Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Research and Researchers in the time of Covid-19: Part II

What the researchers say


By Mridul Saxena and Alison McGonagle-O’Connell, MPS/HighWire Marketing.

HighWire is the Awards and Bronze sponsor for the ALPSP Virtual Conference and Awards 2021


In our first post, we shared an outline of the presented research. This included a summary of researchers’ responses within the ethnographic interviews conducted. The comments shared highlighted the issues, challenges, and changes observed by them. 

In this post, we recap and summarize the key comments and subject areas covered by our panel engaging publisher-side discussants with a subset of the researchers interviewed. The topics range from open access, preprints, peer review, choosing a journal, article discovery, changes in review processes due to the pandemic, and some specific questions to the publishers.



The Panel Participants

  • Richard Sever (Co-founder of bioRxiv and medRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)
  • Michelle Phillips (Open Research Product Manager, British Medical Journal)
  • Claire Moulton (Publisher, Company of Biologists)
  • Danielle Mai, Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering, Stanford University
  • Samantha Andrzejaczek, Postdoctoral Scholar, Biology Department (Hopkins), Stanford University
  • Ben Callahan, Computational Biologist, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University
  • Eva Fischer, Assistant Professor of Biology at University of Illinois
  • Roman Ellerbrock, Postdoctoral Scholar, Chemistry Department, Stanford University. 


Question: If the fee was out of the equation, does that really increase the enthusiasm for Open Access (OA) publishing, and secondly, are you aware of some of the publisher-led initiatives around things like read and publish agreements that aim to shift the cost burden to make it easier for authors to publish OA?

Danielle Mai, Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, said she believes that removing fees alone won’t change her behaviour. “I don't think that removing the fee helps me push towards open access, for me the case is when I would want to publish open access if a funding agency requires it,” said Mai.

Meanwhile, Eva Fischer, Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Illinois, strongly supports the idea of OA but believes that the cost is ‘a pretty big thing’ when it comes to OA publishing. She believes that OA helps people in countries where libraries do not have enough resources to fund subscriptions to content. At the same time, Eva thinks that the fees levied on authors to publish OA are too high, as she prefers to use funds to support the graduate students in their work directly.

Roman Ellerbrock, Postdoctoral Scholar, Chemistry Department, Stanford University, agrees with Eva’s point on the accessibility of OA for less-privileged universities and Ph.D. students who could not afford fees for journals. He supported his thoughts by sharing a personal experience, “Ph.D. students from one of Argentina’s universities were forced to either use open access content, or somehow get access to the journals, otherwise they couldn't pursue the research, and this was, actually, for me, the time when I started thinking about it, and tried to push towards this”.

Richard Sever, Co-founder of bioRxiv and medRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Labs, elucidated the panel on other different routes for OA. He explained, “paying for the article is the gold open access, there are a small number of journals for which you don't have to pay, and then there's a very large number of journals that allow you to, essentially, archive the author manuscript, and this was the basis for the NIH [National Institutes of Health -US] policy.” 

Ben Callahan, Computational Biologist, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, prefers to publish OA and is willing to pay fees on the condition of availability of funds. He supported his comments saying, “because I consider that posting a submission, or even post revision preprint, and having it up on PubMed six months later is sort of acceptable for me, in terms of access to people all around the world.”

Question: In terms of OA journals, what does overall impact mean to our researchers? 

Samantha Andrzejaczek, Postdoctoral Scholar, Biology Department (Hopkins), Stanford University, said, “I often go to a journal where papers I’m referencing in that certain paper have been publishing.” She then prefers to share her work on Twitter and certain Facebook groups. She measures her impact in terms of how much it is shared around. Supporting her thoughts, she reiterated, “I’m thinking of ‘how can I get it out to the people that are going to benefit from this paper?”

Roman believes that peers also play an important role in deciding on impact factors. He would talk to his professor and the other Ph.D. students to rank the different journals, and based on the responses, he creates a ranking in his head. He manifests his comments by adding, “it's just like a network that builds somehow, and then you have a hierarchy and if you think about publishing a paper in a top journal, and if it doesn't work, you just go down this ladder until you get it published.”

Eva prefers to choose a journal based on its community and whom she wants her paper to be read by. Meanwhile, she also advocated the idea of advertising the paper on social media platforms, “journals should think about what they are doing social media-wise, because people are using that to find articles.”

Danielle supports the idea of reaching out to more people faster. For her, the critical measure of impact is how quickly a journal is known for publishing, whereas Samantha prefers to have a smooth review process and a lot of communication to decide the impact. She concluded by saying, “there's a discussion between the reviewers and the authors, and I appreciate the fact that their reviewer names get published next to the paper. I think it makes people more accountable to what they're saying.”

Question: How do you feel about the open peer review and being named as the peer reviewer of an article?

Benjamin is not appreciative of the fully open peer review process and declined to participate in any of these. He supported his opinion by saying, “I don't believe that you can give the same kind of review when your name is eventually published on that review. You will be less critical for fear of retaliation; you will be positive for reasons of building a positive image in their mind.” But he supports the idea of authors responding to peer reviews without naming the reviewers or if the reviewers want to reveal their names to the author.

Roman believes that there should be a level of uncertainty regarding reviewer identity because in some cases it can become very hard to collaborate with some people in the future, whereas Samantha prefers to have a choice. She is comfortable having her name published alongside her review only for manuscripts that correspond to her expertise. 

Danielle feels skeptical that a fully open peer review would pressure a reviewer to write nice reviews, yet she does feel that the accountability built in to ‘open’ could help the reviewer in considering everything more stringently. She, like Samantha, is open to having her name published as a reviewer but only for manuscripts where she feels comfortable with doing the review.

