Welcome to Pub Talk, the Maverick blog

Readers who know us will know that Mavericks are often to be found in meeting rooms talking about publishing. So we thought it was time that we shared some of our thoughts, comments and observations with the wider publishing community.

he idea surfaced, as many of our best ideas do, on one of our regular meet-ups in Dorset, UK. Between us the Mavericks have a wide range of skills and experience that cover many different geographies, market sectors and publishing backgrounds. Whenever we get together the day will almost always inevitably develop into knowledge sharing, new perspectives and noisy debates on everything publishing. So we decided to set up a blog so we can find out what others think too. I hope you find it useful and informative - and are encouraged to add your ideas and reactions as well!

Oh - and if you'd prefer a slightly different channel to chat with us? You can also now find us on twitter, @maverickmavlets , or you can follow us on LinkedIn, if that’s more your thing.

All the best

Standing on the Digits of Giants: Research data, preservation and innovation

On  Tuesday the 8th of March the ALPSP seminar  Standing on the Digits of Giants: Research data, preservation and innovation, organised by Maverick Fiona Murphy, will take place in London.

This seminar will examine emerging trends in scholarly communication from the perspective of the publication and long-term access to the scholarly record.  This includes outputs not traditionally included within the primary scientific canon such as metadata, software and research data.

The day will include contributions from:

•    Phill Jones, Head of Publisher Outreach, Digital Science
•    Peter Burnhill, Director of EDINA and Head of Edinburgh University Data Library
•    Mike Taylor, Senior Product Manager, Infometrics, Elsevier
•    Josh Brown, ORCID
•    Dr Matthew Addis, CTO, Arkivum
•    Wendy White, Associate Director (Research Engagement), Hartley Library, Southampton University
•    Sarah Callaghan, Senior Research Scientist at STFC and Editor-in-Chief of Data Science Journal

For more information and booking see the ALPSP website: http://www.alpsp.org/Events-Training/Standing-on-the-Digits-of-Giants/31078

How do you get to Cambridge? Well I wouldn’t start from here.

Fiona Murphy sums up APE 2016

I attended this year’s APE conference in Berlin on behalf of a project I’m working on for Jisc, the Jisc Publications Router, so I wanted to catch up with vendors, publishers and members of the STM community face to face, and give them a quick overview of the project.

Also, I have an interest in research data and publication, including work with the Research Data Alliance and so I was very interested to hear from well-known thinkers in STM. The keynote speakers this year were really fantastic mind-jangling stuff.

The Jisc Publications Router System is currently being developed to support institutions in their open access objectives including their compliance with the policies of various research funders, notably the policy on open access and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in the UK. It’s scholar-orientated: looking to gather metadata about journal articles at the point of acceptance, and then at publication point. After this the system will allow the manuscript to be lodged with the institutional repository. The key is that it will show information on papers where there is any author at all associated with a UK institution, as opposed to being organised by the corresponding author or by the funder. And depending on the quality of metadata received, the system will also provide the institutions with information on embargo periods and licensing requirements.

What emerged for me at APE was how this initiative reflects the bigger European Open Access Design. One of the presenters was Stephan Kuster from Science Europe, which is an organisation that advises on and co-ordinates research policy across the EU countries, and it emerged during his talk that much of the Router is looking to achieve is also coherent with Science Europe’s objectives.

Taking the overall tone of the meeting, it seems to me the whole publishing industry really is trying to change. Comparatively ‘new’ topics predominated: recognition for reviewers, data publishing, automating, building services and tools and enabling communication across various siloes.  There was a general sense that having advanced to the current point, technology now needs to be refined to become truly transformative.  ‘From noise to collective intelligence’ was a fantastic phrase used by Emma Green of Zapnito. She was referring directly to her company’s mission around building clean, frictionless links between experts and the people who need their expertise. But really this could have been the motto for conference writ large.

At the same time, there’s clear pressure on the bigger companies to adapt. Open web communities, open source software, sharing all of these are potential challenges to the traditional subscriptions journal business model. I don’t believe they’re insuperable, and there are some impressive people working on adaptation initiatives  at the conference Alicia Wise of Elsevier and Todd Toler of Wiley for instance. However, the journals publishing landscape is littered with so many add-ons and bolt-ons and mishmashes of technology and processes, which at each stage in the last 20 years made sense as a response to the situation of the time, that the industry’s technical, cultural and social resources are really very stretched.

