Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Does ‘Yes’ really mean Yes?

Laxmi Chaudhry is co-tutor of ALPSP's new Outsourcing training course. She took part in our London Book Fair panel yesterday and spoke at last year's Outsourcing seminar. Here, she reflects on some of the key cultural issues that influence vendor relationships in a guest post.

Why is yes such a powerful word  when working with International Suppliers?

'In our globalised and outsourced/off shored world we are now working across different cultures and communication styles. This has given rise to a number of cultural challenges, further exacerbated by working remotely across distance and time zones. So what we may take for granted in terms of working style and communication in the UK, for example, can be very different in other cultures, giving rise to misunderstandings, time delays and poor business relationships. This of course impacts the bottom line!
The short but very powerful word “yes” encapsulates and reflects cultural differences and is one of the biggest sources of frustration and loss of trust. How is this so?

In the UK, “yes” generally means that we agree or accept and are committed to performing the necessary actions in achieving a desired result. If we are not able to do so or have difficulty in understanding the instruction, we usually ask further questions to gain clearer understanding or else we may speak up later if we come across difficulty.

However, in many cultures, such as in India and China, the word “yes” encompasses multitude of meanings besides the one we generally understand. Hence the room for giving rise to a host of difficulties when dealing with international suppliers, not least getting projects completed in time, instructions not being followed, not checking for clarification until the deadline date, and at times poorly executed work. Other examples of potential problem are ongoing business relationships suffering, opaque communication, and a culture of blame developing.  

What does ‘Yes’ mean in some cultures?

For example when a supplier in India says “yes” to a request or instruction from you, what it could really mean is any of the following:

  • I am hearing you
  • I hear you but I don’t understand you and won’t admit it
  • I acknowledge I have received your request
  • I recognise your status
  • I am being polite
  • I will do it if nothing else happens that’s more important
  • I will deliver something but...

This list is by no means exhaustive. These differences in connotations and the understanding of the word “yes” arise due to differing underlying cultural values such as the importance of hierarchy, relationships, harmony etc.

However, it is very possible as a company to bridge the cultural and communication gaps and there are many examples of companies doing so thorough proactive cultural awareness training. This applies for both parties being involved and buying into this. One can get to a real understanding of what “yes” means in an outsourcing scenario and achieve effective working and relationships.'

Laxmi Chaudhry is a cross cultural consultant and trainer, specialising in business effectiveness across international cultures, working with global organisations in many sectors including publishing. She has spoken at ALPSP events on Outsourcing and is co-tutor of the Managing Quality from Outsourced Services training course in July 2014. You can contact Laxmi at or

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Roy Kaufman: Shifting Revenues from Post-Publication to Pre-Publication: The Impact of Open Access

Roy Kaufman, Managing Director of New Ventures at Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), writes here in a guest post about the shift of revenue to pre-publication and what that means to publishers.

'Open Access (OA) is changing the way scholarly, scientific and academic journal publishers are managing their businesses fiscally. While revenue has traditionally been earned by publishers after publication through subscriptions, site licenses, pay-per-view, permissions, advertising and licensing channels, OA is slowly, but dramatically shifting the model so that revenue is earned pre-publication.

Under the OA model, publisher earnings come from author charges, including open access charges, page and color charges, author reprints, and other services. The sources of revenue are also changing. In the traditional customer-pays-the-distributor model, publishers were compensated by libraries, advertisers and aggregators. But now, publishers receive these revenues pre-publication from funders, institutions and authors. In this new paradigm, publishers must focus on usability and developing convenient services they can offer these new buyers to streamline fee management processes, retain high-value authors, serve new stakeholders, and maintain – or increase – revenues. Put simply, publishers are gaining new customers with a new set of needs to serve.

Authors as Customers

Traditionally, scholarly publishers have seen authors as sources of content and as researchers. However, in the gold road open access model, authors, backed by funding organizations, also represent a source of revenue. Under many OA models, authors will pay an Open Access charge to make an article freely available. They may also pay submission fees, page and color charges, article reprint fees, or some combination of these. Thus, publishers need to (re)focus on authors as customers.

