Elsevier leaders look at 2015 trends in STM publishing
Data sharing, open science, new access models and the possibilities of technology …
By Harald Boersma Posted on 3 March 2015
In our rapidly evolving industry, looking ahead is as important as it is complicated. It's an interesting time to be in STM publishing, as innovative technology creates an abundance of new ways to add value to the work of scientists, helping them make an impact on society as a whole.
Four Elsevier leaders reflect on what's in store in their own business area. It's a story about the opportunities of change, and the importance of acknowledging the things that stay the same.
Olivier Dumon, Managing Director, Research Applications & Platform
Further boost in the importance of research data
To me, an outlook is as much about reflecting on what will not change as it is about what is going to change. Don't forget that the things that will not change require attention and investment as much as new developments. So let's first look at what's not going to change in 2015.
The research community is going to continue to have to compete for funding, and there will be more mandates telling researchers what to do. What's also not going to change is that researchers will still want to publish in the highest quality journals. So basically being a researcher remains a tough job – if you take a pool of six postdocs today, maybe one of them will still be in research five years from now.
What will change in 2015 is that there will be a further boost in the importance of research data. Researchers will be confronted with more mandates from funding bodies and institutions to do more to make their research data available for reuse. At Elsevier, we're playing an increasingly active role to support data sharing.
Looking beyond the researchers' workflow, I'm seeing a growing gap between scientists and the general public. A recent study in France showed that 63 percent of French people are confident in how science can benefit them. Ironically, the same percentage is afraid of the dangers science brings. The problem as well as the solution lies in science communications. Publishers and other organizations that are part of the science ecosystem need to collaborate more to bring science closer to the public by communicating science more and better. A deeper understanding of scientific outcomes will not only strengthen their existing knowledge of its benefits, but it will lower their levels of anxiety.
Lastly, I'm particularly excited about how research will even become more social, more collaborative, more international, more interdisciplinary and more online. I'm excited for researchers because this will give them more possibilities than ever to be the best they can be. From an Elsevier perspective, I'm excited that we're right in the middle of that process. The ongoing and accelerated integration of our platforms and databases will bring us closer to researchers than ever before, enabling us to better understand the different roles they play, what they need and how to deliver solutions that bring even more value to them.
Nick Fowler, Managing Director, Research Management
Increased pressure from governments and research funders to demonstrate the impact of their institutions' research on society.
I have the privilege of running a part of our business that focuses on a key group of people within the scientific ecosystem: institutional research leaders. Research leaders, among other things, are faced with increased pressure from governments and research funders to demonstrate the impact of their institutions' research on society.
In this context, research leaders need and want to showcase their institution's strengths and impact to create a virtuous circle, thereby attracting the best researchers, more funds, investment for the best facilities, and the best collaborators to build further on their strengths. We see that research leaders increasingly want to ensure that researchers' data sets are "intelligently open" so that others can use them. Research leaders hope that researchers will win measures of esteem, such as prizes or representation on policymaking panels. And increasingly, research leaders want researchers to commercialize their findings in the form of patents, by generating licensing income, and by forming spin-out companies. All of this aims to have impact on society: researchers and research leaders aim to make the world a better place so that people live longer lives, the environment becomes cleaner, and society becomes more equitable.
In order to do achieve all these objectives, research leaders are seeking to partner with organisations like Elsevier that can provide the data, systems, tools and analytics to help them maximize their impact for their institutions, and for society as a whole. In the 135-year history of our company, this is a relatively new role that we play in advancing the world of research, and an ever important one that's going to intensify further in 2015.
That's what gets me out of bed in the morning: the idea that we will be the leading provider of data, systems, tools and analytics to help research leaders maximize their impact. I believe we can do it. Indeed, I believe we are doing it.[divider]
Suzanne BeDell, Managing Director, Science and Technology Books
The importance of books in science and technology will continue to grow.
Earlier this year, I attended the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago. During the meeting, the collection development officers of the largest libraries in North America were asked their top three priorities for 2015. By my count, the top three mentioned were: budget, space, and eBooks.
