Friday 5 December 2014

What are the hiring trends in publishing right now? Jack Farrell and Fiona Foley share their thoughts

Jack Farrell
Go on, admit it, we all look at the job ads page on the ALPSP LinkedIn group and website and wonder if our dream job is there (of course, I already have my dream job at ALPSP...). But have you noticed how the titles, roles and responsibilities have changed over the past few years? Does it make you wonder if you can keep up with the changing skills?

For those hiring, how do you balance the need for traditional 'core' publishing skills and those related to new emergent areas? Who should you look for? Can you find the mix within the existing talent pool or do you need to look further afield? It's a recruitment nightmare in the making...

Jack Farrell and Fiona Foley work for Jack Farrell Associates, a talent recruitment firm working in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America. We asked them what the most common post is that they are asked to recruit for at the moment. "It's typically a sales position... National Sales Manager or Regional Sales Manager." says Jack. Proof perhaps that everything hasn't migrated online and removed the need for human intervention.

Picking up on the impact of technology on jobs and skills, Jack says "The migration to digital is now reflected in job titles such that Editors are now 'Content Development Experts' and Project Managers are now 'Solution Architects'." Why do they think that is? "Digital delivery of content has erased the need for people to be organized by silo or delivery mechanisms (e.g. book, CD, journal)." Jack explains. "Titles are reflecting the need for talent to be "delivery agnostic." Fiona adds.

Fiona Foley
When asked about whether there have been changes to where they find talent, it's a clear "no" from Jack. "We rely on our proprietary database which continues to grow each day. We'll use various online resource to build out this database, but most of the contacts in it are those with whom we have a relationship. I don't see that ever changing." There's value in having a strong professional network for either recruiting or job-seeking then.

When asked about the emergent skills on the horizon, Fiona mentions "open access and digital delivery" perhaps unsurprisingly. Jack neatly brings the interview full circle: "Consultative selling and consortia selling are going to be really important now and in the future as well!"

Jack Farrell is Managing Director and Fiona Foley is Director for UK, Europe, Asia and Latin America at Jack Farrell Associates. They are taking part in the ALPSP webinar Hiring Trends in Publishing: Finding and keeping the right talent for your organization. along with Sarah Tegen, Vice President for Global Editorial & Author Services, American Chemical Society. Further information and booking online now.

Friday 14 November 2014

Take control of your digital future (part 2)

In the final of a two part guest post (read part 1 here), Jan Zuchowski, a Digital Performance Specialist who has worked with commercial and not-for-profit organizations to improve and develop their strategy, provides practical steps for taking control of your digital future.

"Digital innovation is simply the process of pulling together the ideas and tools to create something new. For many publishers this can be a challenging prospect because their organisational culture (that has often been built up over many years) inhibits thinking that challenges conventional beliefs.

Image: Roman Okopny
Yet innovation cannot happen without stepping out of the well-worn grooves that have served the industry well in the past. It takes courage; it takes vision; and it takes a passion for what might be, for the unexplored, for what yet isn't but could be.

The biggest barrier is, of course, the fear of getting it wrong and making expensive mistakes. Happily, the real threat is not nearly as big as is often imagined because other sectors are facing the same challenges as publishers, and are tackling them in different ways, and so there are opportunities to learn. We can see what works in other contexts and then can explore how to push the boundaries and develop new technical insights in our own field.

Senior executives at Google, Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg define technical insight as “a new way of applying technology or design that either drives down the cost or increases the functions and usability of the product by a significant factor. The result is something that is better than the competition in a fundamental way. The improvement is obvious; it doesn't take a lot of marketing for customers to figure out that this product is different from everything else.” (How Google Works, John Murray, 2014).

Here, then, are four questions you may like to discuss within your organisation to set the ball rolling.

  1. What more do we need to understand about how the market place is evolving in order to take our concepts of product to the next level?
  2. What are the ‘adjacent’ needs of our market - related needs that are not met by our current activities?
  3. How could we start making connections between our consumers’ adjacent needs, the new ways of thinking in other sectors, and our current resources?
  4. Who could we pull in to help us with our innovative thinking?

Image: Ags Andrew
And after you have taken time to explore these ideas, take action! Ask yourselves - What is the single highest impact next step we could take to accelerate our progress in digital innovation?

We live in incredibly exciting times. Engaging ideas are appearing, sometimes from the most unexpected quarters. New companies are springing up with disruptive ideas and making rapid and significant inroads into the market place.  Unexpected models for partnerships and collaborations are evolving to develop innovative product experiences for the customer. As singer, Bono says, “This is our moment. This is our time.” It’s time to capitalise on the new possibilities open to us!"

Jan is the facilitator for the Digital Strategy Think Tank, an ALPSP workshop produced in collaboration with Librios to be held in London on Tuesday 2 December 2014. Book your place now.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Sticky Content's Amy Nicholson on 5 irritating clichés to help you plan your content marketing

Amy Nicholson: the clichés do work
When you work across different sectors, you see how common the issues are and the mistakes made. Amy Nicholson provided 5 irritating clichés that can actually help you plan your content marketing.

1. Rome wasn't built in a day

Content is a long game. You can have Harry Potter content in your pocket, but if you don't have the people, resources and time to back it up, you might as well not bother.

Know your limits, be realistic about what you can achieve, and get going where you can. As publishers you already appreciate content, editorial, publishing systems and workflow. You are in a stronger position. You really need a managing editor for content marketing, someone who is a master of your entire universe. Practical steps you can take include:
  1. Maintain an editorial calendar
  2. Create content departments and give them owners
  3. Cultivate subject matter experts and other content sources
  4. Brainstorm ideas regularly
  5. Develop guidelines: style guide, tone of voice, format guidelines
  6. Put in place an editorial board to review content effectiveness

2. Don't reinvent the wheel

Old habits die hard. Follow the inverted pyramid format that news rooms have used for years. Get to the point clearly for a 'stop the press' story. You should be able to edit paragraphs from bottom to the top of the story without losing understanding. Front load your content, use plain language, use style guides, consistent use of what you say and how you say it.

3. Waste not, want not

Look at your calendar and re-purpose or redistribute again and again. Think about whether or not you can write once and publish everywhere. Find a way to write for all those different channels in one go so you only have to get sign-off once: can a headline can be used for an email subject line as well?

4. All that glitters isn't gold

Ever been asked if you're on Pinterest? Ever been told you need an app (but without a good reason why)? It has to be about content first and foremost. (And content comes from what your community need or want).

5. The longest journey starts with a single step

Don't become paralysed by trying to perfect something before you get started. Try doing something and see how it goes. Your customers are an ever changing group. Digital is not a degradation of good copy. It enables you to edit live so you can feed back and optimise over and over again.

