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Highlights from NISO Plus 2022

NISO Plus 2022

The NISO Plus conference is a lucrative platform for stakeholders from different areas of the publishing supply chain to get together, ideate, and debate on the latest global trends and challenges in publishing. True to the theme of NISO Plus 2022, Global Conversations :: Global Connections, the virtual event fostered lively discussions on topics across publishing, technology, and information.

At kriyadocs—a proud sponsor of NISO Plus 2022—we put together highlights from some of the sessions that took place during this insightful event.

Publishing – Challenges and opportunities galore

The highlights in this section cover NISO Plus 2022 sessions around a variety of areas in publishing.

An open world: Open access research, and science

What is open science? What does the future of research entail? Questions such as these were answered in the session, Open Science: catch phrase, or a better way of doing research?

  • When the research community builds on its science, it continues to be able to understand more complex things.
  • The future of research involves:
    • researchers working as teams rather than individuals with a lot of international collaboration
    • robust tools to discover relevant research worldwide – interoperable data
    • licenses that support reuse
  • The 5 key pillars of open science are:
    • open scientific knowledge
    • open science infrastructures
    • science communication
    • open engagement of societal actors
    • open dialogue with other knowledge systems
  • The concept of “smart data” is put forward with a vision to support researchers towards smarter decision-making. Smart data is a data format that is computable, self-explanatory, and actionable in a network environment.
  • There are many opportunities for automation in an open science publishing workflow. Automation can help simplify the author submission process and reduce friction across the publishing process.

Although open access (OA) publishing has been growing over time, especially with several new Transformative Agreements being signed around the world, there are many challenges with OA implementation. These were discussed during the session, Open access implementation pain points.

  • Who’s going to pay for OA and by how much?
    • Article Processing Charge (APC) – the author pays
    • Transformative agreement – the institution pays for its authors
    • Diamond/Platinum journal – neither author nor reader pays (a journal may have a benefactor such as a library or a host institution that subsidizes costs)
    • Subscribe to open – the journal opens up a year’s worth of articles if an undisclosed number of its subscribers remain subscribed
    • Green OA – readers get a free option, authors do not pay (this option requires infrastructure related to repository maintenance and staffing)
  • The sheer complexity of the whole open access situation and how it’s increasingly difficult to create outreach materials that quickly and easily explain all this are common challenges.
  • It is important to ask with regards to these models what kind of behaviors and values the research community wants to support with limited funds, and then, how to assess this OA content.

The session, Preprint review: addressing cultural barriers on the path for a more positive and inclusive review ecosystem explored the adoption, benefits, and challenges of preprint review.

  • Science is an iterative, self-correcting process.
  • Public preprint review has benefits for authors, reviewers, journals, and readers, including the opportunity for authors to publicly rebut any concerns about their research, providing context and making expert evaluation of the work available to readers, and more.
  • Having reviews in a preprint server can help authors who are writing similar types of papers ensure that they address the most common reviewer concerns.
  • Despite its benefits, participation in public preprint review remains low.
  • The broader preprint ecosystem is evolving rather rapidly and is ready for this next phase of incorporating public review. But a cultural change is required for this to be accepted among scientists, and this kind of change takes time.

The importance of investment in open research infrastructure addressed what open digital infrastructure entails and how it can be built.

  • Understanding what comes under “infrastructure” is important to bring every stakeholder involved on the same page. What does and does not come under the umbrella term “infrastructure” and who gets to decide?
  • The definition of “open infrastructure” includes the following aspects:
    • Open source solutions
    • Transparent pricing
    • Equal participation and accessibility
    • Governance based on community needs
    • Minimal restrictions on the production and sharing of research
  • According to UNESCO recommendations on open science, digital infrastructure should be governed by the scientific community and financed and sustained by governments.

Metadata, a powerful tool for publishers

Who are the interconnected entities in the “nested triangle” of OA book publishing? What are the roadblocks to metadata supply? These are some of the questions that were answered during The “nested triangle” of metadata supply for OA books.

  • The entities in the “nested triangle” are academic libraries, content aggregators, and OA books publishers/providers.
  • The roadblocks to metadata supply are:
    • missing or inaccurate metadata
    • metadata requiring conversion
    • metadata that cannot be shared for reuse
  • There is a need for a common license for metadata so that it is open throughout the supply chain.

