Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by Lettie Conrad and Lillian Wang Selonick. Lillian is an assistant managing editor at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

Labor Day Weekend has passed, and the end of summer is upon us; farewell to white pants, stone fruit, and 8 PM sunsets. It’s time to look forward to the event of the coming season: SSP’s New Directions Seminar (NDS) on October 4-5 in Washington, DC and online! The theme for this year is “Navigating the Shifting Sands: Managing Disruptions in Scholarly Communications.” As the pace of change in our industry continues to accelerate, this annual seminar exploring the bleeding edge of topics in scholarly publishing becomes increasingly vital to understanding our work and our place in this brave new world.

Early registration ends this Friday, September 8, so don’t delay!

We have an exciting lineup of speakers and a range of sessions that cover the whole of the research and publication lifecycle. I spoke with several members of the seminar planning committee to learn what they’re most excited about.

Business conference, room full of people looking at a screen, image taken from the back of the room


What are you most looking forward to about the session you’re organizing?

Ginny Herbert: I’m organizing the session, “The Impact of Externalities: Rethinking Funding, Research Projects, and the Global Body of Knowledge,” and I’m looking forward to having my brain stretched. When I was sketching out the session, my primary objective was to have participants leave the room questioning everything they think they know about what we call knowledge (including myself!), and now that our panelists are confirmed, I’m confident the session will deliver on that. I’m excited to learn more about how much more I need to learn.

Dr. Jane Amaral and I are organizing the session, “Rethinking Peer Review: Will New Models Bring New Voices to the Scholarly Dialogue?,” and the panel has phenomenal people. Jane researches peer review models that engage the public and will be presenting on her own work, Dr. Alessio Bolognesi will be discussing eLife’s recent model shift and whether journals are still fit for purpose, and Elizabeth Marincola, Senior Advisor for Communications and Advocacy at the African Academy of Sciences and the only nonscientist to have ever been named the Fae Golden Kass Lecturer at Harvard Medical School, will be discussing global inclusion in peer review and reviewer incentives. It’s still surreal to me that Jane, Alessio, and Elizabeth are all volunteering their time to share their insights with us — I’m just beyond excited to hear them speak.

Janaynne (Jane) Carvalho do Amaral: Regarding the session for which I am one of the organizers and panelists, “Rethinking Peer Review: Will New Models Bring New Voices to the Scholarly Dialogue?,” I am most looking forward to sharing and discussing initiatives in scholarly publishing to make science and peer review more equitable, diverse, and inclusive.

Walker Swain: For “Tech Topics that ChatGPT Thinks You Should Know About,” we have secured a great group of three panelists with diverse experiences to address different emergent trends. I look forward to seeing their differing perspectives all gel together in their respective talks.

Jeff Lang: The session I’m organizing along with Walker Swain will be great for picking up the tech trends and changes that aren’t already overwhelming your feed and other conference agendas. We called it “Tech Topics that ChatGPT Thinks You Should Know About,” because that’s where all conference abstracts will be coming from soon, right? There’s no doubt that AI and LLMs are the biggest story of the year, but there’s a lot more going on and you won’t want to miss out on these updates that affect how researchers access and interact with scholarly content.

Heather Staines: With a reputation for trying new things, I’m always trying to stretch my brain. This year we’re trying something I’m calling “reverse roundtables,” where the attendees stay put and the facilitators rotate through phases of the Research Publication Life Cycle. With two facilitators for each topic in the room and one virtual facilitator per topic, there are a lot of moving pieces, but my co-organizers, Jordan Schilling and Matt Cannon, and I are very pleased with how things have come along. Attendees can look forward to learning about some areas they may not be as familiar with and to contributing input around their own expertise. I’m so excited to be welcoming so many new participants to NDS, including some folks who are earlier in their careers. We’ll do our best to keep everyone awake after lunch.

Jamie Devereaux: For our session, “Authorship in the Age of AI,” I am looking forward to a robust discussion around AI tools for authors and how they are currently helping authors in the writing process — from translations to literature search to integrity checks and more.

Lettie Conrad: This may sound strange, but I’m looking forward to the closing session of the seminar, where Lori Carlin, Chief Commercial Officer at Delta Think, will lead attendees in an interactive workshop on managing change and developing professional resiliency. Not everyone is comfortable with introspection, but I believe Lori’s workshop will offer everyone a chance to reflect on how we cope with change and address the skills we need to mitigate the physical and emotional impacts of stress wrought by constant cycles of disruption and change. This is the sort of uniquely supportive and nurturing offering you can only find at an SSP event!

Which session other than your own are you most excited for? Why?

Ginny Herbert: It’s hard to pick just one! I’m really excited for “Tech Topics ChatGPT Thinks You Should Know About.” I think I have a pretty big knowledge gap in new technologies and novel technology applications (and the recent speed of AI news hasn’t helped that!), so I expect this session to be extremely informative. It also looks like it’s stacked with incredibly knowledgeable people! I attended Paul Gee’s session at SSP in the spring, and it was one of my favorites.

Jeff Lang: I’m looking forward to the session on “Sharing and Publishing Research Data: Challenges & Opportunities.” Data publication is the biggest change to scholarly authorship since full-color figures and I think it represents an opportunity for all publishers and service providers to think deeply about how we add value to the scholarly ecosystem.