Acknowledging Danielle’s thoughts, Benjamin thinks that options are fine, but these options also have some potential problems. He underscored his remark by saying, “if I reviewed a paper that I thought was quite good, I might feel very comfortable signing my name to that review, and also thinking about my future relationship, whereas if I gave a critical review, then my comfort level goes away.”

Richard brings an interesting fact to the table with his mention, “the tenured older males are more comfortable putting their names on the reviews than the untenured, underrepresented minority: females.” He further said, “it's not really about the immediate recrimination people always couch this in the notion. It's about the fear that this person may do something to you in the future, and you will never know about it because careers go on for decades.”

Eva believes that the options do have their pros and cons, but thinking about the unseen scenarios in the future where someone is holding a grudge against you for your past reviews is scary. She affirmed her view saying, “I stand by my reviews, but I will confess, I don't feel comfortable signing them.”


Question: Are you getting more focused or narrow in your discovery because of things like Twitter and new approaches to article discovery? What can we do to encourage younger researchers to read papers thoroughly?

Eva openly admits she is not an avid Twitter user, but she likes the personalization feature on the social media platform and credits it with providing useful reading recommendations. 

Danielle likes the ‘do you want to read it first’ feature on Twitter. She thinks that Twitter notifications and following researchers on Twitter have broadened her scientific sphere beyond the table of contents. Tailoring the feed feature is very useful for her in hiring postdoc students from underrepresented backgrounds. While using Twitter features to her advantage, she prefers to keep Google Scholar notifications fairly broad.

Benjamin prefers the option to focus his feed on the tweets of the people he follows to cut out unnecessary noise on Twitter. Meanwhile, he has stopped using Twitter during the pandemic because of too much noise.

Samantha credits Twitter with helping her broaden her information circle. Being active on Google Scholar, she said, “I’ve seen everything by the time it comes through on Twitter itself.”

Eva also pointed out the specific problem of filtering out targeted information from the wealth of broader information available. Supporting her views, she opined, “I would just point out that ever since the invention of the printing press, there are people writing articles about the information overload, and there's too much of this, and this happens every 50 years as somebody claims that there's a massive technology change and that is now creating so much information nobody can filter.”


Question: Thoughts on preprints and the future possibility of peer review occurring partially or fully on preprints?

Benjamin believes that there are some rare cases where people post their reviews on preprints. He further suggested, “unless there's some structure that makes people responsible for reviewing a preprint, it's just not going to happen for, like, 95 percent of all papers.”

Richard agrees. He shares that, in actual fact,  95 percent of preprints are not reviewed, and calls for thinking about this factor more broadly to tackle this issue. He believes that there is also a cultural shift, and there is a sort of discussion going on this issue, but funneling it down is a real challenge. He added, “some journals are moving to use their formal peer review on preprints so that's an interesting development.” Watch this space! 


Question: Is micropublication easier to achieve via preprints?

Benjamin thinks that micropublications play an important part in science, but he is not certain about the role of peer-reviewed micropublications. He added, “a micropublication can be a blog post or something that you link to on a Twitter post. I had very effective dissemination and feedback on an idea through, effectively, a micropublication that didn't go through a journal or from a journal's perspective. It's so much easier to do that than to then put the micropublication through that onerous peer-review process.”

Roman thinks micropublications will be extremely helpful in the field of chemistry and in other fields where theory dominates. He believes that, with micropublications, ideas can come first—in the open—and then authors can work on the developments later.

Richard thinks, “I feel my problem with micropublications is that I think this is a sort of an obsession among publishing types: you constantly talk about it, and then when you talk to actual researchers they are not very interested at all.” He feels that it is needless to create this additional category of an object apart from journals.

Eva thinks micropublications can be very cool for trainees and undergrads, where we can serve them a much more controlled parameter space.


Question: One of the biggest challenges was reading the research outside their area of expertise and how you might go about tackling that challenge?

Danielle only trusts the paper that has been reviewed and does not bother to read preprints. Meanwhile, Eva finds many interesting and important preprints. But there are still challenges associated with the quality of these preprints, and researchers have to think twice before citing those. She claimed, “I have found it an incredible resource both as a place I put things and as a place that I get things from.”

Benjamin reads preprints and likes the latest addition by the bioRxiv to populate the links to the published version of the paper. He suggested, “if you put out a preprint that you care to get published, it should be in a pretty good form before you just slap it up there.” He also added that his papers that undergo peer review come out better in the end, and they have more value.

Eva raises the issue of not seeing any changes or updates on the preprints once uploaded. She continues by raising another issue, “I agree the link [to published version] is helpful, but I wonder how often people are, you know, following the link to reread the finalized version of the paper.”

Roman says that a lot of the preprints are shorter because authors want it to be published elsewhere later afterward, but other papers are longer to read and there is always a problem with long papers: who will check this full paper, versus the shorter preprint, if it gets cited?


Question: What are some of the challenges that you faced due to the pandemic?

Samantha thinks in her field (Biology), there is always a kind of limitation of experimentation with regard to animals and sample size. Due to the pandemic, this issue of sample size remains prevalent, but even with the small sample size, researchers are still able to find something new that is worth publishing.

Richard believes that there is a flipside to what Samantha shared—in the field of microbiology. With fewer animals or subjects to perform the experiments, the experiments become less effective. He thinks that the pandemic has affected different people in very different ways.

Roman feels that, in a field where theory dominates, most of the work can be done from the home just as from the university, meaning that there may be fewer challenges associated with specific disciplines.


Question: What is the takeaway from the publishers from the session?

Benjamin feels that the publishers should not require stringent formats at the initial submission stage, and they should provide an option to format the paper later, only after it is accepted. Roman echoes these feelings and adds that, at reviewer invitation, adding more information about the manuscript rather than less would be better for researchers trying to decide whether or not to accept or decline the opportunity to review.

Danielle thinks handling manuscripts with care from beginning to end is critical, and making sure that editors moderate reviewers to avoid ‘bad review experiences’ is important. Also, partnering closely with authors for promotion of published works is also an important part of the process.


Researcher question for publishers: Editors are working to find and recruit reviewers who are otherwise academics; do editors receive and/or offer any training to academic editors and/or reviewers?

Richard clarifies that all of the editors in the publications are trained. A paid professional editor goes through extensive training; they have mentors, handle papers with other people to get to the point where they can make decisions on their own, and have groups where they can discuss with their colleagues.

Claire calls the process a team effort, where editors meet and share their decisions. She elaborated her thoughts by saying, “One of the things you do want is to get consistency across the editors so that you're setting the same threshold, and the same rules, first that you know for articles are accepted, so there's quite a team effort as well behind the scenes”.

While this was our first Best Practice Webinar Series event, we felt that the turnout, enthusiasm, momentum, and key takeaways were successful. We are working on plans to continue this series and have announced our next event, which will focus on Best Practices for publishers to consider when thinking about getting the most out of preprint integration. Find out more. And if you enjoyed this piece and would like to discuss, share questions, or suggest a new focus area for a future Best Practice Series event, please drop us a note.


HighWire is the Awards and Bronze sponsor for the ALPSP Virtual Conference and Awards 2021. To find out more about the conference and details for 2022, visit https://www.alpsp.org/Conference 

About the authors

Mridul Saxena, Subject Matter Expert, MPS 
Mridul strategizes, plans, and executes marketing activities for group brands including MPS Limited, Mag+ and HighWire . Mridul is a writer who observes the creative side of every task and infuses his work with over seven years of industry-wide experience in media, public relations, and corporate communications. Mridul studied Journalism, and is an Honours graduate of Delhi University. He is also a sports enthusiast, and enjoys reading mythological books. His favorite number is 42.

Alison McGonagle-O’ConnellSenior Director of Marketing, HighWire Press
Alison is an experienced marketing professional with nearly two decades of demonstrated history of working in the publishing industry, including 10 years marketing scholarly communications workflow solutions.  Alison leads HighWire Marketing and is responsible for continually growing and supporting our community. 

Alison is active as a volunteer in industry initiatives including CRediT and as a Library Trustee in her hometown of South Hampton, New Hampshire in the United States.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Research and Researchers in the time of Covid-19: Part I

What our research shows
By Mridul Saxena and Alison McGonagle-O’Connell, MPS/HighWire Marketing

HighWire is the Awards and Bronze sponsor for the ALPSP Virtual Conference and Awards 2021


It usually takes 18–254 days to break or form a habit. The extended series of lockdowns due to Covid-19 has helped many to break some old habits and form new ones. This has changed the way we live, work, and socialize. The personal and professional lives of researchers are no exception, and like everyone else they also have adjusted to the ‘new normal.’ From conferences to collaborations, labs to the library, managing home and office from the same place, virtual meetings to getting accustomed to social media, one is left wondering “in the face of all these sudden changes, how is the scholarly community faring?” 

To explore these questions, we engaged a Stanford University-based research team, who conducted and analyzed 25 ethnographic interviews. The result was a thought-provoking two-hour community webinar in which the original research was presented by HighWire Founding Director John Sack, and then a panel of publishers, technologists, and researchers shared further insight and discussion, as well as engaged with audience questions.

This Part I post summarizes the findings from the original research presented at the event. Part II will summarize the panel discussion, so please stay tuned for that companion piece. Those eager to view the event may watch it in its entirety in the video recording below.



The ‘Time’ of Covid-19

Time is a researcher’s most precious commodity, and the Covid-19 pandemic did free up most of it for the researchers, which they otherwise would have spent in labs, commuting, and on other work. While an Internet connection, email access, Zoom connectivity, and access to most journals online were some of the silver linings, researchers with children found it difficult to utilize this ‘extra time’ toward their research work due to the caregiving responsibility. 

The Covid-19 pandemic also posed a problem for the researchers who ran experiments in labs and required people to conduct the research. However, field and lab scientists utilized their time in reading and writing during the pandemic and considered this duration the apt time to wrap up any pending publications and to re-familiarize themselves with the literature. Some researchers refined their running experiments and wrote review articles while trying to learn new skills.

Interaction-less virtual conferences  

Conferences have been one of the easiest ways to build relationships with fellow researchers and publishers. In-person meetings and conferences have now been replaced by ‘Zoom’ meetings and ‘Slack’ conversations. In the researchers’ opinions, the virtual conferences are helpful, though they miss certain key elements of virtual conferences—most notably, the ‘interaction.’ 

Zoom makes it easy to collaborate between institutions in cases where it is difficult to schedule and travel. Some researchers prefer Zoom meetings over in-person meetings, as they yield more equitable contributions than in-person meetings. The meeting hosts can control the flow of the meeting, which minimizes the chance of a single dominant voice, as usually happens during  in-person conferences.

However, meeting hosts and speakers are often confounded by the common question ‘Is everyone attentive during the talk?’ It is hard to judge the audience in virtual conferences, as the energy and enthusiasm are occasionally missing. The creativity, spontaneity, and unplanned interaction among the attendees during breaks, or while waiting for the next speaker to start, and the lively interaction over the following dinner are all lost in virtual meetings. A researcher also pointed out a specific challenge faced by many fellow researchers in the era of virtual meetings: that they do not know how to have conversations afterward in the virtual breakout rooms. 

