Wednesday 13 March 2024

What is the future of social media in scholarly publishing?

The ALPSP Marketing Maestros Special Interest Group brings together senior marketing professionals to explore and discuss the changing landscape for scholarly publishing. On 28 February, a group of approximately 30 members gathered to discuss the future of social media.

What publishers say – results from a survey

To set the stage, group co-chair, Kin Maclachlan, presented insights from a recent SSP survey asking publishers about their use of social media. Conducted in November 2023, the survey included approximately half non-profit publishers, 12% commercial publishers, and around a fifth from industry service providers.

The changing profile of X

The survey revealed a notable disparity between organisations’ use of X, compared to individuals. Stephanie Lovegrove Hansen, one of the SIG members and report authors, shared her insights, suggesting that individuals can make decisions much faster, whereas organisations can take longer to adjust. Most meeting attendees agreed that X remains a popular channel for researchers, making it a key channel for publishers.

The expanding social landscape

The survey found increasing use of new social media channels, including BlueSky and Threads, as well as lesser-known channels like Mastadon. LinkedIn and YouTube usage also increased, while Facebook had decreased in popularity. Community-specific channels were also seen as important for marketers, for example WeChat for the Chinese market with 1.3 billion users, and ResearchGate as a way to interact with researchers globally.

Member discussion – break out conversations

Attendees then engaged in smaller group discussions. There were similar points raised in all groups, including a continued focus on established channels like X, Facebook and LinkedIn. In multiple groups, attendees commented that internal editors were pressuring marketing to move away from X. Although teams were experimenting with LinkedIn, there was a consensus it didn’t offer the same level of engagement as X. As one group aptly described it, “X is the devil that no one wants but everyone needs.” It’s important to engage with researchers where they are active. However some who remain on X were refusing to put advertising money on the platform, as it didn’t align with their values.

The proliferation of new channels was seen as a challenge, particularly in terms of resource allocation and segmentation. Many were evaluating, rather than actively developing new channels. The consensus was that existing platforms are continuing to decline, and new channels have not yet offered a viable alternative. It therefore remains uncertain where marketers will shift their efforts to fill this gap.

To make social work effectively, the group discussed the need for authenticity and passion, and ensuring a channel-specific strategy for content. Setting clear, measurable objectives and evaluating effectiveness on individual channels is key, particularly noting that channels will continue to change their algorithms.

Break out discussion summaries

1. What works and what doesn’t work on social media?

The breakout group identified several key factors as crucial for successful social media engagement.

  • Authentic Voice: Posts with a human touch, such as those with humour, tend to get better engagement. The group agreed that while tone needs to be appropriate, academics are humans too, and content should reflect this. It’s important to find a sweet spot between professionalism and authenticity.
  • Video needs to be authentic and not overly corporate to engage viewers. People connect more with stories than with facts and figures.
  • Passion: The group noticed that marketing often posts content about topics they aren't passionate about, which can be evident. The suggestion was made to consider hiring PhD students who have a real passion for the subject, although limited resources and bandwidth were identified as potential roadblocks.
  • Channel mix: Many found LinkedIn to be a better channel for lead nurturing. WhatsApp Groups were also identified as a potential new channel to try, though investment in this area has yet to be made. WeChat has significant usage in China, covering everything from parenting to academia. However, the vast amount of content on the platform makes it challenging to stand out. As for new channels, most have tried to use Bluesky and Mastodon, but haven't seen significant engagement to justify a major shift away from existing channels.
  • Avoiding jargon is essential: Messages should be written in plain language, kept short, simple, and easy to understand.
  • Targeting segments has been difficult: it goes against all marketing principles to customise content for specific customer segments.

2. What are the objectives/KPIs for social media – paid versus organic?

Objectives for organic and paid social:

  • Visibility and awareness were the top objectives for the group. Many agreed that organic social is particularly effective in supporting visibility at the top of the marketing funnel, with common objectives including promoting readership, or recruiting researchers for journal issues and articles.
  • Brand: social media was also seen as an essential part of brand building for publishers and journals with their target communities. Sentiment was identified as one potential measure for brand effectiveness, although this requires investment in tools, which can be a potential blocker.
  • Paid supports conversion: The group felt that return on investment (ROI) for conversion and decision-making is low for organic social media, but conversely paid social media, particularly for journal launches, was effective at supporting conversion. Retargeting was one notable option discussed.

