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The social life of scholarly communication

In a few weeks five teams will be coming together in Chapel Hill, NC, for the 2016 Scholarly Communication Institute. This is the third TriangleSCI (so named because of its location in North Carolina’s Research Triangle), and this year’s theme is “Incentives, Economics, and Values: Changing the Political Economy of Scholarly Publishing”. Each of the teams will come to work on a project they proposed in a competitive selection process in the spring, and they will also work together across teams to support each other’s work from a variety of perspectives.

This collaborative aspect is one of the highlights of SCI. In the proposal process, we encourage teams to bring a diversity of experience and expertise – people they haven’t worked with before but would like to, and whose perspectives will help both to understand challenges better and to craft approaches to meeting them that will be more holistic. As described in these posts from SCI 2014 and SCI 2015, the venue and format of SCI are designed to catalyze this kind of cross-pollination. We aim to foster an environment that is both intensive and relaxed, and social, in the best senses of that word. The teams will have a lot of time to work on their own, but also to participate in broad discussions with the entire cohort. Informal meals together, both at the Dubose House and in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh, walks in the Meadowmont gardens, and shared jokes and memes throughout the days together, leave participants with the sense that  #trianglesci isn’t just a workshop, it’s a #family” (in the words of Cassidy Sugimoto, who was at SCI 2015).

SCI isn’t a traditional conference, and it’s not easy to describe it. As one of the participants last year wrote in the post-SCI assessment survey “I had no idea what to expect. I had read through all of the materials shared online and via email. My team communicated. But frankly, it is hard to make clear what SCI is about until one arrives and experiences it.” A new group will get to experience it this October, and we hope other readers of this post will want to experience it in future years – keep an eye out for a request for proposals in January for SCI 2017. In the meantime, you can check out these Storify threads from SCI 2014 and SCI 2015, and follow along in October via the #TriangleSCI hashtag on Twitter, to read about what’s happening at SCI 2016 and join in the conversation.

[ Photo by Veeterzy, used under CC Zero license. ]