Tuesday 28 November 2023

ALPSP Annual Conference 2023: A review by Jade Koo

ALPSP Annual Conference 2023: A review by ALPSP Rising Star Award Winner, Jade Koo, BMJ

Although I was only able to join the ALPSP conference for one day, it was an interesting experience to witness this congregation of academic publishing representatives. As a young person within the industry, and with COVID comprising a large part of my work experience, it was an opportunity both to match faces to names and to gain a better sense of the industry's culture.

The underlying theme for many of the sessions centred around the industry's necessity to adapt and respond to challenges within the market. Some interpreted this need as a chance to ‘disrupt’ and rethink the structures in which we currently operate, whilst others pondered upon solutions that could still fit within these bounds. This is particularly interesting when thinking about the more contentious side of the Open Access (OA) publishing model. As many of us are aware, the OA model has shifted the hefty burden of payment from subscribers/libraries to researchers/authors. It was suggested during the ‘Equitable Open Access: Moving Beyond the APC Economy’ session that publishers should be exploring alternative payment models to prevent international inequality. However, it is difficult to see a future where publishers, whose business models have become largely dependent on OA profit, would invest resources to investigate alternative models that would most likely negatively impact their earnings. 

Transformative agreements (TA) have further exacerbated this uneven playing field. For those most affected by the article processing charge (APC), such as authors based in Latin America, the Global South, and also, early career researchers etc, are least likely to be eligible for a TA,  enables the already superior positioning of those in the West and already situated within high-ranking universities, to solidify their hold at top of the research hierarchy. It seems highly unlikely that there is a solution to this imbalance, besides a disruptive one that is able to break this cycle of inequity. When the ‘Disruption in Scholarly Publishing’ session asked the audience if ‘disruption was a good or bad thing’, the panel was greeted with a slight reluctance to agree or disagree outrightly for either side. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘disruption’ as a radial change to an existing industry or market due to technological innovation. It means the uprooting of everything the industry has only recently invested and transitioned to. I don’t think anyone has a solution, and no one will until we are able to start thinking outside of the confines of the industry standards. 

About the ALPSP Rising Star Award 2023

This new award aims to recognise potential in early career individuals. The winners are given the opportunity and financial support to attend the ALPSP Annual Conference in person and write a short review of their experiences of the conference. The ALPSP Rising Star Award is sponsored by Publishers Licensing Services.

The winners of this year's Rising Star Award are:

  • Jade Koo, BMJ
  • George Litchfield, eLife
  • Alex Oxford, Edinburgh University Press
  • Danielle Tremeer, Geological Society of London

Find out more about the awards.

ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards

Thank you to all our speakers, sponsors and attendees for making the ALPSP 2023 Conference and Awards such a success. We will be returning to the Hilton Manchester Deansgate Hotel next year from 11-13 September 2024. Save the date and look out for the call for topics in early November. For more information, watch the highlights video or visit our website.

Tuesday 10 October 2023

ALPSP Annual Conference 2023: A review by Danielle Tremeer

ALPSP Annual Conference 2023: A review by ALPSP Rising Star Award Winner, Danielle Tremeer, Geological Society of London

2023 is the inaugural year for the new ALPSP Rising Star award, designed to recognise potential in those who are at the start of their careers in academic publishing. I was delighted to be one of the first four winners and receive free attendance to the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards from 13-15 September. 

When I started working at the Geological Society of London Publishing House in the summer of 2021, I was vaguely aware of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers. Having studied English with Publishing at the University of Plymouth and completed an internship at Intellect, I had come across them before and knew that they were an organisation providing training and support to scholarly publishers. That year, their Annual Conference and Awards took place virtually due to the pandemic. In 2022, some of the more senior members of staff at the Publishing House travelled to Manchester to attend the conference in person. After receiving news of my award and registering for the event, I started to wonder what it would be like. Wasn’t it just for people who had worked in publishing for several years?

On day one, I arrived at the Hilton Hotel in the Deansgate area of Manchester for registration and lunch by myself - my managers were still enroute. The lobby was filled with groups of people greeting each other, which was heartwarming to see but did make me acutely aware that I knew nobody. I got myself some lunch and then plucked up the courage to join a woman who was sitting alone. We chatted about our job roles and the sessions we were most looking forward to, the weather and the differences between the UK and the US, where she had travelled from. As I headed upstairs for the first session of the conference, I felt reassured that being more junior wouldn’t hold me back in this environment.

The conference began with a keynote talk from Dr Elizabeth Gadd, Research Policy Manager at Loughborough University. Her session discussed the need for reform in the ways researchers are assessed, and the role that publication metrics can play in the process. Lizzie spoke with passion and conviction, emphasizing the impact that our profession can have on the communities we serve. Her case for reforming metric culture in favour of the humans behind the data was compelling and signalled the beginning of a thought-provoking three days.

The programme of talks covered themes including diversity, open science, accessibility, and future trends for academic publishing. Often, these topics converged – several of the sessions I attended on the second day spoke of the necessity of moving more broadly toward Open Access, but of the complexities involved in ensuring that this transition is made in an equitable way. One session that I found particularly interesting focussed on the hurdles which publishers can face in trying to launch Open Access books. Journal articles are transitioning toward OA as the norm much more quickly than long form content, a trend which can be explained in some part by the prohibitive costs for authors. Two titles in the Geological Society’s flagship Special Publications book series have had every article published OA in 2023, and this is something we are looking towards expanding with the announcement of UKRI’s Open Access books policy. It was very informative to hear industry experts discuss the potential pitfalls we may come up against, and of their advocacy for models such as Subscribe to Open.

The talks weren’t the only opportunity to learn from my peers. In the coffee breaks between sessions, at lunchtime and at the various social events (including the welcome reception on Wednesday and the dinner, awards and quiz on Thursday), everyone was friendly and open to chatting. Despite my anxieties that I would be much earlier in my publishing career than everyone else, I found myself socialising with not only managers and directors but those who were in their first or second roles in the industry – including the other winners of the ALPSP Rising Star Award. It was refreshing to speak with peers who shared similar professional concerns. Finding out that my friends and family are not the only ones to presume a job in publishing means that I write books is a conversation that sticks out in my memory!. A particular highlight of the conference was the dinner and quiz on Thursday. The food was delicious and the camaraderie around our table as we tried to work out the answers to questions on everything from music to geography made up for the fact that we came close to the bottom of the leaderboard… 

As someone who started working in the industry during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact that meeting peers from other companies had on me during the conference can’t be overstated. During the ALPSP AGM, a presentation was given encouraging members to propose new Special Interest Groups (SIG) and I found myself wondering if a group for those who are (fairly) new to academic publishing would be feasible. As the Rising Star award winners prepared to have their photographs taken on the Thursday, I was asked if any of us would be interested in co-chairing a SIG of just that nature. Watch this space!