Your content toolbox should include...

  • Briefing forms
  • Writers' guidelines
  • Content inventory
  • Editorial calendar
  • Copy formats
  • A persuasive manner

Amy Nicholson is Managing Editor for Sticky Content. She spoke at the ALPSP seminar Content Marketing - using your publishing assets?

Connie Churcher asks 'how content can help build your social community?'

Connie Churcher: emotions and triggers that build community
What makes content shareable? The qualities or triggers are funny, sexy, shocking, moving, unbelievable/awesome, controversial, cool, illuminating or interesting, random, zeitgeist, cute, uplifting, disgusting, nostalgia.

It's about what emotions people share the most: cool, funny, up-lifting. But it's also about what these triggers can lead to. Top topics that go viral are about food, home and lifestyle.

Bear in mind that there is good viral and bad viral. Advertising doesn't often go viral. Often, it is our own lives that do. Some recent exceptions were the Old Spice campaign and Oreo. Bad viral include Habitat including #war alongside campaigns. Dapper Laughs is another example where it has come back to haunt them.

But what is this all about? Ego. Social media, as well as being a great professional sphere is also a very emotional place. When someone is sharing something they are not thinking about your brand, but more about what it says about them. People gain social validation through likes and retweets.

We speak 16,000 words a day, but much is left unsaid as we edit as we speak. A lot of inner thoughts are let out on this new medium which can lead to people being vulnerable. While 16% of adults reported better self esteem after social sharing, Thailand has issued a national health warning about adults addicted to likes.

How can sharable content help you build an engaged community? It's a simple equation:

sharing triggers + stoking the ego = user generated content (the Holy Grail)

It does the work for you with an authentic and trusted voice. Seek out and find those who are well known and trusted in a community already.

One example is the Caitlin Moran How to be a Woman campaign allowing her followers to blog on her site is a great example of amplification. 140 did and all shared to their own networks as they were validated by being on her site. But, it has to be the right area for your content.

What do you need to do these things?

  • You need time. There is a really good argument for digital marketers to be partnership managers as they build partnership and relationships online
  • Integrity, think of it as human to human. Twitter, LinkedIn and Google + all have professional associations where trust is a key factor. Something like a post with a photo and byline is more powerful. But this is less so on Facebook.
  • You need cash. Building communities on social media does take money. The time involved has a cost.
  • To build stories you need authenticity. 
  • A great title and lovely imagery also help. 
Think what you want people to do with it? The more layers you add in, the simpler it has to be for the user. Make it easy for people to share. A lot of sites are monolithic. They are developed, then left. Ideally, you need continual redevelopment. A front page that changes frequently will give a fresher, more interesting look. You also need to bear in mind that social platforms may change, evolve or fall away.

Be concise... or don't! Brevity is great and works well on certain platforms. However, long form content is pretty good too. It is shared more than short term content because there is less good long form content around.

How do you stay on top of community management? Use aggregators such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. They help save time so you don't lose your day to social media channels. Some now offer services that search on key words for you so you can push out and share relevant content from other sources. Also think about sharing evergreen content over a period at different times to see how it gets picked up.

Listening tools are very useful. If you want to news-jack stories for your content, monitor keywords rather than Google Alerts (where the story has already broken). You can also use them to identify influencers who can help with user generated content.

Don't rush to create new spaces. If you do, think about the niche you can bring. Don't do it alone. Bounce ideas off people who aren't social or digital. Make sure social planning is at the start of a campaign and planning process. Get integrated into the process sooner.

Connie Churcher is Social Media Editor at Claremont Social Communications. She spoke at the ALPSP seminar Content Marketing - using your publishing assets?

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Duncan Enright on what sort of content do you need and how do you make it engaging?

Duncan Enright: in all the right places
Content marketing ultimately is about selling your goods and services, but doing so using fantastic, relevant and interesting content customers are interested in. The challenge is trying to get it to them in the right places.

Making your content accessible and discoverable is the key challenge. Traditional marketing channels include newsletters, alerts, RSS feeds, direct mail, advertising, conferences, white papers and thought leadership. It is not that these are defunct, but new channels may adopt some of the characteristics.

For academic and educational publishing markets white papers are a well understand idea of an introductory and defining piece that attaches your company to the area. It's a big and valuable piece of work. What can you do to make it more digestible? Use bite size pieces through social channels, blogs and so on.

Twitter quickly distributes sound bytes of information. It can allow a group of staff to tweet. You need to think about who you can reach or communicate with. It's a personal medium - you have to engage, listen and interact. It's about growing an audience through community engagement. It's important to use the key influencers to help get the message out there.

LinkedIn enables you to identify and join groups with shared interests. You can post series of discussions across timeframe to maximise exposure. Content marketing is key as there are restrictions around marketing built into the platform. If you encourage staff to like posts it will increase discoverability. Most of all, inform, but don't sell.

SEO is better with back linking (back and forth to other good sites) and citations to raise search ranking. Online advertising and SEM generally work in Enright's experience. You can buy your way to the top of search results, particularly with 'speciality terms'. Do a simple Google Adwords and LinkedIn campaign to groups. Test with specific terms, subjects. Don't spend a lot until you analyse your results. Remember there are a range of content marketing metrics (e.g. clicks and opens for email campaigns).

YouTube is now the second most used search engine. Video brings content to life. Record interviews with authors discussing a piece of research, show examples of how researchers have used your work or do interviews around a theme to promote content collections. Visualise the author's experience and capture customer testimonials.

Community sites and webpages enable posting of free content. You can include links to related sites and content, group by subject or theme for specific audiences, then promote using the channels above.

Duncan Enright is a Senior Associate at Maverick Publishing Specialists. He spoke at the ALPSP seminar Content Marketing - using your publishing assets?

The power of storytelling: Kate Smith tells a tale...

Kate Smith: we grow up with stories
We learn about stories from a very early age. We have learnt that they are fun and engaging and they can teach us about the world. They are a fundamental part of our life.  Stories are now the lifeblood of how we relate and connect as human beings. The best stories are consistent, we can relate to them.

In 1895 John Deere produced The Furrow magazine for farmers in the US. Designed as an educational resource to enable farmers to be better. It was engaging, it resonated with the audience. The content wasn't about their products. It was about great content that was useful and relevant. They are still going today, but probably more in digital formats now!

Stories need to evolve, unfold, iterate to take us from A to B. It is harder for people to make decisions as we are bombarded by media. Creating content should help as it makes making those decisions easier through that process.

Prostate Cancer UK developed a content marketing strategy to engage with their target audience of men, who are notoriously hard to get to acknowledge the illness. They worked with footballers and pundits to reach fans. They made the campaign personal to help people engage with it.

