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Allison Leung

Manager, Product Development, American Chemical Society


Please tell us a bit about yourself (e.g., hometown, current locale, course of study).

I was born on Long Island in New York but spent most of my life in California, bouncing between Southern California and Northern California (though I consider myself a NorCal girl at heart). I currently live just outside of Washington, DC.

I did my undergrad at UC Davis, and double majored in International Relations and Economics. I eventually tacked on an English minor as I loved books and thought I might as well get some school credit if I was going to be reading anyway.

Describe some of your current responsibilities and what type of organization you belong to.

I am currently the Manager of Product Development for the American Chemical Society, working in the Global Editorial Operations teams. In this role, I work with a small team to oversee a suite of products designed to help support or enhance the experiences of our journal authors and reviewers. This includes products like ChemRxiv, Author Lab, Reviewer Lab, and ACS Authoring Services.

What was your first scholarly publishing role? How did you get that job? What path led to your current position?

Technically, my first scholarly publishing role was back during my undergrad at UC Davis when I helped to launch a student-run academic journal called the International Affairs Journal, where we published research from undergrads across the globe. But my first paying job was as a Product Editor at SAGE Publishing, which I actually got because the former IAJ Editor-in-Chief had gotten a job at SAGE, and he helped to bring me on board.

I worked at SAGE nonconsecutively for ten years, having left around year 7 for a position at PLOS. I eventually returned to SAGE to help them launch their preprint server, Advance. I loved working on Advance and realized that I wanted to transition out of my editorial role into a product management role. When I saw there was an opening with ChemRxiv, a preprint server I had been admiring from a distance for a few years, I jumped at the chance and have been so grateful to have joined the ACS and ChemRxiv team!

If there was a pivotal moment or key person in your career development, please describe briefly.

I distinctly remember back in 2011, when SAGE launched its first open access journal, SAGE Open, I was incredulous that authors would want to pay money to publish when they could publish for free elsewhere. Little did I know that a couple of years later, I would be working at PLOS and would be passionately advocating for the benefits of open science, open access, and preprints. I’ve been advocating for those things ever since, so joke is on me!

What do you wish you knew more about?

 I’m currently interested in learning more about accessibility in design as I think it’s an important but often overlooked part of what we do.

What advice would you give to people interested in a career in scholarly communications?

Learn to be ok with change and disruption. And bonus points if you find change and disruption to be exciting rather than frightening. For an industry that been around for hundreds of years, the last couple have taken some surprising turns and it helps to be able to view those challenges as opportunities to learn and grow.