Monday 26 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.

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