In what has become an annual tradition, below we ask the 2023 winners of the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s (SSP’s) Fellowships for their impressions of the 2023 SSP Annual Meeting. The SSP Fellowship program offers a wide range of career development, training, and networking opportunities in the scholarly publishing industry, including matching Fellows with a mentor and working in small groups to create a poster presentation for our Annual Meeting. The award also includes complimentary SSP membership and registrations for selected SSP events. Fellows are asked to report on their experiences and learning outcomes, join and actively participate in an SSP committee, contribute to a Fellowship project, provide feedback about SSP programs, and work with volunteers to promote and highlight the Fellowship program.

This year we asked the Fellows: “What was the highlight of attending SSP 2023 for you?”

photograph of the 2023 SSP Fellows onstage
The 2023 SSP Fellows (with outgoing SSP President, Miranda Walker)

Oyedele Abimbola Ojeniyi, LIS Doctoral Student, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

My participation as a fellow at the just concluded 45th annual meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) was an incredible and unquantifiable opportunity for me. Even though I was a virtual attendee, I attended almost all the virtually dedicated sessions and connected with a couple of people with similar interests. The speed networking sessions for virtual attendees were a fantastic experience where I met and spoke with professionals from other climes and disciplines. The round table discussion for virtual attendees on Friday was another session I enjoyed, where different contemporary topics related to the scholarly publishing ecosystem were discussed, especially on how AI has revolutionized scholarly communication fields.

The session on “Licensing Privacy: What Librarians Want” was mind-blowing and my major Annual Meeting highlight. Meeting Athena Hoeppner, Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, Cody Hanson, and Amanda Ferrante, discussing various issues as they affect me as a librarian whose duties revolve around copyright and licensing, privacy, and confidentiality. Also, one of my take homes was an invitation by an editor who reached out to me during the Annual Meeting for an article publication in her journal because of her interest in a particular aspect of our poster presentation.

On a final note, working with my poster teammates Chen He from People Republic of China and Anna Maltbie from the United States was an amazing opportunity to collaborate with folks from other parts of the world. Each meeting held was an eye-opener, which ventured into a better understanding of our poster topic. Furthermore, all discussions with my mentor Kelly Denzer were fantastic opportunities for me to advance my career in scholarly communication. Attending this 45th edition of the SSP annual meeting greatly benefits me and my career, even as I am eager to get involved as I participate in my chosen committee engagements.

Andrea Blatz, University of Chicago Press

My favorite experience at the 2023 SSP Annual Conference was meeting people — especially the other fellows and learning about how impressive my peer group is! I also enjoyed learning more about the state of the scholarly publishing industry. As someone who works in the humanities at a university press, I appreciated seeing the successes and issues other sectors are celebrating and dealing with.

One aspect I’m interested in learning more about is increased accessibility and availability of scholarly works. The panel I enjoyed the most was “Sustainable and Equitable Scholarly Publishing: A New Vision for Open Access Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences.” It was refreshing to learn that university presses are exploring the viability of working with different partners, such as libraries and online databases, to increase availability of their works to people around the world. The session about inclusive language and practices was also incredibly informative, and I look forward to implementing them in my work.

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to attend the conference and receive such a warm welcome from the community. I can’t wait to become more involved and continue learning as I progress in my career!

Francesca Soldati, Scholarly Communications Advisor at the University of Aberdeen (UK)

Attending the 2023 SSP Annual Meeting was an enriching experience that provided numerous highlights and valuable insights. One of the most significant aspects for me was the opportunity to meet and connect with the other SSP fellows and my mentor. Sharing experiences and exchanging ideas with them proved to be an invaluable source of inspiration. They are fantastic people! In addition, the Annual Meeting provided an ideal platform for networking with members of the scholarly publishing community, enabling me to foster collaborations that could potentially enhance my career prospects.

The Annual Meeting also served as an eye-opener, shedding light on the existing gaps in communication between publishers, librarians, and researchers. The theme of this year’s conference revolved around Transformation, Trust, and Transparency. However, achieving these ideals necessitates the presence of effective communication among these key participants, and working together towards a common goal – Open Science – is paramount for the progress and widespread sharing of knowledge. Recognizing this disconnect has inspired me to explore ways to bridge the gap and foster better collaboration and understanding within the publishing and research ecosystem.

Another gratifying aspect of the conference was the opportunity to participate in high-level discussions within the scholarly publishing community. Being part of these thought-provoking conversations made me feel like an integral member of the community and the insights shared during these discussions encouraged me to think critically about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

I am very grateful to the SSP fellowship program for granting me the opportunity to participate in such an event. It was a truly transformative experience….not to mention, the food and venue were absolutely amazing as well!

