Wednesday, 3 March 2021

An Update from ALPSP Chief Executive: March 2021

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, we are hopefully seeing a way out of lockdown in England. We have made a few changes to the way in which ALPSP conducts its business after successfully launching our new events management system. I hope you will like the way in which we are now able to engage with our members.

Our recent webinar/workshop on Progress on OA agreements with libraries and consortia lead by Alicia Wise from Information Power went well. We broke into working groups which stimulated a good discussion that Alicia will be feeding back in her report. Information Power would like to learn about publisher experiences of seeking or entering into transformative OA agreements with libraries and library consortia. This is for a project being undertaken on behalf of cOAlition S & ALPSP to measure progress on these agreements during 2020, to understand the factors which lead to success, and to develop a set of recommendations for funders, libraries, library consortia and publishers that could lead to more agreements. We would ask that each publishing member organization nominate someone to complete this short online survey.

At the Publishers’ Content Forum in February a wide range of topics were covered. There was an interesting discussion around the desire of the EU to create a digital bridge between Europe and the US. Whether this comes about will be down to the Biden administration, and there would need to be substantial change if this bridge were to be constructed.
 
We have now launched our new Mentorship scheme. There was a lot of positive energy when I met with both mentors and mentees and I believe that we are off to a great start. The current scheme will finish at the end of July, and we envisage this being a rolling activity. Please email Amanda Whiting for further details.
 
Wayne Sime
We are looking for a member to represent ALPSP on the Publishers’ Licensing Services (PLS) Board. Ideally, this would be someone from a society publisher who has an interest in licensing. The post would involve a time commitment of between 15-20 days per annum. This would be a great opportunity to acquire board experience. If you would like further details, please email me.   

To find out more about ALPSP news and events, visit our website, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, or sign up to our email updates.  

Wayne Sime
Chief Executive, ALPSP

Friday, 29 January 2021

What does good look like when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion?

Amidst all the turbulence of 2020, one striking positive was an increased attention to diversity and inclusion, sparked in particular by the death of George Floyd and the global Black Lives Matter movement. Society, it would seem, is increasingly unprepared to tolerate discrimination of the basis of social demographics, and that is something to be warmly welcomed.

Focusing on the publishing industry, we have seen dramatic shifts in the way companies are working. As the pandemic struck across the globe, businesses were suddenly forced to embrace flexible and remote working in a way that many had previously resisted. Almost overnight, working from home became the new normal – the days of commuting to an office now seem like distant memories for many of us. D&I advocates have long argued for flexible working as an important strategy in increasing workforce diversity, for example in creating opportunities for those returning from parental leave to progress their career while also spending time with their family. And while we need to remember that working at home during a global pandemic – with its requirement for home schooling, closure of leisure facilities, and fights for workspace and wifi access with the rest of the household – is emphatically NOT the same as 'regular’ remote working, there are nevertheless benefits to these adjustments to our expectations of how people can work. Which company could now make an argument that working from home can’t be accommodated, when it is all we have done for nearly a year?

In some ways, this feels like a fertile landscape for making progress in diversity and inclusion. But – as always – things are never that simple. We saw some positive movement in 2020, but we also experienced a number of backward steps. The UK Gender Pay reporting requirement was waived, thus the ability to track trends over time has been set back. Britain’s departure from the EU means that workers’ rights and protections are now under review. And, as the pandemic evolves, the economic fallout is still disproportionately affecting those at the bottom of the social scale.

So, as we head into 2021, it feels necessary to regroup and ask ourselves, as a sector, are we getting it right on D&I, or do we need to rethink our focus? My answer to this – as you can probably guess – is no, we’re not getting it right and yes, we do need to rethink.

While I am encouraged to see D&I so high on the agenda of so many publishers, I am often concerned by where the energy and effort is directed. We’ve seen lots of publishers focusing very heavily on what I see as inclusion-related issues, such as the choice of personal pronouns for staff and authors, or the shift to talking about ‘belonging’ and ‘bringing your whole self to work’. While these are significant and important activities, it does feel like a stage has been skipped that – now more than ever – should be the foundation of our work in improving diversity and inclusion.

To explain this, let’s think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:


As Maslow argues, needs at the lower end of the hierarchy are ‘deficiency needs’. Meeting them does not increase motivation or fulfilment, yet it is essential that they are attended to. At the top of the pyramid are ‘growth needs’. These can only be effectively achieved when our deficiency needs have been met. 

