Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Brexit Debate

Audrey McCulloch introduces the panel
One of the key topics of conversation this year has, inevitably, been Brexit. Since the results of the UK Referendum on membership of the EU were announced in June, speculation, knee jerk reaction, panic, and uncertainty have been rife. What does it really mean for scholarly communications? Are the worse-case scenarios likely to pass? What are the worse case scenarios and what are the opportunities?

ALPSP, the Publishers Association and The London Book Fair arranged a debate with leading industry figures to find out more. The conversation will continue at the Research & Scholarly Publishing Forum at LBF17 in March.

The debate, introduced by ALPSP CEO Audrey McCulloch and chaired by RELX Group's Richard Mollet featured academic consultant Richard Fisher and Andy Robinson, SVP and Managing Director for Society Services at Wiley.

Currency, taxation and the economy

On a positive note, there are short term currency gains. There is an outside possibility of eliminating VAT on ebooks and digital products and potential to get government departments to support emerging markets and UK research to boost technology market, for example by rebuilding trials sector. However, there is also a risk of the UK becoming a regulatory island. In the short term, the audience were advised to keep an eye on any bump in book sales to check there weren't any inventory blips on a regional basis while the currency is in flux.

Research and development

Scientists for EU has collected examples of academics who refused positions in the UK. There are over 40 examples of researchers being taken off grant applications or made a contributor instead. In institutions, there are 31,000 researchers based in the UK who come from the EU. There is a long term question about how that will impact on the quality and impact of EU research. UK research is a strong contributor to the economy and if damaged could have a long term impact on other sectors. And the European Medicines Agency moving from the UK will have a converse impact on the pharma sector's appetite to launch drugs in the UK. Currently 2% of the world's clinical trials happen in the UK. There is an opportunity to rebuild that, which in turn will bring in pharma investments (GSK has invested £250m in UK since Brexit).

People, influence and perception

There are a number of implications for the publishing industry and related sectors in relation to people. Ten per cent of the UK publishing workforce comes from the EU (compared to 6% in the wider population) and companies will have to consider how to manage that impact.

It was noted that the current Prime Minister, Theresa May, was previously Home Secretary. During her tenure in that role she was very strict on the number of overseas students. It is unlikely this line will change and institutions are watching with concern. The knock on financial effect could be significant with 25,000 students studying in the UK - and 46% of postgraduates coming from the EU - generating income for institutions and local businesses.

Richard Mollet, Richard Fisher, Andy Robinson

How does industry make the case to government without looking like they are moaning about the result? There was a strong reaction post-Brexit from researchers and publishers. We need to respond to the challenges robustly, but on new terms, by putting forward a strong economic case for investment. With three government departments across Education, Culture Media and Sport and Business that influence the world of publishers and researchers it might be tricky to navigate.

There is no doubt that the UK now sits outside debates in EU, for example with open access and open science. Where Britain leads, the world does not necessarily follow so the possibility of isolation is very real. Wiley and ALPSP ran a short poll of their society publishers. in it, 80% of respondents saw the loss of influence in these policy debates, particularly around open science. 

Copyright and data protection

In the long term there is possibility of a move to the older world of a US copyright regime, UK regime and EU regime, leading to potential fragmentation. Google will no doubt be watching with interest, particularly around Fair Use issues. The UK is unique in having access to millions of patient records, and if data protection issues can be navigated carefully, there is real research potential in monitoring patient outcome. We have the potential to become world leaders in fields such as stem cell research.

The future?

What will we be talking about at Frankfurt 2021 in five years? Will it still be a big issue or just one of the things we’re dealing with? It is hard to predict. On the one hand, the British political situation is in such flux it is impossible to predict. We should have a much clearer path in 2021. On the other, it will be one of a number of issues that the industry will face.

The industry should reflect on why they don’t employ, publish for or sell to the 52% of voters. June 23 is without doubt one of the most important post-war dates in British history. While there is a worrying flux at government level that will play out over the next two to three years, politicians need to wake up to the importance of research. The industry needs to encourage the UK government to take research seriously and place it at the heart of the negotiation. A national research strategy should be brought together as quickly as possible to ring fence funding up to 2025.

The Brexit debate at the Frankfurt Book Fair was organised by the Publishers Association and ALPSP with the support of the London Book Fair. The discussions will continue at the Research & Scholarly Publishing Forum to be held at LBF in March 2016.

