Wednesday 14 December 2016

Why is everyone talking about Rights Management? Clare Hodder explains...

Suddenly, it seems that Rights (Acquisition) Management has become a ‘thing’.

It is a topic at conferences, systems have been developed to support it and even new kinds of jobs are now dedicated to it. But why? Hasn’t the publishing industry always had to manage its rights? Aren’t rights fundamental to the very existence of publishers?

Well, yes, but it turns out that, by and large, we were somewhat relaxed about managing our rights when the world was based on paper, and digital (as with every other aspect of publishing) has made it all much more complex. In order to publish anything, we have always relied on an agreement with the person who created it (or those they had agreed could license it on their behalf), be that an author we commissioned, an in-house writer under an employment contract, or a photograph whose rights were secured via an image library.

Agreements were fairly standard and usually granted publishers a broad range of print based rights which would last for at least the edition’s lifetime, if not the full term of copyright. The likelihood of anyone straying too far from what was enshrined in these agreements was small, and the impact, if they did inadvertently exceed licensing terms, minimal. Consequently, most publishers did not worry too much about it, as long as they had an agreement with the main contributor, and had obtained (or got the author to obtain) permission for any 3rd party content, they had done their job, documents were filed, end of story.

However, as publishers have innovated in the digital space the range of rights they demand from rights holders has increased – seeking more rights, to cover more products, for longer periods of time. Rights holders have understandably responded cautiously, wanting to protect their revenue (and future earning potential), reputation and, importantly, control over how their content is being used. Publishers are not simply getting the rights they are asking for, or are getting them on more limited terms, and this poses some problems.

Add to that, the fact that all this innovation in the content that publishers are putting ‘out there’ means it is not just author contracts and a few permissions agreements to worry about, but you also have to get rights agreements with the person who shoots your video, records your pod-cast, the users who contribute user-generated content, the freelance writers who write your blogs, the software developer who created your app, and many, many more creators who have been engaged to deliver content. More rights in more content from more people = a bit of a headache!

How do you know who has given you what rights, for how long, and with what restrictions? You can no longer assume that everything you might want to do with the content is covered by the agreement you put in place several years ago, the big issue now is that you actually have to check. And you do actually have to check, you can’t bury your head under the duvet and hope it will all go away because ‘we’ve never had to do all this before’.

There is now a very real chance you will be sued if you get it wrong, or at least have to deal with a time-consuming settlement for an eye-watering amount of money. Suddenly, having the author manage some of those agreements or shoving everything in an archived, paper, editorial file doesn’t seem like such a good idea. It becomes necessary to think up front, before you even commission a project about what rights you will need to make the project viable and whether you are likely to be able to get them.

Time taken to acquire the rights and budget needed to pay for them needs to be factored into the process and the product needs to be monitored post release to ensure that all of the licences remain valid and re-clearance arranged (and paid for) where necessary. Documents and data about rights acquired need to be collated and stored and new workflows need to be established. And, so Rights Management as a ‘thing’ has emerged, with staff and systems and blog posts to boot, and it’s a ‘thing’ we all need to get to grips with, and quickly.

Clare Hodder, is a copyright and licensing specialist at Rights2 Consultancy. She will take part in the ALPSP and PLS webinar Effective Management of Rights on Monday 23rd January. Register now to secure your free place and find out more about how to manage rights management in your organization.

Monday 5 December 2016

The Challenges of Outsourcing Part Two: Stakeholder Engagement

In this post, part two of the Challenges of Outsourcing series, Lorraine Ellery Matthews continues to share feedback from leading scholarly publishing professionals. In her interviews she has asked about the involvement and engagement of stakeholders in the decision making process of outsourcing, what was planned and what was unexpected!

This follows the first post outlining the 10 key drivers to outsource.

Formalizing the process

One organization were lucky enough to have a specialist, qualified procurement team in place reporting to the Director of Operations. The team are responsible for all contracts with a value through its lifetime of £150,000 and over, this includes everything in terms of production work including the typesetting and printing.

However, engagement of outsourcing as a service hadn't always been managed in this way and started with just one person, albeit someone who came to the organization with a high level of industry experience working with both off-shore and on-shore suppliers. Fast forward several years and now with contracts for all suppliers and best practise from start to end in place the organization has certainly seen the benefit of having the process formalized, even if there are occasions when they have been challenged internally regarding the costs involved!

Should it be left to one team to reach decisions?

Many organizations will not have the benefit of a dedicated procurement team and instead will utilize the members of the relevant department or create a temporary cross departmental project team to manage the process. Decision making is varied, and much is dependent on the complexity of the required outsource service. Some teams had the relevant skills and resource to reach a decision without having to reach out to others in their organization. Other's had clear policies in place to ensure the decision is overseen and agreed by a committee or management team or both.

Although the final decisions maybe undertaken by a small group the input from start to finish was in most cases (although not always) widely sought.

Is stakeholder engagement key to effective communication?

Accountability is of course important as despite good intentions and best laid plans put in place to ensure that a partnership is successful (supplier relations will be discussed in my next post) there is always a risks that things don't go to plan. It is therefore important to ensure that internal stakeholders outside your team are approached early and invited to input their thoughts and provide feedback as these individuals are then more likely to support your decisions in moving forward (partners in crime). Obtaining buy-in from others will allow you not only to share the projects success but also accountability in the event of any problems down the line, reducing the risk of receiving "if only you had asked me first" comments when it is far too late.

Facilitating discussions to allow stakeholders to talk through their frustrations can strengthen the value of the final offering.

The feedback that derives from engagement also helps when considering if you have taken all the risks into account and to stop and ask if you are making the right decisions.

One platform manger took a unique and possibly risky approach when it came to external engagement which worked in his favour:

"My biggest success was not to have found the right platform vendor but to get the management board on side."

The manager was approached by a scholarly publishing organization committee looking for a keynote speaker for a conference with a theme based around "how to manage different content types". The manager had a solution, a vision for their own organization that had continued to develop into a wider vision in parallel with their request for proposal (RFP) process that was underway at the time.

The keynote presentation took place before the developing vision had been fully approved internally. The manager received positive comments and support for his vision from the industry delegates attending and these comments also directly reached the organization's management team. This approach may have been risky but one that was not regretted as subsequently the internal buy-in was significantly supported by the external buy-in generated by the industry delegates present.

To engage or not with customers?