Heather Staines: Can I punt and say all of them? Seriously, don’t make me choose when so many are relevant to the discussions I hear every day at Delta Think. And, to be honest, I go to NDS for the people as much as the program. The timing for the event couldn’t be better, as folks will still be fresh from their summers and will not yet have hit the wall for Frankfurt and other fall meetings. The size of this meeting makes it easy to see old friends and meet new ones.

Jamie Devereaux: I am excited for the entirety of the program! Particularly the session on “Rethinking Peer Review: Will New Models Bring New Voices to the Scholarly Dialogue?” This is a question that I think about a lot as it is incredibly important to have a diverse community of reviewers, authors, and readers.

Jane Carvalho do Amaral: I am excited about the session “The Impact of Externalities: Rethinking Funding, Research Projects, and the Global Body of Knowledge” because it is related to peer review and better practices to make science more inclusive and less colonized.

Lettie Conrad: The keynote! Closing out the first day of the seminar, Dr. Rebecca Brendel will bring her expertise in bioethics, psychology, and medicine to the topic of research integrity. I’m particularly hoping to learn more about what motivates scholars to produce fraudulent content or manipulated data, and what the scholarly communications industry can do to counteract mis/disinformation.

Are you new to NDS or have you served on the planning committee in the past? 

Ginny Herbert: I’m brand new to NDS! Being on the planning committee has been a fantastic experience. There are several people on the panels I’m planning that I’ve long looked up to from afar, so I am over the moon that I’ll get to ask those folks questions as a moderator. Because NDS offers one session per time slot, it gives session organizers the ability to attract extremely impressive, accomplished people who might otherwise turn down a 10-15 minute non-keynote speaking slot. I think you can really see the fruit of that format advantage in our speaker lineup. Having the opportunity to collaborate with people that I think of as rock stars has been both thrilling and fulfilling!

Walker Swain: Not new. My participation has definitely broadened my network in a great way.

Jeff Lang: This will be my second time planning a session for New Directions. Last time, we went looking for new people and products to introduce to the community. This time, we’ll be sharing important changes in the technology landscape from trusted people and brands you already know. I feel good that New Directions is a seminar where you can learn from a mix of old and new connections.

Heather Staines: I’m a long timer on this committee. After some years of trying to find our way with fall programming, the NDS concept really caught fire — initially under the guidance of Sophie Reisz, but now with Lettie Conrad at the helm. I’ve met people I might not have met, and I’m pleased to say that some speakers from previous years have now joined in the planning. (I say: Watch out! Speaking at NDS is a gateway to wider involvement at SSP!)

Jamie Devereaux: I am new to NDS in 2023. It has been an excellent mode to connect with colleagues and stakeholders across the publishing community while volunteering toward mutual goals. It has been a really nice experience so far.

Jane Carvalho do Amaral: I am new to NDS. Serving on the planning committee gave me the opportunity to work with different professionals in scholarly publishing, and understand the challenges of finding speakers for the seminar having in mind the values of diversity and inclusion.

Lettie Conrad: I’m a long-time seminar attendee, but first-time organizer this year!

What are you most looking forward to doing/seeing/eating in Washington DC? 

Ginny Herbert: I know it’s cliche and city agnostic, but I am SO excited to see people in person! There are several folks coming that I usually engage with virtually, so it will be such a pleasure to spend time together IRL.

Walker Swain: Le Diplomate!

Heather Staines: Whether I arrive by car, train, or plane, the buildings and monuments of DC always take my breath away. I’m a historian at heart, and my mind goes back to all the eyes that have gazed upon these powerful symbols of our nation and all the events that these iconic places have hosted. For us to get together in a place with such deep historic meaning is the icing on the NDS cake for me! (Maybe I can eat some cake too, while I’m in town!)

Jeff Lang: I’m excited to be back in AGU’s new building. It’s gorgeous and I have a bad case of office envy.

Jamie Devereaux: TBD 🙂

Jane Carvalho do Amaral: For doing, I would love to visit the Library of Congress. For seeing, I am excited to meet people from the Committee that I have not met in person. For eating, I am looking forward to eating all types of American pastries!

Lettie Conrad: As a former DC resident, fall is my favorite season in the mid-Atlantic — so I’m looking forward to seeing the beautiful autumn colors and feeling that lovely crisp air!

Don’t miss out on what promises to be a stimulating, exciting seminar. Early Registration ends Friday, September 8. Can’t wait to see you all in October!

Lillian Wang Selonick

Lillian Wang Selonick

Lillian Wang Selonick is an assistant managing editor at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In addition to managing a team of five editorial coordinators who oversee peer review from submission to acceptance, she leads the Corrections team, which handles all post-publication update requests.

Lettie Y. Conrad

Lettie Y. Conrad

Lettie Y. Conrad, Ph.D., is an independent researcher and consultant, leveraging a variety of R&D methods to drive human-centric product strategy and evidence-based decisions. Lettie's specialties sit at the intersection of information experience and digital product design. She currently serves as Product Experience Architect for LibLynx, Senior Advisor for DeepDyve, and a part-time lecturer for San Jose State's School of Information. Lettie is also an active volunteer with the Society for Scholarly Publishing and the Association for Information Science and Technology, among others.


1 Thought on "Navigating the Shifting Sands: New Directions Organizers on the Upcoming Seminar"

I appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm and all the efforts that went in to planning another great line up and new formats.

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