KPIs and measurement:

Concerns were again raised about audiences, and the level of confidence marketers had that campaigns are reaching the right people. Here, appropriate use of metrics for evaluation is key:

  • The importance of a measurable call-to-action (CTA): It’s important to have a clear CTA from campaigns, such as engagement with a submission page.
  • Strategies for different channels: Each channel requires its own evaluation, considering costs and reach. For example, while LinkedIn was mentioned as more expensive, it was seen as valuable for institutional targeting. Facebook was identified as having relevance for specific countries.
  • Set budget goals by campaign across platforms, with an emphasis on optimising spend.
  • Be mindful of regions targeted: to ensure that ads reach the right audience, it’s important to set budgets for priority regions. Cost-per-click (CPC) was identified as a valued performance indicator.

Ultimately, the group recognised that outcomes differ from organisation to organisation, highlighting the need for a customised approach.

3. How is social media use changing in light of new channels?

Publishers tend to rely on the same trusted platforms:

  • As noted elsewhere, LinkedIn, Facebook, X and Instagram remain the most popular.
  • Instagram was felt to be for a younger audience. However, with Facebook declining, and since Meta owns both platforms, there is still potential to reach communities moving from Facebook to Instagram.
  • LinkedIn is emerging: Many are using LinkedIn more intensively than before. One member explained how LinkedIn newsletters are helping to gain a new subscriber base and more followers.
  • Closed groups and their use: these were very popular during the pandemic but are less so now. However, some of these groups are still active and engagement tends to be high. There was a consensus that maintaining these or contributing to them is a lot of work and highly resource-intensive.

New platforms:

  • Some have experimented with Bluesky, but the lack of resources and lack of critical mass on some of these newer platforms is preventing publishers from going full throttle.
  • No one in the group reported using Mastodon or Threads. Publishers are in an observation mode to see what happens next.
  • None of the representatives in the group used Tik-Tok. But all agreed that this is probably not the first place to go for academics. The conclusion was that publishers go where their audience is, based on their topics and publication format.

One challenge noted was that Algorithms are constantly changing: the changes that platforms are constantly making are not necessarily to the advantage of publishers.

4. Differences in social media usage for different demographics

There is limited segmentation: across the board, there was consensus that small teams can only afford to do so much. There is only one handle per platform. There is some specific targeting for these channels specifically, for example one member is using BlueSky to target a German-speaking audience.

Different platforms work for different kinds of content. For example, LinkedIn was valued for press releases and thought leadership. Instagram for motivational posts. In other words, it is possible to pursue different personas across channels.

Similar to other groups, existing channels continue to be important, and newer channels were mostly being used for experimentation at this stage:

  • X is where scientists continue to engage. The group acknowledged we need to be where our audience is and engage where they are.
  • Facebook engagement was seen as mostly non-existent, however the group discussed some evaluation was needed on the quality of the traffic.
  • There was interest in WeChat and Weibo, but a crunch in available resources. Some were working with vendor partners such as Charlesworth to put out translated content.
  • Mastodon had no engagement, although some were trying it out.
  • Reddit was mentioned as a venue to put out “real science” as opposed to “junk science” on most platforms.

About the ALPSP Special Interest Group

Co-chairs: Zita Jeukendrup, De GruyterKin Maclachlan, CUP, Mithu Lucraft, TBI CommunicationsAnnabel Daly, OUPHarini Calamur, Cactus Communications 

The ALPSP Marketing Maestros SIG provides a unique platform for senior leaders to connect, collaborate, and address pressing issues outside of industry events where marketing topics are often overlooked. It exists to bridge that gap and have a forum for leading marketers who have a significant influence on marketing strategies and business decisions at either a CTO, VP, director, or senior manager/head of department level. Find out more about all the ALPSP Special Interest Groups.

About the author

Mithu Lucraft is a Senior Consultant for TBI Communications based in the UK. A strategic content marketing expert with a passion for business storytelling, Mithu started her marketing career in 2004 at Oxford University Press, before setting up and leading the first PR team at SAGE. At Springer Nature she was responsible for the development and implementation of global marketing strategies for eight years, with a significant focus on open research and open access. At TBI, she provides marketing and communications support for clients across the scholarly communications industry including societies; publishers; researcher services; and technology platforms. She is a co-chair of the ALPSP Marketing Maestros Special Interest Group.

Thursday 29 February 2024

University Press Collaborations Connect People and Ideas

By Annette Windhorn, Association of University Presses – Drinks Reception Sponsor for University Press Redux 2024.

The Association of University Presses (AUPresses) embraces this year’s University Press Redux theme of connecting people and ideas. As a global community of 160 mission-driven scholarly publishers, we celebrate and support our member presses’ essential work of connecting readers with authors’ ideas as well as their connecting with each other to collaborate and advance ideas of best publishing practice. 

