Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Artificial Intelligence: What It Is, How It Works, and What Publishers Can Do with It


Atypon logo
AI was one of the hot topics at last year's ALPSP conference, in this guest blog Hong Zhou, Senior Product Manager for Information Discovery and AI at Atypon give us the 101 on this transformational development.

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is much more than the latest technology buzzword. According to Gartner, by 2020, AI will positively change the behavior of billions of workers and users. And Tata estimates that the vast majority of those workers will work outside of IT.

But what exactly is AI?

AI is a broad set of technologies that use the computational capabilities of machines to “think” like humans. There are many different types of AI, each of which can be used to solve different problems.

So how can AI be employed by scholarly publishers? Ultimately, any publishing technology should make the research experience more productive, increase content usage, and add value to the publisher’s content. To do that, R&D at Atypon explores ways to help readers discover useful and relevant information more quickly by improving search mechanisms and refining content recommendations.

Making content relevant: Recommender systems

Recommender systems will be familiar to anyone who has received suggestions about what other products to buy before or after making an online purchase. Publishers can use them to target relevant products to individual customers by understanding their online site behavior and interests.

Anticipating what readers want: Personalized search

AI-driven recommendation technology can be extended to personalize search as well: reading histories can be used to adjust search rankings specifically to each user—and even suggest new queries that may be relevant—with the goal of understanding a user’s intentions even before they search.

Faster, easier content classification: Semantic auto-tagging

Content tagging underlies many important website capabilities, such as automating the creation of topic-specific pages and content bundles, and powering search results and content recommendations. But tagging documents and maintaining tag sets can be a daunting undertaking. Auto-taggers powered by intelligent machine learning algorithms tag articles accurately and even identify which tags may not be assigned correctly. They save curators time by letting them concentrate their efforts only on content that’s assigned low “confidence scores” by the auto-tagger, thus making it easier for publishers to implement and manage taxonomies.

Content enrichment: Natural language processing

Keywords are traditionally extracted or selected manually, but doing it automatically requires a large amount of training data to identify relationships among topics and key phrases. By enabling machines to understand the meaning of content rather than just the individual words, they can extract more valuable information from content. Natural language processing (NLP) automates key phrase extraction and obviates “teaching” the engine about the content first. By extracting key phrases from different sections of the content and ranking them based on their importance, NLP ultimately improves content categorization and, by extension, content discovery.

Beyond tagging and metadata: Knowledge graphs

A knowledge graph charts all of the possible connections among publication-related information like authors, topics, journals, articles, and even external knowledge databases. Based on these connections, algorithms identify and recommend to researchers the most influential entities, trending topics, and even co-authors and reviewers based on their areas of specialization and the subjects about which they’re writing.

Granular discoverability for text and images: Semantic enrichment

Suppose a researcher wants to interpret many figures associated with a single experiment. Editors have to segment them manually using specialized software—problematic when processing a large number of them. Machine learning can be used to extract sub-figures and captions from compound figures and even separate labels from their associated images, enabling each item to be searched and retrieved individually. Such automation not only reduces the cost of segmentation but also extracts and organizes more valuable information so researchers can search for, compare, and recommend images more precisely and easily.

Search the science, not the text

AI is no longer an aspirational conversation about the future—many of the technologies discussed above are all available today and in use by publishers. By using AI to provide better search results for researchers—and enable publishers to target content more effectively—publishers can deepen researchers’ engagement with their websites, increase the value of their content, and further the pursuit of scientific knowledge by surfacing the information they need more quickly and accurately.


Hong Zhou works on Atypon’s next-generation information discovery technologies. Previously, he was the CTO of Digital Fineprint, a startup that leveraged machine learning algorithms for the insurance industry. He also spent a year designing race car games at Eutechnyx. He holds a PhD in 3D modeling with artificial intelligence algorithms from Aberystwyth University and has published widely on computer science.


Atypon is the proud sponsor of our Awards Dinner at the ALPSP Annual Conference which will take place on 12-14 September this year.


Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Examining Trust and Truth in Scholarly Publishing

In this latest blog, Helen Duriez, from our Professional Development Committee, reflects on how our current webinar series Trust, Truth and Scholarly Publishing webinar series came together.  


Oh, how the world turns. I used to think that Donald Trump running for US president was a fine joke. I used to think there was no way the UK would choose to go it alone when it could be a part of the collective economic might of the European Union. Turns out, the voting public in the US and UK had very different ideas to those of this naïve millennial back in 2016.  

Two years on, it’s become apparent that a large part of the success of these two major political campaigns was their ability to leverage personal belief systems. People are more likely to believe what they read if it aligns with their pre-existing belief system or if it taps into a feeling of existential threat, causing them to disregard evidence to the contrary. Ironically enough, there’s research that backs up this theory, and the concept even has a name – post-truth. You might have heard of it.

Now, what people choose to believe (or not) is tightly interwoven with what we choose to tell them, and how. In scholarly publishing, most of our jobs involve disseminating complex information in one form or another. With research output higher than ever before, there’s a lot of complicated stuff to explain – not just to academics and practitioners, but to the general public as well. Scientists are used to working with ambiguities, although that doesn’t mean they always navigate the rocky terrain of uncertainty safely. And what about lay audiences, who give as much weight to opinions as to facts?

The team at ALPSP felt this topic warranted further exploration, and so a small group of staff and volunteers (I’m one of the latter) have taken it upon ourselves to put together a series of webinars looking at some of the issues and opportunities in scholarly publishing today. Here’s how the series pans out…

Publishing without perishing

In case you missed the first webinar in the Trust, Truth & Scholarly Publishing series, go – sign up and download it. Seriously, do it. Yes, as one of the organisers I may be a little biased, but even knowing what I was about to listen to didn’t stop me from being motivated and left feeling a little awe-inspired as Richard Horton gave us a passionate, powerful reminder of what early journal publishers set out to achieve, and the obligations we still have to society today. Jason Hoyt follows up with some practical thoughts about how publishers can succeed in a post-truth world.

The reproducibility opportunity

In last week's webinar, now available for download too, and highly recommended,  Catriona Fennell, Rachel Tsui and Chris Chambers explored how the concept of reproducible science represents an opportunity, rather than a threat, when it comes to getting to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The traditional journal publishing model doesn’t have much time for replication studies (not original research, don’t ya know) or registered reports (findings, please!), but things are starting to change…

Public engagement with scholarly research

The process of communicating a new piece of scientific research to the world can sometimes feel a little like a game of Chinese whispers. When the description of a complex concept or process is shortened and reworded in order to reach a new audience, it’s meaning can change subtly. I’ve seen more than one twitter spat debating the latest “scientists have found…” health fact, and there are those who have built careers around addressing some of these misrepresentations.

So, what tools can those of us in scholarly communication use to instil trust in our content? In our last webinar we are joined by three industry communicators Tom Griffin, John Eggleton and Eva Emerson to find out.  You can register here for this final webinar.

For more practical information on the series, including how to get a members’ discount, see here.

Helen Duriez is a Product Manager at Wiley, specialising in digital strategy and planning. With over 12 years’ experience in the publishing industry, Helen has previous worked at the Royal Society, Macmillan and OUP. She gets out of bed for open science and avocado toast.



Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Open Annotation for Researchers and Publishers

Hypothesis Logo

This month's Featured Member - Hypothesis provides our latest Guest Blog, penned by their Director of Partnerships - Heather Staines.


Created as a nonprofit, based on open source technology, Hypothesis is an independent industry voice that listens to community partners, not shareholders, to create a solution that serves researchers through all stages of their workflow. Our 145,000 users have already created more than 3.1 million annotations in the research, education, and journalism sectors. In 2015, we launched the Annotating All Knowledge Coalition, for publishers, universities, and technology companies wishing to explore interoperable annotation. Free to join, the AAK Coalition invites ALPSP members to learn more. We also host I Annotate, the world’s largest conference dedicated to annotation technologies, now in its sixth year. Join us in San Francisco on June 6–7 2018.