The interviewees were asked about the level of engagement with their communities and customers during the outsourcing process. The response was mixed and some key factors for consideration emerged:

1. Whether people feel attached to the system or not!

The quality of feedback is more likely if people feel an attachment to the system. Attachment is less likely for production systems than it is for say peer review or hosting solutions.

For example, editorial board members may have to interact with the system on a regular basis, acting as academic editors as well as overseeing the peer review process. The authors and reviewers will have a lot of experience using various systems too, especially given that there are only a handful of major suppliers in the market.

The same is true with hosting platforms, even though people may not realize they are experiencing them they often have strong views about how they see things and how things are presented online.

2. Concerns over alerting customers to change

Some expressed that although they engage with their customers throughout the year they would not necessarily inform them before the decision to change suppliers was made and in some instances not until after implementation. They felt that through ongoing continuous engagement they will already have built up a good picture over time of the customers requirements and do not see the need to alert them and risk the cause for unnecessary concern.

3. Is the supplier set up to engage with the customer?

The customer is a critical partner and large publishers are likely to have user groups, focus groups and advisory boards in place to support ongoing engagement with customers throughout the year. However, a smaller publisher may not yet have these forums in place and therefore, as one interviewee recounted, was able to benefit from the supplier's ability to engage their customers directly to provide feedback on their system.

4. Engage only with a select group of customers

To ensure quality feedback you may decide to take the middle ground and obtain feedback from a select group of customers that you know you can rely on. As one publisher interview stated "if you are brave in the process you may also want to invite one or two customers in the testing of the system."

Supplier engagement

A key aim when considering outsourcing or moving to a new supplier is to establish a long term partnership.

Forge relationships early so that when you are looking to outsource or move supplier you already have trusted relationships in place.

  • Suppliers may develop new technologies, or form strategic partnerships to provide an improved or new solution for their service that you may benefit from, therefore, it is advisable to keep abreast with their developments.
  • Understand the competitor landscape and what options are available to you, even from those outside of your own industry.
  • Communication is much improved if you match relationships at various levels within both the supplier and your own organization.
  • Feedback will help the supplier develop their solution further and is important at all stages of engagement, including following an RFP whether the supplier is selected as your partner or not.

Sign up using your email to receive blog posts in this series, the next will be focusing on The RFP Process & Supplier Evaluation.

Lorraine Ellery Matthews will be presenting The Challenges of Outsourcing sharing further recommendations from leading publishing professionals on Wednesday 7 December at 2.15 p.m. on Stage 1 at the London Info International exhibition. Attend and join in the discussion – booking available here. Exhibition visitors can register for free.

Monday 14 November 2016

The Challenges of Outsourcing Part One: 10 Key Drivers to Outsource

An organization outsources many different services and processes to experts and those who offer specialist tools and systems to support their requirements. In the first of a series of guest posts, Lorraine Ellery Matthews outlines what the key challenges are when thinking about outsourcing. In this post, she considers what the key drivers are for a company that can lead to outsourcing. These articles are based on interviews conducted with experienced scholarly publishing professionals in 2016.

1. Strategic

Ask yourself, are you are a technology company or are you a publisher, library, etc? Do you want to be both or do you want to be one; what’s the balance, what’s the return on investment?

The key reasons for outsourcing for the first time can be a strategic one, based around where you wish to continue to invest your time and money and if you already have - or not - the necessary resource and in-house expertise to provide a quality service to your internal and external stakeholders.

You may still decide that there are strong competitive advantages to developing your own custom solution, however, in weighing up the pros and cons you may decide that it makes sense for your organization to focus your time and effort on your core business and therefore will seek a trusted partner that you expect to deliver a cost-effective quality, scale-able and timely service.

2. New technologies

The potential that changes in technology can provide will prompt a review into previous decisions. You may need to re-work you platform, re-work your strategy, remain flexible and re-invest.
APIs and open technologies create new opportunities: it is no longer necessary to host all your content on one platform as independent silos and systems can be integrated and meaningful content relationships created.

However, as one commercial publisher I spoke to who undertook a supplier review when their current hosting agreement was up for renewal, found that if you have already invested heavily and you are happy with your current supplier then despite the advantages that new technology may bring the potential up-front cost of decoupling your content and migrating to a new platform, particularly if you have specialist content hosted in a monolithic system may act as a major barrier to change.

3. New entrants

When you have already settled on outsourcing a services you may find that players in the space change over time, new entrants come into the market or there are other approaches to now consider, this can lead to the need to review that space and the cost of moving suppliers.

4. How much time and resource do you have available?

Consider whether you have enough experts in the organization to cover everything at once. Sometimes it is not just a cost based issue, but how much change you can manage, in how many places, and how many resources you have internally from an expertise perspective. The lack of availability of resource is a key driver when reaching a conclusion to outsource, particularly if you are heavily involved in a large in-house platform project.

5. Forced to move

The verdict to review and select a new supplier can sometimes be forced upon an organization, for example, through mergers and acquisitions. The time constraints associated to implementing changes in policy or the undertaking of an acquisition can provide huge challenges. The planning normally invested in the process of outsourcing is dictated by the situation rather than by you and more often than not will come at a time when not all stakeholders are available to provide their input into the strategic and tactical decisions that need to be agreed before deciding to enter into the process of evaluating and selecting a new partner.

6. Stability of your supplier

If there are signs that a supplier is becoming unstable, it is good business practice to undertake due diligence to ensure you are informed about the issues concerned and are fully aware of the options available to you if in the event you need to re-negotiate or exit your contract.

7. Breakdown of relationship

You may decide to review your options if you increasingly find that your supplier is no longer in tune with your business goals, are unable to communicate effectively, unwilling to consider your requests or are not delivering the agreed service level. The supplier may no longer offer an appropriate value proposition, may make promises they do not keep, or are not developing their service offering to keep up with market developments and requirements and standards. A combination of or even just one of these scenarios will be challenging and may even lead to a breakdown of relationship that is not always recoverable.

8. Company policy and/or best practice

You may have been with your current supplier for a number of years and would like to ensure you are aware of what the competitors offer so that you can be confident that you continue to receive value for money. Many organizations will have a company policy in place to ensure there is a constant review of all suppliers and the services they provide. This may happen every year or every two to five years depending on the complexity of the service and the organization’s internal policy.