The unexpected change

Change is permanent to human civilization, but the unexpected change brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic became a hard pill to swallow for many. As labs are now encouraging researchers to use their lab time for essential activities with social-distancing norms, researchers have seen a sharp decrease in productivity for months. Thus, the researchers are not only worried about the long-term consequences of that lost productivity, especially for early-career scientists, but also are of the opinion that the pandemic certainly has a lesser effect on theoretical and computational scientists. Researchers have been facing many challenges while publishing their papers during Covid-19, and these challenges are directly related to the slowing down of the processes due to the pandemic. A perceived longer peer review and publishing cycle did set off many researchers, but some did find the solution to these problems in preprints.

The publishing dilemma

Researchers have disclosed that their personal history of working with particular editors and having positive experiences with them have been instrumental in their decision to select a particular venue to submit their work for publication. Apart from these, researchers also look at the costs and other factors associated with submission to the high-impact journals. Researchers have been univocal on depositing data with the publishers and have termed it to be a “good practice”.

Among the biggest challenges that the researchers have experienced during the pandemic is the elongated publishing cycle. Early-career researchers (ECRs) have a particular challenge with these slower cycles. An 8–12-month cycle might become 20 months for ECRs just for a single article. Also, researchers face the burden of reformatting manuscripts and managing the complex design of HTML. PDF submission is still the first choice of researchers and is central to the reader experience. The journals that allow submission in simplified formats such as PDF still have higher approval ratings among these researchers as a preferred venue to publish their papers.

The social connection

Social media acted as a bridge between the researchers and publishers and helped them build and maintain connections during the pandemic. From Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, researchers found new ways to connect, gather, and absorb information. Twitter turns out to be the most preferred tool for many to find and gather information related to their field, with some outliers. YouTube is highly recommended among the mediums to consume information. A researcher whose work involves visualization and interactive graphs would opt for watching video content, as it is more interactive and useful than reading similar content as text only. The rise of these mediums underscores the importance of the already-ongoing shift toward multimedia for display of scholarly research content.

Twitter has emerged as the biggest game-changer for some researchers not only in terms of connecting with fellow researchers, suggesting articles, and getting reviews, but also regarding alerts. Researchers have reiterated that ‘tweets are faster than Google alerts’ or even journal ‘e-tocs.’ With both the author and the journal tweeting about the paper, tweets show up faster to the interested people. A tweet helps the reader extract the value of an article even faster than from reading the title. As the reader has already distilled information regarding the paper from the tweet, they may then focus on information that is more targeted to their interests. Twitter also lends authors the option of picking up on a tweet and retweeting it while also adding his or her spin on it.

Researchers can now easily get alerted to developments in their field by following the research groups with similar interests without the need to navigate Google Scholar or PubMed with keywords. The tools available on Google Scholar and other platforms are considered less useful regarding their ability to filter and absorb the required information. Researchers feel less overwhelmed by the ease of access to the amount of information on Twitter, and this could be the reason for the decline of alerts and e-tocs and the rise of Twitter. 

Slack and Zoom chat also find a notable mention in easing communication in these times of Covid-19. Being informal sources of information, they are useful for link sharing, sharing literature, and getting quick confirmation, and for other small and simple communication or interaction tasks that were previously managed via in-person interaction or emails.

The two sides of a coin: preprints 

Preprints can be a revolutionary option for authors, yet they can also present many challenges for researchers. Though preprints are a simple and effective way to share research, researchers have identified some gaps in awareness surrounding the best practices for posting and accessing preprints. Some researchers remain unsure of journal policies with regard to publishing research that has been posted on preprint servers, while others flag potential concerns around community expectations and dealing with the wide range of public comments. 

Preprints can facilitate the immediate availability of new information and can attract the attention of fellow researchers, whereas the researchers do think that preprints should go through a peer review and that readers need to exercise some caution while reading preprints critically. This means that researchers can then opt for multiple roles—both as a reviewer and as a reader at once.

Half of the researchers stated that they often post preprints only at the time of submission because they need to update the progress of a grant or an assessment. ECRs, job applicants, and grant writers prefer preprints in parallel to submitting research, which will inevitably queue up for a long peer-review process that is exacerbated by the pandemic 

Open access: ‘we’ll do it if we're funded to’

Funding and fees related to publishing Gold Open Access in fully OA or Hybrid OA journals is still a discussion point within the scholarly community. Authors from smaller institutions or less-funded regions are unable to pay the fees for open access unless their funders provide them funding support. However, the common opinion among researchers surrounding publishing OA is: we’ll do it if we're funded to do it. What researchers care about most is that their work is seen by the communities who understand its value—and that does not necessarily always point toward OA. 

Researchers have recommended that...

All of the researchers unambiguously recommended giving more opportunities to junior faculty, as this could be a gateway to long-lasting relationships with the editors and journals. To create a productive, diverse, and inclusive scholarly environment, publishers should make peer review a more transparent and collaborative process. The other important aspect that the publishers should consider is to simplify the burdensome manuscript submission process. The simplicity of posting preprints should be the benchmark for the journals in their revamping of submission workflows and configuration of supporting systems. Researchers also highly value and appreciate any help offered by publishers in promoting their work.

High five from HighWire’s Researcher Interviews

  1. Improve your Twitter game. Connect with your community. Be active! Share useful information.
  2. Support authors’ efforts to promote articles.
  3. Simplify submission workflow with format-neutral submissions.
  4. Consider allowing submission via preprint servers.
  5. Be a connector, even at virtual conferences. Everyone is missing that element of unplanned interaction.

