by Ahlam Saleh
University of Arizona Health Sciences Library
In August 2017, I attended the Force11 Scholarly Communications Institute (FSCI) through professional development funding offered by the NNLM Pacific Southwest Region. Force11, the Future of Research Communications and e-Scholarship, is an international organization with multidisciplinary composition, which in general focuses on the facilitation of scholarly communication processes in light of the changing information technology landscape. This year’s institute was the first-time offering of this educational opportunity by Force11. Training content included the latest trends and technologies in research; new forms of publication; new standards and expectations; and new ways of measuring and demonstrating success that are transforming the way science and scholarship is done.
The structure for the week-long training included long and short courses with panel discussions on key topics interspersed, usually at the end of the day. Each attendee registered for one morning course (long track) and two afternoon elective courses (short track). Mornings consisted of a participant’s main course, held each day of the workshop, Monday through Friday, typically for three hours per day. Participants also selected two afternoon elective courses, scheduled on two days each for three hours per session. This setup was productive because it allowed for in-depth immersion in a single topic with the long track course, while also offering the opportunity to sample additional topics through the shorter elective courses.
The courses I selected aligned with campus and library initiatives that are underway or interests related to services at my institution. The long course I took was called Building an Open and Information-rich Research Institution. This course was well taught by two instructors from different backgrounds. The sessions were replete with an integration of group work and solo work. We talked about factors related to implementing open access initiatives at an institution and did active group learning activities to discuss stakeholders, priorities, concerns, benefits, and strategies.
One of the most enriching aspects of the training institute was the various disciplines represented by attendees, all sharing the common thread of interest in scholarly communication. Participants included researchers, librarians, publishers, and technologists, to name a few. This article includes a picture from one of my short courses, Walking the Line Between Advocacy and Activism in Scholarly Communication, and is an example of the different disciplines doing group work: a librarian, a publisher, and a technologist all conducting a group activity. Hearing different perspectives and issues facing other groups involved in scholarly communication further enriched the course learning experience at FSCI 2017.
There were also various panel sessions or late afternoon plenary presentations occurring throughout the week. One of the panel sessions, Rigor and Transparency, included individuals with varying backgrounds, such as a journal’s chief editor, a science researcher, and a humanities researcher, to name a few. Issues such as poor reporting, noncompliance with journal reporting instructions to authors, and the lack of education in routine early coursework emerged in the discussions.
In summary, FSCI had something for scholars at any level and I highly recommend this training opportunity to anyone working with scholarly communication. The international presence and discipline variation was a definite strength of this workshop. Anyone with interest in attending should watch for future announcements of next year’s FSCI!