To meet these new author needs, publishers must automate, providing authors with an intuitive, web-based workflow with clear explanations of publishing options and their downstream licensing and compliance implications. At a more granular level, publishers need the capability to provide customized pricing based on factors such as user type, funder, license type, author affiliation, author location and membership status. Publishers must be able to execute business rules that balance the needs of their authors, their institutional subscribers and funding agency mandates.

To help publishers deliver the best user experience, CCC’s RightsLink® is now integrated into the manuscript management workflow, providing a streamlined, web-based payment workflow – driven off of a sophisticated pricing engine – dedicated customer service, multi-currency payment options, conditional payment guarantees, and real-time reporting for all transactions. Whether publishers use RightsLink® or their own bespoke services, it is important to get the author, institution and funding experience right.

Funding Organizations as Customers

Publishers who are able to best collaborate with multiple funding organizations and process their unique requirements are going to gain the greatest traction in the Open Access market. These organizations fund the publication of OA articles, either directly through publishers or indirectly through block grants to institutions. Not surprisingly, funders want to be able to track the content that they finance. This means they want verification that Open Access charges have been paid, as well as confirmation that publishers are complying with their policies and licensing requirements.

Universities and Other Institutions as Customers

As Open Access publishing increases in volume and becomes a more prominent part of the research community, universities will need to educate their staff and refine their policies and procedures. At the same time, publishers will need to offer a streamlined OA charge submission process that addresses the needs of universities and of their funders. Universities as “readers” have traditionally been, and continue today to be, a significant revenue source for publishers through subscriptions to journals. Now, however, as the number of OA journals (including hybrid journals) increases, universities also serve as managers of OA funding, typically from the block grants of funding agencies, and sometimes from their own reserves. Funders provide institutions with significant research grants from which they expect universities to pay Open Access charges. By failing to comply with funders’ publishing and licensing policies, a university may be putting future research grants at risk. For that reason, universities must be able to provide funders with itemized accounts of how they have spent their funding, making publishers’ reporting capabilities very important. Academic institutions also have their own requirements for recording and reporting on individual items of expenditure, adding to the demand on publishers to offer robust reporting to multiple constituents.

The Changing Role of Content Users

Reuse of an article that is readily available on a publisher’s website is not always free, as is recounted in "Open Access Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Free,” a recent article from CCC. Thus, content users can represent yet another source of revenue, even when a journal is publishing content openly. Depending on the model under which a journal or an article is published, a content user may be expected to pay for reuse, particularly when the content is reused in a commercial context. (One Creative Commons License, CC-BY-NC, requires a specific license for commercial reuse. This license is used by many publishers, especially in so-called “hybrid” journals). Since navigating the nuanced licenses, exceptions and rules can be challenging for content users, publishers will have to make the process of purchasing content and/or rights both easy and accessible. The task will certainly include promoting the rights available, educating users about the differences in policy and pricing, and developing systems to automate transactions and new data/metadata standards.

What's Next?

While traditional measures of a journal’s impact, such as rejection rates and ISI Impact Factors, remain important for some journals, for others simplicity of transactions and ease of compliance with funder mandates are even more critical. Further market segmentation based on OA polices is inevitable. A journal's success will hinge on making smart segmentation decisions, meeting the needs of new constituencies, and keeping the user experience as simple as possible. The model will mature and be maximized only after a period of disruption and experimentation. Hold on for a wild ride.'

Roy Kaufman, March 2014

CCC offers ALPSP members a special discount off the RightsLink suite of licensing tools. Review information about their open access solution on their website.

Going to the London Book Fair? See Roy Kaufman speak on “Consideration for Publishers Develop Open Access Business Models” on 9 April 2014, 16:00-17:00. The Faculty, EC1.

You can find a wealth of resources, white papers, news and policy information on the Open Access Resource Center hosted by CCC in partnership with ALPSP.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

What do researchers want... and what are we doing about it?

