The first version of this list was created back in the summer of 2012, at a time when publishers were being challenged repeatedly to prove they added value beyond managing peer review and some basic copy editing and formatting. The first post outlined 60 things publishers do. The post was revised again in 2013 to reflect 13 more things, bringing the total to 73. In 2014, it was updated once more, to add nine more things and update others, bringing the total number of things most publishers do to 82. Then, in 2016, it was expanded yet again, to include 96 things publishers do.

Over the past two years, I’ve been pleased to learn that “the list of 96” is often referenced, and even serves as the backbone of some training programs for new employees in various publishing-related organizations.

assembly line

This update is a reframing and expansion of the list. I’ve changed the motif from the cost perspective (expense, level of difficulty, and duration) to the value perspective (uniqueness, value, importance). The list has always been implicitly a list of things journal publishers do, so this year I’ve made that explicit in the headline. Book publishers, database publishers, music publishers, software publishers — all would have different lists, but rest assured that each handles dozens of functions behind the scenes.

The list has also expanded a little once again, because it seems no matter what initiative people cook up — including those meant to disintermediate publishers — publishers end up holding the bag. The list now consists of 102 items, up from 96 two years ago.

We’ve experienced a decade during which curators, experts, and professionals have been downgraded within a belief system largely created by the Silicon Valley culture. This belief system sought to elevate amateurs, crowds, and opinions above expertise, for economic and ideological reasons. Now the tide is turning, with multiple authors writing compellingly about the problems this approach has caused. (See here, here, and here.)

To bring some visual interest to the post, I’ve used emoji to identify which stakeholders benefit from each activity, as follows (listed here alphabetically for easy reference):

  • authors ✍️
  • editors and reviewers ✂️
  • funders 💰
  • institutions 🏛
  • librarians 😇
  • publishers 😈
  • readers 📖
  • researchers 🔬
  • service providers 🔧
  • society 🌍

I think this more positive approach helps shed light on why these things are important, as well as revealing how many stakeholders are served in various ways by the publishing activity set.

Comments are open, and this is an ongoing build. Despite every new service promising to make life simpler, the opposite seems to be the trend.