Sitting on the train home on Friday afternoon, I reflected on how grateful I am to work in an industry that is so invested in bettering itself, in sharing ideas, in community. Publishing is ultimately a business which is all about people, though we can lose sight of this sometimes. The ALPSP conference was a fantastic reminder of why I got into this job in the first place, and I look forward to attending again in the future.

About the ALPSP Rising Star Award 2023
This new award aims to recognise potential in early career individuals. The winners are given the opportunity and financial support to attend the ALPSP Annual Conference in person and write a short review of their experiences of the conference. The ALPSP Rising Star Award is sponsored by Publishers Licensing Services.

The winners of this year's Rising Star Award are:
Jade Koo, BMJ
George Litchfield, eLife
Alex Oxford, Edinburgh University Press
Danielle Tremeer, Geological Society of London

Find out more about the awards.

ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards
Thank you to all our speakers, sponsors and attendees for making the ALPSP 2023 Conference and Awards such a success. We will be returning to the Hilton Manchester Deansgate Hotel next year from 11-13 September 2024. Save the date and look out for the call for topics in early November. For more information, watch the highlights video or visit our website.

About the Author
Danielle Tremeer, Publishing Assistant, Geological Society of London

Danielle Tremeer is a Publishing Assistant at the Geological Society of London, working primarily on their books programme since 2021. She is the main contact for authors and editors, providing assistance throughout the submission and publication process. Recently, she has been involved in wider projects such as the development of transformative agreements and commissioning efforts. Prior to this role, Danielle completed an internship at Intellect Books and holds a degree in English with Publishing from the University of Plymouth. 

Thursday 21 September 2023

Responding to Community Needs: a collaborative transition to open access publishing

By Damaris Critchlow, Karger – Silver sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

Karger has a long history of connecting across communities of researchers, healthcare practitioners, and patients. With over 130 years of experience publishing in the health sciences, we understand that experience must be coupled with innovation and flexibility. To engage with our broad audiences and make a difference for our customers, we need to actively respond to and consider their different needs with tailored options, content, and products. As an independent family-owned publisher, we have never taken a ‘one size fits all’ approach to making knowledge accessible, applicable, and visible. It is important to us that we customize and tailor our approach for virtually every organization, including around open access. That is why we not only publish journals, but also look at knowledge creation and engagement throughout the research lifecycle to connect with researchers and the people who read and are impacted by research holistically. 

Different Community Needs

We’re vocal and proud that we are Open for Open, a statement we live by. With Open access (OA), our ethos of providing tailored solutions has been put to the test as, even within the health sciences, the communities who publish in our journals need different routes to publish. Even as a medium size publisher with around 100 journals within the Health Sciences, we see huge differences in funding, requirements, norms, ambitions, and guidance. Multiply that by the wide variety of Open Science policies that we see globally reflected in our author and editorial board profiles, and it is a complex picture. In 2022, our authors and editorial board members came from around 100 different countries.   

From Europe-led initiatives like Plan S, which require recipients of participating funders’ research grants to publish in journals that make articles immediately open, to Japanese recommendations that articles should be made open access within 12 months of publication, a growing trend for Gold Open Access in China, US federally funded research to be made immediately open from 2025 as in the Nelson Memo, and recognition from the Budapest Open Access Initiative that APCs (Article Processing Charges) can be exclusionary, it is a challenging landscape to navigate! 

While access to science is not to be debated anymore, it is increasingly clear that Gold open access is not a route that works for everyone, and this also holds true for Karger. Open access needs to be adaptable and responsive to the various needs of authors, editors, readers, and the sustainability of the journals. 

Different Adaptable models

The needs of different communities are why we support different routes for Open Access. 

This year, we have been excited to pilot S2O in two journals, Pediatric Neurosurgery and Developmental Neuroscience. We see S2O as an alternative way to move journals to Open Access, while alleviating some of the challenges it brings. It unites different stakeholders in Open Access and offers a bridge between established subscription paths and an OA future. This model uses the subscription base that already exists to make journals free to read and publish in. Unlike Gold Open Access journals that are continually Open Access, the OA status of S2O journals is decided volume by volume, dependent on the level of subscriptions. 

We have also proactively encouraged increased Open Access via our Transformative Journals, which are another route to support authors to comply with their individual open access requirements whilst enabling compliance with Plan S mandates and advancing open access. Flipping to OA depends on authors’ needs and interests, so when a journal has more than 75% of its content open access, the whole journal is ‘flipped’ to open. It has been of utmost importance to us to give authors freedom to publish according to their needs and funder requirements, and to provide them with a suitable open access alternative. We have successfully converted 15 journals to open access in the last few years alone and while this was an undeniably challenging process, the benefits of visibility and outreach are clear.  

A growing number of our authors who publish OA in our journals are covered by Transformative agreements negotiated with institutions whereby institutions pay the full or partial costs of their researchers’ OA publications (in hybrid or OA journals).  This allows authors to publish Open Access according to their needs, in any journal of their choice. Flexibility is key. As well, Karger has long been supportive of Green Open Access – making articles open via a repository. This makes content widely accessible whether it’s published in an OA or a hybrid journal. 

Several of Karger’s Open Access journals provide Diamond Open Access. Our Partner Publications are published on behalf of academic research institutions, societies government bodies or research funders. Both reading and publishing in the journals is free, with costs covered by the partner organizations – an alternative solution to provide Open Access in a somehow more equitable manner.  

A Collaborative Approach 

Crucially, it has been important for us to work with our Editors-in-Chief and our Editorial Board Members for a tailored and collaborative approach. The sustainability and success of the journals and the research they publish is the joint project that Karger and our editorial boards are invested in. It is an ongoing conversation we have with our editors and authors. As always, we return to our community, because no transition can be successful if the scope or timing does not meet the community’s needs.

This collaborative approach and team effort is emphasized by Prof. Dr Hendrik Scholl, from the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel (IOB), the Editor-in-Chief of a recently ‘flipped’ journal, Ophthalmic Research.  Following the journal’s transition to OA., Prof. Scholl said, ‘The Editor-in-Chief is important, you give vision and direction, but you need people to implement it who have (…) experience. That’s the case with Karger Publishers.(…)  It was a team effort. The second [important aspect] was communication …my colleagues in the Editorial Board…we discussed together. People were committed to the transition.’  And, overall how did it turn out? ‘The outcome was excellent. That’s the short summary.’  

Find out more about our customized options here: What We Solve | Karger Publishers and get in touch

Karger is a proud silver sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

About the author

Damaris Critchlow is a Project Manager at Karger, a worldwide publisher of scientific and medical content with the aim to connect and advance the health sciences. Since its foundation in 1890, Karger has been continuously evolving, keeping pace with developments and shifts in research and publishing. Damaris joined Karger in January 2023 and is excited by opportunities for innovation that come with close connections to researcher communities. 

