Ten years ago, I published this blog’s first post, introducing the Scholarly Kitchen.

A decade ago, the iPhone 3G wasn’t in stores yet; GPS was on its way to being acclaimed as a technology breakthrough by WIRED magazine; and Android was still a rumor. The breakthrough Marvel movie, Ironman, which conveyed the first of many origin stories, had yet to be released.

The origin story of the Scholarly Kitchen is short and sweet, involving no radioactive spiders or vibranium. Sue Kesner from Copyright Clearance Center and then the President of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) stopped by my office. I was on the Board, and she wanted to discuss how SSP might be more cutting-edge and current in its communication approach. She’d been spearheading a strategic review, and wanted something tangible to focus on keeping members current about interesting research and data in the field. Around the same time, I’d been playing with blogging software in my product development role at the New England Journal of Medicine. We talked about a blog. She asked how hard it would be to create one. I said, cavalierly, “I’ll have one up before you get home!” And so it began.

party scene

The first version of what became the Scholarly Kitchen was hidden from view, a mere prototype. A few weeks later, there was an SSP Board meeting in Washington, DC. Sue and I were walking down Connecticut Avenue with the rest of the Board, trying to think of a name for the blog. I’d also been reading about metaphor mapping, so I ran through a metaphor-generating exercise:

  • What do we want the blog to reflect?
    People getting together to discuss things.
  • Where do people do that naturally?
    Conference rooms, churches.
  • What about at a party?
    The kitchen.
  • Let’s call it the Scholarly Kitchen!
    I like it!

We got a logo from a designer (Nicole Colovos), bought a WordPress template to jazz things up, and we were off to the races.

Sort of.

The Scholarly Kitchen’s debut wasn’t very auspicious. There were a couple dozen views of the first entries at most. The early posts were a lot shorter, too — they have grown from an average of 294 words each in 2008 to 1,383 words each this year so far, and the growth has been steady over time.

Like anything, blogging takes practice, persistence, and consistency before an audience builds, so I privately committed myself to one year of blogging. I also made the fateful decision to make it a daily blog (except for weekends), something that has proven to be good for the blog if difficult at times to maintain.

I wrote alone for the first few months, until the 2008 SSP Annual Meeting, where Howard Ratner and Phil Davis approached me about writing for the blog. Since then, we’ve added and retired a number of bloggers (mostly added), and have tried to increase the diversity of the crew along various dimensions — role in the field, gender, geography, and background.

After 5+ years of running the blog, I handed the reins over to David Crotty, who is about to match me in tenure. Angela Cochran now serves as the Executive Editor, providing depth for when David is traveling or vacationing, and likely praying David remains healthy.

Now, 10 years on, the Kitchen is a fixture (pun intended) in the community. More than 2,900 posts have been published. The Kitchen has more than 17,000 followers on Twitter (many of them actual, real people). The blog is cited in at least one presentation at almost any publishing meeting you attend, and we constantly hear stories about how posts are used to train staff, guide strategic discussions, and so forth.

Posts this week in the Kitchen will be commemorating the blog’s decade of activity in a number of interesting ways. Later this year, there will be an associated session at the SSP Annual Meeting in Chicago, the specifics of which we’re keeping under wraps.

As the founder of the Kitchen, it’s been tremendously gratifying to watch this germ of an idea grow and flourish, from a blog with a handful of readers to a brand that encompasses meeting sessions, webinars, an occasional podcast, and a daily dose of wisdom, insight, or provocation in our industry. Thanks to everyone who has helped over the years, especially those who created bridges for the blog as it transitioned from pet project to mature product to living brand for the SSP.

Let’s keep things cooking!

(Special hat tips to Carol Anne Meyer, Joe Esposito, Howard Ratner, and Phil Davis, who injected themselves into the life of this blog in helpful ways as it matured. Thank you.)

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.

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Discussion

12 Thoughts on "Celebrating a Decade — It’s Been 10 Years of the Scholarly Kitchen Today"

I can’t believe it has been 10 years, Kent. The blog has exceeded all of my expectations.
Congratulations to you and all of the Chefs!

Congratulations everyone on a decade of awesome discussions! Amazing how time flies!

Of the many things Kent did right in founding the Kitchen, the stubborn insistence on publishing every day may have been the most important. It has often been painful to keep the pipeline filled (though much easier now), but the effort has paid off.

Congratulations to Kent and all the Chefs on achieving this significant milestone, and kudos to Sue for the initial idea! I now recommend the Kitchen as a key source of industry insights to the undergraduate publishing students I’m teaching at Oxford Brookes University; hopefully it will inspire some of them to seek a career in scholarly publishing rather than trade books, consumer magazines or other, better known, segments of this multifaceted industry. I’m biased, naturally, but I think the Kitchen regularly illustrates the depth, dynamism and innovation of the world of scholarly communication, and serves as a fantastic recruiting device! Keep up the great work!

I greatly appreciate all the work and wisdom that goes into the Scholarly Kitchen. It is a wonderful resource especially for the small, independent journals who rarely have a chance to think about anything more than peer review, copy editing, production and release. Congrats and thanks.

Many thanks to all of you for your regular, thoughtful, and informed writings for the rest of us out in the trenches. It has made a big difference.

As a person formally retired from scholarly publishing after a career spanning 42 years (though I still acquire books part-time for two academic presses), I especially appreciate how TSK helps me keep up with what’s happening in the industry in all its sectors. There is no single source of information and opinion like this from which I benefit more.

Yes, congratulations are fully due! The Scholarly Kitchen has sustained its quality output and grown, whereas it putative precursor, Bionet.journals.note (established in 1994 with encouragement from various publishing houses), did not. There are two major reasons for the latter failure. First, it tried to accomplish too much. Its goals can now be seen as addressed by a triad: TSK, COPE and the, just deceased, PubMed Commons. Secondly, it was run by a busy laboratory scientist (myself) who was unable to monitor comments. Although BJN provided an avenue for Steven Harnad in his open access campaign, it was doomed to fail. However, while there is much to congratulate TSK, we should note that it is run by people more interested in publishing science than in writing it. It would be nice to see more authors (and readers) contributing.

Thanks for the Scholarly Kitchen, Kent et al.! I got turned on to it ~ 2011, after I’d been EiC of a society journal (GENETICS, a peer-edited journal of the Genetics Society of America) for a few years. I’ve learned alot from the Scholarly Kitchen! Thanks for the professional insight into scholarly publishing (of which academics like me know little……………)! It has educated and enriched me. Thanks!

I’ve been a fan of the Scholary Kitchen for several years. It gives me inspiration for my current work and keeps me updated for the cutting-edge insight of the publishing industry. Thank you for your brilliant idea to launch this blog. Wish the Scholary Kitchen a greater success.

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