Answering the question, 'Publishers — what are they good for?'

Using detailed explanations — and humor — to communicate change in scholarly publishing

Tom Reller is head of Coporate Relations for Elsevier.

As Elsevier’s official spokesman, I’ve had a unique perspective on events surrounding our company and commercial publishers in general since the beginning of the year.  I’ve had a chance to capture and communicate them in a variety of forums.

First, I was invited to join a panel presentation at the Society for Scholarly Publishers annual meeting this year. The topic was reflective of a question a lot of people unfamiliar with our industry have been asking themselves: “Publishers, What are They Good For?”  I’m more a communications professional than a publisher, so I actually deferred to other panelists to describe what publishers do. My talk instead focused on how no matter what is that publishing companies do today, we all need to realize the environment in which we communicate those benefits has fundamentally changed. I tried to take a more comical approach to the current communications environment for companies like Elsevier, and send a message that we need more people within the industry providing a balanced perspective to counteract those who don’t accurately portray the role publisher’s play to support scholarly communications.

This article in the Scholarly Kitchen blog gets into this in more detail, alongside similar posts from the other panelists. And you can find the actual presentation here.

The SSP presentation led Adam Etkin, Director of Publishing for the Academy of Management, to ask a series of follow up questions about open access, which I and other colleagues in the sector have been happy to respond to.  Adam posted the full text of my  Q&A here on his new blog.

I gladly welcome any constructive feedback or questions to these topics.

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