Workflow tools that silo content and data and require researchers to cut and paste notes or reenter information result in frustration and loss of productivity. Visit Hypothesis to create a free account that you can use to annotate content across the web. Deep-linking through annotation creates unique persistent web addresses for content at any level: page, paragraph, sentence, word, or data object across HTML, PDF, and EPUB formats. Embed Hypothesis on your website or platform with just a short piece of javascript code to enable anyone to annotate — whether they have the browser plugin already or not. If you want more control over annotations, consider our Publisher Group functionality.

With the successful launch of the first Publisher Group for eLife in January, 2018, we are pleased to announce further refined group technology for publishers, platforms, and societies.  Publisher Groups are branded and moderated annotation layers that enable conversations, the creation of additional content, private note-taking, and private collaboration groups over publisher versions of record. Increase reader engagement with interaction on your content through annotations, which also populate to your publisher group page.

Publisher Groups enable world-readable annotation layers that are open for anyone to create annotations or are restricted to authors, members, or invited experts. Society publishers can establish a group that spans both their content site and their member site to create a cohesive conversation to benefit members. Societies with similar interests can collaborate to create a discipline-specific layer that spans multiple content sites. The W3C standards-based Hypothesis client can connect to existing account systems to avoid the need for users to create separate accounts, and it can be configured to match the styling of publisher websites and platforms. Hypothesis works with all of the popular hosting solutions across the industry.

Annotations in groups can also be explored through activity pages, giving publishers and societies quick snapshots into annotation activity on specific sites and documents. Full analytics on public annotations and aggregated anonymized data on private and group annotations are available through Hypothesis' robust API. Public annotations are included in the Crossref Event Data project for indexing by Google.

Publishers are discovering additional use cases for annotation every day. eJournal Press has integrated Hypothesis with its peer review dashboard to offer reviewers the option to provide feedback through inline annotation. Discussions with all major manuscript submissions systems are underway. Taking the popular SciBot account functionality as a model, publishers are exploring annotation technology to connect external data to specific identifiers already embedded in their content. SciBot searches papers for RRIDs (Research Resource Identifiers) — key for reproducibility and used by more than 125 journals — then displays information on each RRID in the form of an annotation card on the publisher site. Readers no longer need to navigate away to see the data behind the identifier. The Qualitative Data Repository at Syracuse University has partnered with Cambridge University Press to connect citations to their sources and underlying data through Annotation for Transparent Inquiry, an innovation that puts quotes and sources in context with author notes. Production departments are using annotation to handle questions on thier xml staging sites or in editorial processes to plan journal migrations. Preprint services such as bioRxiv are considering making society groups visible by default on top of their servers. The possibilities are endless.

Let's talk about how annotation and Publisher Group options can serve your goals for publication and user engagement.

Photo of Heather Staines

Heather Staines is Director of Partnerships for Hypothesis, working with publishers, platforms, and technology partners to promote open annotation. She has worked at Proquest, SIPX, Springer SBM (now Springer Nature), and Praeger Publishers, and she is active in many industry associations and task forces, including ALPSP, SSP, STM, Charleston, Force11, and more.


Website: https://web.hypothes.is/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/myhypothesis/
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You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/c/hypothesis



Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Understanding how to get your journal article in front of the reader

Understanding how to get your journal article in front of the reader and working out how to navigate the multitude of discovery resources and authentication barriers is essential to the success of a publishing organisation. It is also the topic of one of our most popular training courses. Here, we spoke to Online Journal Discovery and Delivery: Working with Libraries and industry intermediaries to maximise readership co-tutor, Tracy Gardner, about the challenges of keeping up-to-date in this area.


"One of the biggest challenges publishers face is making sure their content can be easily found in the various discovery resources readers use to find journal articles, and then to ensure the steps between the reader finding the content and reading it are seamless and without barrier. There are so many potential pitfalls along the way, and this issue therefore concerns people working in production, IT, editorial, sales, marketing and customer service.