Elsevier has launched a Brexit resource centre to provide benchmark objective data, useful links and other resources.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Professor Brian Nosek on increased openness and the credibility of science

Brian Nosek from the Center for Open Science at the University if Virginia gave the keynote talk at the 2016 STM Frankfurt conference.

He asked what is it that publishers can do to help scientists be successful? Scientists are constrained by what is human about them, but the reality and our experience of reality are not the same thing. We all have mental modules that want us to see what we want to in order to reinforce our beliefs. So the brain imposes understanding on what it sees.

Applying sociological approaches to the study of science, there are Norms versus Counternorms e.g. communality versus secrecy; universalism versus particularism (evaluate research on own merit or evaluate research by reputation); disinterestedness versus self interested.

There are stark differences when you unpack what researchers believe about how they do science (they do it for the norms) compared to what they observe about themselves (more counter norms creep in) and what they observe of others (almost all counter norms).

The primary challenge is that incentives for individual success are focused on getting it published, not getting it right. The choices that scientists make when analysing the data can impact on the results. And unless you see the source data, you cannot understand why this is. So how do we get researchers to be more transparent and reproducible in their work?

Barriers include perceived norms, motivated reasoning, minimal accountability, and the ubiquitous 'I am busy'. What can be done about it? Look at the rewards that we need and the means to get them. What if you added rewards for transparency and reproducibility in the research process? What if you were to diversify rewards to include data and materials so there is recognition for research content?

Why is this tricky? There are a lot of stakeholders: universities, founders, publishers, societies which creates a complex group of issues. If there are desired behaviours and people don't know they are happening (to increase credibility of their project) you need to raise their profile and boost credibility of research.

At the Center for Open Science they have created badges for this and defined what this means. Badges are symbols and in real life these are powerful, significant indicators of who you are. They are promoting an open research culture using standards, with three data sharing levels:

  1. Article states whether data are available, and if so, where to access them
  2. Data must be posted to a trusted repository. Exceptions must be identified at article submission.
  3. Data must be posted to a trusted repository, and reported analyses will be reproduced independently prior to publication.

So far there are 749 journals from 62 organizations that are signatories of the top level of guidelines. Another focus has been round preregistration of research studies. The Registered Reports workflow is: Design > Collect & Analyse > Report > Publish. Peer review would usually happen between Report and Publish, but they move it back to between Design and Collect. If reviewers don't know what the results are, they are incentivised (along with the researcher) to make it the best study possible. They have 38 journals so far who have committed to making registered reports happen.

They are developing the possibility of partnerships between publishers and funders. A review report is submitted to both and, if acceptable to funder and publisher, it gets the go ahead, providing an efficiency step for all groups.

One of biggest challenges to reproducibility is completely mundane: labs lose materials and data all the time. People have multiple, personal systems of data preservation. What can you do to mitigate this? Adopt the TOP Guidelines. Adopt Badges. Adopt Registered Reports. Partner on preregistration
and partner on open data with OSF.

Brian Nosek is Executive Director of the Center for Open Science and Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia. He gave the keynote at the 2016 STM Frankfurt Conference.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Cross-Fertilization in scholarly publishing: who, what, where, when and why?

As the scholarly publishing landscape diversifies and the number of stakeholders multiples, it’s hard to keep up with who’s who, what they want, and what they need. In this informal "Question Time" style session, panelists from inside and outside publishing shared their own and their organization's experiences of successful collaboration and cross-fertilization.

The chair, Alice Meadows from ORCID, believes cross-fertilization is organised serendipity, finding connections between people, organizations, or other things that you wouldn't find out in the usual run of business.
Helen Bray of the Knowledge Transfer Network believes it is about bringing together businesses, entrepreneurs, academics, and funders. Progress is driven by unusual interactions. Innovation is a contact sport that brings people together.

Nicko Goncharoff from Digital Science observed they don't think they can succeed without collaboration. No single company can 'own' the workflow. Collaboration is paramount. He reflected on the STM Association scholarly sharing initiative that he's now leading as something that can serve both researcher and publisher needs. They have focused on the challenges and have held some - somethings tricky - discussions around article sharing. He believes you always have to try bring people into the fold. People take scholarly publishers for granted, but human curation is important in the digital age.
Andrew Stammer from CSIRO Publishing in Australia echoed fellow panellists about the value and benefit that can be gained from cross-fertilization. When Australian ecologists listen to aboriginal peoples oral histories, they accelerate their research.
This thoughtful and inspiring session was a wonderful way to close the ALPSP Conference. Here's to more scholarly cross-fertilization in advance of next year's conference in The Netherlands!

