By Rob Johnson, founder and director of Research Consulting
Yesterday, I offered five predictions for Open Access publishing in 2016. Today, I present five more.
6. Connectivity with Institutional Systems
Demand from institutions for publishers and their vendors to pass metadata, acceptance notifications and even manuscripts through to them automatically will continue to grow in 2016. Many librarians and research managers are now expected to monitor levels of OA publishing for both internal and external reporting purposes, and are exploring opportunities to capture this information more effectively in their internal systems. This will open up the possibility of extending publishing workflows right through to institutions’ current research information systems, thereby joining up the workflows of author and librarian, and eliminating the manual (and potentially error-prone) data entry that is taking place today.
7. Convergence on Standard Identifiers
As gaps and deficiencies in current datasets are exposed, the drive to adopt common identifiers to support publishing workflows will continue to gather momentum. ORCID is rapidly gaining currency with research funders and institutions, with national consortia agreements recently announced or proposed in Italy, the UK and Australia, among others. The desire from funders to monitor levels of compliance with their OA policies will mean FundREF also becomes increasingly indispensable. Publishers which have yet to put in place steps to capture these and other identifiers at the point of submission will need to move rapidly to do so.
8. Rooting Out Bad Practice
A recent survey by Nature Publishing Group and Palgrave Macmillan found that a concern about perceptions of the quality of OA publications is still the leading factor in authors choosing not to publish OA. Addressing these concerns will remain a priority for the OA publishing community, and we can expect to see increasing convergence around the revised set of ‘Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing’ agreed by a number of industry bodies in 2015.
At the same time, subscription publishers must grapple with the high levels of illicit article postings by authors; our own study found that that some 10% of the world’s scholarly articles are posted online in contravention of the relevant journal policies. Publishers will need to work increasingly closely with social sharing networks to find sustainable ways to enable article-sharing, building on the outcomes of an STM consultation on the topic in 2015.
9. Opening Up the Publishing Process
We can expect to see the principle of openness increasingly applied not only to articles, but to the publishing process itself. New initiatives will seek to open up the “black box” of peer review, through greater transparency in reviewer identities, and increased interactions between editors, reviewers and authors. Metrics-based approaches to assessing the scholarly value and impact of research will grow ever more sophisticated, but remain contentious. Authors will expect increasingly sophisticated and user-friendly systems to support manuscript tracking and payment-processing. All of this will increase the pressure on vendors and publishers to offer joined-up systems and processes.
10. From OA to Open Data
As OA becomes increasingly embedded in normal publication practice, funders and policy makers are now turning their attention to the need to make research data openly available. We can expect to see funder mandates progressively extended to include OA to data as well as the article itself, while journal publishers are also placing more stringent expectations on their authors to make supporting data freely available. The complexity and heterogeneity of the research data landscape, not to mention the understandable reluctance of authors to share data they have spent years developing and which they plan to further develop into articles and products, means this will be a slow transition with many false starts along the way. The direction of travel is clear; researchers will need to learn new techniques for curating and archiving their data while new and costly infrastructure will need to evolve.
Riding the Next Wave
The furor that surrounded the “transforming idea” of OA a few years ago has died down. We are all adjusting to a “new normal” where OA is an integral part of the scholarly communications landscape. The challenge now is one of integration and practice, as the consequences of OA ripple through the business models and infrastructure that underpin scholarly communications. Riding this next wave of change will require increased collaboration between all of the stakeholders involved in academic publishing. For publishers and vendors, meeting demands for standardization and information-sharing without compromising their flexibility to pursue new business opportunities is surely the key to success in an OA future.