American Express set up a small business forum that provides advice and support for small businesses. 99% of content has nothing to do with that content. They employ experts in the areas they are writing in. they have found that applications through that medium are the same as any other advertising campaign. It works and maintains their credibility.

Successful stories are credible, engage, meaningful, personal. No one says it better than Andrew Stanton (creator of Toy Story) when he spoke about storytelling in this TED talk.

Kate Smith is Associate Marketing Director at Wiley. She spoke at the ALPSP seminar Content Marketing - using your publishing assets?

Jon King on content marketing - why it matters and how can we learn from Hollywood and the Hero's journey...

Jon King on the rise of personal influence
The definition of content is information that has a story arc in it and a narrative flow. Storytelling is not new. It goes back into history and defines what we do. To be effective we need to tell a story well. The story arc is something that has been absent in classical advertising.

When you look at the rise of contemporary advertising in the 50s (the Don Draper era) campaigns were built on one thing: a unique selling point (USP) using paid media. The most successful advertising campaign of all time is Anacin. The ubiquity of media at the time meant it was successful because it was like being hit over the head again and again as the adverts were everywhere you went. Vance Packard's book The Hidden Persuaders suggested that advertising could subtly get messages across. The rise of personal influence is fundamentally breaking that model.

A Nielsen study from 2012 asked what influences your purchase decisions? 91% of people said it was recommendations from those they know. 70% peoples opinions published online, 58% editorial content, 58% banded website, 50% emails that are signed up to. Stories are now the #1 influence on consumer choice. Conversations have become media. Dove is an example of a disruptive consumer campaign that put content at the heart of their product by using real people.

The McKinsey Loop stated that paid media drives awareness and consideration that is reinforced by perfectly balanced experience through purchase and use. Today the loop has audiences exiting traditional path to seek content from key influencers. Before, you bought a BMW and then would probably never buy another type of car again. Now, people evaluate ideas, brands and services by finding rewarding content and sharing their experiences with others. Content has become the most important influencer on choice.

Getting your audience to recommend your products is effectively the holy grail, getting them to do something for nothing. Great return on investment. Unilever understand this and have gone from 90% paid advertising to 60% in 15 years an increase in owned and shared content.

King counselled to think about story versus product placement. It's not about facts and figures or the history of your company. Tell a story. Michelin were the first real content marketers. Cars at that stage were unreliable, so people got stranded in places they didn't expected. Their response? Tyres that are reliable and a range of travel guides to help you when you are stranded. They make tyres, but we don't think of them as making tyres.

Christopher Booker's Seven Basic Plots outlines the key stories that exist (although many argue there are 12 basic plots). You can map pretty much everything to one of these. The stages of the Hero's journey are: an ordinary person, called to adventure, refuses the call, meets the mentor, crosses the threshold, tests, allies and enemies, approach, central ordeal, the reward, the road back, resurrection, return with the elixir.

The Guardian signed a big deal earlier in the year for paid for editorial content. A seven figure deal with content that is indistinguishable from journalism. But it is restricted to print. Is it missing the point?

But how do you inject your company into a story? Have a point of view about the world that your key audiences will care about. Tell the truth. Influence the influencers. Produce satisfying stories. Use networks to share emotionally satisfying stories and win a disproportionate share of an audience's attention. An individual has an idea, shares with their personal network (average 192 people) and their communities (average 5 communities). Each person who is networked can influence up to 1000 people.

This is behavioural economics. It is powerful, efficient, low cost and a good long term strategic advantage for low touch points. Publish across multiple touch points to deepen brand engagement. Storytelling positions your brand ecosystem for organic growth.

Jon King is owner and principal consultant at Content Corporation. He spoke at the ALPSP seminar Content Marketing - using your publishing assets?

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Take Control of Your Digital Future (Part 1)

Photo credit: Blastreach
In the first of a two part guest post, Jan Zuchowski, a Digital Performance Specialist who has worked with commercial and not-for-profit organizations to improve and develop their strategy, reflects on how you can take control of your digital future.

"The sport of yacht racing has been likened by the more cynical to standing under a cold shower, tearing up £50 notes. In many respects, digital publishing is not too dissimilar. Indeed, arguably there are only two major differences: firstly, you don’t need a cold shower to get the real feel and secondly, you don’t need to be too cynical to ‘get’ the concept. It can be nerve-wracking; but it can also be exhilarating and hugely compelling, too.

The question is how to do it safely to an exceptional level, a level where the world cannot help but sit up and take notice?

All around, publishers are trying out different approaches, hoping to nail their colours to the mast as digital innovators. Yet, all too often it can seem so difficult to break through into genuinely disruptive thinking and start making serious money from it.

So, how do we do it? How do we develop innovative ideas that will put a serious dent in the market? Churchill famously once said, “When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging.” What might happen if you did just that?

Jan Zuchowski
Perhaps the first thing that you might notice is just how furiously other people are digging all around you, too. You were probably reasonably aware of that, anyway. Then you might start to look at other sectors. You may notice other types of organisation being more successful because they start their thinking about the digital challenges they face from a different angle. And it may even inspire you to start connecting ideas with fresh, ground-breaking initiatives.

Picasso is reputed to have remarked, “Good artists copy; great artists steal.” If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it to the highest level!

Publishing is by no means the only sector to feel challenged by the accelerating progress of digital technology. However, what is becoming increasingly noticeable is how other sectors are reaping the rewards of approaching the issue from a different standpoint, both creatively and financially. Check out what’s going on in the music industry; the museums sector; fashion; sporting retail… Take time to explore what it is that is driving their thinking and how they are planning to find their next breakthrough ideas. Here and there, publishers who are going to be the next game changers are already noticing and quietly assimilating the ideas...

Photo credit: iLexx
Could it be that, in some dark corners not too far from you, people are already brewing a mind-blowing innovation to unleash on an innocently unsuspecting market? Could it be that the next disruptive idea, the idea that will shake the industry to the core is only just over the horizon? Could it be that the person who will be at the heart of incubating that idea is already lurking inside your organisation? Could it be you?

It’s time to start connecting ideas about digital publishing in new ways. In my next piece I’ll share with you some practical steps you can take to accelerate disruptive thinking. Let’s talk some more."

Jan is the facilitator for the Digital Strategy Think Tank, an ALPSP workshop produced in collaboration with Librios to be held in London on Tuesday 2 December 2014. Book your place now.

Monday 3 November 2014

Royal Society of Chemistry's Laura Finn talks content with a true purpose, content with a story

Royal Society of Chemistry's Laura Finn
Laura Finn, Content Marketing Manager at the Royal Society of Chemistry, will speak at next week's Content Marketing - using your publishing assets? seminar in London. We spoke to her to find out more about what makes her tick and what makes content marketing truly work.