HighWire is the Awards and Bronze sponsor for the ALPSP Virtual Conference and Awards 2021. To find out more about the conference and details for 2022, visit https://www.alpsp.org/Conference 

About the authors

Mridul Saxena,
Subject Matter Expert, MPS

Mridul strategizes, plans, and executes marketing activities for group brands including MPS Limited, Mag+ and HighWire . Mridul is a writer who observes the creative side of every task and infuses his work with over seven years of industry-wide experience in media, public relations, and corporate communications. Mridul studied Journalism, and is an Honours graduate of Delhi University. He is also a sports enthusiast, and enjoys reading mythological books. His favorite number is 42.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mridulsaxena/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PRwalah


Alison McGonagle-O’Connell, Senior Director of Marketing, HighWire Press

Alison is an experienced marketing professional with nearly two decades of demonstrated history of working in the publishing industry, including 10 years marketing scholarly communications workflow solutions.  Alison leads HighWire Marketing and is responsible for continually growing and supporting our community. 

Alison is active as a volunteer in industry initiatives including CRediT and as a Library Trustee in her hometown of South Hampton, New Hampshire in the United States.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Careers Come First

What the 2021 Wiley Society Member Survey tells us about careers and DE&I

By Dr Jonathan Roscoe, Partner Engagement, Wiley – Gold sponsor of the ALPSP Virtual Conference and Awards 2021



Career development, especially in academia, is never easy. Combine this with issues surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and some might say it’s more difficult than ever. We’ve seen over the course of seven Wiley Society Member surveys how important career success is to members, which is why every year the survey looks at how societies are helping their members with career development, and how satisfied members are with their society’s offerings. We’ve identified three main drivers of society membership: content, community, and careers with content usually being the front runner. However, this year we’ve seen careers increase in prominence and become arguably the leading reason for membership

The career support challenge

From a society perspective, members view career support as a top benefit of society membership. 44% of survey respondents across all disciplines told us they were satisfied with the level of support for promoting members’ careers, but this has been falling year on year. Given that, it seems clear that a strong careers support service, especially when combined with publishing ethics and a clear society mission, will not just win new members, but will engage and keep the members you’ve got. There are warning signs, however. 15% of those who left a society in the previous 12 months did so because of a lack of support for career advancement. It was the second most significant reason after ‘lack of professional value’, but even more significantly it resulted in a much lower than average satisfaction rating. Societies who put effort into their career offerings have a motivated, engaged, and loyal group of members. Those who don’t, risk losing members and maybe even their society reputation.


Careers for all

Last year, 62% of members told us that they were satisfied with the representation of members across genders, but this year that has dropped to 56%. There has been a similar fall in satisfaction with the representation of members across racial and ethnic groups too, down to 50% from 57%. The past year or more has seen the pandemic disproportionately impact certain members of the research community. The Brave New World research study supported by Wiley, confirmed similar findings. They found that the pandemic had increased gender disparity and highlighted racial inequalities, saying that 59% of responders had taken on additional household chores, 51% had taken on responsibility for home-schooling, 33% had dependent care, and 46% had other caring responsibilities. 

The study found that professional responsibilities had also increased with 53% spending more time on lecture preparation and planning and 48% spending more time supporting students. When broken down, however, the disparities are once again striking. Although those in the BIPOC community were less likely to report additional home-schooling responsibilities and care of dependents, they were more likely to have increased responsibility for household chores. Research was also impacted with 37% of Black responders saying they had less time to produce and consume research compared to 30% of white responders. Similarly, 45% of women said they spent less time on research compared to 37% of men. Indeed, 50% of women compared to 44% of men said they had increased caring responsibilities and 68% of women faced an increase in household chores compared to 55% of men. 

In the face of these increased and unequal pressures, career progression inevitably goes onto a back burner.


What societies can do

It is to be expected that in time, as the impact of the pandemic recedes, many of these additional responsibilities will reduce or disappear and societies can once again offer the career support their members so badly need. So, what can they do?

  • Create more opportunities for under-represented groups by increasing recruitment for prestige roles or by supporting scholarships and other initiatives 

  • Devise a career support service in tandem with open attitudes to research, strong support for publishing ethics, and a positive society mission that members can relate to

  • Make sure your leadership is representative. Change starts from the top. If members don’t see themselves reflected in the society leadership, then they won’t see the value of joining and career progression will stall

  • Ask what career service members want. According to the Wiley survey over a third of members have participated in a society survey and those that do show the highest membership satisfaction rates

  • Don’t just focus on early career researchers (ECRs). It may not be surprising that career support services are most used and valued by ECRs , but societies should find out why older and more experienced members aren’t participating – and if it even matters. If it does matter, ask questions to boost engagement with career offerings. What type of support are older members seeking?

It’s obvious that not all members will share the same set of values, but all members are looking for equal and fair career opportunities. Done correctly, the career support service societies offer can be the catalyst for positive change. Which is something everyone in academia wants. 

Wiley is a gold sponsor of the ALPSP Virtual Conference and Awards 2021. To find out more and book your place, visit the ALPSP event website.

Wiley is also running a Sponsor Satellite Session - Wiley Presents 2021 Society Member Trends on Thursday 16 September (12:00-12:45, BST). Read more details.


About the author

Dr Jonathan Roscoe, Partner Engagement, Wiley

Jonathan has worked in academic publishing since 1997 and is currently a member of Wiley’s partner engagement team focusing on society and member relationships. He has published extensively on the topic and writes a monthly blog for The Wiley Network. Jonathan also lectures on undergraduate and masters courses at Oxford Brookes University, where he’s also published on matters relating to book history.




Thursday, 26 August 2021

Spotlight on PLOS Community Action Publishing (CAP)

 

Shortlisted for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing 2021

This year, the judges have selected a shortlist of six for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing. Each finalist will be invited to showcase their innovation to industry peers at the ALPSP Awards session on Wednesday 15 September at the opening of the ALPSP Virtual Conference & Awards 2021. The winners will be announced on the final day of the Conference on Friday 17 September. 

