Find out about my professional background on LinkedIn. Here is the short form:
I’m a doctoral student at the Department of Information Studies at University College London. I have extensive scholarly communication experience from various publishing projects at Wiley, De Gruyter, The Academic Book of the Future project, and Knowledge Unlatched, among others. I received a 2016 SSP International Fellowship, was the 2015 John Wiley & Sons scholar, and am an alumnus of the German National Merit Foundation. My research is funded by the AHRC UK through the London Arts and Humanities Partnership. Here on LePublikateur, I publish articles on Open Access and the economics of publishing.
Here is the long form:
Chapter 1: Bookseller
I’m a bookseller. Well, I was. I grew up in a small town in Germany, reading books and telling people about them. Then I began working in the local bookshop and did the reading and talking for money. With all the reading came the writing. There was not much happening in my hometown, so I wrote about books. As it turned out, writing only about books got quite boring and I wasn’t an advanced thinker to come up with my own topics. I figured out, I should leave town to see something else. Yet, there are barely any jobs for booksellers. This is why I went to university to study Business Administration. I wanted to understand why the whole industry was going down the drain.
Chapter 2: Early Student
Well, it’s not a secret that Business Administration isn’t the most interesting of all subjects. I interned at a huge pharmaceutical company the summer before the course started. I worked with the Head of Marketing, a marvellous man who drove an oldtimer, loved photography, and lived on a remote farm. He laughed when I told him about my plans. I thought, well, get the BA done and then you’ll get into marketing, becoming such an unmarketingish guy. Few months later, I realised, I don’t need a BA in Business Administration to live on a farm. So I switch courses and went into Publishing Management in Leipzig, a renowned course for applied publishing, so to say. What’s better for becoming a great publisher than that?
Chapter 3: Advanced Student
Well, though applied, it’s still just theory. Becoming a theoretical publisher got me carried away. I wanted to write about thought-provoking stuff, challenging the concepts of the established. As all the self-publishing and social media buzz of the fiction publishers appeared to be less engaging, I turned to academic publishing. Woah, everything’s turned feet over heads there. All those new concepts waiting to be analysed. And it’s such a huge industry! Though, with understanding the economics of the industry, I realised that there is the even bigger industry, academia, depending on academic publishing – and its market is somewhat skewed. I felt this required proper investigation, so I went to Berlin to work for De Gruyter, but it still wasn’t enough: this demanded a more international strategy. Strategy? As a bookseller by heart I couldn’t completely leave my beloved industry behind without leaving a footprint. Luckily, my professor had a plan and provided me with the opportunity to elaborate a new company strategy for the Leipzig Book Fair. This is where I learned a lot about strategic planning and how little magic it actually is. I wrote it down as my BA thesis and left the country shortly after that. Backed by the German National Merit Foundation and the John Wiley & Sons scholarship, I moved to London.
Chapter 4: Experienced Student
University College London warmly welcomed me. Yet, I regarded the course as a structured research path to understand what’s going on in the market. All those buzzwords! Unbelievable. Who actually knows what’s going on when everybody’s forwarding empty messages? Well, nothing better to find out than from the inside. Next to researching the macro environment, I worked for the Academic Book of the Future project at UCL/KCL, Knowledge Unlatched, and Wiley in Oxford. Moreover, the SSP awarded me a fellowship and flew me to Canada. What better place to find out about the market than in Canada? With all the wood there, they must make great books and journals! The result was my dissertation on the role of brands (that’s more than just logos) in business development and the journal publishing market, destroying beliefs of marketers who depend on their elaborate concepts. Sometimes, it’s just good services. But often it’s not.
Chapter 5: Doctoral Student
There is probably a deep connection between reputation in academia and how the publishing market works. That’s what I’m about to explore next: the economics of scholarly publishing and the researchers who bear them. Or: the publish or perish mentality from the researcher perspective.
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