Tuesday 28 November 2023

ALPSP Annual Conference 2023: A review by Jade Koo

ALPSP Annual Conference 2023: A review by ALPSP Rising Star Award Winner, Jade Koo, BMJ

Although I was only able to join the ALPSP conference for one day, it was an interesting experience to witness this congregation of academic publishing representatives. As a young person within the industry, and with COVID comprising a large part of my work experience, it was an opportunity both to match faces to names and to gain a better sense of the industry's culture.

The underlying theme for many of the sessions centred around the industry's necessity to adapt and respond to challenges within the market. Some interpreted this need as a chance to ‘disrupt’ and rethink the structures in which we currently operate, whilst others pondered upon solutions that could still fit within these bounds. This is particularly interesting when thinking about the more contentious side of the Open Access (OA) publishing model. As many of us are aware, the OA model has shifted the hefty burden of payment from subscribers/libraries to researchers/authors. It was suggested during the ‘Equitable Open Access: Moving Beyond the APC Economy’ session that publishers should be exploring alternative payment models to prevent international inequality. However, it is difficult to see a future where publishers, whose business models have become largely dependent on OA profit, would invest resources to investigate alternative models that would most likely negatively impact their earnings. 

Transformative agreements (TA) have further exacerbated this uneven playing field. For those most affected by the article processing charge (APC), such as authors based in Latin America, the Global South, and also, early career researchers etc, are least likely to be eligible for a TA,  enables the already superior positioning of those in the West and already situated within high-ranking universities, to solidify their hold at top of the research hierarchy. It seems highly unlikely that there is a solution to this imbalance, besides a disruptive one that is able to break this cycle of inequity. When the ‘Disruption in Scholarly Publishing’ session asked the audience if ‘disruption was a good or bad thing’, the panel was greeted with a slight reluctance to agree or disagree outrightly for either side. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘disruption’ as a radial change to an existing industry or market due to technological innovation. It means the uprooting of everything the industry has only recently invested and transitioned to. I don’t think anyone has a solution, and no one will until we are able to start thinking outside of the confines of the industry standards. 

About the ALPSP Rising Star Award 2023

This new award aims to recognise potential in early career individuals. The winners are given the opportunity and financial support to attend the ALPSP Annual Conference in person and write a short review of their experiences of the conference. The ALPSP Rising Star Award is sponsored by Publishers Licensing Services.

The winners of this year's Rising Star Award are:

  • Jade Koo, BMJ
  • George Litchfield, eLife
  • Alex Oxford, Edinburgh University Press
  • Danielle Tremeer, Geological Society of London

Find out more about the awards.

ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards

Thank you to all our speakers, sponsors and attendees for making the ALPSP 2023 Conference and Awards such a success. We will be returning to the Hilton Manchester Deansgate Hotel next year from 11-13 September 2024. Save the date and look out for the call for topics in early November. For more information, watch the highlights video or visit our website.