The pace of change is fast, technology is evolving all of the time and the driver for much of it has come from the libraries. Libraries are keen to ensure their patrons find and access content they have selected and purchased and by keeping them in a library intermediated environment they feel they can improve their research experience overall. Ultimately the library would like the user to start at the library website, find content they can read and not be challenged along the way.

Simon Inger and I have been running the Online Journal Discovery and Delivery course two or three times a year for twelve years now and we have never run the same course twice - it constantly needs to be updated.

Those working in customer facing roles such as sales, marketing and customer service may not fully appreciate how much library technology impacts on the way researchers find and access their content. Many people are surprised to learn that poor usage within an institution is often because something has gone wrong with the way the content is indexed within the library discovery layer, how it is set up in the library link resolver, or issues with authentication.

For those in operational or technology roles, the business technology side of journals can seem unnecessarily complex and, especially for those new to the industry, the way the information community works can seem counter to the way many other business sectors operate. What makes sense in classic B2B or B2C environments will not make sense within the academic research community.

By helping people who work in publishing houses understand how the technology supporting journal delivery works, and how they can most effectively work with libraries to maximise discovery and use of their content. Many people who have attended our course have not been aware of the impact some of their decisions have had and our course has helped them understand why they need to work in certain ways."

Tracy Gardner will tutor on the upcoming Online Journal Discovery and Delivery course on 20 March. Full course details can be found here

Monday, 12 March 2018

Realising 'Wa' in the East: A Sales Manager's findings

In this blog Martin Jack, Senior Sales Manager for IPR License and Course Tutor for our fantastic new course - Introduction to Sales Management in Scholarly Publishing: Selling to libraries, academics and institutions shares his pointers on doing business in Japan. 


Before I started doing business in Japan I read a number of books offering practical advice on how to be successful across the Japanese business table. “Bow from the back, not from the neck!” I repeated to myself mantra-like as I entered my first meeting and didn’t come to my senses until some-time afterward: a clumsy, graceless and inelegant 6”4 Scot is surely going to appear sillier the more he tries to imitate deep bows! My mistake was in thinking that I was going to win points for emulation…and to think, I had both watched and read James Clavell’s 1 million words+ Shogun! Oh well, Richard Chamberlain aside, at least I wasn’t in the position of Lord Macartney, whom 200 years prior was to head the first British diplomatic mission to China. “To kowtow or not to kowtow?”, in front of the ruling Qianlong Emperor of Beijing, was his predicament. And yet, his kowtow and my bow had no relevance whatsoever to the success of our meetings (one slightly more anticipated than the other perhaps). Then, as now, the essential requirement to successful international business is trust built on mutual cultural understanding – protocol is a secondary factor. As for imitation, Wilde’s judgement is final: ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness!’ And so, I’ve put together some pointers of my own for when you find yourself preparing for your first Japanese business meetings, which I hope are of some help.


Focus on the Relationship


Focus on the relationship entirely. You won’t succeed in your business in Japan if you can’t establish a relationship. Try to be friends first, develop a relationship, and earn and build some trust in each other. Start by taking a genuine interest in who you are meeting and remember their name, even if you have to write it down in front of them (they’ll invariably give you a business card at the beginning of the meeting with a transliteration of their name in English which you can refer to) and get them to help you intone the pronunciation if you struggle.


Setting the Pace


You won’t be the one to set the pace, no matter how much time you have for the meeting and no matter how many topics you’ve prepared to discuss. You have to defer to the pace at which your hosts are willing to proceed. Mirroring the pace of your hosts will show respect, save yourself from being seen to show impatience, and show that you are willing to spend as much time as necessary on any point raised. Those points may not appear to be important in the grander scheme of things but at the juncture when they are raised they should be treated with all the seriousness accorded by your interlocutor. Best to keep in mind what you aim to achieve in the meeting whilst preparing mentally for not achieving anything (see ‘Manage your Expectations’ below). The discussion over details of your agenda points can be picked up again afterwards over email or over the phone. 


