By Donald T. Hawkins Freelance Conference Blogger and Editor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Note: A summary of this article appeared in the November issue of Against The Grain v29 #5 on Page 92.
A record number of attendees—970 on-site and 40 virtual—gathered at the Sheraton Waterfront Hotel in the historic city of Boston on May 31 – June 2, 2017 for the 39th annual meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP).
The Westin Waterfront, Venue for the SSP Meeting
The theme of the meeting was “Striking a Balance: Embracing Change While Preserving Tradition in Scholarly Communications.” Attendees were treated to a plethora of pre-conference seminars, plenary addresses, panel discussions, concurrent sessions, and an excellent exhibit hall featuring the products and services of nearly 60 exhibitors. One of the highlights of the meeting was the unveiling of SSP’s new modernized logo by SSP President Rick Anderson, Associate Dean for Collections and Scholarly Communication, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.
The opening keynote by Paula Stephan, Professor of Economics, Georgia State University, reviewed the changing research landscape and its effect on publishing.
She noted that although PhD production in the U.S. continues to grow, many new PhDs do not have a commitment when they finish their work, so they become postdocs. Most postdoc fellows have a strong preference for research faculty positions, but the competition for those positions is very strong, so the supply of postdocs greatly exceeds the demand for tenure-track positions.
Publications are a necessary condition for getting out of what Stephan called “postdoc jail”. Many postdocs are willing to work long hours for low salaries and without fringe benefits because they genuinely like the work, but it is absolutely crucial for them to publish their results and be a first author. Many new PhDs, especially in the physical sciences, work in industrial firms that do more applied research than R&D and hence it is difficult for them to publish. The decline of large industrial research labs like Bell Labs has exacerbated this situation.
US universities now operate like high-end shopping malls and are building facilities with ample resources and reputations to attract good students. They lease the facilities to faculty members in the form of indirect costs on grants. Faculty members receive startup funds when they are hired but have no guarantee of income if they fail to obtain a grant. Funding is all important for principal investigators; “publish or perish” has become “funding or perish”. Investigators therefore spend much of their time writing and administering grants in an increasingly competitive environment. Their labs are staffed by postdocs and graduate students who play a key role in publishing. The importance of funding raises the importance of publications; the associated bibliometrics play a key role in grant reviews. Formerly limited to physical sciences fields, this model is now spreading to the social sciences and humanities and is also being copied internationally.
Risk aversion is also becoming important because if a project is not virtually certain to be successful, it will not be funded; advances based on transformative research are less likely to occur. Novel research is therefore risky and rare, and highly novel research is very rare. The implications for publishing are that researchers place a heavy reliance on short-term bibliometric measures and are tempted by quick measures such as those in Google Scholar.
Thursday Keynote: Science and the Trump Administration: What’s Next
Jeffrey Mervis, a reporter for Science magazine, opened the second day of the conference with a discussion of funding, policies, and people affecting research in the federal government. He noted that there is no national science policy and no line in the federal budget for science even though the budget has already been sent to Congress. Nobody in the present cabinet has any scientific credentials or interaction with the scientific community.
There are three components of government policy:
- People. The two leading agencies supporting research, NIH and NSF, have had minimal disruptions. The current director of NSF is in the middle of a 6-year term; all other major science agencies are being managed by acting directors or administrators. The Census Bureau is the agency most urgently in need of a new leader because of the upcoming 2020 census. The President’s Science Advisor has not been appointed yet, and it is not clear that President Trump feels he needs an advisor.
- Budget. Money is the first thing people think about when they consider how the President can affect science. The budget proposals submitted to Congress call for deep cuts to civilian research and a shift toward the military. The administration seems to be saying that there is insufficient evidence that research is a good investment.
- Ideas. Trump has proposed $1 billion to rebuild the infrastructure, and lobbyists have pushed to rebuild the research infrastructure. There is no mention of a science component in the current budget request. A major change is proposed in how the government reimburses universities; it would cap overhead at 10% of NIH’s research budget (currently it is at 30%). University administrators say this is a major expense of doing research, but it is not clear how the administration will proceed.
