The Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) recently conducted its 43rd Annual Meeting, “Charting a New Course from Chaos to Innovation,” from May 26-28, 2021. The Society’s first ever fully digital conference covered areas like advance scholarly publishing and communication, and the professional development of its members through education, collaboration, and networking. Held virtually, the event was attended by a vibrant community of publishers, academics, funders, technologists, librarians, service providers and others with a stake in how research is shared
Over the course of four days, the virtual meeting featured 18 educational sessions presented by top industry experts. Dr. Laura Helmuth, Editor in Chief of Scientific American, and Dr. Joseph M. Williams, Associate Professor of Counsellor Education at the University of Virginia, were the keynote speakers this year. Wrapping up the meeting, the Scholarly Kitchen Chefs led a wide-ranging debate building on the themes presented throughout the event and looking into the future. Sessions included a live Q&A with the speakers.
The organisers went all out to provide attendees with real-time networking opportunities at the meeting. Real-time integrated text and video chat, persistent discussion forums, small group discussions, and guided networking sessions enabled attendees to build connections. The REMO platform allowed attendees to network informally by going across the interface to communicate with different groups through video. Additionally, attendees were given the option to choose from a predetermined topic or join an open table and create their own debate in Small Group Discussions. Guided networking sessions provided an opportunity for attendees to be able to communicate with one another, discuss common interests, and meet new people. Attendees could also join a Community Group with regular check-ins to debate trending topics, share experiences, ask questions, and function as a sounding board.
The Industry Breakout Sessions featured 20-minute presentations where industry thought-leaders shared advice, case studies, expertise and the latest market solutions. These sessions featured live discussion with the presenters.
Virtual posters were available for viewing all through the meeting. A 5-minute video presentation accompanied each poster. One could text and video chat with presenters in real time while browsing the various posters during the Poster Session.
Attendees also had the option of scheduling a one-on-one coaching session with an experienced scholarly communications professional to explore prospective career pathways or receive feedback on their resume/CV. Each 20-minute session is confidential and by appointment only.
Additionally, attendees got the opportunity to connect with exhibitors and sponsors, as well as discover what new innovations are being offered by industry service providers. Exhibitors were available for text and/or video chat during designated times in the Marketplace Gallery, which was accessible throughout the duration of the meeting.
A “lightning round” preview session offered the chance to learn more about the industry’s latest and most innovative products, platforms, and content in 5-minute, back-to-back presentations.
Complementing the annual meeting this year, were three engaging pre-meeting seminars (May 18-20, 2021). The Books Quick Starter Training and the Journals Quick Starter Training gave attendees a comprehensive overview of the academic books or journals ecosystem, allowing them to get a “head start” on navigating this evolving landscape. Each subject was conducted by specialists in their respective disciplines and covered all key aspects of publishing - from financial skills and business models to editorial and production. The Charleston Hub Trend spotting Initiative, back for another year, collaborated to explore social, policy, economic, technology, and educational trends and foresee their impacts on scholarly communication, publishing, and academic libraries. Overall, this year’s meeting explored the several new paths that can materialize if there is a willingness to embrace the unexpected.