In what has become an annual tradition, below we ask the 2024 winners of the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s (SSP’s) Fellowships for their impressions of the 2024 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 2024 for you?”

2024 SSP Fellows at the SSP Annual Meeting

Melissa Chim, Scholarly Communications Librarian at Excelsior University

I am very grateful to have the opportunity to be a Fellow this year and attend the annual meeting! Being part of a cohort of such passionate professionals has been one of the best parts of my fellowship. It was an absolute pleasure working with my partner Lucie Van Emmenis on our poster. I’m also very grateful for my mentor, Cason Lynley who has been so welcoming and supportive.

I had such a wonderful time attending SSP this year that it’s difficult to choose one highlight, but one session that really blew me away was the Closing Plenary! It was an Oxford style debate focused on the question Has the Open Access Movement Failed? I was really looking forward to hearing the opinions of speakers who work outside of libraries. I recently attended an open publishing conference where most participants were other librarians. They would answer the debate question differently than others working in different areas of publishing, such as journal editors. I really appreciated hearing a wide range of perspectives. I was also surprised that the end of the debate turned into such a nail biter! The closing audience poll showed 50% of Yeses and 50% of Nos for a long time before the Yeses won. Although most respondents thought the Open Access movement failed, I appreciated that many in the chat had high hopes for the future.

Emma Ferguson, Journals Commissioning Editor at Emerald Publishing

As an SSP 2024 Fellow, it was brilliant to experience the annual meeting for the first time this year. The highlight for me was the seeing the outcome of collaboration between myself and my poster partner, Alice Burns. Being paired with another early career professional in the industry, outside of my organization, was something I’d never had the opportunity to do before and so it was great to be expanding networks in this way throughout our fellowship. We were able to combine our differing perspectives of the industry gained through our careers so far to present research on the current open access landscape for early career researchers. Seeing our final poster submission in the Grand Ballroom amongst all the other excellent research, as well as our video presentation on the Whova App, felt like a massive achievement- the culmination of our hard work over a number of months.

Given it is such a significant hot topic in the industry right now, open access was also a reoccurring theme of the annual meeting sessions, for instance in the Closing Plenary “Oxford-style Debate: Has the Open Access Movement Failed?”, so this allowed us to further enrich our knowledge that we had gained from our poster research. Although we were both attending virtually, we were able to meet up together in person, and so it was great to be able to discuss our thoughts about the virtual sessions as they were happening.

Alice Burns, Journals Marketer at Liverpool University Press

As a Society for Scholarly Publishing Fellow for 2024, I have found the program to be both an incredibly welcoming and warmly supportive institution within the ever-competitive world of academic publishing.

Being part of current conversations around the challenges, progress and big questions currently facing the scholarly publishing sector really enriched the experience for me as an early career member. The insights shared during the Fellowship monthly calls also encouraged me to think critically and creatively about the difficulties and opportunities that may lie ahead.

Being able to attend the annual conference virtually was a hugely valuable experience, and the SSP went to lengths to make our time at the conference via Whova go as smoothly as possible. It was just a shame we didn’t get to see all the panels as the schedule for 2024 was rich and diverse with talent and new voices.

A personal highlight was the collaboration process with Emma Ferguson at Emerald Publishing, with whom I worked on a poster jointly which explored the current funding landscape available for early career researchers wishing to publish their research open access. The aim of the project was to go some way to explaining the disparities and areas of improvement in the sector, offering a call for change in the scholarly publishing ecosystem. The SSP facilitated our research and networking to build relationships like these, and also with my mentor. She was very supportive throughout the whole process, offering valuable feedback on our poster, in addition to providing wider advice about navigating the sector more broadly. I would highly recommend the experience.

Kelley Klor, Programs Administrator at the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums

The 2024 SSP Fellowship was a fantastic experience. Not only did the fellowship provide an opportunity to learn more about scholarly publishing, with which I have no professional experience, but the fellowship also provided opportunities to connect with other fellows, my mentor, and conference attendees.

I enjoyed working with my group on our poster leading up to the conference. Each group member brought a unique perspective and interesting ideas, and our poster came together nicely. Meeting my mentor, Simon Holt, was a highlight. Simon provided many good educational resources and helpful advice, and during the conference, introduced me to others in the library and information science field.

During the conference, the plenary session on “The Rise of the Machines” impacted me. I enjoyed the part of the discussion about research integrity, and how high-pressure academic situations can pressure people who feel overwhelmed into using AI shortcuts in their work. As an incoming adjunct professor this fall, I stopped and considered how I could support my students in high-pressure situations. I especially enjoyed that AI was presented as a tool, and not in a negative light.

Finally, I found the SSP conference to be a welcoming and friendly space. I got the impression that members collaborate congenially, and with pride in their work. Learning about the different committees was helpful, and I appreciated the celebration of one another during the awards luncheon. People involved with SSP appear to genuinely enjoy involvement in this organization.

I am grateful for the opportunity and the privilege of being involved and learning so much through this fellowship. I expanded my network, gained new ideas in my work, and am excited to participate on a committee. Thank you for selecting me!