The public was very divided on the March for Science; about half thought it would increase public support for science. Although 68% of the Democrats thought the march was good, only 22% of the Republicans thought it would help. (Republicans are not necessarily against science, but the message is not getting through to them.) We need fresh ways to define the value of science.
Changes in Academic Book Publishing Models
Librarians have projected that e-book usage will plateau in 2017, even though budgets are projected to rise 5%. A standing-room-only audience at this session heard four panelists discuss the challenges of exposing the content of book chapters and changing the way books are packaged.
Katherine Stebbins McCaffrey, Research Associate at the Harvard Business School, likened e-books to butterflies that have forgotten their caterpillar days (researchers have discovered that butterflies retain a memory of their caterpillar environment). Books have been going through a metamorphosis and do not seem to be at home in their present environment. In a collection of research studies, only 10% of the citations were to books, and e-books were not very important. For example:
- Shelves matter; books were grouped by topic and genre, so once you knew about a book, it was easy to find others.
- Books have a uniform flexible shareable format that has not changed over time, so they are easy to read many times. E-books do not have these advantages because they are not all in the same format.
- Citations lead to other things to read, but e-books either do not have citations to other reading, or the citations were added as an afterthought.
Vivian Berghan, Managing Director and Journals Editorial Director at Berghan Books (an independent publisher of scholarly books and journals in the humanities and social sciences), said that some things in the current way we are displaying and selling our books are working, but others are not. Print sales are steady; e-book sales are increasing; and user engagement on social media is growing. It is necessary to apply a journals mentality to books and treat chapters like articles. But bounce rates are high, and user retention is not working. Book users are not being retained because systems encourage people to move on with one click to see what else has been published, and on many book pages, there are few places for users to go. Metadata for books needs to be enhanced, and many sites need to be redesigned.
Brigitte Shull, Sr. VP, Cambridge University Press (CUP), said that the rise of publisher platforms has improved the outlook for books because:
- Improved search functionality has helped researchers quickly connect with relevant content,
- Combined book and journal platforms have provided value for libraries, and
- The rise of evidence-based acquisition opens discovery of all content types without a paywall.
CUP has redesigned two platforms for books and journals into one, Cambridge Core, which operates on an agile model of constant improvement. New features are added every two weeks; thus, there is a growing sophistication of services promoting research discovery for readers. Both publishers and third parties are helping academics share their work. Some silos between books and journals publishing have come down.
Richard Kobel, VP, Business Development, Scope eKnowledge Center (a provider of knowledge services to specialized information providers), said that metadata and workflow are both important. Metadata has been regarded as core information about a document, but there is really a value chain of bibliographic, descriptive, and semantic metadata that increases the value of the user experience and drives discoverability. Good descriptive metadata is the foundation for enriching content and the core of a successful discovery strategy. The more descriptive elements that are provided, the better the user experience, which leads to increased sales of content. For example, EBSCO Discovery Service and other publishers are working on increasing discovery of books and providing abstracts for them at the chapter level, similar to those typically provided for journal articles.
Author abstracts are a challenge because writing them increases an author’s workload. Many authors do not know how to generate good metadata, so their abstracts tend to be subjective and unstructured. Scope has developed a service called ConSCIse to provide semi-automated development of abstracts and keywords. Considerations include the length of the abstract, number of keywords, controlled vocabulary usage, and required formats. Best practices including use of consistent terminology and wording direct from the content, elimination of author bias, consistency of indexing, and ensuring that the key topics of the chapter are included in the abstract will lead to increased usage and sales.
Walking With Giants: New Agendas for University and Society Presses
The role of publishers is changing from simply providing publication services to a “one-stop shop” for authors, who are increasingly looking for higher levels of services to drive the visibility of their publications. Publishers must consider their sustainability and mission, evolving author and infrastructure needs, new metrics, and a new culture of openness. This session featured representatives from four publishers who described how they are meeting these challenges.
