Insights on new publishing models from R2R 2024

Maverick Head of EMEA Business Development, Jayne Marks, attended the Researcher to Reader to Conference 2024 where she chaired the panel, Making New Models for Scholarly Communication a Reality. Jayne shares her key takeaways in this post for Insights. You can view a video recording of the session here.

There is interest from across all stakeholders in developing new models for how scholarly communication works. The open access movement drove the rise of the article processing charge and then to transformative agreements. One of the consequences of these moves is a concern that authors who do not have access to grant funds or sit within an institution that has transformative agreements face high charges to publish. Funders and publishers are now looking for new models for how to fund the communication of research, but this transition must be based on how researchers and their institutions work in the future.

This issue was addressed in a panel discussion at the recent Researcher to Reader Conference. I chaired the panel titled Making New Models for Scholarly Communication a Reality, which was comprised of a researcher, Professor Bjoern Brembs, University of Regensberg, Germany; a librarian Yvonne Nobis, University of Cambridge; and a publisher, Roheena Anand, PLoS, and me.

Bjoern Brembs started with a clear view of a future where there is no need for journals but rather there will be the resources he needs at his institute to host the outputs of his research – protocols, data, results, and narrative – and make them accessible publicly. This resource would be based on a shared infrastructure of not-for-profit software and services. Yvonne Nobis explained that institutions would be willing to support initiatives such as this but that, in her experience, many, if not most, of the researchers in her institution are keen to preserve the entity of the published article. Researcher assessment is largely based on assessing published output from journals with high impact factors, which poses a barrier to moving beyond the article.

The session was a good opportunity to hear from publishers, researchers including early career researchers, and librarians. There was concern expressed by the audience that we are in danger of losing the quality mark of peer review and this loss will be to the detriment of early career researchers who rely on journals to help signpost content they can trust in their research. Roheena Anand explained that this was a vital part of research communication that we need to preserve.

There was an interesting discussion about preprints as a means to move forward, and some advocated for peer review undertaken on the preprint platforms with all reviews being made open. The challenge with this approach is that reviewers do not generally spontaneously offer comments, and this has been shown to be the case over a number of initiatives. But it is certainly the case that some researchers (particularly in areas such as physics where there is a well-used preprint service) are happy to simply deposit their papers. However, they are aware of the need to support the careers of their more junior colleagues so they will generally pursue publication for their sakes.

Another topic that was clearly important was the difference between different disciplines. We were fortunate enough to have representatives from a wide range of industry segments in the room and were able to hear how things differ between basic sciences, which are often well-funded by grants, and social sciences and humanities where funding is scarce, and authors rely on support from their institutions.

This session proved to be a lively conversation focused on a future beyond the article. The panellists were clear that research comprising all assets, such as data and protocols, needs to be open and available to be shared. There needs to be a way to ensure quality and to signpost this goal for a broader community of researchers. The general conclusion of the discussion was that, unless researcher assessment and incentives change, the role of the article in that assessment cannot go away.

As the moderator of the panel, I really appreciated the discussions that our team of panellists had as we prepared for this session. We were joined by Sara Bosshart from the Royal Society of Chemistry who was unfortunately unable to join us on the day. What struck me was the passion and commitment that we all have for the communication of research and the willingness to seek improvements to the process. But it was also clear that all stakeholders need to be involved actively in finding the route to a new way of working.

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By Jayne Marks, Head of EMEA Business Development

Jayne Marks brings over 40 years of scholarly publishing experience to Maverick. She has worked at senior levels in a variety of companies helping to devise and deliver on business strategies tailored for different markets. Throughout her career, Jayne has responded to ever-changing market environments by developing new product, sales, or content strategies to maximize new opportunities. Jayne’s primary focus has been on understanding the needs of the customers and markets that her products serve and ensuring they evolve to meet changing needs.

Further Reading

Transition from subscription to OA business model

An organizational approach to OA