  1. Audience/field detection and cultivation. This is why you start a journal — there’s a new field emerging, a field splintering, or a field growing beyond the outputs currently available. Detecting and cultivating these forks and leaps in research progress is what a good publisher does. It’s not just about new audiences, but new audience needs within fields. In addition, publishers can create fields of study that weren’t apparent to the practitioners until disparate research outputs were pulled together into a salient journal property. From CRISPR to genomics to materials research to gender studies, the history here is long. The value created redounds on all participants — researchers, editors, institutions, and publishers. Careers often gain new legitimacy and momentum. Cascade approaches have changed the rationale for new titles, from horizontal portfolio expansion to vertical portfolio optimization. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 🏛. Secondary beneficiary(ies): ✂️ 💰 🌍.
  2. Journal launch and registration (ISSN, DOI, Science Citation Index, Scopus, and PubMed, for example). A small but detailed job, with follow-up being important. Both PubMed and MEDLINE are proving more labyrinthine and unpredictable than before, requiring more time and more iterations, even for top publishers. Fortunately, ISSNs can be registered online now. Other systems requiring registration are emerging, adding to the list of items to tick and the details to manage in order to establish a new title. Uniqueness: High, but diminishing. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies): 😇 📖 🔧. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😈.
  3. Create and establish a viable brand (including filing, protecting, and maintaining trademarks). This is a step many take for granted, but it’s expensive and time-consuming. First, what is your brand? How do you decide? Some use consultants, some use internal brainstorming, some use individual inspiration. Once you have an idea, you have to express it visually. If you want to protect it, you have to register trademarks in many markets, and renew them every so often. The initial registration is usually the most time-consuming part. Failure to do so may limit your ability to own your brand. Defending a trademark is part of the deal. The trend toward cascading journal portfolios and new open access (OA) oriented brand extensions points to the ongoing importance of brand management. Brand confusion is something some predatory publishers exploit. Uniqueness: High. Value: High, but diminished by imposters. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 😇 ✍️ 🌍 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 💰.
  4. Make money and remain a constant in the system of scholarly output. Making enough money to remain viable and avoid cash pinches is a fundamental goal for any business. It seems even more important for a system based on subtle signaling of quality and prestige. This requires publishers to make enough money to remain in business while doing these other things, and that means making a profit, surplus, or gain sufficient to cover downturns, major technology transitions (capital expenditure budgets are ballooning for many organizations), field expansions, and parent organization (society or university) downturns. Believe it or not, but making money matters even for non-profit publishers – governance bodies become unpredictable if the money isn’t coming in, and investment funds are protected reflexively. Industry consolidation is occurring partly because smaller society publishers are having trouble maintaining margins. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): 😈 ✍️ ✂️.  Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍 🔬.
  5. Plan and create strategies for the future. A famous joke is that the second book Gutenberg printed was entitled, “Now What? The End of Publishing is Nigh.” Publishers are famous worriers, and for good reason. Content has long been scarce, technological change is a constant, and risk is their shadow. Now more than ever perhaps due to multiple points of exploitation in the networked world, planning for the future is vital to survival. This level of planning has also gained new dimensions, including a global perspective that may be more urgent, technology strategies that are more central, and higher levels of uncertainty as new entrants create new constraints and opportunities. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 😈 ✂️. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍 🔬.
  6. Establish, cultivate, and maintain a good reputation (this is vital to attracting papers and conveying prestige to authors). A brand is a brand, but a reputation is even more important. You might say that Nature and Science are equivalent brands in some ways, but to many, they have slightly nuanced reputations. Organizations also have layers of reputation – editorial, commercial, management, and so forth. Reputations diverge significantly in some fields, and can take a hit before brands will. A strong editorial reputation combined with a weak commercial reputation requires a different strategic approach. Keeping your reputation requires a lot of good management throughout the organization. It has become more complicated — and requires faster responses across more channels — in the networked world. Uniqueness: High. Value: High, and threatened by imposters. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🌍.
  7. Funding of new initiatives, books, journals, and educational initiatives (3-5 years typically before break-even, and even longer before payback). This is where risk becomes real — expenditures are made, financial projections activated, and staff hired. Without this stage, there is no new publishing initiative or journal. One of the main roles of publishers is to assume risk for authors. A new emphasis on the stability and stronger returns associated with the subscription model may make this activity more important in the coming years. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🌍 ✍️ 🔬.  Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😈.
  8. Establish, integrate, upgrade, and monitor infrastructure systems and contracts. Establishing these systems involves a lot of choices, a process that is repeated often as the years go by. The growing number of new infrastructure requirements and options has increased the obligations here, as well as the costs in both management time and financial outlays. Vendor selection is more vexing with more options near the center of operations. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: High. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍 📖. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 😇.
  9. Solicitation of materials. How do you get those first papers? How do you attract enough articles for a yearlong series? How do you get editorials and opinion pieces? Getting papers continues to take effort, and it is often the responsibility of a thought leader or a set of them. As new journals have (over)used email, and trust in new journals has diminished for a variety of reasons, established publishers have to rely more on meetings and personal contacts. This increases expenses. Also, as portfolios become more robust, cascades more common, and authors more jaded, the option to stop soliciting materials is less viable. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ ✂️. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😈.
  10. Rejection of submissions (and in some cases multiple rejections). Some papers — often a majority — will be rejected. Most journals attract more papers than they can use, papers that aren’t appropriate, and papers of low quality. These have to be rejected, sometimes more than once. Communications with authors, a fair system to determine what makes it through, and ways to know what you’ve seen before are all important. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ ✂️. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🌍 🏛.
  11. Cascading of rejected manuscripts from one journal to another. While certainly not a new practice, the past few years have witnessed many more concerted efforts to keep submitted papers within a portfolio of journals. Developing the systems to accomplish this, the editorial practices to support it, and the policies to explain it to authors, are all new costs and initiatives. There are emerging concerns because of these and other factors that cascading is helping industry consolidationUniqueness: High. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies): 😈 ✍️ ✂️. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧.
  12. Acceptance of submissions. Luckily, some submissions are really good, and they deserve more attention. That’s when a lot more work starts. But notice how much has gone on before even any paper is accepted. Accepting a paper is becoming more complex, as mandates, disclosures, various ethical aspects of authorship attestation, and so forth gain prominence, and as integrations with online infrastructure (e.g., ORCID) becomes the norm. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 💰 ✍️ ✂️. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 😈.
  13. Tracking of submissions throughout. Infrastructure at the submission level is becoming more complex, in keeping with more complex submission requirements. But systems and technologies aren’t enough. Authors need a lot of hand-holding, materials can spring surprises on you, new requests from editors can come in, and so forth. The increasing utilization of cascading review systems is also increasing complexity and cost, but as time passes, these systems are settling into a groove. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ ✂️. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 😈 🌍.
  14. Tracking changes in the authorship environment. In many fields, rules around authorship requirements, funding disclosures, technical requirements, and funder requirements can change, and authors often don’t know this has occurred. Publishers have to keep track of these changes so they can provide useful advice and plan for the implications. This includes keeping authors compliant with funder mandates and ensuring domain normalization through compliance with broader standards. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ ✂️ 🌍 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 💰 📖.
