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One event, several perspectives: a reflection on the 2015 Council of Science Editors annual meeting

Article information

Sci Ed. 2015;2(2):96-99
Publication date (electronic) : 2015 August 14
doi : https://doi.org/10.6087/kcse.52
School of Materials Engineering, Inha University, Incheon, Korea
Correspondence to Hyungsun Kim  kimhs@inha.ac.kr
Received 2015 June 17; Accepted 2015 July 31.

The 2015 Council of Science Editors (CSE) annual meeting was held at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from May 15-18, 2015. Over four days, short courses (May 15 and 16) and a conference (May 17 and 18) were held for editorial professionals and publishers. The meeting was attended by 400 participants from 15 countries, most of whom were editors involved in the field of medicine: 397 participants were from the United States, 16 from Canada, 4 from the United Kingdom, 3 from Brazil, 3 from Japan, and 1 each from South Korea, New Zealand, China, Switzerland, Croatia, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, India, Norway, and Nigeria.

I spent the four days of the conference thinking about the systems and programs I could adopt for the management of the Korean Council of Science Editors (KCSE) and the Council of Asian Science Editors (CASE), as well as potential guest speakers for KCSE and CASE conferences and workshops. I write this report on the 2015 CSE annual meeting in the hope that more South Korean and other Asian editors will attend future meetings to gain useful information and meet their fellow editors. My report describes the content of the event and my experience of it and addresses its logistics and infrastructure to enable the planning of conferences in Korea to borrow from the CSE’s best practices (For details of the 2015 CSE annual meeting, please visit http://www.councilscienceeditors.org).

Four short courses were offered during the first two days of the meeting. The short course for journal editors was a two-day program, while the others (publication management, journal metrics, and manuscript editors) were all single-day programs. I attended the journal editors short course. William L. Lanier, the Editor-in-Chief of Mayo Clinic Proceedings and longtime organizer of the program, put together a well-structured curriculum and invited carefully selected speakers based on his extensive experience. He attended the course, pointed out anything the speakers missed, and answered questions with witty jokes and anecdotes from his experience. During group discussions, participants brought up difficulties they had experienced and received advice. Among the difficulties that were discussed, one was, “How do you select a good journal reviewer?” In other words, in light of recent scandals in regard to the recommendation and registration of false reviewers, which may have compromised the peer-review processes of some well-known journals, it was evident that many participants were painstakingly searching for ways to verify the identities of reviewers.

One downside of this course, however, was that its content partially overlapped with that of the main conference. In the course, the ratio of lectures to participant discussions was 6:4; thus, the course appeared to be more helpful to editors with some experience who could use the course to share their experiences as well as acquire knowledge. The course might have been a little overwhelming for beginner editors who attended with the intention of obtaining new information. Moreover, editors in the broader fields of science and technology might have felt a bit disconnected: the presented cases and speakers were mainly associated with Mayo Clinic Proceedings or biomedical journals and most participants were editors in the medical field. At the end of this short course, all participants received certificates of attendance and took a commemorative photograph together.

On the night of the 16th, the last day of the short courses, a welcome reception for new members was held to launch the main conference. At the reception, Tim Cross, the president of the council, introduced present and former board members to me and we all took pictures together (Fig. 1). He also introduced me to the president-elect, Angela Cochran. The CSE presidency has a term of one year because there are many editorial professionals waiting in line for the title. However, presidents contribute to the management of the council beyond their one-year term for a total of three years, serving in the positions of president-elect and former president. This system distinctly characterizes the management of the CSE and is quite different from the current system at KCSE and CASE. The CSE was established in 1957 and has a 50-year history. The organization started de facto operations in 2000; it has approximately 800 current members. However, KCSE was launched in 2011 and CASE in 2014, so the current three-year term for KCSE and CASE board members is believed to be a necessary measure for organizational stability.

Fig. 1.

On the left, president Tim Cross; in the center, vice president Patricia Baskin (next-term president, 2016-2017); on the right, the author.

May 17 was the first day of the main conference. The opening ceremony was held at 8:30 am and lasted around 30 minutes; the president delivered an opening address and reported on the council’s activities of the past year. All the material was visible on two screens placed on either side of the room. Explaining the council’s mission and goals, made a presentation focusing on the council’s primary accomplishments during his tenure; he emphasized the 9% increase in membership over 2014 and 2015. Finally, he gave an introduction to various overseas activities spearheaded by the Middle East-dominated Asian Council of Science Editors (ACSE), KCSE, and Brazilian Association of Science Editors (ABEC), the latter of which was originally fostered by the CSE itself. When KCSE was called upon, I extended a greeting to all members of the council as vice president of KCSE.