We asked representatives of our UK and European member presses to reflect on the question, “How does AUPresses help your press connect people and ideas?” This is what they had to say: 

AUPresses President-elect, Anthony Cond, Liverpool University Press (AUPresses member since 2013)

“The University Press Redux conference was founded originally by Liverpool University Press to connect the people and ideas involved in university press publishing in the UK and Europe. Since that time, the Association of University Presses has expanded to become a genuinely international organisation, offering that same audience a point of global connection. Liverpool University Press has benefitted from AUPresses membership in budgetary terms—particularly through participating in shared stands at book fairs and conferences—and through knowledge-sharing that has ranged from accessibility guidelines to best practice in peer review. Above all, though, it is AUPresses’ collegiality that we value: presses thousands of miles apart are willing to share with and learn from each other. No two university presses are the same but most prevalent among their common threads is generosity.”

Charlotte Mason, Edinburgh University Press 
(AUPresses member 2004-2007, 2021-present)

“At the 2023 Charleston Conference, we participated in a successful, shared AUPresses stand. Not only did AUPresses reduce the cost and stress of organising and setting up the stand, they also helped facilitate the co-ordination of joint branding initiatives for the participating presses. Librarians appreciated having a central place to meet multiple publishers and our presses collectively had a visibly larger presence, and it was also a wonderful networking and collaboration opportunity to meet and talk to colleagues from other presses, libraries, and vendors. We greatly appreciate this and all support AUPresses offers us in delivering our vision of connecting people and ideas.”

Annemie Vandezande, Leuven University Press
(AUPresses member since 2005)

“As a European publisher, we are happy to take advantage of the rich range of AUPresses resources. 

“We participate in the University Press Week blog tour and gallery and reading list, using the week’s chosen theme as an opportunity to connect with our readers as well as our authors. 

“We submit books when appropriate to the AUPresses Book, Jacket, and Journal Show to underline the importance of book design. Academic work, we believe, also deserves a beautifully published book. It is a wonderful reward for both our authors and designers to see their creations selected.

“We advertise with AUPresses in the Academic Presses issues of the London Review of Books. Witnessing our titles alongside other notable publications from fellow university presses fills us with pride and strengthens the interconnectedness of our shared endeavors.

“In addition, AUPresses discussion listservs and its virtual and in-person Annual Meetings are invaluable for forging connections within the industry. These platforms provide a forum where we not only meet other professionals but also discover shared challenges and trends. While each press has its unique characteristics, the common ground fosters an environment for mutual learning and collaboration.”

Valarie Guagnini, Cambridge University Press 
(AUPresses member since 1950)

“Working with passionate people from various universities and colleges globally over the past few years—as a member of what was initially the AUPresses Equity, Justice, and Inclusion Committee and then as a co-chair of the Equity, Justice, Inclusion and Belonging Committee in 2022-2023—has been one of the most rewarding parts of my career. The ability not only to contribute my own ideas and experiences but also to hear and learn from my (now) friends and colleagues is very gratifying. I feel excited about the growth of AUPresses within the global community and am exhilarated by the future of what it represents in the university press sector.”

Jo Greig, Bristol University Press (AUPresses member since 2020)

“One of the challenges for UK-based university presses is building a brand reputation in the United States, so coming together as an AUPresses collective at the 2023 Charleston Conference was a win-win. The event provided a valuable introduction to industry experts and library consortia that will help shape our ongoing business strategies; it also gave us excellent networking opportunities through the generous AUPresses community, who are always willing to share advice.  

“University Press Week also offers us an incredibly valuable opportunity to showcase our press’s impact in the scholarly ecosystem. We enjoyed planning and contributing to the event whilst using it as the perfect time to profile our press through our own university communication channels as well.  

“We regularly consult AUPresses member resources when we need a non-UK point of view on sales and marketing approaches. Very often, serendipitous conversations pop up in a listserv or UP Commons channel that will spark an idea in the team, which is invaluable.”

Simon Ross, Manchester University Press 
(AUPresses member since 2013)

“We’ve participated in a few AUPresses collaborations like the TOME open-access monograph pilot, but I see the value of AUPresses in soft benefits like being able to meet with marketing, editorial, directorial, or other peers to share ideas and thoughts on industry issues, or how different university presses work with their home institutions, or how we as a group can function more efficiently and effectively to promote the distinctive value and relevance of university presses in a crowded, competitive market. It’s through addressing these wider issues in a collegiate and supportive community that we can fully serve our authors in connecting people and ideas.”

About the authors

About University Press Redux 2024

The 5th ALPSP University Press Redux returns as an in-person event on 15 & 16 May 2024, in partnership with Edinburgh University Press. This is part of EUP’s 75th anniversary celebrations and will be held at the John McIntyre Conference Centre, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK. Book your place.

