Wednesday 29 June 2016

Can you hear me now? Ongoing conversations with the “researcher of the future”

Lettie Conrad, Executive Program Manager for Discovery & Access at SAGE Publishing reflects on the recent early careers researcher seminar.

"A lively full-day ALPSP seminar in London last month featured a most productive knowledge exchange among early-career researchers, publishers, librarians, and other experts in scholarly communication. Our focus was to raise awareness among information providers about the experiences and needs of today’s researcher – and we gathered a packed roomful of engaged and eager participants to hear from a panel of doctoral researchers and students.

We heard about their frustrations with peer review, their thoughts about open access, and the ways in which faculty play a starring role in shaping their publication and career decisions. We then heard about how librarians and publishers are working to integrate an understanding of the researcher experience (RX) into their innovative solutions and programs.

But, Dear Reader, we managed to achieve something else that we hadn’t expected. The researchers came away with their own lessons and insights into the realities of today’s information provider! 

What a bright light to see such excitement from scholars at being asked for their input and realizing the ways in which we symbiotically need one another along the supply chain of academic publishing and research! What a refreshingly collaborative and solutions-oriented response to such a stimulating event!

These insights punctuate the importance of publishers and libraries being vocal and eloquent and proactive about communicating our value within the research workflow and broader scholarly enterprise, in everything we do, great and small. Let this serve as a call to each of us actively engaging on a routine basis with those academics who want to maintain an open dialogue about scholarly communications.

And this type of discussion and collaboration represent a growing trend within scholarly communication community – from joint research efforts, events geared toward education and open conversation, user-centered design projects, and longitudinal studies. In part, these efforts are answering the call for greater cooperation across the academic supply chain and greater sensitivity to the user experience.

This ALPSP seminar gives me hope that a collaborative movement is well underway and includes a deeper understanding of the experiences of librarians and publishers too."

Lettie Conrad chaired the seminar Are you ready for the Researcher of the Future? Understanding the researcher experience in London last month. You can follow her on Twitter via @lyconrad.

Successful organizations and the creative process

David Smith, The IET's Head of Product Solutions, writes:

"I cut my teeth in this business, under the original scholarly start-up environment of the legendary Vitek Tracz and his various ‘crazy ideas’ (that he generally managed to sell to the traditional publishers and thus make his return). Late 90s and early 2Ks. It was a wild ride.

Looking back over 15+ years, it’s fascinating to see what has changed and what hasn’t. In our world, we’ve ridden the wave. We digitised our back catalogues, the subscription business model still works well, the OA charging model is humming along nicely. We are not the Newspapers, or the Recording Artists, or the Bookstores and the Record Shops; The High Streets and Main Streets.

Yet we have challenges; the ennui that accompanies the knowledge that our money makers are all very mature things indeed. The knowledge, that despite the above, the networked world has not been kind to other mature businesses. The people who pay for our services are not the people who use them, day to day. We don’t have the luxury of a signal from the user that can be measured by credit card transactions. It’s very hard to connect a piece of new functionality to an increase in ROI. And a new product? Well, it’s probably fighting for existing money, from another product somewhere. New markets, proper new markets, are hard things to reach in our world, and they have fundamentally different environmental parameters.

And the way we are set up as organizations can also be challenging. Mature successful long lasting organizations (many of whom measure their existence in centuries!) have survived by optimising themselves to do what they do, day to day, very effectively. 

The new new thing can be and often is, an existential challenge. Will and I experienced that cognitive dissonance many times with attendees of our (ever evolving) Web 2.0 course.

Like Will, I also help my organization work out what things to focus on and how to best deliver them. And I ‘have people’ who then get to work with the engineering needed for the products to come to life. I’m increasingly fascinated by the processes that successful product shippers use. Iteration; rigorous analytics; unity of purpose; cross functional team building; horizon scanning and rapid delivery and more.

Because one thing is true; the successful organizations, the ones that ‘disrupt’ the old guard, are the ones that have figured out an end-to-end creative process that enables them to outflank their competition.

We will be using the twitter hashtag #alpspcreate to share interesting links on the run up and after the course, please do join the conversation."

David Smith is co-tutor on the new Disruption, Innovation and Creativity training course alongside Will Russell from the Royal Society of Chemistry. Further details and booking on the ALPSP website.

Read Will Russell's post he asks where could new ideas come from?