Anna Maltbie, Journal Publishing Assistant, Wiley

The highlight of attending SSP 2023 for me was definitely the people. SSP fosters an incredible collaborative and welcoming community, and this was clear across the sessions, networking breaks, and other events I attended.

I joined SSP last July, and it was wonderful to meet other volunteers on the committees I serve and my co-chair of the Early Career Professionals Community of Interest Network in person for the first time. I believe this will only strengthen our working relationships moving forward. I especially enjoyed meeting the other Fellows. Everyone has an interesting journey that led them into scholarly publishing, and I look forward to staying connected as we all develop in our careers.

The best part of the SSP Fellowship has been the mentorship. I’ve found it incredibly valuable to connect with an experienced professional in scholarly publishing. Learning about my mentor Louise Russell’s career path and the obstacles and opportunities she has encountered has been helpful to inform my own future planning. Meeting my mentor at SSP 2023 cemented this experience, and she kindly introduced me to many of her connections during networking events. It was also great to chat with and receive advice from other mentors and members of the SSP Board of Directors at the Fellows breakfast.

I enjoyed connecting with Wiley colleagues from other departments as well. I have found that working at a large global organization, there are many colleagues I don’t have the opportunity to meet outside of an event like SSP 2023. My favorite sessions of the Annual Meeting were “The Introverted Leader” and “Research Integrity #TRANSPARENCY,” both featuring Wiley leaders.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to be an Early Career Fellow and attend SSP 2023. I look forward to growing my involvement in the SSP community!

Idowu Adegbilero-Iwari, Science/Scholarly Communication Librarian, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria

The field of scholarly communications continues to reinvent itself on a frequent basis. It is thus required for participants to maintain adequate up-to-dateness with trends and absolute belongingness into the community of practice of scholarly publishers to successfully navigate the landscape. The SSP Fellowship helps ensure one is abreast of current trends and future possibilities and offers guaranteed support from the community. For those early in their careers, the added trump cards of mentorship and guardianship navigating the ecosystem and attaining higher responsibilities are welcome benefits from a community of practice such as the SSP. All these came handy in the 45th annual meeting of the association held in the very delightful Oregon Convention Center, Portland, USA between May 31 and June 2, 2023.

The SPP 2023 brought together the crème de la crème in scholarly publishing from around the world. And for me it is a major career breakthrough attending the enlightening sessions, the interesting plenaries and meeting key people in the profession. The meeting served as a platform for networking and cross-fertilization of shared ideas and concerns. It also opened avenues to fostering existing relationship by getting to meet, in-person, people one had interacted with virtually in the SSP’s fellowship and mentorship programs. Moreover, the meeting afforded direct interface with core technologies, services, and platforms on which scholarly publishing is built and the people behind them. Leveraging these relationships and connections for career advancement and contribution to the field remain the task ahead of emerging professionals like me. I will not close this post without a mention of the welcoming nature of the people in this profession and the very amiable meeting environment the SSP facilitated where everyone was made to feel as important as everyone else.

Chenyue Jiao, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

The SSP Annual Meeting is a significant event in the scholarly publishing community, bringing together professionals from various sectors including publishers, librarians, and researchers. For me, the highlight of attending the event was the networking opportunities. I appreciate that the event allows me to meet people, establish new connections, and engage in meaningful discussions. People here are kind and welcoming. As a PhD student, I am always looking for any opportunities to get professional experiences and career advice. I was so grateful for hearing about their career stories and advice for early career fellows like me. They also provided me with potential collaboration opportunities.

Another highlight is that I found open data has become an important topic in the scholarly publishing community, which is really exciting. As a PhD student in Library and Information Science, I study research data sharing and reuse. I really enjoyed hearing practical strategies for open data and discussing opportunities and challenges in this field. There are a lot of things to be addressed, and I will definitely dedicate myself to facilitating data sharing and reuse. It is the most amazing conference experience I have ever had. I am so proud of myself to be a SSP Fellow this year.

Nataliia Kaliuzhna, PhD student in Library and Information Sciences at Kyiv National University of Culture and Arts, Ukraine

As I reflect on my experience, the first thing I would like to highlight is the remarkable inclusiveness of the event and the opportunity to attend the SSP Annual Meeting virtually. Thanks to the well-designed virtual conference platform and attentive organizers, I was able to immerse myself in the fantastic atmosphere that permeated the event.

As a library sciences degree holder, I found the “Improving Research Workflows with Metadata” session, led by Alice Meadows particularly fascinating. This session delved into the impact of inadequate metadata for scholarly communication, extending beyond the mere discoverability of research output, and explored how persistent identifiers can help address these challenges. It was interesting to hear that multilingualism in metadata creation was brought into the discussion as well.