The morning panel consisted of four early career researchers and postgraduate students from across disciplines. Thomas Lewis from Warwick Medical School kicked off with frank insights into his experience of accessing content for his work.
  • The dreaded paywall: it's frustrating to know whether or not you'll have access. You can waste half an hour on it. Not good in a clinical setting as sometimes, access to an article is time sensitive for treating a patient.
  • Information overload: he copes by using: RSS, web browser, social media (esp Twitter), Dropbox for storage and email.
  • He finds more interesting papers through social media than anywhere else.
  • He puts papers in Mendeley as it helps access research when and where he needs it.
  • Metadata and tagging are essential
  • Mobile access is handy - he's not an expert on open access, but knows that mobile institutional login is a nightmare. Can't find research quickly.
  • Can't afford to publish in leading OA journals. 
  • The Impact Factor is outdated. He is interested in discussing research/paper direct. Two-way communication important and good for evaluation: usage, peer review, citations (shared), Altmetrics (eg ResearchGate, Google Scholar, ORCID).
The challenges that he faces as a clinical researcher are:
  1. difficulty finding content
  2. difficulty accessing content
  3. difficulty evaluating the impact of content
  4. difficulty publishing own content
Rachel Gimson is doing a PhD in Criminal Law at the University of Sussex. She expressed a number of frustrations including:
  • papers called by journal name first makes it difficult to identify topics/relevance 
  • she would like to put her own tags and metadata on articles
  • she scans chapters and books, spends a lot of time doing this, which is annoying
  • it's ridiculous to have to pay upwards of £50 for an ebook if you already own the print book
  • there are challenges accessing ebooks via the library
  • she has tried very hard to use some ebooks, but couldn't annotate, download to PC or have useful interaction with it
Gimson uses online annotation service that syncs with pretty much all cloud storage (Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive). There isn't an equivalent to PubMed for law she's aware of so uses Google Scholar to find articles she knows about. Law researchers regularly use Facebook when trying to locate articles among researchers. The paywall can be avoided. It is unnecessary barrier. Paywalls seem so outdated in an age of social media. Why go through library services when you can do it immediately on Google Scholar. Why bother?

What would Rachel like?
  1. Better ebook lending facilities - bane of her life
  2. Better communication between publishers on their databases
  3. More visible means for seeing whether I have downloaded a particular article
  4. Better 'log in via your instituion' facilities
  5. Better communication with Google Scholar
  6. (Very personal request) More articles that use footnotes for referencing rather than in-text citations - Harvard referencing system for example is not good for those with dyslexia.
Lydia Le Page is a physiology PhD at the University of Oxford. At any one time she has a myriad of things to do. Reviewing literature often gets bumped down the list. She uses literature to form hypotheses and to get inspiration, to follow new research and to help understand results. She is also more interested in the wider discussion of science in news media and public. Le Page uses online a lot to find references, discuss with authors, do worldwide collaborations, and to get own publication out there. Le Page has some suggestions for publishers:
  • Is there space for new approaches to peer review for anonymous/non-anonymous review. 
  • How can altmetrics figure? Metrics other than impact factor - retweets, online views, data downloads etc (altmetrics). there is a role for peer review but current system is poor and needs improving. 
  • Peer review system does seem slow, especially to a PhD student. Consider getting data out there pre-pub to get comments? 
  • We need two way communication between researchers, authors and publishers
  • It would be great to be able to attend conference remotely to aid research
  • How to deal with data deluge? Alerts for relevant papers. What is trending. Reddit.
  • Online discussion on PubMed is good function.
  • Ways to improve science communication - alternative media accompanying papers (video, slide shares, animations).

Archana Deshmukh is an Information Studies masters student at Brighton. During her research she used 26% books, 31% journals, 43% online resources (n=295) although all journals were online as well. Information networks have always been complex. She has learnt to view resources from user's point of view whilst keeping critical eye (eg strengths/limitations of apps).

There are evolving models of librarianship - providing critically appraised information at the point of need. Databases are a huge obstacle. They add complexity to the research process. Not only do you have to learn how one, but a different system for others. There are massive usability issues - and she's an information studies student! Discoverability tools help and cushion a bit.