Tuesday 13 February 2024

It’s not about the AI

By Simon Linacre, Digital Science – Silver sponsor of University Press Redux 2024.

With the hype about artificial intelligence reaching fever pitch, it is easy to forget that the importance of this technology is what it can do for you. To understand more about how publishers can benefit from recent advances, Simon Linacre spoke to Digital Science company Writefull about their AI-based academic language service

In late 2023, Digital Science announced it had fully acquired Writefull, which aims to support users worldwide with all aspects of scholarly writing. Writefull had been part of the Digital Science stable for a while after it won Digital Science’s Catalyst Grant award in 2016, being part-owned by the parent company since 2018. As such, the startup represented Digital Science’s first major investment in AI language models, and shows just how long AI technology has actually been around before its Generative AI entered people’s consciousness in late 2022.

Big numbers

Writefull’s AI language models are trained on billions of sentences taken from millions of journal articles. This scale of training has to be matched with a strong commitment to data privacy, which means its models offer the best possible assistance to its users in activities such as academic writing, copy editing and making revisions.

In its first few years, Writefull has expanded its language services to students and researchers at more than 1,500 institutions. Having such support available helps academic publishers down the line, of course, as they see improved standards of article writing eventually being submitted to them. However, Writefull also works directly with publishers and their copy editors through integrated workflows, including the American Chemical Society (ACS), Hindawi, the British Ecological Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). In addition, Writefull’s APIs are also integrated with Digital Science’s collaborative LaTeX editor Overleaf.

Multiple benefits

As part of an interview to learn more about where the idea of Writefull came from and how technology can help shape improvements in scholarly communications, CEO and co-founder Juan Castro says the idea for the company came - like many Digital Science founders - when he was studying for his PhD in artificial intelligence.

“I have always been interested in linguistics, and the interface between artificial intelligence and how language is generated, understood, and how it can be analyzed,” says Juan.

“The idea of Writefull came all the way back to when Hilde [Writefull’s Applied Linguist Hilde van Zeeland] and I were doing our PhDs. Hilde was doing her PhD in applied linguistics, and there was always this question of: Couldn’t we use artificial intelligence to help authors with their academic language? And so it all started from there.”

Juan says the first versions of Writefull were based around how people have used different ‘chunks’ of language in the academic setting. This version enabled users to search for phrases and see how often they would appear in published papers, or what synonyms were used frequently instead of certain words.

Publisher applications

It was the development and application of deep learning techniques that opened up the first possibilities for Writefull to work with publishers. As Juan says, “The first use case we identified for publishers was to improve the language of author’s manuscripts at submission. Hindawi was the first publisher to integrate Writefull this way. Later on, we realised that we could also use Writefull’s language models to evaluate the language quality of manuscripts, either at submission or later in the pipeline.”

“That really took us all the way to where we are now, where we've developed language models in-house that are very tailored to academic writing, and are applicable across a publishers’ portfolios. It helps them cut costs and increase efficiency, especially around timeliness.”

Now that Writefull is fully part of Digital Science, Juan and the team are looking forward to more conversations with publishers to understand their problems and see if Writefull can help them with their AI-based solutions. Juan believes that a lot of publishers have problems around language that could be tackled using Writefull’s AI. For example, the categorization of manuscripts by language quality is one area where he believes that Writefull could help. It can help to evaluate the editing needs of submitted manuscripts, to evaluate the copy editing work done, and more: “By using Writefull’s categorization service, you can better budget for copy editing needs and time, and you're also reducing the time to publish.”

“Through our conversations with publishers, we have seen that many do not categorise manuscripts by editing needs, or they do it manually. Manual categorisation is very time-consuming and therefore hardly scalable, and may also lead to inconsistencies.”

Future perfect

Another benefit of paying more attention to the varying quality of manuscripts at the point of submission is that it levels the playing field earlier on for papers that may represent excellent research but poor quality English, which can disproportionately impact authors from Global South countries. As we see AI and related technologies develop quickly around us, Juan sees more benefits feeding through to publishers in the future.

Juan thinks that, overall, we will see an improvement in quality. “Another use case we have is with one major chemistry publisher where they're using our Metadata API. The publisher has checks in place to ensure that the XML of the copyedited manuscript corresponds to the original docx or PDF. Before, a human would check all required fields manually: check the authors’ names and surnames, their affiliations, their address details, etc. One of the things the publisher wanted to do was to improve the quality of this process. They now use Writefull’s Metadata API to extract all the metadata to compare the original with the XML, and if there are any differences it will pop it up for a human to manually review.”

“I think in general this and other processes will be more automated in the future, and that as a result, less manual checking and editing will be needed. As more and more material is submitted for publication, such automated services will become even more valuable in the future.”

