Friday 28 December 2012

ALPSP's Top Ten Blog Posts from 2012

And here's to the next 40...
Every blog needs a count down to new year, so in the spirit of ushering out the old and bringing in the new, here's a round-up of our most viewed posts of 2012.

1. Open Access eBooks: the next big thing? 
At the Beyond the Rhetoric: new opportunities in open access seminar in November, Eelco Ferwerda, Director at Open Access Publishing in Europe Network, provided an overview of the latest developments. He included a list of some of the high profile open access book projects, updates on their research, and a cautionary word about the less scrupulous OA publishers out there.

2. Bill Matthews discusses data analytics on 15 November 
Bill is Director of Business Development at HighWire Press. He wrote about the importance of data analytics to content creation, editorial, marketing and sales as a trailer for the Analyzing Customer Data to Create Competitive Advantage webinar.

3. Fourth International M-Libraries Conference 24-26 September 
This post outlined the programme of the M-Libraries conference, hosted by The Open University, which was developed around the theme of 'From margin to mainstream: mobile technologies transforming lives and libraries.'

4. ALPSP Conference Day 2: The Scholarly Article in 140 Characters. Are you a denial-o-saur? 
Day two of the ALPSP conference in September saw a panel chaired by Leon Heward-Mills from the Society for Endocrinology discuss the impact of digital technology on the way we access and read information.

5. ALPSP Conference Day 2: Discovering the Needle in a Haystack 
Another ALPSP conference session from day two was chaired by Ann Lawson from EBSCO. The session was designed to help publishers understand how they can help academics and professionals to navigate quickly and seamlessly to the trustworthy content they need.

6. How to launch an open access journal 
Kathryn Spiller from BioScientifica outlined how they approached launching an open access journal during November's Beyond the Rhetoric: new opportunities in open access seminar.

7. ALPSP Conference Day 3: Giving away the farm 
Highlights from the penultimate session on day two of ALPSP conference. Chaired by Catherine Candea from OECD, the panel reflected on the pressure scholarly publishers are under to give away content. 

8. ALPSP Conference Day 1: Forty years in scholarly publishing 
Mary Waltham opened September's ALPSP international conference with an overview of 'Forty Years in Scholarly Publishing.' It was, she claimed, an eclectic view of what has gone on in the period that corresponds with ALPSP's own existence. 

9. IET and Minesoft launch Minesoft Inspec Platform 
Information on the announcement of this new initiative of a platform that links IET Inspec’s science and engineering research database with Minesoft’s patent information services to enable patent and intellectual property professionals to benefit from intuitive search function.

Day one of the ALPSP conference in September and we were joined by Siân Harris, Editor of Research Information, who provided insight and guidance to the world of science journalism. She included some great tips on how to identify, pitch and position newsworthy items, plus advice on how to approach journalists.

ALPSP is nothing without its members and those who work with them. This blog provides a taster of some of the discussions the network had in ALPSP's 40th anniversary year. We look forward to continuing those conversations in 2013 and for the next 40 years.

Happy new year to you all!

Monday 24 December 2012

Is the journal brand dead? Marketing in an open access world

Tim Redding, Nature Publishing, talks journal brands
In November, ALPSP held one of our most successful seminars in 2012 - Beyond the Rhetoric: New opportunities in open access. Tim Redding, Head of Marketing for BioPharma, Life and Physical Sciences at Nature Publishing provided some insights into branding.

He articulated access to research is universal  and it is the top tier journals with large circulations that have lost out. With all journals, whatever their tier, you now have to woo authors. The circulation argument no longer works. There are a number of factors that need to be taken care of when considering your organisation or journal brand.

Article level metrics are vital. Ideally you will have a metrics button on each article. You need to focus on service: from time to publication through to ease of submission and discoverability. Reviewers and editorial boards are advocates for the journal. They are just as key as authors, so treat them accordingly. Happy reviewers are needed for rapid publication and to meet authors' service level expectations. Deal with them fairly and efficiently and consider recognition of their contribution. Frontiers puts reviewer names on papers giving more credit to what the reviewers are contributing to the scientific process. Common courtesy doesn't go amiss: send thank you letters and acknowledgements.

Redding also outlined the difficulties with hybrid titles. You have to consider transparency of amount of content that is paid for and ensure you have fair pricing. On the flip side, you need to be clear about cost per download or cost per local citation. Ensure your business model is more fluid than before and consultation and transparency with libraries is paramount.

There are particular challenges with visibility. How can you get papers seen in mega journals? How do you ensure standout and how do authors reach outside their niche? Papers are seen if there is a network for them, regardless of how interesting or quirky they are.

Tools to use for visibility should include email. It is still powerful, if used wisely. Content marketing is good for authors and helps define the journal. Give authors tools to help themselves e.g. sharing boxes and social tools. Empower the author to promote their paper. Give them an email template and make it easy for them to share.

Unsurprisingly, Redding is a big advocate of using social media.  They have the following number of accounts for science engagement at Nature:

  • 40 Twitter
  • 24 Facebook
  • 8 blogs
  • 6 MySpace
  • 8 LinkedIn

Social media provides tools for visibility. They received 120,000 'Likes' on Facebook for As a network, Facebook can be the second largest referrer after Google. While it is a forum for engagement and comment, you need to keep an eye on it and actally engage, so don't just pop it up there and forget about it.

Social media works best when marketing (key messages, sales) and editorial (credibility) work together. It allows you to gain feedback and insight into your authors and readers. While audience can be vocal, you can turn this to your advantage by embracing it, and not ignoring it. With Twitter, autofeeds work, but nothing compares to editorial engagement.

