September 26, 2023

The influence of AI on scholarly publishing

min read

In recent years, the scholarly publishing landscape has undergone a transformative shift catalyzed by the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) tools. Particularly in response to the disruptive introduction of generative AI over the last 2 years, publishers and advisory groups have responded with statements and policies regarding AI, and the broader academic community has witnessed a surge in conferences and discourse around the transformative role of AI in scholarly publishing. 

AI's influence permeates the entire publishing workflow, from proofreading and abstract generation, through submission, manuscript screening and peer review. The applications extend to production, post-publication categorization, and recommender tools that leverage AI to enhance content discoverability. The rise of AI in scholarly publishing is seen as a means to enhance efficiency, particularly in peer review, where opportunities for increased efficiency abound.

Despite the promising prospects, challenges and ethical considerations loom large. The potential biases in machine learning models, the critical need for prevention of unethical behavior, and the growing complexity of detecting AI-generated content pose significant hurdles. 

In the ever-expanding scholarly publishing landscape, AI is here to stay, prompting a call for collective standardization of best practices to ensure its ethical and effective integration. In a post-pandemic world where the rapid dissemination of critical research is paramount, carefully and strategically embracing the efficiencies offered by AI becomes not just advantageous but an expectation.

The Publisherspeak 2023 breakout session for this theme was chaired by Richard di Santo (JMIR Publications). Contributors to this breakout session include Michael Di Natale (American Association for Cancer Research), Will Schweitzer (Silverchair), Judy Hum-Delaney (Canadian Science Publishing), Dominique Destrée (IWA Publishing), Noel Lin (American Society for Microbiology), Jessica MacDonald (IOP Publishing), Daniel Kulp (COPE), Natalie Jacobs (Emerald Publishing), and Anirban Mahapatra (American Society for Microbiology).

Challenge identified

At Publisherspeak 2023, the group handling this theme identified 3 core challenges pertaining to the influence of AI on scholarly publishing:

  1. How to achieve unified best practice on AI usage?
  2. Integrity in AI-driven research and authorship
  3. Protection of labor

Out of these 3 challenges, “How to achieve unified best practice on AI usage?” was selected as the top challenge to focus on, and the group built their Solution Canvas to address this challenge.

Strategic solutions to unify best practice on AI usage

The landscape of scholarly publishing is rapidly evolving, marked by both promises and perils, as the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) tools aims to streamline and enhance various facets of the publishing process. In light of this, the group at Publisherspeak 2023 proposed a comprehensive set of solutions to navigate the challenges posed by the use of AI in scholarly publishing. 

The strategies outlined in the Solution Canvas encompass improving relationships with AI creators, establishing an ISO working group, creating a dedicated body equivalent to COPE, and forming regional bodies, ensuring inclusivity for all types and sizes of scholarly publishers. The group emphasized the importance of regular reviews, considering disciplinary differences, providing guidance on selecting AI tools for specific tasks, and promoting AI literacy across all stakeholders through educational initiatives.

A wide array of stakeholders, including publishers, societies, authors, editors, reviewers, librarians, funders, and publishing professionals, is involved in shaping the trajectory of AI in scholarly publishing. The success of these proposed solutions is contingent upon measurable criteria, such as publisher and stakeholder adoption rates, AI literacy levels, data capture on AI tool usage and success, and influential industry players like Clarivate adopting guidelines. 

The outcomes of the strategies put forth by the group at Publisherspeak 2023 extend beyond efficiency gains, promising benefits like publisher consistency, clarity on authorship guidance, increased value of content and labor, enhanced support for smaller organizations, and the cultivation of trust in content and processes. As the scholarly publishing community collectively works towards a standardized operating procedure for AI integration, the goal is to establish a framework that is robust and dynamic, ensuring the continued advancement of scholarly communication in the digital age.

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