November 5, 2014 | Duncan Nicholas

Highlights from the ISMTE annual conference

Duncan Nicholas reports on the event


ISMTE, the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors, connects the community of editorial office professionals committed to the peer review and publication of academic and scholarly journals. The organisation provides peer-to-peer networking, education and training, research and resources for best practice, and development of journal policy. This October was the 7th annual meeting of the ISMTE, held at Charles Darwin House, London. Duncan Nicholas shares some of the highlights from this one day event.

In the opening plenary lecture Impact Factor: Are you for or against it?,  Juan Aréchaga (International Journal of Developmental Biology, Spain) and Jason Hoyt (PeerJ) outlined some of the positive and negative interpretations and applications of the metric and then opened the discussion to the floor.  Aréchaga declared the Impact Factor a useful, easily understandable and obtainable metric. He also deemed it an objective evaluation of a journal to assist authors in selecting a place to publish, facilitating a rational choice for subscribing.  On the flip side, concerns were raised about the potentially unreliable nature of the metric on account of the skewing effect of single papers receiving uncharacteristically high citations, and the trend for institutions to require researchers to submit to ISI ranked journals.

Ashmita Das of Editage, a language editing service which combines the expertise of academic editors and copyeditors to enhance the writing and presentation of academic documents, spoke about Managing Content. This was followed by Contracting presented by Louise Whelan of The Journal Office, which explored the continuing challenges facing a self-employed Managing Editor, such as developing business and support networks.

The aim of Prevention is Better than Retraction, a group session chaired by Michael Willis of Wiley, was to discuss the rise of retractions and the importance of ensuring the integrity of scientific publications. Three common issues were focused on: conflicts of interest, plagiarism, and image manipulation. The group shared examples from their experiences of each, swapping advice on how to deal with situations they had encountered. Some conclusions drawn were that more could be done to educate authors about publishing ethics through comprehensive author guidelines, issues could be discussed at author workshops, and academic institutions should be encouraged to invest in education on ethics in publishing. The group also agreed that having trust in authors is absolutely critical to the integrity of the peer review process.

In Managing Change, Leighton Chipperfield of the Society for General Microbiology provided insight into the elements driving change in the journal industry, and how to build these into editorial development plans. His message was illustrated by case studies of increasing editorial support and moving to an online submission system; identifying end user needs; benchmarking progress and measuring results.  In order to get the most from editorial development strategies, he advised that it is wise for editorial teams to remember their initial goals, communicate, identify risks and define how success will be measured.

It’s no surprise that several sessions focused on peer review.  In System Possibilities for Different Peer Review Models, Anna Jester of eJournalPress presented a guide to the ways in which peer review sites could be configured to accommodate an exhaustive range of peer reviewing options. Anna concluded her talk by suggesting that peer review is a varied, diverse and evolving system which requires continuous evaluation. Michaela Torkar of F1000 discussed the Emerging Models of Peer Review, presenting an overview of current peer review practices before going on to shed more light on the more open forms of review. Janne-Tuomas Seppänen of Peerage of Science asked delegates Is your Peer Review a Lottery?

ISMTE also gave a Society update and announced of the conference ‘best poster’ presentation winner. The prize went to Heather Blasco and Sarah Welliver from J&J Editorial with their presentation titled Reformatting Submission Questions Increases the Accuracy of Author-Supplied Information: A Case Study.  The winning poster can be viewed in full here.

We would like to thank all the speakers and attendees for sharing their experience and advice. Find out more about the ISMTE conference by viewing a Storify collecting tweets from the day.

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Published: November 5, 2014 | Author: Duncan Nicholas | Category: Front page, News and ideas | Tagged with: