Academic Publishing Gets 10 to 25

By Ojala, Marydee | Online Searcher, March-April 2015 | Go to article overview

Academic Publishing Gets 10 to 25


Ojala, Marydee, Online Searcher


THE ACADEMIC PUBLISHING EUROPE (APE2015; ape2015.eu) conference, held Jan. 20-21, 2015, in Berlin, Germany, celebrated its 10th anniversary and the web's 25 years of existence, as indicated by its theme, Web25: The Road Ahead. Conference chair Arnaud de Kemp, however, wasn't into nostalgia and kept conference presentations focused on the future, as indicated by the conference's subtheme, Exploring the Future of Scholarly Communication and Academic Publishing. Nor were presentations restricted to European publishing and scholarly communication. Topics such as open access, peer review, search technologies, and research reproducibility are not limited by geography. The web actually played a background role, despite its venerable quarter century. Since it is assumed to be where people look for information, whether for free or in paid form, the web, like air, is just "there."

Only a few librarians attended APE2015--the majority of attendees were affiliated with publishing--but it's always a good idea for information professionals to know what the publishers are thinking, as it affects not only research activities but also acquisitions policies and procedures. One librarian, Barbara Schneider-Kempf, the director general of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, provided insights into her library's digitization projects, which have digitized more than 10 million images (staatsbibliothek-berlin.de). Digitization efforts concentrate on older, out of copyright, materials. For those of us unfamiliar with the German tax system, it was somewhat astonishing to hear her say that the tax rate for acquiring electronic publications is much higher than for print, which slows down the adoption of e-resources in German libraries.

GOAL OF OPEN ACCESS

Phil Archer, W3C data activity lead, believes in putting data at the heart of open web platforms. Since the web is massively interactive--it connects things, people, data, and work--Archer thinks it's changing the culture of scientific publishing by bringing the importance of datasets, metadata, and metadata about datasets to researchers. Semantics also matters--it helps clearly identify information on the web. Today's research culture is about discovery, not merely of published articles but also of the underlying datasets. Text and data mining reveal new relationships and new information.

Acknowledging that university presses are in perpetual crisis, Peter M. Berkery, Jr., executive director of The Association of American University Presses, said that today's challenges include library budgets, a shift to DDA (Demand Driven Acquisitions), and Amazon. His statement that "open access is a goal rather than a business model," sparked several comments by other speakers who followed Berkery to the podium later in the conference. Jan Velterop, who currently describes himself as advocate and advisor, open access and open science, but whose career

includes stints with Elsevier, BioMed Central, and Springer, doesn't agree that open access is a goal. The goal is much broader; it extends to encouraging the maximum use of scientific research. For Velterop, simply finding information is passe; what's important is the power and value created when information is combined and recombined to form new knowledge.

Scholarly publishing relies on peer review to substantiate the value of individual articles. According to Kent Anderson, publisher of the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Science magazine, peer review is a core function, whether the journal is open access or not. It's not merely a "value add," but essential. He stressed that peer reviewers form only part of the peer review team--editors are also part of peer review. But he cautioned that external peer review must stand up to scrutiny. The shift to publishing on the web, he thinks, "diminishes the value of publishing" and he believes that post-publication peer review equates to "abdicating our role as publishers. …

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