Research & Publishing

In Research Information, distinguishing the “American character” in scholarly publishing

Elsevier’s Dr. Brad Fenwick writes about the differing approaches to scholarly publishing in North America and Europe

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Brad-Fenwick article in Research Information

In the latest edition of Research Information, Dr. Brad Fenwick, Elsevier’s Senior VP of Global Strategic Alliances, writes about the differing approaches to research by North American and European institutions, and the implications for research in the future.

He was invited to write about this topic for a special issue of Research Information – a UK-based bi-monthly magazine for publishers, librarians and researchers. With the theme “Focus on North America,” this issue will be distributed at the Society for Scholarly Publishing Annual Meeting June 1 to 3 in Vancouver.

Brad Fenwick, DVM, PhDDr. Fenwick considers the most significant difference to be the more competitive, market-driven entrepreneurial mindset in the United States, which has resulted in highly diverse and vibrant research that appeals to corporate investment:

America is hypercompetitive in many areas. That sense of competition is fully evident in its research and is reflected in the caliber of the articles produced. The rivalry between academic peers and institutions that is part of the US research landscape is not as common in the rest of the world. And while the output volume of scholarly papers from 2010 to 2015 in the US (3.7 million) approaches that of all Europe combined (5.2 million), with rare exceptions, the US research landscape is not typically driven by a national agenda or government mandated imperatives. As a result US research is typically more diverse in topic and presentation, likely driven by the researcher’s or institution’s area of interest or funding source priorities. … US institutions compete almost as much for corporate partners as well as government grants, which translates into a research landscape that is marked by an entrepreneurial sensibility.

Paradoxically, he says, such an entrepreneurial approach to research may, in the long term, limit America’s research competitiveness:

… With these vibrant characteristics come additional features that may ultimately limit US research competitiveness. For example, larger and more prosperous universities, with more effective development departments and correspondingly deeper cash resources, are able to garner an increasingly larger share of available public research dollars over time. As a result, we are seeing a consolidation of research output – and by logical extension intellectual capital – towards big, influential universities, many located in urban areas. With this tip of the scales, over time the US may begin to more closely resemble Europe, with smaller schools doing less research.

Dr. Fenwick concludes that the increased impact of the Internet, China as a rising force in scientific research output, and a trend towards less rigorously reviewed research results will continue to shape the future of both American and European science in the next decade.

Read the full article

Brad Fenwick, DVM, PhD: “A World Apart?” Research Information (June/July 2016)


Elsevier Connect Contributor

Alison Bert, DMAAlison Bert (@AlisonBert) joined Elsevier in 2007 from the world of journalism, where she was a business reporter and blogger for The Journal News, a Gannett daily newspaper in New York. As Editor-in-Chief of Elsevier Connect, she leads a team of contributors from around the world to publish daily stories for the global science and health communities. Elsevier Connect recently won a North American Excellence Award for Science & Education.

In the previous century, Alison was a classical guitarist on the music faculty of Syracuse University. She received a doctorate in music from the University of Arizona, was Fulbright scholar in Spain, and studied in a master class with Andrés Segovia.

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