Peak Subscription

Since the late 1990s there have been two drivers of growth in STM and scholarly publishing: site licensing and global expansion. As successful as these activities have been, however, we appear to be nearing, if not a peak, at least a plateau. Institutional library budgets have not kept pace with the growth in global research output. At the same time, institutional market penetration is nearing saturation for many publishers.

So the question is, where is the growth going to come from?

Data Detectives: Investigating What is, and What is Not, Measured

Businesses are using more data than ever to inform decision making. While the truly large Big Data may be limited to the likes of Google, Amazon, and Facebook, publishers are nonetheless managing more data than ever before. While the technical challenges may be less daunting with smaller data sets, there remain challenges in interpreting data and in using it to make informed decisions. Perhaps the most daunting challenge is in understanding the limitations of the dataset: What is being measured and, just as importantly, what is not being measured? What inferences and conclusions can be drawn and what is mere conjecture? Where are the bricks and mortar solid and where does the foundation give way beneath our feet?

The End of an Era for Academia.edu and Other Academic Networks?

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Elsevier has issued a sweeping series of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) take down notices regarding Elsevier-published content to Academia.edu, a file-sharing network for researchers and other academics.

This has prompted a storm in the Twittersphere, a response from Elsevier, a number of commentaries on blogs and list-serves, and a truly bizarre article from CNET. Academia.edu for its part is reportedly encouraging authors of affected papers to sign this Elsevier boycott petition despite the fact that their own terms of use prohibit the posting of content that infringes on the copyright or license of publishers such as Elsevier.

Is this a footnote or the end of a chapter in the annals of digital science publishing?

Professional Associations and the Strategy Gap

Given the pace of technological change, new sources of professional information and community, the increasing competition for attention, shifting demographics, and an uncertain economy, an effective strategy is more important than ever. While most commercial organizations have developed strategic frameworks, and many now have leadership roles dedicated to strategy, not-for-profit organizations tend to focus less on these activities. While some of this “strategy gap” may be due to relative resource scarcity and its associated time pressures , there are also structural and governance issues at play, particularly in the case of professional associations. These challenges are not insurmountable, however. Professional associations can close the strategy gap by incorporating this series of steps into their strategy development and implementation processes.

What Can Publishers Learn from Indie Rock?

While the recording industry generally gets a bad rap for managing the transition to online distribution, there is one niche that has flipped the model and uses old distribution techniques to sell music across multiple formats. That niche is indie rock and there are some lessons for publishers.