Friday 8 September 2023

The Tightrope of Transparency: Research integrity and the media

By Sami Benchekroun, Morressier – Gold sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

American writer Elbert Hubbard said "The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it", a sentiment everyone in the scholarly publishing community would surely agree with! I often find myself wondering how scholarly publishing could move faster. I imagine the massive impact sharing breakthroughs earlier in the research lifecycle could have on innovation, invention, and progress. 

I believe there’s a path to speed that sacrifices none of the quality and integrity we need to restore trust in science. 

But recently, a series of news headlines reminded me of a problem with speed, and with sharing science before it's been proven to be reproducible, or before it's undergone peer review. 

In July, the headlines shared a remarkable discovery with the LV Superconductor. This superconductor would conduct electricity at room temperature, and would have profound and transformative impacts on energy, among other things. In short order, there was scepticism. Experts in the field questioned the validity of the findings and the media’s runaway with the story. But within weeks, other labs had taken a look at the data and validated it further

The result is confusing for the public, and damaging to the credibility of the researchers involved. Trust is fragile, and this type of science communication is harmful to that trust. 

What’s the solution here? It’s certainly not to stop sharing, to stop pushing for earlier sharing in the research lifecycle. Within the scientific community, scepticism is a vital part of validating new discoveries, questioning and testing further. To put it simply: that debate and discourse is how science works. The issue comes with how that communication translates when it extends beyond the scientific community. 

I'd like to imagine a future where publishers and those involved in publishing take responsibility for educating the media and the public about how science works. In this future, the public will understand the importance of reproducibility, or how any new discovery carries with it scepticism and uncertainty until it is validated by peer review and replicated studies. When scientists talk about ‘uncertainty,’ that cannot carry with it a mistrust with the public. 

Preprint servers, and early stage research shared at conferences and through conference proceedings, is critical for accelerating science. But we’ve seen again and again, the challenges of reporting on the nuances of the research lifecycle. We don’t have to look back far to see the rapid rise of preprints during the need for information during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. These early preprints were posted, and while many became quickly indispensable in the months before they could be peer reviewed, some were quickly criticized and withdrawn from the servers. But before those outliers could even be withdrawn, they had spawned conspiracy theories.  

Again, the solution here is not to stop sharing preprints. They are invaluable, and the debate that occurred in those criticized preprints stopped countless scientists from pursuing paths of study that had already been debated. It's when that information is taken out of context, without the caveats stated in the paper or an understanding of the role of a preprint in scientific discourse, that we run into problems with scientific communication. 

Research on science communication shows that in 2021, most news sources, when reporting on preprints, do not mention that they’re referencing a preprint, nor that the work is unreviewed, preliminary, or requiring more verification. There is a huge gap here, between how scientists understand uncertainty in preprints, and how the media portrays that uncertainty. That gap has the potential to widen into a chasm, with the hope for a future where research holds the highest standards of integrity and trust falling to the bottom. 

In order to preserve the role of uncertainty in the scientific community, it's crucial to put scientific discoveries into context for both the media and the wider public. That means education on the iterative nature of science, the fact that our knowledge evolves. It involves minimizing the coverage of individual studies, without covering their context within the broader scope of the discipline. That also means educating on the role of early-stage research, preprint servers and more. 

Communicating science within the research community serves a different purpose compared to journalists communicating science to their audiences. Within the research community, we share because we want to build on new ideas and understand the latest findings in order to advance our own research. For the media, the goal is viewership or readership, and getting the most eyeballs on a piece of content, even if that means finding a ‘newsworthy’ piece of data and removing it from the deeper context of a paper or a field. 

Both science and journalism strive for accuracy. But in the disconnect between publishing goals, there is a void where, for the sake of newsworthiness, we risk complicating the public’s understanding of science. And once we do that, we risk trust in science overall. 

Research integrity is a critical goal for this industry, but I suggest that it can only go so far without an accompanying strategy of awareness and education, to ensure that the communication of research is equally integrity-rich. For more on the future of research integrity, I invite you all to read our Research Integrity Guide

We are ready to start this conversation on research integrity, media literacy, and stakeholder responsibility. Will you join us? Get in touch

Morressier is a proud Gold sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

About the author

Sami Benchekroun is the Co-Founder and CEO of Morressier, the home of workflows to transform how science is discovered, disseminated and analyzed. He drives Morressier's vision forward and is dedicated to accelerating scientific breakthroughs by making the entire scholarly process, from the first spark on, much more transparent. Sami has over ten years of experience in academic conferences, scholarly communications, and entrepreneurship, and has a background studying management at ESCP Europe.

Thursday 7 September 2023

Breaking down barriers

How collaboration is advancing disability equity in scholarly communications

By Erin Osborne-Martin, Wiley Partner Solutions

Wiley Partner Solutions is a proud silver sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 15% of people worldwide have a disability - that’s over 1.1 billion people. And around 80% of disabilities are ‘hidden’, meaning it’s likely you already work with many people with disabilities, without being aware of it. In this context, it’s more important than ever for scholarly communications to be more disability confident.

We need to make sure that everyone has the same access to knowledge and the ability to participate in the scholarly communications process. We also need to include the lived experiences and problem-solving abilities people with disabilities bring to the workplace.

The power of cross-industry collaboration can help. We can create a shared understanding of the challenges faced by people with disabilities and provide best practices and resources for enabling participation. 

At Wiley Partner Solutions, collaboration is in our DNA. It’s how we’re helping societies and publishers better serve their communities whilst exceeding their business goals, and it’s built within our team culture. I’m thrilled to be dedicating the time, alongside other publishers, librarians, and researchers, to develop the Equity Toolkit for Disability Inclusion. This new toolkit will:

  • Provide a free and interactive online hub

It will give access to high quality, curated resources and best practices, vetted by knowledgeable people. There’ll also be actionable insights for employees with disabilities, managers, and allies working in scholarly communications.

  • Evolve over time

The toolkit won’t be static. Continuous updates will be made in response to changing community needs.

  • Meet accessibility standards

It will have good search capabilities, topic and format filtering, and a variety of resource types (text, video, audio).

The toolkit isn’t being put together overnight; we’re taking a thoughtful and thorough approach. The Publishing Enabled organization, which I’ve been part of since 2019, is driving the creation of the toolkit in partnership with C4Disc. We’ll be officially announcing the launch of the initial version of the toolkit in the next few months – keep an eye out on LinkedIn and elsewhere.

