Tuesday 9 January 2024

ALPSP Annual Conference 2023: A Review by George Litchfield

ALPSP Annual Conference 2023: A Review by ALPSP Rising Start Awards Winner, George Litchfield, Marketing and PR Assistant, eLife 



I was delighted to find out that I had been selected as one of the four winners of the inaugural ALPSP Rising Star award. Designed to recognise the potential of individuals in the early stages of their career in academic publishing, the award offered the winners the opportunity to attend the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards last September. 

Like many of my peers, the start of my career in work has been largely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, I had never attended a conference of this size, and was unsure of what to expect. When I arrived at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate Hotel, where the conference was held, I was relieved to find a group of passionate, welcoming people, all seeking the common goal of improving the way research is communicated and shared. 

The keynote speech, delivered by Dr. Elizabeth Gadd of Loughborough University set the tone for a conference that emphasised the importance of Research Integrity and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in scholarly publishing. Gadd’s heartfelt speech told of the pressures faced by researchers, and the extreme toll that our current, metrics-focused research evaluation system can take on the mental health of academics. She explained how the current system over-emphasises the importance of publication metrics, be it through citation numbers or journal impact factors, and remains biased against women and those in the global south. Despite the sobering statistics and facts, the overall tone of Gadd’s keynote address was one full of hope. The speech offered inspiration for how those of us who work in scholarly publishing can, and will enact the changes necessary to improve the system in the future. For example, Gadd spoke about the advantages of moving away from journal impact factors as a measure of quality towards a more open-access system, with a qualitative, open peer review process. She also cautioned of the pitfalls to avoid to ensure this is done in a fair and equitable way.

The themes of Open Access and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion were prevalent throughout the various sessions of the conference. I appreciated the opportunity to hear from a diverse group of speakers about their experiences in academia and scholarly publishing. Particularly during the ‘Building an Inclusive Workplace Culture,’ session – an eye-opening discussion that highlighted the importance of fostering a sense of belonging for everyone in the workplace.

As this was my first conference, I was keen to make the most of the opportunity to network with the other attendees. Thankfully, the social events put on by ALPSP offered a brilliant opportunity to chat with a wide range of individuals working across the scope of scholarly publishing. Whether it was during a walking tour of Manchester city centre or whilst enjoying canap├ęs on the top floor of the Hilton hotel. These more relaxed events led to some memorable conversations, and definitely enhanced my overall experience of the conference. A particular highlight, as a pub quiz enthusiast myself, was the quiz and dinner that accompanied the awards ceremony on Thursday evening – despite finishing in an agonising second place! 

I would like to thank ALPSP for offering me the opportunity to attend the Annual Conference. It really was a wonderful experience and I feel privileged to have met so many amazing, inspiring people working in the publishing industry. I hope to be back again in the future! 

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 the Rising Star Award 2023 were:

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

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 between 11-13 September 2024. For more information, watch the highlights video or visit our website.

About the author

George Litchfield, Marketing and PR Assistant, eLife