138372058_786bf3e10a_zWe often talk about how our customers (a.k.a. users, researchers, authors, readers, etc.) are being overwhelmed by the flood of information available today.

Let’s not forget that we are consumers of information as well. How are we handling information overload? How are we finding the “must-reads” in our profession? How do we sort the highly and consistently relevant sources from those that only show us intermittent rewards?

This month we asked the Chefs: How do you stay informed about scholarly publishing? What do you read and how do you read it?

While the answers below show some diversity, David Smith seemed to sum up one of the most highlighted information sources in his one word response: Twitter. Several Chefs rely on Twitter. Do you? Who do you follow and why? Do you have another pet source of information? What is it? Please let us know in the comments.

Until then…

Joe Esposito: Besides following The Scholarly Kitchen with the attention usually afforded a cliffhanger, I monitor a small number of media venues, most of which are essentially indexes.  At the top of the list is, of course, Twitter (@JosephJEsposito), which flows into my phone all day and night, with links to everything I need to read.  Without Twitter, I don’t know what I would do.  And if you follow just one person on Twitter, that would have to be Jose Alfonso Furtado: @jafurtado.  His stream is nonstop and all about media and the academy. Nobel Prize committee, are you listening?

Other venues are Peter Brantley’s invaluable private mailgroup, Read 2.0, which has the best coverage of digital books anywhere.  A contributor to this invitation-only list is Gary Price, whom you can also follow at Infodocket.  Gary is like having a personal librarian.  I also follow Liblicense and Nate Hoffelder’s The Digital Reader, both of which would be hard to replace.  I have found that the “pointers” in various media have pretty meant that I never go to a site or article directly any more; I follow social media and my network takes me where I need to go.

Todd Carpenter: My angle on this question is a bit broader than scholarly, since it is difficult to define a boundary for our community. Obviously, domain specific publishing resources such as ALPSP, SSP, PSP and STM (and the Kitchen of course) provide a good basis for information particular to the scholarly publishing. However, things that impact our space are coming from a variety of diverse directions. Things happening in Seattle and the Bay Area all have tremendous impact on our business, which generally aren’t well covered by scholarly outlets. Staying abreast of activities in that broader digital media landscape is critical for understanding and strategically analyzing what may be impacting our community, therefore requiring a diverse media consumption stream.

Almost all my reading is done electronically, although a number of print titles still show up in my office (Against the Grain, Chronicle, Portal, Serials Librarian, PW, LJ, Educause Review, Wired, etc). Honestly, it is the rare issue I read in print. I’m much more likely to read them electronically even if the print copy is on my desk. It seems I am on nearly every listserv in our community, so I get pointed to a great deal of content. Also those who know me know I use Twitter a great deal (@TAC_NISO), using a variety of ongoing hash searches. RSS feeds from a number of sources used to be a key source of reading for me, though since my favorite feed service went under, I’m less prone to use it now. Finally, I am a fervent fan of podcasts, with This Week in Tech, On the Media, GeekBeat, and Tekzilla filling my ears with tech and media news.

Rick Anderson: What I read: My first strategy is to feel guilty about all the blogs that I should be reading regularly, but don’t. That strategy isn’t very effective, but I seem to be sticking with it. I do follow The Scholarly Kitchen, of course, and I actually did so even before I began writing for it. I also rely on several listservs: ALA’s SCHOLCOMM list, LIBLICENSE, SPARC-OAForum, COLLDV-L, SERIALST, etc. I also sign up for automated email updates from organizations like CLIR, CRL, and CNI. Also very importantly, I read the Chronicle of Higher Education religiously. Scholarly communication issues of various kinds are increasingly being discussed in higher education circles generally, and I think it’s essential to get perspectives on these issues from outside the sandboxes of libraries and publishing. (I also read the Times Literary Supplement and New York Review of Books every week, because I’m a librarian and I feel like that fact gives me an excuse to do so on work time.)

