Thursday 27 March 2014

Roy Kaufman: Shifting Revenues from Post-Publication to Pre-Publication: The Impact of Open Access

Roy Kaufman, Managing Director of New Ventures at Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), writes here in a guest post about the shift of revenue to pre-publication and what that means to publishers.

'Open Access (OA) is changing the way scholarly, scientific and academic journal publishers are managing their businesses fiscally. While revenue has traditionally been earned by publishers after publication through subscriptions, site licenses, pay-per-view, permissions, advertising and licensing channels, OA is slowly, but dramatically shifting the model so that revenue is earned pre-publication.

Under the OA model, publisher earnings come from author charges, including open access charges, page and color charges, author reprints, and other services. The sources of revenue are also changing. In the traditional customer-pays-the-distributor model, publishers were compensated by libraries, advertisers and aggregators. But now, publishers receive these revenues pre-publication from funders, institutions and authors. In this new paradigm, publishers must focus on usability and developing convenient services they can offer these new buyers to streamline fee management processes, retain high-value authors, serve new stakeholders, and maintain – or increase – revenues. Put simply, publishers are gaining new customers with a new set of needs to serve.

Authors as Customers

Traditionally, scholarly publishers have seen authors as sources of content and as researchers. However, in the gold road open access model, authors, backed by funding organizations, also represent a source of revenue. Under many OA models, authors will pay an Open Access charge to make an article freely available. They may also pay submission fees, page and color charges, article reprint fees, or some combination of these. Thus, publishers need to (re)focus on authors as customers.

To meet these new author needs, publishers must automate, providing authors with an intuitive, web-based workflow with clear explanations of publishing options and their downstream licensing and compliance implications. At a more granular level, publishers need the capability to provide customized pricing based on factors such as user type, funder, license type, author affiliation, author location and membership status. Publishers must be able to execute business rules that balance the needs of their authors, their institutional subscribers and funding agency mandates.

To help publishers deliver the best user experience, CCC’s RightsLink® is now integrated into the manuscript management workflow, providing a streamlined, web-based payment workflow – driven off of a sophisticated pricing engine – dedicated customer service, multi-currency payment options, conditional payment guarantees, and real-time reporting for all transactions. Whether publishers use RightsLink® or their own bespoke services, it is important to get the author, institution and funding experience right.

Funding Organizations as Customers

Publishers who are able to best collaborate with multiple funding organizations and process their unique requirements are going to gain the greatest traction in the Open Access market. These organizations fund the publication of OA articles, either directly through publishers or indirectly through block grants to institutions. Not surprisingly, funders want to be able to track the content that they finance. This means they want verification that Open Access charges have been paid, as well as confirmation that publishers are complying with their policies and licensing requirements.

Universities and Other Institutions as Customers

As Open Access publishing increases in volume and becomes a more prominent part of the research community, universities will need to educate their staff and refine their policies and procedures. At the same time, publishers will need to offer a streamlined OA charge submission process that addresses the needs of universities and of their funders. Universities as “readers” have traditionally been, and continue today to be, a significant revenue source for publishers through subscriptions to journals. Now, however, as the number of OA journals (including hybrid journals) increases, universities also serve as managers of OA funding, typically from the block grants of funding agencies, and sometimes from their own reserves. Funders provide institutions with significant research grants from which they expect universities to pay Open Access charges. By failing to comply with funders’ publishing and licensing policies, a university may be putting future research grants at risk. For that reason, universities must be able to provide funders with itemized accounts of how they have spent their funding, making publishers’ reporting capabilities very important. Academic institutions also have their own requirements for recording and reporting on individual items of expenditure, adding to the demand on publishers to offer robust reporting to multiple constituents.