To learn more at ALPSP 2023, join us at:

The power of cross-industry collaboration: the Toolkit for Disability Equity in Scholarly Communications

ūüďÖ Thursday 14 September, 13:15-13:55 (BST)

Speakers: Erin Osborne-Martin (Wiley Partner Solutions), Simon Holt (Elsevier), and Karen Stoll Farrell (Indiana University Bloomington

Further reading:

About the author

Erin Osborne-Martin is Associate Director, Strategic Analytics at Wiley Partner Solutions, responsible for market insights and data analytics that inform business development strategies. Before that, she worked for over 15 years in society-focused scholarly communications, primarily at the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, where she led the flip of their publishing portfolio to open access. After sustaining a spinal cord injury in 2017, Erin became active in disability advocacy through the BackUp Trust, a spinal injury charity, and Transport for All, a group that works for more accessible public transportation.

About Wiley Partner Solutions

Wiley Partner Solutions brings together the best people and technology under one umbrella to make it easier for you to serve scholarly and corporate communities and exceed your business goals in an ever-changing market.

We deliver a broad array of platforms, solutions, and services to help partners curate, collaborate, and accelerate their scholarly outputs while adding value to the wider research ecosystem.

Wednesday 6 September 2023

Back to Basics: Resources to Support Rights Management Best Practice

By Amy Ellis, Publishers’ Licensing Services, Platinum sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

There are so many big challenges in the publishing industry at the moment, from the fast pace at which AI is changing and threatening the landscape to the transition to Open Access publishing models, that it can be easy to forget about the basics. Copyright and licensing underpin the entire publishing industry from scholarly journals to glossy B2C magazines. Good rights management and maintaining accurate records of what rights a publisher holds (and doesn’t hold) can make all the difference to being able to achieve additional revenue or exposure for authors and to being able to pivot to new licensing opportunities (such as the potential to license into AI). 

In March 2023, PLS launched the Rights Management in Publishing report which contained the results of a rights management survey of nearly 100 publishers across all publishing sectors. The survey was designed to capture the current issues facing rights professionals in publishing and what support they required to improve the way rights are managed in their organization as well as their licensing initiatives. The survey found that less than a third of the 100 publishers surveyed were very confident about the accuracy of their rights records for their titles whilst just over half said they were quite confident. This shows that while most publishers do feel confident enough in the records of what rights they hold, there are still large gaps where publishers don’t hold accurate files or databases of what rights they have to their titles. 

The report also found that 40% of publishers surveyed felt their effectiveness in rights management and licensing is restricted by insufficient resourcing or investment in systems and teams and nearly 30% of publishers felt they were held back by lack of knowledge and training in rights. 

Since its launch in 2020, PLS has been working with its Rights Group, formed of rights professionals across the industry, to create free resources to help support publishers where there are large knowledge gaps in contract information or in staff knowledge. The resources created by the PLS Rights Group have been compiled within the Rights and Licensing Hub website

The following resources in the Rights and Licensing Hub could be considered a primer on good rights management for publishers:

Copyright FAQs

PLS created a straightforward Frequently Asked Question section about copyright law and how it applies to publishers and content users in the UK. These FAQs are an essential read for new starters and a bookmarkable page for quick answers to common copyright queries.

Essential Guide to Open Access

For publishers just beginning to transition to Open Access or with new staff members coming on board, the Essential Guide to Open Access, created in consultation with Research Consulting, is an introduction to Open Access concepts with links to additional resources to find out more about what Open Access is, Creative Commons licences, Text and Data Mining, and Transformative Agreements.

Rights Management Essentials Training

PLS also launched three free training courses in 2021 on rights that were designed not just for rights professionals but also for editorial teams, those in marketing and indeed anyone working in publishing, to provide a foundation in rights management best practice. The courses include an Introduction to Rights Management, Acquiring Rights, and Licensing Rights to Others.

Additional Resources

Further resources available in the Rights and Licensing Hub include other training resources, publisher case studies, and a careers section. With so many challenges in publishing, having good knowledge of what rights you hold in your titles is essential for enabling reuse of your content, whether through new licensing opportunities or partnerships. The resources available within the Rights and Licensing Hub are designed to help publishers improve their rights management in order to maximise exposure and revenues for their content.

Publishers’ Licensing Services is a proud Platinum sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

About the author

Amy Ellis is Head of Rights and Permissions at Publishers’ Licensing Services. She is responsible for the PLSclear permissions service, managing the growth of the service and ensuring the system stays in line with industry needs. She is also responsible for PLS’ rights management initiatives including the Rights and Licensing Hub and she provides support for the PLS Rights Management Group. She was included in The Bookseller’s Rising Stars in 2019 and shortlisted for London Book Fair’s Trailblazer Awards in 2020.

Friday 25 August 2023

Navigating Open Science and Open Access with Intelligent Automation

By Sureshkumar Parandhaman, AVP Publishing Solutions and Pre-Sales, Integra

Silver sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

Integra logo

The democratization of research, spurred by the Open Science movement, is rapidly transforming the scholarly publishing landscape. Open Science promotes unhindered access to research findings and articles for the public, and collaborative research, supported by digital tools. It fosters greater transparency in research, creating an environment conducive to the sharing of knowledge and trust through open access.

The basic tenets of Open Science are open data, open materials, open analysis, pre-registration, and open access. By increasing transparency, Open Science increases the replicability of research, bringing a systemic change to how scientific research is conducted. According to the OECD, Open Science:

  1. Fosters more accurate verification of research results.
  2. Reduces duplication in “collecting, creating, transferring, and re-using scientific material.”
  3. Enhances productivity, especially during times of tight budgets.
  4. Leads to better innovation potential and improved consumer choice.
  5. Promotes trust in science.

Challenges to Meeting Open Science and Open Access  Requirements for Journal Publishers

While Open Science has brought multiple benefits, it has also thrown up challenges for scholarly publishers, such as increased costs and time, reduced flexibility, incompatibility with existing incentive structure, the emergence of predatory journals, high article processing fees, open access charges, and lack of funding support.

Given that the majority of authors choose a journal based on its reputation, open-access journals are at a disadvantage due to the misconception that such journals are of lower quality. However, it is important to remember that most open-access journals ensure peer reviews and uphold stringent quality standards for all their published works.

Another area of concern is that the business models of traditional publishers don't align with the compliance needs of open science and open access.


Graphic illustration features of Traditional Publishing and Open Access Publishing

Information Source for Image: Researcher.Life

To remain competitive against the backdrop of increasing open access, traditional publishers need to look at leveraging the power of technology to innovate and streamline with publishing process while maintaining integrity, quality, profitability, and compliance.

Intelligent Automation: A Game-Changer

Between 2012 and 2022, there has been a major shift from closed access accounting for 70% of all publishing to the open access model being adopted by 54% of publishers. An AI-powered content creation and publishing platform can bring multiple benefits for journal publishers looking to make the transition, not the least of which is intelligent automation to accelerate workflows.

