(Re)connecting in Granada: Attending the 2022 International Conference on Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators

This September, the 26th International Conference on Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (STI 2022) was held in Granada, Spain and the ScholCommLab left its mark at the first in-person edition of the conference since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seven lab members—Anton Ninkov, Chantal Ripp, Isabella Peters, Kathleen Gregory, Leigh-Ann Butler, Marc-André Simard, and Stefanie Haustein—attended, presented and chaired sessions at the conference. For some of them, this was the first time they met in person. “I was especially excited to meet Kathleen, Anton, Chantal and Leigh-Ann,” says Isabella Peters, professor at CAU Kiel University. “We have been working together on the Meaningful Data Counts projects for almost two years and haven’t met personally until the conference. It was a blast to finally meet the people you spend so much time with on Zoom.”

  • Anton Ninkov presenting at the 2022 STI conference.
  • Marc-André Simard presenting at the 2022 STI conference.
  • Leigh-Ann Butler presenting at the 2022 STI conference.
  • Kathleen Gregory presenting at the 2022 STI conference.

The conference, first held in 1988 at Leiden University, is one of the core conferences for researchers and practitioners in bibliometrics and research evaluation. Kathleen and Anton presented findings from the Meaningful Data Counts project, Stefanie gave a talk on developing an open science dashboard for biomedical institutions, while Marc-André’s and Leigh-Ann’s presented their respective doctoral and Master’s research projects in the same session on open access. 

When interviewed about their experience at the conference, many lab members noted Leigh-Ann’s presentation on the oligopoly of academic publisher’s shift to open access publishing was a highlight. “I loved seeing people’s reaction when they realized that we have been paying billions in article processing charges to private for-profit publishers,” says Marc-André Simard, a PhD student at the University of Montreal and ScholCommLab, and co-author of the new study. “It sparked some really interesting discussions among the people in the room and on Twitter.”

Despite many captivating talks and workshops at STI 2022, members of the lab were most excited to (re)connect in-person and chat over coffee. “The STI conference is always a pleasure to visit since it is really a meeting of friends,” says Isabella.

“After spending so much time working online with some colleagues, getting the opportunity to spend time in person with them makes you realize just how much we are missing out by working remotely,” says Marc-André. “It allowed me to have so many deep or informal ‘coffee break’ conversations with so many different people, including some that have led to new research projects and opportunities.”

Stefanie agrees that, while online talks and Zoom meetings are practical, the informal exchanges at in-person events are extremely valuable. “They remind me that there’s people behind the research and that makes our work so much more fun.”

Scholarly Communication Lab members connect with international colleagues over tapas.
ScholCommLab members connecting over tapas with colleagues from Denmark, Canada and Germany. From left to right: Isabella Peters, Leigh-Ann Butler, Anton Ninkov, Chantal Ripp, Jens-Peter Andersen, Philippe Mongeon, Maddie Hare, Marc-André Simard, Maria Henkel and Kristin Biesenbender.

Stefanie recalls attending her first STI conference in Vienna, Austria in 2008, when she had just started her PhD: “I still remember how overwhelming it was to take in all of those different, often very technical presentations and also to see those big authors for the first time whose papers I had been reading.” 

That same conference 14 years ago  paved the way for Stefanie to move to Canada in 2013. “I randomly ended up at the same table as Eric Archambault, at the time CEO of Science-Metrix, and Vincent Larivière, then still a PhD student. We stayed in touch over the years until they asked me to come work for them in Montreal after I had finished my PhD,” she says.

Fast forward to 2022—Stefanie attended the conference for the first time as a professor, reconnecting with her “people” at STI and introducing her fellow ScholCommLab members to the bibliometrics community. “The whole experience was amazing,” says Chantal Ripp, who had just started her PhD in the ScholCommLab with Stefanie. “I also met in person people that I had attended a summer school with, the Science of Science Summer School (S4), and that was great.”

ScholCommLab members—Chantal Ripp, Anton Ninkov, Leigh-Ann Butler, Stefanie Haustein, Kathleen Gregory, and Isabella Peters (from left to right)—smiling outside the conference hall in Granada.

“I met a lot of researchers who I had read and cited for many years which was pretty inspiring,” says Anton Ninkov, assistant professor at the University of Montreal. “There were so many intelligent and kind people there and it was just really great to swap our experiences and knowledge that came from all over the world,” he continues. “There were lots of ideas on how to approach the challenge of classification that I hadn’t considered before and inspired me in thinking about our lab’s own research on mapping different classification systems together.” 

Kathleen Gregory, a postdoctoral research fellow at the ScholCommLab and the University of Vienna, was excited to attend the conference as part of a larger group. “I realized that I usually go to conferences by myself and meet people on my own,” she says. “Attending the conference as part of the ScholCommLab was a completely different experience. I had an automatic community to reflect on things with, have breakfast with, ask questions of, and use as a jumping off point to make new connections.”

  • Members and colleagues of the Scholarly Communications Lab smile into the camera
  • Members and colleagues of the Scholarly Communications Lab smile into the camera
  • Members and colleagues of the Scholarly Communications Lab smile into the camera
  • Members and colleagues of the Scholarly Communications Lab, ice cream in hand, smile into the camera

As STI 2022 came to a close, each lab member felt recharged, inspired, and grateful for the quality time spent with familiar and new colleagues. “I came back from the conference so energized about my work, and in a new way that has somehow been missing in pandemic years. Now the challenge is to carry that energy through to the next conference,” says Kathleen.

The next International Conference on Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (STI 2023) returns to where it originated and was first hosted in 1988—Leiden, the Netherlands. As Marc-André exclaims, “I’m already looking forward to the 2023 edition!”

For more on the conference, check out the STI 2022 website and program. Conference proceedings can be found on Zenodo. Read our preprint to learn more on open access fees paid by the global academic community to the oligopoly of five academic publishers, or check out the dataset on Zenodo.