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Scholarly Publishing and Scholarly Values Revisited

This is a note (1 of 2) to report on my two speaking events this week. I had wanted to write more of them, but business and a weak internet connection at my hotel have kept me from it until now. Here are some notes on the first of these two events.

Earlier in the week I was a guest of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. I had been invited to be the keynote speaker for a ” A Forum for Authors and Creators of Academic Works.” The event was titled: Scholarly Publishing and Scholarly Values: Choosing our Future and it was organized by a great group of UMN folks committed to work on scholarly communications issues. It was an honor to be asked to participate in this event and I learned a great deal from my time talking with everyone there. On Monday night I was treated to a wonderful meal and a small group discussion of the UMN campus context and big picture of scholarly communications at the university. On Tuesday at lunch, I met with the UMN Scholarly Communications Collaborative and we had a pleasant meal filled with a great and (for me) very informative conversation about changes and developments in scholarly communication. After lunch was the event itself. I spoke of my experiences working as a scholarly editor trying to make sense of the changing publishing landscape, with special attention to open access efforts and the factors that are shaping them. I offered a number of provocations/predictions and tried to address the questions that were posed for the event as a whole (listed here). The event was recorded and streamed to folks who could not fit into the room at the library. It is now available online at: https://umconnect.umn.edu/p48935637/ An important part of the forum was hearing from three faculty discussants and participating in a wide-ranging discussion with the in-person and online audiences.

One of the discussants was Gabriel P. Weisberg, a senior art historian at UNM who has been very involved in the founding and continuing good work of Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century Visual CultureThis is an impressive gold open access journal now publishing its 9th volume. Professor Weisberg described the history of the journal, its successes and niche, and reflected upon questions of long-term sustainability in OA journals published outside the framework of commercial or society publishing.

Another discussant was Neil E. Olszewski, a UMN professor of plant biology. He provided a scholarly society perspective, reflecting on his work as a member of the publications committee of the American Society of Plant Biologists, a society that is confronting the same issues that are posing challenges for those North American scholarly societies who have come to depend on publishing revenue to support non-publishing activities. Professor Olszewski is also the incoming chair of the UMN library committee, a parallel role to that which I have served in at IUB over the past year.

The final discussant was geneticist Stephen C. Ekker. In addition to publishing extensively in the gold OA journal PLoS One, he is the Editor-in-Chief for Zebrafish, a journal published by one of the remaining small science publishers Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

With this rich and diverse background, the panelists made a range of important observations on the changing landscape of scholarly communications and were able to very effectively engage with the excellent questions posed by the audience. I learned a great deal from their observations and appreciate their generous response to my own reflections.

My thanks go to Dean of the Libraries Wendy Pradt Lougee, to her exceptionally talented staff and colleagues, to the UMN Provost and other event sponsors, and to the engaged audience that came out for this event. The organizers did a wonderful job and it was an honor to visit such a dynamic scholarly community.

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