Some of the key benefits that a cutting-edge technology suite offers include:

  • Tracking and monitoring of detailed metadata across different publications with varied funding sources, multiple authors, etc.
  • Seamless repository integrations without compromising on open access compliance.
  • Capturing open access-related metadata from the inventory.
  • Automating language quality checks, compliance with journal guidelines, relevance of research data and findings, etc., for faster TAT.
  • Technical diagnosis to identify missing information and references, quickly and more accurately than manual checks. 
  • Configurable cloud-based style managers to automate XML tagging to format each manuscript to the journal’s style guide.
  • Analytics capabilities to support strategic decision-making for scholarly publishers.

Revolutionizing Every Step of the Publishing Cycle

Not only does AI-powered intelligent automation optimize workflows and increase productivity, but also supports DRM by effectively monitoring and detecting fraud and copyright infringement. By transitioning to a cloud-based publishing platform that offers such automation, scholarly publishers can also enhance user experiences for authors, editors, and peer reviewers. This is possible through incredibly user-friendly features that ease moving back and forth between runs at revising and updating the manuscript to meet quality standards.

In addition, all parties can be assured of transparency, replicability, and data sharing, while complying with open access requirements. Supplementary materials can be seamlessly integrated to add value for the end reader.

Elevating Open Science and Open Access via Automation

Automation is the key to creating and publishing accessible, user-friendly Open Access content. It offers multiple tools and functionalities to speed up the content creation, editing, and peer review processes, such as assessing language quality via automated grammar checks and offering recommendations and NLP-based editing tools to facilitate guided editing to enhance quality and speed.

By automating tasks, manpower and time are freed up, leading to reduced costs and faster time to market. All these benefits are available on Integra’s full-cycle authoring and publishing platform, powered by artificial intelligence. Its rich functionalities and intuitive interface can ease your transition to producing Open Access content. Integra can transform your workflows and ensure minimal disruptions and data loss while shifting to a cutting-edge technology platform.

Integra is pleased to be a Silver sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

About the author

photo Suresh Parandhaman

Sureshkumar Parandhaman is a publishing professional and AVP publishing solutions at Integra, with a distinguished background in scholarly publishing, particularly in journals and books. With over 20 years of experience, he has excelled as a Product Owner, Product Manager, and Business Analyst in the publishing industry, and has diverse experience spanning Information Services, Publishing, EdTech, Healthcare, and Enterprise software

Tuesday 15 August 2023

How Transitioning to Gold Open Access Grew Medicina Journal

By Dr Carla Aloè, Head of Societies and Acquisition, MDPI.

Gold sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

For many societies and institutes, switching their journals to a gold open access model is scary. Some do not want to renounce the high revenue that comes from institutional and consortia subscriptions, others are concerned that authors will not be able to pay the article processing charges (APCs), and others are worried about the quality of the articles in gold open access journals. 

At MDPI, our priority is to listen, understand and address these concerns. In this blog post, I would like to share the story of Medicina, one of the journals we publish on behalf of societies and institutes, transitioning to a gold open access model.  

The history of Medicina

When we took over Medicina in 2018, the owner of the journal, the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, had many concerns about transitioning to gold open access. The journal had a long history, as it was launched in 1920 and went through different changes due to the political and historical events that affected Lithuania during and after World War II. 

The journal was already open access in 2001, embracing the philosophy of making the latest research freely available to everyone without subscription or other paywalled restrictions. In 2014, Medicina was transferred to Elsevier and published in a diamond open access model, supported by an EU grant. 

In September 2017, we got in contact with the Editor-in-Chief of Medicina, Prof. Edgaras Stankevińćius, for the first time. The EU grant was going to end soon, and the university was interested in knowing more about sustainable alternatives to continue publishing the journal. The introduction of APCs was a concern for the institution, as its members worried that they would deter authors from submitting to the journal.

Transitioning to gold open access

A series of meetings took place in the following weeks. In them, we explained how APCs not only allow publishers to cover the editorial and publication costs but also to reinvest in the journal and launch services and initiatives to support researchers. As MDPI does not work with external vendors, we are able to closely control the quality, timing and costs of publication, being able to charge APCs that are highly competitive on the market. 

Of course, we offer a range of discounts and memberships to financially support the authors. For example, the Institutional Open Access Program (IOAP) that counts more than 800 affiliated institutes offers discounts on APCs for associated researchers, and discount vouchers are provided to reviewers that submit comprehensive and timely review reports. Members of societies affiliated with the journal also benefit from discounts. 

We were confident that Medicina would develop nicely, strongly believing in its potential after transitioning to gold open access. 

In 2018, the contract was signed, a Managing Editor was appointed and a dedicated editorial team was organized to support the journal in all the day-to-day operations. The transition was smooth, and the first issue of Medicina was published that same year by MDPI.  

Gold open access leads to growth 

The newly established Medicina editorial team visited the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences in Kaunas, and the Editor-in-Chief and other representatives on the journal travelled to our headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. These personal interactions helped to develop trust in the relationship between the editorial board and MDPI, and to build the foundations for a long-term collaboration. 

For the first year and a half, to support the journal in its transition period, we heavily invested in the journal so it could completely waive the APCs. This is always a delicate moment, requiring a lot of collaboration and flexibility not only with the institute and the editorial board of the journal but also with the previous publisher. The authors, readers and other stakeholders of the journal also needed to be informed and supported throughout the process.  

In agreement with the university, in 2019, we introduced an APC of 1500 CHF to publish in the journal. The number of publications increased by more than 600% that year, and the good quality of articles published in Medicina led to a substantial increase in its impact factor. 

Medicina in 2023

Currently, the journal features 25 sections, of which many were established in 2020. The journal is still led by Prof. Stankevińćius and is supported by an editorial board of more than 400 experts in all the different areas of medicine. The journal’s visibility on the MDPI website, which received more than 90 million monthly views in 2022, drew a lot of attention to it, attracting more readers and, consequently, more citations. 

To align with the expansion of journal services, market conditions, inflation costs and a significant increase in the number of submissions and rejected papers, the APCs increased to 1800 CHF in January 2022, making the journal a good source of income for the university. In 2022, we published 1,840 citable items and received more than 10,000 citations. The journal keeps growing in an exponential and healthy way thanks to it transitioning to gold open access and publishing high-quality work. 

MDPI is a proud Gold sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

About the author 

Carla Alo√® joined MDPI in 2020 as an Associate Publisher and Scientific Officer. In 2022, she was promoted to Publisher and took over the lead of the Society Partnerships and Acquisition Team. In January 2023, Carla was appointed as the head of the newly established Society and Acquisition Department. Before joining MDPI, she worked as a Commissioning Editorial Team Lead at Frontiers. Carla holds a PhD in Early Modern Literature from the University of Birmingham, UK.