In other words, it is vital to consider how well as the physiological and safety needs of your workforce are being met. I know from my work with teams that, at the moment, many employees are struggling. None of us can feel safe from personal danger during this pandemic, and news that new variants are even more transmissible is only increasing our anxiety. Many sufferers of domestic abuse are living in fear, imprisoned with their abusers for the best part of a year. And those on lower incomes sharing houses or living alone in small properties may not feel that their home situation is safe, secure or conducive to productive work.

Let me be clear: I absolutely do not think work on inclusion-related issues should stop. But just now it feels as if crucial areas such as safety and security have been left behind. My question to publishers across the globe would be whether – in this strange and disorientating world we now occupy – focusing on growth needs at this time may not be the only priority – perhaps, if your staff are feeling unsafe, those deficiency needs are where you need to put at least some of your efforts?

At Umbrella, we see our work as being fundamentally about social justice. No one’s life outcomes should be defined and decided by their gender, race, or social class. We need to ensure all issues are being addressed – fair pay, transparency, equitable working conditions and personal health, as well as those around how we self-identify, what we want to bring to work, and the culture we experience when we are there. Without resolving the structural inequalities that prevail in our industry, particularly around low pay, without meeting our employees’ needs for safety, security and freedom from fear, we cannot hope to build an inclusive culture, or achieve the social justice towards which we all aspire. 

Dr Nancy Roberts is a specialist tutor for ALPSP virtual training courses which cover Creating an Inclusive Culture, Introduction to People Management in Publishing and Becoming a Leader in Publishing.


About the author

Dr Nancy Roberts, Business Inclusivity/Umbrella and ALPSP Tutor

Dr Nancy Roberts has spent 20 years in the publishing sector working in production and operations for companies ranging from Penguin to Cambridge University Press, before leaving to specialize in diversity and inclusion. 

Nancy is the founder of Umbrella, a tech startup which uses data analytics, AI and machine learning to help businesses realise the benefits of a more diverse workforce. In her portfolio career, she is also Head of Technology and Content at Maverick, providing specialist consultancy to publishers, and delivers management and leadership training for ALPSP, the PTC and independently. 

Nancy has a PhD in Postcolonial Feminist Literary Theory and an Executive MBA from Cranfield University. She is also a NED for Break the Mould CIC and sits on various advisory boards, including We and AI, a non-profit aiming to educate and inform the public about the risks and benefits of AI, and the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, part of UKRI. She is deeply passionate about social justice and the importance of data in monitoring and achieving this goal.



Monday, 11 January 2021

How scholarly publishing and communications could benefit from the UK Government’s Kickstart Scheme and offer a lifeline to young people

ALPSP blog

We are all acutely aware of how difficult 2020 has been for many different reasons but the effect of COVID-19 on unemployment is likely to continue for some time to come. It is widely acknowledged that COVID job losses have hit young people the hardest and as with other recessions it is going to be much more difficult for this generation to get work, without experience, in a highly competitive job market. We know from experience that this early unemployment can have catastrophic effects on their future chances.

We understand that it remains very difficult for many publishers to plan or commit to new hires, as there is still so much uncertainty in how the next few months and year will play out. Businesses need to remain resilient, agile and think outside the box to make the most of every opportunity. The government has continued to offer varying amounts of support to different industries with various initiatives, to help them to survive and navigate their way through these difficult times.  One such initiative, that is open to all industries and Atwood Tate are delighted and proud to support is their ‘Kickstart Scheme’.

Kickstart is a UK Government scheme which provides funding to employers to create thousands of job placements for 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit. The Government will fund 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours per week, plus associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions, for six months. £1,500 is also available per placement for support and training. To qualify for funding, the placements created need to be new jobs and should not be vacancies that you would have created anyway without Kickstart. You also need to commit to the placement lasting for six months and being for a minimum of 25 hours per week. The positions should not require extensive previous training as they are entry level roles and you will need to provide support that enables the young person to become more employable as a result of the placement. 

The Government’s ambition is for companies large and small throughout the country, to hire as many ‘Kickstarters’ as possible and they are hoping to create 250-300,000 placements from the scheme. Atwood Tate are passionate about promoting and facilitating the scheme’s reach within our industries and feel that scholarly publishing and communications could offer the opportunity to create some fantastic and inspiring work placements for young people. As well as offering a chance for young people to get some much needed work experience at an extremely difficult time, we are also hoping that the jobs created can inspire them to consider future opportunities that they may not have thought of or realised were open to them. With our industry’s continued commitment to improving diversity and inclusion, this scheme offers the perfect platform to give a chance to individuals that would ordinarily struggle to get ‘a foot in the door’ due to the extreme competitiveness of entry level positions. 