9. Ensuring you are offering a good service to your customers

Many decisions are usually motivated by the desire to ensure you are offering a good service to your customers. In one example, a publisher was tasked with looking at their publishing set up, the systems and processes they were using currently, and over time, with the main objective to consider how these could be more efficient and how the organization could offer a better service for their authors and reviewers. Once their board approved the recommendations, they reached an agreement to look at their peer review systems, production systems and other related services.

10. Adopting a hybrid approach

You may decide to continue holding onto the reigns and not to outsource, but to develop your services in-house. You may also decide to in-source additional skills and technology components by partnering with specialists in their field. Rather than outsourcing this allows you to develop a hybrid solution and to share the cost of ongoing development for your service offering with your chosen partner.

Lorraine Ellery Matthews is the Proprietor for Ellery Matthews Consulting. She is writing a series of posts on The Challenges of Outsourcing on the ALPSP blog; the next will focus on The Process of Outsourcing. Sign up using RSS or email above. You can also read them on the Ellery Matthews Consulting blog.

Lorraine will present on The Challenges of Outsourcing sharing further recommendations from leading publishing professionals on Wednesday 7 December at 2.15 p.m. on Stage 1 at the London Info International exhibition. Attend and join in the discussion – book your place here. Exhibition visitors can register for free.

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Using ethnography to understand user needs and behaviours

Paul-Jervis Heath is a Designer and Innovation Consultant at Modern Human. At the Digital Marketing Skills for the Future seminar he explained how ethnographic design research gives us a way of developing a deeper understanding of our users.

You need to find out what users really need, not what they think they need. Design is a set of modes: Immersion, inspiration, imagination and invention.

Shadowing is one of the key design research methods. It allows you to observe real behaviour. By directly observing participants they are able to get a deeper understanding of their needs. There is covert shadowing where you hide and watch, controlled shadowing where you give people a task, and participatory shadowing where you go along with someone when they do something.
Other techniques including using interviews or following people for the day. There's a nifty tool, a narrative clip wearable camera, that takes a photograph every 30 seconds. If you tap it, video is recording. It's a great way of capturing time lapses to supplement notes that are made, but also for showing stakeholders in the business.

Diary studies record experiences to capture what they think and feel across. Modern Human used this approach to work with researchers who were choosing a journal and submitting a paper. They captured the emotions, the comments, and crucially, deep insights into experience of publishing and the behaviour of early career researchers with DSCOUT (Mobile Diary Study Platform).

Other ethnographic research methods include:
  • contextual interviews
  • expert interviews
  • direct experience immersion
  • analogous experiences (e.g. taking librarians into restaurants to see service plans)
  • guided tours
  • cultural probes.

None of these techniques cost a huge amount: it's more about allowing time for them. Often, the best tools for analysis are a big stack of post it notes and coloured pens.

Ethnographic research typically looks for workarounds: quickly seemingly efficient solutions that address the symptoms of a problem, not the root cause. People's values play an important role in their motivations. Inertia shows situations in which customers act out habit. How can you leverage or break that inertia? Take into account should versus want: the tension between things people crave in the moment and things they know are good for them (you want to eat healthily, but you like to eat cake). Consider how can you help people move from where they are to where they want to be?

Design for goals rather than tasks and you create things that are meaningful to people. You need to capture everyone's observations and understanding of the research. A good insight is intuitive not obvious, generative and sticky. You then need to turn insights into models.

Four modes of human-centred design

You can see this approach in scholarly communications with the development of a knowledge chain (as a pose to a supply chain). The academic system is characterised in a similar way. Ideas are the raw material - driven by institutions, researchers, funders, people, publishers. The lab is the method of production. It turns ideas into knowledge. Knowledge is cyclical and can be recycled (e.g. papers being cited).

At Modern Human they developed behavioural profiles for academics. These were like personas, but helped develop archetypal profiles. They turned them into something that looks like a person to make it easier for designers to bring to life. They used it to create and Research and Publishing map and a framework of discipline publishing cultures. Interestingly, they discovered that disciplines are more similar than they might want to admit!

Paul-Jervis Heath is Principal at Modern Human consultancy, a design practice and innovation consultancy that works with clients to create new products, services and experiences. He spoke at the Digital Marketing Skills of the Future seminar held on 8 November 2016 in London.

Precedent's Cory Hughes provides a practical guide to digital transformation

Digital transformation has become a reality: it’s changing the ways in which we interact with the world around us, the way we consume products and services, and the expectations we have as a customer. Every organization recognises the importance of harnessing the power of digital. But for many, the question is how to begin.

Cory Hughes, Precedent's Digital Experience Director, open the Digital Marketing Skills for the Future seminar by observing we so often get caught up with 'business as usual'.

Transformation has to be embraced at all levels of an organization. It's about culture and effecting change throughout. You have to make sure everyone buys into it to ensure you have competitive advantage. The key is to evolve an organization's way of working in order to continue delivering its mission in the face of changing technology, competition, audience need and behaviour.

There are six global trends that you need to be aware of:

  1. Generation Z don't want what came before them - they want to feel they can be a positive influence for change and for the future
  2. 47% of all jobs will disappear over the next 20 years. Automation provides opportunities (as well as obsolescence for certain roles). What different skills does that bring?
  3. 'Global' is achievable and everyone's a jetsetter. How are you listening to your customers and looking after your channels and nurturing them in a two way dialogue.
  4. We experience life through our devices. If customers don't differentiate between physical and digital space, what can you do to integrate both?
  5. We're about to be blindsided by climate change. How do we deliver our products in this wider context. How can you adapt when conditions are not so predictable anymore. Digital allows you tackle this.
  6. Local, bespoke and personalised are the new Big Business. Look what Coke did with personalised bottles with names on them. Learn what your customer likes and needs are. Use data to provide insight on what matters to them so you can personalise online with technology and tools.

'It should be people first, not digital first.'

How can you do it?

  1. Think big. have a strong, clear mission statement: get a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (think Cookie Monster)
  2. Start small: design iteratively to validate the case for wider digital projects. Keep the minimum viable product idea in mind. Have a feedback loop.
  3. Act quickly: in-flight optimisation helps to create momentum that is driven by awareness and data. 

Hughes quoted John Maynard Keynes

Hughes also quoted the systems theorist John Gall who said 'Complex systems that work tend to come from simple systems that worked.' She also urged delegates to think small, easy steps that you have to hand: use Google Analytics on a daily basis as your starting point for insight and measuring goals.

Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, has listed eight pillars of innovation that Hughes believes are a great guide to work to:

  1. Have a mission that matters
  2. Think big, start small
  3. Strive for continual innovation, not instant perfection
  4. Look for ideas everywhere
  5. Share everything - internally and externally
  6. Spark with imagination, fuel with data
  7. Be a platform
  8. Never fail to fail
Cory Hughes is Digital Experience Director at Precedent. She spoke at the Digital Marketing Skills for the Future seminar held in London on 8 November 2016.

Thursday 20 October 2016

The Brexit Debate

Audrey McCulloch introduces the panel
One of the key topics of conversation this year has, inevitably, been Brexit. Since the results of the UK Referendum on membership of the EU were announced in June, speculation, knee jerk reaction, panic, and uncertainty have been rife. What does it really mean for scholarly communications? Are the worse-case scenarios likely to pass? What are the worse case scenarios and what are the opportunities?

ALPSP, the Publishers Association and The London Book Fair arranged a debate with leading industry figures to find out more. The conversation will continue at the Research & Scholarly Publishing Forum at LBF17 in March.

The debate, introduced by ALPSP CEO Audrey McCulloch and chaired by RELX Group's Richard Mollet featured academic consultant Richard Fisher and Andy Robinson, SVP and Managing Director for Society Services at Wiley.

Currency, taxation and the economy

On a positive note, there are short term currency gains. There is an outside possibility of eliminating VAT on ebooks and digital products and potential to get government departments to support emerging markets and UK research to boost technology market, for example by rebuilding trials sector. However, there is also a risk of the UK becoming a regulatory island. In the short term, the audience were advised to keep an eye on any bump in book sales to check there weren't any inventory blips on a regional basis while the currency is in flux.

Research and development

Scientists for EU has collected examples of academics who refused positions in the UK. There are over 40 examples of researchers being taken off grant applications or made a contributor instead. In institutions, there are 31,000 researchers based in the UK who come from the EU. There is a long term question about how that will impact on the quality and impact of EU research. UK research is a strong contributor to the economy and if damaged could have a long term impact on other sectors. And the European Medicines Agency moving from the UK will have a converse impact on the pharma sector's appetite to launch drugs in the UK. Currently 2% of the world's clinical trials happen in the UK. There is an opportunity to rebuild that, which in turn will bring in pharma investments (GSK has invested £250m in UK since Brexit).

People, influence and perception

There are a number of implications for the publishing industry and related sectors in relation to people. Ten per cent of the UK publishing workforce comes from the EU (compared to 6% in the wider population) and companies will have to consider how to manage that impact.

It was noted that the current Prime Minister, Theresa May, was previously Home Secretary. During her tenure in that role she was very strict on the number of overseas students. It is unlikely this line will change and institutions are watching with concern. The knock on financial effect could be significant with 25,000 students studying in the UK - and 46% of postgraduates coming from the EU - generating income for institutions and local businesses.

Richard Mollet, Richard Fisher, Andy Robinson

How does industry make the case to government without looking like they are moaning about the result? There was a strong reaction post-Brexit from researchers and publishers. We need to respond to the challenges robustly, but on new terms, by putting forward a strong economic case for investment. With three government departments across Education, Culture Media and Sport and Business that influence the world of publishers and researchers it might be tricky to navigate.

There is no doubt that the UK now sits outside debates in EU, for example with open access and open science. Where Britain leads, the world does not necessarily follow so the possibility of isolation is very real. Wiley and ALPSP ran a short poll of their society publishers. in it, 80% of respondents saw the loss of influence in these policy debates, particularly around open science. 

Copyright and data protection

In the long term there is possibility of a move to the older world of a US copyright regime, UK regime and EU regime, leading to potential fragmentation. Google will no doubt be watching with interest, particularly around Fair Use issues. The UK is unique in having access to millions of patient records, and if data protection issues can be navigated carefully, there is real research potential in monitoring patient outcome. We have the potential to become world leaders in fields such as stem cell research.

The future?

What will we be talking about at Frankfurt 2021 in five years? Will it still be a big issue or just one of the things we’re dealing with? It is hard to predict. On the one hand, the British political situation is in such flux it is impossible to predict. We should have a much clearer path in 2021. On the other, it will be one of a number of issues that the industry will face.

The industry should reflect on why they don’t employ, publish for or sell to the 52% of voters. June 23 is without doubt one of the most important post-war dates in British history. While there is a worrying flux at government level that will play out over the next two to three years, politicians need to wake up to the importance of research. The industry needs to encourage the UK government to take research seriously and place it at the heart of the negotiation. A national research strategy should be brought together as quickly as possible to ring fence funding up to 2025.

The Brexit debate at the Frankfurt Book Fair was organised by the Publishers Association and ALPSP with the support of the London Book Fair. The discussions will continue at the Research & Scholarly Publishing Forum to be held at LBF in March 2016.

Elsevier has launched a Brexit resource centre to provide benchmark objective data, useful links and other resources.

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Professor Brian Nosek on increased openness and the credibility of science

Brian Nosek from the Center for Open Science at the University if Virginia gave the keynote talk at the 2016 STM Frankfurt conference.

He asked what is it that publishers can do to help scientists be successful? Scientists are constrained by what is human about them, but the reality and our experience of reality are not the same thing. We all have mental modules that want us to see what we want to in order to reinforce our beliefs. So the brain imposes understanding on what it sees.

Applying sociological approaches to the study of science, there are Norms versus Counternorms e.g. communality versus secrecy; universalism versus particularism (evaluate research on own merit or evaluate research by reputation); disinterestedness versus self interested.

There are stark differences when you unpack what researchers believe about how they do science (they do it for the norms) compared to what they observe about themselves (more counter norms creep in) and what they observe of others (almost all counter norms).

The primary challenge is that incentives for individual success are focused on getting it published, not getting it right. The choices that scientists make when analysing the data can impact on the results. And unless you see the source data, you cannot understand why this is. So how do we get researchers to be more transparent and reproducible in their work?

Barriers include perceived norms, motivated reasoning, minimal accountability, and the ubiquitous 'I am busy'. What can be done about it? Look at the rewards that we need and the means to get them. What if you added rewards for transparency and reproducibility in the research process? What if you were to diversify rewards to include data and materials so there is recognition for research content?

Why is this tricky? There are a lot of stakeholders: universities, founders, publishers, societies which creates a complex group of issues. If there are desired behaviours and people don't know they are happening (to increase credibility of their project) you need to raise their profile and boost credibility of research.