Tuesday 8 August 2023

The Fall’s Big Topics in Publishing & Technology

By Stephanie Lovegrove Hansen, Silverchair

Silver sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

As we hope you’ve heard, Silverchair is bringing back the in-person version of our popular industry event, Platform Strategies (27 September in Washington, DC). Preparing for this industry-wide event means surfacing the larger themes in scholarly publishing and technology more broadly, to ensure we create a program that engages our best minds on the stickiest challenges and biggest opportunities.

Here are the themes that rose to the top for us:

  1. AI: Of course. Though funny enough now, when we were planning the agenda back in February, we did wonder whether all the then-ChatGPT-sparked hype would have faded by the Fall. We gambled that it wasn’t going anywhere, and we were right. Artificial intelligence and large language models are sure to disrupt every aspect of scholarly publishing (and the world at large), from how infrastructure and platforms are developed to how content is discovered, used, and licensed. As our keynote speaker, Nita Farahany, puts it: “How do we avoid the dangers of lost privacy and rights while taking advantage of the unprecedented opportunities? With the rapid advance of wearable neurotech and generative AI, we face important ethical questions about privacy, human rights, equity—and even what it means to be human.”

  2. Coopetition: Partnership models for independent businesses: Industry consolidation, infrastructure complexity, the challenges of keeping up with new and ever-changing research policies and publishing models, and technological advancements and innovations, has left smaller and mid-sized organizations looking for options. Our industry contains both established and emerging collaboratives responding to these challenges, who are giving voice to the consequences for the scholarly ecosystem if these audiences are lost.

  3. Digital to Data: Open access policies, industry mergers, and data privacy policies have drastically changed the landscape for marketers in publishing and beyond. Today's marketers have had to nimbly pivot from B2B to B2C, from siloed to unified, and from highly produced to highly personalized. Further, AI-powered tools rely on clean and comprehensive data to be most effective, shifting the focus of marketers and scholarly organizations at large.

  4. Syndication: Platforms as a hub, not a destination: We’re seeing a number of pilots, models, and approaches for finding readers off-platform and bringing data, usage, and community efforts back to the version of record.

  5. Integrating digital event workflows, assets, and strategy: With publishers looking to increase member engagement and grow revenue, they’re examining how digital event content is being leveraged: what's working, what's not, and what's coming up next. 

  6. Ethics in Publishing: Research integrity, trust in science, transparency in data usage: As seen in the themes and sessions in industry meetings like SSP and ALPSP this year, research integrity and ethics more broadly are a big focus for publishing organizations. Fortunately, new tools and policies are helping to light a path forward.
What trends would you add to this list? How will this list change in 2024 and beyond? Let us know what you think! (We’ll also be gathering your insights for the 2024 iteration of our Publishing Tech Trends report.) Or, join us at the ALPSP conference or for Platform Strategies in DC and discuss it live! 

Silverchair is a proud Silver sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

About the author

Stephanie Lovegrove Hansen is VP of Marketing at Silverchair. She has worked in the publishing industry for over 15 years, including at the University of Virginia Press and Clarivate Analytics.

Wednesday 2 August 2023

Democratizing Knowledge: The Rise of Open Science and Open Access

By Tony Alves, Satam Choudhary and Joshua Routh, HighWire

Silver sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

In an era of rapidly evolving technology and accelerating scientific progress, the promise of a democratized, inclusive, and borderless knowledge universe is becoming tangible, fuelled by two powerful movements - Open Science and Open Access.

At its core, Open Science is the practice of making scientific research transparent and accessible to everyone, including open methodologies and open-source software to open data and public access to published work. Open Access is a key part of Open Science. It is a publishing model that enables scholarly publications to be made freely accessible, eliminating the barrier of paywalls.

These concepts emerged from the desire to democratize science and foster a global research community unbounded by financial and institutional barriers. Since the inception of the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002, the ultimate vision is one of a scientific ecosystem where knowledge isn't a privilege, but a communal asset. This dynamic promises to stimulate interdisciplinary innovation, enhance public comprehension, and light the way towards a more equitable future for global research.

In this blog post we’ll summarize the opportunities and tensions behind these initiatives, and show how Highwire supports them by supporting relevant publishing models on our platform.

Open Data: Unveiling the Power of Shared Knowledge

Open Data stands for the idea that data collected during research should be freely accessible, enabling anyone to explore, use, and benefit from it.

Unveiling the wealth of knowledge embedded in scientific data, not only enables researchers to build upon each other's work but also allows for innovative analyses and interpretations beyond the scope of the original study. The story of the Human Genome Project stands as a testament to the transformative power of Open Data. The initiative – started by our long-term partners at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory – made genome sequences publicly available, igniting a surge of advancements in genomics, personalized medicine, and biotechnology.

However, the road to Open Data is not without hurdles. Researchers often grapple with data privacy issues, particularly in sensitive fields like healthcare. The lack of standardized formats and metadata can also lead to disorganized and hard-to-use data sets. Costs associated with maintaining accessible, reliable data also pose a significant challenge leading to innovative solutions such as Dryad, who we partner with to make data discoverable, freely reusable, and citable.

Open Access Books: Pioneering Free Access to Scholarly Literature

Beyond journal articles, the drive towards freely accessible scholarly literature has led to an upswing in Open Access Books. This shift acknowledges that academic knowledge can be encapsulated in many different forms of content, which was the driving force behind Highwire Hosting being the first platform to support any content type as a first class citizen. Books, for example, can be as dynamic and evolving as research papers and equally deserving of broad dissemination.

For authors, this publishing model presents a new avenue to share their work with a global audience, magnifying their reach and potential impact. Readers, especially those from resource-constrained regions, benefit from unrestricted access to vital scholarly works. For publishers, the journey toward Open Access Books is a delicate balance between championing knowledge dissemination and ensuring financial viability. Innovative models, like Knowledge Unlatched's crowd-funding approach, show promise in navigating these complexities.

Professional Societies & Open Access: Navigating the Currents

Professional societies play a crucial role in the scientific ecosystem, not just as gatekeepers of quality but also as proponents of community-specific issues, such as advocating for research in under-explored areas and policy changes based on scientific evidence.

However, their smaller scale, as compared to commercial publishers, presents unique challenges, particularly in the context of transitioning to Open Access. Challenges include:

  • Financial Stability: Transitioning to Open Access implies moving away from a subscription-based revenue model which means devising financially sustainable Open Access models that can support their operations.
  • Brand Value and Quality: Societies are often recognized for their quality publications. There may be apprehensions that moving to an Open Access model could dilute this perception of quality.
  • Infrastructure and Expertise: Societies may lack the infrastructure for handling the Open Access publication process, from article processing charge (APC) management to copyright handling.
  • Equity and Inclusivity: APCs can exclude authors with limited funding. Therefore, Societies must consider innovative models that ensure researchers from all backgrounds can participate.

As an independent organization, HighWire allows smaller societies to maintain independence from commercial publishers, while still providing industry-leading publishing tools.