She asks publishers to bear in mind that she's not on campus a lot. She finds ebooks impossible to use. They are producer focused, not user experience focused: NOT intuitive at all. What support does she want? Good UX design, emphasis on mobile platforms, flexibility in access, storing, use, and a semantic approach to content. Deshmukh closed the session by summing up:

'I just want to read, organise and make connections, as I do with all other sources.'

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Kurt Paulus on ALPSP International Conference 2013: Part 6 - Reaching out to (new) audiences

Alistair McNaught of Jisc TechDis on accessibility
This is the sixth and final in a series of reflections on the 2013 ALPSP International Conference by Kurt Paulus, former Operations Director at the Institute of Physics, and long time supporter of ALPSP. Our thanks go to Kurt for capturing the sessions. If this whets your appetite, make sure you save the date for the 2014 conference on 10-12 September, Park Inn Hotel Heathrow.

Reaching out to (new) audiences

Listening to our audience is an oft-repeated demand; this conference broke new ground in identifying two types specifically: vision-impaired scholars, and early career researchers and teachers.

“RNIB wants to open up greater access to published materials for all across all sectors” Anna Jones

It is estimated that one in eight people in the UK have some sort of ‘print impairment’, i.e. need help with access to written material. There is a moral case for providing this help and also a legal requirement in the form of the Equality Act 2010. The numbers also suggest that there is a commercial case, which is why Huw Alexander’s session was called ‘Accessibility: are you missing a strong market for your content?’ Rachel Thornton, Leeds Metropolitan gave a number of case studies illustrating how time-consuming and frustrating the experience of getting accessible versions of books on the reading list can be. For the staff assisting students the administrative effort can be severe. Publishers can help by providing clear information about file availability, rapid turn-around, fully accessible files, simple licence agreements and re-use by other students. Files that arrive four months after request are useless. Academics, too, need to be aware of difficulties when they put titles on reading lists.

“More disabled people are aspiring to do more” Alistair McNaught

Anna Jones of RNIB, Alistair McNaught of Jisc TechDis and Sarah Hilderley of EDItEUR filled in the technical background. EPUB 3.0 is now the most flexible platform for accessible e-book versions, and incorporates MathML as an integral part. How to write image descriptions remains one of the biggest challenges. An increasing range of e-readers, tablets and smartphones give varying degrees of accessibility with larger ‘print’, synthetic speech, electronic braille, as Anna Jones demonstrated with the help of her iPad with voice-over technology. So did James Scholes, a sightless computing student at Leeds Metropolitan, who led us through screen menus and simulated text, skilfully and at breakneck speed.

Sarah Hilderley of EDItEUR
The field is very collaborative. The Accessibility Action Group in 2012 issued a joint statement on accessibility and e-books (see EDItEUR, supported by publisher organizations and others, has published Accessible Publishing: Best Practice Guidelines for Publishers.

Jisc’s TechDis initiative provides support for publishers in creating accessible PDF documents, efficient alternative format request mechanisms as well as supporting publisher training. For publishers the message is: understand the issues, encourage awareness in house and extend this to all internal processes and then roll it out through the whole supply chain.

The ‘born-digital generation’ may be a cliché but these people are very much with us and so it was fitting that the penultimate session of the conference ‘How soon is now? Discovering what your readers expect now and in the future’ listened to representatives of that cohort emerging into academia. The chair of the session, Bernie Folan, is a marketing professional and student, two of the speakers, Sabina Michnowicz and Thomas Lewis are graduate students and the third, Janine Swail is an early-career lecturer at Birmingham. Their backgrounds, disciplines and aspirations may differ but there are some common threads that link their perceptions of the publishing industry and how it could make their lives easier:

“Publishing is critical: an academic’s route to market. Papers are our currency”
Janine Swail

For the PhD student or the starting academic, publishing your work is critical. If you aim for an academic career you have to be conscious of the requirements of the Research Excellence Framework and this will govern your submission patterns: start with the top journals; in Janine Swail’s case follow the International Guide to Academic Journal Quality of the Association of Business Schools and don’t waste your time with non-rated journals.

