Friday 1 July 2016

In a turbulent world, this is why I love the #alpspawards

Winners of the 2015 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing

It's that time of year again. We gather together a panel of experts in a dark room in the bowels of a building, and don't let them out until they have considered, debated, and scored some of the best innovations in the scholarly publishing world.

I love this moment; the point at which we announce the shortlist. While there's disappointment for those who didn't make it (and trust me, it was a close run thing, the standard was high) the excitement and anticipation of who might win ratchets up a level.

For those on the shortlist, the work has only just begun. A face to face presentation with the judges awaits. With 15 minutes each to wow, amaze and convince, they'll be preparing and perfecting their pitches. And then there's the lightning sessions at the Conference. (What do you mean you haven't booked yet? Never mind, here's the link.)

Perhaps the best part is the public debate the shortlist creates. Go on, admit it, you've got your favourite. That's OK. Some whooping and cheering from the sidelines is what the shortlisters need. And there really is something for everyone. The range, scale and quality is quite breathtaking. The full shortlist is below. Take a look. Pick your favourite. Set up an office sweepstake.

The world is a challenging place right now. I personally take great comfort in the dedication and hardwork of colleagues in scholarly communications. They are striving to improve tools for - and access to - research for a global community of researchers and beyond.

And have a care for our poor judges, locked away, deliberating. They won't have an easy decision. It'll be one hell of a ride. We hope you'll join us for it.

Follow #alpspawards and #alpsp16 for updates. The shortlisted entries for the 2016 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing are:

An Adventure in Statistics: The Reality Enigma from SAGE Publishing

Traditional methods of teaching and learning are in flux, partly because attention in the digital age is a scarce resource and engagement is ever harder to create. With the scholarly community demanding more, the nature of the transaction between material and student has changed. Coupled alongside a drive in academia to bridge the UK’s quantitative skills gap, a shakeup both in teaching and focus on research methods has been founded. From this, the concept of the latest Andy Field textbook was born – teaching students statistics through a science fiction love story with graphic illustrations. The project rethinks the way that knowledge can be disseminated – embedding theoretical approaches into a narrative to engage the mind of the reader. In a medium, love-story science fiction, not explored within teaching before, SAGE and Andy have taken a creative approach to better understand the needs of and engage students in teaching and learning.

Cartoon Abstracts from Taylor & Francis

Cartoon Abstracts are a fun new way of visualising academic research. They act as a marketing tool, and are making a big impact on social media as well as having other applications. Each individual cartoon abstract summarises the original authors' work through illustration, harnessing the overwhelming power of images over text. Illustrations can aid the understanding of difficult concepts, or broaden the appeal of niche topics. They can also help transcend language barriers, where that is an issue. Authors enjoy being included as characters, and this encourages them to share their cartoon via their networks – increasing communications reach. The author characters also enhance engagement with the audience.

The Crossref Metadata API

The Crossref Metadata API lets anyone search, filter, facet and sample Crossref metadata related to over 80 million content items with unique Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs). It's free to use, the code is publically available and end-users can do whatever they want with the data. In exposing the authoritative cross-publisher metadata to the community in this way, it becomes more accessible, functional and much simpler to integrate with third party systems and services (from the publisher and the end-user side). It provides smoother workflows and increased discoverability using existing publisher processes.

Knowledge Unlatched

Knowledge Unlatched (KU) is a quiet innovation with revolutionary potential for not only changing the way the publishing costs of scholarly output are financed but also radically bringing down costs to those who fund it. The KU model is the only one that takes into account the global nature of scholarship and the globalisation of publishing. Because it mirrors these two worlds that are inextricably interwoven it avoids many issues associated with other programmes that serve national or institutional priorities. The service has found a way of making the publishing of specialist long-form content sustainable in a world where monographs, especially, are under severe pressure.


ORCID's vision is a world in which all who contribute to research, scholarship, and innovation are uniquely identified and connected with their contributions and affiliations across disciplines, borders, and time. We maintain an open Registry where individuals may obtain a unique and persistent identifier (an iD) - a lifelong digital name they control - and services for the community to collect and connect these iDs in research workflows. Individuals may use their iD through their entire career, to ensure that they are reliably connected with their contributions and affiliations, even if they change their name, organization, discipline, or country.

Wiley ChemPlanner

The global pharmaceutical industry continually develops new drugs to cure or improve the treatment of disease. The drug creation process is extremely challenging; it takes an average of 12 years and billions of dollars of investment for one new drug to make it all the way from the lab bench to approval and into the clinic. Wiley ChemPlanner combines state-of-the-art cheminformatics technology with high-quality data to speed up the early stages of the drug creation process, saving  pharmaceutical corporations millions of dollars and getting drugs to patients faster. ChemPlanner lowers the barrier for synthesizing new molecules, thus accelerating the discovery process and allowing the exploration of an expanded region of chemical space. ChemPlanner also enables chemists to optimize synthetic routes, eliminating potentially harmful contaminating side products  and reducing manufacturing costs.

Suzanne Kavanagh is Director of Marketing & Membership Services at ALPSP.

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