At the Center for Open Science they have created badges for this and defined what this means. Badges are symbols and in real life these are powerful, significant indicators of who you are. They are promoting an open research culture using standards, with three data sharing levels:

  1. Article states whether data are available, and if so, where to access them
  2. Data must be posted to a trusted repository. Exceptions must be identified at article submission.
  3. Data must be posted to a trusted repository, and reported analyses will be reproduced independently prior to publication.

So far there are 749 journals from 62 organizations that are signatories of the top level of guidelines. Another focus has been round preregistration of research studies. The Registered Reports workflow is: Design > Collect & Analyse > Report > Publish. Peer review would usually happen between Report and Publish, but they move it back to between Design and Collect. If reviewers don't know what the results are, they are incentivised (along with the researcher) to make it the best study possible. They have 38 journals so far who have committed to making registered reports happen.

They are developing the possibility of partnerships between publishers and funders. A review report is submitted to both and, if acceptable to funder and publisher, it gets the go ahead, providing an efficiency step for all groups.

One of biggest challenges to reproducibility is completely mundane: labs lose materials and data all the time. People have multiple, personal systems of data preservation. What can you do to mitigate this? Adopt the TOP Guidelines. Adopt Badges. Adopt Registered Reports. Partner on preregistration
and partner on open data with OSF.

Brian Nosek is Executive Director of the Center for Open Science and Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia. He gave the keynote at the 2016 STM Frankfurt Conference.

Thursday 29 September 2016

Cross-Fertilization in scholarly publishing: who, what, where, when and why?

As the scholarly publishing landscape diversifies and the number of stakeholders multiples, it’s hard to keep up with who’s who, what they want, and what they need. In this informal "Question Time" style session, panelists from inside and outside publishing shared their own and their organization's experiences of successful collaboration and cross-fertilization.

The chair, Alice Meadows from ORCID, believes cross-fertilization is organised serendipity, finding connections between people, organizations, or other things that you wouldn't find out in the usual run of business.
Helen Bray of the Knowledge Transfer Network believes it is about bringing together businesses, entrepreneurs, academics, and funders. Progress is driven by unusual interactions. Innovation is a contact sport that brings people together.

Nicko Goncharoff from Digital Science observed they don't think they can succeed without collaboration. No single company can 'own' the workflow. Collaboration is paramount. He reflected on the STM Association scholarly sharing initiative that he's now leading as something that can serve both researcher and publisher needs. They have focused on the challenges and have held some - somethings tricky - discussions around article sharing. He believes you always have to try bring people into the fold. People take scholarly publishers for granted, but human curation is important in the digital age.
Andrew Stammer from CSIRO Publishing in Australia echoed fellow panellists about the value and benefit that can be gained from cross-fertilization. When Australian ecologists listen to aboriginal peoples oral histories, they accelerate their research.
This thoughtful and inspiring session was a wonderful way to close the ALPSP Conference. Here's to more scholarly cross-fertilization in advance of next year's conference in The Netherlands!

Cross-Fertilization in scholarly publishing was the closing plenary at the 2016 ALPSP Conference. You can view the full session on the ALPSP YouTube channel.

Laura Ceballos from CEDRO reflects on the future of scholarly communications and a little thing called Brexit...

At the recent ALPSP Conference we caught up with Laura Ceballos, from the Spanish RRO CEDRO, who chaired the Digital Business Models session. We asked her about the latest developments in scholalry communications and her reaction to that little matter of the Brexit vote. Here's what she said...

What is the most exciting opportunity for scholarly communications in the next two to three years?

In the last five years, we’ve seen a burst of digital innovation across the scholarly sector with hundreds of digital initiatives aiming to transform and enrich the publishing sector. It’s extremely positive to see that many young entrepreneurs believe that there’s a promising future for scholarly publishing related businesses in the digital age. A closer relationship with future entrepreneurs of the 21st century will allow long-established publishers to gain access to new and innovative products and services and provide them with a fuller knowledge of the advantages of business models in the digital economy

And what is the biggest challenge?

There is no doubt that open content is the biggest challenge for the scholarly sector. We are entering a change of era that is radically transforming the publishing sector. We are currently in the midst of a major transformation of cultural habits that is dramatically altering people’s behaviour in acquiring and consuming all kinds of academic and professional content.

Book industry professionals will have to accept that the main channels of growth will not involve mainly the sale of print books, but rather the sale of new kinds of digital content (audiobooks, transmedia books, fragmented eBooks, etc.) via yet unimagined new business models. Like it or not, the way culture is being created, accessed, and consumed is itself going through a historical transformation. In the next few years, consumers will have never-before-seen access to staggering amounts of user-generated information and knowledge which will require a reorganization of the scholarly sector.

What were your thoughts when the results of the UK referendum on the EU were announced?

It is in the interest of all parties (UK and EU) that the UK exit of the EU is managed in a gradual and orderly way to avoid a bigger disruption between both of them. Both sides have to come to terms and understand that they are destined to get along.

Laura Ceballos is Business Development Manager for CEDRO. She chaired the Digital Business Models panel discussion at the ALPSP Conference in 2016. You can watch the full session on the ALPSP YouTube channel.

Tuesday 27 September 2016

The Changing Role of Society Publishing

Some in our industry have publicly and privately opined that society publishers suffer from low business acumen. A “can’t see the forest for the trees” myopia impedes their competitiveness in a market dominated by deep-pocketed commercial publishers who have the “W” (WIN) gene embedded in their organizational DNA.
The big-revenue commercial and university press publishers get the lion’s share of library budgets, submissions, citations, APCs, and media coverage. A common perception is that they innovate better and faster and make smart, bolt-on acquisitions to strengthen their market-leading positions and to even reshape the market while society publishers increasingly struggle to compete because of declining revenues from member dues and publications and slow-to-decide, risk averse staff and governance structures. Are these perceptions accurate? Is future success for society publishers tied to commercial publisher partnerships and a quest for size and scale?

David Sampson, Vice President and Publisher for Journals at the American Society of Oncology chaired the penultimate panel at the ALPSP Conference. He believes that culture determines and limits strategy. We need to understand the organizational structure of non-profits; directors have the power, not shareholders. Strategic planning involves creation of vision and mission statements, initiatives, financials and metrics. Revenue forecasting often forgets that customers are in control of revenues. You need unparalleled customer service. Don't be afraid to kill failing programmes and don't be afraid to innovate.