So tell me about yourself, how did you end up in your current role?

My marketing career started at Cambridge University Press – I wanted to stay close to books having read English, so I applied for a junior role and thought I’d give marketing a go. Since then, I haven’t looked back! I completed my CIM Professional Diploma in Marketing a few years back and I’m still based in Cambridge, I now head up a new Content Marketing team at the Royal Society of Chemistry where we work to connect the world with the chemical sciences.

What does content marketing mean to you?

I love the way content marketing challenges us to think beyond our own organisational goals and wants, and to engage with what our audience finds relevant instead. Great content is useful, it’s interesting, it solves problems and informs decisions, it immerses our audiences in who we are and why we’re here. I believe that content marketing can help us foster more meaningful relationships with our audiences and help them achieve their goals.

How does your organisation use content marketing?

As an organisation we are moving away from just selling features and benefits of our products, and towards changing hearts and minds. This fits so well with the philosophy of content marketing! My team of specialists work to create and share content that will resonate with our audiences, integrated into larger marketing programmes.

What’s the most effective piece of content marketing you’ve ever done (and results if possible)?

We don’t yet have results but I'm very excited about a recent video project that supported a campaign to increase membership numbers in industry. We filmed four members at their places of work, talking about why they love doing what they do, and how membership with the Royal Society of Chemistry has opened doors for them. Rather than talking about us, and what we thought were the key features and benefits of membership for those working in industry we could let real members decide what was important and spread the word. We are telling their story, not ours – and the resulting videos are engaging and authentic.

Engage with what your audience finds relevant

What’s the biggest no-no for content marketing in your book?

I think mistakes can often come from not asking ‘why’ – it’s very easy to get excited about content marketing ideas, and this can lead to content without a true purpose, content without a story.

My advice would be to always dig deep into the ‘why’ – that way, you can be sure that you’re prioritising effectively and that your content will resonate with its target audience.

Laura Finn will talk about 'Getting your content out there (mapping content opportunities to your audience)' at the Content Marketing - using your publishing assets? seminar. Registration still open, book now.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

The truth about content marketing: in conversation with IOP Publishing's Jo Allen and Karen Watts

H92: the place to be
Picture the scene. We're at the ALPSP stand in Hall 4.2 at Frankfurt Book Fair. Plans are being discussed for the forthcoming ALPSP Content Marketing seminar and the ALPSP team have got together with two communications specialists who are getting animated about what content marketing *actually* involves.

We joined in the discussion with Jo Allen (JA) who is Head of Marketing & B2B at IOP Publishing and Karen Watts (KW) IOP’s PR and Communications Manager, and captured some of the highlights of the conversation below:

ALPSP: What does content marketing mean to you?

JA: Using your content to do the work for you. All publishers are sitting on deep seams of great content. Effective content marketing makes use of these gems and does hard work for you.

KW: I think it's about utilising your best assets rather than looking for gimmicks.

JA: We're lucky we've got Physics World, it lends itself beautifully to this arena. To be honest we've been doing content marketing for a while unconsciously, but now it's more deliberate and far more strategic.

KW: Do you mean rolling out into different channels like social media and on the website?

JA: Yes. We now have a much more holistic approach. We focus on the content first and the channel second. Content comes first. It's a similar approach to the one we have with IOP’s design studio. Instead of simply designing a printed piece or an email communication, we consider the content first and make it adaptable to all formats right from the start.

Jo Allen: content marketer extraordinaire
KW: Let's face it, content marketing drives and informs every decision we make in communications now.

JA: True, we'd struggle to make a decision that doesn't relate to it in some way!

ALPSP: What do you think is the most effective piece of content marketing IOP has ever done?

JA: The Physics World 25th anniversary issue back in 2013 was incredibly effective. We produced a special issue with lots of special features. Do you remember the 25 top list? It had five top people to watch, five best discoveries, five puzzles GCHQ created…..  that really helped the comms team with newsworthy content. It made a big splash then, and we're still using it nearly a year later.

KW: It was hugely successful.  Because a key strength of Physics World is high quality reviews of physics news, it is not always easy to pitch the content as newsworthy on its own. It was a great opportunity to showcase the editorial quality of the magazine in a different format.

JA: And we've got good mileage from it. The new digital magazine app has just launched using the 25th issue as a free download to showcase the fantastic design and functionality. We're still using it as a recruitment tool for membership for the digital only member category.

KW: On the journals side, I think the video abstracts are one of our most effective pieces of content: the stats speak for themselves. Papers with a video abstract are downloaded three times more than those without. Press releasing articles is enormously important too. A press released article will see downloads for it jump from an average of 40 to around 7,000. That's a fairly impressive rise.

Karen Watts: an Oscars-free zone
JA: Agreed.  Mind you, content marketing can go badly wrong.

KW: Oh yes, I cringe when I see people using gimmicks instead of thinking about the actual content and audience. The worst is when you see someone try to put across a personality that just isn't them. Tone of voice is crucial!

JA: Talking of personality, something we have to remember is that while our authors are physics experts, they are also human beings!

KW: Exactly, our authors and readers aren’t just an audience segment or a specialist field. They have the desire to share and connect with other people just like everyone else. When you try and be something you're not, you're doomed. It's about authenticity and relevance.

JA: True. But when you think about tweaking tone of voice and changing marketing approaches, it’s crucial to bring along colleagues. Changes in marketing strategy can be scary so we need to support them along the way...

KW: You know my pet hate? Trying to be 'current' and shoehorning celebrity news into your channels. Don't comment on the Oscars unless it's related to your topic!

And with that, the discussion concluded and normal Frankfurt Buchmesse business resumed.

Karen Watts will be presenting a case study at the forthcoming ALPSP seminar Content Marketing - using your publishing assets? on how IOP’s content marketing strategy is changing lives, one Ferrari at a time!

Register for Content Marketing - using your publishing assets?  on Wednesday 12 November 2015 in London.

Friday 17 October 2014

Mind the (data) gap… Learned Publishing special issue

Fiona Murphy (centre) talks Data at the ALPSP conference
For anyone who has ever travelled on the London Underground and endured endless repeats of ‘Mind the gap’, this special issue of Learned Publishing is your equivalent warning on data.

As funders make open data a policy stipulation, publishers must prepare for these requirements. In fact publishers are well placed to support open data, and society publishers are uniquely well placed to be a part of the solution: they are at the heart of their community and understand their needs.

But what do you do next? How can you mind your data gap and understand what it means for your organization and its community?

In this special online-only issue of Learned Publishing, the focus is purely on data. Guest edited by Alice Meadows, Director of Communications at Wiley and Fiona Murphy, STM Publisher, it is published open access with the support of Wiley.

