverability and interoperability. It was nice to see some organizations make great improvements in their metadata, and we’re hoping to share some examples of how they did it with case studies soon. If your organization has been working recently on collecting and curating richer metadata – we’d love to hear your story, too!

Insightful Sessions

Our group attended several insightful sessions. One session, “Only You Can Prevent Research Integrity Fires!” used skits to show the importance of preventing research misconduct, comparing it to forest fires. Key threats include generative AI, papermills, and image manipulation. The session stressed the need for better education, data sharing, tools to spot issues early, and clear ways to share information about retractions.

“No one can do this alone. Infrastructure has to be collaborative and community-driven. ~ Todd Carpenter”

Another session, “How is ‘Data’ Understood in the Humanities and What Does it Mean for Open Scholarship and Data Sharing Policies?" focused on preserving qualitative data in humanities research. It highlighted funding challenges, managing data, and following new policies like the 2022 OSTP memo. The session emphasized collaboration between researchers and publishers for long-term data preservation, sharing examples like slavevoyages.org and the Scalar Project.

“Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Peer-Review: Perspectives from a C4DISC-SSP Toolkit, a Major University, and a Scholarly Publisher” was a discussion on equity, diversity, and inclusion in peer review that emphasized making the process fairer by addressing bias and promoting diversity. Actions taken by presenters in their organizations included adding diverse editors, creating DEI websites, providing sensitivity training, and using inclusive language.

In the session “The Role of Actual Intelligence in the Future of Scholarly Publishing,” the speakers emphasized human attributes that AI cannot replicate, such as creativity, empathy, and emotional understanding. They highlighted the value of human oversight in maintaining quality and ethical standards.

The event was full of knowledge sharing and networking. We had great conversations about standardizing application processes, improving Crossref XML services, resolving technical issues, and exploring new sponsorship opportunities. The sessions on AI, DEI, and data preservation were particularly interesting, offering new perspectives and practical solutions. We’re excited to apply some of these key takeaways in our work and keep the conversation going! If you attended #SSP2024, please share your insights and key takeaways.

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