How libraries and publishers can work together
New trends and challenges in research information make it crucial to ‘work smarter’
Alicia Wise, PhD
As Director of Universal Access for Elsevier, Dr. Alicia Wise (@wisealic) is responsible for delivering Elsevier’s vision for universal access to high-quality scientific publications. She leads strategy and policy in areas such as open access, philanthropic access programs, content accessibility, and access technologies. Based in Oxford, she has a PhD in anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Recently, I was invited by Professor Qiang Zhu, Director of the Peking University Library, to speak at his library’s 110th anniversary celebration.
The topic – how libraries and publishers can work together – is extremely close to my heart, and the audience was a very interesting mix of Chinese and international (largely North American) library colleagues.
One of the nicest things for me, besides the opportunity to visit Beijing again, was that the topic was broader than open access. Don’t get me wrong: open access is hugely important, Elsevier is doing an extraordinary amount with open-access publishing (see this recent article in Elsevier Connect), and I love talking about this at conferences. Still, it was nice to put that work into the broader context of how libraries and publishers collaborate.
The key thing that unites academic librarians and publishers is that we all serve science.
Here’s a summary of my presentation:
Research is pivotal to economic growth and addressing societal challenges. The world of research is large and growing, with global research and development (R&D) spending $1.4 trillion in 2012 according to Battelle R&D Magazine’s Annual Global Funding Forecast. R&D spending as percent of gross domestic product (GDP) has been relatively stable at around 2.5 percent in developed countries, and it increased from around 1 percent to 2 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to the OECD. Even in these difficult economic times, governments around the world are protecting their investment in R&D to help drive economic recovery.
Growth in research & development investment is strongly correlated with growth in research outputs. (Sources: internal Elsevier analysis based on Scopus data and “Main Science and Technology Indicators,” OECD Science, Technology and R&D Statistics database)
While this investment in R&D for economic growth is of course a good thing, it drives an increase in the number of researchers and research output, which can cause challenges for both librarians and publishers. Librarians struggle to afford this explosion in content, and publishers have to make significant annual efficiency gains simply to try and keep pace.
Four key trends
It is crucial that librarians and publishers work smarter rather than relying on our finite capacity to work ever harder.
Given this context, I believe four key trends will continue to increase the value of research information, and it is therefore crucial that librarians and publishers work smarter rather than relying on our finite capacity to work ever harder. These trends are that research is increasingly interdisciplinary, increasingly collaborative across national boundaries, increasingly done in emergent countries such as China, and increasingly is data intensive.
A unique vantage point
Librarians and publishers have a unique vantage point on research.
Each year scientific publishers handle over 3 million submitted articles, coordinate the work of more than 300,000 peer reviewers, and publish over 1.5 million articles. Research libraries make these articles available to 30 million readers worldwide, who download more than 2 billion articles each year and make 30 million article citations.
What unites librarians and publishers
While there are things that divide librarians and publishers there are more things that unite us:
1. Our contributions to research start with the highest quality information, which increases the efficiency of researchers using this information. For example, Elsevier handles about 1 million submitted articles each year. This year, submissions to our journals have grown by more than 10 percent over the previous year. Through investments to drive quality, such as our new Article of the Future format, researchers can, on average, determine the relevance of an article 24 seconds faster, spend 60 percent more time interacting with relevant articles, and are five times more likely to use underlying data and tools.
2. We share the responsibility of providing researchers with access to information, now and in the future. 10 million researchers from around the world use Elsevier’s platforms each month. 85 percent of researchers have access to this platform, including researchers in 105 low- and middle-income countries through Research4Life. But access is important for others, too, which is why we have a wide array of programs to enable access by members of the public and by businesses big and small. As interest grows in shifting the costs of the scholarly publishing system from user to researcher/funder, we are well placed to scale up open-access publishing. We have already launched 28 fully open-access titles, we have more than 1500 hybrid open access titles, we have more than 80 titles with open archives, and all our author agreements allow voluntary posting of accepted manuscripts.
3. In the digital age, the roles of publishers and librarians change. We support you in making that transition, and we’re changing too. Together librarians and publishers work to ensure the digital preservation of the scholarly record. By providing analytic tools such as SciVal, libraries help institutions compete for research talent and resources and make smarter investment decisions.
4. Young researchers are the future of science. We help secure that future by supporting and developing the global research community. Librarians already know about the myriad ways the library community supports students, but may not be as familiar with some of the ways publishers contribute. For example, more than 18,000 students have attended the Publishing Connect author workshops, which are presented by Elsevier staff and editors in partnership with the local library. Additionally, some 250,000 researchers worldwide have connected to similar Publishing Connect online webcasts. We have programs that support the development of library leaders of the future, too.
I always enjoy giving presentations because I always learn something in the process. And this time, it was a pretty inspirational something: together, librarians and publishers provide quality information, which drives quality research, which improves the quality of life.