Another standout session was “Licensing Privacy: What Librarians Want”, chaired by Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe. It was interesting to learn about the Library Licensing Project centered on library values of privacy. The emphasis on the importance of prioritizing library user rights for data privacy and confidentiality over the interests of third-parties was a significant point. I must also mention “Metadata the Musical!: The Tale of the Ant and the Grasshopper” directed by Heather Ruland Staines. The cast’s dedication and creativity left a strong impression on me.

It was an incredible three days filled with knowledge, networking opportunities, and valuable information. I am truly grateful for this enriching experience, as it has left me with a renewed sense of curiosity and motivation to continue working towards improving scholarly communication whenever I can.

Janaynne do Amaral, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

This was my first SSP Annual Meeting and I am planning to attend every year. I have felt very welcome, included, and listened to since I joined the SSP as a fellow and early career researcher, and the meeting has the same mood. I saw different stakeholders in scholarly publishing building partnerships to improve our field and that was beautiful to see. It was very nice to see so many sessions aligned with my research and teaching interests, and I felt awake all the time. As an academic with few interactions with the industry, attending the meeting made me see clearly what I want for my future and my role in scholarly publishing. I am so grateful to the SSP for this opportunity to develop my career and for the amazing fellow friends that I have now. The fellows taught me a lot as well about friendship, culture and interaction, and friendship and support, and are having a profound impact on my life.  I hope to continue as a member and be one of the mentors of the future. SSP has been an example of how to include, not only by attending the meeting, but providing opportunities for early career professionals to work with seniors professional with equity and respect in scholarly societies.

Sarah Frances Gordon, Executive Editor of the journal, Psicología Iberoamericana at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, Mexico

Attending the 2023 SSP annual meeting was a special experience for me. I really appreciated this opportunity to network with others and learn more about my field. I found all the sessions stimulating and I left feeling like I had learnt a lot from the conference. It was also eye opening to speak to people in similar roles to me that work in different cities and even different countries. It also widened my perspective to the type of opportunities I have in this field. However, for me the real highlight of attending the 2023 SSP annual meeting was the people, especially the other fellows. I related to a lot of the other fellows in my group, and we spent a lot of time together laughing and talking. I feel like I made some good friends, and I am so grateful to the fellowship program for this. Another important thing I learnt was that we are part of a community that cares about making scholarly publishing ethical, diverse, accessible, and more equal. The integrity of the peer review process matters and it’s important we think critically about the language we use when we are writing up our research. People don´t exist in erasure and shouldn´t be described as “non-white” or “non-heterosexual”. Identity-first or person-centered language needs to be encouraged.

Thank you SSP for this experience and I hope to see you all again in Boston in 2024.

Jamaica Jones, PhD Student in the School of Computing and Information at the University of Pittsburgh

Without question, the most inspiring and meaningful part of SSP 2023 for me was the Awards Ceremony, which was so thoughtfully included as one of the livestreamed portions of the meeting’s events. As a fellow new to SSP and as a virtual attendee, it was heartwarming to be included in such a broad celebration of SSP’s diverse and dedicated community. The opportunity to hear from long-running contributors, dedicated sponsors and SSP’s dynamic incoming president helped instill a sense of history and shard purpose that made me proud to be an SSP fellow and excited to remain involved in the community well into the long term.

Cassandra Larose, Scholarly Communication and Learning Support Librarian at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC, Canada

Attending SSP 2023 as an Early Career Fellow was an amazing experience. Among the many highlights (read: therapy dogs), I particularly enjoyed attending the Fellowship Breakfast. I’ve been very fortunate to be mentored individually by Gabe Harp and Liz Lorbeer, and it was great to get to know more of the mentors involved in the program. I appreciated the opportunity for the Fellows to ask for specific career advice. Every person there was thoughtful and supportive. Shout out to Jennifer Regala for reminding us that you can, in fact, bring your whole, authentic self to your work.

I first attended SSP in Chicago in 2022, and I remember worrying that I might be out of my depth and not get a lot out of the sessions as a librarian and as someone early in my scholarly communication career. I was, of course, proven wrong. Attending as a Fellow this year, I had more confidence and enjoyed engaging with presenters and other attendees. I particularly enjoyed the panel on the gaps between theory and practice in DEIA in publishing and the interactive session on data sharing workflows.

I loved meeting the other Fellows who were attending in person. We all have different backgrounds and experience, but I immediately felt at home and inspired by their kindness, curiosity, and openness. SSP’s sense of community is so powerful and I appreciate being supported as an early career professional. I look forward to continuing my involvement and strengthening the connections I made at this year’s annual meeting.