Data on scholarly journal publishing: the 2006 baseline report

Added by Sarah on 15 September 2006 14:37

Tuesday, 14 November 2006 12:00 - 16:00

Location: Royal Institute of Public Health, 28 Portland Place, London, W1

The workshop looked at the RIN study on an evidence-based analysis of data in scholarly journal publishing.

The UK scholarly journals: 2006 baseline report (September 2006) provided an evidence-based analysis of data in scholarly journal publishing, including the volume and value of the journal market, usage, citation and impact factors and the cost and impact of open access journals.

The event, chaired by Richard Charkin, Chief Executive of Macmillan Publishing Ltd, attracted some 60 participants drawn essentially from the ranks of publishers, researchers and learned societies.

After a welcome from Richard Charkin, RIN Director Michael Jubb gave a presentation ? on behalf of the three sponsoring organisations ? outlining the background and rationale for the study.  He emphasized the contribution that the study could make to securing public policy objectives, in the context of enabling an efficient scholarly communications system. He set out the sort of questions needed to take forward the findings: what are the key lessons? What are the implications for the development of public policy? And how might the identified gaps in the evidence base be addressed.

Jeffrey Aronson is Reader in Pharmacology at the University of Oxford, and chair of the expert group that oversaw the study. He presented an overview of the study?s findings, with particular emphasis on the significant gaps the report identified in the evidence base ? among many examples, the paucity of data about the costs that researchers and publishers incur in producing journal articles. He reflected on the nature and quality of evidence used to analyse such data. In particular he called for the commissioning of randomised studies to eliminate distortion, for example in analyses of impact in author pays versus conventional publishing models.

There followed a series of short presentations to explain the usefulness of the study from the perspective of key stakeholders: Paul Ayris (Librarian, University College London); Astrid Wissenburg (Director of Communications and Information, ESRC) for the Research Councils; Sally Morris (Chief Executive of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers); and Michel Woodman (Department of Trade and Industry). Much of the workshop was devoted to questions and discussion, with a panel of the speakers invited to comment, with a view to identifying practical outcomes.

Significant points included:

  • There is a case for updating the baseline report periodically, so as to chart the development of the evidence base.
  • Although there is some knowledge about journal usage, there is much less evidence about usage at the article level ? further research would be particularly useful.  In this respect, there could be value in analysing how researchers cite material, i.e. whether they read full articles, abstracts, second hand reports or other material as a basis for making citations.  This could be interesting in the light of moves towards metrics-based approaches to research evaluation.
  • The study pointed to evidence about the difficulties that many researchers experience in accessing material.  Therefore there is a case for a detailed analysis about the why researchers experience such difficulties ? and as a possible corollary, an examination about whether/how researchers alter their behaviour because of access problems.
  • There may be much merit in such further research, but it is important to set up an approach to define an agenda and prioritise the work that is most usefully required. Inevitably, this implies a dialogue and a collaborative approach between all stakeholders. Open sharing of data is also important. Such an approach could be extended to cover the whole of the scholarly communications system, with publishing in the context of this.
  • In this respect, identifying the views of researchers themselves poses a big challenge.  Who speaks for them? To what extent are they developing new publishing models of their own? And are they interested in the sort of issues raised by the study?  Learned societies are likely to have a role in such debates, and the RIN itself can act as a vehicle for highlighting the needs and concerns of the research community.

The workshop programme and presentations are available below.

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