This will be my last post to the Society of Indexers Conference blog and I’d like to thank all the people who’ve read it and commented, and the conference speakers who kindly agreed to have their sessions reported here.

To keep up with news from Conferences and the SI in general I heartily recommend the following:

SI website: http://www.indexers.org.uk/index.php?id=1 All aspects of indexing in the UK including conferences, and the facility to ‘find an indexer for your project’.

Twitter: Follow @indexers for daily indexing-related tweets.

Facebook: ‘like’ the Society of Indexers on Facebook for daily updates of indexing news.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this very brief blog post on the importance of attending conferences in your field http://createbusinessgrowth.com/networking/the-importance-of-attending-conferences-in-your-field

See you at Wyboston Lakes!

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Putting together a conference programme

How do you put a good conference programme together? A programme that will offer the right balance of education, entertainment, and ‘down’ time so that delegates are enticed to book and leave feeling that it was time and money well spent?

There is an established pattern for the Society of Indexers (SI) annual conference. From time to time we toy with the idea of changing it, but have followed roughly the same format in recent years. The conference is always residential, usually over two nights, and will include a gala dinner at which presentations are made. There will be a balance of full conference sessions in a lecture hall (plenary sessions) and seminar/breakaway sessions (parallels/workshops). Delegates choose their preferred parallel sessions before the conference and places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The Society’s AGM is also held during the conference.

We have excellent relations with our ‘sister’ indexing societies from around the world and delegates representing those societies travel great distances to attend each other’s conferences. Our conference programme will usually include an international plenary session when the international representatives tell us about the work they’ve been doing to promote professional indexes and indexing.

Modern publishing is changing fast and the SI in the UK is fortunate to have a group of senior indexers with very varied technical experience who comprise the Publishing Technology Group. The PTG’s brief is to investigate how new technologies being applied to publishing might affect indexing, and to advise publishers, authors and indexers. For the last few years the PTG members have presented their own plenary session during the conference to bring delegates up-to-date with the latest technological developments.

So, within these parameters, how did the Wyboston Lakes conference committee go about putting together the 2013 conference programme? Firstly, they brainstormed the sorts of sessions which they thought would be useful together with names of publishing and society contacts who might provide interesting sessions. Then they hit the email, phone and snail mail. This can be a long process. Sometimes friendly reminders had to be sent and a series of ‘no, sorry’ emails required a quick meeting by Skype and a rethink.

Whilst waiting for the speakers to reply the committee agreed with the Continuing Professional Development committee which workshops should be offered at the conference. The workshops are structured, indexing-specific training sessions. This year delegates can choose from workshops about wording index entries, the correct indexing of personal names, using social media, and an introduction to copy-editing and proofreading.

Two of the plenary sessions were arranged quite quickly. A fascinating session on ‘Indexing Image Collections’ will presented on the opening afternoon by two speakers, one on indexing cartoons and the other on indexing moving images. On Sunday morning we’ll hear about ‘Marketing in the Digital Age’, an interesting tie-in with our marketing workshop.

The committee were considering other options for plenary sessions when the editor of The Indexer (the international journal of indexing http://www.theindexer.org/) got in touch from a conference in the US to say that she had heard a speaker there who would be of interest to the SI. The result was a session on Saturday afternoon ‘Adding value: the role of the publisher’.

The final strands of the conference parallel sessions were filled by a process of frequent emails and juggling of slots until a range of interesting and wide-ranging sessions were arranged, all the way from ‘Back care for home workers” to “ePubs and the future of indexes”, via bookbinding!

To see the full programme, and to book for the conference, please go to http://www.indexers.org.uk/index.php?id=233 . And remember – the workshops and parallel sessions are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis!

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2013 Society of Indexers Conference – Call for Papers

Call for Papers
2013 Society of Indexers Conference:
‘Revitalise your business, refresh your skills’
12– 14 July 2013
Wyboston Lakes Conference Centre
Wyboston, Bedfordshire MK44 3AL

Abstract submission deadline: 30 November 2012
Final paper submission deadline: 14 June 2013

The Society of Indexers was founded in 1957 and works to promote indexing, the quality of
indexes and the profession of indexing. Further details are here: www.indexers.org.uk.