We caught up with Alice and Fiona (who was just back from last month's European Research Council Workshop on Research Data Management and Sharing in Brussels), to talk data deluge and why now for this special issue.

So why focus on data now?

Alice: The OSTP memo from 2013 and the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Research Data Pilot are two examples of funders driving open data. Meanwhile, more data than ever are being collected. Technology is improving our ability to analyse and share them, but there are still huge barriers to that being done effectively; you’d be surprised how much data collection is still manual.

Fiona: And we still lack globally standard ways of collecting, managing, sharing, and storing data which creates a whole new set of challenges when the ultimate aim is to enable re-use and interoperability. Susan Reilly's paper provides a librarian's perspective of some of these issues, while Varsha Khodiya and her F1000 colleagues tackle data sharing, citation, and more.

What can publishers to do help?

Alice: If publishers and societies aren't careful, they will once again be playing catch-up with the funders on a growing requirement in their research communities. This is a golden opportunity to lead from the front and help researchers. In the words of Mark Hahnel in this interview on the Wiley Exchanges blog, open data can help “Opening up research data has the potential to both save lives (say with medical advances) and to enhance them with socio-economic progress.” That’s a pretty compelling argument. And societies and society publishers have a particular part to play here, as demonstrated in the paper by Hazel Norman of the British Ecological Society. 

Fiona: That’s not to say that publishers aren't already working on opening up data. My paper Data and Scholarly Publishing: the transforming landscape sets the scene and provides an overview of how publishers are responding to date.

ALPSP: What is the most important theme to emerge from the issue?

Fiona: Without a doubt, it’s the importance of collaboration. Cooperation between stakeholders is crucial to successfully opening up data. Andrew Treloar reflects on the work of the Research Data Alliance in his paper. Having recently returned from a European Research Council workshop attended by a whole cross-section of stakeholders, I can only agree that these types of coordinated action are the best way forward.

Alice: Similarly, Sarah Callaghan's paper on preserving the integrity of the scientific record shows how the scholarly community is collaborating to solve issues around data citation and linking. But if they’re not familiar with recent developments or with networks like RDA, I’d urge readers to access the articles, share with colleagues and talk through what it means for their organization. This special issue is a snapshot of views from right now - things are likely to change rapidly. We’d love to know what ALPSP members think and if they have positive examples and experiences they can share.

Learned Publishing special data issue is available now online open access on the Learned Publishing site.

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Does innovation help smaller publishers?

These are exciting times in scholarly publishing, as ALPSP 2014 so amply demonstrated. But is technical innovation leaving the smaller publisher trailing behind better-resourced and larger competitors and the big technology companies? It ain’t necessarily so…

The early ‘electronic’ decades were characterized by high entry costs, modest technical skill levels, uncertainties and risk aversion. Only the larger publishers would venture to take the first cautious steps. Now the pace of technical change is almost dizzying, innovation is rampant, entry costs have fallen, skill levels are higher and, despite some apprehension, even small publishers are more comfortable with taking risks.

The fundamental elements of scholarly publishing haven’t changed that much. Authors still want to publish in the ‘best’ journals representing their community, with fast, reliable and responsive peer review. Libraries and readers still want affordability, timeliness, responsiveness to their needs. Price is important but quality and impact weigh heavily. None of these criteria are barriers to the smaller scholarly publisher.

Despite the rapidity of change, technical innovation has lowered the entry barriers, making it easier and less risky for smaller publishers and start-ups to provide new products and services: think of Peerage of Science for peer review, figshare for managing and sharing research output, DeepDyve for low-cost full-text preview, PACKT using Google to monitor technology trends and turning them into publishing opportunities, and many more initiatives reported at ALPSP 2014. Vast collaborative effort is going into standardization, data structuring, interoperability to level the playing field and make it easier for players to concentrate on their own USPs. A whole industry of service providers and outsourcers ensure that small scale is not an obstacle: intermediaries, hosts, discovery services, technology partners, CCC, CrossRef, COUNTER and more.

With all this help, small operators have the additional advantage that they can be more nimble and exploit opportunities more quickly than larger organizations. The proviso is that they understand their role, that they stay in close touch and work with their chosen academic communities, respond to their needs and constantly reinvent themselves (Coco Chanel: “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different”). Even the big beasts in the field can be helpful: Google does offer well-used, free discovery services and is responsive to complaints about the negative impact of search algorithm changes. There were calls for more lobbying of services like Google, but the question of their market dominance is perhaps best left to the competition authorities.

‘Bells and whistles’ was the somewhat pejorative term used for service characteristics that are nice to have but miss what is really important to authors. For example publishers and librarians care deeply about version control, but researchers don’t. There are a fair number of ‘predatory’ journals that offer little or no peer review even though the research community still values it highly. Impact factors are important for publishers but researchers, particularly younger ones, care more about the societal impact of their work, also reflected in the changing criteria of the Research Excellence Framework. Small publishers need to have these conversations with the research community and understand what matters to them.

It is to the credit of ALPSP that it has always been aware of the special concerns of niche publishers. It has done its best to foster skill building, provide networking opportunities, encourage standards and service provision and bring the different parts of the scholarly publishing universe together. No wonder its international conferences have been so successful!

Kurt Paulus

Friday 26 September 2014

The data deluge is upon us… are you ready?

Today sees the online publication (under an open access model) of our special data issue of Learned Publishing.

Produced with the support of Wiley, this collection of papers represents a snapshot of current thinking about research data from a variety of perspectives. It is guest edited by Alice Meadows, Director of Communications at Wiley and Fiona Murphy, their STM Publisher.

This special issue is launched at the end of a week where Wiley Exchanges published some fascinating posts on different aspects of data to coincide with the Research Data Alliance annual conference in Amsterdam.

Liz Ferguson, Publishing Solutions Director at Wiley hit the nail on the head with her observation “Acknowledging the significance of data in scholarly communication is one thing, but knowing what to do about it is another” in her piece Everybody Loves Data.

Jennifer Beal, Events & Ambassador Manager at Wiley observed “Ah Big Data, how things have changed!” in her write up of the Who’s Afraid of Big Data session from the ALPSP conference.

“Do you want to use my environmental data, or I yours? The question pulls in many conflicting directions.” Mike Kirkby, Emeritus at Leeds University reflected on the many questions with complex answers that the use and storage of data presents in  More data, more questions?

Fiona Murphy interviewed Mark Hahnel, Founder of figshare who believes that “Opening up research data has the potential to both save lives (say with medical advances) and to enhance them with socio-economic progress. It’s a space where humans and computers can work symbiotically, and where industry can also benefit.” He goes on to share his thoughts on the practicalities of opening data, blockages in the system and the potential for open science.

As more and more colleagues across the scholarly publishing community engage with open data, we hope this special issue will help them along the way.

