Considering that most of the talks on Open Access either showcase individual success story of Open Access, or bemoan how scholarly publishing is broken and only Open Science can fix it—without acknowledging the complexity of research communication, I wanted to provide a critique on why the current development of Open Access is not providing the hoped-for benefits. Surely the talk touched only some points of the already large movement, but it’s something that is not being talked about much at conferences. The talk sparked some interesting conversations, which is why I wanted to publish the content of the talk to keep the conversation going. Please do reach out to me in public @lepublikateur or in private marcel.knochelmann.15(at)ucl.ac.uk.
The current phase of transition shows that gold Open Access (OA) is likely to be a disruptive force for the establishment. Libraries and institutions aim to cut costs by pushing for more Open Access; publishers seek to raise profits, or at least stay in business. New ventures are growing in between those needs: they’re cheaper than established offerings, but can survive on lower profit margins. Those ventures gradually build the infrastructure for future scholarly communication. But at what cost?
Gold Open Access is an accepted, yet isolated model in academic book publishing. Publishing houses only dare to scale open access in small steps. While books, especially monographs, are still the preferred medium to communicate scholarship in many disciplines, foremost in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, the overall market of academic books is in recession. Less sold books means less access. Large scale Open Access publishing may be a solution. But publishing houses seem to be in a prisoner’s dilemma: to adapt Open Access on a large enough scale required a systematic approach in which all publishing houses would have to act. My recently published study (June 2017, UCL Press) provides a theoretical explanation for this.
“This ruling should stand as a warning to those who knowingly violate others’ rights,” comments Matt McKay of the STM Association on the decision of a New York district court against Sci-Hub. The court ruled that Sci-Hub, the Library of Genesis, and similar illegal projects will have to pay $15m to the claimant. Sounds about right, it’s copyright infringement. Of all the laws, publishers should hold up those dealing with intellectual property the highest.
Yet, the claimant is Elsevier, which gives the ruling a bitter taste.
Brand Equity and Its Strategic Source in Scholarly Journal Publishing
A teaser for the session at the 39th Annual Meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing, Boston: Brands are gatekeepers to content. At least partly. A comprehensive theory of a brand and its equity is important to understand the influence brands have on customers’ behaviour. This starts with seeing brands as more than just logos, and goes on with shaping value propositions with regards to potential customers. In journal publishing—a form of network economy—it highly depends on how you define your customer: reader (with a need for easy-to-access and reliable content) or author (with a need to accumulate high-IF brands on her CV). Or both?
Science is collaboration. Saying that scientists would stand on the shoulders of giants to see further is not a cliché. Science advanced because generations of scientists build on other generation’s knowledge and experience, thus leaping forward into the unknown. Acknowledging other peoples’ findings – maybe questioning the results – is one of the key ingredients of scientific enquiry. This may seem hard to believe at times when doubt and negation of scientific findings are flourishing – rather than acknowledgement. Yet, new research conducted by Microsoft Research reminds us of the fact that science prospers when scientists partner and work without borders.
In about 500 communities around the world, scientists marched for science on Earth Day, 22. of April 2017. This was not a political protest, yet, there are concerns that marching will not deliver a solution for the problem science has. Well, what actually is the problem science has? Is the march politicising science? And why are hard facts not the whole story science should tell?
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation just announced the launch of a new open access platform, Gates Open Research. The Wellcome Trust’s own platform is already running with F1000. All the while, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative opens research with cutting edge services. Funders become a major force changing the scientific ecosystem from the outside, accelerating openness and time-to-publish.
Concepts are big issues in publishing. Normally, whenever there is change, people start talking in concepts and soon arrive at specific issues. In publishing, discussions seem to get stuck in the concepts. Take for instance digital disruption, open access, or the buzz around start-ups. You may say, these are just generalisations to get conversations going. After years of conversations, though, this has become a false argument. Time is ripe to move from generalising concepts to specific issues. Especially at occasions of public speaking.
This essay will explore the social media activities of the publishing house Mills & Boon (from here on M&B) in the form of a case study, and analyse whether the social media activities support or change the company’s public image and brand.