How I read it: Here’s my daily routine. I arrive at work about 6:30 am, and while I’m eating my meager breakfast I check The Scholarly Kitchen to see what’s posted that day. Throughout the morning I watch the listserv traffic come in, and I read and respond selectively, using subject lines as a discrimination tool. I eat lunch at my desk and often read the TLS or the Chronicle while I eat. Throughout the rest of the day, until I go to bed, I continue to keep one eye on the listserv traffic. Sometimes I encounter an article that is both long and interesting enough that I want to spend some serious time with it, and maybe write something in response. In that case, I usually print it up and put it in a folder of “articles to read” that I keep in my backpack. I usually keep up with that folder while I’m on airplanes. Many of those articles are not about scholarly communication or librarianship, but some of them are.

You can find me on Twitter as well (@Looptopper).

Alice Meadows: If you’d asked me this question 12-18 months ago I would have answered quite differently – because when I started to think about my answer, I realized that I now get most of my information about scholarly publishing from Twitter (@alicejmeadows), which I only joined (begrudgingly) in summer 2013. I had been worried about keeping on top of yet another social network – and one which moves at a scarily fast pace. Turn your back on Twitter for an hour or two and you’ll have racked up several hundred unread tweets! But, once I’d got over the anxiety that goes with not being able to keep up with everything on Twitter, I found that by following the people whose views I’m interested in and the publications that I read (or – more likely – aspire to read!) Twitter is a fantastic filtering and discovery tool for scholarly publishing information. And it means I’m now reading all sorts of things, some of which I didn’t even know existed previously, such as the always thought-provoking (if sometimes irritating) LSE Impact Blog. Other publications that I read regularly include The Scholarly Kitchen (of course!), The Guardian and several of its blogs, Wiley’s own Exchanges blog and those of various other publishers, Learned Publishing, PSP Links, and the ALPSP Blog, among others.

In fact writing all this down makes me wonder how I get any ‘real’ work done at all -all you researchers out there struggling to stay on top of the literature, I realize I share your pain!

David Crotty: Two methods really, one very traditional and one fairly new. For keeping up with what’s going on in your world, you can’t really beat having an extensive network of friends and colleagues. This is the one piece of career advice I have consistently given at every “careers” talk I’ve ever done over the years. No matter where you end up in the research world, invest the time and effort in building a network of smart people upon whom you can rely.

Other than direct communication, I spent years building a collection of blogs that I would obsessively check via RSS feed, but have completely moved over to Twitter at this point. Using The Scholarly Kitchen’s account (@scholarlykitchn), I almost exclusively follow people in the publishing industry or related fields, and particularly people who post links to useful information, rather than those tweeting about their own lives. Browsing the current state of Twitter serves as my “morning news”, the first thing I do when I sit down at my desk with a cup of tea.

Jill O’Neill: In many respects, people are my chief resource for keeping up with our industry. One of my most robust information feeds arrives on my phone via Twitter (@jillmwo). Among others, I follow super info pros Jose Alfonse Furtado (@jafurtado) and Gary Price of InfoDocket (@infodocket) and some of our favorite Chefs here — Stewart Wills (@stewartwills), Joseph Esposito (@JosephJEsposito), and Todd Carpenter (@TAC_NISO). Following a mix of librarians, NFAIS member organizations, information companies, associations and similar industry professionals starts my day. I also monitor industry events via Twitter, so I make a point of noting all the passing hashtags.

I have a digest of RSS feeds that comes to my email daily from a wonderful start-up, Feedspot. The feeds from more than 200 blogs and traditional publications get fed to me through that mechanism — The Verge, The Next Web, Read/Write Web, Walt Mossberg’s Re/Code, Wired, Phil Bradley’s Search Weblog, The Atlantic, and many more. I scan the headlines, click on perhaps 10-15 percent of those presented and get a general sense of how technology is shifting, writhing and otherwise disrupting my work environment. Within our own industry, I monitor the blogs of the big university presses, but in particular I am a huge fan of the Oxford University Press Blog.

Press releases come to my work email, as do an increasingly select number of listservs still in operation. Once I’ve settled into my desk for the day, I skim those messages fairly quickly to determine their interest level for our members.

On my tablet, I tend to pick up news and industry-related items through use of the Zite app, recently acquired by Flipboard. (Please, Flipboard, don’t kill it! I finally have it trained.) Articles forwarded to me by NFAIS members and/or consultants are filed away to Evernote. More complex research studies, reports, and academic material longer than ten pages get printed out and read on the weekend

It sounds like it’s overwhelming, but I usually get it sorted in about 90 minutes daily.