The Changing Role of Content Users

Reuse of an article that is readily available on a publisher’s website is not always free, as is recounted in "Open Access Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Free,” a recent article from CCC. Thus, content users can represent yet another source of revenue, even when a journal is publishing content openly. Depending on the model under which a journal or an article is published, a content user may be expected to pay for reuse, particularly when the content is reused in a commercial context. (One Creative Commons License, CC-BY-NC, requires a specific license for commercial reuse. This license is used by many publishers, especially in so-called “hybrid” journals). Since navigating the nuanced licenses, exceptions and rules can be challenging for content users, publishers will have to make the process of purchasing content and/or rights both easy and accessible. The task will certainly include promoting the rights available, educating users about the differences in policy and pricing, and developing systems to automate transactions and new data/metadata standards.

What's Next?

While traditional measures of a journal’s impact, such as rejection rates and ISI Impact Factors, remain important for some journals, for others simplicity of transactions and ease of compliance with funder mandates are even more critical. Further market segmentation based on OA polices is inevitable. A journal's success will hinge on making smart segmentation decisions, meeting the needs of new constituencies, and keeping the user experience as simple as possible. The model will mature and be maximized only after a period of disruption and experimentation. Hold on for a wild ride.'

Roy Kaufman, March 2014

CCC offers ALPSP members a special discount off the RightsLink suite of licensing tools. Review information about their open access solution on their website.

Going to the London Book Fair? See Roy Kaufman speak on “Consideration for Publishers Develop Open Access Business Models” on 9 April 2014, 16:00-17:00. The Faculty, EC1.

You can find a wealth of resources, white papers, news and policy information on the Open Access Resource Center hosted by CCC in partnership with ALPSP.

Thursday 20 March 2014

What do researchers want... and what are we doing about it?

The morning panel consisted of four early career researchers and postgraduate students from across disciplines. Thomas Lewis from Warwick Medical School kicked off with frank insights into his experience of accessing content for his work.
  • The dreaded paywall: it's frustrating to know whether or not you'll have access. You can waste half an hour on it. Not good in a clinical setting as sometimes, access to an article is time sensitive for treating a patient.
  • Information overload: he copes by using: RSS, web browser, social media (esp Twitter), Dropbox for storage and email.
  • He finds more interesting papers through social media than anywhere else.
  • He puts papers in Mendeley as it helps access research when and where he needs it.
  • Metadata and tagging are essential
  • Mobile access is handy - he's not an expert on open access, but knows that mobile institutional login is a nightmare. Can't find research quickly.
  • Can't afford to publish in leading OA journals. 
  • The Impact Factor is outdated. He is interested in discussing research/paper direct. Two-way communication important and good for evaluation: usage, peer review, citations (shared), Altmetrics (eg ResearchGate, Google Scholar, ORCID).
The challenges that he faces as a clinical researcher are:
  1. difficulty finding content
  2. difficulty accessing content
  3. difficulty evaluating the impact of content
  4. difficulty publishing own content
Rachel Gimson is doing a PhD in Criminal Law at the University of Sussex. She expressed a number of frustrations including:
  • papers called by journal name first makes it difficult to identify topics/relevance 
  • she would like to put her own tags and metadata on articles
  • she scans chapters and books, spends a lot of time doing this, which is annoying
  • it's ridiculous to have to pay upwards of £50 for an ebook if you already own the print book
  • there are challenges accessing ebooks via the library
  • she has tried very hard to use some ebooks, but couldn't annotate, download to PC or have useful interaction with it
Gimson uses online annotation service that syncs with pretty much all cloud storage (Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive). There isn't an equivalent to PubMed for law she's aware of so uses Google Scholar to find articles she knows about. Law researchers regularly use Facebook when trying to locate articles among researchers. The paywall can be avoided. It is unnecessary barrier. Paywalls seem so outdated in an age of social media. Why go through library services when you can do it immediately on Google Scholar. Why bother?

