by Mike Groth
Autumn is a busy time for KGL PubFactory. Each year, as industry events start to fill the calendar, our community of customers, partners and staff gather for our user group meeting—held the past two years as the PubFactory Virtual Series. This is a rare and refreshing opportunity to bring together all the inspiring professionals we work with on both sides of the Atlantic, encouraging them to share knowledge, insights and experiences, and to explore how publishers are adopting technology to support their current needs and future goals.
This year’s edition, which took place from October 13-15, once again didn’t disappoint. It attracted an eclectic mix of publishers of assorted shapes and sizes—from global academic players to smaller niche societies and university presses, journal to book publishers, traditional subscription-focused businesses to OA innovators. But despite their unique and varying backgrounds, the participants were united by their collective experiences of implementing and working with technology platforms on a day-to-day basis, each having something to teach and something to learn on the subject, which made for an enlightening three days.
The Great Migration
The Lessons Learned: A Publisher Case Study Panel session offered a variety of perspectives on platform migrations, investigating what several publishers learned from the process, how they adapted to the challenges they faced and what they would do differently, if they had to go through it again.
For Mike Friedman, Senior Manager for Publishing Operations at the American Meteorological Society, good communication was a key ingredient in the success of the publisher’s platform migration, yet data was a major stumbling block. He said: “Going into any transition really understanding the data is important. One of our journals dates back to 1873, and when those early editions were scanned in, the metadata wasn’t processed correctly. We didn’t realize that and are having to address that fresh now.”
His point was echoed by Cathi Siegel, Managing Editor at the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (AJTMH), who commented: “We had to do a real clean up job, redoing DOIs, sorting out bad tagging and redepositing old content dating as far back as 1921. When you have that much content, 100 years’ worth, there are bound to be some holes.”
Looking beyond platform migrations, participants were asked about what their priorities were for their platforms in the immediate future. Mike said: “We are planning to launch a new online journal in early 2022, so it’s good to know how straightforward that is on the platform. We are also looking at how to incorporate more video content, as well as conference presentations and abstracts, linking to them directly from article pages.”
Cathi commented: “The most pressing issue for us is getting on board with Plan S and making sure more of our articles are Open Access, particularly as we have pledged to become a transformative journal and the reporting standards have become increasingly challenging.”
In the midst of a platform migration and just days away from launching a brand-new website, Dr. Kurt Matushek, Associate Editor at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), added: “For us, our biggest challenge will be how we incorporate our news section—traditionally a single 25-page print article in the journal—and how we adapt that for the age of social media, as we move from the production flow of publishing bi-monthly news articles to a continuous online publishing model.”
The lively group discussion which followed focused furthermore on what publishers were looking to prioritize and accomplish during the year ahead, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Open Access was the hottest topic on the agenda.
For Vivian Berghahn, Managing Director at Berghahn Books, attribution and geotagging were becoming increasingly significant, particularly under the Subscribe to Open model. She said: “As we rise to the OA challenge and configure our infrastructure accordingly, we need to think about how we can make sure it is clear to those accessing OA content that it is paid for and made accessible by a particular institution, helping to prove their value, involvement and investment to their wider audiences.”
In addition to offering recognition and accreditation, the ‘OA payback’ and providing authors with greater visibility over metrics was a major focus for Tim Williams, Managing Director, Edward Elgar Publishing, who commented: “If somebody is paying for and funding publishing, then six months down the track they will want to know what the payback was and what was the usage and impact. Being able to report back on usage, chapter metrics, as well as regional and institutional access, could be really compelling for OA books in particular.”
OA reporting was of prime importance for Kim Marello, Digital Development Manager at Bioscientifica. She added: “I would say that we are almost at the point where we are publishing more OA content than paywall content, as we acquire new journals and move some of our subscription journals across. As these journals are society owned, and are relied upon heavily for income, there are questions being raised about flipping journals and business models and how this will all play out. But I would say reporting is going to be key to our authors, funders and societies as editorial teams and publishers are constantly looking at what percentage of output is OA.”
We look forward to bringing the PubFactory community together once again in 2022 (whatever form that takes), to check in and help tackle the next phase of industry challenges and evolving platform solutions.