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

📅 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.