Manage your Expectations


Don’t expect decisions to be made over the table and don’t put your counterparts on the spot, no matter how good your offer is. Many decisions are made in Japan on a consensual rather than individual basis, after much discussion, so that amongst other things, harmony (wa) is maintained. When a poor decision is made in Japanese business, the blame is generally shared amongst employees rather than it being attributed to any one person (which would result in a loss of face which the Japanese are careful to avoid). Try to avoid tipping the balance and spoiling the progress you’ve made by persistently chasing for a decision. Have patience (an invaluable Confucian trait!) or try to incentivise for a quicker decision. Remember, the Japanese are not necessarily working on the basis of your financial year.


Attention to Detail


A key feature of Japanese culture which has a direct bearing on the way you will do business is that of detail, detail, and more detail. Expect and prepare for detailed questions on your offering and proposal throughout and towards the end of your meeting. You will get the sense of the amount of detail the Japanese are used to absorbing by checking out any Japanese book on your favourite rock band. Not only will you get profiles of the band members and detailed album listings, you’ll get descriptions of their preferred guitars and each of the effects pedals they use. ‘Paisley!’, retorted an avid Japanese fan, ‘Paisley, not Glasgow!’, when I made claim to Gerry Rafferty as a fellow Glaswegian. Check your facts in advance!


Etiquette and Manner


It’s important to get an understanding of what is and what isn’t culturally acceptable amongst the Japanese so that you gain an insight into how they think and so you can conduct yourself in a manner that will be acceptable or even admired by them. Honne and tatemae are Japanese words roughly equivalent to the common concept of private and public face which is part of all cultures, however, in Japan this is something that is used in daily life and not in a negative sense – you could say that tatemae is a form of social lubricant. From a Western point of view, to conceal the truth is usually not taken well, however as it is so important to the Japanese to maintain harmony, most of the time true feelings and thoughts are not expressed directly in order not to hurt the feelings of others. Take that into consideration when you are approaching negotiation. There may not be much opportunity to negotiate prices, for example (certainly not as hard and fast and enjoyably as in mainland China), and so you might find it useful tailor your offerings so that they are as initially attractive to your counterpart as possible.


Profile photo of Martin Jack
Martin Jack
Martin is Senior Sales Manager for IPR License, the official rights and licensing solution of Frankfurt Book Fair. He has over eight years' experience in international sales in academic publishing with Taylor & Francis, having lived and worked in England, Singapore, China and Japan. 


For more info on our new course: Introduction to Sales Management in Scholarly Publishing: Selling to libraries, academics and institutions running on 28 March visit:
https://www.alpsp.org/Training/Sales-Management/52774


Thursday, 22 February 2018

Highlights from the 2018 University Press Redux Conference: A Sponsor's Perspective


Virtusales was delighted to sponsor the 2018 University Press Redux Conference, which was held at The British Library and completely sold out with an atmosphere that reflected it. Filled with lively discussions on policy, open access, disruptive innovation and the opportunities it presents, the importance of publishers providing genuine added value, and even Brexit and Trump.



In the opening keynote, Timothy Wright, CEO at Edinburgh University Press, presented the challenges for 2018 as: monographs, new models in print and distribution, ebooks, content, the skills gaps, open access, institutional support and the financial challenges facing the industry.

Richard Fisher from Yale University Press said that discoverability remains the number one challenge for most university presses and explained how marketing for individual titles has diminished but is still vital. Michael Jubb of Jubb Consulting reiterated this, stating that 50% of university press sales are sold through global retail channels such as Amazon, making it essential for content to be easily discoverable amidst the proliferation in formats, business models and retailers.

As a software supplier operating globally, we were particularly interested in the parallel session on Global, which looked at university presses outside of Europe, UK and USA. Another compelling topic was Digital, which was covered in the plenary session with Allison Belan from Duke University Press and Charles Watkinson from University of Michigan Press, chaired by Nicole Mitchell from University of Washington Press. The session included stimulating debate on the pros and cons of buying vs building systems and platforms. Allison explained that it is of utmost importance for university presses to understand and own their own content, data and business rules, and Duke’s decision to buy in technology expertise and systems allows the press to focus on what they are good at - creating content.

