Platform Wars: The Scholarly Journal in a Changing World

“Platforms” has become one of the leading buzzwords in scholarly publishing. Journals turn into platforms, adding a myriad of new functions to the former static journal content. Technology providers are offering solutions for any kind of website-turned-platform. Additionally, researchers are faced with a diversity of platforms on which they can read, annotate, or review content. Yet, is all this diversity increasing impact or usability? Or is it only a way of diversifying supply in order to deliver innovation?

The journal-turned-platform

The mutual goal of researchers, publishers, and intermediaries is to achieve high impact with excellent research content. Web-based technologies enable publishers to offer improved solutions for this goal. The former static content of printed journals has turned into much more than just an online delivered PDF.

Platforms provide backends for hassle-free peer reviews and editing as well as detailed usage statistics. In addition, frontends appear with an unprecedented diversity that surpasses simple design features: annotation tools, added support with data sources and diagrams, or recommendation functions equipped with semantic technologies are only a few examples.

Platforms support researchers in many ways – or too many?

Certainly, this diversity leads to improvement. Platforms can support content-based debates and discoverability, enable readers to access raw data alongside conclusions, and facilitate shorter research cycles. However, surveys show that researchers are increasingly stressed and peer reviewers demand better training. Magnified by the growing number of Open Access models, the diversified publishing landscape appears to be more and more cumbersome.

Do platforms still serve the researcher, or do they rather try to outperform competitors? What are the core features platforms should offer and how can smaller publishers provide these? How good are Open Source solutions like OJS? And are today’s quickly launched solutions sufficient and sustainable for hosting content in the long term?

Panel debate at London Book Fair

These and other questions will be discussed at the debate “Platform Wars: The Scholarly Journal in a Changing World” at London Book Fair, Tuesday 12th April 2016, 2:30-3:30 in the The Faculty, Olympia. The debate is organised by postgraduate students of the UCL Centre of Publishing and will feature Ian Mulvany of eLife Sciences, Christian Kohl, independent consultant, Prof Alexander Grossmann, founder of ScienceOpen, Ciaran O’Neill of SpringerNature, and will be hosted by Marcel Knöchelmann of University College London.

The Interscript Team: Bárbara Rivera | Eimear McHugh | Megan Wright | Courtney Librizzi | Cecilia Cerrini | Melissa Miller | Marcel Knöchelmann

Platform Wars Trailer:


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