As part of the Government’s stipulations, to apply directly for Kickstart funding you must be able to offer 30 placements within your business. If you are creating between 1-29 placements you need to apply through a Gateway organisation. Atwood Tate are very pleased to be acting as a Gateway so that we can apply for funding on our client’s behalf. More information on how we can help with this is available on our website.

We have already submitted applications in November and December last year and hope to continue to make further applications throughout 2021. The final placements for the scheme will start in December 2021.

Further information on the Kickstart Scheme is available on the Government website

If you would like any further information on how Atwood Tate can work with you to maximise the scheme’s benefit within our industry or have any other questions, please contact me by email or call 01865 339630.

Lynne Willoughby

About the author

Lynne Willoughby has been a Director with Atwood Tate since 2011. She has previous recruitment experience as one of the original co-founders of Inspired Selection along with many years of publishing experience in Academic, STM and Educational Publishing.


Wednesday, 30 September 2020

ALPSP Virtual Conference & Awards 2020 Report: The legacy of COVID-19 on scholarly communication

This year’s ALPSP conference may have felt very different to previous years – experienced in front of a screen in one’s office, living room, or kitchen instead of in a hotel conference centre sitting side by side with hundreds of one’s industry colleagues. It still addressed the key issues that scholarly publishing faces, though: open access, transparency and trust, and – perhaps more urgently than ever – diversity, equity, and inclusivity within an industry that still has much to do on those fronts.

***

ALPSP Keynote 2020
ALPSP Keynote by Sherri Aldis,
Chief of United Nations Publication

The conference began on Wednesday evening with the announcement of the winners of the 2020 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing. From an exceptionally strong shortlist, the judges – led by David Sommer, co-founder of 2015 winner Kudos – choose two winners: Jus Mundi, the Paris-based multilingual search engine for international law, and WordToEPUB, a free EPUB creation tool with built-in accessibility features. Sustainable scholar-led open access publisher the Open Library of the Humanities was also highly commended. 

The awards were swiftly followed by our opening keynote from Sherri Aldis, chief of United Nations Publications, who offered some insights into the organisation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and what they might mean for scholarly publishing and research in the COVID-19 world. The seventeen goals, she explained, were a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by ending poverty, protecting the planet, and improving all lives; publishers, she said, had a vital role to play in achieving them. 

Aldis noted that publishers had recognised not only that the SDGs aligned with their own missions but also that there was market demand for them too, and had consequently published more than 8,000 titles relating to them. Some – like Hachette’s children’s books 17 Ways to Save the World and Iqbal and his Ingenious Idea – were published in partnership with the UN, whose own titles were freely available but were also monetised through value-added enhancements. She shared some of the ways that publishers could contribute towards achieving the goals: promoting the SDG agenda by using its framework to categorise their content; reducing inequality by producing content accessible to people with disabilities; and adopting sustainable business practices through changes to supply chains and production. Aldis encouraged publishers to sign the new ten-point SDG Publishers’ Compact that would be launched at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, and to use the SDG logos to show their support.

***

The next day focused on “Transparency and trust in scholarly communication: changing access, business models and funding”. The afternoon began with a discussion of the long-term legacy of COVID-19 on trust and transparency. Chris Winchester, CEO of health science communications consultancy Oxford PharmaGenesis, noted publishers’ moves to make content freely available and reusable during the pandemic, and suggested that there’d be no going back from this; instead, the development would spread to other potentially life-changing and life-saving research. Introducing the Open Pharma initiative of which he is co-founder, he explained that its immediate priority is to secure for authors publishing company-funded research the same rights to publish open access as authors whose research is funded by other sources; eight publishers including PLOS, Wiley, and F1000 have already endorsed this position.

ALPSP Conference session 1 2020

Winchester was followed by Marshall Brennan of the American Chemical Society, whose ability to deliver a compelling talk while simultaneously feeding a baby made him the star of the conference. Discussing the extreme public response to a preprint hosted on ChemRxiv criticising the use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVOD-19, Brennan considered the responsibilities preprint servers have to the general public in terms of correctly framing the research posted there; he also mentioned the steps ChemRxiv has taken in response to the controversy, such as retaining the right to deny posts it deems inappropriate, including those whose conclusions might lead a non-expert to take actions injurious to their health. The session’s final speaker, Simine Vazire of the University of Melbourne, argued that we need more nuance in peer review beyond acceptance and rejection, and noted that both incentives and human nature encourage researchers more towards making new discoveries than detecting errors in existing work.