Michael Clarke: I use a variety of tools and resources to keep up with our fast-moving industry, including:

  • Feedly – My pick for the best RSS reader—I use it to track blogs, news feeds, and other resources.
  • Twitter – Given the many knowledgeable industry professionals that use the service, a carefully curated Twitter feed is particularly helpful (@mtclarke)
  • LinkedIn groups – Associations such as SSP and ALPSP have well-subscribed LinkedIn groups with active and interesting discussions
  • NewslettersMany associations, including ALPSP and STM, publish informative newsletters
  • List-servs – Despite being one of the older Internet-era technologies, list-servs continue to host some of the best discussions in the industry.
  • Conference and live events The conversations in the hallway and at the bar are where all really valuable information can be found (though the sessions can be helpful too!)
  • Webinars – While not replacing conferences, I find myself participating in more of these each year (you earn fewer travel points but the food is better)
  • Journals and books – Journals (e.g. Learned Publishing) and professional books remain as relevant as ever
  • Email – If I really want to know something, I often just email and ask
  • Phone calls and face-to-face meetings – I spend a good portion of most days on the phone or in meetings with clients and others and this remains my single best source of information

Angela Cochran: In this ever changing environment, staying informed is crucial. I have several “go to” online sources for information. The Scholarly Kitchen is certainly one of them. I also really enjoy posts from publisher sites such as Wiley Exchanges, Elsevier’s Connect, and the Taylor and Francis Editor Resources page.

I also get a lot of information from the societies I belong too. I mentioned The Scholarly Kitchen from the Society for Scholarly Publishing but I also get a lot of valuable updates from reading Science Editor by the Council of Science Editors and STM Updates from International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers.

What has really been a game changer for me is Twitter (@acochran12733). I follow a lot of societies, researchers, and vendors and a lot of great information and discussion comes from there. I intentionally follow groups that are experimenting with new models. I am a bit of a lurker of people advocating for open science. While I may not agree with all points presented, I think it is important to stay informed of what all sides are thinking.

The only problem I have is keeping up with the reading! I save a lot of very interesting blog posts and articles to my Pocket app and finding the time to read through all the things that interest me is certainly a challenge. That said, knowing a little bit about a lot of stuff serves me well. I don’t need to be an expert on everything to do my job but being clued in on the conversations certainly help.

David Smith: Twitter (@drs1969).

Ann Michael: Definitely Twitter (@annmichael). Although, I will also second chefs that mentioned talking with people was also a key source. There is sometimes no substitute for face-to-face, interactive communication!

Now it’s your turn – how do you stay informed?

*Also worth noting, our other Chefs can be found on Twitter as well: Robert Harington (@rharington), Phil Davis (@ScholarlyChickn), Kent Anderson (@kanderson), and Judy Luther (@JudyLuther).

Ann Michael

Ann Michael

Ann Michael is Chief Digital Officer at PLOS charged with driving the development and execution of the organization’s overall digital and supporting data strategy. Working collaboratively across PLOS, and through industry collaboration, her team will facilitate the strategic evaluation and evolution of PLOS platforms and processes. Prior to joining PLOS, Ann was CEO of Delta Think. There she gained broad exposure to society and commercial scholarly publishers, librarians and library consortia, funders, and researchers. She focused on strategy and innovation in scholarly communications. Ann is an ardent believer in data informed decision-making and was instrumental in the 2017 launch of the Delta Think Open Access Data & Analytics Tool, a comprehensive, interactive, regularly updated data set with diverse visualizations and extensive analysis, which tracks and assesses the impact of open access uptake and policies on the scholarly communications ecosystem. Ann is a Past President of SSP, a Board Director at Joule (a Canadian Medical Association company), Board Chair of Delta Think, and a member of the Learned Publishing Editorial Board. She has a MS from SUNY Stony Brook in Policy Analysis and Public Management and an MS in Business Analytics from the NYU Stern School.