In this series, we learn more about each of the finalists.

Tell us about your organization

PLOS is a non-profit, Open Access publisher empowering researchers to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication. We’ve been breaking boundaries since our founding in 2001. PLOS journals propelled the movement for OA alternatives to subscription journals. We established the first multi-disciplinary publication inclusive of all excellent research regardless of novelty or impact, and demonstrated the importance of open data availability. As Open Science advances, we continue to experiment to provide more opportunities, choice, and context for readers and researchers.

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

PLOS Community Action Publishing is a new, non-APC-based business model PLOS launched in Fall 2020 that uses collection action as a means of making highly selective publishing APC-free. PLOS' aim with non-APC-based business models is to ensure that the open access business model ecosystem doesn't get ‘stuck’ with APCs in the long term. While an appropriate business model for some, APCs are highly exclusionary for many in the global publishing community and PLOS wants to be part of innovating for more diverse, inclusive business models. PLOS CAP is our first attempt at that. We followed it closely with the new PLOS Global Equity model in May 2021.

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

Developed in consultation with libraries and consortia globally, PLOS' Publishing and Partnerships team and Raym Crow (from ChainBridge group) built PLOS CAP over nine months, iterating based on library feedback. We identified the cost we need to cover for the three titles currently involved in the model, an appropriate margin on top of those costs, and worked from that revenue target to determine an inclusive fee structure to spread the cost. Innovations including counting contributing author publication activity (not just corresponding authors), being transparent about our revenue target, and committing to redistributing revenue overages to community members as discounts.

In what ways do you think it demonstrates innovation?

If you understand innovation as applying ‘creative invention’ to solve a challenge, that is the PLOS CAP model from start to finish. The problem we were trying to solve was making highly selective publishing equitable and accessible -- meaning sky high APCs were not an option for cover cost. The creative invention came in examining ‘collection action’ (it's possibilities and challenges) to address the problem and committing to the transparency and openness the library market requires to engage with a new model. So far the enthusiastic uptake by our library parnters during the worst budget crisis in our lifetimes, speaks to the power of open, transparent collaboration amongst like-minded organizations.

What are your plans for the future?

We aim to report annually on uptake against our targets, and we current share our partners publicly on the PLOS site. We will use conferences, webinars, and other public fora to continue reporting on the ongoing challenges with implementing such a model as well as the positive outcomes it generates. Additionally we've parlayed the ground work required to build PLOS CAP into another new business model focusing on a different equity facet -- geography -- with PLOS Global Equity, which we launched in May 2021. 

For both of these models we intend to report on success/challenges and engage with other publishers. and institutions on how to make these models more successful.


Visit the ALPSP Annual Conference 2021 website for more details and to book your place. 

The ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing 2021 are sponsored by HighWire


About the author

Sara Rouhi, Director of Strategic Partnerships, PLOS 
In her role, Sara focuses on developing new business models for sustainable, inclusive open access publishing. As part of the PLOS Leadership Team, Sara's work is reintroducing libraries and consortia to PLOS as essential partners in PLOS' next stage of growth.



Thursday, 12 August 2021

Spotlight on Lean Library Futures, Lean Library, a SAGE Publishing Company

 - Shortlisted for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing 2021

This year, the judges have selected a shortlist of six for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing. Each finalist will be invited to showcase their innovation to industry peers at the ALPSP Awards session on Wednesday 15 September at the opening of the ALPSP Virtual Conference & Awards 2021. The winners will be announced on the final day of the Conference on Friday 17 September

In this series, we learn more about each of the finalists. 

Tell us about your organization

Founded in 2016, Lean Library is a browser extension for libraries that brings their collection and services into user workflows. We do this by integrating with the library’s holdings, authentication systems, patron services and publisher content. From our early beginnings streamlining remote access, to our latest developments embedding library search, support and content into sites like Google Scholar and Wikipedia, we have always kept the library at the heart of what we do, with an overriding mission to increase the library’s visibility and impact in the university. Over 140 libraries subscribe to Lean Library, including Cambridge, Harvard and Melbourne, and over 200,000 patrons use the extension every month.

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




Whether as a physical building or a digital infrastructure, the library has often been seen as a destination for its patrons – as somewhere they have to come to. As patron behaviours and expectations change, accelerated by the shift to remote working in the pandemic, there is an appetite amongst both patrons and librarians to bring the library, and all of its valuable services and resources, directly to the patron. Lean Library Futures is a new product from Lean Library designed to help achieve this. It is principally an application for the library that can sit on the patron’s desktop, deploying relevant library support or resources wherever and whenever they need them. 

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

Lean Library has always been built upon the understanding that interoperability is at the heart of the digital library. Over the last few years our product and technology teams have built an infrastructure to scalably ingest a wide range of APIs and data files, whether directly from the library or via third-party technology providers and publishers.  Lean Library Futures uses this infrastructure to integrate library services and resources directly into our browser extension. Examples include library chat tools, discovery services, Sharepoint, Confluence, publisher databases and more. We are then able to deploy these library services and resources via the browser extension on websites determined by the library.

