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Lettie Conrad

Independent Publishing and Product Development Consultant

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

I am a proud southern California native and my home office is currently based in beautiful Ventura County. In both academic and commercial sectors, my career is dedicated to optimizing the researcher experience with digital scholarly resources. I bring evidence-based, human-centric product research and development practices to my work with publishers, libraries, and technology providers, and to my own scholarly research.

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

During the last 17 years, I have established an expertise in user-centered web and mobile product development, most recently specializing in academic content discoverability, accessibility, and usability in scholarly information user experiences. Most recently, I have been an independent publishing and product development consultant, working with a portfolio of global clients ranging from tech start-ups to publishers of all sizes. I am a doctoral candidate and research assistant to the coordinator of a remote Information Science program at Queensland University of Technology via San Jose State’s iSchool. I am also pleased to be serving as North American Editor for Learned Publishing and chef in The Scholarly Kitchen.

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

My 10 years with SAGE began in Publishing Technologies and those years spent up close and personal with XML journal articles was formative in my understanding of digital content. I quickly learned the value of automation, semantics, and thoughtful content management, seeing both benefits and limitations of metadata first-hand. It was during those years that I became convinced that technology must serve our customers’ and readers’ information needs, rather than users adapting to fit the software.

What tools, web sites and organizations do you find most valuable for your career development?

People! I believe all work happens in the context of relationships — so people are the most valuable assets in my career development. Speaking regularly with industry colleagues as well as end-users is probably my favorite way of being informed about what matters in scholarly communications — that’s formal industry events and conferences like SSP, informal meet-ups online or in-person, social  media, etc. Perhaps most importantly, research opportunities to learn from the authors, editors, librarians, and others that power the engine of academic knowledge are the most influential.

What do you wish you knew more about?

Gosh, so many curiosities come to mind! Generally, I’m continually refining my ability to articulate the researcher experience across the scholarly information workflow. My background is social-science heavy, so I have been learning more recently about both academic and private-sector STM fields, laboratory sciences, and engineering information experiences.