Infographics: here's one he prepared earlier
But what kind of content works best? Pictures and video can help you and increase interaction on Facebook. This type of content encourages sharing which can go viral. Infographics can help to explain complex information and can help your content standout from the clutter. Good content can act as a talking point.

Paid search is worth considering as it is useful to grow audience quickly and cost effectively - particularly before indexing. Facebook drives page likes, Google AdWords is good for directing traffic and StumbleUpon is less than $0.10 per click. Also consider RedditDigg and LinkedIn.

Tracking can be difficult as there is no direct correlation, unlike subscriptions. But by tracking submission rate against marketing campaigns, you can show trends, albeit with a time lag. A guide to authors page views is also a good indicator of interest.

All these techniques form part of a long game. Build your brand and build your registrations; build web traffic and submissions will come. Use author marketing to full effect: survey all authors to find out why they submitted to your journal. This will not only help you define your brand, but will also provide good insight into your service levels as they are part of the author/academic/research community's most critical touch point with your brand.

Walter Landor, the father of modern branding, stated that brand is not just a name and logo, it has evolved. It is not just company telling you what the product is. Customers define brand just as much as company. Is the journal brand dead? Are journal brands still relevant? Why don't researchers just publish on WordPress? Redding believes it is about trust, reach and discoverability:

  • brands give trust and authority and quickly allow you to identify content you need
  • brands help authors ensure that the audience reading their research is the right one and valued
  • brands give papers Google juice and discoverability.

He closed by saying in an online open access world, brands are still critical and far from dead. Long live the journal brand.

Friday 14 December 2012

Is there a role for libraries in open access?

Deborah Shorley, Director of Library Services at Imperial College, provided an illuminating overview of the impact of open access developments on the library at the recent Beyond the Rhetoric: new opportunities in open access seminar. Current challenges for the library community are manifold. There is an evolving role for libraries. Looking ahead, does open access offer a dead end or an open road for libraries?

At Imperial, their collection is 98% digital due to the subjects taught at the university. They unashamedly have very few books left in the collection. They have fantastic feedback in the student survey and from the institution, yet they don't 'own' anything in a traditional sense. Shorley even went so far as to propose that the concept of libraries and collections has gone. A move away from big deals and the demise of print, combined with the development of powerful discovery tools, is shrinking the traditional role of libraries.

With green open access, there is a rise in institutional repositories. This in turn creates a sophisticated metadata demand and the need for expert data management. Shorley pointed out that librarians are quite good at metadata. If they are sensible, they will grasp it, do it better and in new ways. With more journals saying they won't publish unless underlying data is open, there is an opportunity for librarians to help make sense of this.

With gold open access, there may be a role for librarians managing article processing charges (APCs). They are in a good position to give advice to researchers and understand budgetary constraints. At Imperial, they have a small budget - they are going to manage the transitional funding of c.£700k from RCUK - to facilitate the transition.

Is this a role that librarians could adopt in future? At Imperial, they have two people advising the researchers and administering the cash. This is something they are keen to keep: after all, librarians tend to be very good at processes, systems and being honest! Based on these insights, in an open access world, new responsibilities for libraries might focus around advocacy, bibliometrics, and in-house publishing. New skills will be critical to this approach.

For Shorley, the Finch report is fine as far as it goes: it has encouraged librarians to think about things differently, and has spurred RCUK to put its money where its mouth is. But she doesn't see how APCs solve anything. They put the money in the same hands, but in a different place. There must be a different way for universities to invest their money and what they do with how they publish their research.

Shorley closed with a note of caution: in the years of transition, it will be expensive, uncertain, disruptive, but well worth the pain. Science makes things better and this is a better way of doing science. Publishing skills are publishing skills. It's where they sit that's interesting. Whatever happens, they should be used to publish well.

Thursday 13 December 2012


We are pleased to welcome HIKARI Ltd as an associate member of ALPSP.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Perceptions of Journal Editors Regarding Submissions from East Asia—A Survey

Cactus Communications, a company that offers editing, translation, and medical writing services to authors from non-English-speaking countries, would like to invite editors of scientific, technical, and medical (STM) journals to participate in a survey on how journal editors perceive submissions from East Asia (China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan).

China, Japan, and Korea are important contributors to global academic publications, and the world is eagerly looking at the contribution these regions will continue to make. However, owing to barriers of culture and language, it is possible that researchers from these regions face some unique challenges in getting their papers published in international journals. Moreover, as submissions from these countries increase, journal editors may be able to spot some trends in the kind of problems they encounter with these submissions. Are the perceptions that journal editors may have formed aligned with the challenges authors face?

In an attempt to bridge the gap between east and west, CACTUS is conducting a study involving two parallel surveys—one with STM authors in the east and another with journal editors in the west. The study aims to bring in perspectives from authors in the east, tie them in with those of journal editors in the west, highlight gaps, and recommend improvements. The study findings will be shared and discussed in a session at the 2013 conference of the Council of Science Editors (CSE), Montreal, May 3–6. A brief report of the findings will also be shared with ALPSP members. CACTUS hopes that understanding the challenges authors face will help journal editors tweak their processes for better handling of increasing submissions from the east. They believe that this study could considerably enhance existing knowledge regarding publications and authors from the east. The survey is open to all English-language STM journal editors who are directly involved in editorial decision-making. Your participation is strongly encouraged.

The survey will take only about 15 minutes to complete. On completion, you could be one of three lucky participants to win an Amazon voucher worth $100.

The survey is available at the following link: .