Thursday 25 September 2014

What societies need to know about Creative Commons (CC) Licensing - free webinar

Want to know what a CC license is and what all the different types mean?
Which CC license is best for your journal’s authors and the future of your journal(s)?

What societies need to know about Creative Commons (CC) licensing
Tuesday, September 30th, 8-9am PDT/11am-12pm EDT/4-5pm BST

With new mandates being announced by funders globally for Open Access archiving of their funded research, societies need to understand what the different CC article licensing options mean, both for their journals’ and their members’ needs.  This webinar will provide society executives with an overview of what they need to know about CC licences. Do you know your CC BY from your CC BY-NC-ND?  What are the pros and cons of different CC licenses for society journals? What options should you give your authors?

With speakers from Creative Commons, Copyright Clearance Centre and Wiley.

To register your place, visit

This webinar is organised by Wiley in conjunction with the Copyright Clearance Center

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Big data: mining or minefield? Kurt Paulus reflects...

Who's Afraid of Big Data? Not this panel...
"Data are the stuff of research: collection, manipulation, analysis, more data… They are also the stuff of contemporary life: surveillance data, customer data, medical data… Some are defined and manageable: a researcher’s base collection from which the paper draws conclusions. Some are big: police data, NHS data, GCHQ data, accumulated published data in particular fields. Two Plenaries and several other papers at ALPSP 2014 addressed the issues, options, opportunities and some threats around them.

There have long been calls for authors’ underlying research data to be made accessible, so as to substantiate research conclusions, suggest further work and so on. The main Plenaries concerned themselves with Big Data, usually unstructured sets of elements of unprecedented scale and scope, such as the whole of Wikipedia, accumulated Google searches, the biomedical literature, the visible galaxies in the universe. The challenge of ‘mining’ these datasets is to bring structure to them so that new insights emerge beyond those arising from limited or sampled data. This requires automation, big computing resources and appropriate but speeded-up human intervention and sometimes crowd sourcing.

Gemma Hersh from Elsevier on TDM
Text and data mining has some kinship with information discovery where usually structured datasets are queried, but goes well beyond it by seeking to add structure to very large sets of data where there is no or little structure, so that information can be clustered, trends identified and concepts linked together to lead to new hypotheses. The intelligence services provide a prime, albeit hidden example. So does the functional characterization of proteins, the mining of the UK Biobank for trends and new insights or the crowd-sourced classification of galaxy types to test cosmological theories.

Inevitably there are barriers and issues. The data themselves are often inadequate; for example not all drug trials are published and negative or non-results are frequently excluded from papers. Research data are not always structured and standardized and authors are often untutored in databases and ontologies. The default policy, it was recommended, should be openness in the availability of authors’ published and underlying data, standardized with full metadata and unique identifiers, to make data usable and mitigate the need for sophisticated mining.

CrossRef's Rachael Lammey
Because of copyright and licensing, not all data are easily accessed for retrieval and mining. Increasingly licensing for ‘non-commercial purposes’ is permitted but exactly what is non-commercial is ill-defined, particularly in pharmaceuticals. Organizations like CrossRef, CCC, PLS and others are beginning to offer services that support the textual, licensing and royalty gathering processes for both research and commercial data mining.

Rejecting the name tag Cassandra, Paul Uhlir of the National Academies urged a note of caution. Big Data is changing the public and academic landscape, harbouring threats of disintermediation, complexity, luddism and inequality and exposing weaknesses in reproducibility, scientific method, data policy, metrics and human resources, amongst others.

Paul F. Uhlir urges caution

Judging by the remainder of these sessions and the audience reaction, excitement was more noticeable than apprehension.

ALPSP of course is on the ball and has just issued a Member Briefing on Text and Data Mining (member login required) and will publish a special online-only issue of Learned Publishing before the end of this month."

Kurt Paulus

Friday 19 September 2014

Open Access rules OK – almost? Kurt Paulus reflects one week on from the ALPSP International Conference

Toby Green (centre) asks 'Why are we still not there?'
“Twenty years since Harnad, ten years since Budapest, but why are we still not there?” asked Toby Green in the second Plenary at ALPSP 2014. Well, the venerable Royal Society has launched its first OA journal, Open Biology, and has survived the experience. They are only one of many scholarly publishers: Phil Hurst of the RS claimed some 50% of learned societies are planning OA journals. Jackie Jones from Wiley gave structured advice on how and when to ‘flip’ the revenue model from subscription to Gold OA. So where are we?

It seems that much of the hesitancy surrounding this topic is fading away and we are now looking at how rather than whether to do it. Practical questions come to the fore: how long do we give authors APC waivers before they become fully liable (1-2 years), and what groups are entitled to more permanent waivers. The key customers continue to be the authors, but so too are funding bodies who underwrite APCs, and institutions who are targets for membership schemes. More internal customer service silos must disappear as the whole workflow is rethought.

If everything is rosy in the garden, why did Open Access pop up in almost every session? Well, we are still in the transitional stage between Hybrid, Green and Gold, and progress towards a more common approach is still patchy. The mandating issues are very much on the table, with only the UK and USA relatively self-assured. In the EU the new Commission will need time to settle in, and mandating policy may not be its first priority. Thinking about OA in Australia and New Zealand is positive, as it is in China – where scientific research output is blossoming – while developments in South America, perceived as a significant future market, are less coherent.

Hybrid, Green or Gold? You decide.
Behind the front line of even small publishers taking the plunge, there are other developments that shine a light on the changing landscape. Ottawa University Press is in partnership with the university library which financially supports some OA book titles. OECD, amongst others, uses the 'freemium' model, where read-only is free but download, print and other services are paid for, and it claims it works. OA repositories are adding to the exposure of published works, and bring PhD theses and research reports to readers’ attention. Scholarly publishing in libraries is growing the younger author pool, a trend rather more prominent in the USA than the UK.

Simon Ross (left) presents Fred with his Award
Many details remain to be chewed over: Should APCs apply only to published papers when rejected papers also incur a high cost? ‘Value for money’ becomes more of an issue now that the cost of publishing is out in the open. It is in the joint interests of libraries and publishers to support each other; what’s the best way to maximize exposure and discovery of the work? Almost the last comment of the last Plenary was that most if not all new journal launches will be Open Access; another example of the glass half full.

There was genuine delight when Fred Dylla, CEO of AIP and a driver of clear thinking about OA policies was announced as the winner of this year’s ALPSP Award for Contribution to Scholarly Publishing.

Kurt Paulus

Monday 15 September 2014

A call to all ambitious society publishers from Susan Hezlet

ALPSP Committees and Council are at the heart of what we do. They are a group of dedicated industry volunteers who advise, steer and guide the secretariat, providing strategic direction and practical support so we can connect, inform, develop and represent the scholarly publishing community.