Following our successful conferences at Brighton (2012) and Keele University (2011), we
invite papers for our 2013 conference at the Wyboston Lakes Conference Centre in
Bedfordshire in July.

Papers are invited for presentation to a plenary (full conference) session or parallel (optional attendance) sessions. The Conference Committee invites submission of papers on the future of publishing (with particular reference to implications for indexing) along but not limited to the following themes:

• Publishing skills for the digital landscape
• National Occupational Publishing standards
• Trends in e-Books and e-Readers
• E-book standards and formats
• Beyond books: what is the future of e-content

We encourage submissions from a variety of disciplines, including but not limited to, publishing, marketing and technology.

Please submit your abstract (400 word limit) to the Secretary of the 2013 Wyboston
Conference Committee at 2013conference@indexers.org.uk

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What did delegates think of the Brighton conference?

Here’s a Word cloud put together by Helen Bilton which shows the feedback from the Brighton conference. The more frequently a word appears on the feedback forms the bigger and more prominent it appears in the word cloud. For some reason Helen thought the umbrella was the most appropriate image…

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Publishing Technology Group (PTG) session

The PTG presentation at the Brighton conference was a joint presentation by some of the group members. Bill Johncocks opened by reminding delegates of the main achievements of the PTG in the last year. The PTG website was launched (http://www.ptg-indexers.org.uk/) and is a terrific resource for indexers, full of useful information including an extensive glossary. It should always be the first port of call for indexers who have questions about modern publishing technologies. The PTG has also been working with the  American Society for Indexing (ASI) Digital Trends Task Force (DTTF) (http://www.asindexing.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3647).

Jan Ross conducted a ‘digital round-up’ of the latest news on new publishing technologies. (She will be putting the slides from her presentation on the PTG website in due course) Firstly, she gave some statistics to show how the eBook market is growing: in the UK eBooks account for 6% of market share; sales of eBooks rose by 366% in 2011; and publishers in the STM (science, technology and medicine) sector estimate that more than 15% of their revenue is now earned from eBook titles.

As a result of this growth in the eBook market publisher priorities are changing. For example, OUP  “content must be born digital” i.e. digital should be the primary format. The search function may be becoming more sophisticated. For example the search and index might be combined, or the locators might be listed in order of importance. This turned out to have been a common theme throughout the conference – the index can enhance the digital offering.

Jan showed us a demo of Luxid® (http://www.temis.com/index.php?id=201&selt=1), produced by Temis, which is a semantically enriched search. It is already being supplied to several major publishers. She also demonstrated a dynamic visualisation of information – an ontology, or online index.

Finally, Bill opened the session to the floor and asked for questions, and suggestions from delegates concerning what members want from the PTG. One enquiry was about access to the PTG website which is ‘members only’ at the moment. The group would like to make it available publicly but would have to split the content as some sections should remain restricted. Another delegate asked that the PTG liaise with publishers to stress the need for the publishers’ technological teams (whether in-house or outsourced) to talk to their indexers as much more could be achieved by working together to produce the digital offering.

The PTG can be contacted via their group email address info@ptg-indexers.org.uk.

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The index to The Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World (winner of the Wheatley Medal 2011)

The index to The Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World (EJIW), published by Brill (http://www.brill.nl/publications/online-resources/encyclopedia-jews-islamic-world-online), was produced by a team of three indexes: Caroline Diepeveen, Pierke Bosschieter and Jacqueline Belder and won the Wheatley Medal for an outstanding index in 2011. Caroline, one of the founding members of the Netherlands Indexing Network (NIN), described the process of producing the index.

Brill (http://www.brill.nl/) was founded in 1683 and have their head office in Leiden in The Netherlands. They are convinced about the value of indexes and always use professional indexers. They have developed their own Content Management System (CMS) for the production of their titles and it includes an indexing module. They originally considered a fully embedded index method but eventually went with tagging, with the locators generated by the CMS.

