Friday 29 August 2014

ALPSP Awards spotlight on... RightsLink for Open Access, a solution for cost-effective Open Access fee management

RightsLink for Open Access
It's less than two weeks before the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing are announced at the conference. In the latest in a series of blogs profiling the finalists, we asked Bill O’Brien, Business Development Director at Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) to tell us more about RightsLink for Open Access, a solution for cost-effective Open Access fee management for scholarly publishers.

ALPSP: Tell us a bit about your company.

BO: CCC was founded over 30 years ago at the suggestion of the United States Congress to provide an efficient market for the clearing of photocopy rights. Located near Boston, CCC now has more than 350 employees dedicated to serving the needs of over 12,000 publishers and providing innovative content and rights-licensing technology solutions for more than 35,000 customers around the globe.

In the mid-90s, when publishers were struggling with how to best protect copyrighted material in a new online world, they worked closely with CCC to create RightsLink. RightsLink made it easy for visitors to a publisher’s website to purchase permissions and other services. Years later, we collaborated with our publisher customers again to leverage RightsLink’s advanced ecommerce capabilities to manage article processing charges (APC) and other author fees for journal articles. This summer, we released a completely new and more powerful RightsLink for Open Access platform, with a range of new capabilities developed with input from customers and partners.

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

BO: We were proud to submit our latest advance, RightsLink for Open Access, which offers advantages to both publishers and their authors. Its flexible and powerful features enable authors to quickly and easily submit APCs and other fees, while also supporting any pricing and discount model chosen by a publisher. Because it tightly integrates with virtually any manuscript editorial system, it ensures a seamless author experience. RightsLink for Open Access is a fine example of CCC’s culture of innovation.

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

BO: There’s no doubt about it: Open Access (OA) is dramatically changing the business of scholarly publishing. Publishers, authors, universities, librarians, funders and customers everywhere feel its impact. By carefully listening to stakeholders in the editorial and publication workflow, CCC has developed a powerful OA platform that enables publishers to more easily collect and manage APCs and other publication-related fees. And because it’s been designed to be deployed by multiple publishers, yet customized for each publisher’s unique needs, it’s an effective way to serve the OA ecosystem. RightsLink for Open Access – a market-driven platform informed by user groups, roundtables, thought leadership panels, and discussions – maintains the proven advantages of the flexible RightsLink permissions solution while delivering distinctly new strengths.

As always with CCC, our team starts with our customer. Input and ideas from our customers guide everything we do. Based on customer input, our goal was to create a simple user interface on top of a powerful rules and pricing engine that would help publishers deliver a common ecommerce experience for authors and institutions; provide publisher-specific messaging and branding; leverage metadata standards to support rich downstream reporting; and, ultimately, create a streamlined and satisfying author experience.

ALPSP: Why do you think it demonstrates publishing innovation?

BO:  At every step, RightsLink for Open Access ensures that critical research gets published as quickly as possible. The platform enables publishers to maintain contact with their authors, implement their business rules, and reinforce their brand experience. In addition, RightsLink for Open Access provides publishers with the data they require to run their businesses more effectively and more efficiently.

RightsLink for Open Access also provides publishers the flexibility to integrate directly into the publishing workflow through standard APIs. The rich metadata collected from the various systems in the workflow allow our sophisticated rules and pricing engine to tailor each transaction to the specific author and type of publication. RightsLink for Open Access uses standard APIs for ingesting manuscript and author metadata and for sharing manuscript and payment status information as authors move through the workflow.  These APIs make it easy for RightsLink for Open Access to integrate with Aries Editorial Manager and other manuscript and production systems.

Through the system's e-commerce capability, the author can pay by credit card or choose to be invoiced in a variety of currencies. Publishers specify pricing and are able to offer waivers and discounts, allowing them to experiment with different promotional models. Sophisticated tax software seamlessly handles sales tax, VAT, and the like, according to the publisher's tax rules. A real time reporting tool within the platform collects all transaction activity and metadata. CCC handles all billing, collections and distribution of funds in a scalable fashion.

Using RightsLink for Open Access, publishers and their partners are able to store and associate manuscripts with new standards like ORCID, FundRef, Creative Commons License types, and Ringgold institutional IDs, which persist throughout the workflow.

Moreover, at CCC, we understand the importance of standing with the publisher throughout the life of our product. Our consultative relationship does not end at '‘go live.” A Business Development representative continues to work with the publisher team to enhance and evolve the solution, and a Strategic Account Manager ensures personalized support. Success is measured by publisher growth, operational efficiency, and removal of friction from the workflow process, each of which is supported by world-class customer service.