Elaine Lasda, Associate Librarian at the State University of New York (SUNY) Albany, described how metrics are being used in the library’s collection process. SUNY Albany’s budgets have remained flat, so subject librarians decided what metrics they would use. The main factors are cost/use and, to a lesser extent, the impact factor. Usage metrics received from publishers must be converted to the proper format for analysis, which increases library staff workloads. And some contracts are SUNY-wide, so evaluation is difficult, and there are no metrics to evaluate Big Deals. New OA models are also starting to appear, raising concerns about sustainability. Altmetrics can help solve some of these problems because disciplinary boundaries become less important.
Amy Brand, Director of the MIT Press, said that university-based publishing has become a suite of services for authors, and the publisher’s role is still to maximize the readership of an author’s work. “Host it and they will come” is not a viable solution for most academic authors. University presses cannot keep doing what they have always done. Their values are different than commercial publishers; libraries and presses must very much work together.
Relevance to scholars and the community pushes the boundaries of technology and business models. Many authors are interested in reaching more general audiences for their work because of social media; the resulting additional revenues help presses do more OA publishing. Authors expect presses to produce OA versions of their books; partnership with them is important.
MIT Press has recently taken several innovative steps:
- An Espresso Book Machine has been installed in its bookstore.
- The backlist is being digitized by the Internet Archive.
- Partnerships with the New York Public Library, JSTOR, and Yewno have been established.
- Altmetric data are provided to authors, which they appreciate very much because they can use the data to publicize the impact of their research.
Charles Watkinson, Director of the University of Michigan (UM) Press, noted that the changing behavior of students is impacting the revenues of the press. Presses must think about their sustainability and potential new revenue sources. UM Press publishes about 110 books annually; about 15% of them are OA. Mission-driven publishing is very important and it is also important to communicate impact that is not simply financial. Altmetrics can tell the story of the press to its parent institution and can also support small niche journals that otherwise would not be published.
UM Press is working with Emory University to develop a model publishing contract that is intended for use by presses. It is oriented as a partnership, with the author being the winner. Some of the commitments that UM Press makes to its authors are:
- We are partners invested in your success as an author or client.
- We understand the stages of scholarship by providing solutions across the entire publishing life cycle.
- We maximize the accessibility, discoverability, and durability of the works that we publish and enable new ways of measuring influence and communicating impact.
- We are a brand ambassador for the University of Michigan.
Patrick Hansard, Director, Sales and Marketing, American Psychiatric Publishing, said that societies have a broad market responsibility as well as a need to provide for their members. Author services are improved using social media and other communications. Altmetrics speak louder than any marketing comments and are useful in validating editorial choices. Although messages to customers such as promotions, awareness, are discoverability are important, everyday traditional publishing operations still remain in both domestic and international markets.
The Future of Content and Its Containers
According to Tom Beyer, Director of Platform Services, Sheridan PubFactory, containers in the print world include journals, journal issues, and books. Their purpose is packaging, context, and value. In the online world, some containers have collapsed and others have expanded. Online containers allow multiple versions of content to be produced. The singly authored monograph has persisted, which is one reason why e-books have not grown online. Because of interconnections, content can exist in multiple containers at once. In the mainstream internet world, news consumption has evolved, and the value of the containers includes context and additional content. Audio interfaces are appearing; the container in this world is still uncertain.
Ove Kahler, Director, Program Management and Global Distribution, Brill Publishing, said that containers are useful as long as they do not become silos. They were created in the print age for print containers, but they are still sustained in today’s digital age. Containers facilitate transactions by making content saleable and distributable; the digital age allows larger chunks of content and more of them. Journals and books continue to be vital containers; the big question is how to organize their content. One solution is a large umbrella platform which will be the publisher’s corporate home page, catalog, and encyclopedia. Brill has taken this approach which recognizes the differences between the containers.