Cross-Fertilization in scholarly publishing was the closing plenary at the 2016 ALPSP Conference. You can view the full session on the ALPSP YouTube channel.

Laura Ceballos from CEDRO reflects on the future of scholarly communications and a little thing called Brexit...

At the recent ALPSP Conference we caught up with Laura Ceballos, from the Spanish RRO CEDRO, who chaired the Digital Business Models session. We asked her about the latest developments in scholalry communications and her reaction to that little matter of the Brexit vote. Here's what she said...

What is the most exciting opportunity for scholarly communications in the next two to three years?

In the last five years, we’ve seen a burst of digital innovation across the scholarly sector with hundreds of digital initiatives aiming to transform and enrich the publishing sector. It’s extremely positive to see that many young entrepreneurs believe that there’s a promising future for scholarly publishing related businesses in the digital age. A closer relationship with future entrepreneurs of the 21st century will allow long-established publishers to gain access to new and innovative products and services and provide them with a fuller knowledge of the advantages of business models in the digital economy

And what is the biggest challenge?

There is no doubt that open content is the biggest challenge for the scholarly sector. We are entering a change of era that is radically transforming the publishing sector. We are currently in the midst of a major transformation of cultural habits that is dramatically altering people’s behaviour in acquiring and consuming all kinds of academic and professional content.

Book industry professionals will have to accept that the main channels of growth will not involve mainly the sale of print books, but rather the sale of new kinds of digital content (audiobooks, transmedia books, fragmented eBooks, etc.) via yet unimagined new business models. Like it or not, the way culture is being created, accessed, and consumed is itself going through a historical transformation. In the next few years, consumers will have never-before-seen access to staggering amounts of user-generated information and knowledge which will require a reorganization of the scholarly sector.

What were your thoughts when the results of the UK referendum on the EU were announced?

It is in the interest of all parties (UK and EU) that the UK exit of the EU is managed in a gradual and orderly way to avoid a bigger disruption between both of them. Both sides have to come to terms and understand that they are destined to get along.

Laura Ceballos is Business Development Manager for CEDRO. She chaired the Digital Business Models panel discussion at the ALPSP Conference in 2016. You can watch the full session on the ALPSP YouTube channel.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Changing Role of Society Publishing

Some in our industry have publicly and privately opined that society publishers suffer from low business acumen. A “can’t see the forest for the trees” myopia impedes their competitiveness in a market dominated by deep-pocketed commercial publishers who have the “W” (WIN) gene embedded in their organizational DNA.
The big-revenue commercial and university press publishers get the lion’s share of library budgets, submissions, citations, APCs, and media coverage. A common perception is that they innovate better and faster and make smart, bolt-on acquisitions to strengthen their market-leading positions and to even reshape the market while society publishers increasingly struggle to compete because of declining revenues from member dues and publications and slow-to-decide, risk averse staff and governance structures. Are these perceptions accurate? Is future success for society publishers tied to commercial publisher partnerships and a quest for size and scale?

David Sampson, Vice President and Publisher for Journals at the American Society of Oncology chaired the penultimate panel at the ALPSP Conference. He believes that culture determines and limits strategy. We need to understand the organizational structure of non-profits; directors have the power, not shareholders. Strategic planning involves creation of vision and mission statements, initiatives, financials and metrics. Revenue forecasting often forgets that customers are in control of revenues. You need unparalleled customer service. Don't be afraid to kill failing programmes and don't be afraid to innovate.

A key element of ASCO's culture is to connect internally and externally. They have joint clinical guidelines to help identify cross-disciplinary work and connect with other associations for events on care for those with cancer. Embracing disruption of societal changes, technology and partnerships are key to the future success of a society. Readers and researchers are becoming increasingly connected with each other; we must connect with them.
Leighton Chipperfield is Director of Publishing and Income Diversification at the Microbiology Society. They have six journals, with £3.3m annual turnover; combining in-house staff and outsourcing. He noted commercial publishers filled the gap created by society publishers' failure to adapt to contemporary conditions. He believes being second to market is fine when it comes to technology. Why would he risk society income on that? They work with technology partners so they can take advantage of a service that has been developed by many publishers.