What would Rachel like?
  1. Better ebook lending facilities - bane of her life
  2. Better communication between publishers on their databases
  3. More visible means for seeing whether I have downloaded a particular article
  4. Better 'log in via your instituion' facilities
  5. Better communication with Google Scholar
  6. (Very personal request) More articles that use footnotes for referencing rather than in-text citations - Harvard referencing system for example is not good for those with dyslexia.
Lydia Le Page is a physiology PhD at the University of Oxford. At any one time she has a myriad of things to do. Reviewing literature often gets bumped down the list. She uses literature to form hypotheses and to get inspiration, to follow new research and to help understand results. She is also more interested in the wider discussion of science in news media and public. Le Page uses online a lot to find references, discuss with authors, do worldwide collaborations, and to get own publication out there. Le Page has some suggestions for publishers:
  • Is there space for new approaches to peer review for anonymous/non-anonymous review. 
  • How can altmetrics figure? Metrics other than impact factor - retweets, online views, data downloads etc (altmetrics). there is a role for peer review but current system is poor and needs improving. 
  • Peer review system does seem slow, especially to a PhD student. Consider getting data out there pre-pub to get comments? 
  • We need two way communication between researchers, authors and publishers
  • It would be great to be able to attend conference remotely to aid research
  • How to deal with data deluge? Alerts for relevant papers. What is trending. Reddit.
  • Online discussion on PubMed is good function.
  • Ways to improve science communication - alternative media accompanying papers (video, slide shares, animations).

Archana Deshmukh is an Information Studies masters student at Brighton. During her research she used 26% books, 31% journals, 43% online resources (n=295) although all journals were online as well. Information networks have always been complex. She has learnt to view resources from user's point of view whilst keeping critical eye (eg strengths/limitations of apps).

There are evolving models of librarianship - providing critically appraised information at the point of need. Databases are a huge obstacle. They add complexity to the research process. Not only do you have to learn how one, but a different system for others. There are massive usability issues - and she's an information studies student! Discoverability tools help and cushion a bit.

She asks publishers to bear in mind that she's not on campus a lot. She finds ebooks impossible to use. They are producer focused, not user experience focused: NOT intuitive at all. What support does she want? Good UX design, emphasis on mobile platforms, flexibility in access, storing, use, and a semantic approach to content. Deshmukh closed the session by summing up:

'I just want to read, organise and make connections, as I do with all other sources.'

Thursday 6 March 2014

Kurt Paulus on ALPSP International Conference 2013: Part 6 - Reaching out to (new) audiences

Alistair McNaught of Jisc TechDis on accessibility
This is the sixth and final in a series of reflections on the 2013 ALPSP International Conference by Kurt Paulus, former Operations Director at the Institute of Physics, and long time supporter of ALPSP. Our thanks go to Kurt for capturing the sessions. If this whets your appetite, make sure you save the date for the 2014 conference on 10-12 September, Park Inn Hotel Heathrow.

Reaching out to (new) audiences

Listening to our audience is an oft-repeated demand; this conference broke new ground in identifying two types specifically: vision-impaired scholars, and early career researchers and teachers.

“RNIB wants to open up greater access to published materials for all across all sectors” Anna Jones

It is estimated that one in eight people in the UK have some sort of ‘print impairment’, i.e. need help with access to written material. There is a moral case for providing this help and also a legal requirement in the form of the Equality Act 2010. The numbers also suggest that there is a commercial case, which is why Huw Alexander’s session was called ‘Accessibility: are you missing a strong market for your content?’ Rachel Thornton, Leeds Beckett University, gave a number of case studies illustrating how time-consuming and frustrating the experience of getting accessible versions of books on the reading list can be. For the staff assisting students the administrative effort can be severe. Publishers can help by providing clear information about file availability, rapid turn-around, fully accessible files, simple licence agreements and re-use by other students. Files that arrive four months after request are useless. Academics, too, need to be aware of difficulties when they put titles on reading lists.

“More disabled people are aspiring to do more” Alistair McNaught

Anna Jones of RNIB, Alistair McNaught of Jisc TechDis and Sarah Hilderley of EDItEUR filled in the technical background. EPUB 3.0 is now the most flexible platform for accessible e-book versions, and incorporates MathML as an integral part. How to write image descriptions remains one of the biggest challenges. An increasing range of e-readers, tablets and smartphones give varying degrees of accessibility with larger ‘print’, synthetic speech, electronic braille, as Anna Jones demonstrated with the help of her iPad with voice-over technology. So did James Scholes, a sightless computing student at Leeds Metropolitan, who led us through screen menus and simulated text, skilfully and at breakneck speed.

