Collaborating for change

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Adrian Stanley reflects on his time in the industry and as president of the Society for Scholarly Publishing

Tell us a little about your background … 

I’ve been working at Digital Science for six years, and I am currently the Managing Director, Publishers. 

Digital Science invests in, nurtures and supports innovative businesses and technologies that make all parts of the research process more open, efficient and effective. Prior to this I started my publishing career in Yorkshire, UK in the late 80’s with the Charlesworth Group. I moved to Beijing in 2000 to establish the Charlesworth China office. I stayed in Beijing for four years, before moving to the USA to open Charlesworth’s North America operations. 

In my spare time, among other volunteer roles, I’m an associate editor for Learned Publishing, which is published by the  Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP).

What has been the most important development during your time in the industry?

Wow, so much has changed. Certainly we have witnessed the positive advancement of technology, the rise of open access and open research, and the rapid evolution of China as a research power house – but in my mind it’s the interconnected infrastructure and linked data (CrossRef’s, ORCID, XML etc) that give us such potential to innovate and create solutions that benefit the whole scholarly communications and research ecosystem in a unifying and meaningful way.

What is the industry's most pressing need now?  

I believe there is a need to look collectively at the evolution of sustainable business models and more open interconnected ecosystems to support the scholarly communications and research communities. This is an area where we all need to work together to align and address these issues – this includes looking holistically at the needs of all ecosystem stakeholders: funders, researchers, publishers, libraries/universities. 

Looking ahead 20 years, what do you think will be the key developments in scholarly communications?  

One could easily say artificial intelligence and machine/human interactions will bring unprecedented change in our lifetimes. 

However, having just returned from Australia, and witnessing first-hand the catastrophic bushfires, I have an alternative suggestion. When looking at the large complex issues like climate change, sustainability – and what our planet as whole needs in the next few decades and centuries – I believe there has been a more of human/cultural shift, and an awakening of sorts.

Some people call it the ‘Greta Thunberg phenomenon’ but, for us in scholarly communications, I believe that researchers, publishers, academia, policymakers, NGOs and government organisations should work together to better support our planet and the pressing challenges it currently faces.

You've recently been president of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP). Tell us a little about that…

It was such an honour! I have enjoyed being a part of SSP for so long but to be able to be a part of the leadership team and work more closely with the wonderful board, volunteers and executive director, gave me a whole new perspective on the impact that the SSP has on so many people and organisations. 

We’ve worked together to develop programs and industry-wide initiatives focusing on mentorship, diversity and equity and inclusion, networking and education. 

Most recently we developed a 'funder task force' to look at ways publishers and scholarly communications personnel can better understand funder needs and how best to work with all types of funders. 

Any interesting facts, pastimes or hobbies that you want to tell us about?

I enjoy the challenges of being a ‘soccer’ and baseball coach for my son’s under-9's teams; inspiring, mentoring and supporting the youth of tomorrow is something I’m passionate about. My sports 'claim to fame' is that I did once play against the Mongolian international team. We only lost one-nil!