The day’s second session explored a global direction for Open Access and Open Research. Rebecca Lawrence, Managing Director of F1000 Research, spoke of the varying attitudes towards open research across continents and disciplines, noting the particular challenges faced in the humanities and social sciences, where funding for publication can be problematic and output types may differ from those in the sciences. She was followed by Professor Judith Sutz of the University of the Republic in Uruguay, who shared some of the findings of her research into the design and implementation of university research policies and suggested that new tools and approaches were need to transform the research evaluation system. 

Robert Kiley, Head of Open Research at the Wellcome Trust, then spoke about how cOAlition S aims to make OA a reality after more than a decade of talk. He was followed by Elizabeth Marincola of the African Academy of Sciences, who explored the many barriers to open access scientific publishing in that continent. She focused particularly on peer review – noting its systematic bias, the lack of representation of African researchers among reviewers, and their lack of familiarity with the nuances of the review process – before introducing AAS Open Research, a scholarly publishing platform offering the immediate publication of work by researchers supported by the AAS and its funded programs. The session’s final speaker was Alwaleed Alkhaja, copyright librarian at Qatar National Library, who observed the fall in journals supporting Arabic-language publishing – from 618 to 185 on DOAJ in the past five years – and shared some of the successes of the library’s open access fund, providing funding for OA publication on a national level, uniquely in the region.

Thursday’s final session explored business models for Open Access in a post COVID world. Vivian Berghahn, MD at Berghahn Books, described some of the different approaches the company had taken to fund open access publication, such as Knowledge Unlatched’s crowd-funded model for books and – in partnership with Libraria – Subscribe to Open for journals. Simon Ross, CEO of Manchester University Press, talked us through their journey towards having the largest output of open access books of any university press. Though OA titles may still sell – one sold 320 copies in print alongside 5,000 free downloads – it can be hard, he said, to make the economics work across a list, particularly when university presses are so dependent on print sales. He expected Manchester would continue to look at what he described as a ‘pick ’n’ mix’ of models, with direct-to-consumer sales offering potential compensation for the downturn in the institutional market. The session’s final speaker, Sara Rouhi, Director of Strategic Partnerships at PLOS, also emphasised the need for a mixed economy in open access, but her focus was on meeting the diverse needs of a wide range of stakeholders: a mixture of flat fees, institutional deposit accounts, PLOS Community Action Publishing, and bundled APCs for consortia could, she believed, enable the company to achieve cost recovery plus a capped 10% margin for reinvestment, while avoiding excluding researchers from publication.

*** 

The final day of this year’s conference explored how publishers can deliver a more inclusive and diverse scholarly communication ecosystem. Patrick H. Alexander, Director of the Pennsylvania State University Press, kicked off the opening session, “Diversity and Inclusion in our sector: what do we know, and where do we need to do more?” with two telling observations: that there is not a single university press at any of the 107 historically black colleges in the US, and that there are only 2 BAME heads of the American members of the Association of University Presses. Ruth Howells, Deputy Director of External Affairs at the Publishers Association, shared some statistics from the association’s survey of the wider UK publishing industry which showed that 13% of its employees were BAME, 10% LGB+, and 1% transgender; 19%, meanwhile, had attended an independent or fee-paying school. Nancy Roberts of Umbrella called for pay transparency as a means of increasing the diversity of talent applying for roles and decreasing the gender gap; she also noted in passing how much advocacy work is uncompensated. Anoushka Dossa, Director of Talent at Creative Access, closed the panel by speaking about the organisation’s #morethanwords campaign which invites employers to commit to change in hiring diverse candidates; investing in staff from under-represented groups to progress to senior roles; and creating an inclusive workplace where diverse staff feel valued.

The second session focused on “Creating Diverse and Inclusive products, tools and services”. Opening speaker Nicola Nugent (Publishing Manager for Quality and Ethics at the Royal Society of Chemistry) discussed several reports that the RSC had produced on women's retention and progression in the chemical sciences and whether publishing in the chemical sciences is gender biased, and the organisation’s framework for action in scientific publishing: Improving inclusion and diversity in the chemical sciences and the joint commitment for action on inclusion and diversity in publishing. Magdalena Skipper (Editor in Chief at Nature), then addressed the importance of inclusion within peer review, while Jennifer Gibson discussed the ways in which eLife, where she is Head of Open Research Communication, has prioritised diversity and inclusion, with particular successes in geographical diversity and sexual orientation inclusion.