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Discussion

16 Thoughts on "Ask The Chefs: How Do You Stay Informed About Scholarly Publishing?"

Sometimes I feel as if I should prefer to be sitting in a wing-back chair, wearing a red velvet jacket, slippers, puffing on a pipe listening to Bach, and isolated from all information. I am just beginning to use Twitter, and can see its value, but am not yet an experienced follower, or contributor. I think everyone here mentioned that with so much information coming at you, time is a limiting factor. While I do receive professional news from many of the sources mentioned in this piece, one of my favorite ways of accumulating information is to settle the mind quietly on a topic, and then search online for articles, discussions, data and thoughts on that topic. When it comes to the world beyond work, it is NPR, The New Yorker, New York Review of Books, and the New York Times I turn to. Most recently I have discovered Vice News – a staggeringly good news outlet.

I’m surprised no one mentioned the Journal of Scholarly Publishing (on whose editorial advisory board I serve, as I do also for Learned Publishing) or Mike Shatzkin’s blog or InsiderHigherEd (which I find often more informative than the Chronicle, though Jennifer Howard writes good articles about our industry from time to time). I use all of these as well as many of the other resources cited by others, though I have yet to join the Twitter universe.

To be fair, a lot of the individual resources you mention (and a few that others have mentioned by others on Twitter) all fall under the general heading of “Twitter”. For example, I will go look at InsiderHigherEd or Mike Shatzkin’s blog when I see a tweet about an interesting article. So there are probably lots of sources not individually singled out in the post above that we likely glossed over with a vague notion of where we go from Twitter. Worth bringing out in the comments though, thanks!

Indeed, Twitter is not so much a source of information as a source of information about information. A meta-source if you like, along the lines of a Google search hit list.

Sandy – I definitely go to InsideHigherEd directly. It’s a great source. Sometimes I do get to these sites through Twitter, but I also tend to go directly to some. I haven’t yet put my list together, but one of the true values of Twitter is that not only can you view it as your “140 character abstract” but you can also follow what’s happening at conferences, and see conversations on a topic. You should definitely get on to Twitter. You will be more fortunate than many of us who joined years ago are – in that you can carefully determine who you follow and keep your feed “clean.” I joined in March of 2007 and my feed is a mess!

It’s important for me to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry, so to speak. For the broader industry trends and policy conversations, there is no better source than the SK, you all do a great job. It’s a great educational resource for anyone new to the industry, or has to bone-up on a new topic which I have to do often so thank you for that.

For more current events and stories I use twitter. Richard Poynder’s (@rickypo) is worth recommending as his tweets are usually right on target with reading-worthy links and not too much noise on unrelated events or rants (something I try to do with @tomreller). The GOAL list he manages used to be informative, but now it seems like it’s been hijacked by one person regurgitating the same old perspective over and over again. The SK to a certain extent has a rather limited group of voices as well, as Rick and Phil mentioned yesterday, and I think it would be even better if more people chimed in from time to time. And I encourage Mike Taylor to stick around as well.

If you want to learn more about the inside stories of the editorial side of publishing, follow @ivanoransky and the retraction watch blog. I do follow a small handful of anti-publisher tweeters who are not only good at alerting me to things about Elsevier (thanks all), but their gripes and complaints about the struggles of being a researcher are really quite illuminating – its those struggles we’re really here to address. I encourage anyone in publishing to follow them. For a healthy mix of interesting science, policy discussions and a little bit of good old fashion promotion, the publishing company sites are good (Elsevier Connect, Wiley Exchanges and the OUP blog are often mentioned). And if you’re missing an industry conference, @tac_niso, is for you.

I use Google Alerts as a starting point. Sometimes they are glitchy, pretty exhaustive – and exhausting. For example, I had a “MOOC” alert set up for most of 2012…wow. But you learn how to skim-read for news that matters.

Already mentioned twice, but because he is SO good, I’d third Gary Price/InfoDocket (full disclosure, he’s also a friend).

I think that it’s interesting to note the shift from the earlier internet where mailing lists, blogs, podcasts and web sites were sorted out by individual readers via RSS to the new internet where we have the silo-ing of Facebook, Twitter et. al. There is a subtle form of herding at work and it has a definite purpose or end game. There will also be unintended effects.
No one can sift through all of the primary sources that are relevant to their work so we rely on the food chain of information consumption. Much of the information we work with has been heavily masticated before it gets to us. Reputation becomes ever more important.
The internet “wild west” was freer but more dangerous. The new, more controlled, internet seems less free, especially as we read these TOS documents but is it really also less dangerous? What did we get in return for agreeing to trade-in a chunk of our freedom in the ways that we find information and the ways information finds us?