Will Schweitzer, Director, Product and Custom Publishing, AAAS/Science, said that what matters is how people use a container rather than what it actually is—a unit of expression, evaluation, and how it is sold. Since the 1920s, readers and the industry have been challenged by containers, and since 1999, the use of supplementary material for important content or context that does not fit within standard article constraints has evolved. People are now starting their searches with Google Image; we must pay attention to the services provided by the containers rather than the containers themselves. Here are some relevant considerations:
- Where is the article of the future? Legacy print templates are no longer sufficient.
- Is there a standardized approach to supplementary data? Flat PDFs will not work; the data must be incorporated into workflow solutions to improve discoverability and utility.
- With OA mandates, how do we handle primary data and research artifacts? The article is not an appropriate container for them.
- Sales models have shifted from journal subscriptions to aggregated collections, databases, or individual articles.
- Machine learning and text and data mining will radically change containers and distribution channels.
Tara Cataldo, Librarian and Collections Coordinator, University of Florida, has been studying information choices of students from the 4th grade level through graduate school and their ability to identify containers and determine the credibility of digital resources. Containers chosen by the students included books, conference proceedings, journals, etc. It is important to know the container because it helps determine if the information source is credible; for example, blogs tend to be mainly opinions, but peer-reviewed journal articles must cite their sources. Data from studies such as this can be used in teaching, research, collection building, and information production.
Friday Plenary: Product Reviews
Moderated by David Myers, Principal, DMedia Associates, this popular plenary session featured 5-minute previews of new and innovative products.
The old way of authentication uses IP addresses. Atypon’s new way is a shared WAYF (Where are you from?) cloud network which will launch this fall.
Scientists don’t turn to papers just to “stay on top of research”; they need proof that a product will work. Current search engines are not designed to help scientists find products. BenchSci is an AI platform designed to help scientists find products for experimental design.
Cloud-based executable software for finding and debugging code, and then executing it in the cloud. It facilitates re-use and reproducibility of code.
Crossref Event Data
Web activity references scholarly content that resides outside of the traditional literature. 12 million events have been collected in a centralized database over the last 3 months.
90% of the web is mostly silent and conversation-free. Hypothes.is has collected 1.4M annotations which can be used in post-publication discussions, research, and for direction by author to guide subsequent research.
Identity management is about controlling use; who should be controlling your identity? Publishing platforms typically incorporate identity management, but they exist as disconnected platforms. Users have multiple identities and interact outside of publishing; the result is hidden losses, fragmented understanding of user needs, disconnected confusing access experiences. LibLynx provides identity management for publishers and brings identities and behavior together, which provides identity insights and leads to revenue growth.
New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) Knowledge+
Knowledge+ provides personalized questions and answers, practice exams, tracking, and reporting to ensure that physicians maintain and grow their clinical knowledge and can approach board exams with confidence.
Publisher Solutions International (PSI)
PSI makes relationships between publishers, users, and libraries more secure by validating IP addresses and combatting subscription fraud by rogue agents who buy subscriptions at the personal rate and resell them at the institutional rate. Over 58% of existing IP addresses are wrong and unverified PSI has validated 1.5 billion addresses and provides bribery legislation compliance (the publisher is responsible when an employee offers a bribe to get a sale). Log file analysis allows IPs with a history of content theft to be blocked by publishers.
An editorial engagement platform by RedLink aligns publishers, editors, authors, and readers with tools to comment, download PDFs, circulate content, etc. It decentralizes and unifies the collaboration experience.
Scope eKnowledge ConSCIse
Enhances online experience of users and make publishers’ content more usable. Improves discovery of book content and creates metadata at chapter level.
Digital Science Dimensions for Publishers
When you only see part of the picture, you can get things wrong and make the wrong call. With Digital Science Dimensions, publishers can increase subject knowledge of global funding, identify trends and hot topics, grant recipients, analyze sales, categorize, analyze, report, and do competitive analysis, which will help predict the future of research.
