Back in 2019, I declared that our community was entering “The Great Acceleration“, a period of rapid change, and where 2020 was a year where the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic introduced enough chaos to sidetrack some of that progress, 2021 saw things back on pace as the ground beneath us continued to shift toward our next stage of being. I’ve been thinking a lot about life in a “liminal space“, in between what was and what’s next, and will share more thoughts on this next week during a talk at the upcoming APE 2022 meeting (now sadly an all-virtual event). The short summary of what I’ve written for the talk so far is that all the market consolidation we’ve been seeing is beginning to coalesce into some clear paths for short- and long-term futures, paths that may not exactly be what was hoped for by those driving much of the change.

Numbers 2022 and 2021 drawn on sandy beach with waves

That said, we start 2022 with a last look back to see what can be gleaned from understanding the data generated by the readers and authors at The Scholarly Kitchen.

2021 was our most-read year ever, as we saw 1,904,940 pageviews for the year, an increase of 14% over 2020 readership. We saw 899,625 visitors, again an increase over 2020, this time by around 7%. To me this increased readership reflects both a return to business in 2021, as we established routines to get us, if not back to normal at least back to work, as well as a year where there was a lot to keep up with.

We published 235 posts, 66 of which were by Guest Authors (28%), another increase from the previous year. I’ve been really happy seeing so many members of our community willing to write up and share their thoughts here, and it’s been a great route to adding more diversity to the opinions we can bring to light. Speaking of diversity (along with equity, inclusion, and accessibility), DEIA has been an ongoing focus for the Society for Scholarly Publishing and we’ve been happy to help support those efforts. This year will see us bring on board a new DEIA Editor who will both help bring in new voices on these matters, as well as raise the awareness of our existing authors (and guest authors) to ensure we’re doing a better job of meeting the community’s needs.

Our top 10 countries for readership in 2021 were (in order), the United States ( 53%), the UK, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, India, Germany, Finland, France, and Japan.

The Scholarly Kitchen’s most-read posts during 2021 were:

  1. Guest Post – MDPI’s Remarkable Growth
  2. Changes to Journal Impact Factor Announced for 2021
  3. Guest Post: Think Sci-Hub is Just Downloading PDFs? Think Again
  4. Clarivate to Acquire ProQuest
  5. Changing Journal Impact Factor Rules Creates Unfair Playing Field For Some
  6. Guest Post – An Early Look at the Impact of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Journals Warning List
  7. Understanding Experimental Controls
  8. The Biggest Big Deal 
  9. Luck, Superstitions, and Rationality — Black Cats, Broken Mirrors, Ladders, Salt, and Umbrellas
  10. A Copyediting Carol

If we limit the most-read list to posts that were published in 2021, our top posts for the year are as follows:

  1. Clarivate to Acquire ProQuest
  2. Changing Journal Impact Factor Rules Creates Unfair Playing Field For Some
  3. Guest Post – An Early Look at the Impact of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Journals Warning List
  4. The Biggest Big Deal 
  5. A Copyediting Carol
  6. Journal Citation Indicator. Just Another Tool in Clarivate’s Metrics Toolbox?
  7. What’s Wrong with Paying for Peer Review?
  8. A Media Empire for the (Public) Library? OverDrive Acquires Kanopy
  9. Is Scientific Communication Fit for Purpose?
  10. Emerging from the Pandemic: The Future of Work is Now

That’s quite a mixed bag of topics, though worth considering the few that appear more than once on the lists. In particular, metrics and the Impact Factor continue to be dominant forces in the academic community, despite long-running efforts to move away from these often-flawed tools. Mergers and acquistions were the other common factor (a look at at top posts 11-20 shows more on transformative agreements, peer review, and mergers, mergers, mergers). Our market has largely been reshaped over the last few years with the reinforced dominance of a small number of powerful players.

I expect to see more of the same in 2022, as we move toward an open access future where scale is the most important factor in determining success. January is shaping up to be a scary month in terms of the ongoing pandemic, but hope springs eternal, and maybe by the Spring we’ll get a chance to meet in person once again.

Happy New Year.

David Crotty

David Crotty

David Crotty is a Senior Consultant at Clarke & Esposito, a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic issues related to professional and academic publishing and information services. Previously, David was the Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press. He oversaw journal policy across OUP’s journals program, drove technological innovation, and served as an information officer. David acquired and managed a suite of research society-owned journals with OUP, and before that was the Executive Editor for Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, where he created and edited new science books and journals, along with serving as a journal Editor-in-Chief. He has served on the Board of Directors for the STM Association, the Society for Scholarly Publishing and CHOR, Inc., as well as The AAP-PSP Executive Council. David received his PhD in Genetics from Columbia University and did developmental neuroscience research at Caltech before moving from the bench to publishing.


2 Thoughts on "The Year in Review: 2021 in The Scholarly Kitchen"

thanks David and all the chefs, excellent work, and interesting Top 10’s – I have a new years resolution to also write a guest post for you 😉

You always publish most relevant piece of the content related to Publishing Industry. I would also suggest having a monthly theme around which there should be a live webinar followed by Q&A getting responses and suggestions from the community. Best of luck for 2022!!

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