The new RightsLink for Open Access platform represents a huge step forward for publishers navigating Open Access waters. We’re excited to earn this nomination.

ALPSP: What are your plans for the future?

BO: Over time, CCC will deliver incremental layers of functionality to simplify author workflows, starting with metadata-driven institutional pricing rules, and then leading to more sophisticated self-service tools and usage data relative to OA spending. As publisher and market needs continue to evolve, we pledge to evolve our services in kind to meet market needs.
To help our customers stay on top of the dynamic OA market, we developed a free OA webinar series, which has so far drawn over 2,000 registrants. Our Open Access Resources Center, a joint effort with ALPSP, has attracted over 40,000 visitors in 2014, and provides links to a host of content addressing OA issues.

The winners will be announced at the ALPSP International Conference Wednesday 10 - Friday 12 September, Park Inn Heathrow, London. Follow the conversation via #alpsp14 and #alpspawards on Twitter.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

ALPSP Awards spotlight on... IOP ebooks™ from IOP Publishing: a born-digital books programme for physics

The ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing announcement is fast approaching.

In the latest in a series of blogs profiling the finalists of the Awards, we spoke to Christian Box, Head of Sales Operations at IOP Publishing, about the IOP  ebooks™ programme.

ALPSP: Tell us a bit about your company 

CB: IOP Publishing is a subsidiary of the Institute of Physics, a not-for-profit society. Our headquarters are in the UK but we have offices worldwide. We publish more than 70 journals across the physical sciences and beyond that we publish magazines, conference proceedings and more recently, ebooks.

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

CB: The IOP  ebooks™ programme is a brand new book programme launched in October 2013. Our vision is to create the leading collection of physics books for a digital world. We aim to do this by bringing together outstanding researchers from across the physics landscape, with a born-digital, innovative approach to book publishing to make us the publisher of choice in the physics community. Despite starting with no backlist, platform or production system we established and launched our programme in 12 months.

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

CB: To date, 10 books have been published across two collections – IOP Expanding Physics and IOP Concise Physics. We expect to publish 30-35 books by the end of the year. When we started the project, we were able to utilise a lot of in-house expertise from across the business (IT, production, marketing, the design studio etc.). We wanted to transfer the knowledge and skills we have in journal and magazine publishing into books and I think we've been able to do that well. Naturally we've had to add some new skill sets, including a new book commissioning team. We've also established key partnerships to support the programme – IOP Concise Physics is built in partnership with Morgan & Claypool, for example.

ALPSP: Why do you think it demonstrates publishing innovation?

CB: It’s a combination of factors, but in essence I believe that we have created the first book programme in STM Publishing designed around the digital version.

Over the last 5–10 years STM ebook publishing has progressed but we found that the vast majority were still based on the print model – what you might call “print books online” rather than ebooks. Our approach completely disassociates the two, meaning that we can focus on the digital delivery of our books. I would highlight three particular points within our programme that captures this.

Firstly, we believe the reading experience that we offer is the best in STM publishing. We publish all books in HTML, PDF and EPUB 3 and make them available as individual chapters or whole books. This puts the reader in control – allowing them to read the book the way that they want, on the device that they want. This also gives the authors the freedom to go beyond the constraints of the printed page – allowing the incorporation of multimedia and use of features such as MathJax.

Secondly, and associated to the reading experience, is the freedom of use. For our institutional customers our books have no DRM or restrictions on use, which means that a librarian can feel comfortable that they are buying unlimited, restriction-free content for their patrons.

Finally, we have moved away from a traditional print royalty model for rewarding our authors, to allow us the flexibility to fully embrace digital publishing without being constrained by the limits of a royalty model based on print.

What makes our programme innovative is the way we have bought all of these factors together to launch a true digital books programme. This is a real advancement in publishing.

ALPSP: What are your plans for the future?

CB: In terms of future expansion, we are commissioning new content in physics and other complementary subjects and plan to publish more than 120 books per year in 3-5 years. We are also developing the functionality on our platform, IOPscience, to offer the best reading experience and exploring new business models that provide flexibility for our customers.

Christian Box is Head of Sales Operation at IOP Publishing and was part of the team who developed the IOP  ebooks™ programme.

The winners will be announced at the ALPSP International Conference. Registration closes on Thursday 28 August. Book now to secure your place.

