Tuesday, 24 May 2016

ALPSP Awards: Where are they now? BMJ Case Reports

With the 2016 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing now open for submissions, we spoke to Janet O'Flaherty, Publisher at BMJ, to find out how BMJ Case Reports has faired since winning in 2010.

1. You won the ALPSP Award for Best New Journal. What was that like?

It was a super evening and we were all thrilled to win. The trophy sits proudly in our boardroom. I enjoyed the submission process, even doing the presentation to the panel. It was particularly gratifying that one of the reasons we won was the business model - only people with a personal or institutional Fellowship (subscription) can submit case reports - but there are no additional publication fees if the case is accepted.

2. How have you developed BMJ Case Reports since then?

We have grown immensely with nearly 13,000 cases live. The developments have been editorial rather than technical - we now have some subject specialist editors and a Global Health section with an accompanying Student Elective competition new for 2016. We have a group of medical student editors that blog for us. We've expanded into dentistry and have plans for a pharmacy section. The Editors do a lot of outreach and workshops on writing cases and getting them published which are always very well received. We have also copied the model for one of our societies with Veterinary Record Case Reports.

3. What have been the highlights?

The rapid growth and acceptance by medical schools that this is an important resource for students and trainees - and truly international as we have case reports from more than 70 countries. Adding the student board and having a workshop on getting published at the BMJ Careers fair in 2015 were personal highlights. Publishing our 5,000th and then 10,000th case reports were great milestones and we did some print mini-journals to celebrate. The journal has outperformed it's original business plan which is also gratifying.

4. What are the challenges you’ve faced?

The sheer volume of submissions and keeping turnaround times down is probably the most difficult. We also don't have an automatic way of checking that authors have the rights to submit (ie, that they or their institution has a Fellowship) so that's done manually (we do outsource that bit).
The journal is on a standard journal platform and so perhaps not optimal for discovery of the content. Also the publishing model means we don't currently have a mobile optimised site.

5. How did winning the Award help with BMJ Case Reports' development? 

It was great for marketing - in fact it's still used on our website and in our user guides/training materials.

6. What are your plans for the future?

We're exploring some technical enhancements - making the content more discoverable, e.g. if you are interested in this case then here are others that you should read. Hopefully some integration with other BMJ products that are used by medical students and junior doctors. We do hope to have a new user interface and design by 2017. As mentioned before - expansion outside medicine. We're looking at adding some interactive questions - starting with pathology and pharmacology cases. As we now have so much content - and there's no sign of it slowing down - we may offer a "read only" subscription once we have enhanced the journal's website.

Janet O'Flaherty is Publisher at BMJ. Information about BMJ Case Reports is available on their website.

Submissions for the 2016 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing are being accepted until Thursday 9 June. Full details available on the ALPSP website.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Marketer's Tool Kit: Leveraging social media - three steps to move beyond broadcasting

We spoke to Emma Watkins, Marketing Manager at IOP Publishing and co-tutor on our Effective Journals Marketing training course about how to get the most out of social media. Here's what she said.


It’s ten years since Facebook became available to the general public and Twitter was launched (and even longer since long forgotten and yet somehow still in existence MySpace began). In that time we’ve seen numerous new networks rise (and fall) and yet for many marketers the social web is still a daunting place to be.

For those companies who aren’t afraid to try, there is an awful lot of value to be found in engaging researchers in the social sphere – here’s how to start.

1. Start listening


Social networks are a great place to find out exactly what the community wants, needs, and thinks of you. Make sure you’re set up to find those conversations – there are tonnes of social media listening services out there which will aggregate content by keyword or product name. Take the time to skim through these regularly, as there can be valuable insight nestled amongst the pictures of people’s breakfasts.

Helpful link: Brandwatch Blog's Top 10 Social Media Monitoring Tools

Top tip: Conference hashtags are the perfect place to start – search for relevant events and keep an eye on your timeline when they are on (for example #alpsp16)

2. Conversations are a two-way thing – but make sure you’re speaking the same language


So you’ve done some great listening, perhaps even followed a conference hashtag or two – what next?

Time to start having some conversations! If you can add value to a blossoming conversation, perhaps with a link to some free (and highly relevant) content, or some advice on a publishing problem, then do it! But make sure you enter the conversation as a human being, not as a brand automaton. Where possible include your name – ASOS do this really well on Facebook.

