Publishing Conferences: The Changing Landscape of Scholarly Communication in the Digital Age

8 Feb

confbanner2Blogging has been light lately—then again, blogging is almost always light—but the last month has been particularly busy with the PR blitz about to kick off for the new RV DVDs and forthcoming RV books. (Certainly, however, it does seem like a million years ago, not just a month, since I had the time/inclination to spend a big chunk of publishing-related energy doing things like editing videos of trips to Abilene.) This next week, though, will be a change of pace as I’ll be attending The Changing Landscape of Scholarly Communication in the Digital Age conference at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas.

As much as trade publishing has been hammered over the last couple of quarters—hardly a day goes by without at least one announcement of layoffs, restructurings, and specific figures about plummeting earnings—university press publishing, both books and journals, is suffering through its own set of crises. There are the financial woes: smaller subsidies from universities and other parties, shrinking acquisition budgets of academic libraries, and declining sales shared by the whole industry. At the time, there is ongoing debate about how to best to implement open access policies for scholarly work while also developing a business model that allows university presses to survive and thrive. Finally, with tenure-track positions requiring numerous publications in refereed journals, there’s the issue of how publications will be rated when there may only be an online/digital edition of a professor’s work.

So, this first annual conference co-sponsored by Texas A&M University Press should be interesting as it has identified the following major topics to be addressed:

  1. open access
  2. intellectual property rights
  3. peer-reviewed electronic journal and book publishing
  4. improving access to publicly funded research and the scholarly work of faculty
  5. the effects of new scholarly publishing models on the promotion and tenure process
  6. how university presses can best contribute and sustain themselves in this changing landscape
  7. the best uses of university resources to cover these mission-centered responsibilities and costs
  8. the role of the university libraries as institutional repositories and facilitators for faculty scholarship

Our publishing operation is a kind of an unique hybrid—textbook and trade publishing combined—so we don’t fulfill—currently at least—the kind of scholarly mission as university presses. We are, however, in higher ed publishing and part of a larger college system so many of our organizational—read “financial”—concerns do parallel university presses. At the very least after going to the Publishing Business Conference & Expo in March last year this should prove an interesting counterpoint.

Finally, hats off for the conference organizers for having no registration fees to attend. Given the state of everyone’s travel budgets these days, this is a great incentive for people to attend. A detailed program schedule can be found here and speaker info here.

(I’ll try to Twitter updates while I’m there but I refuse to be one of those people who’s tapping away at a Blackberry or some other PDA in a session/meeting oblivious to everything going on around them. I don’t care they’re indicative of millennials taking over the world or not . . . it’s just rude! )


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