And in the midst of this, new questions are being asked. What is a research output? Whose responsibility is it to look after the digital record, the metrics and data around the articles, the links between? Open access is the new reality for some at least, but there’s a huge lack of agreement on where we’ll be in twenty years’ time. Different communities are evolving at vastly varying rates, according to discipline, resources, cultural influences, and so forth.

Finally, to bring the speculation back to earth, the salient point was made: the scholarly establishment (the real decision-making population within the institutions) still wants to see articles published in highly cited journals. No matter how much researchers and authors talk about Altmetrics, immediacy and datasets, ultimately the shots are still being called by people for whom Impact Factor is really key.

It’s no news that scholarly publishing is still in an era of change. And despite the best endeavours of many of us, I suspect the noise levels are going to get louder before they subside. 


Author: Fiona Murphy

New paper in Learned Publishing by Fiona Murphy

The January 2016 Issue of Learned Publishing includes an article by Fiona Murphy; An update on peer review and research data. The paper examines technological advances in the amounts of data that researchers generate and use, and the subsequent problems for the scholarly communication system. How, when and by whom should quality checks and assurance be integrated into an already overloaded ecosystem?

Fiona outlines the challenges, illustrates some current initiatives and posits possible directions for the future.

The article is freely available to read at the Wiley Online Library:

Murphy, F. (2016) An update on peer review and research data. Learned Publishing, 29: 5153.

doi: 10.1002/leap.1005.

Data, Analytics and Analogue Teaching, a view from the 2016 BETT exhibition

Fresh from the world’s largest exhibition of educational technology at BETT, Jon Williamson shares his thoughts on the show…

BETT is the largest shows of the year in the educational technology sector, and always a fantastic barometer for the state of the industry. I have a particular interest in Data Analytics and Assessment so I’m always on the lookout for new developments in that sphere. And it’s good to catch up on the general trends in this space, as well as meet with old friends and new contacts.

This year, there was a lot of talk about adaptive learning, both in the conference sessions and on stands. And a fair amount of discussion about publishers as data providers. 

[Read more…]

Three simple ways to tell the recession is over

The last few months at Maverick have been flat out, with many of our clients having an increased marketing budget and a positive, dynamic outlook that makes me think, in some quarters at least the recession that kicked off in 2007 / 08 with the banking crisis, is now behind us.

It’s not just the sheer volume of work, it’s also the kind of projects I’ve been working on since the election in May.


‘Write me a marketing strategy’ is definitely a phrase I heard less of during the recession, when companies were more focussed on immediate returns and stabilising their revenue. But this summer I’ve seen a return to wider, creative thinking, and a willingness to at least think about projects with a longer ROI cycle. When they’re feeling less under pressure, marketing departments can lengthen their view, setting out a co-ordinated set of activities for the next year, or even two years, and think carefully about their messaging and market approach. And one forgotten element of the marketing mix has come up to the surface, its….

The Static Website

‘We want to re-write the website’ is another phrase you won’t hear too much of when the economy isn’t growing. This is a mistake on the part of many companies, who see their websites as unwieldy, difficult to change, complex, cross departmental projects that eat resources and deliver little return, but don’t seem to realise that if that’s how internal stakeholders feel, that’s probably how customers feel too.

A company website is far more important than any other element of marketing communications, because you can guarantee any customer or stakeholder will take a look before getting in contact with you. Two other really important elements are face to face conversations between sales and customers, and sales literature. By the time a potential customer gets to that point, an enormous amount of effort and time, and probably money, will have been spent to get them there, it’s so important to get that very last step right.

But apart from the sale itself, I’d argue that a bad website is a huge barrier to acquiring new customers. Nothing digital should ever be regarded as static, companies need to consider all elements of their website as live (because, your customers can see the pages you regard as legacy, so they do have an effect on the way you are perceived). All companies change, and websites should too.
Many large companies run a web content team, and those web content teams are often understaffed. Adding resources just to get changes live and customer facing can be hugely beneficial.

And finally there’s…


I know it sounds flippant, but over the last few weeks I’ve been eating with clients. More and more, marketing is about finding a creative approach to messaging, something that cuts through the endless emails, tweets, and posts. And that creativity is often found when, even if only for an hour, a team are released from the immediate need to account for their time and their ROI.

This summer, it’s been office lunches, but if even this small pace of economic growth continues, I expect to be taken out to the pub pretty soon.

Yes. That’s a hint.


Author: Megan Toogood