  15. Plagiarism detection. Using plagiarism detection software has become the norm for many publishers, yet it often ends with steps involving human judgment. Other detection steps have included figure manipulation detection initiatives created and propagated by publishersUniqueness: High. Value: Usually low, sometimes high. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ ✂️ 📖. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🌍.
  16. Rights registration and protection. While many publishers allow licenses to suffice, most still require or prefer copyright transfer. This is a highly valuable service for authors, I believe, as it alleviates them of monitoring something that has peak value when published, and is otherwise a burden to manage. Surveys seem to bear this out. New licensing options, and their shifting nature, also adds to the burden of documenting and monitoring. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🌍.
  17. Recruitment and retention of editors and reviewers. Editors and reviewers don’t grow on trees. They are usually busy people with a lot of demands on their time and professional options. How do you get someone to head up a journal or provide expert review of submitted manuscripts? New systems being implemented to grant and track credit for reviewers and editors add to the complexity and management overhead here. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ ✂️. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 🏛 😈.
  18. Care and feeding of reviewers. A list of reviewers isn’t enough. They need to be acknowledged, communicated with, helped, and supported. Publishers are good at this, or try to be. Now, they also have to integrate with more new reviewer-credit systems, which are coming up to speed and being adopted. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 🌍. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 📖 😈.
  19. Training of peer reviewers. Peer reviewers have to be trained. They don’t arrive knowing how to use the systems, either technical or categorical, and they often deviate from one another in unhelpful ways within both systems. Now, there are conferences to run on top of the more traditional local training that occurs at editorial meetings and otherwise. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 📖 🌍. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 😈.
  20. Experimentation with peer review. With various flavors of blindedness, from open identity to open reviews to combinations of the two, to increasing from single-blind to double-blind, there is even more to manage throughout this set of activities, as changes touch on recruitment, retention, care, feeding, and training. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 📖 🌍. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😈.
  21. Manage statistical reviewers and reviews. This varies by domain. Some don’t use statistical reviewers, especially when direct observations are possible. Others, like medicine and public health, use them all the time. They are often more integral than peer reviewers, and have significant decision-making authority. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 📖 🌍. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 😈.
  22. Manage technical reviewers and reviews. See above.
  23. Training of editors. It may be surprising, but a subject-matter expert needs to learn how to be a good editor. This comes naturally enough to some, but others struggle with it, and a few never quite get it. Staff provide a lot of training and monitoring, and this is an area of some confidentiality as to what actually goes on. After all, nobody wants to lose face. This is growing in importance as changes make the publishing and editorial environments more complex. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✂️✍️ 📖. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🌍.
  24. Editorial board meetings. Another level of editorial support, this often involves meetings that include selected high-level reviewers, a tier of editors, statisticians or technical reviewers, and editors. Staff have to plan, run, and manage these, along with editorial leaders. New expectations of a global editorial workforce – for diversity of opinions, to attract papers, and to ensure market presence – are increasing expenses and logistical complexity. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔬.
  25. Editor meetings. Often held separately from editorial board meetings, and often more frequently, meetings with the major editors (editor-in-chief, executive editor, and other head editors) are more strategic, may involve compensation or personnel issues, and usually involve top management. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔬.
  26. Management of peer review process. The peer review process isn’t static. New elements come in — like new disclosure rules, new grading or evaluation approaches, and new media forms. How these are integrated matters a good deal, and it takes work. Uniqueness: Moderate to high. Value: High, often underestimated. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 📖 🌍. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 💰.
  27. Ethics investigations. When someone alleges malfeasance or misconduct, publishers lead the investigation. While not always productive, these investigations are always time-consuming and complex, involving multiple stakeholders within the publishing organization and at outside organizations. If lawyers get involved, hold on. Uniqueness: High. Value: Variable. Importance: Variable. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ ✂️ 📖 🌍. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 💰.
  28. Staff training. With all the changes in publishing practices, policies, technologies, and business models, training staff is more important than ever, especially as they are interacting with authors, readers, and editors. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Variable. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✂️ ✍️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🌍.
  29. Conflicts of interest and disclosures. As noted above, conflicts of interest and disclosures are becoming more important in many fields (and should be very important in most). Keeping current with the state of the art, collecting and organizing the forms from dozens of authors, matching them with manuscripts, and following up with reluctant or forgetful authors all requires a lot of work. Uniqueness: High. Value: Variable. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies):  📖 🔬 🌍. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 💰.
  30. Implement and enforce editorial policies and procedures. There is an increasingly long list of editorial policies to implement and enforce, which has led to much longer and more convoluted instructions to authors. Enforcing these for each manuscript is hard work and requires diligent, trained, experienced staff. Policies often need to be revisited frequently, and instructions to authors modified regularly. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✂️ 📖. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 💰.
  31. Compliance. Increasingly, journals are serving as key players in ensuring researcher compliance with funder and institutional access policies. For instance, more than half of what comes into PubMed Central comes from publishers. Without publishers, PMC would be far less useful and viable. CHORUS, which serves many US funding agencies and can support other public or private funders, was established by publishers, and is maintained by publishers. Policies are constantly being updated and revised to help authors stay in compliance. Uniqueness: High. Value: Variable. Importance: Variable. Primary beneficiary(ies): 📖 🏛 💰. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🌍.
  32. Author attestations. Scandals around fake or shadow authorship have made it necessary to get authors to attest that they indeed wrote the paper submitted under their name, and were in a position to control the data and write freely. With growing author lists, this can involve a lot of attestations for the average paper. Uniqueness: High. Value: Variable. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 😇 ✍️ 🌍 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 💰.
  33. Dealing with authorship problems. Authors get things wrong. Authors make mistakes. Authors commit fraud. Editors and publishers deal with allegations, try to understand their veracity, collaborate on what to do if claims have merit, and then implement a response — perhaps a retraction, perhaps an expression of concern, perhaps letters to the editor. In extreme cases, authors can be banned from publishing for a period of time, and the publisher has to keep track of these bans. Uniqueness: High. Value: Variable. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 📖 🌍. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 🔬.
  34. Copy-editing, proofreading, and styling of materials. Generally thought of as a lighter form of editing, there is a spectrum – from extremely light to very rigorous. A good copy-editor or proofreader can catch important inconsistencies and errors, flaws in logic, and problems with data. Applying uniform style guides also aid readers while occasionally revealing problems in a manuscript. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 📖. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 🌍.
  35. Language and substantive editing. Some journals employ experienced subject-matter editors who have gained such deep experience in a field that they are able to push authors to be clear and precise, revise their writing with confidence, and catch errors and logical elisions. Manuscripts handled by these editors are typically heavily revised, shorter, clearer, and easier to read at the end of the day. But they don’t come cheap. And in the humanities, the work in this area is extremely important, to both the quality of the final work and the reputation of the press and authors/editors. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 📖. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 🌍.
  36. Illustration. Some high-end journals provide illustration staff to authors of selected papers, particularly review articles or review journals. Some improve the basic illustrations authors provide, for the sake of clarity and consistency. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 📖. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 🌍.
