EMUG 2024 Rewind: A Recap of the 22nd Annual Meeting!

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the 22nd annual Editorial Manager User Group (EMUG) meeting! Designed to connect our global user community in a single yearly event, Aries user group meetings offer Editorial Manager® (EM) and ProduXion Manager® (PM) users the opportunity to stay informed to the latest workflow innovations, discuss trends in scholarly publishing, provide feedback to drive future product development, and network with industry colleagues. Held at the Revere Hotel Boston Common on June 12-13, EMUG 2024 welcomed 90 customers and staff, ~30 of which were first-time attendees!

After a warm welcome from Aries’ Managing Director Jennifer Fleet, the meeting dived straight into our Discovery Roundtables session. As an interactive, focus group-style workshop, the Discovery Roundtables serves as a platform for Aries staff to solicit user insights on targeted topics. Prior to dividing into six groups, Aries’ VP of Product Management Nathan Westgarth introduced context for the four discussion topics – Defining and Refining User Engagement, In-Product User Support, Inclusionary Data Reporting, and Signals for Integrity Investigations. Using the Rapid Ideation brainstorming technique, Aries staff lead facilitated discussions to explore gaps, themes, and solutions our users have in these areas. First introduced last year as a new session to replace our legacy Feature Workshop, the Discovery Roundtables was back by popular demand and refined based on attendee feedback. Rated highly by attendees, the Discovery Roundtables workshop enables a more purposeful approach to fueling Aries’ business and product strategy against user needs.

In the afternoon, our UI/UX Design Enhancements session highlighted Aries’ commitment to user interface (UI), user experience (UX), and accessibility design standards, user research activities and results in the past year, current areas of focus in the system, and exclusive first-looks at drafted EM/PM design concepts. Then attendees had the opportunity to participate in our Ask the Experts: Coordinator Consultation session, led by the Aries’ Client Services team, by asking questions and sharing their experiences. Structured as an “ask us anything” consultation, this session allowed the Aries team to address questions, provide guidance, reference resources, suggest solutions, surface underused features, and deepen discussions from the audience on their current challenges, unique workflow configurations, reporting needs, training tips, and more!

To conclude day one of EMUG 2024, Aries welcomed our keynote speaker – Robert Harington, Chief Publishing Officer at the American Mathematical Society (AMS). His presentation, Embracing Uncertainty: Navigating AI’s Risks and Rewards, began with defining Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reminding the audience that there is so much more beyond the current buzz of generative AI and large language models (LLMs), such as Open AI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini. He then covered some of the known fears and risks of AI in publishing, such as authority, illegal scraping of copyrighted works, attribution, unreliable outputs, lack of transparency/interpretability of machine learning’s “black box” or algorithms, and ethical concerns. Reminding the audience that it is not all “doom and gloom,” Robert then highlighted some of the positive opportunities scholarly publishing – as a society – can take advantage of regarding AI. This includes leveraging AI for social innovation, private and ethical LLMs, and various AI-based technologies in publishing workflows. Robert suggested the audience reference such services in Ithaka S+R’s AI tool tracker that conveniently lists generative, coding, discovery, image, writing, and workflow innovations. To encourage pathways to success, Robert advised the audience to keep an open mind in a climate of fear and emotion, innovate responsibly, strike a balance with human curation, develop an organized strategy on AI that suits your community (citing his own experience on AMS’s AI Advisory Group), and ponder implications/scenarios of AI we have not yet considered. Immediately following the keynote presentation, a cocktail reception was held on the rooftop terrace for attendees and Aries staff to network and enjoy hors d’oeuvres while overlooking the Boston skyline.

The Streamlining Reviewer Invitation with Scopus session kicked-off day two of the meeting, which spotlighted the recent integration between Find Reviewers using Scopus and EM. The session explored the common challenges journals face in the traditional Reviewer search process and the value of a more efficient, metadata-driven, and flexible approach. A live demonstration of the integration illustrated how Editors can leverage the expansive Scopus database and its advanced screening capabilities to automate Reviewer invitation and instill confidence in their selections. Next, the Advanced Analytics for Informed Strategies session touched on the importance of data in making informed decisions, showcased a series of built-in reports to measure performance and user activity, and encouraged journals to consider integrating advanced solutions such as Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics with their EM/PM sites for deeper insights.

Darci Dubreuli, Principal Product Manager at Elsevier, joined us as a guest speaker to host the Trust, Transparency, and Integrity session alongside the Aries team. The session introduced exciting Aries collaborations to improve the integrity in editorial workflows, including efforts with the STM Integrity Hub, the STM Researcher Identity Working Group, STM Duplicate Submissions Working Group, publishers such as Elsevier, and other technology providers within the industry. The presenters covered trust factors, common integrity concerns such as papermills, specific red flags to detect suspicious activity or bad actors, and solutions leveraged to mitigate these risks. Our classic Enterprise Analytics Reporting (EAR) session serves as an open forum for attendees to ask our team any questions regarding reporting within EM/PM – which are answered on-the-fly, often with a brief demonstration/tutorial for guidance. In keeping with tradition, the meeting wrapped with our The Road Ahead session. Aries’ Product Management team detailed key themes and initiatives on our development roadmap including UI/UX design enhancements, improvements to the Author experience, shifting to a single user account/identity structure for all sites, inclusionary data reporting, in-system messaging and support tooltips, expansion of integrated tools within the Aries ecosystem, and more!

In addition to this knowledge-packed program of sessions, EMUG 2024 also featured immersive UI/UX Design and Feedback stations! Attendees stopped by the stations during coffee breaks and in-between sessions to meet with members of the Aries team to submit general feature requests for EM/PM, discuss specific system designs, and provide feedback through surveys. At the UI/UX Design station, attendees had the EMUG-exclusive opportunity to preview a digital prototype of the Editor Decision Form design concept and react to the EM/PM journal Home page early design concept on an interactive feedback poster. EM/PM users are encouraged to sign up to participate in future user research sessions to help shape future system designs. Those who opt-in as a volunteer can share their feedback on current and upcoming designs through brief surveys, interviews, prototype testing, and more! The EM User Experience Feedback Program and activities are light-commitment, low-touch, and users may skip or opt-out of invitations to participate at any time.

Aries is honored to have had the opportunity to host our global user community and we thank all attendees and staff for their participation in making #EMUG2024 a success! Please stay tuned for details on EMUG 2025 – to be announced in Q4!