The conference’s final panel session explored the impact of COVID-19 on our ability to create a diverse and inclusive publishing industry. Professor Edda Tandi Lwoga of the College of Business Education in Tanzania shared some of the consequences of the virus on African research and publishing, noting that funding has been diverted and fieldwork and conferences delayed, with slow, limited, or expensive connectivity creating additional problems; more positively, however, collaboration has increased. Randy Townsend shared how the American Geophysical Union, where he is Director of Publications Operations, has used the pandemic and the killing of George Floyd as a ‘respectful opportunity’ to identify and implement improvements in its diversity, equity, and inclusion through Eight Deliberate Steps ranging from diversifying the organisation’s governance and committees through to partnering with leaders across STEM to remove systemic racism and foster culture change. Simone Taylor of AIP Publishing then shared data from the Workplace Equity Project, noting how the experience of working from home varies hugely according to personal circumstances can cause feelings of isolation and exclusion.

banner displaying logos of conference sponsors









You can find out more about this year’s conference on the ALPSP website.

By Alastair Horne, Lecturer in Publishing at the University of Stirling 

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Spotlight on the Charlesworth WeChat Gateway - shortlisted for the 2020 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing

Charlesworth logo





This year, the judges have selected a shortlist of eight for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing.  The winners will be announced on 16 September at the opening of the ALPSP 2020 Virtual Conference. In this series, we learn more about the finalists.

In this post, we learn more about the Charlesworth WeChat Gateway.

Tell us a bit about your organization.

The Charlesworth Group is recognised globally as a trusted partner for STM Publishers for sales, marketing representation, technical solutions and consultancy in China. Charlesworth is also a leading provider of language editing and author services globally through its Charlesworth Author Services division. We provide services to Publishers and Institutions, supporting thousands of authors each year.

Charlesworth is a family-owned business, established 90 years ago as a bookbinder. Throughout the decades our focus has been on publishing services. We have offices in the UK, US, Ukraine and have had an office in China for over 20 years.

What is the project/product that you submitted for the Awards?

WeChat is the most dominant social app in China, often referred to as China’s super app because of the breadth of functionality the app offers across communication and eCommerce. It currently has 1.15 billion monthly active users, who spend on average 82 minutes per day using the app and make 1 billion transactions a day. The WeChat environment is moving from being a walled garden of messages and posts for followers to integrating more third-party applications into the app and creating more possibilities for content discovery via its search tool.

The Charlesworth WeChat Gateway is a web-based content marketing and author communication platform, used for managing author communication within the STM workflow through WeChat.
Simply put, WeChat Gateway allows publishers to integrate their systems into the WeChat environment and create user journeys for China-based authors that replicate the slick e-commerce stores those authors are used to within WeChat.

WeChat is heavily used by academics and it is far quicker and more convenient for a Chinese author to engage with a Publisher via WeChat, instead of having to load a webpage hosted outside of China.

screenshot image WeChat Gateway

The Gateway has three core components which allow a Publisher to be present on the WeChat platform and engage with their authors:

  • API integration platform – the Gateway allows a Publisher to integrate their backend systems. Currently, the Gateway is connected with journal submission systems. This allows a Publisher to send unique customised paper status notifications to authors or allow them to self-check 24/7. The configurable chatbot delivers all of these messages in Chinese. This integration deepens author communication and reduces queries on paper status from authors. 
  • WeChat marketing platform – marketeers can use the Gateway content hub to directly manage and upload marketing content into the Publisher WeChat account.
  • Publisher Analytics Dashboard – WeChat Gateway incorporates an analytics dashboard that extends and enriches the standard reports available from WeChat itself, providing deep data on follower behaviour, growth and content engagement.  

Tell us a little about how it works and the team behind it

Charlesworth has teams based in China, the UK and Ukraine. Together, these teams use agile methodologies to continually understand and respond to the needs of Chinese authors and Publishers globally.

The team focused on the development of the WeChat Gateway is made up of Andrew Afonin, IT Director who leads a development team in both China and Ukraine, Andrew Smith, Product and Marketing Director who leads teams in the UK, led by our Product Manager Jean Dawson and in China, led by Kelly Zhang. 

We utilized WeChat software development tools as a base to create Gateway but our Product teams extended and created new functionality; creating a platform that is not available within the WeChat software tool offering. Our resulting Gateway software creates an omnichannel solution for our clients, allowing us to connect multiple external systems to the Gateway which can then feed out as a personalised notification data stream to different WeChat author accounts. The Gateway has servers in both China and outside; these servers manage the data flow in and out of China to ensure the Gateway powers a quick response to China-based authors.

The Gateway is continually being developed to bring on board new system integration and to add additional features. The speed of change in China is at a lightning pace, so our teams are continuously monitoring trends and talking to authors to ensure the product is developed with user needs at its core.

In what ways do you think it demonstrates innovation?