Everyone suffers from information overload; PubMed Central is said to add one new article a minute. The tools for assessing relevance and quality need further development. Impact factors are becoming dated, better search techniques are needed, the development of alternative impact measures such as Altmetric is welcomed and researchers are looking to social media and two-way communication to seek reassurance.

Bernie Folan (left) talks early career research with a delegate
Mobility is critical, especially with subject areas and projects that require travelling. Access is needed 24/7, speed is of the essence, mobile journal apps and more mobile friendly websites would be welcomed.

Authoring and submission tools need further development but preferably they should be publisher independent. Help with resubmission is encouraged. Budding authors would like to share both pre- and post-publication.

Cost is a serious factor for early career scholars. Pay walls are not only an irritant but may be a game stopper unless the searcher has deep enough personal pockets. Short term paper loans might be considered. Author processing charges are too high; consider student rates. Plus OPEN ACCESS!

“Make interacting with your customers a habit” Bernie Folan

Finally, and all participants in the session agreed on this: ‘Come and talk to us.’ Just as budding academics must learn to understand publishing rationales and processes, so publishers must learn more about the specific needs and irritations of this particular group of customers. One size does not fit all.

End note

One overarching impression, for one who has been to many ALPSP events, is the high standard of the talks, not only in the quality of their content but also their confident presentation, streets ahead of what it was in the days of the Learned Journals Seminars. Refreshing, too, the gender and age balance, with young professionals, deservedly, getting to the podium earlier than ever. It seems a long time to wait until the next conference. Preparations are well in hand we are told. Dates confirmed are Wednesday 10 to Friday 12 September at the Park Inn Heathrow London, UK.

The winners line up after the ALPSP Award ceremony
The annual ALPSP awards were announced at the conference but here they are again for completeness: Out of 15 submissions for best new journal the judging panel selected Faculty Dental Journal from the Royal College of Surgeons of England as the winner. Even more coveted was the publishing innovation award, with 32 entries. Drama Online from Bloomsbury Publishing, with Faber and Faber, was highly commended, and PeerJ, launched last year by Jason Hoyt and Peter Binfield topped the poll. Risk talking and innovation, it seems, are still prevalent within the industry!

His many friends will have been pleased that the ALPSP Award for Contribution to Scholarly Publishing was given to Anthony Watkinson, rarely absent from these refreshing conferences.

Kurt Paulus, Bradford-on-Avon

Monday, 24 February 2014

Transformation: the institutional perspective

Russell Burke, Royal Holloway
The first afternoon session at the Association of Subscription Agents conference provided the institution perspective on transformation. Russell Burke, Information Consultant at the Bedford Library, Royal Holloway University of London opened by outlining the two complex landscapes: for publishing and HE students.

Students need to easily navigate through information literacy landscape and the online landscape is more complex than print was. Even if students have good information literacy skills they still need to know what is changing and is new. They rely heavily on agents and publishers for information and consider whether to pass on direct or repackage via own support tools.

One of the good things about library search is the at-a-glance view of what they can get access to. They don't push it as a tool for researchers. But it can be used for a summary research survey. They also provide literacy training for all levels of users and use social media and other awareness tools to try and ensure whole range of students know what's available.

Where does open access fit in with this? With students, they focus on basic issues (do I have to use the library?) as bringing in OA too early could be problematic. To be fully information literate, users need to know the source of all references in their research and study. They need to understand if from a pre-print or published article. the challenge is to identify what users need to know and then ensuring they understand what htey need to know at right time.

Jill Emery, Portland State University
Jill Emery is Collections Librarian at Portland State University. They are a relatively young university, founded in the 1940s post-war, diverse in subject areas. They don't have the resource of an Ivy League institution. The commodification of HE, internationalisation and split purchasing between subscription/one-time purchases have impacted on them. They need to prove value of investment to those paying the bill (parents, endowments, etc).

Today's reality is focused on purchasing and the big deals remain. They are looking at PDA/Article purchasing and an 80/20 split between subscriptions/one-time. Staff attrition and open access are affecting them. So they are looking at new services.