A key element of ASCO's culture is to connect internally and externally. They have joint clinical guidelines to help identify cross-disciplinary work and connect with other associations for events on care for those with cancer. Embracing disruption of societal changes, technology and partnerships are key to the future success of a society. Readers and researchers are becoming increasingly connected with each other; we must connect with them.
Leighton Chipperfield is Director of Publishing and Income Diversification at the Microbiology Society. They have six journals, with £3.3m annual turnover; combining in-house staff and outsourcing. He noted commercial publishers filled the gap created by society publishers' failure to adapt to contemporary conditions. He believes being second to market is fine when it comes to technology. Why would he risk society income on that? They work with technology partners so they can take advantage of a service that has been developed by many publishers.

They love initiatives that can be applied in a cross organizational way such as (ALPSP Awards Highly Commended) ORCID. Things are changing, society publishers are modernising. They tried collecting APCs themselves, but it didn't work, so they partnered with Copyright Clearance Center. Chipperfield believes that the power of societies' collective knowledge is huge. Stick to what you are good at. They have some fantastic assets: high profile expert trustees; journal editorial boards; conferences; and expert members.
Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Associate Executive Director and Director of Scholarly Communication at the Modern Language Association, was inspired to join the panel to debunk the percetion that societies are risk averse. Member needs must outweight business needs and that tension puts them in an interesting position. They launched MLA Commons, a social network for members in 2013, allowing conversations to build beyond conferences. It is an open platform and has a repository at its core.
Simon Inger closed the session by providing some anonymous society publisher case studies. He mapped the journeys of organizations who adopted different strategies. One of the most common mistakes that societies make is to stop worrying about content when they partner with commercial publishers. You need to keep a strategy overview and management watch, but these are not always easy. With declining incomes a society is reluctant to invest in improving its own staffing. This can in turn lead to other issues. He has seen a lot of badly negotiated contracts.

The Changing Role of Society Publishing was the final plenary session at the ALPSP Conference 2016. You can view the video on the ALPSP YouTube channel.

Beyond Article Level Metrics

Melinda Kenneway, co-founder of Kudos, chaired the panel discussion exploring what is Beyond Article Level Metrics at the ALPSP Conference in September.

Change is coming, but it's not just metric wars, it's much bigger than that. Ben Johnson, Policy Advisor for HEFCE stressed the need for responsible metrics. They are everywehere - a layer on top of peer review. And for researchers, quality is wrapped up in publishing. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) costs £250 million. While it's only 2.5% of the overall cost of research, it is always questioned in terms of value for money.

Whatever the concerns around peer review, he observed, it is still considered the gold standard. Inappropriate indicators can create perverse incentives so these indicators need to be underpinned by an open and interoperable data infrastructure. This means that ORCID ids and DOIs become even more important moving forwards.  Johnson then announced the UK Forum for Responsible Metrics. Further details are available on the HEFCE website.

Jennifer Lin, Director of Product Management and Crossref, talked about the foundations needed to support the development of metrics. There has been an explosion of new, more diverse metrics that fit under the heading of 'altmetrics'. They hold power, constituting power, values, and livelihoods. But the infrastructure is mostly invisible, and you only feel it when it breaks. We need to understand the infrastructure behind metrics, understand metrics better, and the effect they have on research and researchers. Would a single non-proprietary body be ideal to coordinate our efforts on metrics?

Liz Allen, Director of Strategic Initiatives at F1000, talked about the opportunities to share science and its impact. There are suggestions that the concept of the journal is outdated, and open access is merely tinkering at the edges.
Publishing processes can get in the way. They don't have editors, but do pre-pub checks for ethics, quality and readability. Their open approach allows them to give full credit to reviewers. Open Science feels like the democratisation of research - it's very exciting. They are working with funders on these types of initiatives, including the Wellcome Trust on Wellcome Open Research.
Dr Claire Donovan FRSA, Reader at Brunel University London, was the final panellist. She talked about the broader impact of research but warned about 'metric fatigue' as the practice of measuring impact ran ahead of the theory. In the UK the 2014 REF had 20% impact, but may increase to 25% for 2020. This had led to concerns that impact may be more time consuming and potentially gamed in the next assessment. Donovan observed that research is a craft industry, with lots of bespoke outputs, but we're trying to assess it as if it were mass produced. (You can read her slides here.)
The Beyond Article-Level Metrics panel was held at the ALPSP Conference 2016. View all the sessions on the ALPSP YouTube channel.

Digital Business Models

The evolution of long standing publishign models is continuing and there are pressures on the underlying business models. What different business models have developed? What opportunities do they present? How have they evolved across books and journals?

The Digital Business Models panel at the ALPSP Conference provided different perspectives on what's new and developing in this area. Chaired by Laura Ceballos Watling from CEDRO, speakers included Jose Fossi, Vice President of Client Services for PubFactory, O'Reilly Media, Phill Jones, Director of Publishing Innovation at Digital Science, and Dr Julia von dem Knesebeck, Found of Open Publishing GmbH.

The ALPSP Conference was held at the Park Inn Heathrow in London on 14-16 September 2016. View the different sessions on the ALPSP YouTube channel.

Monday 26 September 2016

Innovation: Who, what where, when and how? Rahul Arora reflects...

The ALPSP Conference is over for another year and the winners of the 2016 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing are celebrating. As life gets back to the normal routine we took time to speak to Rahul Arora, Chief Executive Officer of the Awards sponsor MPS, to find out what he thinks about innovation and scholarly publishing.

How would you define innovation?

At MPS, we are now focusing on developing a culture around Disruptive Innovation rather than Evolutionary Innovation. Our team has been following the work of American Scholar - Clayton Christensen. We are inspired by his work and his definition of disruptive innovation –

“Disruptive innovation describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors”. 

To explain the MPS understanding of disruptive innovation: we don’t consider UberX to be a disruptive innovation, since UberX made the market more efficient but did not expand the market. However, one could argue that UberBlack was disruptive to the luxury rental car market.

What part(s) of scholarly communications do you think need to innovate the most? Why do you think that is?

