Last week John Wiley & Sons announced its acquisition of open access (OA) publisher Hindawi Limited for $298M. While this announcement sparked several questions and conversations in the industry, it was perceived by most to be quite a logical and somewhat intuitive move. Wiley and Hindawi have been partners for years, allowing them to develop a clear understanding of each other’s capabilities and cultures. Wiley has made a commitment to OA publishing and the acquisition of Hindawi significantly increases the Wiley portfolio of OA journals, increases Wiley’s penetration in Asia, and brings with it both a small society partnership program and an established and evolving technology platform.

But as is the case with any acquisition, it raises a number of questions: What were Wiley’s motivations in acquiring Hindawi? How will Hindawi and its assets be managed once the acquisition is complete? How might this deal impact society publishers, researchers, and open research overall?

Last week we were able to pose some of these questions to Judy Verses, Executive Vice President, Wiley Research and Liz Ferguson, Vice President, Open Research, Wiley Research. Here’s what they had to say.

Judy, you have said disruption is good for business and good for the industry. The increasing move toward open research is certainly transforming the publishing industry, especially in the past year with Plan S and COVID-19. In your view, how has open research impacted the publishing industry and Wiley’s mission?

Judy: I’ve never seen a great business model not be disrupted. At Wiley, we force ourselves to look around the corner, even if it takes us out of our comfort zone, to continue adapting and evolving to meet customer needs. That pattern is evident with Wiley’s recent acquisitions — zyBooks, Knewton Alta, Atypon, and now Hindawi. These companies have technology as a core part of their DNA and are focused on providing solutions and adapting to the needs of researchers, learners, educators, societies, and institutions.

This transformation toward open research has really added oxygen to our thinking about who we are serving and what they are trying to accomplish. We believe the acquisition of Hindawi allows us to drive the global research community forward faster into a new era defined by open science and international collaboration.

We believe the acquisition of Hindawi allows us to drive the global research community forward faster into a new era defined by open science and international collaboration.

How does the Hindawi acquisition fit into Wiley’s open research strategy?

Judy: The answer is simple. Together we can do more. We can drive more value for researchers and take research communication to a new plateau in terms of author experience and research impact.

Our mission is to advance open research principles. Since our agreement with Projekt DEAL 2 years ago, we continue to expand our open access offerings through transitional agreements at the institutional, consortia, country and regional level. The Hindawi acquisition should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that we believe in the future of open access.

Asia is a significant market for Wiley’s business. How important was Hindawi’s penetration in Asia to the acquisition?

Judy: We have a fantastic team in China, and we’re continuing to grow our commitment and partnership with Chinese research institutes and government stakeholders all the time.

Wiley really believes that partnership is the way forward for our industry, recently evidenced through our partnership with the Chinese Medical Association Publishing House to support and amplify their high-quality research. Hindawi shares this commitment to partnering and it’s driven a lot of their success in China. We have complementary cultures, people and business models and that, above all else, was important to the acquisition rationale.

Scholarly Kitchen readers know how important a role China plays in the world of research and therefore scholarly publishing. It has surpassed the US in recent years, and in an increasing number of disciplines is undoubtedly the global leader. Hindawi had the foresight to launch and develop journals that reflect strengths in the China research space. Similar to Wiley, Hindawi identified early on how important it was to serve the needs of China-based researchers. Bringing together our two teams now means we have an even stronger position to be able to work to the needs of those researchers.

Hindawi had the foresight to launch and develop journals that reflect strengths in the China research space. Similar to Wiley, Hindawi identified early on how important it was to serve the needs of China-based researchers.

Could you describe the plan for integrating Hindawi into the Wiley business?

Liz: Paul Peters and his team are joining the Wiley’s Research business, bringing together some of the world’s best thinking in open access publishing strategy and delivery to further innovation. And we already have a great working relationship with the team at Hindawi, because we’ve been their partner for more than 4 years.

We’ll be making sure that Hindawi and Wiley colleagues get as many opportunities as possible to engage with and learn from one another. Over the past 10 years, at Wiley, we’ve built very similar-sized open access programs, but we’ve gone about it in different ways. We’ll be looking to preserve the characteristics and culture that have driven the success of Hindawi, while bringing all the benefits that our organization can. We’ll also seek to keep growing our open access programs – with partners, through our independent portfolios, and through joined efforts that will see the combined organization deliver much more than the sum of its parts.

We’ll be looking to preserve the characteristics and culture that have driven the success of Hindawi, while bringing all the benefits that our organization can. We’ll also seek to keep growing our open access programs

What does the acquisition mean to the Hindawi brand? Will it continue?

Liz: Right now, Hindawi’s journals will continue to be hosted on their platform under the Hindawi brand, and Wiley OA journals will remain on Wiley platforms under the Wiley brand, so that we ensure we maintain continuity of experience and journal recognition for authors and others in the near term. In the coming year, we will explore how best to align the two journal portfolios; and of course, any decisions we make will be focused on positioning both Wiley and Hindawi for growth.

