Thursday 15 May 2014

Marketing Open Access programmes and publisher case studies

Caroline Sutton, Co-Action Publishing
In the final afternoon session at The Mechanics and Reality of Open Access, Caroline Sutton from Co-Action Publishing talked about marketing. They have seven employees publishing 34 journals with most income coming through APCs. For them, Open Access equals free access with re-use under a CC BY licence to keep it simple and easy to use.

Marketing channels are similar to subscription publishing. Promotional activities are run in conjunction with conferences. They have outreach to libraries, social media activities, email campaigns, etc. To some extent they are seeking to meet the same needs: access to peer reviewed literature and a publication outlet. But she believes that OA and hybrid journals are two very different products.

Open Access is knowledge as a network; knowledge as infrastructure; Open Access as a key infrastructural element. It's about creating connectivity within this network. Traditional publishing recognises knowledge as property. One of the biggest challenges in OA publishing is to get your head around the non-proprietary mindset around content. Sutton believes she acts as a midwife trying to get content out into the world. They keep this in mind when developing marketing strategy. But they also have to keep in mind where they make money (subscription income versus APCs). Sutton feels that the hybrid approach contradicts these two views.

At Co-Action, their customer groups are researchers, funders, institution/library, others (practitioners, political leaders, patients, citizens, journalists, etc). They consider consumers of content (reader) and contributors to content (author). In subscription publishing, the key market is the institution/library as you sell subscriptions to them. The researcher as reader is also important to drive usage to help secure renewals. There is also some interest in the 'Others' category.

With OA publishing the researcher as author is central to publishing: to buy the service and submit papers and then to recommend to others. They also provide a lot of services post publication. As publishers they have had to rethink what their role is. What do they contribute? They need to communicate this in the marketing. With the hybrid model the Funder is the primary target group, but there is also a lot of work with other groups.

One final question that Sutton posed was is advocacy marketing? Why have some OA publishers engaged in advocacy? She believes they had to go to market and make their presence felt. Have we seen advocacy in the marketing content of hybrid models? She concluded they have to be careful with their email marketing as predatory publishers spamming research communities has created a bad reputation for all.

The final session included brief case studies from a variety of publishers.

Nicola Gulley
Nicola Gulley, Editorial Director at IOP Publishing outlined how they researched what the best model would be that worked for their research communities. The findings indicated that the hybrid model was the best option.

What they have seen so far is a similar pattern that they have seen in existing journals. In the first quarter of 2014 there was increased uptake in hybrid. Gulley also noted increased interest in the business model from researchers. The big message was - and continues to be - flexibility in the model is key.

Hazel Newton
Hazel Newton, Head of Author Services in the Open Research division at Nature Publishing Group/Palgrave Macmillan reflected on how the wholesale application of the STEM approach to Open Access in relation to the humanities and social sciences (HSS) had worried the research community. There were also concerns about quality and lack of choice. Researchers felt bamboozled by CC options.

In their 2013 author survey, 84% said they would publish OA if the best or most appropriate journal was OA. 68% thought their specific area of interest would benefit from OA journals. Interdisciplinarity is an exciting area in research and funders are increasingly thinking about it. However, the smallest area for funding is in HSS.

As a result they are launching Palgrave Communications later in 2014. Offering choice spanning humanities and social sciences it will champion interdisciplinary research. It will be about quality and furthering the discipline, not just methodologically sound. There are more than 80 international editorial board members. There will be no restrictions on the length of papers and licences will be CC BY (but alternative licences are available). The APC is set at £750.

Kathryn Spiller
Kathryn Spiller, Head of Publishing at Bioscientifica recounted that when she took over, they launched an OA journal. Their societies wanted it, but it also reflected market demand for an interdisciplinary journal. They didn't intend to publish Open Access only products. Subsequently, everything they have done has been market driven and it so happens has all been OA.

They have doubled their publishing programme, all with OA products. A potential new approach they are exploring is for a niche, interdisciplinary project to secure grant or sponsor funding so it can be OA, as there is no research funding available.

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