From the Charleston conference: On Trust

I’m at the Charleston Library Conference this week.  As always, it’s a great meeting with terrific presentations and hallway conversations.  NISO is well represented on the program, with discussions of SUSHI, I2, ONIX-PL and JAV among others.
The unofficial theme of this week’s meeting seems to be trust.  Wednesday night over dinner, I had a philosophical discussion with Mark Kurtz at BioOne and Pete Binfield at PLOS about what are the core value-added services that publishers provide.  One point that was made during the conversation was that certification and validation are among the greatest services that publishers add to the publication process.  In a world where the tools and platforms to self-publish are ubiquitous and easily applied so that “publishing” no longer needs to involve a publisher, what value do publishers bring to this process? Validation and certification are critical, but also the reliance of readers on this process to more easily gauge what should be read.

Geoff Bilder spoke yesterday morning about trust heuristics and how do readers gauge what is worth reading.  One of his points during the presentation is that with the increasing breadth and depth of published information, researchers need to have quick and easily understood signals regarding quality. This echoes the theme of my post on  James J. O’Donnell’s presentation at the ARL members meeting.

Geoff suggested that there be some logos be developed that provide information about the quality of a particular article and the types and stages of review or vetting that an article had gone through. The logo could also contain machine-readable metadata, which would provide information about the type and rigor of the review that was applied in the publication process.  Geoff has been exploring this as a potential new activity at CrossRef. My sense is that there is a great deal of value in this approach and it’s worthy of support in the community.

More from the conference tomorrow.