2010 European Conference of the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors

The International Society of Managing and Technical Editors (ISMTE) European conference took place at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, on Tuesday, 19 October 2010.

The morning session comprised two highly instructive presentations on plagiarism screening. Kirsty Meddings, product manager of CrossCheck, summarized the development of CrossRef, described case histories of publishers who had been using it, and reminded attendees that not every case of overlapping text is necessarily deliberate plagiarism. Meddings was followed by Alice Malhador, of the Institute of Physics Publishing, who reported on the institute’s implementation of CrossCheck. She explained that her colleagues had taken different approaches that depended on the needs and nature of each journal. Although there was an effect on workload, rewards included better-quality articles, better-educated authors, and some time saving later in the editorial process as time spent on decisions was reduced.

Irene Hames, managing editor of The Plant Journal (now an editorial consultant), led a workshop session in which groups discussed two case studies of issues raised by the use of CrossCheck. She gave attendees some useful pointers about how to avoid running afoul of libel laws: for example, do not accuse someone specifically of plagiarism, and avoid sharing information about possible cases with a large group.

In the afternoon, Geoffrey Bilder, director of strategic initiatives of CrossRef, shared his entertaining and enlightening views on social networking, in particular the relevance of Web 2.0 to scholarly publishing. In his wide-ranging talk, he emphasized that the challenge for publishers was not how to get more content to more readers but how to help readers minimize their reading load. The value of social networking was in helping researchers to help each other discover what they should pay attention to. He also introduced attendees to Web 3.0: helping researchers to use machines to discover what they should pay attention to; he noted that this required publishers to structure text and publications so that information could be automatically retrievable.

Mark Patterson, director of publishing of the Public Library of Science (PLoS) described how PLoS facilitates rating, commentary, and bookmarking of articles. He also explained how PLoS is moving beyond the confines of the traditional journal through such initiatives as PLoS Hubs (which aggregates and builds communities around open-access content) and PLoS Currents (which uses a Web-based author tool and small review boards to facilitate rapid publication). Patterson proposed that the level of commentary, such as social bookmarking and blog coverage, was a new way of measuring research impact. He suggested that publishers not try to build artificial communities themselves but instead ensure that their content is open to and picked up by existing social networks.

Davina Quarterman, of WileyBlackwell, introduced and facilitated a breakout session in which delegates discussed how two very different journals could face the challenges and seize the opportunities of social networking tools. In the context of the afternoon session, we were delighted to find that Quarterman, Meddings, and Alice Ellingham (of The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers) had all tweeted about the meeting, and Meddings commented on it in the CrossRef blog.

CAROLINE BLACK (caroline@mackeith.co.uk) is the managing director of Mac Keith Press and a member of the European Conference Committee for ISMTE.
Modified from the original report published in the November issue of Editorial Office News, the ISMTE newsletter, available at http://www.ismte.org/File/Members/November-2010-EON.pdf.