China-based authors are expected to use the standard tools and workflows offered by STM Publishers globally. This ignores the fact that the Chinese web and the most commonly used apps in China are very different from those in the west. China is a mobile-first market and in many ways, the Chinese leapfrogged earlier web technology, which means that email is not the dominant form of communication. A Deloitte survey from 2018 shows that only 33% of Chinese users check their email daily, while 88% check their instant messaging apps daily. Therefore email is not an ideal form of communication. Instead, social messaging apps are the key form of communication and academics use these apps to communicate, promote and discuss their research.

Publisher tools are usually based outside of China and designed with users in North American and Europe in mind. Users in China, accessing these tools on their mobile, can struggle with both connectivity issues and navigating the user interface. 

Charlesworth, through the WeChat Gateway, helps STM Publishers to integrate their services into the WeChat environment. It helps to solve the issue of communication with Chinese authors by powering interfaces that replicate the Chinese eCommerce experience and deliver updates in Chinese. Initially, we have focused on integrating article submission notifications, so a China-based author can receive all the status notifications about their paper in WeChat. These notifications can then be linked to the content in WeChat. For instance, an acceptance message can be linked to author promotion content, creating a great experience for authors.

For Publishers, the Gateway is a tool that can be easily configured without a need to understand WeChat or speak Chinese. The Gateway can be used by a marketing team and the chatbot allows a Publisher to configure the messages which are sent to the author.

What are your plans for the future?

Our vision for Gateway is to integrate the whole STM publishing workflow into WeChat.

Through our partnership with Editorial Manager, we will be able to offer authors submitting their paper to EM Publishers the ability to check article status notifications in WeChat from submission to final decision. Through our ingest relationship, we will also be able to join this up further, so authors can receive notifications during both language editing and article submission and review, without the need to complete a full resubmission to Editorial Manager. 

We are continuing to integrate different systems and satisfy new use cases to create engaging user journeys for China-based authors in WeChat. Our next steps are to look at how an author can submit and manage their article via WeChat and receive notifications across the whole author journey. This includes post-acceptance. For instance, on publication, we want to be able to deliver updates to the author on the citations to their article, usage and support in promoting and marketing their research. We are engaging with multiple publishers, looking at simplifying the China-based author experience through WeChat exclusively, rather than asking them to access multiple platforms.

We are building a new mobile dashboard that allows authors in WeChat to submit papers seamlessly, initially for our language polishing service, but this module will have wider application. We are also developing a voice-recognition feature so authors can request information via WeChat about their article submission or published article.

The platform has been designed to integrate with other social media apps. WeChat has been our focus and continues to be so but we plan to integrate other social messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Line into the Gateway to deliver services to authors based outside of China.  For further information, please visit: http://www.cwrepresentation.com/



You can hear from all of the Finalists at the ALPSP Awards Lightning Session on Tuesday 8 September. Visit the ALPSP website to register and for full details of the ALPSP Virtual Conference and Awards 2020.
The 2020 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing are sponsored by PLS.

Monday, 17 August 2020

Spotlight on WordToEPUB - shortlisted for the 2020 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing

The judges have selected a shortlist of eight for this year's ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing.  The winners will be announced on 16 September at the opening of the ALPSP 2020 Virtual Conference. 

In this post, we hear from Richard Orme about WordToEPUB.

Tell us a bit about your organization.

logo DAISY Consortium
The DAISY Consortium is a global family of organizations which pool and coordinate resources to deliver worldwide change on our vision and mission, ensuring people have equal access to information regardless of their ability. 

Our work is focused on the development of solutions for accessible publishing and reading via influencing global standards, the creation of tools to facilitate accessible content creation and delivering guidance materials and training.

For over 20 years the DAISY Consortium has had a significant impact on mainstream and specialist publishing. The DAISY audiobook standard is used by organizations around the world to deliver millions of titles on a daily basis to people with print disabilities (e.g. people who are blind, have low vision, dyslexia or physical disabilities).

Our work on the EPUB standard ensured that it was built on a foundation of accessibility. The free validation and accessibility checking tools we develop and maintain are used by publishers, conversion services and retailers for almost all commercial publications.

What is the project/product that you submitted for the Awards?

We are delighted that our new WordToEPUB tool has been shortlisted for the awards. Launched earlier this year, it an incredibly user-friendly tool which enables anyone with a structured Microsoft Word document to easily create an accessible and highly flexible publication in the EPUB 3 format. This can be read on any device and used with a variety of assistive technologies which people with disabilities around the world rely upon throughout their education, work and leisure.

