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!

1 comment:

  1. Admittedly I haven't seen Chris Armbruster's original post, but I can only presume that perceived lack of innovation in the publishing industry is a reflection of the gap between where some users would like scholarly publishers to be, rather than how far scholarly publishers have come. It's good that posts like this remind us that progress is being made...albeit not as fast as some would like.