Equitable Open Access Models: The Path to Inclusive Science 

As the move toward open access accelerates, the conversation is shifting from "why" to "how." Many traditional models of Open Access present limitations in fostering inclusivity, especially among underrepresented or underfunded researchers. This gives rise to a critical question: How can we ensure equitable access not just for readers but also for authors? 

There are several exciting models emerging in response to this need. 

  • "Read-and-Publish" agreements, where institutions pay a single, combined fee covering both the cost of reading and publishing for their researchers.
  • "Subscribe to Open" model turns the traditional subscription model on its head; instead of subscribing to read, libraries subscribe to make a journal open for everyone.
  • "Fee Waivers" offer reductions or waivers of APCs for authors from low-income countries and early-career researchers.

Closing Thoughts: How HighWire can Help

As we look ahead, the momentum of Open Science and Open Access is undeniable. They promise to shape a more inclusive and accessible world of scientific research. Nonetheless, we must remain conscious of the barriers that hinder the potential of Open Science and Open Access. HighWire Press is ready to help our publishing partners by providing independent publishing solutions that address the entire publishing lifecycle, from online submission and tracking, to multi-format content hosting, to enterprise-wide single sign on capabilities, to licensing management, to usage and impact analytics. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, and HighWire’s modularized solutions can help any size organization economically adapt to the open landscape.

If you're interested in learning more about how our modularized solutions can help your organization navigate the open landscape effectively, we invite you to drop us a line at info@highwirepress.com. Let's advance Open Science and Open Access together!

HighWire is a proud Silver sponsor of the ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2023.

About the authors

Tony Alves, Senior Vice-President, Product Management, HighWire

Tony Alves has worked in STM publishing since 1990 focusing on digital publishing, online learning products and workflow management. Tony is involved in promoting industry standardization, system-to-system communications protocols and other industry shared services. Tony serves as co-chair of the Manuscript Exchange Common Approach NISO Standing Committee. Tony has organized and presented sessions on industry standards, such as ORCID, CRediT, Funder ID, organizational IDs, JATS and BITS, as well as on interesting editorial services, such as similarity detection, artwork preflight, reference checking and linking, artificial intelligence for manuscript quality assurance, social media, and ethics.

Satam Choudhary, Senior Product Manager, HighWire

Satam Choudhury is Senior Product Manager for Analytics Products and Subscription Management system at HighWire. With over 10 years of experience in working on ERP and analytics, he likes to help publishers identify research trends underlying vast volumes of published content. He also led the team in building THINK Web, a new subscription management, BI and payment system for publishers. He is excited and worried about forthcoming product releases, and talks about them incessantly to anyone who meets him!

Joshua Routh, Director of Hosting Products, HighWire

As the Director of Hosting Products, Joshua is responsible for ensuring our publishers' content is stored, enriched and presented effectively. He has worked closely with some of the world's most prestigious STM organisations for 15 years, including leading the team on numerous flagship products for the Cochrane Library, McGraw Hill, Oxford University Press and the British Medical Journal. He has a background in software engineering, a degree in digital design, and a passion for helping research content maximise its value.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Spotlight on: Original √Čtudes for the Developing Conductor

This year, the judges have selected a shortlist of four for the new ALPSP Impact Award. We also invite ALPSP members to take part in the judging process before the closing date of 31 July. Vote online

The finalists will be showcased in a lightning presentation session at the ALPSP Conference on 13 September, with the winners announced at the ALPSP Conference Awards Dinner on 14 September in Manchester.

In this series, we learn more about each of the finalists.

Tell us about your organization

The Open Education Initiative (OEI) is a unit of the University Libraries at Virginia Tech. The University Libraries at Virginia Tech furthers the university's dedication to being a global land-grant institution and serving faculty, students, and societies across the globe. The University Libraries supports the creation and publication of scholarship that is freely accessible to all — regardless of geographical location. The OEI offers a variety of services to improve student learning and faculty teaching materials to make them increasingly: accessible, affordable, of high quality, flexible, engaging, and innovative. We collaborate with faculty, staff, and students to create innovative original and adapted works designed to meet real-world classroom needs and release them under an open license for worldwide public use: https://guides.lib.vt.edu/oer/grantees

Collaborators for this project are from University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Virginia Tech. 
  • The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is a public, R2: Doctoral University in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA and one of only fifty-seven doctoral institutions recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for both higher research activity and community engagement. The university offers 85 undergraduate degrees in over 125 areas of study, as well as 74 master’s and 32 doctoral programs to approximately 20,000 students. Founded in 1891 as a college for women, the university was one of the three charter institutions of the UNC System. Today, UNC Greensboro is one of the most diverse in the state of North Carolina and a minority-serving institution with an undergraduate population of 51% ethnic minority students and 67% female students.
  • Virginia Tech (or Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) is a public land-grant, R1: Doctoral University with its main campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA. Virginia Tech offers about 280 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to over 37,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students and is the state’s second-largest public university by enrollment. Through experiential learning, future-focused research, and an inclusive, spirited culture, Virginia Tech strives to accomplish the charge of its motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). Virginia Tech’s motto “Ut Prosim,” that I may serve, is a catalyst for the engagement aspects of the global land-grant university. 

What is the project/product that you submitted for the Awards?

Original √Čtudes for the Developing Conductor is a peer-reviewed, freely-available, and Creative Commons-licensed collection of 25 original compositions designed to enhance contemporary conducting pedagogy by amplifying the voices of composers from historically excluded groups. This resource presents original √©tudes beyond what are typically available from the Public Domain. While a print-on-demand option is available, we have worked to create a resource that is freely available and easy to navigate electronically. QR codes and hyperlinks are provided throughout the text to help digital users move around quickly and easily. It is available in multiple formats including digital PDF, print (scores only), and audio. Downloadable PDF versions are available for scores only (160+ pages) and for scores plus parts (700+ pages). 

The collection is currently the only known conducting-specific resource that contains music by a diverse group of living composers, is open-access, and is easily navigable in digital and print formats. Original √Čtudes for the Developing Conductor was published on April 27, 2023. 

Tell us a little about how it works and the team behind it

This collection of 25 original musical scores and parts is designed for use as a supplement for conducting education at advanced undergraduate and graduate levels. √Čtudes range from thirty seconds to four minutes in length and are original compositions designed to create a unified musical narrative. Each √©tude has an introductory page that includes a link to a MIDI realization (MP4) of the √©tude, a list of the parameters of the commission, additional pedagogical opportunities identified by the editors, information about the √©tude and composer, and a link to the composer’s website. √Čtudes were commissioned from a group of 65 invited composers from historically excluded groups, and composed by 25 living composers according to a set of musical characteristics and pedagogical opportunities designated by the editors.