  37. Art handling. Authors don’t always follow instructions, sometimes submit the wrong figures, sometimes submit too many figures, or need to supply new figures after review and editing have uncovered ways to improve their materials. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😈.
  38. Multimedia handling. See above. A new area, so slightly different. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😈.
  39. Layout and composition. Whether the journal in question is still printed, the PDF is still in high demand, and typesetting and layout still occur. Luckily, computers make this relatively easy, but it’s not automatic. Figure-sizing, pagination, and other factors demand knowledgeable human intervention and skills. Uniqueness: Moderate to high. Value: High. Importance: Surprisingly high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 😇 ✍️ 🌍 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 💰.
  40. Design print and various online versions. Design for journals has exploded as an issue, with print designs revisited in light of online trends, online designs at the home page and article level in flux, and mobile/tablet/social designs all needing attention. Keeping these complementary and coordinated takes a lot of work, not to mention the creative process behind the designs. Finally, some journals design each issue in print and online to some degree, to improve user experience. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 📖 ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  41. XML generation and DTD migration. Now, in addition to making pages, publishers spit out XML, and track DTD migrations as they occur. DTD migrations can be minor (new elements to reflect a change somewhere in the pipeline) or extreme (a new DTD requirement, like the NLM DTD was). Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies):  📖 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  42. Format migrations. Just in the past two decades, we’ve moved from SGML to XML to NLM DTD and now to JATS. Flipping your content from one to the other is not a trivial exercise, and it’s not cheap. It takes planning, money, and management to do it right. Content stores are becoming larger, as well. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies):  📖 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  43. Publisher migrations. Contracts with large publishers are more common as the industry consolidates, with the services provided varying. But contracts come to an end, and journals can move from publisher to publisher. This creates work all around, from the publisher surrendering the title to the publisher receiving the title. The goal is to make the transition seamless. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 🔬 ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😇 🏛 🌍.
  44. Tagging. To generate good metadata, articles and elements are often tagged using either semantic, custom taxonomies, or both. Sometimes, tagging is manual, sometimes automated, and sometimes a little of both. But it doesn’t happen all by itself. And it isn’t maintained, enhanced, expanded, migrated, or corrected all by itself, either. The emergence of new social collaboration networks like Mendeley,, and ResearchGate are adding pressures to tag every element, from figures to PDFs. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Variable. Importance: Variable. Primary beneficiary(ies):  🔬 ✍️ 📖 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  45. DOI registration. A minor task usually, and easily accomplished. But a task. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies):  📖 😇 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  46. Search engine optimization. Ah, Google, how you vex us! The black magic of SEO can drain teams and budgets. And Google keeps things interesting. But authors want their papers to be found, readers want to find papers, so publishers stay on top of this. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies):  📖 ✍️ 🔬 😈 . Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  47. Search engine marketing. More and more content means more noise, so some publishers are cutting through the clutter with search engine marketing (SEM). While the cost of acquisition remains high, the lifetime value can make sense, and practice often drives down the cost-per-acquisition. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies):  📖 ✍️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  48. Integrate and track metrics and, increasingly, altmetrics. The Internet throws off data, and now publishers are running more data-intensive businesses. In addition, these data are shared with more constituencies, from librarians (COUNTER reports) to authors (usage metrics and altmetrics). A busier marketplace (e.g., Dimensions, ESCI from Clarivate, and others) mean more time and attention monitoring the options. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies):  📖 ✍️. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 🌍.
  49. Rapid publication practices. More common than ever, most journals have a custom path for rapid publication. This often involves special staff and processes, some of which require revisiting earlier versions with later versions, adding to the workload. The emergence of preprint servers may curtail the need for journals to support these functions in some fieldsUniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies):  ✍️ 🔬 📖. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🌍.
  50. Dealing with data. Data is a new frontier of research publication, and publishers are the least constrained players (compared to governments, funders, and universities), making them a driving force in finding new ways to create the kind of transparency, infrastructure, incentives, and requirements that will make data publication work. Yet, it’s unclear how data publication fits into the overall business. Nevertheless, with more machine-generated structured data (genes, crystals, populations, etc.), more mandates for data sharing, and more storage options, the complexity is increasing quickly, as is the associated workload and downstream value. Uniqueness: Moderate to high. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies):  ✍️ 🔬 📖. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🌍.
  51. Publication. Ah, at last, we’re published! This involves more now than ever (the next few steps at least). Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies):  ✍️ 🔬 📖. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 🌍.
  52. Printing. Yes, many journals still print, and it’s not getting less complicated, as presses, paper mills, and mailing facilities continue to adjust to a shrinking print worldUniqueness: High. Value: Moderate, uncertain. Importance: Moderate, uncertain. Primary beneficiary(ies):  📖. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😈.
  53. Physical distribution. Mailing is more complex in some ways, because the mail streams are less robust, and public postal systems are struggling in the face of austerity and changing consumer economics. Reduced print runs have made postal expenses lumpy. Distrust in online sources has placed a new emphasis on print (or print proxy) distribution. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies):  ✍️ 🔬 📖. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  54. Vendor management. As publishing has grown more complex and technology-driven, and as cost pressures have mounted with limited library and research budgets, publishers have had to outsource more. This has created a new, complex, and not inexpensive internal task of managing all these vendors. Given that many are international, travel is sometimes involved, and problems can arise at all hours. Enjoy the jet lag! Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies):  ✍️ 🔬 📖 😇. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 🔧.
  55. Media relations and publicity. Press coverage drives awareness, and important authors of important studies from important institutions and important funders expect to be featured in the mediasphere. Also, if there’s a scandal, you’d better know who to call and what to say to head off the storm, especially with social media as kindling. Given the increased emphasis on media metrics (altmetric, for example), these activities have become more ingrained in data about researchers, funders, and their effectiveness. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies):  ✍️ 🔬 💰 🏛. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😈 🌍.
  56. Social media distribution and management. Twitter and Facebook have created new alerting expectations and outlets. (Video has receded somewhat.) More editorial and marketing time is being spent on these outlets now, especially with Twitter informing Altmetric to a high degree. New technologies to measure things like sentiment, traffic sourcing, and value are being taken up, requiring staff time, even dedicated staff. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 🔬 💰 🏛. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😈 🌍.
  57. Depositing content and data. Downstream deposit of articles and data to help authors comply with funder requirements or community norms is a growing function of publishers, who are responsible for the majority of compliance overall. Initiatives like GenBank and others wouldn’t be nearly as robust if publishers were not requiring authors to deposit data as part of the publication process or, in some cases, providing deposit services on behalf of authors. Requires setup and monitoring of related production systems and workflows, and ongoing management, as well as occasional interventions when things go off the rails. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🌍.
  58. Integrating new standards. As new actual and de facto standards emerge (e.g., ORCID, reviewer credit, funder identifiers, institutional identifiers), these have to be integrated into various parts of the workflow and technology stack. Revisions to standards, which are inevitable and unpredictable, require repeated work. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 🔧 😇 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 📖 🌍.
  59. Third-party licensing and negotiation. Your direct audience is not your only audience. Some companies want to pay you to reuse the content in their offerings, or try to sell the content into adjacent markets. Negotiating and managing these deals and relationships takes time. Aggregators like EBSCO, OVID, ProQuest, and JSTOR remain popular, as well. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 📖 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 😇.
