Thursday 29 January 2009

JISC's report on economic impact of alternative scholarly publishing models

JISC - the body that funds provision and support of ICT for UK education and research - has published a much anticipated report on the economic impact of alternative scholarly publishing models. The lead author, John Houghton, was also involved in a contoversial study on research communication costs in Australia published in September 2006.

I am afraid that I have not yet read the whole report, but:

Any study of this type depends heavily on the assumptions that the authors' make (these assumptions are very helpfully listed towards the end of the report). Many of the assumptions are based on 'industry consultation' and yet none of the major trade associations nor the major publishers (as far as I am aware; I am trying to verify this) have been consulted. Several of these assumptions are, IMHO, highly questionable although in fairness I have not yet been able to work out the impact on the headline numbers. More still are 'authors' estimates'. These seem to have no evidential basis at all and some of them appear to have a very direct impact on the headline numbers.

It doesn't inspire much confidence so far, but as I say I haven't had the chance to read and digest all 288 pages yet...


Tuesday 20 January 2009

ALPSP workshops in Washington DC and Philadelphia

I am really pleased to say that planning is well under way for a series of workshops that will be held throughout 2009 in the USA.

The workshops are day-long, classroom style educational courses where numbers are kept deliberately small to ensure maximum interaction.

Full details of the workshops including dates, tutors and venues will be available shortly...

The workshops we'll be running in the USA in 2009 are:
  • Introduction to Journals Publishing
  • Effective Journals Marketing
  • Creating High-Impact Marketing
  • The Journal Editorial Office
  • Introduction to Journals Finance
  • Creating High-Impact Marketing
  • Understanding Journal Metrics
  • Electronic Publishing - A to Z
  • Project Management in Publishing
  • Managing Digital Rights

Sunday 11 January 2009

Audio of the 2008 ALPSP International Conference now available

I am pleased to say that audio files of many of the presentations made at the 2008 ALPSP International Conference are now freely available online to ALPSP members from our website.

The audio files are in MP3 format and contain the talks that we had permission to reproduce but not the question and answer sessions afterwards (well we do want to encourage you to actually come to the Conference!)

I am afraid that the quality of one or two of the recordings are a little bit poor in places – sorry but we are still learning how best to do this – and I’d like to apologise to Caroline Wain in particular for the poor quality of the recording of the first two and a half minutes of her talk (we’ve done what signal processing we can to make it audible and it is a great talk so well worth persevering!)

Roundtable meeting on access and authentication (London, UK)

ALPSP and Eduserv (the organization behind Athens, amongst other things) are getting together to hold a roundtable meeting on the morning of Friday 13 February 2009.

The meeting will begin at 10am at the Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House, London.

The roundtable meeting will be to discuss access management in an environment characterized by national access management federations and in particular attitudes of publishers towards the support of international customers in this context.

In order to get the maximum benefit, attendees should have some technical knowledge of access management and of the issues surrounding Shibboleth although the roundtable meeting will be strategic in nature and therefore will not cover specific technical issues relating to supporting Shibboleth implementations.

The roundtable meeting is free to attend but numbers are very strictly limited. If you would like to express your interest in attending then please contact me as soon as possible.

ALPSP and Eduserv would like to express our thanks to the Royal Society of Chemistry for providing the meeting room for this event.

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Lack of innovation in scholarly communication? I don't think so...

I don't like to be defensive, but I get pretty annoyed when people harp on about a lack of innovation in scholarly publishing; the latest being Chris Armbruster in a post to the liblicense list-serv.

I really, truly, believe that this is a complete fallacy.

In little more than a decade:
* the vast majority of journals (according to the latest ALPSP Scholarly Publishing Practice survey 96.1% of STM journals and 86.5% of HSS journals) are available online
* many publishers have completely digitized their backfiles
* we have seen the emergence of new business models, both for author-side payment and evolution of the subscription model
* we have seen the implementation of online submission and peer review processes and systems
* we are now publishing audio, video and supplementary data sets alongside research articles
* publishers are linking primary research to underlying data
* publication times have decreased dramatically
* cost per page and per article are also generally decreasing
* publishers have made great use of outsourcing and other business strategies to minimize costs and maximise service
* we are seeing the emergence of data and text mining
* access to scholarly material has never been greater or more convenient
* we have seen any number of experiments linking scholarly communication with 'web 2.0' technologies
* we are seeing experimentation and even early implementation of semantic web technology...

the list literally goes on and on and on!

At the same time, the scholarly communication system is serving ever greater numbers of researchers publishing more and more material.

We should not rest on our laurels, of course, but what possible justification can there be for the assertion that innovation in scholarly publishing is slow and what on Earth more could the publishing industry be doing?

Answers on a postcard please!

Tuesday 6 January 2009

Wikipedia reaches fundrasing target... until June at least...

I've just spotted the announcement by founder Jimmy Wales that Wikipedia has met its fundraising target of $6 million to secure its operational expenditure for the fiscal year to June 2009.Justify Full
The funds are made up, apparently, of $4 million from ~125,000 private donors with the balance of $2 million coming from 'foundation support'.
This announcement prompted a couple of observations / questions...
1) This reaffirms that [electronic] publishing - even in wikis - costs real money.
2) Is it only me that finds Wikipedia's mission 'to bring free knowledge to the planet, free of charge and free of advertising' slightly ironic since it isn't free at all?!
3) I thought at first that it was quite impressive to run such a goliath enterprise with only 23 employees... but now I am not so sure. Surely the idea was to provide the infrastructure (i.e. one website) and let us users get on with it...
4) I have no idea how Wikipedia's costs pan out... but if (and I admit it is a big if) their salary bill if half of their expenditure then the average salary for a Wikipedia employee woule be over $250,000...
5) $4 million from 125,000 donors equates to an average of $32 per donor. Not a lot, I guess...
6) So this secures them financially until June 2009. But even at a relatively modest average of $32 per donor, are people really going to put their hands in their pockets year in, year out to continue funding Wikipedia?
7) I wonder if they'll end up selling it to Walmart....