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07.05.2023 | SSP News & Releases

President’s Letter | July 2023

The Society for Scholarly Publishing President’s Letter highlights scholarly publishing news from the last quarter, resources you might have missed, and reflects on progress toward our community’s strategic goals.

The final week of the first month of my term as President of SSP was an emotional rollercoaster filled with excitement, reunions, celebrations, and frustrations. I spent the early part the week in quiet reflection, replaying some of the experiences and observations from the month. I was present when the C4DISC Antiracism Toolkit for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) received a coveted EXCEL Award for their partnership with the dynamic design team at GRAPHEK in the Pro-Bono category.  

That partnership and collaboration mirrored the spirit of SSP in every way. GRAPHEK, who is not formally tied to SSP (yet) volunteered their time and talent under extremely tight deadlines to breathe visual life into an extremely important industry resource. Last year, Ellen Kim, Walter Kim, Christina Davies and Nancy Lu were presented with an ambitious framework with delicately fragile and emotionally charged content and challenged to deliver. That team worked hand-in-hand with project leads Kerry Webb, Alejandra Mejia, Damita Snow, and other dedicated volunteers, along with the inspiring Dawit Tegbaru who oversaw the final digital platform performance.  

The night was filled with long-overdue reunions, laughter, and a true shared respect for meaningful content. In that same ceremony, the GW Journal of Ethics in Publishing received an EXCEL Award for DEI Initiatives. This particular recognition was special (to me) in a different way. The journal reflects an unselfish industry-wide professional investment into the students of the Masters of Publishing program, the future leaders of scholarly communication. I was privileged to have a backstage pass to the commitment, creativity and brilliance of the students, volunteers, and contributors. 

There is a common theme woven through these experiences that amplifies the fundamental principles of human connectedness that has become inherent in the character of SSP. You see the solidarity illustrated in the earnest pursuit to understand why Juneteenth is such an important holiday and in the shared joy of watching the American Chemical Society’s float cruise the streets of Washington, DC in celebration of Pride Month.  

The 2023 Annual Meeting welcomed 611 scholarly communications professionals to Portland, with another 102 virtual participants. The sessions magnified topics ranging from mass retractions, content integrity, licensing, and emerging technologies, and we learned, we laughed, we shared and we struggled together. We celebrated healthy competition in support of the Generations Fund, and we acknowledged the commitment and contributions of various leaders from across SSP. These reflections allowed me to smile even wider.  

As June came to a close, the US Supreme Court decided to strike down affirmative action, block President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, and limit LGBTQ+ protections. It was a gut punch. I immediately thought about the impact of these decisions and how they will cascade into our daily lives. These decisions sought to shatter those successes and dim their impact. 

I admit that I can find myself getting comfortable in my bubble of people and discussions that amplify the fundamental principles of human connectedness and that in June, I was on a dopamine rush. The reality check that I received allowed me to refocus on why these initiatives and discussions are important. My grandmother would call them necessary evils. A reminder of how these decisions impact scholarly publishing and the individuals connected to our industry. Using affirmative action as an example, if this decision results in lower college enrollment and graduation rates for BIPOCs, how will that impact your pool of peer reviewers or your initiatives to expand diverse representation among your editorial board members?   

As much as a DEIA advocate as I am, maybe that’s not your jam. There is no shortage of risk or threats to our people or our content. Maybe your primary concern is implementing a viable open access strategy or climate change or paper mills, or generative AI. These are all potential conversations to bring to your regional group meetups or your employee resource groups or to propose for an SSP webinar or annual meeting session.  

Despite our well-deserved successes and accomplishments, we have work to do. It’s important that each SSP member has an opportunity to add their voice to the conversation. This is not a time to sit on the sideline. Share these conversations with your colleagues. Explore collaborative opportunities wherever possible and appropriate. Here are some upcoming SSP events and opportunities to join the conversation: 

Innovation ShowcaseNew and exciting industry innovations from Cactus, Hum, Kriyadocs, Morressier, Origin Reports, and Xpublisher – July 14, 2023. This event is FREE, but please register.  

SSP Training Series – “Open Access: Understanding Mission, Models, and Mandates” – July 19 & 20, 2023. Register. 

2023 Webinar Series – “Innovate or Fail—The Value of Collaboration for Innovation” – September 13, 2023. Register. 

2023 Ask the Experts Series – “Ask an Expert about Open Data” – September 20, 2023. Register. 

New Directions in Scholarly Publishing – ”Navigating the Shifting Sands: Managing Disruptions in Scholarly Communications” – October 4–5, 2023. Sponsored by Access Innovations and Morressier. Register. 

GW Ethics in Publishing Conference – October 12, 2023, hybrid event, with in-person and virtual presentations and attendees, at George Washington University, in Arlington, VA. Call for presentations.  

And don’t forget to engage with our colleagues online in the C3 Member Exchange or in one of our Communities of Interest Networks for Early Career Professionals or Humanities and Social Science Publishers.  

Thank you to every one of you for making SSP such a special and inclusive organization. I’m confident that we will grow through these challenges together and that this time next year, as we look in the rearview mirror, we will be proud of our resilience, our connectedness, and our potential.  


Randy Townsend
2023-2024 SSP President

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