The CSE’s new president was also inaugurated during the opening ceremony. Tim Cross, the current president, declared Angela Cochran (journals director of the American Society of Civil Engineers) the next president. The inauguration ended with Mr. Cross handing over a gavel to Ms. Cochran on stage. Then, Ms. Cochran, on behalf of CSE, presented some gifts to Mr. Cross—CDs and other things relevant to his hobbies—as a token of appreciation. Ms. Cochran also introduced her pledges as the new president in a five-minute inaugural address. She stressed the importance of international relations, short courses, and education enhancement. Mr. Cross moderated the opening session himself and later introduced the keynote speaker.

Many people attended the keynote address. G. Sayeed Choudhury gave the one-hour address based on the theme “The Research Data Revolution” and emphasized the concept of big data and its importance: “The amount of data is exploding every year and funding bodies are beginning to suggest policies for datasharing and retention for their grantees. With these challenges, publishers have vast opportunities to help establish standards for curation, preservation, and reproducibility. With these opportunities, editors and publishers are tantalizingly poised to develop new tools and services to provide to contributors, libraries, and grantors.” For those interested in the recent issue of the data explosion in journal publishing, this lecture would have been very informative.

The morning sessions ran from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Four sessions on different topics were held simultaneously in four different rooms. Since KCSE is scheduled to offer its first-ever workshop on journal review next month, I attended the “Different Forms of Peer Review” session to learn about new approaches and changes in the United States. Last year alone, 2.5 million research papers were published in 34,000 journals. With the constant increase in the number of journals, reviewing manuscripts has become a challenge. However, there is no established standard for journal reviewing. Therefore, objective evaluation tools are in development. In the “Different Forms of Peer Review” session, two such tools in the making were introduced: Rubriq Scorecards, which grant professional qualifications to reviewers, and e-Life.

From 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., I attended the “Managing Journals in a Global Context” session and listened to how manuscript editors from Canada, Mexico, and the United States are managing their journals. Their problems and solutions were similar to those faced by KCSE editors working on the publication of journals for small-scale academic societies. However, their use of social media to increase the number of citations impressed me because South Korean editors do not widely use Facebook or Twitter.

Another session, “Preparing a Manuscript When English is a Second Language,” was intriguing, so I sat in the front row. Speakers from WoS and Editage presented; they reported that predatory practices (http://scholarlyoa.com/publishers/) and ethics were the most important issues in Asia. As a result, the speakers emphasized the need for reviewers to undergo special reviewer training for manuscripts submitted from nonEnglish speaking countries, particularly from Asia, and the need for cooperation with copyeditors before the review process starts.

In the session “The Next Generation of Researchers,” the speakers guided the audience in determining answers to the question, “How can we encourage young researchers and high school students to publish valuable research?” by sharing several case studies from Canada and the United States. One speaker suggested, “Senior high school students understand their mistakes only through the peer review process.” Another speaker advocated, “During the review process, we should try to find ways to improve the manuscripts by making suggestions rather than by rejecting the manuscripts,” while another commented, “Young researchers’ imagination is limitless.” Rather than a slide presentation, this session was designed like a panel and allowed speakers to share their experiences and then answer questions from the audience.

From 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., the president’s reception and seven poster presentations were held (Fig. 2). I presented a poster entitled “Opinions of Korean science editors on open access policies, editorial difficulties, and the government’s support for publishing.” It was related to the findings of a research foundation’s 2013 policy project, which disclosed the opinions of South Korean science editors and proposed a plan to efficiently utilize the government’s financial support. My co-authors were KCSE board members Hye-Min Cho, the chairperson of the Committee on Manuscript Editing, and Professor Sun Huh, the chairperson of the Committee on Planning and Administration. The number of posters presented was much lower than I had expected, and when I asked the organizers, they told me that it was a typical year. It was hardly comprehensible why such a small number of posters were presented at a conference with 400 participants. In any case, the participants voted for the most outstanding author among the seven, and the winner will be exempt from paying next year’s CSE annual meeting registration fees, which are about 600 US dollars for CSE members.

Fig. 2.

A picture of the author’s poster presentation (presented for two days).

A total of 21 exhibitor booths were on display. Among these, two booths (for ACSE and for the Asian Network of Scientific Information) were sponsored by ACSE; these booths actively promoted their organizations to CSE members. Currently, there are two councils for science editors in Asia: one is ACSE, which was organized by scholars in the United Arab Emirates and is mainly made up of Middle Eastern members, and the other is CASE, which is mainly made up of Southeast Asian members with South Korea as the founder and central organizer. I took photos with the president of the ACSE and promised to strengthen our ties in the future.

