Tuesday, 26 February 2013

ASA 2013: Laura Cox on Pulling Together - Information Flow Throughout the Scholarly Supply Chain

Laura Cox with a messy and complex supply chain
Laura Cox, Chief Marketing Officer at Ringgold Inc, talked through the problems of information flow throughout the scholarly supply chain. If only publishers would use the right identifiers with their content, then there is a huge opportunity to improve information, insight and cost efficiencies.

What are the things that go wrong? Records are unconnected through the supply chain. Links fail between entities, between internal systems, and between external systems. Renewals are mishandled. Journal transfers, access and authentication is mishandled. Authors and individuals are not linked to their institution. Open access fees have to be checked manually. Authors are not linked to their research and funders are not linked to the research they fund.

We need to find a path to using standardized data. Identifiers can help. They can provide a proper understanding of customers, whether author, reader or institution. They also provide a simple basis for wider data governance (that is data governance defined as processes, policies, standards, organization, technology required to organize, maintain and access/interpret data) through:

  • ongoing data maintenance 
  • identifiers enforce uniqueness
  • enable ongoing data governance
  • ensure systems work
  • help with cleansing data for future use.

Cox cited research from Mark Ware and Michael Mabe (The STM Report, 2012) for the wider context:

  • Journals are increasing by 3.5% per annum 
  • There is an increase in the number of articles by 3% per annum
  • The number of researchers is increasing by 3% per annum
  • Growth in China is in double digits
  • There is increasing demand for any time, any where access
  • Library budgets are frozen.

There are a number of identifiers available. For people, there is the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) which can apply to authors, playwrights, artists - any creator - which is a bridge identifier. The Open Research and Contributor ID (ORCID) links research to their authors. It disambiguates names looking at the different manner in which they can be recorded and can help remove problems with name changes. They can embed IDs into research workflows and the supply chain, can link to altmetrics and to integrate systems.

Institutional identifiers include Ringgold and ISNI, which map institutions and link data together. This ensures you can identify institutional customers so you can give correct content, and it disambiguates institutional naming conventions.

If you put institutional and author IDs together you gain genuine market intelligence:

  • who's working with whom and where
  • impact of research output on a particular institution - the contribution of their faculty
  • subscription sales or lack thereof
  • where reseach funding is concentrated
  • ability to track open access charges (APCs) to fee structure.

Use internal linking in your systems, you can use identifiers to connect:

  • customer master file
  • financial system
  • CRM/sales database
  • authentication system
  • fulfilment
  • usage statistics
  • submissions system
  • author information.

This enables you to access information from multiple systems in one place, reducing time and cost in locating information, and enabling you to use information to make decisions and inform strategy.

A nice and tidy supply chain
External linking using identifiers will enable you to:

  • ensure accuracy of information
  • speed up data transactions
  • reduce queries
  • reduce costs
  • open data up to new uses
  • provide seamless supply chain where data flows from one org to next
  • ensures that authors receive credit for the work they produce
  • provide a good service to the community.

We need a forum to discuss and pull together: to engage with the problems in data transfer, generate an industry wide policy on using identifiers, break down the data silo mentality, and use universal identifiers to enable our systems to communicate with each other accurately on an ongoing basis. This will help serve the author and reader more effectively and strengthen the links in the supply chain.

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