Susan Hezlet, Publisher at the London Mathematical Society and outgoing member of the ALPSP Council, reflects on the pains and pleasures of volunteering in this guest post.

"About ten years ago I was asked to give a talk at an ALPSP seminar, it wasn't particularly good, but the next thing was a request 'would I join the Professional Development Committee?' This involved co-organising a seminar - I think it was with Felicity Davie and Karen Hillmansen. That was fun, I learnt a lot in the process and we were guided and kept to the task with the help of Lesley Ogg.

The next request was 'would I be Treasurer of ALPSP?' Five years and a lot of direct involvement in authorising payments, helping with the interviewing and appointment of a Chief Executive, being asked to attend meetings on open access policy development, trotting over to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to tell them how important scholarly publishing is - not that they still do regular meetings since Vince Cable moved in.

Then it was 'would I do a second term?' This was followed by me saying no, but it would be nice to do one more year on Council as an ordinary member. Three years later... and I'm finally finished.

Perhaps this doesn't sound like fun? However, it is perhaps the best free education you can get in publishing! I have had good times with my fellow publishers on the PDC and ALPSP Council, all of whom are way more senior and knowledgeable than me. All of the people who work for ALPSP are highly professional and generous in the extra time they devote to supporting the rest of us.

It was through ALPSP connections that I managed to find and persuade some excellent publishers and consultants to come and join our Publications Committee at the London Mathematical Society. I have learnt a great deal from them and over the years it has transformed the committee, from one where the Editors spent time on the use of the Oxford comma, to a business committee with a strategic plan (thanks Mark!)

As a small society publisher who spends most of her time being a pain in the arse for my larger publishing distributors, I would not have had the confidence to ask and occasionally insist on a decent service from them without the conversations and support of people involved with ALPSP.

On the second day of the 2014 conference, while I should have been listening to even more good advice from the great speakers we had at the event, I was tucked away with the first round of business proposals from no less than nine publishers. Without the networking and experience of dealing with senior publishers in ALPSP, I would not have known where to begin. It has been a fascinating read and one of these days I will write my memoirs...

Finally, I have made some good friends. In the long run, there is nothing more important.

So. This is a call to all ambitious Society Publishers who want to learn something beyond their own field of publishing; Volunteer!"

Huge thanks go to Susan for her time on PDC and Council. She can be contacted via the London Mathematical Society website.

Friday 12 September 2014

Open access: the daily challenge (new customers, processes and relationships)

Phil Hurst, Jackie Jones, Wim van der Stelt
Springer's Wim van der Stelt chaired the final panel at the 2014 ALPSP International Conference. The panellists reflected on the daily challenges of starting an open access product and how the new business model fundamentally alters the publication chain.

Phil Hurst from the Royal Society talked about how they approached launching OA journals. They had a gap in their portfolio and they thought the best way to do this was to launch an OA journal. Open Biology was their first online only journal.

They learnt that many things are the same. Getting the right people on the board is key: you need top people. Content is still king and they need to get the journal in the right places. Open access is a big benefit to everyone. They didn't really realise until they launched the journal. The benefits to stakeholders include speeding up science. There is greater visibility for universities and funders. For researchers there is increased visibility and results. It was good for them to get involved in the OA community.

Much of the marketing is the same, but they supplemented this with an OA membership. Authors from member institutions receive a discount on pure or hybrid access. They incorporated a wider range of metrics including DORA and Altmetrics as a range of measures of research impact. It has also provided them with a springboard. They launched the journal to learn and prepare for the future. OA is consistent with the mission of learned societies. Sustainable? The jury is still out, we will only learn by putting OA journals to the test.

Alex Christoforou from BioMed Central asked who is the actual customer for an OA publisher? They have hundreds of journals across BMC and Springer with hundreds of members, thousands of authors and transactions. What they all need is access to the publisher, support and excellent customer service.

Alex Christoforou
They continue to provide some good old fashioned and reassuring tools to support authors such as a fax number, photos of the team on the web and lots of different ways to contact them. They have 4000 customer service queries each quarter that they deal with. It's increasing as well. They have to provide some kind of service 24 hours a day so they can turn around queries in one day. They even provide online banking for those that spend large amounts of money.

Customer services is not just complaints, payments and author services. It's a way of thinking across the organisation so that all stakeholder groups can build a constructive relationship with them and business can grow over time.

Jackie Jones from Wiley talked about subscription versus open access and 'flipping' journals. They have flipped eight journals so far and it is early days. Some of the key flip criteria they assess include
whether it has a modest subscription revenue. Typically these are young journals that haven't achieved predicted revenues. They also look at areas where there is evidence of good OA funding and existing hybrid activity. Where there is longer term growth potential or attractiveness to authors. They also consider ratio of current revenue to articles.

For publishers flipping can lead to potential for faster growth, but there is higher volatility of revenues. From a society perspective, it provides an opportunity to explore OA. However there is risk commercially and editorially. From the funder point of view some prefer full OA journals but Gold OA is the only option. From an institutional point of view there is no subs fee, but you have to track APCs and costs. For tools and modelling they have flow charts and decision trees to help monitor and track submissions and revenues.

EMBO Molecular Medicine launched in 2009. It had modest subscription sales and the society had concerns about visibility. There was an 85% rejection rate. The per page publication charge was 125 euros and pre-flip the average author cost was 1600 euros. They set the APC at 3000 euros in line with other journals in the society's portfolio. Submissions doubled in the launch period. However, on other journals there was a dip in submissions initially, but they do recover.

They have learnt you need to plan ahead and time communication really carefully. Make sure papers in hand are under the new model so you don't have to waive fees. Don't flip mid year and avoid complications of subs reimbursements. Undertake submissions and publications surveys.

Welcoming the robots

Mark Bide, Chairman at the Publishers Licensing Society chaired the penultimate panel at the ALPSP International Conference on text and data mining (TDM).

Gemma Hersh, Policy Director at Elsevier talked through the Elsevier TDM policy. It has been controversial with calls to change it. Central to their policy is the use of the ScienceDirect API, designed to help preserve the performance of website for everyone else.

One controversy is that a license is Elsevier's way of exerting control. However, they have a global license (which complies with the UK copyright exception and balances with copyright frameworks). Another complaint is around the click through agreement: critics believe it controls what researchers are doing and takes control away from libraries to place liability on researchers. However, it is an automatic process, there is no additional liability, it is aligned with institutional e-amendment, provides guidelines on reuse and can offer one to one support.

Another complaint is that they didn't allow text mining of images. The reason was they did not hold copyright in all the images so they would do it on request. However, they now do it automatically and include terms of use flagging when they need to contact the copyright owner where it doesn't lie with Elsevier.