I agree Frank. In a world where we have so many resources at our fingertips, it is so unbelievably easy to find yourself in an echo chamber. As I mentioned in the post, and Tom Reller mentioned in his comment, I think it’s important to diversify who you follow. I am more interested to see the opinions of people who don’t agree with me so that I have a better understanding of their point of view.

A recent item in the Nature Toolbox about how scientists are keeping up with the literature: http://www.nature.com/news/how-to-tame-the-flood-of-literature-1.15806
It notes some new “recommendation engine” services – most of which seem to run on PubMed.

I also find that my Google Scholar profile generates some decent recommendations; the breadth of the materials searched is a plus, but it only retrieves based on my own (small) publication list, which only shows bibliometrics, not my more general interest in publishing.

What I found most interesting, though, is the fact that keeping up with the literature in a scholarly discipline is very different from keeping up with the literature about scholarly the scholarly literature, since the latter crosses not just areas of literature, but TYPES of literature – from books and journals to newsletters and blogs.

“Information” should be divided here into “knowledge” and “news”. Twitter is paramount for encountering relevant news, but gaining knowledge about something, and finding out what things you should learn about, is a more challenging and a more important task.

Gossip and other forms of direct human contact often serve both news- and knowledge-gathering.

I’m not sure the two are mutually exclusive. Twitter often leads me to long thought pieces which require in-depth reading and that challenge my concepts (a recent one was this great post talking about Jeanette Winterson’s writings on how we engage with art http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/10/27/jeanette-winterson-art-objects/). That’s one of the joys of Twitter–depending on who you follow, you can find all sorts of things.

One thing that I find striking about the lists of great resources discussed here is how they are weighted towards North America and Western Europe – as are many of the discussions at scholarly publishing conferences in Western countries.

Trying to avoid a Western emphasis is something that I found a significant challenge in my decade or so as editor of Research Information (www.researchinformation.info @researchinfo) but one that I think is very important for people looking to keep abreast with trends in research and research communication globally.

In addition to the things that people mention in this post and comment thread, a few of the blogs/people/websites that I follow in other geographical areas include: the Australian Open Access Support Group (aoasg.org.au/blog-summary), Laura Czerniewicz (@Czernie), Janet Remmington (@janremm), Ravi Murugesan (@RaviMurugesan), the SciELO blog (blog.scielo.org/en/#.VFNEEk0qXmI), Mehrdad Jalalian (@drjalalian), Research4Life (www.research4life.org) and SciDev Net (@SciDevNet).

I would also like to make a particular mention of my new employer, INASP (@INASPinfo), an international-development charity that is heavily involved in many great scholarly-communications initiatives in the developing world, many of which fall below the radar of Western publishing discussions (our work includes Journals Online (‏@JOLsProject), @AuthorAID and Publishers for Development (@pubsfordev)).

If you, like me, can’t keep up with prolific Twitter users like @jafurtado and @TAC_NISO, you have to limit yourself to people who tweet less. One of my favorites is @SLAAcadSCS. The folks behind it read widely and bring my attention to all sorts of things I otherwise miss.

Curiously, I don’t do much with twitter (I was tweeting more than I was reading tweets and that just seemed to be bad form). It is, I guess, just too short of a short-form for me. I do follow a number of lists that are twitter-like (e.g., ProductHunt.com and Techmeme.com/river). But I’ve made the point in some talks recently that we really do follow people primarily, not just topics (especially in twitter, most people follow people, not hashtags) — and I think researchers do that as well.

For myself, I’m particularly interested in spotting things from outside our usual “ecosystem” and figuring out how they might enter it. So, for example, what would the airbnb or the uber of publishing look like? I watch technology lists a lot — the problem is that living in Silicon Valley there is a lot of chaff mixed into the wheat. Every new idea looks like the next big thing.

A tech group of us at HighWire actually pooled our lists over the summer and it was fun to discover some new reading sources. Ann, if you compile a list, I’ll be glad to contribute.

I will say that SK is one of the few ‘must look at’ every day.

One of the weird/interesting things I read every day is Quora.com. Once it figured out what kind of thing I’m interested in, it draws me in every morning. I probably waste time on it the way others waste time on Facebook (i.e., things I don’t really need to know, but am curious about). And at least one item a day is something I bookmark.

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