MPS provides platforms and services for content creation, production, and distribution. From our perspective, few market segments (note that the list is not exhaustive), where we foresee disruption where the status quo will be displaced include:

  • Manuscript submission and peer review systems: There have been some “sustaining innovations” at the higher tiers of this market segment but this market segment is ripe for disintermediation or an outside entrant disrupting the status quo. Some publishers have already decided to lead the charge by developing in-house software.
  • Production Management Systems: Having deep and intricate systems have been typically associated with the larger publishers. This market segment is ripe for a disruptive platform that provides deep level of functionality in a competitive manner so that it can be accessed by all publishers, irrespective of number of books and journals published in a year.
  • Typesetting and publishing services: HTML5-based typesetting is well under away. The reliance on InDesign and 3B2 is diminishing. This space has seen a series of innovation but is now ripe for a disruption where publishers don’t need manual touch points but rather publisher platforms speaking to supplier platforms.

What are the most exciting innovations you have seen over the last couple of years that you think will really move scholarly communications on?

  • Smart innovations in enriching and harmonizing content to improving discoverability
  • Movement from document-based workflows to asset-based workflows
  • Digital-first workflows backed by digital sub-processes such as online authoring and peer review; all powered by cloud-based workflow management
  • Global standards across value chain
  • Automation wherever logic can be developed in the workflow including transformations on the fly
  • Embracing open access and developing research communities to demonstrate tangible value

Why were you interested in supporting the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing?

MPS has been growing through our technology business and through acquisitions. Technology services and platforms have no meaning if we aren’t disrupting the status quo. And the underlying principle behind our acquisition strategy is simple --- we aspire to be the most meaningful partner to publishers and recognize that we consciously need to reinvent ourselves to achieve this goal. We can all predict that the scholarly market is ripe for disruption; however, how and when will this disruption take place is something we will have to live through to see. Supporting the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing allows MPS to be closer to the reality of disruption and also support change agents that will help deliver this Disruption.

What do you think the finalists demonstrate about innovation in the industry? 

This years’ finalists showcase a diverse set of innovative thought, but two major themes stand out: collaborative information sharing, and creative dissemination of information:

Rahul with the ALPSP Awards winners

And the winners were... 

Cartoon Abstracts from Taylor & Francis and Wiley's ChemPlanner were announced as joint winners. ORCID were Highly Commended by the judges.

MPS Limited are the sponsors for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing. The 2016 winners were announced at the ALPSP Conference 14-16 September 2016.

What does academic engagement mean now?

Isabel Thompson, Market Research Analyst at Oxford University Press, chaired the morning plenary on Thursday at the ALPSP conference with a session focusing on the changes in publishers' engagement with academia and researchers. She noted that academics don't care how publishing works, they just want it to work. Researchers are readers, authors, peer reviewers and editorial board members. As a publisher, you have to find right voice for each one. Without academic engagement there is no publishing.

Dr Philippa Matthews us a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow based at the Nuffield Department of Medicine in the University of Oxford. She is also Honorary Consultant in Clinical Infection at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Hospital Trust. She talked through the results of a survey she conducted in advance of the conference. She is very interested in engagement with schools, also infographics. Wants to share results and resources. As a researcher, life is complicated, a simpler publishing process would be preferable. There are significant penalties imposed if her work isn't open access. She outlined a few gripes around the publishing process:
  • we don't accept pre-submission enquiries
  • hard copy signed conflict of interest statements are required before submission - can be a very long-winded process!
  • COI statements need original signatures from all authors... on six continents... at submission!
  • multiple revisions before rejection for incorrect trial format
  • new reviewers introduced after rounds of revision
  • length of time between submission and publication.
Matthews sent a survey to colleagues and received over 100 responses. Results showed that researchers are happy with peer review, but not the timeline and available support. 47% felt the publication process didin't support innovation or allow creativity. People obsess on the Impact Factor, but it's broken. She closed on a more optimistic note: there is a willingness to discuss this from all parties.
Dr Emma Wilson is Director of Publishing at the Royal Society of Chemistry. She outlined how much effort they put in to maintaining a two way dialogue with their community. This involved a lot of scientific conference, international engagement, and by building in-house teams in other countries. They support students and early career researchers via poster prizes and emerging investigator issues of journals. They use social media, but mainly for broadcasting information about them. However, it is growing in importance through initiatives such as through the Twitter-based poster conference.
Dr Sacha Noukhovitch is Executive Director and Editor in Chief at the STEM Fellowship/STEM Fellowship Journal. He feels that with open access, an unexpected, uninvited readership appeared spontaneously - students. A new generation of data-native students is tapping directly into research papers alongside professionals. These students lack the background knowledge, but they use their data skills to understand and interpret the world. If one students finds a paper interesting, others swarm to it creating a real buzz and students use academic communities to help understand complex concepts. They approach parts of the editorial process in a very different way, something that publishers need to follow and engage with.

The ALPSP Conference was held at Park Inn Heathrow London on 14-16 September 2016. View the videos of the session on the ALPSP YouTube channel.

Sunday 18 September 2016

Peer Review is Dead! Long live peer review!

The demise of peer review in its traditional form has long been predicted, indeed demanded by some. And yes, we’ve been talking about peer review for a long time – what more is there to say? The reality is that peer review is evolving and tailoring itself for difference communities. How can publishers ensure they have the right model in place, at the right time? Most attention has been focused on the needs of quality controlling the traditional article in the sciences and there has been limited attention paid to managing the needs of a global and technically sophisticated and diverse scholarly environment.

Peer Review is Dead! Long live peer review! was a session at the 2016 ALPSP Conference chaired y Pippa Smart, Editor-in-Chief of Learned Publishing. The panel presented case studies and opinions on how review outside the traditional scientific article is managed, what specific needs humanities and social science publications must address, whether there is a global balance between authorship and reviewing, and how reviewer quality can be assessed (an important factor if reward for their efforts is to be granted).

Perfectly timed - a few days before Peer Review Week - you can view the whole session here to #recognizereview for #PeerRevWk16.

Speakers included:

  • Seeking reviewers to the ends of the earth - Verity Warne, Associate Marketing Director, John Wiley and Sons
  • Peer judging of peer review quality: rationale, implementation and effects in Peerage of Science - Janne-Tuomas Seppänen, Founder & Managing Director, Peerage of Science
  • Placing the research community at the heart of publishing - Michaela Torkar, Editorial Director, F1000Research
  • Peer Reviewing Data: experiences from a data journal - Varsha Khodiyar PhD, Data Curation Editor, Scientific Data, Nature Research
  • Perspectives on peer review for the humanities and social sciences - Gino D’Oca, Managing Editor, Palgrave Communications

The ALPSP Conference was held at the Park Inn Heathrow London 14-16 September 2016. Further information on Peer Review Week 2016 is available online.

