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Open Access: certainly no longer the end of the world or an industry

by Sarah Kosofsky

One of the hottest topics in the scholarly publishing industry is that of Open Access.  The different types of Open Access and the question of which pricing/membership models work best have been talked about at great lengths, but underneath it all is the concern that Open Access journals will hurt the business of traditional scholarly publishers, or worse, put them out of business.

A recent study, however, by HSBC, suggests that Open Access is not such a great threat to the publishing industry, if a threat at all.  Instead of traditional publishers meeting their demise at the hands of OA, instead, they will adapt to the change in the market (11); OA is not a replacement, but a different way of sharing information.  The introduction of OA has been and will continue to be gradual, not immediate and without warning.  Both the OA and traditionally published resources will each have their individual roles within the industry.

That’s not to say, of course, that the change in the industry will go completely smoothly.  One foreseeable problem suggested by the study is that libraries might lose more funding than they save in subscriptions.  “Funders may cut funding to institutions by the amount that they expect to pay in APCs but universities may have been historically under-allocating funds to libraries because funds to cover subscriptions were never explicit” (10). In regards to the oft-mentioned concern regarding OA quality, the study says “moving to OA does not change the chief motivation of the author, ie to be published in the highest status journal possible. Researchers rely on journal titles to provide an external measure of the quality of their research. Established journals provide prestige and validation for a researcher and both are key to furthering career prospects and securing funding” (11).

Time will tell how exactly OA is integrated into the industry, but it will certainly be interesting to see how it becomes an integral part of how research is read and published.


In bizarre press release, Edwin Mellen Press drops one court case under public pressure

By Kate Lara

As a follow-up to last week’s post on the legal actions being taken by Edwin Mellen Press, EMP has released a statement dated March 1st declaring that they have dropped the case against Askey and McMaster University. It should be noted, though, that two lawsuits were actually filed: one case naming both Askey and McMaster University, and one case naming only Askey. It is the first case that has been discontinued while the latter appears intact.

Scholarly Kitchen’s Rick Anderson has posted an interesting critique of the Press’ statement that is worth a read (and a chuckle). Anderson states, “I can now say that EMP’s announcement is one of the strangest press releases I’ve ever read.”

See the Original blog post by Dale Askey that incited the wrath of EMP in the first place, and the subsequent reaction of the scholarly community as expressed by the Association of Canadian University Presses.

Going to court over customer criticism…One of the worst things a company can do to its image?

by Sarah Kosofsky

In recent publishing news, the publisher Edwin Mellen Press has brought a libel lawsuit against librarian Dale Askey of McMaster University for a blog post he wrote in 2010 that dismissed the publisher for what he saw as the poor quality of their materials and their aggressive defense of the resources they provide.

There is a lot of support for both Dale Askey and his employer, McMaster University, in the librarian community, and rightly so.  Librarians, as customers of publishers, are entitled to their own opinions of what is being marketing and sold to them.  It is in their rights as academics to determine and discuss if materials are suitable for their students.

Rather than go ahead with the lawsuit, Edwin Mellen Press might be better off spending the time and money wasted on litigation on improving either their reputation or the materials they produce, based on librarian criticism.  Legal battles only thrust plaintiffs and defendants into the spotlight, which has the potential to bring unwanted negative attention to both parties.  In this case, it could severely damage Edwin Mellen Press’ image in the minds of thousands of academic librarians.

On February 14th, the Association of Research Libraries and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries issued a joint statement in support of Dale Askey, McMaster University, and academic freedom.

“… we are highly supportive of Dale Askey and of McMaster University as they confront the lawsuit brought against them by Edwin Mellen Press. We strongly disapprove of the aggressive use of the Canadian court system to threaten Mr. Askey with millions of dollars in liability over the contents of a blog post. We urge Edwin Mellen Press to withdraw this suit and use more constructive means to address its reputation.

“No academic librarian, research library, or university should face a multi-million dollar lawsuit because of a candid discussion of the publications or practices of an academic publisher,” said Brent Roe, Executive Director of CARL. “The exaggerated action of Edwin Mellen Press could only impose a chill on academic and research librarians’ expression of frank professional judgments.”

Librarians and scholarly publishers depend on each other and ideally both have the interest of students and researchers at heart when they do business.  It does no good for academia when one party tries to destroy the other in court over an opinion one has a right to voice.

