Top 5 take-aways from the UKSG annual conference

Posted on May 15, 2015   by Aisling Sealy

Last month I attended the UKSG annual conference in Glasgow, which was a dynamic meeting of librarians, publishers, intermediaries and technology vendors. There were talks and plenary sessions which explored a number of different topics in scholarly communication, as well as plenty of opportunities to network with colleagues.


Conferences are a vital way for us to engage with issues in the world of scientific publishing, and UKSG allows us to hear things from a librarian’s perspective.  Here are my top five take-aways from the conference.

1. A Strong Case for Open Data

Open data is a hot topic at the moment and its merits and virtues were discussed at length in seminars. Geoffrey Boulton of The Royal Society held an insightful plenary session on ‘Open data and the future of science’. He made a convincing case for open data, and stressed the need to get better at our system of sharing in order to make data more discoverable and accessible. From my conversations with other delegates, it seemed that many there agreed with Boulton’s closing words that ‘science should be open and not closed behind lab doors’. All of our journals welcome deposition of supporting data, and we have recently launched our first journal to have a mandatory open data policy, Microbial Genomics.

2. The Approach

With many librarians attending UKSG there was a good opportunity to get some feedback on how librarians like to be approached by publishers, and what is most important to them when renewals season comes around.  From a customer services point of view USKG was invaluable as it not only gave an understanding into what librarians want, but also what they are struggling with and how we can help.

3. The Open Access Journey

The breakout session chaired by Lorraine Estelle of Jisc on ‘How publishers are dealing with gold open access and article processing charges for hybrid journals’ was highly insightful. It explored a range of different open access models, and provoked some interesting discussions between publishers and librarians. Open access is still a journey, and publishers and librarians alike are continuing to adapt to what works best for them. The Society for General Microbiology supports sustainable open access – offering a gold open access option for all its hybrid journals, as well as publishing two fully open access journals, JMM Case Reports and Microbial Genomics.

4. Long Live Peer Review

Peer review is still a significant aspect of scientific publishing, with more organisations devoted to understanding and improving peer review than ever before, and a number of new products and services designed to assist and advance it. Throughout the course of the conference, many publishers and librarians championed peer review, and studies have shown that researchers consider peer review to be an essential part of scholarly publishing. At the Society, we understand the value of peer review and are extremely grateful to all our dedicated reviewers. We would like to thank them for volunteering their valuable time and expertise to provide high quality, constructive feedback to authors.

5. Listen and collaborate

This is perhaps the most important message that I took from the conference. Publishers need to listen to librarians and researchers – they know what the end-users want from a publication. We also need to listen to the industry and work with others to stay on top of trends and meet new challenges. Listening is a crucial tool for discovering the solutions that are out there for the problems that publishers are faced with. Many of the new exciting projects happening at the Society are down to listening, communicating, and getting feedback from our customers and end users.

Overall I spent an invaluable three days at the Glasgow conference and look forward to attending next year’s event.