The Future of Science Publishing

On Tuesday night we made our way to the Glasshouse, Macmillan’s new offices at King’s Cross, where September’s Future of Science Publishing event was held. The event, run by WriteLatex, was sponsored by Scholarly Social and London Open Drinks and, as always, it was interactive, informative and show-cased innovation in scientific publishing. It consisted of six short presentations by entrepreneurs in the industry, all of whom have founded, co-founded or work for start-ups in the STM publishing and research industry.

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First up was Sumika Sakanishi, Product Manager at the Open Data Institute. Sumika spoke to us about the company’s promotion of “open movement” and their aim to “catalyse the evolution of open data culture”. It was an engaging summary, focusing on fostering collaboration, peer review, cost efficiency and innovation and new insights. Users of this resource gain an open access certificate and can avail of a self-guided questionnaire. They publish data, earn their certificate and then embed their badge; their data is now truly open. Questions from the audience challenged aspects of the business plan but overall, it seems successful with over 100 published certificates already recorded and this figure set to rise.

Natalie Jonk of Walacea took to the podium next to tell us about her brainchild, a crowd-funding platform for scientific research. The current problems she identified in the area of funding include age, politics, bureaucracy and the public lack of awareness. She aims to bridge these gaps with her start-up and encourage scientists with good research plans to work with them and gain funding for their projects. They help to create campaigns for these researchers, engaging with audiences to fund the research and taking a 5% commission on all projects they successfully aid. The goal is to engage the public with scientific research and, besides some natural early teething problems, this is an inspirational and commercially-savvy business model and we look forward to catching up with Walacea in the future to see their success grow.

Cofactor’s Anna Sharman spoke to us about her journal selector tool. With competitors including JANE, Edanz and Springer and Elsevier run platforms, Anna has moulded her online offering to address all the issues she has found with similar tools and aims to offer an appealing alternative. She focuses on manual curation, the simple addition of journal data and a focus on a broad scope of open access journals.

Andrew Dorward stepped in at the last minute, replacing a colleague, to present his online model, Book Genie. This is a research engine for “books on the go” and aims to improve research in Higher Education. It matches candidate requirements with published content and uses social media to identify trends and preferences. It has a B2B and a B2C business model; the latter catering to students and universities and the former to individual publishers to help index their content. Book Genie takes a 40% cut on the published content they sell. Andrew followed on from this by mentioning the crisis in the area of academic textbooks across the US and UK.

Their aim to make relevant content more accessible and at a 40% cut is a positive response to publishers taking the Open Access movement into consideration; the cut Book Genie takes will not be as much as that which is triggered by OA. They have benchmarked themselves against several search engines and hope that their model addresses issues that exist across the market makes Book Genie the “iTunes of academic publishing”.

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Alan Hyndman of Figshare described how his venture started out as a platform for researchers to store, share, discover and research data. Their belief is that data should be available but that it also needs to look good. There is a DOI for everything uploaded to the platform and a range of tools for users to engage with, including “Figshare Viewer”, “Figshare Portal”, “Figshare Datastore” and “Figshare Innovations”. Figshare drives traffic to particular publishers’ sites and handles big data.

The final speaker of the night was Matias Piipari from Papers, “the citation tool of the future”. Through a series of demos, Matias showed us the workings of this model and how it allows users to communicate with other authors, retrieve references of interest and format citations. These “magic citations” can be used with practically any application and the goal is to establish it as a “quick launcher” for science.

It was a great evening, full of information and creativity. It is exciting to see the innovative ideas within the STM publishing industry and we cannot wait for the next event in the new year!

#Futurepub – New Developments in Scientific Publishing

On Tuesday evening, we made our way to the NESTA offices in Chancery Lane for a discussion on the new developments in scientific publishing, organised by John Hammersley (WriteLaTeX) . The event consisted of six “microslot talks” of five minutes each from a great panel, with time for a few questions for each speaker.

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First up was Cheyne Tan from Blikbook who explained how his platform allows students who have questions and problems with research to ask each other and help each other out through an interactive platform. It started out in LBS and UCL and aims to improve content discovery and aids the universities in gleaning data from monitoring behaviour; how the data is shared between students and disseminated. The key point from Cheyne’s talk was the issue of “I don’t know what I don’t know” – this echoed through all five minute speaker slots and brought to the fore the issue of the lack of discovery avenues for those seeking information – how can they be led to unearth information that they never knew existed? In a society hungry for data, this is something that innovative science publishers are looking to address.

Joseph McArthur from Open Access Button took it from here and as well as filling us in on how Open Access Button works, he explained the importance they place on the stories that their users tell them of experiences, challenges and successes with their academic research. Everyone, from patients looking for information on their illnesses to academics probing for details and explanations, can use this platform and it is looking to grow and evolve even more.

Lou Woodley, Co-founder of MySciCareer, filled us in on what has been occupying her time during her current sabbatical – she is focussed on what preoccupies scientists; how can they keep up with all their papers and how can they secure grants? There is more of an interest now in talking about data. Career decisions is another big issue and MySciCareer records the personal narratives of what people have been through and the paths they have taken.

Richard Smith, Founder of Nowomics, stepped up to discuss how his platform helps life scientists to source research (a “twitter for genes”) and collates the information needed in one place through a twitter style feed. It searches for updates and publishes them and setting up an account is free. You can search by popularity and see what people are talking about and email alerts are also set up to further aid the discovery of more information.

Greg Tebbutt of Sparrho delivered an engaging microslot where he explained the purpose and work of Sparrho and how it came about for the same reasons mentioned above – you can search journals but this doesn’t help you find what you don’t know is out there! Again – the issue of “I don’t know what I don’t know”. On Sparrho, you can “love” posts that you like and get rid of what you don’t – Sparrho understands more about you by your activity and can consequently recommend better information and sources.

Cat Chimes, Head of Marketing for Altmetric, closed the evening’s event with an interesting overview of how they work. She opened with the line “Every researcher is a communicator” and went on to discuss the academic and societal impacts of research and how they are alternatives to metrics and do not replace the impact factor, they complement it. This is an article-centric approach, it searches blogs and articles to collate and deliver article-level metrics to journal publishers.

All six speakers gave excellent, informative and engaging accounts of their respective business models and it was refreshing to see how they are developing and improving user access to information in the scientific publishing arena. Even better was how they are keeping the stories and needs of the readers/researchers at the heart of it all – communication and interaction is key and with this in mind, there are so many more exciting developments and ideas to come! This linking of people’s stories to information is a nice way of connecting back to the roots of publishing; it is, after all, about story-telling.

 

Here at Inspired Selection, we are passionate about the publishing industry; we talk about publishing, read about publishing and attend all major publishing events like the one you’ve just read about. We would love to meet you at events so do feel free to come up and introduce yourselves! If you’re interested in opportunities within publishing do keep in touch and register for our Vacancy Update Service as well as keeping up to date with us on Twitter