Keeping reference modules up-to-date with research trends

As digital content is nearly ubiquitous, and so much is available at the click of a button or the swipe of a screen, it is important for Publishers and Information Managers alike to respond to users’ growing demand for up-to-date, easily discoverable and accessible, digital content options. To deliver high-quality content to researchers, Publishers and Information Managers must ensure the credibility, the expertise and authority of those creating it, and the applicability of that content to the types of questions being pursued in research and education. Answering the call for up-to-date digital can be particularly challenging for reference content, which can require significant development time. We have carefully considered these various needs and constraints, and developed a product that is credible, aligned with research goals, and continuously up-to-date.

Reference Modules provide subject-focused collections of current encyclopedic and comprehensive articles from Elsevier’s world-leading Major Reference Works, combined with new and exclusively-written articles within the discipline to create one online, authoritative information source hosted on a trusted platform, ScienceDirect. This time-stamped, continuously reviewed and updated content, curated by an expert Editorial Board, is built for the demands of today’s research environment to support researchers’ seamless success.

Benefits of Reference Modules

Starting with the March 2016 issue of Online Books Connect, each month we have discussed in detail the metrics which we use to build our content development strategy, to ensure that we’re developing high-quality content in areas of research growth. This month, we look at how data and research trends have directed our publishing strategy for Reference Modules, with a specific focus on Chemistry, Molecular Sciences and Chemical Engineering.

The Data-Driven Editorial Strategy for Reference Modules

Research publication output is roughly measured by the number of journal publications in a given subject area. As journal articles tend to occur close to the time of research completion, this can be a good proxy for understanding research activity.

Using a variety of methods such as Scopus and Scival, Elsevier’s Acquisition Editors investigate the fast-moving areas and commission accordingly. As can be seen below, research publication output has increased in recent years for the five subject areas Elsevier publishes in.

reference modules cover images

In addition to this, each Reference Module has an independent, renowned panel of experts making up the editorial board, chosen for their expertise in the field. Using a combination of their expert knowledge and bibliometric data, the editorial board hand-selects and organizes the highest-quality peer-reviewed content from Elsevier’s Major Reference Works. Additionally they commission brand new articles to cover the latest scientific developments in the field, thus ensuring that the Reference Modules have the most complete content available by subject area reflecting global research trends.

Taking a deeper look into the publishing strategy of the Reference Module in Chemistry, Molecular Sciences and Chemical Engineering as an example, the below SciVal charts show the subject areas that are growing and having an impact globally:

*Data taken from August 2016

The content in the Reference Module in Chemistry, Molecular Sciences and Chemical Engineering reflects these trends and has extensive coverage of all these subject areas and growing fields.

For example, within the Reference Module there is a section on Organic Methodology and Organic Synthesis containing 904 reference articles, and a section on Physical Chemistry including 290 reference articles. As research trends change, the Reference Module will be updated to reflect these changes.

Further to this we can see that Spectroscopy has grown by 29.4% in the past five years. This growth is being reflected within the Reference Module, as we are publishing the Encyclopedia of Spectroscopy and Spectrometry, Third Edition in October 2016, which will be included in the Module, offering over 400 articles supporting this increasing research area.

Using these key research metrics, along with the expert editorial board's knowledge, we target growing areas and shape our strategy to ensure the Reference Modules align with the current and evolving subjects to address the issues faced in society and science today.

Read more about each Reference Module in the Editor’s notes below:

Contributed by:

Caitlin Beddows

Caitlin Beddows, Channel Marketing Manager, ScienceDirect Books.
Channel Marketing Manager for Reference Modules, Major Reference Works, Handbooks and Serials at Elsevier, where we curate and disseminate science content from the world, for the world.