Scholarly publishing is different to trade or commercial publishing. It produces a vast amount of resources for research and advanced study, which depends on the many different fields, including Sciences and the Humanities. Scholarly publishing refers to journal and research monographs, which is a detailed written study of a single specialised subject. You will find that in the Sciences there is a preferred choice for journal articles whereas in the Arts and Humanities they place emphasis on monographs. Journals offer faster dissemination whereas with monographs you have to wait a couple of years. Within academic journal publishing you will find that peer reviews are featured heavily, where other academics pre accept what is going to be published in a journal or book, if it is accepted then it is published. You do not find this in trade publishing.
One of the first scientific scholarly journals ever published in English is the one pictured above, the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, in 1665. It contained text, images and graphs. It also included a fold out page, demonstrating the multimedia of the time. This journal, which is still in print, is an output of a learned society, an organisation that promotes an academic discipline.
Following this was the Scientific American, first published in 1845, presented more like a newspaper and covering current scientific affair, and the long standing Nature journal in 1869, pictured below.
The Uniform Penny Post, founded in England in 1840 was the equivalent to the modern day Royal Mail, which made it possible for publishers to post journals across geographical regions, where the first instance of the concept of subscription was established. Since then the principle of the academic journal exploded, expanding across many fields, where it appeared to be that there was a journal covering almost every subject area or academic field. This peaked in the late 70's and early 80's. Then with the introduction of the World Wide Web, it allowed academic journals to be disseminated and accessed in a whole new way changing the role of the academic publisher and the role of the academic library.
There are big commercial publishers out there, Elsevier and Wiley, some of which have been around for a long time. They have gone through the process of becoming professionalised with a infrastructure in place for content to be distributed. There are approximately 25,000 academic journals produced every year, although this may not be accurate, and actually maybe more than this. Other academic publishers are Sage and Emerald, which are associated with Higher Education institutions but exist separately. Commercial publishers do publish for learned societies, where membership fees are charged for joining. These learned societies have 2 main activities; journals and conferences. Publishing houses can publish journals for these societies. They will sell access to these journals to libraries, which include subscription, print copies and with e-publishing now also online access to journals. This saw the birth of the paywall, where you will find access is restricted to certain users who have to pay to subscribe. This is a specific business model for scholarly publishing, or journals sold to institutions, where fees are paid and journals can be accessed as money gets allocated for subscription. Journals are not hosted locally, they are hosted on the publishers server so institutions do not have to worry about having space to house journals.
Larger institutions such as Harvard University have the budget to buy more journals than smaller institutions. But from this PR piece they released: Faculty Advisory Council Memorandum on Journal Pricing, it shows that they are unable to continue to pay the 3.5 US dollars they spend a year on journal subscriptions. Showing the complexity and the huge commercial side of scholarly publishing, where the main reasons for libraries cancelling journals is the cost and low usage.
Elsevier: Publishers; Origins, Roles and Contributions:
Zachary Rolnik "Academic Journal Publishing"
In his paper Rolnik talks of acquiring and purchasing existing titles, of acquiring straight purchases or exchanging titles. Titles can be gained under contract, leasing for a number of years, where the publisher provides the service. An institute will normally buy a package and don't normally know the cost of each individual journal. Rolnik also mentions tools and services that publishers use, which include online peer review software, for online submission, multimedia features such as video streaming and the use of blogs and forums amongst others. Reporting is another important aspect as it allows publishers and authors to be aware of the statistics involved with their article. Rolnik also touches upon creating and launching new journal articles. In his paper The Basics of Academic Publishing, Rolnik states "creating new titles is not a priority for the large commercial publishers". He sees the big four commercial publishers as Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis and Wiley, and that revenue is actually based on subscriptions, so these are of great importance even more so than advertising. Some have taken to voicing their view on these commercial publishers, for example: Written to be Read by Ingrid Van Der Mooren, who talks of boycotting Elsevier because they are a huge money making machine.
The Cost of Knowledge is a website set up as a petition, where researchers can sign a complaint, voicing their concern of Elsevier's business model, which includes:
- Charging high prices for their subscriptions.
- Selling big bundles, which include a number of journals that institutions do not need, therefore are generating a bigger profit.
- Supporting SOPA and PIPA (copyright and IP) restricting free exchange of information, paywalling, which limits dissemination of work.
Researchers are added to a list, which states if they plan to refrain from publishing, refereeing or editorial work. As it stands 14,927 researchers have added their name.
This was reported in The Guardian, an article titled: Life after Elsevier: making open access to scintific knowledge a reality, outlining this petition and looking at the future of academic publishing in terms of open access.
The Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers or ALPSP for short is a trade body or association for nonprofit publishers, they represent scholarly publishing, with 330 members in 40 countries. They have been around for approximately 44 years and are one of the the founders of the Publishing Licencing Society, their main focus being not for profit.
The four main areas they help their members with:
- Connect, through networking, events and social media.
- Informed, with information and knowledge.
- Develop skills, through conferences, training and workshops.
- Representation, through committees and statements.
Organisations & Learned Societies
Royal Society of Chemistry
The Royal Society of Chemistry is just one example of a learned society represented by ALPSP. They have a huge number of individual members from students to lab workers. They do various work to popularise chemistry. The following shows what they do:
- Provide latest news and research for their members.
- Networking, by having local meetings.
- Professional development and recognition, for registered scientists and technicians.
- Support services, such as helplines.
- Funding, by putting money made from publishers back into the organisation.
- Facilities at the Chemistry Centre.
The following video is taken from the ALPSP annual conference, from 2014, showing members talking about the successes and the future of scholarly publishing.
YouTube: ALPSP Conference 2014
YouTube: ALPSP Conference 2014
Mentioned in this video, regarding the successes and the future is to embrace open access and collaboration. It is a challenge as to how researchers search and collaborate, how to access information from mobiles remotely. New ideas relate to open access and a solution to text and data mining requests. Also mentioned is the Kudos initiative, which provides tools for the author to promote their work through social media which helps researchers. It is currently in its beta version, and has gone down well with publishers as it also allows for one service for every publisher.
The following shows other factors taken into account as to the future of ALPSP:
- Technological, sharing, mobile access and discovery.
- Social and cultural, social media and publishing trends.
- Political, government intervention, how to research funding and copyright legislation in the digital market.
- Economic, recession, market changes and national government funding.
A huge thanks also to Suzanne Kavanagh from ALPSP who gave a highly interesting talk for us #citylis students.