Sarah Hilderley of EDItEUR
The field is very collaborative. The Accessibility Action Group in 2012 issued a joint statement on accessibility and e-books (see EDItEUR, supported by publisher organizations and others, has published Accessible Publishing: Best Practice Guidelines for Publishers.

Jisc’s TechDis initiative provides support for publishers in creating accessible PDF documents, efficient alternative format request mechanisms as well as supporting publisher training. For publishers the message is: understand the issues, encourage awareness in house and extend this to all internal processes and then roll it out through the whole supply chain.

The ‘born-digital generation’ may be a cliché but these people are very much with us and so it was fitting that the penultimate session of the conference ‘How soon is now? Discovering what your readers expect now and in the future’ listened to representatives of that cohort emerging into academia. The chair of the session, Bernie Folan, is a marketing professional and student, two of the speakers, Sabina Michnowicz and Thomas Lewis are graduate students and the third, Janine Swail is an early-career lecturer at Birmingham. Their backgrounds, disciplines and aspirations may differ but there are some common threads that link their perceptions of the publishing industry and how it could make their lives easier:

“Publishing is critical: an academic’s route to market. Papers are our currency”
Janine Swail

For the PhD student or the starting academic, publishing your work is critical. If you aim for an academic career you have to be conscious of the requirements of the Research Excellence Framework and this will govern your submission patterns: start with the top journals; in Janine Swail’s case follow the International Guide to Academic Journal Quality of the Association of Business Schools and don’t waste your time with non-rated journals.

Everyone suffers from information overload; PubMed Central is said to add one new article a minute. The tools for assessing relevance and quality need further development. Impact factors are becoming dated, better search techniques are needed, the development of alternative impact measures such as Altmetric is welcomed and researchers are looking to social media and two-way communication to seek reassurance.

Bernie Folan (left) talks early career research with a delegate
Mobility is critical, especially with subject areas and projects that require travelling. Access is needed 24/7, speed is of the essence, mobile journal apps and more mobile friendly websites would be welcomed.

Authoring and submission tools need further development but preferably they should be publisher independent. Help with resubmission is encouraged. Budding authors would like to share both pre- and post-publication.

Cost is a serious factor for early career scholars. Pay walls are not only an irritant but may be a game stopper unless the searcher has deep enough personal pockets. Short term paper loans might be considered. Author processing charges are too high; consider student rates. Plus OPEN ACCESS!

“Make interacting with your customers a habit” Bernie Folan

Finally, and all participants in the session agreed on this: ‘Come and talk to us.’ Just as budding academics must learn to understand publishing rationales and processes, so publishers must learn more about the specific needs and irritations of this particular group of customers. One size does not fit all.

End note

One overarching impression, for one who has been to many ALPSP events, is the high standard of the talks, not only in the quality of their content but also their confident presentation, streets ahead of what it was in the days of the Learned Journals Seminars. Refreshing, too, the gender and age balance, with young professionals, deservedly, getting to the podium earlier than ever. It seems a long time to wait until the next conference. Preparations are well in hand we are told. Dates confirmed are Wednesday 10 to Friday 12 September at the Park Inn Heathrow London, UK.

The winners line up after the ALPSP Award ceremony
The annual ALPSP awards were announced at the conference but here they are again for completeness: Out of 15 submissions for best new journal the judging panel selected Faculty Dental Journal from the Royal College of Surgeons of England as the winner. Even more coveted was the publishing innovation award, with 32 entries. Drama Online from Bloomsbury Publishing, with Faber and Faber, was highly commended, and PeerJ, launched last year by Jason Hoyt and Peter Binfield topped the poll. Risk talking and innovation, it seems, are still prevalent within the industry!

His many friends will have been pleased that the ALPSP Award for Contribution to Scholarly Publishing was given to Anthony Watkinson, rarely absent from these refreshing conferences.

Kurt Paulus, Bradford-on-Avon