Jennifer Tucker, Associate Editor, PLOS ONE

Choosing a single highlight from the 46th annual meeting of the SSP is no easy feat. The entire conference was packed with exciting and engaging sessions, opportunities to network and learn more from colleagues across the industry, as well as presenting our own poster projects.

Connection and community were an important part of the conference, as the attendees were welcoming, enthusiastic, and inspiring. Meeting the other fellows in person was fantastic, sharing our experiences, career progressions, and backgrounds really opened my eyes to the diversity of roles and entries into scholarly publishing, as well as underlining some commonalities which we shared. The evening receptions were great opportunities to connect with others, from those who are newer to the industry, to those who have worked a huge variety of roles and seen the shift in publishing over previous decades. The organizing committee were friendly and freely offered their advice and wisdom for us to apply as we move forward in our careers.

Around the central theme of ‘Inflection Point’, as scholarly publishing enters its next age of progression, focused sessions on the role of Artificial Intelligence in the future of the industry, and the need for human-centricity to remain at the core of what we do; considerations around reframing the meaning of impact in scientific publishing, how to incentivize change, and reprioritize publishing pressure; and presentation of novel tools for everything from author disambiguation and reviewer finding to weeding out problematic or fraudulent submissions. Across it all was consideration of how to improve DEI and accessibility across the industry, within publishers and for our collaborators and audiences, to ensure that science can truly be accessible for all.

Above all, I think my highlight was the shared sense of curiosity: to learn from each other, embrace opposing views and consider all angles.

Ellie Brown, Editorial Coordinator at Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

The highlight of attending SSP 2024 was the connections I made with the other attendees, especially the other Fellows who were there in person. The idea of attending a conference along with almost one thousand other people seemed quite daunting, but I quickly learned how welcoming the SSP community is, whether it’s your first time attending the annual meeting or your forty-sixth. Attending the annual meeting alongside a cohort of other Fellows provided me with a solid foundation (and a set of fast friends) that allowed me to confidently network with new people, since I knew there would be some familiar faces in the crowd. I was pleasantly surprised that everyone I met was more than happy to chat with me, whether it was about my poster presentation, a session we had just attended together, or how I was enjoying my unique experience as a Fellow. I felt the supportive and inclusive environment in every interaction with past, current, and future SSP presidents, SSP committee chairs, vendors, poster presenters, panelists, and other attendees. I left the annual meeting with a stack of business cards from the wonderful people I had met, increased confidence in my networking skills, and a better sense of the wide variety of individuals who make up the scholarly publishing community. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and for the lifelong connections that I made, and I look forward to seeing new and old faces at SSP 2025!

Jesubukade Emmanuel Ajakaye, Systems Librarian, Federal Polytechnic Ayede, Oyo State, Nigeria

Though I could not attend in person, I enjoyed the virtual meeting, particularly the Opening Plenary on The Rise of the Machines and the Oxford-style debate on “Has the Open Access Movement Failed?”. I learnt a great deal from all the sessions I attended during the SSP Annual Meeting which was held in Boston. I enjoyed the Networking Sessions as well as Breaking Down the Breakouts Sessions where we got to interact with the Speakers more. The entire Fellowship program was a great opportunity for me to develop the necessary skills in my career. I collaborated with Natalie Pendergast from the United States on our Poster which was on display during the Annual Meeting. We had extensive discussions around our topic and it made the poster development hitch-free and a success.

The Fellowship also afforded me a mentorship program in which I learned a lot from Heather Staines — she introduced me to other opportunities I could fit into, and I always looked towards our next conversation because it was always informative. The Leadership Academy further enriched my teamwork skills and critical thinking to apply progressing through my career path. Overall, the fellowship with SSP impacted me in numerous ways and the experience was beyond expectations to help me to serve my community better through gained experience. I look forward to more engagements as I progress in my career.

Natalie Pendergast, Monograph Acquisitions Librarian, University of Pennsylvania

It’s difficult to point to one specific highlight, but I will say that overall, I left with equal parts excitement about the future of scholarly publishing and the changes coming, and further questions about the future of scholarly publishing, which I think is the perfect way to leave. Going in, I was worried that I’d leave feeling uneasy about the lofty topics discussed, like AI and research integrity, but instead I left feeling optimistic that so many people are putting their brilliant minds together to work through the uncertainty with tangible plans and solutions. The SSP meeting gave me new perspectives to explore, and concerns to keep in mind.

Coming from the academic library world, it was incredibly helpful to see how DEIA is being discussed outside my bubble. The educational session “More than Words? The Unspoken Experience of DEIA” went into what contributes to job satisfaction, and management tools to create more inclusive environments, in a way I haven’t been exposed to before. In a field with high levels of burnout, I think these are key things to keep in mind, ensuring we’re creating spaces where librarians want to work. Overall, I left with a lot of motivation to contribute to change in the way we’re talking about AI at my institution, and continue learning more about the new ways research can be published outside of the traditional journal format. It was an exciting, packed few days. I can’t wait for SSP 2025 now!