UC Press Editoria
Workflow management has been moved to the web with open source book production. The project is a partnership with the Mellon Foundation, California Digital Library, and Collaborative Knowledge Foundation. PubSweet is Editoria’s platform to build new platforms for book workflows.
The University of Michigan Press platform is built on a library infrastructure. Authors can present multimedia materials integrated into their works.
Content and expert knowledge sharing is fragmented, inefficient and noisy in a market of clunky solutions. Zapnito provides cohesive targeted and branded hubs of expertise and knowledge using knowledge networks and knowledge feeds.
You Are Here: An Industry Map to Journal Publishing
Barry Davis, Sales Representative at Sheridan Press, described a common problem: it is getting more and more difficult to keep up with new developments in the information industry. Twenty years ago, today’s information professionals were children; some journal imprints from that period no longer exist; and predictions of the end of print were common. Today, only about 20% of the industry companies provide background to new employees on the publishing industry.
How do we stay up to date? Many people attend conferences like SSP and visit the exhibit halls. But there has been a 45% increase in the number of exhibitors since 2009, and 71% of today’s exhibitors were not exhibiting then. Davis said that it has become truly more difficult to understand the full scope of the publishing industry, as this slide humorously shows.
In response to these problems, Davis developed a prototype “road map” to publishing to look at the full context of the industry. Here is the top level of the map.
And here is one of the subsidiary pages:
The biggest challenge in developing an industry map such as this is keeping it up to date and deciding who can make changes to it. It is not Sheridan’s desire to do this, so Davis plans to give the map to the SSP Education Committee; meanwhile, anyone interested in this project can contact email@example.com.
Not all “Open” Content is Fully Discoverable: What Can Publishers and Aggregators Do?
Each type of content has its own discovery issues, and barriers often exist. This session featured discussions of three types of open scholarly content.
Lettie Conrad, an independent consultant, noted that there are opportunities for collaborative solutions in both general web search engines and library discovery services. But stumbling blocks are difficult to avoid; it can take up to 20 clicks (!) to get to an accessible version of an article. Hardly any platform has all the useful content, so researchers will do whatever will get the job done, even to the downloading of pirated articles. A series of well-known articles by Science writer John Bohannon is illustrative. OA is not a panacea and OA articles can be hard to find because article-level data is not handled well even by Google.
Publishers should be concerned that researchers have access to “freely available” content. While Gold OA indexing has improved, 10-50% of the articles are still inaccessible. OA must be in the library supply chain. More targeted work around the user experience and SEO is necessary.
Charles Watkinson said that OA data for monographs is even more fragmented than that for journals. There is still an important role available for companies that have made money on sales of books, which is a challenge for OA. He described a report that the University of Michigan made to the Mellon Foundation in which readers were asked to say how they found and used an OA e-book. Almost all of the traffic came from Google; the library catalog makes only a small contribution to discovery. Social media like Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs are also important. The Directory of OA Books is becoming important.
Open Educational Resources (OERs)
According to Gerry Hanley, Executive Director, MERLOT, OERs are extremely fragmented. Students do not know their context or content, and faculty members retain control of what they want to teach. Metadata becomes a challenge; content is often organized like the campus, and people do not know how to differentiate among different types of content. Discovery of OERs is still a cottage industry; many useful tools have been reviewed and listed by MERLOT.
Open Access Mega-Journals and Innovation in Scholarly Communication
OA mega-journals are fully open and have a large scale wide scope. Their approach to quality control is to consider only the technical soundness of the research they publish, not its novelty or importance. The major examples of such journals are PLOS ONE and Nature’s Scientific Reports, which are the largest journals in the world. These journals have generated controversy in the scholarly communication field. In some respects, they are like conventional journals: doing peer review and publishing papers in a familiar format. But they have been criticized as being repositories for sub-standard content and focusing on “bulk publishing” without regard for the novelty of the results they contain.
