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Report of June 13, 2017


Oxford's move to a new platform caused many problems for communications. I decided to go for transparency: having us acknowledge the issues as they were reported, discuss our approaches to fix them, reach out to affected parties. This had some pluses and minuses. We come across as honest and advocates for our readers, and anger ended up being directed at our publisher rather than at us. However, this made the issues more prominent than they would have been otherwise. For example, a couple of articles were reported where the authors paid for them to be OA but they were paywalled; we tweeted about this, but also found others and reported those as well. In contrast, Moleculary Biology and Evolution, which is also an Oxford journal, had 16 years of content lost from their journal website for several days. Ross Mounce, an open access advocate, tweeted about it, but Oxford and MBE had essentially no response. It's a bigger issue than five OA articles being paywalled, but I imagine the former was better known than the latter b/c we were more transparent about it.

Problem Our response
Articles where authors paid for Open Access were paywalled We tweeted about the issue as soon as it was highlighted, talked directly to authors, posted copies of the articles on a github page and linked to them from SSB's main page, and worked with Oxford to get authors and readers refunds
DOIs were wrong -- failing, or sometimes going to the right article content, but in the wrong journal Tweeted corrections, talked to affected authors, worked with Oxford to (eventually) get these issues fixed for authors
AEs and EICs were sometimes added to articles as authors. This affects the article citation info when downloaded (RIS, BibTex, etc.), the HTML full text, and has even started to populate Google Scholar, messing up H-index and other measures. We've communicated extensively with Oxford over this and warned readers about this issue.
RSS feeds of new articles no longer valid RSS Reported issue to Oxford. We use IFTTT to automatically post articles to facebook and twitter from the feeds; this now works only sometimes.

For more issues, see the publishing committee report.

Our social media followers have grown somewhat. Besides putting out fires with publishing, I've been trying to use it to show how SSB is moving science forward: info on the letters we co-author about various science issues, information welcoming non-US scholars to the Evolution meeting, trying to get a diverse set of talks for Evol2018, etc. However, none of our stuff has really taken off: some people look at it, maybe comment, favorite, or retweet, but I don't get the sense that we're moving the conversation forward.

Student reps created a subreddit for us and an instagram account. We haven't used either yet. We've asked for photos about systematics (on FB, in email to members, on twitter) but as of a few days ago had only one submission.

I've created Google groups for the council, exec, and the ssbpublishing subcommittee.

Casey suggested Google Suite for nonprofits to allow us to coordinate as a council more easily (shared docs, etc.). We tried to get this established, but it requires certification that the people involved are part of the nonprofit (being listed on our tax forms, etc.). We worked with our accountant to try to do this but it didn't work.

Action items for council

  • Decide about paying for Google Suite or similar. Google Suite is $5/user/month.


On Facebook we have gone from 1,747 to 1,794 members since Jan. 2017. Autofeed of articles has largely broken down (issues with Oxford) but we've used this forum to communicate info on our letters, publication issues, and so forth.


Since January our number of twitter followers has gone from 5,154 to 5,589.

Month Tweets Impressions Mentions New followers
Dec. 2016 8 18.3K 34 51
Jan. 2017 41 53.8K 101 102
Feb. 2017 24 34.9K 68 59
Mar. 2017 22 55.5K 52 64
Apr. 2017 22 28.8K 53 69
May 2017 14 32.3K 35 5539 (perhaps a bug in twitter analytics?)
June 2017 10 28.6K 12 28


We use mailchimp to communicate with our members. We still have the loop of me asking Oxford for our membership list, them sending it, then me using it to populate MailChimp.


We have kept the main website on Weebly. I'd like to eventually use github pages or similar for the SSB website (Weebly is hard to fight through to adjust things -- it is almost entirely a GUI, with raw HTML editing only within blocks on a page) but I haven't made the time to transition. I've added a section with all our letters (about science funding, climate change, etc.) and each has its own URL (anchor) so we can link to it directly. I also used our homepage to communicate to readers at the height of Oxford issues. Our github group is also getting fleshed out: besides the reports, we now have a place to distribute inappropriately paywalled OA content as well as an Rmarkdown file that lets us check the status of our journal.


Independent of being part of SSB, I proposed a potential resolution to NSF's cancellation of DDIGs. I doubt this particular proposal is going anywhere, but it helped with a conversation and got the notice of a reporter from Science, who talked to me and who I gave contact info of Luke Harmon (SSB President), Dean Adams (EVP), and Tracy Heath (SSB Awards Director). As a result, SSB was highlighted in the article that appeared on the DDIG issue. It highlights the potential importance of social media in getting attention for particular issues.