New White Paper Released: “Scholarly eBooks: Best Practices to Encourage High Usage”

By Kate Lara

PCG is proud to announce that a new white paper recently produced in partnership with Springer is now available for download. This paper, titled Scholarly eBooks: Best Practices to Encourage High Usage” presents common marketing strategies to help libraries build a connection with end-users and promote their eBooks and other online resources.

We aim to point librarians to tools that will help create a bigger and more effective system of communication. This information is also interesting for publishers consistently hearing that low usage, and in particular cost-per-use, is a major factor in the cancellation of resources. What tools can you provide to help your customers improve usage for your publications?

PCG conducted a number of in-depth interviews with institutional librarians to understand different approaches to successful promotion. We present several common marketing strategies and provide 5 recommended actions for libraries looking to encourage high usage of their eBooks.

Download the full white paper here.

Publisher employs geographically targeted advertisements based on IP address, won’t be the last

by Sarah Kosofsky

Every publisher has strategies employed to better reach international customers.  Bloomsbury Publishing, however, as recently spotlighted in Publishers Weekly, has developed a new strategy for reaching potential customers abroad.

Bloomsbury’s new ad campaign focuses on those with tablet devices.  Banner ads will be placed on newspaper and other English-language websites to catch the attention of English-language readers who might be interested in some of the 65 books included in the campaign.  The ads will have IP detection software, meaning that a customer can purchase materials from wherever they reside, once they click on the ad.

What’s interesting about this ad campaign is that it allows for potential customers to be targeted geographically.  Ads that are geographically targeted have the unique ability to cater to a specific demographic: think television ads for local companies or restaurants that are watched on network channels. It is a similar marketing strategy, but a digital variation. These types of ads, as a result of their targeted campaigns, have the potential to be more successful than conventional advertising.

Although the argument could be made the use of IP detection software in online ads is a bit prying, it is most certainly something that will be utilized more and more as the world, not just the publishing industry, further switches to digital.

The trouble with e-book licenses in libraries

by Sarah Kosofsky

With the shift from print to digital, many readers have been curious to see how libraries will rent out ebooks to customers, since electronic materials will become more and more widely adopted in the future.

Unfortunately, as NPR’s All Things Considered highlights, problems have arisen regarding publishers’ licensing models, problems that severely limit the electronic content that libraries can provide for their patrons.  Some titles that patrons want to see in the libraries in electronic format are titles that the publisher isn’t able to license to the library.

In addition to the lack of availability of some titles, another problem is that of pricing structures.  With print materials, a library purchases a resource once and doesn’t have to pay to keep it in its collection.  With many e-books, the model is drastically different: libraries have to re-pay for the license after the e-book is checked out a certain number of times.  This creates a financial strain on an institution that oftentimes already has to deal with financial struggles.

Each publisher also has a different model and pricing structure, which doesn’t help the e-lending situation.

What might help both the publishers and the librarians is if the model was altered to be either less expensive or to be a one-time purchase deal, like print.  Although a model such as this may not initially strike the publishers as very profitable, it allows the librarians to purchase more electronic content for their library, which would be beneficial to publishers, as a wider range of their products would be distributed and read.

The terrible truth: is plagiarism less costly than its preventative measures?

by Sarah Kosofsky

In October of 2012, iThenticate, the leading provider of professional plagiarism detection and prevention technology, conducted a survey of over 400 researchers, editors, and authors in the scholarly publishing industry to gauge the current attitudes and opinions regarding plagiarism.

The survey’s results show, overwhelmingly so, that those in the publishing field are concerned about the problem of plagiarism; what’s interesting is that the survey results also show that oftentimes, not much is done in the way of preventing plagiarism.  Almost half of all researchers surveyed said that they had never before used professional plagiarism prevention or detection software.  The main reasons for not using such software were lack of time, the cost, and a lack of concern about plagiarism in their own work.  Later in the survey report, 53% of respondents expressed concern about the practice of “self-plagiarism,” or using one’s own previous work without citation.

Is the “pressure to publish” so great that researchers are willing to spend less attention to the issue of plagiarism?  Is the cost of retractions and corrections less than the cost of checking for instances of plagiarism?