There were criticisms that they were trying to claim copyright over TDM output. This was inadvertent and they have adjusted the policy to be a little more flexible and take this into account. A final misconception was that the policy was rigid.

In Europe, they have signed a commitment to facilitate TDM for researchers, but their policy is global. They are also a signatory of CrossRef and think the new service is good.

Mark Bide introduces the panel
Lars Juhl Jensen, based at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research at the University of Copenhagen, provided an academic perspective on TDM. He considers himself a pragmatic text and data miner. The volume of biomedical research that he has to read is huge. Making sense of structured and unstructured data is key. All he wants to do is data mine. It enables him to do things such as associate diseases and identify conditions. Once you've got the data from text mining, you can then bring it together with experimental data, and from other sources.

As a researcher doing text mining, he needs the text. He doesn't want much else. The format doesn't matter too much. If he can get it in a convenient format, great. The licence has to be reasonable.

Andrew Clark, Associate Director Global Information and Competitive Intelligence Services at UCB,  articulated what TDM means and the part it plays in the scientific industry. He recounted the work of the Pharma Documentation Ring (P-D-R). Their aims are to:

  • Promote exchange of experience/networking among members
  • Encourage commercial development of new information services and systems
  • Jointly assess new and existing products and services
  • Provide a forum for the information industry

Gemma Hersh, Lars Juhl Jensen and Andrew Clark
Literature patent analysis, sentiment analysis and drug safety are just a few of the benefits of TDM. One of the challenges is around the unstructured format that the data comes in at. They need several aggregators to make the data mineable. It's not always easy to get the datasets - from small publishers to large ones. It's quiet expensive and labour intensive.

There are high costs for setting up your data mining. There are a lack of technical skills in the organisation.

There are benefits to TDM that include a managed and in some cases auditable processes for protecting IP. It provides added value and potential new revenues streams. Clark closed with a call for industry collaborations and asked everyone to watch this space.

Thursday 11 September 2014

ALPSP Awards spotlight on... Frontiers, a community-run open-access publisher and research network

Kamila Markram is co-founder and CEO of Frontiers
The ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing will be announced at the conference this week. In the final post in our series about the finalists, Kamila Markram, co-Founder and CEO of Frontiers, answers questions about the Frontiers Open-Science platform.

ALPSP: Tell us a bit about your company

KM: We founded Frontiers in 2007 to enable researchers to drive open-access publishing. To achieve this, we built an Open-Science platform with innovative web tools that support researchers in every step of the publishing process. These include collaborative peer review, detailed article and author impact metrics, democratic research evaluation and social networking.

From our beginnings as a group of just a few scientists, Frontiers has evolved to be the fourth leading open-access publisher worldwide. We have published almost 24,000 articles and are on track to publish our 30,000th article before the end of 2014. Our portfolio of open-access titles is also growing rapidly: in just 7 years, we have launched 48 open-access journals across all STM fields.

ALPSP: What is the project that you submitted for the Awards? 

KM: The Frontiers Open-Science platform, which embodies our community-driven philosophy and hosts our innovative online tools to improve all aspects of reviewing, publishing, evaluating and disseminating articles.

Frontiers is a community run, open access academic publisher and research network

ALPSP: Tell us more about how it works and the team behind it. 

KM: Our growing community consists of almost 50,000 leading researchers on the editorial board and more than 100,000 authors. In Frontiers, researchers run the journals and take all editorial decisions. Behind the scenes, we have a team of 140 employees in our headquarters in Lausanne and in offices in Madrid and London. These include mainly journal managers and editorial assistants, who support our editors and authors in the publishing process, as well as software engineers who continuously develop our publishing and networking platforms. We are a highly motivated and dynamic team, of whom many hold Ph.Ds in diverse disciplines, and from many nationalities. Crucially, we all believe that science forms the basis of modern society and that we need to improve the publishing process, so that we all, researchers and society, can benefit from a discovery as quickly as possible.

ALPSP: Why do you think it demonstrates publishing innovation? 

KM: Our approach is unique: we work with leading researchers across all academic communities and empower them with our latest custom-built web technologies to radically improve publishing.

We introduced the novel concept of “Field Journals” – such as Frontiers in Neuroscience – which are structured around academic communities and into specialty sections, such as Neural Circuits, with their own editorial board and which can be cross-listed across journals. This modularity gives synergy between related disciplines, strengthens niche communities, and makes it easy for authors and readers to find the content that interests them.

Also central to our publishing model is the Collaborative Peer Review we introduced. It safeguards authors' rights and gives editors the mandate to accept all articles that are scientifically valid and without objective errors. The review occurs in our online Interactive Review Forum, where authors engage in discussions directly with reviewers to improve the article. It is constructive and transparent, because we publish the names of reviewers on accepted articles. This ensures high quality of reviews and articles. It works – as confirmed by our high impact factors, views and downloads. On top of that, our online platform makes the process fast – with an average review time of 84 days.

We were also the first publisher to develop, in 2008, detailed online article metrics to measure views, downloads, and shares with a breakdown of readership demographics, and we were an early adopter of a commenting system for post-publication evaluation. And we are also the only publisher that uses these article-level metrics, not only to highlight the most impactful articles as selected by thousands of expert readers, but also to translate these discoveries into “Focused Reviews” that make them more accessible to a broader readership. Post-publication evaluation at Frontiers is democratic and objective, using the collective wisdom of numerous experts.

Lastly, we are the first and only publisher to completely merge our own custom-built networking technology with an open-access platform, to raise the visibility and impact of authors and disseminate their articles more efficiently — readers are provided with articles that are the most relevant to them.

Frontiers - Open-Access Publication and Research Networking from Frontiers on Vimeo.

ALPSP: What are you plans for the future? 

KM: To keep growing, innovating and providing the best tools and service. We will continue to bring our publishing model to all STM fields, and also across the humanities and social sciences in the near future. At the same time, we are improving our networking platform, to enable even better dissemination of articles and to increase visibility and impact. Another growing initiative is Frontiers for Young Minds, a new science journal for kids. Young people – aged 8 to 15 – act as reviewers of neuroscience papers by leading scientists. It is a fun, important and engaging way to get children curious about science and let scientists reach out to a young audience. Launched less than a year ago, Frontiers for Young Minds has already been listed as one of the “Great Websites for Kids” by the American Library Association. And by popular demand, we are now about to expand the project across other fields, including astronomy, space sciences and physics. The ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing are sponsored by Publishing Technology.

The ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing are sponsored by Publishing Technology. The winners will be announced tonight at the ALPSP International Conference Wednesday 10 - Friday 12 September, Park Inn Heathrow, London.

Follow the conversation via #alpsp14 and #alpspawards on Twitter.