Thursday 15 September 2016

What is the Core Expertise of a Publisher Today? The 'buy' versus 'build' dilemma

At a time when developments in technology and the emergence of new services have so much potential for our communities, what should we be doing as publishers? What is the core expertise of a publisher today; should you buy or build your way to growth? Jon White, Sales and Marketing Director at Semantico, chaired a panel of speakers who considered different aspects of what publishers now do.

Alison Jones, Director of Practical Inspiration Publishing, suggested that 'buy or build' is the wrong questions.

Collaboration fits with the general cultural move from ownership to access. Traditional publishers are much better at competitive strategy than collaborative strategy.

Chris Leonard, Head of Product at Emerald Group Publishing argued that publishing articles is a solved problem, but the services around them aren't. They did a lot of UX research and looked at a range of websites that worked - including The Daily Mail's Sidebar of Shame. iTunes playlists inspired their ideas for create-your-own-bespoke-journal functionality.

Lynne Miller, Managing Director of TBI Communications, focused on the pursuit of high differentiation with low cost. Publishers can stay relevant and working with an agency can be a good way of avoiding internal politics and an unbiased view. Key industry trends are in content marketing, content sharing, author services, impact & outreach and big data. Strategy is also about deciding not what to do. Define what makes you unique and focus on resulting market opportunities.

Dietmar Schantin, Founder of the Institute for Media Strategies, observed that we now expect easy access to relevant content in any place on any device. The audience now looks for best of breed, rather than showing loyalty and want to be engaged in the communication flow. Multi-platform publishing is essential as is cross channel communications that are linked and across media. New fields of expertise have developed - audience insight, social media and distributed content, user experience. News publishers respond by investing in tech start-ups, hiring people from other industries, outsourcing non-core aspects. And remember, a fool with a tool is still a fool!

Timo Hannay, founder of SchoolDash, was the final speaker of the session. He asked if data is something that publishers should outsource. Data ought to have a particularly pertinent meaning to us as publishers, purveyors of knowledge and that the separation of data and content is anachronistic. Converting rich data into PDFs puts us in the data destruction business. Publishers are worryingly keen to outsource data work; content and data aren't two different things. SchoolDash publishes research in any format that serves our purposes, not in journals. They're really keen to enable the reader to interact with the data directly themselves. Everyone in this room has the capability to do what we're doing; if you're not, that's through choice.

The panel took place at the 2016 ALPSP Conference.

Industry Updates: RedLink, PaperHive, COUNTER, Crossref, Coko and OA Mega-Journals

The 2016 ALPSP Conference Industry Updates session provided a round up of the latest new developments, major project and industry standards updates. Chaired by Louise Russell from Tutton Russell Consulting, here's a round-up of the projects that were covered.

Improving the Standard for Credible, Compatible and Consistent Usage Statistics

COUNTER usage statistics are an essential tool for librarians in their evaluation of online resources and are used to demonstrate of the value of the library. Lorraine Estelle, Director at COUNTER, updated the audience on the latest release. After feedback from publishers that told them that they are eager to support librarians, but that the COUNTER standard can be complex and costly to implement, they have used this insight to inform the development of Release 5 of the COUNTER Code of Practice, to be published in the summer of 2017. The new release will see COUNTER move to a mode of continuous maintenance, will reduce the number of reports required, clarify definitions and remove ambiguities. Further information about the release will be made available on the COUNTER website.

The RedLink Network

Libraries and publishers face challenges managing their IP, Shibboleth, and link resolver information in order to ensure access for their mutual customers – researchers, students, and academics. RedLink’s CEO Kent R Anderson outlined how the RedLink Network provides a free, networked solution that allows library and site administrators to manage their IP addresses and authentication tokens in one location. The Network broadcasts changes to publishers and publishing platforms with one click, monitors uptake of changes and sends reminders, updates and broadcasts their branding, connects with contacts and peers, and manages hierarchical relationships among partner libraries (consortia relationships and departmental libraries, for example).

PaperHive: A co-working hub for researchers that makes reading collaborative

PaperHive is a new web-platform for collaborative reading and a cross­-publisher layer of interaction on top of research documents. It lets researchers communicate in published documents in a productive and time-saving way. Co-founder Dr André Gaul explained how PaperHive puts academic literature, which is integrated with the platform, in the limelight and increases reader engagement. It extends the concept of a living document and offers an innovative way of displaying content without hosting it, enabling readers to stay in touch with the articles of interest beyond just saving them in an offline folder. Transforming reading into a process of collaboration incentivises researchers to return to the content and discover new enrichments they can benefit from. In addition, functionality like hiving, deep linking, and the PaperHive browser extension embeds communication in the researcher’s workflow.

What you Thought you knew about Crossref is Wrong

Ginny Hendricks, Director of Member & Community Outreach at Crossref, updated delegates on how they have recently reshaped in order to meet the new dynamics of their community. They’ve added new staff, new members, new affiliates, and are shifting their focus to scale up and do more. There are new and imminent developments coming. They also give a glimpse into the changing world of scholarly metadata from the viewpoint of a registry for it, introducing you to the new kinds of publishers that are emerging, and the surprising consumers of their metadata.

Re-imagining Publishing Workflows

Scholarly publishing today is a convoluted, expensive and slow process that is mired in print paradigms and the final product is missing key components such as the data, protocols, code and materials needed for other scholars to reproduce the work. Adam Hyde, Co-Founder of The Collaborative Knowledge Foundation (Coko) explained how they are building open source tools for a digital-first workflow in which all aspects of the editorial, peer review and production work are done in a collaborative webspace.

Open Access Mega-journals: Research in progress

Stephen Pinfield, Professor of Information Services Management at the University of Sheffield provided an over of the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded research project investigating open-access mega-journals and the future of scholarly communication. The project, which is a partnership between the universities of Sheffield and Loughborough, is cross-disciplinary and international in its coverage. Key features of mega-journals, such as their broad scope and their novel approach to peer review, have given rise to controversy, and are central considerations. The different strands of the project are contributing to an emerging picture on the role of mega-journals now and their potential impact on the wider scholarly communication environment in the future. The project incorporates quantitative analysis, including a bibliometrics study, and qualitative research, including interviews with senior figures from the publishing industry.