Thursday 14 August 2014

Innovation versus 'very good' journals

JZUS: a 'very good' journal
We all know that the world of journals publishing is changing rapidly, and there are constant pressures for innovation and new models to be developed. The recent shortlist for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing (winner to be announced at the conference) highlights some truly inspiring developments being introduced by publishers around the world. 

But in the race to evolve, adapt and develop, are we losing sight of what constitutes a good journal? What about the unsung heroes of the international publishing world that toil behind the scenes to improve what they do and how they do it? They may not be doing things that the industry recognises as innovative or receive the plaudits that accrue to the innovators, but their contribution to excellence in research dissemination is no less significant.

One example that recently came to my attention (and I'm sure there are many others out there, so please add them to the comments field) is the Chinese Journal of Zhejiang University-Science (JZUS). It was one of the first Chinese-based journals to introduce truly international peer reviewing systems (not something that is commonplace in many regions of the world). It was the first Chinese journal to use CrossCheck, and it makes extensive use of this to improve quality and avoid plagiarism. 

JZUS uses automated alerts to reach out to authors after publication if their articles are in the top 10 downloaded papers. It publishes articles in-press to avoid publishing delays, and identifies the ‘hot topic’ or most downloaded articles to help readers identify trends and the best articles published. It allows post-publication comments, and has added Power Point summaries of each article to help readers use its content in their own presentations (and ensure correct citation!).

Rather than aim for anonymous ‘international’ status, it is conscious of its roots, and celebrates the cultural heritage of China. Chinese cultural tokens are used to reward its reviewers, wherever in the world they are, in addition to the recent addition of Chinese language abstracts to increase usability to Chinese researchers. 

So what makes this a good journal? Partly, I believe, because it is focusing its activities on authors and readers. While it may not be developing truly innovative services, it is thinking about what they need and developing new ways of providing them.

There is nothing wrong with large European and US publishers looking for the ‘new’ and the ‘innovative’. We need experimentation to push us forward. But at the same time, we need to remember and celebrate journals that are striving to provide services to authors and readers that they want and need. This is particularly important for those publishing outside the large publishing hubs in the UK and the USA, and within organisations and cultures that don’t have access to the resources of large companies (who also form part of ALPSP’s membership). 

So let’s take a moment to hail a world (and those journals) where the development of high quality, useful, publication tools (aka journals) is taking place. All kudos to the ‘very good’ journal! And to the others that are also providing researchers with easier, more sophisticated, and more reliable access to information.

Further information on the Chinese Journal of Zhejiang University-Science publishing programme is available online

The ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing will be announced at the International Conference, 10-12 September, 2014. Registration is still open, book online at

Monday 11 August 2014

David Birkett reflects on outsourcing print journals production

David Birkett: does not read when cycling
Outsourcing is an issue that many learned societies grapple with. When we surveyed members earlier this year, well over three quarters of respondents said they outsource certain areas of their operation with the most common areas being production, technical and distribution.

What are the factors that drive the decision to outsource and what should you bear in mind when it comes to journals production? Here, in a guest post, David Birkett from Printondemand-worldwide reflects on the business reasons that drive this and suggests a way forward for print.

"For several consecutive years there appears to have been an increasing move away from in-house production to outsourcing. There are good reasons for this. Learned societies may not regard publishing as a core activity: it may simply be one among a range of services they provide for their members, often via a very small publishing team whose main role is to commission, arrange for peer review and edit journals articles. Larger publishers may also have reached the conclusion that outsourced production makes more sense: it ties up fewer staff, allows economies of scale that can’t be achieved by a single company, and enables them to take advantage of the outsourced partner’s expertise. Some publishers argue that with the advent of digital printing, production has become a ‘commodity’ activity and is therefore better outsourced, freeing up the in-house publishing team to devote its time to less tangible ‘value-adds’.

While publishers have long made arrangements with traditional printers either to hold spare journal print stock on their behalf, or to supply them with extra copies to store against future demand, this is a costly and potentially wasteful process.  It involves tying up cash long before such spare copies are sold (if indeed they ever are) and means committing further funds to storage.  An even worse problem than being stuck with stock that never sells out occurs when a request for a print journal is received after stocks are exhausted.