  60. Hosting and archiving. Hosting platforms can be expensive because they support many of the functions above. Archiving is a new expectation that comes with the digital age, and one that is not trivial or simple to do well. However, solutions provided by the likes of CLOCKSS and Portico certainly help. Archiving policies and practices are viewed as one indicator of legitimate publishers, as opposed to the predatory entrants who come and go. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 📖 😇 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  61. Platform upgrades and migrations. Ah, the fun of either upgrading your platform or moving to another provider. It’s a lot of work, and the fear of downtime makes it a delicate task. Recent changes in the landscape have accelerated activity for many publishers, as they are evaluating their options. More mature technologies make it possible to refactor platforming decisions. Legacy content (and soon, legacy data) make these shifts more complex, expensive, and time-consuming. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): 📖 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  62. Native search engine improvements. A bane to every journal web site, the native search engine is an ongoing source of strife, as users, editors, authors, and others constantly find “problems” and report them, expecting easy fixes. The variability of the underlying content combined with the variability of user search practices makes this a difficult area to resolve. Uniqueness: Low to moderate. Value: Moderate, declining. Importance: Moderate, declining. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 📖. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧.
  63. Journals packaging and sales. Journals are sold in bundles or as database packages, at least to certain customer segments (institutions, consortia, corporations). Publishers have to understand the sales process and approach, package and price their offerings to match, and conduct and complete sales. Database offerings are distinctly more complex to create. Recent efforts to create virtual sales packages also add complexity. Negotiations are bespoke, time-consuming, and complex. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 📖 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😇.
  64. Comment and community moderation. Sure, nobody comments on articles — until they do. Then what? The publisher has to staff for it and establish policies around it. The technology itself isn’t cheap, and making it work for academic publishing adds work and expense With new and more sophisticated tools coming onto the market, this may see a resurgence. Also, with comments occurring on PubPeer and other platforms, monitoring is part of the new information deal. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 📖 ✂️. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😈 🌍.
  65. Implementing and managing interlinking services. With the Web, linking became a new expectation, and publishers had to work with vendors to implement linking options at various points in their content sets and across their service offerings. These links need to be reevaluated periodically, and some of the data they throw off tracked. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 📖 😇. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 😈 🌍.
  66. Anti-piracy efforts. Authors, editors, and publishers are all concerned with piracy, and publishers are on the front line. Identifying pirated materials, sending take-down notices, enforcing these, and reviewing related reports all take effort and attention. Occasionally, a piracy incident escalates (recently, Sci-Hub and ResearchGate have escalated and endured, in what seems like a long-term stalemate). On a broader scale, publishers collaborate to ensure they operate in a framework that decreases the likelihood of piracy. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 📖 ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😇 🌍.
  67. Authentication and authorization. Sci-Hub has revealed that publisher systems coexist with other systems, meaning there is a through-line for security and reliability. Hackers that gain administrative credentials to a publisher system might also score university login credentials. Upgrading systems to support two-factor authentication and other security measures, along with considerations around new options (RA21, CASA), all deserve attention. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): 📖 🏛 🔬 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧.
  68. Supplement proposals. Some journals allow supplements. Dealing with proposals alone is a chore. Publishing supplements delves into many of the steps that precede and follow. But because these can come from core authors, they have to be handled delicately. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 📖 🌍.
  69. Managing or implementing CE/CME/CLE or other educational offerings. Many journals have integrated or related educational offerings, either in the health, medicine, or legal space. Others support less formal certification courses. Developing, implementing, and managing these programs can be involved and requires a lot of meticulous work and interactions with editors and oversight bodies. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 📖 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🌍.
  70. Analytics and abuse monitoring. Is your site under attack? Has someone stolen a paper and reversed its meaning on a commercial site? Is Sci-Hub harvesting papers? A good publisher watches for these things, and has a network that will notify when there’s a problem. And then there are the more mundane analytics editors and business units need, which are becoming more important as competition for dollars increases. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😇 🏛 🌍.
  71. Managing and protecting financial records. Yes, publishers and their platforms get hacked, so everyone involved has to create firewalls, protect credit card transactions, guard payroll records, and so forth. The pace of these attacks have increased as our modern Cold War in cyberspace escalates, and as hackers continue to find success in other sectors. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 📖 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  72. Managing and protecting subscriber records. If you have subscribers, you have to keep their records from prying eyes, or risk violating your privacy policy. Hacking on scales large and small has increased vigilance around these. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 📖 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  73. Managing and protecting editorial records. Peer reviews are confidential. Records showing which manuscripts you rejected are confidential and definitely touchy. With new entrants allowing reviews to be posted or anonymous conversations about papers, monitoring these third party sites is becoming another part of the job. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 📖 🏛 🌍.
  74. Responding to legal actions. Sometimes, authors are sued, and publishers get entangled. Or vice-versa. In either case, things get interesting, take time, and cost money. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 🏛. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🌍.
  75. Basic management functions. Publishers have to manage HR, legal, facilities, corporate compliance, and so forth. These areas continue to grow in complexity and expense, with changes in employment laws and employee expectations, as well as increased internationalization adding offices in countries with different laws than the home office. Uniqueness: Low. Value: High. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 🔬 📖 🌍.
  76. Construct annual budgets and financial projections. A basic function overlooked on this list until now, every year entails publishing staff working in a coordinated manner to submit their expense budgets and revenue projections, then responding as senior management provides further guidance. The process has become more complex in the online world. Uniqueness: Low. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 📖 🌍.
  77. Extended management functions. Many publishers exist inside a society of some sort, and have extended management roles that include internal reporting, strategic consultation, internal resource negotiations, basic office interactions, and more complicated contracts. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 📖 ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 🌍.
  78. Society/association partnership. The financial support a publisher provides a society or association is only part of the support they lend. Most publishers actively work to help drive membership and the society’s agenda, serve as a supplemental marketing wing, help shape strategy, create opportunities for members (peer review training, publication opportunities, editorial opportunities), and lend additional business expertise. Uniqueness: Moderate to high. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 🌍.
  79. Organizational education. Various stakeholders in an organization – from colleagues to leadership to governance – can bring to the table stereotypical or outdated concepts of what publishers to and what publishing is now. In a high-change environment, it is more important than ever to proactively educate the entire organization about what is going on in publishing. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ ✂️. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😈.
  80. Board interactions. Publishers have Boards of Directors or Trustees, and interact with these bodies around budgetary, strategic, and other issues. As strategies have become less certain, these interactions are becoming more frequent and perhaps more fraught. Because these Board members often come from academia, they can bring a cloud of negativity toward publishers with them. A good Board can provide strong support for good strategies and leadership. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 📖 ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 🌍.
  81. Create and maintain e-commerce systems. Whatever your revenue model (subscription, OA [APCs], or some hybrid [page charges, color charges, subscription]), you have to take online orders. These systems can be simple or very complex, but they have to be robust enough to comply with credit card processing requirements, which have become much more stringent. In addition, the international scope of e-commerce has many publishers wrestling with VAT compliance. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 📖 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧.