Our hope is that this book will better prepare conducting students for the musical world they are entering while also reinforcing the existing pedagogical goals of conducting teachers across the United States and beyond. Despite the fact that conducting pedagogy is continually evolving, the examples students encounter in conducting classes tend to remain the same. By meeting the needs of modern students while also celebrating the voices of a diverse cross-section of contemporary composers, we hope this book offers a significant contribution to conducting pedagogy that supports the classroom goals of any conducting teacher regardless of pedagogical approach. As a zero-cost, openly licensed supplemental text featuring the music of many composers who have been historically excluded, we hope this book addresses current pedagogical issues of equity, diversity, inclusion, and access in a meaningful way. We also hope that the way music is published and navigated within a digital environment will change as a result of this publication.

Extensive efforts have been undertaken to ensure the usability of this resource for classroom use and beyond: 

  • We conducted usability testing with students based on classroom scenarios;
  • The text is freely available in multiple digital formats including high and low-resolution PDFs of scores and parts, and of scores only;
  • An introductory table displays musical characteristics and commissioned elements for each √©tude;
  • Layout, design, and navigation of the text were specifically designed for ease of digital download and navigation including in-document links which enable navigation within the overall book through a linked table of contents, navigation to and within individual scores, parts, and back to the score from each part; 
  • PDFs may be self-printed and are also available to order as a “scores only” spiral-bound softcover print-on-demand version;
  • Links and QR codes direct digital and print users to MIDI realizations (MP4s) available via a YouTube playlist, or to the book’s main landing page;
  • In the digital “scores and parts” version, links at the bottom of each cover page enable the reader to “jump to” transposed parts for their instrument, return to the linked table of contents, or visit the main landing page of the resource;
  • To enable accessibility for musicians who are blind or have low vision, the text, images, and links in the PDF versions of this text are tagged structurally and include alternative text, which allows for machine readability;
  • The book was professionally engraved, copyedited, and typeset. MIDI realizations (MP4) were created and are freely available via YouTube;

The twenty-five composers who accepted commissions for this work and whose names are prominently featured on the book’s cover made this possible.They include: Spencer Arias, David Biendenbender, Susan Botti, Matthew Browne, Trevor Bumgarner, Yi Chen, Brent Michael Davids, Gala Flagello, Max Grafe, Ivette Rodriguez Herryman, Jennifer Jolley, Molly Joyce, Alexis Lamb, Lynnsey Lambrecht,Shuying Li, Ricardo Lorenz, Sally Lamb McCune, Hillary Purrington, Will Rowe, Christopher Sherwood-Gabrielson, Elena Spect, Hilary Tann, and Roger Zare. 

The project leadership team includes four people: two music subject matter experts, Dr. Jonathan Caldwell of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Dr. Derek Shapiro at Virginia Tech who served as lead editors for the project, and two members of the Open Education Initiative of the University Libraries at Virginia Tech, Anita Walz, Managing Editor, and Kindred Grey, OER and Graphic Design Specialist, who were deeply involved in project design, peer review, development, and production. Matt Browne and Artem Bank contributed music engraving and MIDI realizations to the project. 

In what ways do you think it demonstrates innovation?

Original √Čtudes for the Developing Conductor demonstrates impact and innovation in multiple ways. 

  • Open-access music textbook publishing: No-cost online availability under a Creative Commons license is a significant benefit for students who more than ever struggle to afford textbooks and course materials, and as required course for music degrees, conducting is a high-need area for freely-available and openly-licensed course materials. 
  • Centering students as part of project design: The project centers student needs and real-world classroom use by involving students and student-centric planning throughout the project planning process. This has resulted in innovative ways to ensure access, accessibility, relevant design, engagement, and in-document navigation, notably the use of QR codes and links to enable speedy navigation between scores, parts, and the Table of Contents, using a spiral-binding for the print version, and the inclusion of more representative composers than currently available textbooks.
  • Centering diverse composers and contemporary music: Prior to initiating this project, our review of more than 250 excerpts in five prominent conducting textbooks revealed inclusion of only one woman composer and one person of color. Our text features composers from historically underrepresented groups, provides a short biographical statement, photo, link to the composer’s website, and the composer’s description of their etude. By centering a diversity of composers and contemporary music this work builds awareness of more diverse, living composers, current musical styles, and enhances engagement especially of students from historically marginalized groups.
  • Prioritizing in-document navigation: Our student reviewers are so excited about the navigation in the book: “I’ve never seen this before. I wish that everyone would do this.” In class students are frequently asked to locate a score within a collection, conduct the score, play their instrument’s part and return to the score. In an analog environment this means page-turns in a 700+ page volume. In a digital environment, this necessitates scrolling or navigating to multiple files on one or more devices. Our publication leverages a linked Table of Contents to quickly navigate to any score, links from scores to each part, links from each part back to the score or Table of Contents, plus links and QR codes for print and digital users to navigate to an MP4 for each piece or to return to the full digital text. We are excited about the effectiveness of this approach for in-class use of this work and what it means for student learning. We also hope that music publishers will catch on and imitate this relevant and innovative approach.
  • Proof of concept for open-access music textbook publishing. Publishing open access necessitates exploration of different financial models and creates opportunities for change and for entry of new players into the publishing space. We acknowledge the value of composers’ work by paying them in advance rather than relying on royalties and allowing retention of author rights while obtaining consent to release their work under a non-exclusive CC BY NC SA license. We reverted to a “patron pays” funding model and leverage funding carefully by maintaining a lean publishing operation. This project demonstrates that significant, real-world impacts are possible even for a small, focused team. 
What are your plans for the future?

First, we plan to use the work in the classroom this fall and evaluate our and others’ experiences of teaching and learning with the materials. We have also submitted the project for several conference presentations for which we are waiting to hear the outcome.

Second, conducting instructors and composers are already asking for a Volume 2. As this first volume focuses on intermediate to advanced-level etudes, we plan to focus on introductory-level etudes for the second volume. We hope to expand our scope beyond composers whose primary residence is in the United States.

Third, we are working with accessibility specialists to create an alt-text tagged version of each of the scores and parts to better enable access for learners who are blind or have low-vision.

Fourth, we see significant potential for music textbooks and sheet music publishing entities to innovate in the areas of open access, inclusion, and ease-of-navigation. We are discussing ideas regarding open access music publishing with colleagues, and working to get the word out regarding this proof-of-concept for open access, more inclusive, and navigable music publishing in library publishers and beyond. 

We are grateful and honoured to be selected as a finalist for ALPSP's 2023 Impact Award.

About the author

Anita Walz is Associate Professor, Assistant Director of Open Education, and Scholarly Communication Librarian in the University Libraries at Virginia Tech. She received her MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has worked in university, government, school, and international libraries for over 20 years. She is the founder of the Open Education Initiative at Virginia Tech and executive and managing editor of over 20l open textbooks adapted or created at Virginia Tech, many of which may be found at: https://guides.lib.vt.edu/oer/grantees 

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