It is clear, then, that the AI hype in scholarly communications that we have witnessed in the last year or so has actually been a quiet revolution for many years, with startups like Writefull in the vanguard. However, it also appears that this is just the beginning, and the impact AI will have for academic publishers will be far-reaching in 2024 and beyond. 

About the author

Simon Linacre, Head of Content, Brand & Press, Digital Science 

Simon Linacre has 20 years’ experience in scholarly communications, has lectured and published on the topics of bibliometrics, publication ethics and research impact, and has recently authored a book on predatory publishing. Simon is an ALPSP tutor and former COPE Trustee, and holds Masters degrees in Philosophy and International Business.

About Digital Science

Digital Science started in 2010 by looking for ways to solve challenges they were facing as researchers themselves. Today, their innovative technologies empower organizations with insights, analytics and tools that advance the research lifecycle. Their six different product solutions - Dimensions, Altmetric, Writefull, Figshare, ReadCube, and Overleaf - help scholarly publishers to analyze data more effectively, track research outcomes, enhance author services, streamline workflows, and make collaboration more seamless.

About UP Redux 2024

The 5th ALPSP University Press Redux returns as an in-person event on 15 & 16 May 2024, in partnership with Edinburgh University Press. This is part of EUP’s 75th anniversary celebrations and will be held at the John McIntyre Conference Centre, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK. Find out more.

Tuesday 9 January 2024

ALPSP Annual Conference 2023: A Review by George Litchfield

ALPSP Annual Conference 2023: A Review by ALPSP Rising Start Awards Winner, George Litchfield, Marketing and PR Assistant, eLife 

I was delighted to find out that I had been selected as one of the four winners of the inaugural ALPSP Rising Star award. Designed to recognise the potential of individuals in the early stages of their career in academic publishing, the award offered the winners the opportunity to attend the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards last September. 

Like many of my peers, the start of my career in work has been largely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, I had never attended a conference of this size, and was unsure of what to expect. When I arrived at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate Hotel, where the conference was held, I was relieved to find a group of passionate, welcoming people, all seeking the common goal of improving the way research is communicated and shared. 

The keynote speech, delivered by Dr. Elizabeth Gadd of Loughborough University set the tone for a conference that emphasised the importance of Research Integrity and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in scholarly publishing. Gadd’s heartfelt speech told of the pressures faced by researchers, and the extreme toll that our current, metrics-focused research evaluation system can take on the mental health of academics. She explained how the current system over-emphasises the importance of publication metrics, be it through citation numbers or journal impact factors, and remains biased against women and those in the global south. Despite the sobering statistics and facts, the overall tone of Gadd’s keynote address was one full of hope. The speech offered inspiration for how those of us who work in scholarly publishing can, and will enact the changes necessary to improve the system in the future. For example, Gadd spoke about the advantages of moving away from journal impact factors as a measure of quality towards a more open-access system, with a qualitative, open peer review process. She also cautioned of the pitfalls to avoid to ensure this is done in a fair and equitable way.

The themes of Open Access and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion were prevalent throughout the various sessions of the conference. I appreciated the opportunity to hear from a diverse group of speakers about their experiences in academia and scholarly publishing. Particularly during the ‘Building an Inclusive Workplace Culture,’ session – an eye-opening discussion that highlighted the importance of fostering a sense of belonging for everyone in the workplace.

As this was my first conference, I was keen to make the most of the opportunity to network with the other attendees. Thankfully, the social events put on by ALPSP offered a brilliant opportunity to chat with a wide range of individuals working across the scope of scholarly publishing. Whether it was during a walking tour of Manchester city centre or whilst enjoying canap├ęs on the top floor of the Hilton hotel. These more relaxed events led to some memorable conversations, and definitely enhanced my overall experience of the conference. A particular highlight, as a pub quiz enthusiast myself, was the quiz and dinner that accompanied the awards ceremony on Thursday evening – despite finishing in an agonising second place! 

I would like to thank ALPSP for offering me the opportunity to attend the Annual Conference. It really was a wonderful experience and I feel privileged to have met so many amazing, inspiring people working in the publishing industry. I hope to be back again in the future! 

About the ALPSP Rising Star Award 2023

This new award aims to recognise potential in early career individuals. The winners are given the opportunity and financial support to attend the ALPSP Annual Conference in person and write a short review of their experiences of the conference. The ALPSP Rising Star Award is sponsored by Publishers' Licensing Services.

The winners of the Rising Star Award 2023 were:

  • Jade Koo, BMJ
  • George Litchfield, eLife
  • Alex Oxford, Edinburgh University Press
  • Danielle Tremeer, Geological Society of London

ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards

Thank you to all our speakers, sponsors and attendees for making the ALPSP 2023 Conference and Awards such a success. We will be returning to the Hilton Manchester Deansgate Hotel between 11-13 September 2024. For more information, watch the highlights video or visit our website.