Caroline had been given access to the EJIW online so that she could show the conference how the index was used. She compared searching for a specific name via full-text search, which generated 227 minor mentions, to going straight to the relevant article about the named person via the index. Although we know this is the case it was interesting to see it in action within an academic text – the index demonstrably more useful than the search, or, as Caroline put it “we can let go of the page…(indexes) are still the best resource for telling readers where to find useful information”.

Main headings in the index are followed not by locators but by clickable links comprised of the titles of the articles in which they appear. This feature has received good feedback from users. The index itself is, however, quite difficult to find in the online edition and Brill are working on improving accessibility.

Producing the index to a title of this size (4 volumes + 1 index and references volume) between a team of three challenged the indexers to think differently about the way they worked. Caroline described it as being like an ongoing peer review with each indexer reviewing and, occasionally, querying each other’s entry choices in order to achieve consistency across the work. The CMS system supported teamwork because it displayed the articles which had been done and those which still needed work. The indexers specialised in their own subject areas. Once difference to working alone was that they found that they could not do double entries because there was no way of keeping track of them.

It was very interesting to hear how fellow professionals had tackled such a large and complex text to produce an award-winning index.

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Publishers’ panel

The panel was comprised of:

Rohays Perry, Psychology Press <http://www.psypress.com/>

Martin Woodhead, Woodhead Publishing <http://www.woodheadpublishing.com/en/>

Jason Hook, Ivy Press <http://www.ivypress.co.uk/>

Richard Padley, Semantico <http://www.semantico.com/>

Each of the publishers on the panel described their organisation’s current practice with regard to indexes then the panel answered questions from the floor.

Rohays Perry works mostly with journals and of the 200+ journals she is responsible for only one has an index, with investigations showing that even that index is not being used. She did, however, consult book publishing colleagues at Taylor & Francis and Routledge who confirmed that they would always prefer professionally produced indexes “if the author will pay”, although most of them didn’t know whether they were including indexes in their e-books.

Rohays estimated that journals are about 15 years ahead of books in their online presence with 87% the T&F arts, humanities, and social science journals accessible electronically.

She was keen to improve the quality of search results but preferred to talk of ‘curating’ rather than ‘indexing’ information. To this end they were working on various methods of improving information retrieval – taxonomies, improving the search functionality, keywords and tagging, embedding index terms in the text and passing journal content to ‘text miners’ to create databases.

Martin Woodhead outsources the indexing work for his titles to third party companies in the Philippines. Woodhead Publishing found that the cost of having an index professionally produced in the UK was substantial (7.5% of the total production cost) and they needed to cut costs so they looked for the alternative and found that they could save 75% by having the indexes done abroad. He thought that the indexes were mostly produced by computer and was interested to hear that more than one of the SI members present was being commissioned to produce indexes for companies in the Philippines! The indexes which have been outsourced have received very good feedback and no criticism, although Martin did qualify this later when he said that their experiences with outsourcers in different countries had not been consistently good with some variability in the quality of indexes produced.

Martin advised that UK indexers should be focussing on creativity and new technology. In particular he felt there could be scope for indexers to create taxonomies in which they retain ownership but could sell or rent to clients.

Jason Hook explained that Ivy Press are a book packager producing highly illustrated mid-range reference books and coffee table books. They have not yet ventured into digital publishing but they are making little films to promote their books – the film he showed us was delightful (Universal Gravitation <http://www.ivypress.co.uk/vids/all-videos/>)

The Ivy Press still commission indexes from professionals in the UK and like a “hard working and rigorous index”.

Richard Padley is not a publisher but works with publishers to put their books and journals online. One of Semantico’s commissions was to put the Grove Dictionary of Art online. As part of that project they tried to put the index online too but felt it wasn’t useful, and found it wasn’t used, with a search function being more useful. They focussed on making ‘search’ work harder by using keywords, taxonomies and thesauri and what he described as ‘facets’ which meant that all the information was indexed using the taxonomy so that a semantic relationship was created.

More information is available on the Semantico blog at <http://www.semantico.com/>.

Richard felt that the future for indexers was in the intellectual work of subject matter experts.

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