Lasting impressions from another great SSP Annual Meeting

The Society for Scholarly Publishing’s Annual Meeting, the 41st such event, was held this year in beautiful San Diego and the Cabells team once again had an amazing time reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, and attending excellent sessions full of great discussions. The focus of this year’s meeting was on connecting stakeholders from around the globe to usher in a new era of scholarly communication. A common theme that emerged in so many sessions was the importance of previously underrepresented groups and markets being connected to the scholarly community as we move ahead to tackle new challenges and bring about the “New Status Quo.

Having had some time to step away and reflect on the meeting we are imbued with a sense of community and the pressing need to work toward removing barriers that prevent the sharing of research. Things were kicked off on a very high note by Dr. Mariamawit Yeshak, Assistant Professor of Pharmacognosy at Addis Ababa University, who spoke of the disconnect between the rate of publication and impact on societal development in Africa in her opening keynote.  Dr. Yeshak stated that “research is not complete until it is shared” and that was a common theme that could have been applied to many sessions throughout the meeting.  The need to leverage technology to ensure indigenous peoples and their methods in key areas such medicine, farming and animal husbandry are not marginalized was made clear.

Inclusion and diversity can not just be buzz words. They must be the tenets that we use to build the future of scholarly communication.  This thought was also front and center during the day 2 keynote talk by Betsy Beaumon, CEO of Benetech, a nonprofit organization with the mission to empower communities with software for social good.  Ms. Beaumon spoke of the need to think of those with disabilities from the outset when developing technology.  The key to her message was, “everything born digital must be, and can be, born accessible.”  There are one billion disabled people on the planet and the vast majority of them cannot consume information through the traditional methods that have dominated the information sharing landscape.

Technological innovations are opening a world of possibilities to those who were previously denied access to knowledge. While this is a huge move in the right direction, it is also important to think critically of existing technology and examine just how accessible the products and platforms are (or quite possibly, are not) and how they can be made truly accessible to all.  While there has been significant progress made in this area, and more and more technology is being developed to be accessible from “birth,” there is still a great deal left to be done.

Thanks to all who made this year’s SSP Annual Meeting a memorable one, and we cannot wait to see you all next year!

Guest Post: Business Ethics — Challenges and Conundrums

Are case studies about to play a key role in the development of business teaching and cultural awareness? In a guest post Gina Vega, Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Instructional Cases, argues that the need for higher education, the business world and society at large to collaborate is stronger than ever, and invites interested parties to get involved in this critical discussion.


Business includes any transaction that requires money or ownership to change hands. Even in a barter-based society, engagement in business would be unavoidable in our 21st-century world. Business is what we “do.” However, the way we conduct our business is not consistent between individuals or across cultures and nations. Our business conduct reflects our norms and serves as a measure of the moral nature of our society.

We often relegate the topic of the moral nature of society to philosophy, the study of systems of thought. Business ethics is applied ethics, or the study of systems of action to our own actions. Philosophy provides the structure, but the behavior itself emerges from our inherent sense of morality which, in its turn, derives from philosophical perspectives, socio-economic and legal models, and religious training.

The many forms of decision-making are the core of business ethics: how we make decisions, why a decision must be made, how we can evaluate various options for action and select a recommendation, how we can reflect on the purpose of the decision and its potential consequences, which tools we can apply when analyzing an opportunity or an action, the correct identification of the decision to be made, syncretic (reconciled) approaches to harmonizing options and opportunities, and more. How do we apply the lessons learned from a vast array of multi-disciplinary theories to the small, daily decisions we make in business, and how do we wed our various small tactical decisions into a strategic behavioral thrust for our organizations?

We start by asking four BIG questions:

  • Cui bono? (Who benefits?)
  • Who is going to get hurt?
  • How will my decision affect my personal sense of morality?
  • What is the goal of business?

We conclude with an even bigger question:  What actions do our values endorse?

Cui bono?

The Starting Block

Regardless of our role in an organization or business, we are frequently confronted by conundrums that challenge our moral compass, our ability to apply ethical standards, and our actions on the ground. Our goal is to develop and share materials that can help our students learn how to handle the ethical issues that grow from today’s experiences and trials through providing guidance and practice in ethical analysis.