About the author

George Litchfield, Marketing and PR Assistant, eLife 

Tuesday 28 November 2023

ALPSP Annual Conference 2023: A review by Jade Koo

ALPSP Annual Conference 2023: A review by ALPSP Rising Star Award Winner, Jade Koo, BMJ

Although I was only able to join the ALPSP conference for one day, it was an interesting experience to witness this congregation of academic publishing representatives. As a young person within the industry, and with COVID comprising a large part of my work experience, it was an opportunity both to match faces to names and to gain a better sense of the industry's culture.

The underlying theme for many of the sessions centred around the industry's necessity to adapt and respond to challenges within the market. Some interpreted this need as a chance to ‘disrupt’ and rethink the structures in which we currently operate, whilst others pondered upon solutions that could still fit within these bounds. This is particularly interesting when thinking about the more contentious side of the Open Access (OA) publishing model. As many of us are aware, the OA model has shifted the hefty burden of payment from subscribers/libraries to researchers/authors. It was suggested during the ‘Equitable Open Access: Moving Beyond the APC Economy’ session that publishers should be exploring alternative payment models to prevent international inequality. However, it is difficult to see a future where publishers, whose business models have become largely dependent on OA profit, would invest resources to investigate alternative models that would most likely negatively impact their earnings. 

Transformative agreements (TA) have further exacerbated this uneven playing field. For those most affected by the article processing charge (APC), such as authors based in Latin America, the Global South, and also, early career researchers etc, are least likely to be eligible for a TA,  enables the already superior positioning of those in the West and already situated within high-ranking universities, to solidify their hold at top of the research hierarchy. It seems highly unlikely that there is a solution to this imbalance, besides a disruptive one that is able to break this cycle of inequity. When the ‘Disruption in Scholarly Publishing’ session asked the audience if ‘disruption was a good or bad thing’, the panel was greeted with a slight reluctance to agree or disagree outrightly for either side. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘disruption’ as a radial change to an existing industry or market due to technological innovation. It means the uprooting of everything the industry has only recently invested and transitioned to. I don’t think anyone has a solution, and no one will until we are able to start thinking outside of the confines of the industry standards. 

About the ALPSP Rising Star Award 2023

This new award aims to recognise potential in early career individuals. The winners are given the opportunity and financial support to attend the ALPSP Annual Conference in person and write a short review of their experiences of the conference. The ALPSP Rising Star Award is sponsored by Publishers Licensing Services.

The winners of this year's Rising Star Award are:

  • Jade Koo, BMJ
  • George Litchfield, eLife
  • Alex Oxford, Edinburgh University Press
  • Danielle Tremeer, Geological Society of London

Find out more about the awards.

ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards

Thank you to all our speakers, sponsors and attendees for making the ALPSP 2023 Conference and Awards such a success. We will be returning to the Hilton Manchester Deansgate Hotel next year from 11-13 September 2024. Save the date and look out for the call for topics in early November. For more information, watch the highlights video or visit our website.

Tuesday 10 October 2023

ALPSP Annual Conference 2023: A review by Danielle Tremeer

ALPSP Annual Conference 2023: A review by ALPSP Rising Star Award Winner, Danielle Tremeer, Geological Society of London

2023 is the inaugural year for the new ALPSP Rising Star award, designed to recognise potential in those who are at the start of their careers in academic publishing. I was delighted to be one of the first four winners and receive free attendance to the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards from 13-15 September. 

When I started working at the Geological Society of London Publishing House in the summer of 2021, I was vaguely aware of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers. Having studied English with Publishing at the University of Plymouth and completed an internship at Intellect, I had come across them before and knew that they were an organisation providing training and support to scholarly publishers. That year, their Annual Conference and Awards took place virtually due to the pandemic. In 2022, some of the more senior members of staff at the Publishing House travelled to Manchester to attend the conference in person. After receiving news of my award and registering for the event, I started to wonder what it would be like. Wasn’t it just for people who had worked in publishing for several years?

On day one, I arrived at the Hilton Hotel in the Deansgate area of Manchester for registration and lunch by myself - my managers were still enroute. The lobby was filled with groups of people greeting each other, which was heartwarming to see but did make me acutely aware that I knew nobody. I got myself some lunch and then plucked up the courage to join a woman who was sitting alone. We chatted about our job roles and the sessions we were most looking forward to, the weather and the differences between the UK and the US, where she had travelled from. As I headed upstairs for the first session of the conference, I felt reassured that being more junior wouldn’t hold me back in this environment.