Why is this relevant for an outlook on 2015?
Well, their priorities are our priorities! And I'm happy to say that these priorities align with steps that we have been taking to better address the librarians' needs. For example, we've developed many new access modelsto provide more content at a lower price. Meanwhile, we continue to increase the number of platforms on which our eBooks are available. This help librarians tackle their space and eBook priorities in one go. Importantly, in terms of trends, it addresses what we are seeing in some libraries: a shift from curating a collection to delivering information when it's needed.
This proliferation of platforms and business models gives librarians a lot of choice, but it also means that there is more complexity. Librarians must decide whether to buy outright or license, from publishers or distributors, whether to put everything on one platform, and how to integrate it with their discovery systems. We will start to see publishers and aggregators simplifying their offerings to better align with the library's workflow and users' expectations.
Looking ahead, I'm also excited about further developments and increased possibilities in the way we use data and analytics to gain insights into the world's research trends, and how we're able to use those insights to determine what we publish. For example, we can identify hot or newly emerging research fields and trends more accurately, based on where grant funds are flowing. There's no better indicator for where researchers are focusing their work. This information lets us identify the gaps between where the research industry is now and where the research industry is going. This all contributes to a stronger editorial program that gives researchers content they will need – we like to think that we know what they'll need before they do. This way we avoid publishing more just for the sake of publishing. Instead we focus our work on building editorial content on the right topics and in the right quantity.
Lastly, the importance of books in science and technology will continue to grow. Books tend to present a broader view of a particular subject, bring in diverse viewpoints on that subject, and treat the subject in an interdisciplinary way. Because ultimately, the questions our science and technology community are tackling are too big and complex for any one researcher or discipline to answer alone. Book content will help solve the grand challenges that face our planet today.
Philippe Terheggen, Managing Director, STM Journals
Increasing eagerness on the part of researchers to connect, collaborate, share and comment
Information technology will increasingly shape the world of research content and research communication. Developments in this space, which will further accelerate in 2015, include the entire cycle of data and insight generation, publication, access, peer review and social connectivity.
Let me give a number of examples. First of all, I expect to see further differentiation of journal access models, fitting specific community needs or "use cases". The development of affordable access through, for example, view-only or temporarily-access models will provide even more opportunities for infrequent or remote readers, or technology start-ups. Secondly, we see that open science will increase in relevance, in particular where the objective is opening up and sharing original research data for reuse, in mineable formats, or providing user-driven contextualization of the original research data. And the opportunities of open science go far beyond providing research transparency or reproducibility of science.
The true potential lies in generating new insights from existing open data through Big Data technology. In order to organize and enhance the availability of research data, publishers, information managers at universities, learned societies and other stakeholders have a an exciting opportunity to collaborate together.
Thirdly, we see an increasing eagerness on the part of researchers to connect, collaborate, share and comment. This will lead to further growth in the use of scientific social media platforms such as Mendeley. The opportunities that this community-oriented web technology brings are countless and will only expand. To me, one of most interesting aspects of these opportunities is that it will further support peer review as we know it. For instance, technology will allow peer review to dovetail to the new possibilities of post-publication review. The wisdom of the crowd will challenge, and strengthen, pre-publication peer review. I find it much more likely that post-publication commenting will support the existing pre-publication peer review, than that post publication review will replace pre-publication peer review, as is sometimes suggested.
Let me close by referring to Olivier's comment that an outlook on the next year should go hand in hand with a reflection of what stays the same. And that is, in my view, the continued importance of journal brands to researchers. We see a continued eagerness among researchers of all ages and in every stage of their career to publish in the top titles in their field. Technological advancements and the related exciting new opportunities aside, quality remains at the center of STM publishing. It's the high quality research outcomes that have a true impact on the advancement of society, innovation and health care. That's where our focus will continue to be.
Elsevier Connect Contributor
Harald Boersma (@hboersma) is Director of Global Corporate Relations at Elsevier. He is based in Amsterdam.