Stephen Pinfeld and Simon Wakeling, from the University of Sheffield, are conducting a study of the OA mega-journal phenomenon to determine its significance on the academic research community. They interviewed 22 publishers and 9 editors and found these motivations for launching a mega-journal:
- Provide a “home for everything”,
- Effect change,
- Support open science,
- Improve system efficiency,
- Generate revenue,
- Retain rejections, and
- Address market factors.
Peer review policy is the single defining characteristic of these motives; business benefits are linked to revenue generation. These are positive factors and should encourage publishers to launch new journals. Running a mega-journal involves significant challenges.
Joerg Heber, Editor-in-Chief, PLOS, described PLOS ONE as a leading example of a mega-journal. It takes an advocacy role in the open movement. Heber said that “open” is a mindset that represents the best scientific values, focusing on bringing scientists together to share their work as rapidly as possible and advancing science and society as a whole.
Articles in PLOS ONE must be ethical, rigorous, and supported by data (which must be submitted with the article). Everything that deserves to be published will be published, without size limitations. Negative results and replication studies are important parts of the scientific record. PLOS ONE is different because it is not for profit, aims to be inclusive for all research, and serves the long-term interests of the academic communities that it represents. Challenges are that others have followed PLOS ONE’s lead (which Heber said is good because it promotes OA publishing), fewer submissions, content promotion, and quality control and author service. Mega-journals are differentiators in the publishing environment and can be drivers of change in academic publishing.
Peter Suber, Director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication and the Harvard Open Access Project, and a pioneer in the OA movement, closed the session by reviewing some of the advantages of OA mega-journals. They can publish faster, so they increase the speed of information flowing to readers and reduce costs. Their peer review processes are more efficient than traditional ones because they review for soundness only.
Suber concluded his presentation with a series of thoughtful questions surrounding mega-journals:
- Why do we need more than one? How will they compete with each other? Why would an author choose one over another?
- Do some authors think one of these journals is better than others at judging soundness? Do they care about the reputation of the publisher? Does it matter to them that PLOS is non-profit?
- What do authors think of PLOS’s open data policy?
- Does promotion in social media matter?
- How can we improve peer review? Do promotion and tenure committees give points for publication in OA mega-journals?
- Mega-journals receive more revenue per article than other journals. If the revenue is large enough, should they reduce their author publication charges (APCs) and be satisfied with only a small markup.
Closing Dessert Course: A Discussion with the Scholarly Kitchen Chefs
At the closing plenary session, the “Chefs” of SSP’s blog, The Scholarly Kitchen (TSK), gathered for a discussion that consisted of four brief presentations drawing on previous TSK posts with views and probing questions relating to the future of the changing roles of publishers, libraries, research societies, and life in a post-truth world. David Crotty, Editor of TSK, began with the changing role of publishers and said that content providers have noticed that there may be value in supporting research workflows and university business processes. Publishers are currently shifting from being simply content providers to becoming a full service industry.
Journals perform a long list of services which incurs costs. Subscriptions are no longer profitable, and universities have decreased funds for libraries. An article’s metadata may be more valuable than its content; if being a content creator is no longer a viable business, what will publishers become? What services can publishers offer to provide value to the research community and can smaller publishers compete in this new market?
Todd Carpenter, Executive Director of NISO, addressed the changing role of libraries and said that library expenditures and salaries are exceeding inflation. Students are at their limits and unable to borrow any more money, so the only area for growth is endowments, which many institutions do not have. If funding for government research is cut in future years and student debt continues to grow, we can expect that libraries’ fiscal positions will be severely limited. Some pressing current issues that must be addressed by libraries include:
- Libraries are misaligned with their institutions. What is their current role? Do they have enough influence to ensure their position within the institution?