  82. Sell advertising, reprints, and single copies. Not all publishers or journals can make a significant amount of money from selling ads, reprints, or single articles, but when they can, their subscription prices or APCs can be — and often are — lower. Therefore, there is a mutual win if this can occur — publishers diversify their risk, readers or authors pay less. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🌍.
  83. Manage sales forces. Whether you sell subscriptions, advertising, ancillary products, sponsorships, or licenses, you have either an internal, outside, or mixed sales force. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 📖 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): n/a.
  84. Reporting. There are days when it seems the reporting will never end. Marketers must report on the efficacy of their campaigns. Production departments must report on their performance. Publishers with must report regularly to their society partners, university owners, parent corporations, or shareholders. Reports are due to advertisers on impressions and clicks, COUNTER reports are due to librarians to describe usage. Care must be taken to report accurately and sufficiently for taxation and other government requirements. Non-profits must report annual 990s and other required documents — some novice non-profit journals have lost their non-profit status because they didn’t comply with this obligation, but it’s part of the deal. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 😇 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 🌍.
  85. Interact with agents for institutional and individual sales. In addition to direct sales forces, agents provide another layer of sales support, and often offer different services and approaches, from telemarketing to storefronts. And when agents collapse or consolidate, publishers have a track record of stepping in and picking up the pieces so service isn’t interrupted. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 📖 ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  86. Provide training in emerging publishing markets. As the Internet has allowed more people in more countries to participate in the scholarly publishing marketplace, there is a hunger for training — from the Middle East to Africa to Asia, there is a desire to learn how we do the things on this list. Training can focus on authorship, publication workflows, business models, and more. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 🌍. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 💰 😈.
  87. Fund academia. Some academic publishers are affiliated with universities, and provide direct funding. Others provide funding assistance through scholarships or unrestricted grants, or through matching funds. SSP provides grants to students, for example, through its travel grants program. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🏛 🔬 😇. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😈 🌍.
  88. Review and revisit pricing. Aside from annual rollover budgets, publishers have to constantly re-forecast and create projections based on changes in the market. New product development, funding of upgrades and infrastructure, hiring new personnel into new roles, and many other functions require financial projections, which can lead to price increases or decreases, depending on the situation. Like every organization, publishers want to be around for a long time, and that requires planning. When business models overlap (e.g., APCs and site licenses), things get complicated. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: High. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 📖 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😇 ✍️ 🌍.
  89. Maintain facilities. Publishers have to live somewhere, and often the expectation is that they have inspiring and impressive offices. It’s part of the prestige factor so important to the mutual aspirations of authors and editors as well. These should be at least as nice as the universities where so many work, or so it seems. Uniqueness: Low. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 🔧.
  90. Engage in product development. Things change. Little changes like the Internet or the iPhone drive product changes. This goes beyond tinkering, as product development encompasses many disciplines — user-centered design, financial planning, marketing, strategy, and technology. In some cases, entire new product suites are developed and launched, as well. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 📖 😈 🌍. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧.
  91. Experiment with new technologies. Tinkering is important, too, and publishers have done it forever — from printing press innovations to the 1980s and early database products to the 1990s and browsers to the 2000s and podcasts to Kindles to mobile to PowerPoints to RSS, publishers have been tinkering with new technologies. Today, experimentation is roiling the marketplace, with startups, acquisitions, and major new initiatives, to the benefit of the overall scholarly communication system. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 📖 🌍 😈 🔧. Secondary beneficiary(ies): ✍️.
  92. Host preprints. A new area of endeavor is the preprint, and the past two years have seen many disciplines jump on this bandwagon. The platforms, branding, functionality, and strategic fit all need to be assessed, and without a clear business model, publishers front the costs for these while they figure out the value proposition. Uniqueness: High. Value: Unknown. Importance: Unclear. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 🔬. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😈.
  93. Conduct market research. How the market feels and changes informs many aspects of editorial and business planning, and success stories are becoming more common, increasing the interest in new and ongoing initiatives to understand customers of all types. Uniqueness: Low. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 📖 ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  94. Conduct renewal and retention marketing. Marketing and sales go hand in hand. Renewals keep the audience in place for future authors to reach. As marketing has moved online, new technologies have created new capabilities, requiring new measurement and management approaches. Uniqueness: Low. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 📖 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 😇 🌍.
  95. Conduct new customer marketing. Growing the audience is also important, no matter the business model employed. SEM (covered above), social, email, and online marketing are all becoming more sophisticated, and the space is competitive. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 📖 ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  96. Create, manage, and monitor customer data stores and databases. Customer data has become central to publishers, whether those customers are authors, institutions, members, agents, advertisers, or individuals. As new players and requirements emerge, and new data sources are developed, supplementing customer data becomes a new requirement to remain leading-edge and relevant. New rules will make maintaining these data even more demanding and valuable. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 📖.
  97. Buy and rent lists for various email and snail-mail marketing initiatives. To grow the audience, marketing experts have to source and secure lists of potential customers, and track results over time. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 📖 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧.
  98. Creative, A/B testing, renewal monitoring. Marketing is a complex basket of activities, and variable from publisher to publisher. Who is marketed to (authors, readers, researchers, institutions, editors), the terms and goals, and the creative used, along with how the results are tagged, flagged, and assessed, all require teams of people across disciplines — artists, copywriters, designers, technologists, and management. Uniqueness: High. Value: High. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 📖 ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔬.
  99. Comply with privacy, email CAN-SPAM, GDPR, and other regulations affecting publishing. There are a lot of standards and rules about online advertising and marketing, and publishers know and live by these. In 2018, GDPR is all the buzz as the EU strengthens rules and enforcement around online privacy. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: High. Primary beneficiary(ies): 📖 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  100. Pay for and comply with terms of publisher insurance policies. Yes, authors can do things that make it even riskier for publishers presenting new findings to the world on their behalf, so we buy insurance. Uniqueness: High. Value: Moderate. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 📖 ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  101. Work together to solve more general access and fairness issues. As pointed out in a post by Alice Meadows, publishers have a great track record of working together to solve perceived inequities or general problems, from DOIs to CrossRef to CrossCheck to HINARI to Research4Life to INASP to free access to low-income countries to FundRef to CHORUS to Dryad to CASRAI to ORCID, publishers generally aspire to fairness and accessibility, and have created an admirable legacy of working to implement these aspirations. There are also initiatives to improve accessibility for those with disabilities, although we can do moreUniqueness: High. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): 🔬 ✍️ 📖 ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): 🔧 🌍.
  102. Benchmark and compare notes. Publishers like to check in with other publishers to make sure we’re not falling behind, to get advice when the going gets rough, and to see if there are better ways to do things. We attend meetings and webinars to remain on the forefront. In a rapidly changing environment, the time needed to do this is increasing. Uniqueness: Moderate. Value: Moderate to high. Importance: Moderate to high. Primary beneficiary(ies): ✂️ 😈. Secondary beneficiary(ies): ✍️ 🌍.