There are two ways these services and resources can be deployed ‘in the workflow’ (i.e. on any relevant website the user is working in). The first is via automated pop-up. This does not require the user to trigger any action and appears by default. The second is via a trigger from the user. This is achieved by the user accessing a discrete app for their library which appears on any website where the library may have relevant services or resources (it does not appear on other websites). We call this app ‘the Workflow Librarian’. It is branded with the library’s logo and, when clicked, it expands to provide a menu of options for the user. When the user clicks the relevant option, it will trigger the delivery of that library service or resource. The library decides which of these two options to use for each service or resource, and it can even configure them to work in tandem. For example, the library can configure a library service to appear as a pop-up ‘by default’ the first time a user comes across a relevant site, but thereafter only via the Workflow Librarian. In this way we balance awareness and onboarding with user experience, knowing that the patron will always welcome helpful and convenient support from their library, but on their terms. 

The below example (see Figure 1) illustrates our integration with ExLibris Primo. In this example, the user has clicked the Workflow Librarian, expanded the menu to see library services on offer and selected Library Search. Having scraped the search term the library user has entered into Google Scholar (‘global citizenship’), and used this to query the ExLibris Primo API for the library in question, Lean Library Futures then returns the top search results from that library’s instance of Primo – overlaid onto the webpage.


Figure 1

Figure 1: Ex Libris Primo embedded on Google Scholar 



In what ways do you think it demonstrates innovation?

The potential benefits of embedding library services and resources into patron workflows have been known and promoted for several years. For libraries, it’s as fundamental as maintaining ‘mission relevance’, reaffirming that the central mission of the library is not buildings or collections but serving their patrons to achieve their learning goals and research impact (Evans and Schonfeld, 2020). For patrons, studies have shown that point-of-need, customized library support can reduce cognitive load and accelerate learning and discovery (Little, 2010). Lean Library Futures achieves this by taking library services and resources into user workflows for the first time. (As far as we know, there is no other browser extension which embeds the library into user workflows to this extent, since most focus only on specific elements such as access or referencing.) We believe it is the library which can best serve and support patrons to achieve their goals - with Lean Library Futures we’re giving them the means to do so more effectively. Our initial pilots have also shown that embedding library services and resources at the point of need increases both discoverability and usage. One such pilot, with Utah State University, showed a 450% increase in LibGuides usage after integration with the Lean Library browser extension and deployment at the point of need. If we can extend this to other library services and resources, we believe we can support libraries to improve learning outcomes and accelerate research. We see our role as helping to enable libraries, library service providers and publishers to maximise their reach and impact.

What are your plans for the future?

We have launched a number of significant integrations this year, including with Springshare’s LibGuides and LibChat, EBSCO’s Discovery Service, ExLibris’ Primo, scite’s citation context and many more, including our publisher content integrations. We intend to continue this focus on integrating with the services and resources libraries want to see embedded in user workflows. Examples include expanding our integrations with library chat tools, including chatbots, to increase instantaneous librarian-patron communication at the point of need. We also want to expand our publisher partnerships to surface expert material when patrons are searching relevant terms on sites like Google or Wikipedia. To achieve this, we are focusing on publisher outreach but also the design of an easy-to-use integration schema, akin to what LTI has achieved for LMS integrations. We have a dedicated resource page for publishers and library service providers and are always eager to hear from interested parties at partnerships@leanlibrary.com. In addition, we also want to work with libraries on building out the productivity tools our browser extension offers library patrons. This would include supporting students and researchers with reading, writing and other common workflow tasks.

For further information, please visit: 

Visit the ALPSP Annual Conference 2021 website for more details and to book your place. 
The ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing 2021 are sponsored by HighWire

About the author

Matthew Hayes is Managing Director of Lean Library. He has held leadership roles in both start-ups and established research information organizations, including Publons, Taylor & Francis and Springer Nature. Matthew studied Modern History at the University of Oxford and has continued his research interests alongside his career: he is currently completing a PhD in Global Education at the Institute of Education, UCL. 


Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Spotlight on Antiracism Toolkit for Allies, an initiative of C4DISC

 – Shortlisted for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing 2021



This year, the judges have selected a shortlist of six for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing. Each finalist will be invited to showcase their innovation to industry peers at the ALPSP Awards session on Wednesday 15 September at the opening of the ALPSP Virtual Conference & Awards 2021. The winners will be announced on the final day of the Conference on Friday 17 September

In this series, we learn more about each of the finalists.

Tell us about your organization

The Toolkits for Equity project is now an initiative of the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communication (C4DISC). The Antiracism Toolkit for Allies is the first toolkit; it will be followed by antiracism toolkits for organizations and BIPOC, as well as toolkits around disability and inclusive language. The Toolkits for Equity started as a collaboration between  a handful of collaborators at the 2019 Triangle Scholarly Communications Institute, an Andrew W. Mellon-funded space for incubating projects that address pressing needs in scholarly communications, and later moved under the umbrella of C4DISC.


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

The Antiracism Toolkit for Allies provides readers within scholarly publishing with education and tools to disrupt racism and create work communities where everyone thrives.

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

Our project provides tools that can be used to construct an antiracist framework for scholarly publishing. The co-leaders for the Antiracism Toolkit for Allies are Niccole Coggins, Jocelyn Dawson, Melanie Dolechek, and Gisela Fosado. We were joined by 50+ volunteers across scholarly publishing. Our volunteers included designers, copy editors, and production coordinators, who all worked with the desire to create something new and revolutionary for our industry that could accelerate change around antiracism efforts. 

In what ways do you think it demonstrates innovation?

In recent years, numerous DEI committees have started around our profession. Our project started out of a belief that the work of these committees could get a kickstart if we could provide tools and training materials.  

We also wanted to reframe the discussion - a lot of DEI efforts to date have focused on pipeline programs and recruitment. But these programs do not get at the root of the problem: the role of white supremacy in our workplace culture. 

We thought it was crucial to bring an explicitly antiracist framework to the discussion, to explicitly name white supremacy, and to talk frankly about the work that white people in our industry need to do to change workplace culture.