At the International Journal of Instructional Cases (www.ijicases.com), we share a strong commitment to advancing good business ethics curricula for both undergraduate and graduate programs. To that end,  we are sponsoring a competition aims to generate teachable concise cases with expanded teaching notes related to addressing the ethical challenges presented to businesses and organizations internationally for use in the classroom and the boardroom.

Case submissions may focus on any specific ethical theme, as long as the case is four pages or fewer, following the submission guidelines here.   Cases may be submitted in English, Spanish, or French and will be reviewed in English.

Cases may be focused specifically on any area that relates to business or organizational ethics on a wide variety of levels: individual, teams, SMEs through multinationals, even nations or regions. Challenges may come in the disciplines of marketing, management, human behavior, economics, finance/accounting, logistics, and others.

Prize:  The winning case will receive an award of US $250 and fast track review for publication in IJIC. The prize will be awarded in December 2019.

Key Dates:

  • 1 March, 2019, Submissions open
  • 1 August 2019, Submission deadline

We warmly encourage your submissions and your visits to www.ijicases.com where we are pursuing a focus on a wide range of societal forces that have evolved into an increasingly complex web of societal, government and business relationships.  As society is changing and raising its expectations for business and government, the existence, power and changing nature of our relationships and expectations requires careful, and ethical management attention and action.  The need for education, business, and society to work together has never been more critical. We have made our personal and professional commitment to developing tools that encourage the next generation of learners to share our focus on ethical business behavior.

Please join us!


Gina Vega, Ph.D. Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Instructional Cases, taught corporate social responsibility and entrepreneurship for 20 years and is widely published in academic journals. She has written or edited seven books, including The Case Writing Workbook: A Self-Guided Workshop (1/e and 2/e, also in Spanish).  Dr. Vega is a Fulbright Specialist with assignments in Russia (2010), the UK (2012), and Peru (2018). She has been Editor-in-Chief of The CASE Journal, associate editor of the Journal of Management Education, and Teaching Case Section Editor of Project Management Journal. She is president of Organizational Ergonomics, an academic services consulting firm through for writing workshops and technical writing assistance (www.orgergo.com ).

Not all black and white

Two recently published articles by Cabells highlight the problems facing scholarly publishing. Their author, Simon Linacre, summarizes the articles and explains why publishing services are likely to see an increase in demand


Why do people go to a coffee shop? These institutions seem to have been doing a roaring trade in recent years, fueling the growth of multinationals such as Starbucks as well as local stores specializing in artisan coffee. But people going to these places are not there to drink coffee – they are there to meet friends, do some work, read a book or 101 other different things in addition to having a coffee. The success or otherwise of coffee shops is not necessarily down to the quality of the drinks available, but how well they facilitate the needs of their customers.

And in the digital world, those needs are changing fast, as they are for academic libraries the world over. People no longer visit the library to find information, but to do almost everything coffee shop customers also do. Which is why you will often find the best coffee places inside libraries, where 30 years ago you would run the risk of being thrown out for daring to drink the brown stuff.

Changing places

If libraries must adapt quickly, then so do publishers, and simply putting books and journals online doesn’t quite cut it in the brave new digital world. In 2019, the scholarly publishing press has been awash with stories of cancellations and so-called ‘read & publish’ deals that mark the transition from predominantly subscription deals to open access agreements between libraries (and the consortia/governments that represent them) and academic journal publishers. However, this is not the beginning of the end of academic publishing, more likely it is the end of the beginning of the second phase of scholarly communication development.

The first phase was subscriptions themselves and their dominance and growth during the 20th century; the second phase began with the Big Deal which almost inevitably has ended with the move to free access and open access to research. The next phase is likely to focus on a shift towards the taxonomizing and facilitation of research, so that the huge boom in available content will in some way be more manageable for researchers. This is why they will likely want to use the library as a resource – as well as for getting a decent coffee while they do so.

