Putting the seminar on the Research Workflow map

In the age of Open Science , nothing seems more natural than the opening up of processes that have hitherto been closed within university , departmental or research team practices . In the last five years the academic conference has become increasingly better covered by networked services .Think of Underline Science , or , over a longer period , of Riverview . Then add in Morrissier , reproducing the meetings and then using the data derived from posters and conference proceedings as indicators of progress in early-stage research . The ability of players like the latter to add the content to the citable research record through DOIs and make transcripts as searchable as any other content in the scholarly communications workflow is a huge step forward in process transparency . 

But if we thought this was the end of the story , Cassyni ( https//.Cassyni.com) proves us wrong .  Its founders , one of the most credible teams in scholarly communications , point out that below the level of formal conferences are a huge volume of scholarly seminars . They note that the pandemic drove these into Zoom , which suddenly created some benefits of its own ( sharing thoughts with other groups , showing how departments or  research groups worked as a promotional or recruitment tool ) , but they also believe that less than 10% of these sessions are now searchable or retrievable by third parties . And they think that the number of such sessions globally could be up to a million . So the founders of Publons , Kopernio and Mendeley saw a new challenge in front of them – creating a sustainable business to provide standardised tools to record , transcribe and create searchable files of such seminars , add DOIs and metadata to improve search effectiveness , and eventually to index not only past and current seminars , but provide a signpost to future events . And , since comprehensive cover is important , they also recognise that some institutions will want a private or embargoed service – Open always has to live with ‘sensitive’.

This huge quantity of academic presentation and debate , in the Cassyni toolset , will get a Zoom video for each seminar , with the organiser adding an abstract , and the slide deck(s) will be attached . The DOI and metadata will be available within CrossRef , and so publicly searchable and citable . They envisage material coming from university departments running series of meetings designed to keep everyone updated and to stimulate fresh thinking ; from inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional seminar efforts promoting knowledge exchange and co-operation ; and from society journals and other journal editors who seek to explore and develop new topics . Indeed , it is easy to see Cassyni developing as an editorial tool , since this is surely how most journals were created , or bi-furcated , in the first instance . The Cassyni team are surely exploring the primordial soup from which journal life on Earth first sprang ?

Who learns what from all of this activity – another huge searchable store of primary science research material ? Certainly seminar organisers will get a great deal out of it , since the feedback on topics and techniques will be rich , and full of tips on making such series really hum . One can imagine that the journal editors and publishers would respond to clear signs of where the next papers are coming from – this is embryonic research indication – and what new topics were flying . Universities will use their seminar series popularity as a promotional tool  ( ‘ most downloaded ‘ etc . ) and individual researchers will list their searchable seminar sessions amongst their publications – and their citations . But , at the end , Cassyni stands or falls by its utility to the individual researcher , by the delight of being able to hear exactly what was being said when Slide 10 was on the screen , or what the response was to a particular issue in Q&A when it arose in any seminar series . 

The Cassyni system has been widely trialled in beta ( the views of Peter Vincent at Imperial College , London are particularly interesting ( https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2021/09/01/rethinking-the-research-seminar-for-a-post-covid-world-with-cassyni/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ImpactOfSocialSciences+%28Impact+of+Social+Sciences%29 ) It is now fully installed at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand as a partner site . The Journal of Computational Physics ( Elsevier ) is an early user . As we salute the continuing inventive energies of Andrew Preston , Ben Kaube and Jan Reichelt , one also has to wonder about two things : once it is widely used , will Cassyni by its very presence alter the nature of the seminars and the communications that it records – and are there still any unexplored territories left in scholarly workflow and scholarly communications that need this exposure to the digitally networked world ?


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