Our toolkits are based on antiracism work by the Racial Equity Institute and Allies for Change.

The guide is free to download and is published under a Creative Commons license, which was done with the hope that others might adapt the toolkit for their particular region or situation.

As of 1 June 2021, the page has been viewed over 9,000 times and downloaded over 3,500 times.

What are your plans for the future?

The Antiracism Toolkit for Allies will be followed by antiracism toolkits for organizations and BIPOC, as well as toolkits around disability and inclusive language. The Toolkit for Organizations, which also involved around 50 volunteers, launches in late August 2021.
 

For further information, please visit: 

https://c4disc.org/toolkits-for-equity/ 


Visit the ALPSP Annual Conference 2021 website for more details and to book your place. 
The ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing 2021 are sponsored by HighWire

About the author

Jocelyn Dawson is the Journals and Collections Marketing Manager at Duke University Press and a co-leader of the cross-organizational Toolkits for Equity project. She has served on committees of the Association of University Presses and the Society for Scholarly Publishing and is a previous member of the SSP’s Board of Directors. 



Thursday, 5 August 2021

Spotlight on Mindscape Commons, Coherent Digital

 – Shortlisted for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing 2021


This year, the judges have selected a shortlist of six for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing. Each finalist will be invited to showcase their innovation to industry peers at the ALPSP Awards session on Wednesday 15 September at the opening of the ALPSP Virtual Conference & Awards 2021. The winners will be announced on the final day of the Conference on Friday 17 September

In this series, we learn more about each of the finalists.

Tell us about your organization

Coherent Digital was founded in 2019 by industry veterans Stephen Rhind-Tutt, Eileen Lawrence, and Toby Green. Our mission is to tame wild content. What does that mean? We create databases of critical research and learning materials composed of content that’s otherwise undiscovered, undigitized, uncatalogued, uncited, orphaned, or likely to disappear. We stabilize this content and preserve it in a permanent home. Most importantly, we make it available to our community of researchers and scholars around the globe.

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

We’re honored that one of our flagship products, Mindscape Commons, was shortlisted by the ALPSP Awards Committee.

Mindscape Commons is the world’s first and largest collection of immersive, interactive, and virtual reality video content for teaching, training and learning in mental health.  

A growing body of research confirms that immersive content builds empathy, brings better clinical outcomes, and trains students to handle complex and high-risk situations in a safe and repeatable way. But historically, many of these VR experiences and videos were “wild”—scattered across the internet, not stable or citable, in danger of disappearing. For the first time ever, Mindscape Commons brings open-access, research, commercial, and originally produced VR content together on a single site.
 
This is a community project. Our “freemium” model enables registered users to access open-sourced 360° videos and upload their own content for publication.

As part of our paid institutional membership, Mindscape offers hundreds of interactive, short-form, VR and 2D videos developed in partnership with faculty and students. For example, we collaborated with Mercer University in Atlanta to develop a series of 360° Virtual Microcases. Each three-to four-minute case features a client with anger, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, trauma, or another presenting issue, making learners more prepared going into field experience and practicum. Virtual Microcases are substantially more effective than written case studies in textbooks because they’re authentic, immersive, and experiential. Content is further enhanced with interactive quizzes, book chapters, discussion questions, and other tools to facilitate teaching and improve learning outcomes. 

Our content is developed to represent a diverse community, featuring topics and themes such as multicultural dynamics, LGBTQ+, international voices, first generation stories, immigrant experiences, and religion and spirituality. 

No VR equipment is needed; content can be accessed on a laptop or mobile phone. If a user wishes to watch immersively, the person can opt for simple and affordable “cardboard” device to use with a mobile phone or, for a more immersive experience, a head-mounted device (HMD), such as an Oculus.  

We believe that 21st-century learners (sometimes referred to as “digital natives”) are ready to embrace new technologies for better learning—and we’re proud to meet this need for faculty and students in mental health and related fields. 


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

Research and development began in 2019, and Mindscape launched in October 2020. For our original video content, we filmed in 4K VR stereo and then rendered it to be compatible with a wide array of devices and network connectivity, including laptop, mobile phone, mobile phone with “cardboard” device, as well as an HMD such as an Oculus.  Additional features in Mindscape include interactive elements to 360° video content, searchable and downloadable transcripts, and advanced search capabilities. Titles can be embedded into learning management systems. Content was independently tested for conformance with WCAG accessibility standards.

Mindscape is a collaborative effort among Coherent Digital team members Stephen Rhind-Tutt, Elizabeth Robey, Pete Ciuffetti, and Carolina Tobon. We collaborated with faculty and graduate students from a number of universities to create original 360° video content and teaching guides and for beta testing.  These partnerships were critical to Mindscape’s creation and success. 

What are your plans for the future?

Mindscape Commons will grow in both proprietary and open materials.  We will continue to develop immersive and interactive video content that is responsive to emerging research and social and cultural changes in the mental health field, and we will work with select partners to license more quality experiences. We will continue to create curriculum support materials for improved teaching and learning outcomes. We will also grow the open-source content through community engagement and member uploads. 

For further information, please visit: 


Visit the ALPSP Annual Conference 2021 website for more details and to book your place. 

The ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing 2021 are sponsored by HighWire


About the authors

Elizabeth Robey, Publisher of Mindscape Commons  
Elizabeth has worked in academic publishing since 2000 with a focus in the fields of counseling and social work where she has spent the last 20 years building relationships with faculty and organizations, translating their expertise into hands-on training materials.


Peter Ciuffetti, Chief Technology Officer, Coherent Digital 
Pete has held senior technical positions at seven different information providers over a 35+ year career, most of them startups or early stage. He speaks at industry events on the use of machine learning in electronic publishing.