User case

In two articles recently published in EON, the journal of the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors (ISMTE), I have set out how the Cabells Whitelist and Blacklist are geared up for this third age of publishing in supporting academic libraries to meet the challenges currently facing them. In the case of the Whitelist, it helps academics understand the myriad of options they have where once they had a relatively simple choice of which journal they should choose to submit their research articles. Now they have a much more complex picture before them. Depending on where they are based as a scholar, there may be Open Access mandates in place directing you to choose Open Access-only journals, or lists of designated journals from your Dean in given subject areas, or repositories or platform-based outlets that do not operate like traditional journals at all.

So, for the user of journals or any kind of research platform, the picture is a complex one. However, in addition, there are risks inherent in this complexity as predatory publishers prey on uncertainty and lack of knowledge of this new, changing publishing environment. In this respect, the Blacklist also supports the work of librarians, research managers and authors themselves by providing a reliable, curated list of 11,000+ predatory publishers that researchers should steer well clear of.

Combined, use of the Whitelist and Blacklist can act as a safety net for those involved in the decision-making process for article publishing. This process will never be a black and white process, but it hopefully adds at least some clarity to the blurred lines that have rapidly emerged in recent years.


References

Linacre, Simon (2019) ‘Life Without Journals? Platforms, Preprints, and Peer Review in Scholarly Communications’, Eon (March 2019) https://doi.org/10.18243/eon/2019.12.2.2

Linacre, Simon (2019) ‘Hiding in Plain Sight: The Sinister Threat of Predatory Publishing Practices’, Eon (April 2019) https://doi.org/10.18243/eon/2019.12.3.1

Two worlds collide

Two events this week in the UK have little in common at first glance, aside from the fact that the Cabells team are attending both of them. In his latest post, Simon Linacre compares and contrasts #UKSG2019 and #ICAM2019 in order to tease out how such events can remain relevant in today’s changing scholarly environment.


The life of an academic, and those who make a living supporting their work, can be a nomadic one at times, thrusting you in and out of both familiar and unfamiliar scenarios at breathless speed. This week, I joined one of my colleagues at Cabells at the UK Serials Group (UKSG) conference in Telford, and while the location lacked a certain glamour, it made up for it in interesting debates and the feeling that at least some progress was being made to improve the lot of librarians and the work they do.

Cabells was very pleased to sponsor the pre-conference seminar, which was organized by the Society of Scholarly Publishers (SSP) with the theme of “’We’re Not Who We Used to Be’: Shifting Relationship Dynamics and Imbalances in an Open Access World”.

Image by SSP

There were a number of great talks on the development of open access (OA) and what the next steps were likely to be for industry initiatives such as Plan S, as well as more macro happenings such as Brexit.

No limits

A discussion afterward on how people saw their roles changing in the light of the anticipated OA developments – be you a publisher, librarian, academic or industry professional. Of particular note was reference to the notion of a ‘facilitated collection’ – discussed in Lorcan Dempsey’s recent blog post which relates to how libraries main focus has shifted from acquiring research for their academics to use to facilitating the use and access to a much wider variety of resources, some of which are acquired but some of which is increasingly available through the myriad of open access resources now available. However, the reality of almost limitless resources is that increasingly limited librarian resources struggle to support academics find their way.

Helping hand

This scenario is familiar to us at Cabells and is one of the reasons we developed the Journal Blacklist to help both librarians and researchers understand not all open access journals and articles are of good quality, and indeed can contain bad science or lack any form of peer review. Thanks to a shout out from Ebsco’s Sam Brooks in his plenary at UKSG, where he recognized Cabells’ contribution to identifying predatory journals that even the most skilled researchers had trouble doing so.

And so, after returning home from Telford we have a quick turnaround before heading North to the beautiful city of Edinburgh and the AACSB’s International Conference and Annual Meeting. Attended by the great and the good of business schools globally, its theme is ‘Challenging Core Foundations’, which similarly addresses the changing landscape of the modern digital age, and what it means for its delegates and institutions. For business schools, these changes mean that they are being pushed to explore new perspectives on how business education could and should develop to meet new demands, and one hopes the ideas exchanged in the old city of Edinburgh next week can match the new thinking put forward by librarians this week.