They love initiatives that can be applied in a cross organizational way such as (ALPSP Awards Highly Commended) ORCID. Things are changing, society publishers are modernising. They tried collecting APCs themselves, but it didn't work, so they partnered with Copyright Clearance Center. Chipperfield believes that the power of societies' collective knowledge is huge. Stick to what you are good at. They have some fantastic assets: high profile expert trustees; journal editorial boards; conferences; and expert members.
Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Associate Executive Director and Director of Scholarly Communication at the Modern Language Association, was inspired to join the panel to debunk the percetion that societies are risk averse. Member needs must outweight business needs and that tension puts them in an interesting position. They launched MLA Commons, a social network for members in 2013, allowing conversations to build beyond conferences. It is an open platform and has a repository at its core.
Simon Inger closed the session by providing some anonymous society publisher case studies. He mapped the journeys of organizations who adopted different strategies. One of the most common mistakes that societies make is to stop worrying about content when they partner with commercial publishers. You need to keep a strategy overview and management watch, but these are not always easy. With declining incomes a society is reluctant to invest in improving its own staffing. This can in turn lead to other issues. He has seen a lot of badly negotiated contracts.

The Changing Role of Society Publishing was the final plenary session at the ALPSP Conference 2016. You can view the video on the ALPSP YouTube channel.

Beyond Article Level Metrics

Melinda Kenneway, co-founder of Kudos, chaired the panel discussion exploring what is Beyond Article Level Metrics at the ALPSP Conference in September.

Change is coming, but it's not just metric wars, it's much bigger than that. Ben Johnson, Policy Advisor for HEFCE stressed the need for responsible metrics. They are everywehere - a layer on top of peer review. And for researchers, quality is wrapped up in publishing. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) costs £250 million. While it's only 2.5% of the overall cost of research, it is always questioned in terms of value for money.

Whatever the concerns around peer review, he observed, it is still considered the gold standard. Inappropriate indicators can create perverse incentives so these indicators need to be underpinned by an open and interoperable data infrastructure. This means that ORCID ids and DOIs become even more important moving forwards.  Johnson then announced the UK Forum for Responsible Metrics. Further details are available on the HEFCE website.

Jennifer Lin, Director of Product Management and Crossref, talked about the foundations needed to support the development of metrics. There has been an explosion of new, more diverse metrics that fit under the heading of 'altmetrics'. They hold power, constituting power, values, and livelihoods. But the infrastructure is mostly invisible, and you only feel it when it breaks. We need to understand the infrastructure behind metrics, understand metrics better, and the effect they have on research and researchers. Would a single non-proprietary body be ideal to coordinate our efforts on metrics?

Liz Allen, Director of Strategic Initiatives at F1000, talked about the opportunities to share science and its impact. There are suggestions that the concept of the journal is outdated, and open access is merely tinkering at the edges.
Publishing processes can get in the way. They don't have editors, but do pre-pub checks for ethics, quality and readability. Their open approach allows them to give full credit to reviewers. Open Science feels like the democratisation of research - it's very exciting. They are working with funders on these types of initiatives, including the Wellcome Trust on Wellcome Open Research.
Dr Claire Donovan FRSA, Reader at Brunel University London, was the final panellist. She talked about the broader impact of research but warned about 'metric fatigue' as the practice of measuring impact ran ahead of the theory. In the UK the 2014 REF had 20% impact, but may increase to 25% for 2020. This had led to concerns that impact may be more time consuming and potentially gamed in the next assessment. Donovan observed that research is a craft industry, with lots of bespoke outputs, but we're trying to assess it as if it were mass produced. (You can read her slides here.)
The Beyond Article-Level Metrics panel was held at the ALPSP Conference 2016. View all the sessions on the ALPSP YouTube channel.

Digital Business Models

The evolution of long standing publishign models is continuing and there are pressures on the underlying business models. What different business models have developed? What opportunities do they present? How have they evolved across books and journals?

The Digital Business Models panel at the ALPSP Conference provided different perspectives on what's new and developing in this area. Chaired by Laura Ceballos Watling from CEDRO, speakers included Jose Fossi, Vice President of Client Services for PubFactory, O'Reilly Media, Phill Jones, Director of Publishing Innovation at Digital Science, and Dr Julia von dem Knesebeck, Found of Open Publishing GmbH.

The ALPSP Conference was held at the Park Inn Heathrow in London on 14-16 September 2016. View the different sessions on the ALPSP YouTube channel.