Tell us a little about how it works and the team behind it

The WordToEPUB tool was designed to offer a simple process which anyone can use, with more advanced options available to those seeking a greater level of control and customisation. The tool can be run from a button on the Microsoft Word Ribbon, or directly as an application. On activation the tool performs a series of tests on the Word document to identify significant accessibility issues which would impact the resulting document, and if found the user is notified of the issue and advised. If the document passes the initial test the document undergoes conversion resulting in an EPUB document. A menu of advanced features and customization is also available, aimed at users who are knowledgeable in ebook creation, but not hampering the ability of novice users.

The tool also automatically records details about the content language, supporting multilingual texts for accurate text to speech playback and support for reading in braille. The application and the supporting documentation has been translated from English into French, Spanish, German, Italian, Danish and Portuguese, with support for Finnish, Swedish, Russian, Hindi and Japanese partially implemented. Support for other languages is underway by native speaking volunteer supporters. 

The tool was developed by DAISY staff, with voluntary contributions from the global DAISY community of educators, publishers and accessibility experts, and with advice and encouragement from Microsoft.

Despite only being a few months old, the WordToEPUB tool has already shown that it plays an important role in the development of simple, practical workflows for the creation of accessible materials. The tool is now in everyday use in education establishments and specialist libraries as a primary tool for the creation of accessible education and leisure reading materials and has been used by self-publishing authors to release titles.

In what ways do you think it demonstrates innovation?

EPUB is generally produced from bespoke XML workflows, complex publishing software or specialist tools. WordToEPUB was created to answer the direct needs of people who create content using a familiar word processor and needed a simple method that is just a couple of clicks. With this tool they can ensure their materials are delivered in a flexible and accessible way to meet the needs of their diverse readership. Marrying the most widely used word processing system on the planet with EPUB, the world’s most accessible publishing format, through a free and easy to use tool delivers benefits to everyone involved. Readers can enjoy EPUB publications using whatever device they own, adjusting the text presentation based on their device size or access requirements, or directly reading through audio or braille.

The powerful EPUB format is already used widely in education publishing, so enabling educators and support staff to provide education resources in the same format has proven to be particularly powerful. This is especially true since the COVID pandemic has driven many education establishments around the world to transition to delivering education content online, while meeting their moral and legal obligations to ensure the content can be accessed by people with disabilities.

What are your plans for the future?

We have seen a significant increase in the adoption of the WordToEPUB tool, and feedback has been glowing. Over the coming months we are continuing to enhance the tool and support resources, offering guidance for more complex content like equations, and translating the tool and support materials into more languages with a special focus on the developing world.

On the development side we are working towards a command line system for batch processing and integration into established workflows, as well as a cloud-based solution which may assist educators unable to install applications. Slightly longer term we plan to release a macOS version of the tool.

Through the development of this tool we have been able to share information and offer feedback to tools supporting content authored in Apple, Google, and open formats to improve the quality of output

We will also continue to work with Microsoft and encourage the integration of this or a similar process directly within Word.

photo Richard Orme

Richard Orme has worked in the area of inclusion and accessibility for over 30 years, including many years working on innovations for mainstream and specialist publishing. 


Resources
Web links:
https://daisy.org/wordtoepub
https://daisy.org/news-events/articles/epub-publications-from-word-w/
https://daisy.org/news-events/articles/wordtoepub-extended-tutorial-w/

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You can hear from all of this year's finalists at the ALPSP Awards Lightning Session on Tuesday 8 September.  Visit the ALPSP website to register and for full details of the ALPSP Virtual Conference and Awards 2020.
  
The 2020 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing are sponsored by PLS.


Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Spotlight on DataSeer - shortlisted for the 2020 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing

This year, the judges have selected a shortlist of eight for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing.  The winners will be announced on 16 September at the opening of the ALPSP 2020 Virtual Conference. In this series, we learn more about the finalists.


In this post, we hear from Tim Vines about DataSeer. 









The idea for DataSeer comes from my time as a Managing Editor at the journal Molecular Ecology. In 2010 we adopted the Joint Data Archiving Policy – which mandates data sharing as a condition of publication – and were experimenting with how best to enforce it. We found that the only consistent approach was to check for compliance ourselves by reading every accepted article and listing the datasets the authors needed to share. After about 500 articles it occurred to me that we could get a machine to do the same job, with the advantage that the machine would be quicker, cheaper, and much more scalable.

Fast forward to 2018, when we received a Sloan Foundation grant to develop DataSeer as part of the Open Source software developer Coko (aka the Collaborative Knowledge Foundation). We’ve recently released DataSeer as a Beta and we’re working with numerous potential users to see how best to fit DataSeer into their workflows.

What is the project/product that you submitted for the Awards?