Here is also a tally of the 102 things by primary stakeholder value, counting how many different things might help out each (these counts do not include secondary value indicators):

  • authors ✍️  = 74
  • editors and reviewers ✂️ = 38
  • funders 💰  = 4
  • institutions 🏛  = 6
  • librarians 😇  = 11
  • publishers 😈  = 57
  • readers 📖  = 54
  • researchers 🔬 = 51
  • service providers 🔧 = 5
  • society 🌍  = 18

In the big picture, having publishers doing these things means that scientists, institutional administrators, and policymakers don’t have to do them and can focus on doing their own complex jobs. Publishers represent a set of trades and associated professionals who do all these things on their behalf.

Any updates you’d like to propose for next time? The comments thread is open below.

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.


14 Thoughts on "Focusing on Value — 102 Things Journal Publishers Do (2018 Update)"

What is really encouraging is that given the advances in technology and the wide range of ancillary service providers, commercial publishers are, in many cases, no longer needed to provide these advantages, allowing the author and/or academic institution to retain ownership and control of the content and benefit financially.

It’s surprising after hours and hours assembling, reviewing, revising, and crafting this list, and after many other versions have been seen by thousands of people, to find a response like this as the first comment. One purpose of this list is to illustrate the functions required for quality publication of research of all types, and that institutions and researchers have found it useful to outsource these to publishers. So, you have missed the point.

There is also the issue that the system is better having a third-party with independent revenues reviewing research claims. If the authors and institutions were in charge, they might have conflicts of interest, already enough of an issue without adding the direct financial incentives you note.

I will also point out the naïveté of your notion that technology is cheaper or non-human. Ask anyone running a technology company, and their biggest expense line item will consistently be salaries. Technology is people in disguise.

May I suggest that you re-read my comments. You indicate ‘One purpose of this list is to illustrate the functions required for quality publication of research of all types, and that institutions and researchers have found it useful to outsource these to publishers”. I have, in all my naïveté, simply stated that many academics and their supporting institions, have discovered that they can obtain many of these tools, resources and services, outside of the realm of ‘traditional’ (read ‘commercial’) publishers. I think that you have missed the point.

Also, where in my comments have I said anything about technology being cheaper? I did not even mention the issue. I stated that as independenet authors and academic institutions can retain ownership and control of the content and benefit financially.

Your point regarding conflicts of interest is amusing. I think that starting tomorrow, all academic book authors, for example, should now sign over their meagre royalties to ensure complete independence. University presses should also revert their income to external publishers, to ensure independence as well. Commercial publishers are of course never guilty of conflicts of interest in all their business dealings, paragons of virtue that they are!

I would be happy to have you list a more efficient stack of services that do these 102+ things. You claim these can all be gotten outside the realm of “traditional” — but how, exactly, without inflating costs? The vertical integration of a publisher is an efficiency in and of itself.

I read into your comment that you certainly must see benefits to leveraging technology in place of publishers, with cost being the most likely. I was mistaken. You may not have thought about the cost elements, so I wanted to point out that any technology costs are usually highly aligned with the costs of hiring the people to make and sustain the technology. There’s no escaping that currently.

This list covers journals, not books, to your last point. As for university presses, there are fine ones that produce fine journals, but they are usually firewalled from the academy in some meaningful way. As I said, conflicts are enough of a concern now, so I see no reason to introduce financial incentives on a greater scale for those producing the content. There should be independent financing of adjudicators of quality, novelty, and importance so that they are not beholden to the self-interests of authors and their institutions.

As an employee of a not-for-profit university press that has been continuously publishing for more than 500 years, I find using the term “traditional” to refer to “commercial” publishers a bit odd. Further, I don’t think the sea change you’re declaring actually exists — universities and institutions have long been aware of and taken advantage of their ability to publish independently without relying on commercial publishers (see a list of 140 here for example

Note that university presses expend great effort on building firewalls between their editorial practices and their host universities. Any UP that favors their host university authors over other authors loses credibility and becomes more of a “house organ” than a reliable arbiter of the literature.

And regarding your proposal that universities claim ownership over all researcher intellectual efforts in a work-for-hire manner, I suspect that would lead to riots on campus.

A less dramatic but more realistic scenario, I think, would be this: a campus decides that it’s going to treat all faculty publications as works for hire. Legally speaking, there’s no reason it couldn’t do this; in fact, one could argue that it’s a bit odd it didn’t happen long ago. So that campus does so, and immediately experiences a massive brain drain as its best professors all leave for campuses that don’t treat their publications as works for hire.

The only way to prevent this scenario (in the US, anyway) would be for all university campuses to simultaneously declare faculty publications works for hire. Then you’d see the riots.

One of the universities where I did research touted their very liberal intellectual property policies to lure in top faculty. Knowing that you would retain ownership in your patents and could get financial help from the university for your spin-off company was a huge competitive advantage in recruiting.

Who is proposing that UPs favour in house content over content created externally? Retaining legal ownership and control of content does not imply that an objective and blind vetting of quality cannot take place within the broader Academic community, without the need for ‘commercial’ (as you prefer the term over ‘traditional’…..which may be the case in terms of age but not market share) profit leaching.

Let’s all try to consider new publishing paradigms to move us forward and leave the Elseviers, Springers’ and Sage’s etc behind as a bad memory.

While I agree with you that externalizing the review process is more likely to result in a more reliable review process than keeping it in-house, for-profit publishers are far from immune from conflicts of interest that encourage shoddy research and impede more accurate discoveries. In fact, we’ve seen this play out in the alarming frequency of retractions. Academia and the advancement of knowledge suffer when for-profit journals prioritize bombastic papers and shocking results over more modest advances and (perish the thought) replication studies. Profit as a sole or significant driving motivator for publication can hamper progress as, or perhaps more, effectively as in-house favoritism might, and we should closely and skeptically examine the roles that capitalist structures (such as for-profit academic journals) play in academic discourse.

Let’s add “facilitate discovery through providing industry standard metadata and cultivating relationships with discovery and A&I services” somewhere in there!

I am not clear on these uniqueness-value-importance criteria. I know that these are just indicators, and given the length of the list probably not useful in detail, but what was your general approach to that? Value and importance to whom?
I am trying to understand why plagiarism detection (15) got usually low value, conflicts of interest (29) – variable and editorial policies (30) – high?
I mean, plagiarism is an offense if not a crime, conflicts of interest trigger retractions if not reported, whereas an article that is too long, figure that is unclear, statistics that is inadequate…well, it’s a bit annoying, but doesn’t matter that much. So where is the value?