Author engagement and support was another recurring theme throughout the conference with an emphasis put on the need for publishers to add genuine value throughout the supply chain and for authors, contributors and stakeholders to recognise the value added. This was at the heart of Tuesday’s parallel session on Production where delegates heard from Andy Redman from Oxford University Press, Neil Clarke from CPI UK, Bret Freeman from LifeVroom, and Wednesday’s session on Commissioning with Simon Bell from Emerald Group Publishing, Brian Halley from University of Massachusetts Press and Katherine Reeve from Bath Spa University.

On the policy front, the requirement for all long form works to be available as open access in order to be eligible for the 2027 REF was by far the most impacting point mentioned, with Steven Hill from HEFCE suggesting how it could be achieved using different models such as Freemium, author pays, and mission orientated new university presses.

Closing Keynote: Richard Charkin
Finally, Richard Charkin from Bloomsbury Publishing gave an engaging closing keynote on academic publishing. Technology was mentioned in virtually all presentations, in one form or another, and it seems clear that publishers need its support now more than ever. It is essential for platforms and systems to be flexible enough to manage metadata at content, article and chapter level, bring efficiencies to the production process and supply chain, and liberate publishers so that they can focus on creating, curating and enriching content to engage with their consumers.

At Virtusales we are committed to streamlining publishers’ workflows and bring efficiencies to their business processes with innovative software, exceptional service and a collaborative approach. Our recent white paper looks at the current landscape of academic and educational publishing, some of the disruptions that publishers are facing in today’s arena and ways in which they can capitalise on the changing environment.

Virtusales Publishing Solutions is the creator of the Biblio suite of publishing software and works closely with some of the world's leading academic, scholarly, professional and trade publishers including Harvard University Press, Bloomsbury Publishing, Manchester University Press, Pearson Education, Penguin Random House, Hachette and Macmillan Publishers.


Find out more about Virtusales and the Biblio suite or request our white paper, please visit our website: www.virtusales.com
Follow us on Twitter: @virtusales 
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/virtusales-publishing-solutions/

For further information on the University Press Redux conference and to access slides and audio from the event please visit: https://www.alpsp.org/UPRedux

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Signposts from the Future - scenario planning at BMJ

In this guest blog, Katy Alexander, Head of Strategic Marketing for Journals at BMJ takes a fascinating look into the future.....


It’s 2037, the fourth industrial revolution has come and gone. The medical research landscape is highly automated and cloud based. Medical researchers are required to combine scientific qualifications with advanced programming and policy/communications expertise, patients are driving the healthcare research agenda and the very nature of disease is disrupted by technology. While some of this may seem implausible, I’ll bet that a number of us would have said the same in late 1990s when the scenarios of the time were pointing towards a potential future when the publishing industry would become a technology industry, prey to small disruptive innovations companies.

As with many industries, the publishing and healthcare industries operate within a complex, rapidly and consistently changing environment. In the past five years alone, the medical research and healthcare space has been influenced by a range of disruptions brought on by digital technologies, political and social unrest, and shifts in customer behaviour.  Wearable patient-monitoring devices and apps like Sea Hero Quest  have started to offer access to unprecedented data sets, often in real time. This period of rapid change has presented wide-ranging uncertainties.

While scenario planning is far from a new discipline, companies are increasingly incorporating scenarios practice into strategy processes as a means of surfacing and managing these uncertainties more systematically.  The process pushes us to think more expansively about potential futures in order to inform today’s strategic choices and the signals and underlying trends we may see in the future that could indicate which scenarios are playing out and how we should adjust to them. Practically scenarios are a structured way for companies to paint divergent versions of the future, they offer possible views of the world in the form of a narrative or “story”.