It is true that most publishers now offer their journals in digital format and are encouraging their customers to move away from print; and a minority of journals are now ‘born digital’.  However, even in the developed world some faculty members still demand that libraries hold journals in print format; and in parts of the developing world digital access is not always possible.  Journals that are supplied as part of membership benefits are usually distributed in print; and new members often request back copies.  Paradoxically, now that journals publication entails working with the ‘mixed economy’ of print and digital, the print part of the equation has become more difficult to manage, because it is harder to predict how many print copies will be required.

This is where digital printing comes into its own.  By working in partnership with a digital printer, it is possible for a publisher to print journals on a copy-by-copy basis as they are ordered.  The process is steady-state: once the files are placed with the printer, as many copies as required can be supplied and delivered to the end-customer three months, three years or a decade after the original publication date.  No money is tied up in stock or storage costs.  There’s no risk and no downside: just positive benefits.

As with all changes and challenges inspired by technological development, new solutions are emerging to tackle these issues.  Printondemand-worldwide, for example, has developed Journal Vault, a web-based system which - drawing on that company’s two decades of experience in digital printing, storage and distribution - allows journals publishers and learned societies to digitally store, print and distribute their journals and to handle their subscriber functions. It will be interesting to see how this and other solutions are embraced, and how they will develop, in partnership with journal producers, to a rapidly-changing environment."

David Birkett has run the gamut of book-trade jobs.  Beginning as a bookseller, he progressed to bookshop management, sales representation and sales and marketing management roles to his present position as Business Development Manager at Printondemand-worldwide, where he is enjoying using the knowledge and contacts he has gained to communicate with new and existing customers.  David’s chief passions are reading and cycling, although he seldom indulges them simultaneously.

Wednesday 6 August 2014

ALPSP Awards Spotlight on... Edifix, a cloud based bibliographic references service

This is the latest in a series of posts profiling the finalists of the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing, sponsored by Publishing Technology. We asked Bruce Rosenblum, CEO of Inera, to tell us more about Edifix,  a cloud-based service for bibliographic references.

ALPSP: Tell us a bit about your company

BR: Inera was founded in 1992 as a consulting company specializing in applications of SGML and XML. Over the past twenty years, we've built a seasoned team of publishing and software professionals who provide a wide range of innovative and practical solutions for the publishing industry.

We developed and license eXtyles, a suite of Word-based editorial and XML tools, and now we’ve launched Edifix, our new online bibliographic reference solution. eXtyles and Edifix allow their users to automate the most time-consuming aspects of document publication, and customers around the world rely on these software solutions to drive modern electronic and print publication workflows.

Beyond our software development activities, we actively engage in standards development. I was a founding member of the NLM/JATS/BITS DTD working groups and continue to be involved in the development of those DTDs. We also participate in cross-publisher initiatives (CrossRef) and board membership in key organizations (NISO).

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

BR: Edifix, the first product of its kind to make automated parsing and correction of bibliographic references available as a cloud-based service, is under consideration for the Innovation in Publishing Award.

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

BR: The Edifix interface is a simple web form into which users can paste plain-text bibliographic references from Word or other programs. Depending on the settings chosen by the user, Edifix quickly returns the same reference list copyedited to a preferred style (such as AMA, APA, Chicago, or MLA) and linked to PubMed and CrossRef. In addition to providing these links, which enable the user to quickly access the cited material, Edifix can correct missing or erroneous reference data. The quality improvement is therefore twofold: both the style and the accuracy of each reference is addressed. After Edifix processing, the user can move the corrected references back into Word or save them to RIS format for easy import into reference management systems. For publishers and other organizations that require granular and accurate reference XML, Edifix also offers the option to save the references to JATS (NLM) or PubMed XML, and for such applications it can be called directly via a programmable API.

Edifix shows the Inera team at its best. The project idea arose from a company retreat in 2012, proposed by members of the Inera staff who had previously worked as editors. The proposal, wholeheartedly backed by the management team, was quickly put into action by our small but nimble development team. Over the past 20 months, every member of Inera has been involved in this project, whether in design, development, testing, or sales and marketing, and additional improvements were suggested by beta testers. However, long before we started on Edifix as a cloud product, Inera had already invested more than 30 person-years in the development of the bibliographic reference-processing engine, which is a key feature of eXtyles.

ALPSP: Why do you think it demonstrates publishing innovation?

BR: There are a number of tools on the market for managing bibliographic references; these tools are used primarily by researchers for maintaining reference databases and creating reference lists. Edifix, however, is not a reference manager. Reference managers require structured or fielded reference elements, which for plain-text references – the kind you find in a typical manuscript – involves a lot of cutting, pasting, and re-keying of reference data. 