Our organisation and our product are pretty much the same thing! Our goal with DataSeer is to address one of the biggest obstacles to Open Research Data: there’s no easy way to get from the generally worded data sharing policies to the actions the authors need to take for their particular manuscript.

This issue is pernicious because it both increases the time and effort authors need to devote to data sharing (often to the point they give up altogether), and prevents the stakeholders (journal and funders) from knowing what should have been done. The stakeholders then struggle to enforce their data sharing policies, such that authors have no consequences for non-compliance.

DataSeer uses Natural Language Processing to scan research texts for sentences that describe data collection, infers the type of data being collected, and provides best practice advice on how and where that dataset should be shared. Once the author has shared all of the required datasets (or given a reason why they can’t be shared), DataSeer passes a report back to the journal or funder. This approach saves time and worry for the authors and empowers stakeholders to promote open research data.

Tell us a little about how it works and the team behind it

DataSeer has three main parts - the algorithm, the user interface, and our ‘Research Data Wiki’. Our code is open source (here and here). The algorithm has been trained on about 3000 open access articles from a wide range of subject areas. Moreover, researchers tend to describe data collection with similar language regardless of their field, so training an NLP algorithm to spot data sentences is a fairly manageable problem. As with any AI application, it’s making a fair number of mistakes at the moment, but that should change as we process more and more articles.

graphic DataSeer illustration














The wiki hosts our ‘best practice’ advice for sharing many different types of data, and we encourage users to edit our advice if they feel it can be improved. Our vision is that widespread use of DataSeer will eventually lead to a global resource on best practice for data sharing across all areas of research.

As mentioned above, the idea for DataSeer stems from my JDAP enforcement efforts at Molecular Ecology. I started out as an researcher in evolutionary biology before moving into journal management in 2008. In 2014 I founded Axios Review, an independent peer review service that acted as a broker between authors and journals. I've since become a Managing Editor again (this time for the Journal of Sexual Medicine), and rejoined the Scholarly Kitchen blog. I am based in Vancouver, Canada.

Our business lead is Kristen Ratan – Kristen has been involved with developing technology solutions for the academic publishing industry for over 20 years, and has heaps of experience in bringing open science products from idea to marketplace. She has worked at HighWire Press, Atypon, PLOS, and Coko, and now runs her own consultancy on open source solutions for promoting open research. Kristen is based in Santa Cruz, California.

Our lead developer is Patrice Lopez, who has spent the last ten years developing open source NLP tools for research articles. His pdf parser, Grobid, has been applied to over 1.6 million articles and is incorporated into workflows at many large academic publishing organizations. Patrice is based in a small village in France.

In what ways do you think it demonstrates innovation?

DataSeer’s innovation is to use the efficiency of machine learning and Natural Language Processing to automate a really difficult step in enforcing data sharing policies: working out what the authors of a particular article need to do, and helping them do it. At some journals this step is performed by PhD level data curation experts, but as each article can take them between 30 minutes and an hour to process, this approach is only practical for accepted manuscripts at well-resourced publishers. By making this process much cheaper and quicker, DataSeer will enable many more journals to adopt data sharing policies.

Moreover, because DataSeer is cheap and highly scalable, it enables journals to require that all submitted articles share their data, so that the datasets can be scrutinised during peer review. This in turn will prompt researchers to be more rigorous with their data management throughout the research cycle, which should ultimately improve the overall reliability of published work.

DataSeer will also ensure that a much higher proportion of articles share their data, and also do a better job of sharing all of their datasets. Articles will become more reproducible, and many more datasets will be available for testing new hypotheses, conducting powerful meta-analysis, or just verifying the authors’ results. This is the crux of DataSeer’s innovation: by fixing an apparently minor stumbling block in the peer review process, we can usher in a revolution in open science.

What are your plans for the future?

In the immediate future, we’re focused on working with our current partners to ensure that DataSeer is doing everything that they need it to do. Longer term, we will 1) allow authors to deposit their data in the most suitable repository directly from our User Interface; 2) promote reproducibility by detecting mentions of code and data then helping authors share both correctly; and 3) expand DataSeer to numerous other use cases and workflows, to ensure that we’re helping as many groups and stakeholders as possible.

photo Tim Vines

Tim Vines is a researcher, journal manager, and entrepreneur. His research has motivated and informed many aspects of the open data movement.










Website
https://dataseer.ai/
Twitter
@DataSeerAI

You can hear from all of the Finalists at the ALPSP Awards Lightning Session on Tuesday 8 September. Visit the ALPSP website to register and for full details of the ALPSP Virtual Conference and Awards 2020.

The 2020 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing are sponsored by PLS.