Helpful link: Harvard Business Review - 50 Companies that get Twitter - and 50 that don't

Top tip: Once you’ve joined a conversation remember to stay with it – don’t just log off as people may respond to you.

3. Embrace different forms of content


It’s easy to get stuck on just sharing text content and links, but if you really want to make a splash then you should vary the content you share. Vlogs, infographics, images, podcasts – all of these offer unique ways to get your message across, so make sure you don’t just choose the right channel but also the right content.

Helpful link: Hubspot - 37 Visual content marketing statistics you should know in 2016

Top tip: Audit your current content store (leaflets, blog posts etc…) to look for new ways to repackage this information for social sharing. You could turn an FAQ page into an infographic, or make a video out of a press release on a product launch.


Emma is a Marketing Manager for IOP Publishing (IOPP), where she oversees the academic marketing strategy for the entire journals portfolio, as well as community websites, B2B products, and ebooks programme.

Effective Journals Marketing runs on Thursday 9 June in London. Further information and booking available on the ALPSP website.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Democratizing eBook Publishing: The rise and rise of e-publishing through the cloud

Copyright: RedKoala

We spoke to Sabine Guerry, founder of 123 Library, about the rise of e-publishing through the cloud, and why publishers should consider this approach.

For those that are approaching this topic for the first time, can you explain what e-publishing through the cloud is about?

Cloud-based systems, or Software as a Service (SaasS) as they are also known, are a way of combining proprietary data and shared software storage. For publishers looking for solutions to deliver their content to their customers, they provide access to hardware, software and maintenance on a licensed basis, without having to invest in setting up and managing their own in-house system.

As eBook sales have gradually replaced print sales, aggregators have proliferated offering various distributions models. This has often resulted in smaller to medium sized and specialist publishers being overlooked, often hardly visible on aggregator platforms with half a million titles. Cloud publishing is changing that offering since a broader range of options over delivery as well as control over sales effectively democratises e-publishing. In its simplest terms, it harnesses the potential of off-site data management service providers to open up possibilities requiring minimal upfront capital expenditure.

What does this mean for a publisher’s output?

It provides another mean for publishers to deliver their eBooks and can open new sales channels by allowing them to build their own delivery website without enduring a huge investment. Cloud Publishing offers you to plug into existing tried and tested systems that offer the latest functionalities for the end users. By using a cloud-based service, you can more easily offer access to your content direct rather than being solely reliant on aggregators. It puts control of your content distribution back into your hands. For academic publishers Cloud Publishing platforms can cater for eBook delivery to both individual users and institutions, including to the most demanding academic institutions that will require an array of technical tools along with the content.

What other features can it provide?

Some customisation is usually available in cloud based systems meaning you can change and adapt it for your list and your market in a timely and responsive way. Cloud based systems also tend to include cross device capability and include enhanced search and research tools that improve the user experience. Areas such as, the provision of an online eReader, soft and hard DRM security, bibliographic reference integration, management tools, compatibility with mobile devices, cataloguing, COUNTER usage statistics, content management and collections creation, search tools, integration with Library management software, transaction creation and business model creation will be handled by the system.

How does it usually work if you decide to work with a cloud based solution?

Cloud publishing starts with a set of tools for linking easy-to-use software applications to your website – called an API (application programme interface). The API allows publishers to create a bespoke, standalone content delivery website, but it can also be used to power an existing one. The content can be eBooks but also e-chapters as long as they can be identified properly.

Why would you recommend users consider this approach?

Cloud services work particularly well for smaller organizations. They don’t require a team of in-house developers working on bespoke software. They are an ‘off the shelf’ tool with simple link to the publisher’s website and easier maintenance. The cloud company has already undertaken the expense and risk of developing the software, which is then ‘shared’ amongst their customers, together with technical maintenance. Crucially, it allows you to punch above your weight and provide at minimum cost direct eBook services equal if not better to those of larger publishers, thus opening up crucial new sales channels and opportunities for the future.


Sabine is Director and Founder of 123Library, an eBook B2B delivery tool for publishers. She is an entrepreneur who specializes in developing IT services for the publishing industry. 123Library’s CloudPublish™ platform provides a range of business models and management tools for both end-users and librarians, and complies with academic institutions' technical requirements. www.123library.org.