Anything will be considered to lessen the student costs including DIY and stacks replaced by collaborative work areas. They are committed to local library publishing and are looking at monograph publishing and have developed 21st century collections which are highly curated, locally focused with the aim of global impact (e.g. Dark Horse comics, Films on Demand). They are trying to support local authors and make content out of the university available globally. They also try to supply as many resources as possible in mobile  environment.

Rob Johnson, Research Consulting
Rob Johnson, Director at Research Consulting, spoke about UK open access activity. While the UK is a big influencer within global research (and the government has understandably tried to take a lead with policy making in this area) out of 2.2 m globally research articles published per annum, it only publishes c.140k articles or 6.4% of the total. So what happens to the rest of global research output?

When reflecting on what intermediaries can do he suggested they can explore:
  • transaction management - including publisher pre-payments
  • improved author experience (but perhaps not yet?)
  • data, data, data (streamlining processes for managing compliance; promoting adoption of standard metadata forms and unique identifiers).
Chris Banks, Imperial College
Chris Banks, Director of Library Services from Imperial College London, outlined how they have a particular interest in open access due to the profile of their institution: 14k students of which 6k are postgraduate, c. 3k academics = lots of high level of research. She also noted that c. 92% of their budget is spent online.

The Finch Group findings 'at the time' were believed to be the best way to achieve a step change. The resulting push for Gold open access has created some interesting developments. Within the university, they have set up some interesting new working relationships. The research office is interested in library services as they have keen interest in compliance with funders and in some instituions they are managing funding of APCs.

Some library services are developing submission forms which seek to minimise the complexity for academics. The finance office are interested in the accountability for spend of Wellcome/BIS/RCUK/Institutional funds. There is a focus on raising awareness amongst academics and increasing understanding of the new RCUK mandates; information about journal compliance; copyright and licensing awareness; Green vs Gold open access, etc.

Banks finished by considering both old and new players in the aggregation industry. Is there another point where agent/aggregator could work with research information systems with the SHERPA data/ CRIS data nodes perhaps?

The Evolution of Subscription Industry 1970-2014: Subscription Agents and Consortia-New Roles and Opportunities

Dan Tonkery: a short history of subscription agents
Dan Tonkery, President and CEO of Content Strategies, an international information services consulting company working with STM publishers, kicked off the afternoon session at the ASA conference. In a previous life he has been a subscription agent and librarian and has an encyclopaedic memory of the history of subscription agents.

The agent years of milk and honey 1970-1985
The market was filled with multiple agents (such as Faxon, ESBSCO, Readmore, Blackwell, Majors, Swets, Harassowitz, Turner, Boley, McGregor, SMS and others). There was a low average selling price. Main frame computers were introduced to support processing. Agents dominated in the sense that you couldn't find a library around the world that wasn't using an agent.

Agents were essential to both libraries and publishers with 99% of libraries using agents. They become experts at processing individual orders and supporting each other. They built comprehensive title databases (c. 400k titles) and developed new reporting and analysis tools for librarians. They also developed interfaces with ILS vendors (so you could automatically load invoices and reports).

Years of mergers and rapid growth 1986-1996
This was the era when many of the smaller agents were acquired by larger agents. Faxon and EBSCO dominated the US market and Swets in Europe. Agents were building related services such as SC-10, ROSS, Microlinx, REMO, EBSCOnet. Gross margins continued to drop from 12.4% to 8.1% in 1999. Agents attempted to build new business systems, but Faxon collapsed on business system failure in 1994 and Dawson Plc bought Faxon in October of that year. In summary, subscription agents were growing and they were important to libraries and publishers. Bear in mind that hardly any of the publishers had a sales team at this time.

The golden age of library consortia 1996-2006
There were over 200 active consortia that were usually regionally (sometimes nationally) based. Publishers moved from print to electronic formats. A number of major consortia formed as resource-sharing agents serving their member libraries. Publishers turned to consortia as a new sales channel and direct deals were negotiated. Publishers began selling Big Deals or Custom Deals and began thinking of database deals instead of individual titles. You could argue that agents were caught flatfooted. Consortia examples from the US include:

  • NERL: 1996 28 core members and 80 affiliates. Bought $102 million in 2013, most of it handled direct.
  • GWLA: 1996 33 research libraries in Central and Westtern US, bought $37 million in 2012.
  • SCELC: 111 members and 120 affiliates. Bought $38 million in 2013.