Thank you for this post – it made me muse on the list of N things PhD students should do, according to one or another party – and X things that they really do. I think I would beat you on numbers, if not on value…

The beneficiaries are listed after each entry. In the case of plagiarism detection, the value of using services for that is usually low because plagiarism is unusual to rare. But when it occurs, the value of having checked for it can be high. For conflicts of interest (“variable”), in some fields these don’t matter much, but in others they can matter a lot.

The value to readers, subsequent researchers, and others when these things are done right can be high.

Viewed from the perspective of someone who has edited a mid-ranked OA journal for 15 years with no APCs, while working as a full time academic and with one volunteer co-editor, I went through the list. I was not completely exhaustive, but I think in the world we now live in is one where the high-price commercial publishers are absolutely dominating journal ownership from engineering across to social sciences (not so much in humanities) and are charging big prices for subscriptions and APCs. We can pretty much do without the rapacious ones.

There is now a movement to support that claim: radicalopenaccess, and others. I like publishers, and I still work (for free) as associate ed. or board member for some of their journals in my field, but I am disturbed by the big payouts to some CEOs, the crippling of university libraries with $1m+ big deals (often secret), the corporate mergers and the loss of the niche firms that academics love, and the hijacking of the OA ethos by instituting fat APCs instead. And academic societies getting into bed with the ‘big five’ is a lose-lose situation for all (brilliant analysis by gifted analysts – Coomes O. T., Moore, T. R., & Breau, S. (2017) The price of journals in geography. The Professional Geographer 69(2) 251–262.

Positives in favor of publishers include running the search and indexing facilities – an academic with a laptop can’t do all of that (maybe library consortia could, but you could stress point this on your list). Mostly my beef is with the big commercials, but there are some annoying small publishers out there, also uncommitted to social justice publishing, plus the hundreds of predatories (who are there because academic publishing is a lucrative business, if you play it right). Can we do without academic publishers entirely? Well, I think librarians are keen to take over some functions, so are academics. Major publishers may be needed in the high-volume, high-grant availability fields like medicine and certain sciences, just to keep pace, but elsewhere I am not sure. For me to get one of my 8,000 word articles into a reputable OA journal, I don’t need a commercial publisher anymore. To publish another person’s text as editor of a journal, and have it available OA, I don’t need many commercial service at all. Maybe we could agree on a few points, but only if we are talking about a different consideration of value in publishing – to transmit knowledge, not to make a big profit. So, from my everyday life as an editor (who also teaches and researches and supervises PhDs a lot), there is a lot to comment on.:

1) Audience/field detection and cultivation can be done by academics. They are the “field” after all.
2) ISSN and DOI; did not find this difficult, although librarians helped with DOI. (librarians – how do they fit into this list?) 3) Branding: we are anti-brand. No point of promoting one if your journal is not selling anything. 4) make money and remain constant over time – making money is irrelevant if no employees. Time = money of course, but we carve out a small percentage of our existing jobs to publish and remain ‘reliable’ publishers. Or, we are retired or outside regular work, still doing it with a passion! 5) Plan ahead? never really considered it. Flooded with manuscripts, just upgraded all the OJS software, many volunteers willing to contribute. 6) reputation – with no budget at all, we are already higher in citescore than most journals in our field. 7) new initiatives – we just run a journal. No commercial pressures to expand or change very much. 8) n/a. just update to new version of OJS. 9) swamped with good papers, from masters students to doyens. Solicitation of materials – that is what we do as editors occasionally. 10) rejection – job of academic editor, not publisher, surely. 11) Cascading manuscripts – don’t do it, nowhere to cascade to, don’t really approve. 12) Acceptance of submissions – I just write the author an email with referee comments attached. 13-14) on OJS 15) plagiarism – we have university access to the big commercial checkers we use for assignments, but an extremely rare event in our field. 16) we just use CCBY. Anything else is inferior. 17) it is us. 18, 20) Reviewers – academics know who to ask, and you can interact with them in a sophisticated way since they are all in the same ‘pool’ of younger and older colleagues, golbally 23) getting good editors – that’s us already, we don’t need much training, or we train successors. 24-25) the DIY sector rarely holds editorial or board meetings – work is largely online. 26-33) mostly n/a, or stuff we cover ourselves. 34, 35) – copyediting – We do this extensively, for free, much more extensively than anybody but a professional editor familiar with the topic could do. 36-38) n.a. 39) Layup is in word>PDF. That’s it. 40) n/a. 41-42) n/a 43) “Contracts with large publishers are more common as the industry consolidates” Oh no, red flag well and truly raised. Did I really see that slip in without a comment? This is what we are trying to resist. None of them are going to get their hands on our journals – unless they offer OA with no APCs. 44) tagging- sounds like something to resist. unnecessary work in the free OA sector 45) – this point on DOI was already mentioned in 2. 46-50) we do not bother with any of these. 51) actual publishing – do it ourselves via uploads. 52-55) N/a. 56-59) not greatly important. 59) is n/a. 60), Archiving is worth considering. Sometimes it costs money though. We use a major university library that already has a subscription to clockss 61-62) OJS has these features. …… 71) no financial records to protect. 75-78) n/a 79) Education role about publishing – See my article suggesting a radical change to the way we work. 80) ” Because these Board members often come from academia, they can bring a cloud of negativity toward publishers with them.” I wonder why! 87) publishers can fund academia – yes they do, by overcharging our libraries or us (through $3000 APCs) in the first place, then offering small sums for organizing journal sponsored conferences or small research grants? 89) Need to keep up appearances with nice offices – My journal has no office – it is produced on a small laptop. The laptop is the office and there are no employees, and no need for any type of status . 90s) – marketing. n/a, don’t need most of these. 101) “publishers generally aspire to fairness and accessibility” ….not if they are major profit-driven ones. The large one are very guilty of overcharging, as Robert Maxwell at Pergamon taught the subsequent generation, very effectively as we all know to our cost.

Thank you for bringing awareness of the things going behind in the publication process. I think one important missing parameters in the 102 things is, time consumed.

Comments are closed.