As leaders in digital innovation, we’re constantly considering and testing the impact of new technology and fresh approaches to hone best practise, enhance user experience and grow revenues. These are some of our latest thoughts and findings:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s bioRxiv preprint server hit a milestone these last few days with the posting of a preprint on the link between cell phone radiation and tumors in rats. CSHL and HighWire – who hosts the bioRxiv manuscript system and preprint server for CSHL – watched the traffic and commentary on the paper climb. In under 24 hours, the paper had ‘scored’ in the top 500 of over 5 million articles in terms of social media.
HighWire opened its first international office, in Belfast Northern Ireland, just a few weeks ago. Anytime an industry leader does something for the first time — especially after twenty years — it is worth asking why, why now, why here, and for whom. During HighWire’s spring publisher’s meeting in London last week I sat down with Dan Filby, HighWire’s CEO, who spearheaded this launch, and asked him these questions and more.
Attracting and retaining authors is a significant goal for HighWire’s publishers: based on our survey of publisher priorities, this comes out at the top! So it is not surprising that editors and publishers spend time understanding what authors want, and what the barriers are to great experiences with a particular journal. Especially with increasing competition, this is not just an abstract “feel good” or a “do your best” kind of thing. If authors routinely go elsewhere, you may see a decline in quality submissions, with the obvious subsequent effect on impact.
So much is being written about metrics that I’m loathe to add yet another post to the pile. But this will be a simple and short story.
When HighWire interviewed Stanford authors who had published in PLOS One, among our questions was “what metrics do you pay attention to?” (PLOS One was an early adopter of copious ‘altmetrics’, hence the question.) We got bi-polar answers:
It struck me at the STM Innovations meeting in London in December 2015 that I was watching a type of panel session I had seen before: speakers from a handful of “dotcoms” were arranged in front of the audience like contestants in a beauty pageant. They each had five minutes to convince the audience of their bona fides: how they were going to change the world, or at least improve the lives of our research authors.
This past January I was in Berlin for APE 2016 (“Academic Publishing in Europe”).
Is scholarly communication our goal, and scholarly publishing just the technology we use to accomplish this goal?
Industries should avoid being so identified with a technology that they can’t weather a transition. It is a wonder that scholarly publishing – a tradition-based or even –bound industry, many would say – made the transition from print to online. Some other industries had trouble enough with the “digital transition” that those industries were restructured: retailing, music, news, etc.
Publishers (and their deposit agents such as HighWire) get regular reports from CrossRef that spark some questions. The reports are emailed, and the email subjects have ominous-seeming titles, warning of danger, or at least error. The subjects of the emails are these:
- “DOI issues”, with an attachment of “DOIerrs”
- “Conflict Report”
Publishers shouldn’t panic. But you should open the reports to see if the situations they describe are acceptable to you and your readers, and to your authors. Here’s what’s going on:
Along with a number of others in scholarly publishing, I spend a lot of time looking for signals about what the future will be, and especially what might presage a real discontinuity. In Silicon Valley, where I live — and especially in the press releases from the Consumer Electronics Show (which just finished for 2016) — there is so much breathless hype about wearables, drones and the Internet of Things (e.g., the connected refrigerator). Sometimes it is sobering to read something not breathless about something that truly with hindsight deserved hype.