What about integration from a sales perspective? Will Hindawi’s journals be made available to transformative agreement customers such as DEAL, Bibsam, and JISC or other read and publish agreements? How might the acquisition affect revenue splits for society publishers?

Liz: We won’t be including Hindawi journals in our transitional agreements, so there’s no impact on our society partners as a consequence. It’s also reasonable to imagine some of Hindawi’s partners might want to remain independent of pre-existing Wiley-negotiated agreements. This is also a pragmatic decision: as you can imagine, Hindawi’s own systems aren’t capable of handling the requirements of transitional agreements (they’ve never had to manage them as an OA-only publisher), and there would be an extremely challenging amount of work to do in order to tie in Hindawi’s systems with our own. Hindawi will continue to work with the OA Switchboard, which also had support independently from Wiley, of course.

We won’t be including Hindawi journals in our transitional agreements, so there’s no impact on our society partners as a consequence.

Are you considering using Hindawi’s workflow tools to support the workflows of existing Wiley journals? 

Liz: Hindawi’s Phenom platform was created for gold OA, and has a purpose-built, efficient, and author-centric workflow and platform, while Wiley’s platform also caters to hybrid journals and other business models. We’ve made some major investments in author and funder services and are continuing to do so. Over time, we will find opportunities to bring the platforms closer together, and while we do we will keep investing in both Hindawi’s platform and Wiley’s Research publishing workflow and technology infrastructure to ensure they become best in class in their respective fields.

Putting puzzle pieces together on sky background

Will Hindawi’s technology development efforts, including Open Source Manuscript Submission and Peer Review Platform Phenom, continue independent of Wiley technology, or will it shift into the Wiley-owned Atypon portfolio of platforms?

Liz: We are committed to keeping Phenom open source and are looking forward to continuing to invest in that platform. At this time, there are no plans to integrate Hindawi’s technology with Atypon’s or Wiley’s platforms. We’re really excited though about the potential range of options we can now offer to publishing partners – everything from full publishing services with either Wiley or Hindawi, to the white-label service that Phenom offers to those wishing to remain entirely independent, and everything in between.

We are committed to keeping Phenom open source and are looking forward to continuing to invest in that platform.

Will Hindawi’s white label publisher service model continue and perhaps expand?

Liz: Yes to both.  As many of your readers will know, Wiley has been one of Hindawi’s publishing partners since 2016 and it’s been a great overall experience. Hindawi fills an important role in the partnership landscape, with unique offerings such as a jointly managed journal service, where publishers retain editorial and marketing control, but use the Hindawi platform to launch and manage the titles on. It’s a great way for publishers and societies to innovate and manage their financial risk.

When Elsevier acquired Aries there was a lot of concern re editorial data firewall. Given the Hindawi partnerships w SAGE, CUP, etc….what will Wiley put in place to address re these same concerns?

Liz: As you’d expect, we’ve already started discussions and have further meetings lined up with Hindawi’s publishing partners. Having worked with hundreds of societies over many years, and having acquired Atypon in the recent past, we understand the importance that partners are reassured their business and other confidential data are respected and protected, and we will work to ensure that is the case.

Because of all of this, our OA strategy has been gaining speed and traction specifically in the last few years where we’ve made tremendous progress by working with funders and universities to help drive this change.

Judy and Liz, any final thoughts on the future of open research in a post-pandemic world?

At the end of the day, we believe that the trends point our industry towards a more open future, where Gold OA, preprints, and transparency of data, methods, and peer-review will continue to grow in importance and amplify the impact of research globally.

Because of all of this, our OA strategy has been gaining speed and traction specifically in the last few years where we’ve made tremendous progress by working with funders and universities to help drive this change. So, the way we see it, this acquisition is another example of Wiley’s commitment to OA and to an Open Science future, especially, as you mention, in the COVID-19 era.

Together with Hindawi, Wiley is proud to continue our commitment to drive the global research community forward by investing and innovating in research publishing, especially as we celebrate our tenth year in gold OA publishing in 2021.

Ann Michael

Ann Michael

Ann Michael is Founder and CEO of Delta Think, focused on strategy and innovation in scholarly communications. Throughout her career she has gained broad exposure to society and commercial scholarly publishers, librarians and library consortia, funders, and researchers. As an ardent believer in data informed decision-making, Ann was instrumental in the 2017 launch of the Delta Think Open Access Data & Analytics Tool, which tracks and assesses the impact of open access uptake and policies on the scholarly communications ecosystem. Additionally, Ann has served as Chief Digital Officer at PLOS, charged with driving execution and operations as well as their overall digital and supporting data strategy.

Discussion

1 Thought on "Wiley Acquires Hindawi: An Interview with Judy Verses and Liz Ferguson"

Great interview. It touches on so many pressing issues like scholarly publishing in Asia, open access, cross-national/cultural integration.
One of the needs of China-based researchers is to remain in good standing with the CCP government. It would be interesting to hear more about what questions and priorities that brings into the discussion as one negotiates operating in two very different spheres.

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