- Libraries seem to be one of the few communities that is deeply committed to privacy. Where more and more services are becoming customized, where does that leave the library? Have they gotten privacy considerations all wrong?
- What is a library today and what are libraries’ core services? Some of them are collections management, purchasing access, fostering scholarly communications, a repository for institutional information and data, and supporting researcher workflows. How an institution defines its libraries will have major impacts on their future in the next decade.
Robert Harrington, Associate Executive Director, American Mathematical Society, examined the roles of scholarly societies as they related to membership, mission and governance, advocacy and outreach, succession planning, and strategy and scale. He said that membership is declining. What does it mean to join? Does being a member sill matter?
What is the relationship of the society and publishers? Commercial organizations dominate in society publishing and may lack strategy for the future. Succession planning for societies is uncertain and marked by a fear of change, decisions to outsource or not, and how to keep the society functioning. Key questions are:
- What is the future for membership societies?
- Should they seek growth or maintain sustainability?
- Does scale matter?
- What are key challenges faced by society publishers?
Kent Anderson, CEO of Redlink, and David Smith, Head, Product Solutions, The Institution of Engineering and Technology (The IET), concluded the session by examining life in a post-factual world., i.e., scientific publishing in a time of political assaults. Several issues are of concern: authors seeking anonymity for safety, immigration of scientists, defunding of meetings, detention of scientists and physicians so they are not able to travel to meetings, and the free flow of information.
Publishing has morphed into a suite of services, and the scholarly record is diversifying, so publishers must be attentive to a “wake-up call”: misinformation from hackers, Sci-Hub as a security threat, and an attack on the information world. Some problems are caused by Silicon Valley; everything is being done by algorithms. We may have thought this is benign but it is obviously not. Algorithms are built to create and drive markets, not create knowledge; which is causing science to suffer. Key questions:
- Have intermediaries become non-neutral?
- Are hackers exploiting our penchant to being disrupted?
- How quickly will AI make a difference?
- Who establishes the truth?
- Will science advance or regress?
- Who is in control?
The 2018 SSP meeting will be in Chicago on May 30 – June 1 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel.
Donald T. Hawkins is an information industry freelance writer based in Pennsylvania. In addition to blogging and writing about conferences for Against the Grain, he blogs the Computers in Libraries and Internet Librarian conferences for Information Today, Inc. (ITI) and maintains the Conference Calendar on the ITI website (http://www.infotoday.com/calendar.asp). He is the Editor of Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage, (Information Today, 2013) and Co-Editor of Public Knowledge: Access and Benefits (Information Today, 2016). He holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley and has worked in the online information industry for over 45 years.
 For example, see http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/04/whos-downloading-pirated-papers-everyone
 “Mapping the Free E-book Supply Chain”, available shortly at http://www.publishing.umich.edu/projects/mapping-the-free-ebook/
 “When is a Publisher Not a Publisher? Cobbling Together the Pieces to Build a Workflow Business”, https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2017/02/09/cobbling-together-workflow-businesses/
 “Library Expenditures, Salaries Outstrip Inflation”, https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2016/03/29/library-expenditures-salaries-outstrip-inflation/
 “Libraries May Have Gotten the Privacy Thing All Wrong”, https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2016/06/23/libraries-may-have-gotten-the-privacy-thing-all-wrong/
 “The Role of Scholarly Societies”, https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2014/09/24/the-role-of-scholarly-socieites/
 “Scientific Publishing in a Time of Political Assaults”, https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2017/01/31/scientific-publishing-time-political-assaults/
 “Publishing in a Time of Information Warfare—A Wakeup Call”, https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2017/04/03/publishing-in-a-time-of-information-warfare-a-wakeup-call/
Leah was appointed Executive Director of the Charleston Conference in 2017, and has served in various roles with the Charleston Information Group, LLC, since 2004. Prior to working for the conference, she was Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions for the College of Charleston for four years. She lives in a small town near Columbia, SC, with her husband and two kids where they raise a menagerie of farm animals.