The critical innovation Edifix brings to the bibliographic reference problem is its parsing engine – that is, its sophisticated ability to automatically identify the elements of plain-text references. This ability to accurately burst a reference into its parts and then put it back together enables all of the advanced Edifix services, from copyediting to data correction to structured output (including an output format that will let you import into a reference manager like EndNote without all of that manual labor).

In particular, our unique parsing engine enables us to successfully address the challenge of linking and correcting references with data from online sources. When the original reference contains errors (not an uncommon occurrence), you need to ensure that further steps correct rather than exacerbate those errors. To do so, Inera invented special fuzzy-matching and data-scrubbing technologies to link references without false-positive errors and then intelligently merge the data from PubMed and CrossRef with the original reference. 

These technologies enable Edifix to link and correct references that otherwise may not link at all. By moving Inera’s groundbreaking reference parsing, editing, and validation technology into the cloud, Edifix makes extremely high levels of accuracy affordable to anyone who works with bibliographic references, from individual researchers and editors to publishers and service providers. 

ALPSP: What are you plans for the future?

BR: We constantly work to improve the user experience of Edifix. Some of the near-term improvements include:

  • The integration of additional editorial styles via Citation Style Language
  • Addition of advanced features such as duplicate reference checking, alphabetical reference list sorting, and URL validation
  • The ability for a group administrator to manage a team of users in a single organization.

Beyond improvements to our software products, our future plans include long-term strategic developments to ensure that our solutions remain ahead of the curve in the rapidly changing world of publishing. It’s an extremely exciting time to be working in this industry, and we’re thrilled to be able to provide products that genuinely improve the quality of, and people’s access to, the scholarly record.

The winners will be announced at the ALPSP International Conference. Book by Friday 8 August to avoid the late registration fee.

Learned societies more confident about future – and a ‘new pragmatism’ on Open Access

Rod Cookson, Editorial Director at Taylor & Francis reflects on the findings of the Open Access Learned Society survey produced in conjunction with ALPSP.

"Attitudes to Open Access are changing, with learned societies beginning to see Open Access as a business opportunity as well as a means of increasing outreach.

ALPSP and Taylor & Francis conducted a survey of learned society officers in April 2014, following up a similar survey from 2013. The sample size (139 responses, a 7% response rate) means this is a snapshot rather than a comprehensive poll, but it provides intriguing insight into the priorities of senior society officers today.

Societies finally seem to be shaking off recession and looking at the world with greater confidence. More than twice as many societies report rising member numbers rather than falling (42% up, 16% down), where last year nearly three out of ten were experiencing decline. Likewise more than a third of societies (35%) say that income from journal publishing is up, and half (51%) have flat financial performance.

Priorities have also changed. Two-thirds of societies (68%) strongly value a predictable financial return, rating this above a ‘healthy’ or ‘growing’ return. In 2013, ‘healthy’ scored highest. In uncertain times, societies desire an absence of financial surprises above all else.

Perhaps the most striking manifestation of greater self-assurance comes in the field of Open Access. A large majority of respondents (68%) believe that research published by their society should be free to read for all – intriguingly, identical to last year. Similar if less emphatic positivity has been reported in other surveys, including those by Wiley and EDP Sciences.

Many fewer of our respondents, however, are prepared to lose money making Open Access happen. Only 18% of societies say that they are willing to earn less money in an Open Access world, against 46% who are not. This is a 10% swing away from the ‘earn less’ position compared to our 2013 survey.

Anxiety remains that Open Access reduces the appeal of society membership. Close to half our respondents (45%) agree that OA gives members less reason to belong to societies, versus 30% who disagree. The gap is smaller than last year (a 20 percentage point differential has dropped to 15 points), but this issue clearly troubles many societies.

The biggest change of all comes in whether Open Access is opportunity or threat. Almost a third of respondents (30%) now see OA as an opportunity, compared to 41% who view is as a threat. Whilst ‘threat’ is still the larger number, the difference between these two camps has halved since 2013.

Is this the start of a ‘new pragmatism’ for societies about Open Access? Certainly fear seems to be giving way to a sense of practical opportunity. Looking ahead, nearly half of respondents (47%) say they are planning new Open Access journals. If OA is the new rock‘n’roll, societies are looking for a little less conversation, and a little more action…"

Rod Cookson is Editorial Director at Taylor & Francis. View the full survey on their website.