This is close to $500 million business of subscription agents that now goes direct: a major problem for many companies.

Agents respond with new tools and services
In response, agents developed tools to help libraries manage publisher packages, expanded services and built knowledge and license databases to support A to Z services. However, consortia managed to capture market share from subscription agents: the market shrank from 98% in 1996 to less than 60% now.

Subscription Agent rebirth
Agents continue to evolve into new or expanded products and services. There is an opportunity for rebirth and growth through databases and distribution services amongst other areas. The most important factor to look for is having someone come from outside our industry and invent a new product service. Tonkery closed with a call to constantly look outside the box.

Publisher perspectives on transformation: panel at #asaconf14

Stephen Rhind-Tutt from Alexander Street Press
Stephen Rhind-Tutt from Alexander Street Press kicked off the first panel discussion by reflecting on how he struggles with a description of what he does.

He noted how it's amazing how many mission statements are similar (Google, British Library, ASA, etc). Nearly all of us help teachers teach, researchers research, students learn, and librarians serve communities. Alexander Street Press has streaming video and other digital products to stop media being a third class citizen in the library. Their mission means they have to be many things including streaming media provider, microfilm digitizer, photo library, web service, etc. 

Are publishers, agents, intermediaries all becoming one? It doesn't matter. We can deal with the naming later. What matters is having a clear mission that serves our customers, no matter where it takes us.

Eileen Welch, Director  of NEJM Group Licensing at the NEJM Group outlined how they are using social media - very successfully by the looks of it - to engage with their audiences. All their social media points to open access articles.

NEJM: geographic split of social media
Facebook is their fourth largest referrer of traffic to their site. The top 10 countries on Facebook and Twitter are divided fairly evenly across countries, not just dominated by the US. There were some pretty impressive stats from social media for NEJM and the insights it provides can sometimes be surprising: 75% of NEJM users are 34 years or younger. It gives them an opportunity to reach out to a younger group with 20 posts per week, videos, interactive short quizzes and original research.

They have also discovered the 'Ick Factor': posts with images - the more medically gruesome, the better - generate more referrals to and generate more comments and engagement.

The NEJM Twitter account has 169,000 followers. In January, it produced 135 tweets and ranked eighth as traffic source for the website. YouTube is of growing importance. They post animations, interviews and articles. Animations are summarised key findings of research article.

These shorts provide new ways to engage with their audience and allow the personality of the editor to shine through.

The Now@NEJM blog is produced by the NEJM publishing comms team and consists of two featured posts - insights and physicians in training. It alerts readers to new and innovative content and complements the content published in NEHM.

Robbetze's 'Content as patient' model
Roné Robbetze from Springer Science + Business Media considered the idea of 'content as patient' with concerned 'parent/custodian - publisher/aggregator', 'institution as the physician', and 'usage data as the stethoscope'. Usage data can help you to test assumptions and insights with concrete evidence/indication of what people are looking/searching for.

Are the right services and tools there to help institutions interrogate and interpret growing amount of information? What can the role of agents and intermediaries be? There is a proliferation of vendors and providers out there from which statistics must be taken and processed and while there are some services in some countries out there, is there an opportunity for agents and intermediaries? One thing is for sure, it's getting messier and messier.

Greta Boonen from John Wiley & Sons finished the presentations by focusing on how intermediaries fit into the changing landscape.

Intermediaries: all shapes and sizes
We face challenges including the pace of change, changing needs, access and discoverability, and prioritising innovation. This presents a number of opportunities such as changing user needs, financial platforms, link workflows, industry standards and data exchange. This is the space in which intermediaries can craft solutions to match their strengths to solving these emerging issues. For the evolution of services, all stakeholders are part of the conversation about the future.