The booths were set up in the huge Exhibit Hall, which was also used for other purposes—participants enjoyed coffee breaks, luncheons, and dinner there as well as the poster presentations. To attract more visitors to the exhibitions, the event coordinators handed out cards marked with 21 boxes so that participants could collect stamps or signatures from the booths they visited. Those who collected all 21 could then enter a raffle and win an iPad. I thought this was a brilliant idea and vowed to use it at next year’s KCSE events. Visit, enter, and win!

Finally, the last day of the conference arrived. I realized that May 18 fell on a Monday, which was surprising since Sundays are usually reserved for religious activities or time with family in South Korea and conferences are usually scheduled on weekdays; however, at CSE, the events ran through the weekend. I asked a former CSE president, who replied that they have been scheduling the conference like this for years now, despite some complaints from their members.

Although it had been days since I left South Korea, I was still suffering from jet lag. I was also exhausted from the packed four-day conference schedule, so I attended the plenary address comforting myself that I would be homebound the following day. The speaker was Clive Thompson, who gave a one-hour talk on “The Future of Thought.” Most participants were excited to attend his talk since he is the famous author of Smarter Than You Think. Even before his talk, Mr. Thompson and the CSE president were busy taking commemorative photographs, which was reflective of their popularity among science editors.

When Mr. Thompson began his talk, I could feel how interested editors were in a famous author like him. His reputation as a gripping speaker was true—the audience was instantly captivated. Moreover, his presentation slides were like works of art. He clearly illustrated his points by minimizing the amount of text and inserting one-sentence summaries of each topic against picturesque backgrounds. Among his memorable quotes were the following: “I used to be an avid gamer. I am 45 years old, but whenever I walk the streets and see billboards or other displays, I think of them as part of a game··· Every day, people learn about the world, form ideas, and share them··· Communication on social networking sites is important··· The two-way communication of social networking sites creates new possibilities that otherwise wouldn’t have been achievable on our own··· In the future, it’s important to think together, rather than think alone. We need more cooperative thinking.”

From 11:30 am to 1:00 p.m., the highlight of the four-day meeting, the awards luncheon, ensued; all participants attended the award ceremony and enjoyed the luncheon. At the event, CSE gave awards to 10 members. The winner of the grand prize delineated his accomplishments in a five-minute speech. Afterwards, participants sat around tables in groups of eight to enjoy a pleasant meal.

Seats in the afternoon sessions were half-empty since many participants left after the luncheon. At the “Journal Training Wheels: Building a Pipeline of Future Authors, Reviewers, and Editors” session, editors shared their experiences with managing journals. I was impressed by their use of social media and the way they resolved conflicts that arose from peer reviews.

Finally, the 2015 CSE annual meeting came to an end. Compared with the KCSE’s conferences and workshops, the CSE was unique in the following aspects: 1) CSE provided a mobile app service for the first time this year. The app contained helpful real-time updates on the conference agenda (e.g., details of each session, including titles, abstracts, photos, and bios of speakers). This feature was particularly memorable since it was a convenient alternative to thick paper packets; participants could note their own schedules on their smartphones and navigate the conference halls. 2) At each session, CSE allotted 20 to 30 minutes for Q&A, making sure there was enough time for discussion between the speakers and the audience, and a variety of opinions were exchanged during these earnest conversations. This format differed from South Korean conferences, where lectures are one-way presentations and many are still unaccustomed to debating. 3) CSE put together each session based on thorough research and analysis into topics that would interest participants. The session moderators were all experts in their fields and CSE organized each session with a good mix of professors, journal manuscript editors, and publishers. 4) CSE board directors and members were mostly editors-in-chief, manuscript editors, and copy editors or publishers. More than half of the participants in this year’s meeting were women, manuscript editors, and copy editors, and many students attended as well.

In addition to journal editors-in-chief, editors, and publishers, representatives of schools and companies involved in data management also attended the conference. Considering the fact that in addition to participants from the US, who constituted the majority, 36 people from 15 different countries attended this US-based conference, I thought the 2015 CSE annual meeting was a great success, not only in terms of the number and range of participants and speakers but also in terms of the organization and quality of topics chosen. As a representative of South Korea, I tried to observe many things at this year’s meeting, but I feel like I ended up seeing only the tip of the iceberg. I want to attend next year’s CSE Annual Meeting, scheduled to take place May 14-17, 2016 in Denver, Colorado, with colleagues from KCSE, with whom I hope to take the time to delve into the various programs and enjoy the event more fully.


No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.


This work was supported by a travel grant from the Korean Council of Science Editors (2015).

Article information Continued

Fig. 1.

On the left, president Tim Cross; in the center, vice president Patricia Baskin (next-term president, 2016-2017); on the right, the author.

Fig. 2.

A picture of the author’s poster presentation (presented for two days).