The conference began with a keynote talk from Dr Elizabeth Gadd, Research Policy Manager at Loughborough University. Her session discussed the need for reform in the ways researchers are assessed, and the role that publication metrics can play in the process. Lizzie spoke with passion and conviction, emphasizing the impact that our profession can have on the communities we serve. Her case for reforming metric culture in favour of the humans behind the data was compelling and signalled the beginning of a thought-provoking three days.

The programme of talks covered themes including diversity, open science, accessibility, and future trends for academic publishing. Often, these topics converged – several of the sessions I attended on the second day spoke of the necessity of moving more broadly toward Open Access, but of the complexities involved in ensuring that this transition is made in an equitable way. One session that I found particularly interesting focussed on the hurdles which publishers can face in trying to launch Open Access books. Journal articles are transitioning toward OA as the norm much more quickly than long form content, a trend which can be explained in some part by the prohibitive costs for authors. Two titles in the Geological Society’s flagship Special Publications book series have had every article published OA in 2023, and this is something we are looking towards expanding with the announcement of UKRI’s Open Access books policy. It was very informative to hear industry experts discuss the potential pitfalls we may come up against, and of their advocacy for models such as Subscribe to Open.

The talks weren’t the only opportunity to learn from my peers. In the coffee breaks between sessions, at lunchtime and at the various social events (including the welcome reception on Wednesday and the dinner, awards and quiz on Thursday), everyone was friendly and open to chatting. Despite my anxieties that I would be much earlier in my publishing career than everyone else, I found myself socialising with not only managers and directors but those who were in their first or second roles in the industry – including the other winners of the ALPSP Rising Star Award. It was refreshing to speak with peers who shared similar professional concerns. Finding out that my friends and family are not the only ones to presume a job in publishing means that I write books is a conversation that sticks out in my memory!. A particular highlight of the conference was the dinner and quiz on Thursday. The food was delicious and the camaraderie around our table as we tried to work out the answers to questions on everything from music to geography made up for the fact that we came close to the bottom of the leaderboard… 

As someone who started working in the industry during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact that meeting peers from other companies had on me during the conference can’t be overstated. During the ALPSP AGM, a presentation was given encouraging members to propose new Special Interest Groups (SIG) and I found myself wondering if a group for those who are (fairly) new to academic publishing would be feasible. As the Rising Star award winners prepared to have their photographs taken on the Thursday, I was asked if any of us would be interested in co-chairing a SIG of just that nature. Watch this space!

Sitting on the train home on Friday afternoon, I reflected on how grateful I am to work in an industry that is so invested in bettering itself, in sharing ideas, in community. Publishing is ultimately a business which is all about people, though we can lose sight of this sometimes. The ALPSP conference was a fantastic reminder of why I got into this job in the first place, and I look forward to attending again in the future.

About the ALPSP Rising Star Award 2023
This new award aims to recognise potential in early career individuals. The winners are given the opportunity and financial support to attend the ALPSP Annual Conference in person and write a short review of their experiences of the conference. The ALPSP Rising Star Award is sponsored by Publishers Licensing Services.

The winners of this year's Rising Star Award are:
Jade Koo, BMJ
George Litchfield, eLife
Alex Oxford, Edinburgh University Press
Danielle Tremeer, Geological Society of London

Find out more about the awards.

ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards
Thank you to all our speakers, sponsors and attendees for making the ALPSP 2023 Conference and Awards such a success. We will be returning to the Hilton Manchester Deansgate Hotel next year from 11-13 September 2024. Save the date and look out for the call for topics in early November. For more information, watch the highlights video or visit our website.

About the Author
Danielle Tremeer, Publishing Assistant, Geological Society of London

Danielle Tremeer is a Publishing Assistant at the Geological Society of London, working primarily on their books programme since 2021. She is the main contact for authors and editors, providing assistance throughout the submission and publication process. Recently, she has been involved in wider projects such as the development of transformative agreements and commissioning efforts. Prior to this role, Danielle completed an internship at Intellect Books and holds a degree in English with Publishing from the University of Plymouth. 

Thursday 21 September 2023

Responding to Community Needs: a collaborative transition to open access publishing

By Damaris Critchlow, Karger – Silver sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

Karger has a long history of connecting across communities of researchers, healthcare practitioners, and patients. With over 130 years of experience publishing in the health sciences, we understand that experience must be coupled with innovation and flexibility. To engage with our broad audiences and make a difference for our customers, we need to actively respond to and consider their different needs with tailored options, content, and products. As an independent family-owned publisher, we have never taken a ‘one size fits all’ approach to making knowledge accessible, applicable, and visible. It is important to us that we customize and tailor our approach for virtually every organization, including around open access. That is why we not only publish journals, but also look at knowledge creation and engagement throughout the research lifecycle to connect with researchers and the people who read and are impacted by research holistically. 