In November 2016, BMJ embarked on a scenario planning process based on the Saïd Business School’s Oxford Scenarios Programme (OSP).  We didn’t set out to predict the future; I think we can all agree that isn’t possible. However, we did want to think more systematically about the future, strengthen our abilities to cope with unpredictable shifts in the landscape and plan for innovation. Led by our Competitive Intelligence team and Director of Strategy, the process took just over eight months. During this time, we identified our two critical uncertainties - (Technology Adoption / Dominant Funding Model) - and defined a set of forces that could influence the direction of medical research. We carried out over 50 interviews with internal and external stakeholders as well as global thought-leaders from a wide-ranging list of industries, hosted three workshops and developed four varied and plausible scenarios describing the range for the future of Medical Research.  An overview of our four scenarios is provided below:

Techtopia: The fourth industrial revolution has rid the need for entire medical disciplines and many roles previously carried out by medical researchers are now done by machines. Researchers are required to develop expertise in programming, engineering, and software & informatics. While a small private ecosphere, driven by philanthropic organisations, is paying for research to be undertaken in neglected areas private technology corporations monopolize all elements of medical research. Medicine is highly personalised, health wearables are abundant, patients are triaged in the cloud and medical facilities are small and owned by large corporations.

Sustainable health 2037: Governments have come together to address the big, global issues. A combination of regulation and taxation has encouraged a diverse and highly collaborative research ecosystem. Medical researchers progress in their careers by producing high-quality data sets in areas prioritised by governments. Machine learning provides real-time analysis and interpretation of datasets, and technology is making lifestyles healthier, even in once-remote regions. However, the replacement of human-to-human interaction by technology is exacerbating mental health problems associated with social isolation and loneliness.

Post West power shift: Economic and social instability and volatility in the West have curtailed international movement, and political agendas now focus narrowly on issues of national security and economic health. The West no longer dominates the medical research landscape, Easternisation and the rise of the Global South is causing a geographic shift. Medical researchers are employed by public research and healthcare facilities.

Neighbourhood science: The voice of the people drives the setting of medical research priorities. There is increasing investment in medical research at the boundaries of health and social care, and the data comes from mostly from social networks and community apps that share personal health information. Clinical research is a niche interest collected by crowd-funding and pockets of small investors, and are driven by public appeals.

 Aside from informing our strategy process, as a company we have benefited from scenario planning in three main areas:
  1. Scenario planning has widened the conversation at BMJ. It has stretched teams at all levels and in all departments, bringing us together and enriching conversations, leveraging expertise and knowledge from across the business and challenging everyone’s assumptions. 
  2. Our thought process has collectively moved further away from a linear, preordained and operational path to understanding that linear concepts are not the only way to think about time. We are setting up early warning indicators that can be monitored and contingency plans implemented. This means we can revisit the scenarios and if necessary, revise them.
  3. Scenario planning draws on a wide range of disciplines and interests, including economics, psychology, politics and demographics, it has engaged us all to think outside of our industry and to remember that even modest environmental changes can have enormous impact

We don’t know exactly what 2037 will look like; it may have some aspects of these scenarios or possibly none. However, we can and should be asking ourselves how key uncertainties and broader trends affect our industry and business. Through this process, we should constantly be looking for ways to innovate and shape the future that we wish to see.

If you want to read more about the scenario planning narratives and the key forces we believe are impacting and shaping medical research  please visit our site www.bmj.com/company/scenarioplanning

If you are interested in learning more about our process and the thinking behind our scenarios, keep your eyes open for “The​ ​future​ ​of​ ​global​ ​research​ ​-​ ​a​ ​case​ ​study​ ​on​ ​the​ ​use​ ​of​ ​scenario planning​ ​in​ ​the​ ​publishing​ ​industry​” in a future Issue of the Learned-Publishing.

Katy Alexander is Head of Strategic Marketing for Journals at BMJ and has over 15 years experience in the publishing industry, serving in a variety of marketing and strategy positions. She is always happy to discuss anything related to publishing or disruptive technologies so reach out on twitter @kla2010


Website: www.bmj.com/company
Twitter: @bmj_company
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