Rich, machine-readable metadata has become critical for the discoverability of journal articles. The importance of metadata and open science on research outcomes explored metadata quality, the need to share research outcomes, and open infrastructure.

  • The 4 factors of metadata quality are completeness, availability, conformance, credibility.
  • It’s essential to continue creating the infrastructure for adopting grant DOIs across the research spectrum.
  • Why share research outcomes?
    • Discovery sharing
    • Funding is limited
    • No need to reinvent the wheel
    • The pace of scientific discovery will accelerate
    • Imperative in a pandemic to find cures
  • Publications are moving from being “the” thing in the scholarly communication world to being “a” thing. We’re seeing different manifestations in the way information is shared.
  • The infrastructure of the research ecosystem needs to continue to evolve, PIDs are critical for global metadata, standardization and adoption will accelerate research.
  • The future is AI/ML. This technology will enable people to spend less time aggregating and searching for information; it will just be embedded in everyone’s daily lives.
  • Open infrastructure will enable a global research ecosystem that will save millions of researchers time and money.

Going with the publishing (work)flow: moving metadata from the point of peer review delved into the power of metadata to boost research discoverability.

  • Metadata is information that describes information. The true value of metadata may not be immediately apparent, but it may prove crucial when taking the time to consider its potential value.
  • Metadata is a publisher’s best marketing tool for discoverability.
  • Every kind of metadata available is like a different hook, a different way for content to be grabbed up into what the discoverability services are surfacing.
  • JATS is a standard, but different places that take the JATS XML might have additional rules, and JATS has flexibility.

Moving away from restrictive research assessment metrics

The session Alternative forms of research assessment and impact dealt with the challenge of moving away from research assessment metrics that emphasize too much on certain aspects of research.

  • Too much importance is given to a small aspect of research – journal-level metrics (impact factor/citations) that reinforce power dynamics in academics.
  • It is important to think about impact metrics and include researchers/academics in defining the impact and assessment.
  • Based on subject area and type of publications, the impact may be defined differently and may not always be quantitative. It is necessary to evaluate journals on a values-based approach in incorporating DEI – diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Evaluation is a moving target, requiring flexibility and control over our data, systems, and processes. Open/openly licensed data sources and community approaches to improving data would allow scalability and be cost-effective in the long run.
  • With big data and faster computation, the research community can step away from single measure metrics and re-evaluate impact metrics like public engagement, economic impact, diversity, etc.

Making content accessible, the equitable way

Accessibility in the scholarly information space explored the need for accessibility and what is needed to make scholarly information accessible in an inclusive and equitable manner.

  • Key misconceptions regarding accessibility, especially in higher education: accessibility is only for students; just because something is electronic, doesn’t make it inherently accessible.
  • There is a need to integrate and embed accessibility at all phases and stages, from procurement right to the end. When thinking about open access, it is important to see who we’re opening up the access to—is it inclusive and equitable? Different people have different access needs and preferences depending on their impairment type and also based on their disciplinary expertise.
  • Universities and research institutions have separate production teams who do accessible versions or remediation work, which is an expensive endeavor.
  • Increased collaboration between different stakeholders like libraries, content repositories, technologists, and disability services to create a common infrastructure to remediate and share content can help streamline this process.
  • Accessibility metadata and a unified search of metadata and source files in different repositories are integral to the discoverability and accessibility of content.

A multilingual research ecosystem

Multilingualism in scholarly communications involved a deep dive into making research available in multiple languages and being more inclusive of research written in languages other than English.

  • Multilingualism, as we understand it, includes the publication of primary and secondary research in non-English languages, the publication of bilingual or multilingual texts, and the publication of translations into English or other languages.” — Jessica Clark, Project Coordinator at Coalition Publica.
  • “If we can watch movies in other languages, listen to music and read books, why is academic publishing slow to adapt to multilingualism?” asks Harini Calamur.
  • To become truly open, access to translations to multiple languages needs to be seamless.
  • There is a clear need for working together to embrace multilingualism, making multilingual content discoverable and accessible, as well as re-evaluating research assessment to include publications in non-English languages.

Technology – Changing publishing as we know it

In this section, we share highlights from sessions around the metaverse, AI and machine learning, and semantic SEO.

