Wednesday 10 September 2014

Customers as competitors

Customers as competitors? Anderson, Taylor-Roe and Horova reflect.
The first plenary at the ALPSP International Conference 2014 focused on increased competition from the least likely sources - our customers - with the advent of digital publishing lowering barriers to entry.

Rick Anderson, Associate Dean for Scholarly Resources & Collections at the Marriott Library, University of Utah (also known as a Scholarly Kitchen Chef) chaired a panel comprising Jill Taylor-Roe, Deputy Librarian at Newcastle University Library, Tony Horova, Associate University Librarian at the University of Ottawa and Graham Stone, Information Resources Manager at the University of Huddersfield.

The University of Ottawa is the world's largest bilingual university and the Press and library have a close relationship at management and editorial level. They generate $300,000 sales each year with a simultaneous print and digital programme. Tony Horova shared the interim results of a research project they ran to track results of a Gold OA partnership. The OA partnership was between the University of Ottawa Press and the library was based around shared goals to improve sustainable dissemination of scholarly research.

The Open Access Funding Partnership is a three year agreement to support gold OA with CC licence for new monographs. The library subsidises a maximum of three titles per annum with a $10,000 subvention per title to a max of $30k per year. They have targeted titles of core contemporary social relevance. It is a three year project with the goal of assessing sales and dissemination so they can understand what it will mean for their future programme. Horova shared the results to date. Interestingly, including actual sales.

Where do they go from here? They are one of four university presses in Canada to have embraced OA and intend to remain on the cutting edge. they are assessing the project/consultation process and determining how to further incorporate OA into business model and strategic direction of the Press while discussing financial implications with the library.

Jill Taylor-Roe reflected on the ups and downs of relationships between librarians and publishers. How do we respond to change? We are in the midst of the most disruptive period in scholarly communications. The only real certainty for all of us is that more change will come. To survive and thrive you need to change and adapt.

One major change that publishers have to engage with is the involvement in research publishing decision of managers within an institution. When you come up against financial directors as agents of change, they become a significant influence. This is a different world, they were never involved before. They will ask lots of questions around why there are payments for fees, pages, illustrations etc. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

It is time to change and recalibrate scholarly communication models. Need to put each of our skill sets together to face this new world. In some instances there will be competition from university presses. It is good that the dialogue has been opened, but she is keen not to polarise the discussion.

Graham Stone spoke about the potential impact of open access repositories and library scholarly publishing on 'traditional' publishing models. He asked if we are not missing the point a little bit? Ultimately, what is more important? Is it the usage on your journal platform or is the actual impact of the research. He would argue that the latter sells content. Repositories that multiply access points help increase readership and impact. Repositories are not all that bad. They may well be helping.
Graham Stone steps up for the debate

Stealing your lunch? No. Gold OA in the repository? We paid for it. Green? We have an agreement to access it. If it is hybrid version, we're not only giving you lunch, but also letting you having your cake and eating it as we link to the publisher platform.

Don't waste your money on fancy sites that don't work on mobile. Researchers just require stuff. The PIRUS project from a few years ago where the evidence showed they drove usage. A more recent initiative is the IRUS-UK and Repositories project. They are adding value by promoting where citations are and building awareness internationally.

There is a lot going on in North America who are ahead with scholarly publishing in the library. Amherst, University of Huddersfield, Ubiquity Press are just some examples. They have an eye for growing the author pool, particularly with young researchers who may struggle to get published elsewhere. Academic publishing is a professional industry and it has to adapt to changes in scholarly practice.

Follow the ALPSP International Conference conversation on Twitter via #alpsp14.

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