How Should We Publish Our Research?

The Creative Conversations Project has been hosting events & panel discussion since 2015 and have decided to publish a series of books based on our findings. Our first publication will be a curated collection of articles expanding upon our research into The New Space of Publishing, which we aim to bring out this summer. One concern for the publication began to take the full attention of the team, how do we disseminate our research to the widest possible audience? To answer this question I composed a mini-project entitled Digitising Academic Publishing, which aims to:

  • Understand the best way Creative Conversations can publish our findings.
  • Contrast traditional and contemporary publishing models to provide a comprehensive understanding of the market.
  • Identify key milestones in the history of academic publishing.
  • Better understand the future of digital academic publishing.

Our publication will take two forms: a physical print (limited print run), which will allow us to explore & understand the particular logistics and aesthetics involved in producing a book as a physical commodity. From this we will gather first hand insight into traditional academic publishing models. The findings will also be published and distributed online allowing us to explore the advent of digital & hybrid publishing models, self-publishing & distribution, as well as digital design & formatting. Publishing online will also present new challenges when trying to reach the widest possible audience.

What Is Academic Publishing?

Academic publishing is the field of publishing which distributes academic findings and research. This can be done in a number of ways (for full description see the appendix at the bottom of the page).

The purpose of academic publishing is attributed to its conception. Now over 350 years old the first academic journals, The Royal Society of London’s Philosophical Transactions and the French published Journal des Sçavans aimed to capitalise and document the scientific revolution that was occurring[1]. The widespread dissemination of knowledge provided the foundation for the industrial revolution and widespread growth, fueling the overall keen interest in science, history and the arts, that preceded it.

Modern academic publishing provides much the same purpose, allowing for the growth and continued development of learned professions. However, publishing increasingly has become a symbol of status for academics. Those with a higher publishing status considered themselves to be more academically viable. This problem has seen a recent spike in journal subscription costs[2].

The Big Five?

Within any capitalist market, the reliance on continued growth and prolonged market sustainability eventually leads to dominant market powers who consist of huge conglomerates. The big five in international academic publishing are Reed Elsevier, Springer Science+Business Media, Wiley-Blackwell, Taylor & Francis, and Sage, which now control over 50% of the academic markets, with some publishers owning up to 70% of specified academic areas as of 2015[3].  In contrast, in 1973, market share of the five largest publishers was only about 20 percent. Open access was proposed as early as 1994[4] as an attempt to prevent this oligopoly, but was not immediately implemented. The ensuing result was that journal prices increased substantially and, since research institutes required access to multiple subscription services, poorer academic institutes were priced out[5].

The creation of market dominance has occurred in similar fashion to the music[6] and commercial publishing markets[7]. The sudden drop of physical consumption of academic journals in favour of digital publications caused the market to restructure and those able to offer subscription services prevail. This, twinned with a boom in research institutes and outputs, saw prices increase six fold since 1990[8]. However, a 2012 article argued that the statistics were inaccurate with regards to the rising costs of publications, due to the changing dynamic of sales within the market[9]. The article provided key areas to consider when identifying if publishing costs are really increasing at such a rate:

  • Purchasing Patterns – The application of subscription services and how these will be affected by fair usage.
  • Price Per Journal – The Increase of one journal adjusted for inflation.
  • Cost Per Article Download – Globally an article cost £0.70 in 2008[10].
  • Growth in Content – In 1990 there were 16,000 academic journals, and 26,000 by 2010[11].
  • Growth in Research – Ever increasing funding for research outputs.
  • Growth in Usage – In 2011 the number of cited references per article in major scientific disciplines had gone up by 1/3 to 1/2 from 1990[12].

Similar to the music and commercial publishing markets, the digitisation of articles has left the commodity worthless, while access to a large collection of articles is of great value. The push will leave article reservoirs to continue to grow in significance as the market overall continues to stutter.

The Future?

Regardless of the current state of the academic publishing market, the recent application of Open Access in the UK has seen a sudden opening up of the market with the introduction of new university presses and legitimately ranked self-publishing platforms. We have seen a resurgence in independent market control and competition.

Things we’ve covered:

  • The different types of academic publishing models.
  • The importance of academic journals to human development.
  • The effects of dominance in the academic publishing market.
  • How information reservoirs will become more significant.
To read the introduction to this project follow the link below:

http://blogs.gre.ac.uk/creativeconversations/2017/03/09/introduction-two-new-mini-projects/

 

Appendix – Types of Academic Outputs


Monographs:

A study of a single specialised subject or aspect of it – usually highly detailed on a limited area of a subject or field of enquiry.

Research Papers:

A written record of insight into a particular academic discipline. Research papers follow strict formatting. They rely on the referencing of other papers, books or original source materials.

Academic Journals:

A specific area publication intended for professionals. Usually compromised of multiple writings from several academics, they are published regularly and are regarded as one of the main sources of authority in academia. The academic journal was created to help academics disseminate research to a larger audience in a coherent and competent way. Peer review provides that the development of knowledge remains consistent and competent. Journals are now distributed through a mix of physical and digital subscription services. Journals are normally numbered to allow professionals to easily refer back to.

Magazines:

A magazine is a collection of stories, articles or news on particular academic studies. They are produced periodically to keep their readers updated with breakthroughs and the latest news in their specific fields. Usually available through subscription services.


Did you know that before the 19th century books were referred to as ‘magazines’?

The original origins of magazine referred to storage of a ‘collection’ of goods and materials, hence why people called books magazines.


Books:

An academic book is an extensive publication. Normally a collection of papers by one or more people, or collection of papers & other materials. The scope of a book can range from area introductory texts to advanced understandings, which deconstruct specific academic areas.

References –

[1] C, Costa. The Participatory Web in the Context of Academic Research: Landscapes of Change and Conflicts. (2013).

[2] Mabe, Michael. Ware, M. The STM Report (2015)

[3] Larivière V, Haustein S, Mongeon P. The Oligopoly of Academic Publishers in the Digital Era. (2015).

[4] Harnad, S. A Subversive Proposal. (1995).

[5] Habib, A. How Academic Journals Price Out Developing Countries. (2011).

[6] IFPI. Digital Music Report. (2015).

[7] Wischenbart, R. Global Trends in Publishing 2014. (2014).

[8] Bosch, S., Henderson, K., & Klusendorf, H. Periodicals Price Survey 2011: Under pressure, Times are changing. Library Journal. (2011).

[9] Gantz, P. Digital Licenses Replace Print Prices as Accurate Reflection of Real Journal Costs. Volume 11, No. 3, (Summer/Fall 2012).

[10] Research Information Network. E-journals: their use, value and impact final report (2011)

[11] International STM, ALPSP and the Publishers Association. Scientific Technical and Medical (STM). (2010).

[12] Research Information Network. E-journals: their use, value and impact final report (2011)

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