The metaverse has been a hotly debated topic in recent times. The session Welcome to the Metaverse: The Profound Consequences of a Science-Fiction Vision covered the implications of the metaverse and what this technology could mean for human interactions.

  • We’ve moved from consciously logging in to the online world to a blurring of the boundaries. With devices that are always on, we are never fully offline anymore.
  • Growth is what matters to social media giants, and overall, the growth of Facebook is leveling off, but the platform is still growing fast in Africa & Asia.
  • Mark Zuckerberg renaming Facebook as “Meta” represents a shift in the conversation towards thinking, ideologically and ecologically, about the metaverse.
  • What are the implications of efforts to enhance, embed, and fuse VR, AP, haptics, wearable tech, self-tracking, “smart” devices, automobiles, “smart” cities, and cryptographic assets?
  • The scary Ms: Monitoring, Monetizing, and Manipulating minds! It is important to look at what would actually enhance human interactions, ask the basic questions again, and guide the next few technological decisions towards a healthier way.

AI and machine learning – less theory, more practice took a closer look at how publishers have been experimenting with AI solutions and the associated challenges.

  • The main question is: Where is it more beneficial to apply AI/ML in your organization?
  • 2020 was all about fiscal responsibility for both large and small publishers. In 2021, everything was moving online.
  • Larger publishers are starting to experiment with AI. However, smaller publishers are not investing in AI-based technologies. Bigger players are able to adapt better to newer technologies.
  • The major challenges for the implementation of AI solutions are:
    • Financial investments
    • Uncertain ROI
    • Recruiting of skilled employees
    • Lack of competencies
    • Training of staff
    • Cooperation with external partners
  • Departments that are expected to benefit from the use of AI include Analytics, Content creation, Sales/Marketing, Production, Translation, Editing, Production, and more.

Below are a few key talking points from the session, Using semantic SEO to create discoverable, accessible, machine-readable definitions of the people, places, and services in global information community institutions and organizations.

  • Wikidata is being used as a means of documenting and surfacing researchers, publications, and research data in a number of ways. It provides an opportunity for sharing faculty scholarship on an open and accessible platform.” — Association of Research Libraries white paper on Wikidata: Opportunities and Recommendations.
  • The Wikipedia entry of “library” says that a library is a collection of materials, books, or media that are easily accessible for use. This is a very building-centric perspective of libraries, and libraries are much broader than just a building. They are people, services, expertise, online collections.
  • Semantic SEO – Semantic search relies on a network of related entities like contextually related concepts, ideas, people, places, and things to determine what a web page is about and the “intent” it might fulfill. Optimization adds coding and indexing to web pages to proactively give search engines more information.

Information – Communication and collaboration beyond borders

The key talking points from Centralized vs. decentralized information systems – issues of trust and control were:

  • The decentralized web movement aims to make it easier to create services, systems, even organizations that inherently have privacy, persistence, and transparency.
  • An application of blockchain technology in open access – To verify authorship and offer proof of provenance of data. The blockchain allows the creation of transparent and immutable records where users can verify that something is authored by someone, or that the data and results that are shared come from a specific origin.
  • The decentralized web aims for persistence, payment, and mutual value for creators that can be used in scholarly communications.

Sustainability, accessibility, and the role of the global North and South were discussed during the session, Working towards a more ethical information community.

  • Every job needs to be a climate job in order for all of us to thrive in the future.” — Rebekkah Smith Aldrich.
  • An ethical information community is one that is sustainable and accessible. Expand climate and sustainability scientific publications to a wider reach with plain-speaking language, translations, press releases/publicity beyond academia.
  • How to implement the UN SDGs in your organization? Identify products and initiatives that target SDGs. Create these products, educational resources, and datasets and share them with other stakeholders who can use them.
  • How does the research system/information community fit in the UN SDGs? Components within the research system – accessing past research, conducting research, communicating research, and using research. Ethical concerns stem in different stages of the research system.
  • “To make the scholarly society more ethical, ethically aware and ethically active, the North and South should take the initiative and responsibility together, to meet in the middle and collaborate.” — Dr. Haseeb Md. Irfanullah.

For more information about the line-up of sessions and speakers, visit https://niso.plus/. Click here to read the recently published letter about the event from Todd Carpenter, the Executive Director of NISO.

Image courtesy: Discussion vector created by pch.vector – www.freepik.com

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