Maribel Gomez, Publishing Inventory Associate, Copyright Clearance Center

Attending the SSP meeting in Boston was an incredible experience. As a Fellowship winner this year, I had the unique opportunity to utilize my creativity and conduct research on a topic close to my heart: “Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Open Access: Insights in Latin America.” This research allowed me to delve into the various challenges and opportunities within the realm of open access publishing in Latin American countries, providing a platform to highlight and address critical issues related to inclusivity and equitable access to information.

The highlight of attending SSP 2024 for me was the chance to connect with a diverse group of professionals who are equally passionate about advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in our field. Engaging in deep, meaningful conversations about DEI and learning from the experiences of others has truly enriched my perspective. Meeting my professors Randy Townsend, the president of SSP this year, and John Warren was a particularly special moment. They have been great mentors during my graduate studies at George Washington University, and their support has been invaluable. My mentor, Pooja, also stopped by my poster, showing her unwavering support, which was incredibly encouraging.

I also had the opportunity to meet and network with my colleagues from CCC, who have been welcoming and supportive. It was lovely meeting new professionals and expanding my network within the scholarly publishing community. Additionally, the opportunity to present my research and receive feedback from such a knowledgeable audience was invaluable. This experience has not only enhanced my professional growth but also reinforced my commitment to making a positive impact in scholarly publishing regarding DEI and assisting young professionals.

Pavithra Naullage, Assistant Managing Editor, American Chemical Society

Attending SSP 2024 was a memorable experience. I left the annual meeting with a profound sense of gratitude for the 2024 fellowship cohort, the new connections forged, and the wealth of knowledge gained from the sessions.

One of the unique experiences of the SSP 2024 annual meeting was connecting with the other fellows. The discussions about our diverse backgrounds and how our shared interests led us to scholarly publishing were not just enriching but also led to the formation of strong, long-lasting relationships. This was undeniably one of the high points of the annual meeting.

The mentorship component was another distinct aspect of the fellowship program. Meeting and connecting with my mentor, Meredith Adinolfi, in person at the annual meeting was an invaluable experience. With my mentor’s guidance, I could engage with senior-level colleagues at other organizations, expanding my network and gaining insights from their experience in the scholarly publishing industry. The SSP annual meeting fostered a warm and inclusive environment for me as an early career professional.

Kudos to the programming committee for putting together a terrific program. The content of the annual meeting was spot on and clearly relayed the message that we are at an infection point with the emergence of generative AI and the associated research integrity concerns. The wealth of knowledge I gained by attending the SSP meeting in 2024 will help me stay informed about the latest developments, challenges, and opportunities in the industry.

Lucie Van Emmenis, Scientific Editor, Rockefeller University Press

For me, the highlight was really the diversity of the talk topics, and the conversations that they initiated afterwards. I was able to attend sessions on academic publishing trends, equity, diversity and inclusion in peer review, the role of AI, the future of the research landscape, and innovation in journal publishing models. I have found myself thinking back on a lot of the topics, going back to my session notes, and seeking out further reading online. In particular, the topics of AI and peer review have come up organically in meetings and conversations I’ve had since the SSP annual meeting, and it’s been a great opportunity for me to share some of what I have learned, and to have open and honest conversations with people.

Of course, another meeting highlight was being able to meet some of the other fellows in person for the first time! After interacting over Zoom for so long, it felt really good to connect in person, and to learn more about all of the other amazing fellows, and the people who have supported us all year! The poster session also allowed me to share the poster I have been working on with my partner, Melissa Chim, and it was so great to engage with some more SSP members and discuss our poster topic (open access vs. preprints).

The general environment of the meeting was very welcoming, and inclusive. The excitement and passion from the speakers, moderators, attendees, exhibitors and SSP leadership was infectious, and I have come away feeling so motivated to get more involved with SSP, and to attend future SSP events!

Opeyemi Rachael Oboh, Student, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Metaphorically, SSP can be likened to a giant tree with its branches serving as connective spaces for individuals, early career professionals, and established professionals alike to derive nourishment and thrive. It is indeed a community. This core value was at the center of my experience at the SSP 46th Annual Meeting, both as a fellow and a first-time attendee. The meeting was a resourceful and insightful platform that brought together the leaders, connoisseurs, and young professionals within the publishing and allied industries.

The keynote presentation by Deborah Blum was a thought-provoking and reflective assessment of science journalism, as it juggles integrity and trust amidst a beaming mistrust trajectory within the scientific landscape. Themes of mistrust reverberated in most discussion sessions, especially with the increasing penetration of Generative Artificial Intelligence in scientific research and communication. Another key highlight was the networking opportunities the Annual meeting afforded attendees. It was an exceptional pleasure to meet my mentor in person — Chhavi Chauhan — and other scholars whom I wouldn’t have dreamt of meeting if not for the conference.

Finally, though we have had monthly meeting sessions, one of the highlights was meeting with other fellows, SSP volunteers, and employees who have been interfacing with us during the fellowship. The in-person interactions added a personal touch to our professional relationships, fostering a stronger sense of community and collaboration. These connections, both old and new, reinforced the essence of SSP as a nurturing and interconnected network, dedicated to supporting the growth and development of its members. The experience was enriching, leaving me with lasting memories and valuable insights that will undoubtedly influence my career path in the publishing industry.


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