Different Community Needs

We’re vocal and proud that we are Open for Open, a statement we live by. With Open access (OA), our ethos of providing tailored solutions has been put to the test as, even within the health sciences, the communities who publish in our journals need different routes to publish. Even as a medium size publisher with around 100 journals within the Health Sciences, we see huge differences in funding, requirements, norms, ambitions, and guidance. Multiply that by the wide variety of Open Science policies that we see globally reflected in our author and editorial board profiles, and it is a complex picture. In 2022, our authors and editorial board members came from around 100 different countries.   

From Europe-led initiatives like Plan S, which require recipients of participating funders’ research grants to publish in journals that make articles immediately open, to Japanese recommendations that articles should be made open access within 12 months of publication, a growing trend for Gold Open Access in China, US federally funded research to be made immediately open from 2025 as in the Nelson Memo, and recognition from the Budapest Open Access Initiative that APCs (Article Processing Charges) can be exclusionary, it is a challenging landscape to navigate! 

While access to science is not to be debated anymore, it is increasingly clear that Gold open access is not a route that works for everyone, and this also holds true for Karger. Open access needs to be adaptable and responsive to the various needs of authors, editors, readers, and the sustainability of the journals. 

Different Adaptable models

The needs of different communities are why we support different routes for Open Access. 

This year, we have been excited to pilot S2O in two journals, Pediatric Neurosurgery and Developmental Neuroscience. We see S2O as an alternative way to move journals to Open Access, while alleviating some of the challenges it brings. It unites different stakeholders in Open Access and offers a bridge between established subscription paths and an OA future. This model uses the subscription base that already exists to make journals free to read and publish in. Unlike Gold Open Access journals that are continually Open Access, the OA status of S2O journals is decided volume by volume, dependent on the level of subscriptions. 

We have also proactively encouraged increased Open Access via our Transformative Journals, which are another route to support authors to comply with their individual open access requirements whilst enabling compliance with Plan S mandates and advancing open access. Flipping to OA depends on authors’ needs and interests, so when a journal has more than 75% of its content open access, the whole journal is ‘flipped’ to open. It has been of utmost importance to us to give authors freedom to publish according to their needs and funder requirements, and to provide them with a suitable open access alternative. We have successfully converted 15 journals to open access in the last few years alone and while this was an undeniably challenging process, the benefits of visibility and outreach are clear.  

A growing number of our authors who publish OA in our journals are covered by Transformative agreements negotiated with institutions whereby institutions pay the full or partial costs of their researchers’ OA publications (in hybrid or OA journals).  This allows authors to publish Open Access according to their needs, in any journal of their choice. Flexibility is key. As well, Karger has long been supportive of Green Open Access – making articles open via a repository. This makes content widely accessible whether it’s published in an OA or a hybrid journal. 

Several of Karger’s Open Access journals provide Diamond Open Access. Our Partner Publications are published on behalf of academic research institutions, societies government bodies or research funders. Both reading and publishing in the journals is free, with costs covered by the partner organizations – an alternative solution to provide Open Access in a somehow more equitable manner.  

A Collaborative Approach 

Crucially, it has been important for us to work with our Editors-in-Chief and our Editorial Board Members for a tailored and collaborative approach. The sustainability and success of the journals and the research they publish is the joint project that Karger and our editorial boards are invested in. It is an ongoing conversation we have with our editors and authors. As always, we return to our community, because no transition can be successful if the scope or timing does not meet the community’s needs.

This collaborative approach and team effort is emphasized by Prof. Dr Hendrik Scholl, from the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel (IOB), the Editor-in-Chief of a recently ‘flipped’ journal, Ophthalmic Research.  Following the journal’s transition to OA., Prof. Scholl said, ‘The Editor-in-Chief is important, you give vision and direction, but you need people to implement it who have (…) experience. That’s the case with Karger Publishers.(…)  It was a team effort. The second [important aspect] was communication …my colleagues in the Editorial Board…we discussed together. People were committed to the transition.’  And, overall how did it turn out? ‘The outcome was excellent. That’s the short summary.’  

Find out more about our customized options here: What We Solve | Karger Publishers and get in touch

Karger is a proud silver sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

About the author

Damaris Critchlow is a Project Manager at Karger, a worldwide publisher of scientific and medical content with the aim to connect and advance the health sciences. Since its foundation in 1890, Karger has been continuously evolving, keeping pace with developments and shifts in research and publishing. Damaris joined Karger in January 2023 and is excited by opportunities for innovation that come with close connections to researcher communities.