An Open Access Town Hall
Presented at Frankfurt Book Fair 2016
- Betsy Donohue, Digital Science
- Alice Meadows, ORCID
- Brandon Nordin, American Chemical Society
- Vitek Tracz, F1000
- Kate Worklock, Outsell
for podcast release Monday, October 31, 2016
KENNEALLY: Fundamental to scholarly publishing – as the originator, the creator of valued content – is the researcher. The researcher once lay in the shadows but is forgotten no more. A good deal of the credit goes to the rise of open access business models, particularly the management of article processing charges, which add the role of customer to the role of creator. This shift has sparked a wave of entrepreneurism among publishers as well as third-party players, prompting a range of new service offerings that enhance the user experience, build community and brand loyalty, and generate new revenues.
To discuss those points, I want to welcome – first, again, welcome back to the panel, Vitek Tracz, the founder of BioMed Central. To his right, we have Kate Worlock with Outsell. Kate, welcome. Kate Worlock is vice president and lead analyst at Outsell, a global research and advisory firm focusing on information media, technology and data. She is an executive-level advisor to many of Outsell’s publishers’ clients, and she has served on the content division board of the Software and Information Industry Association as well as on the board of the data committee of the Professional Publishers Association in the UK.
And on the far end there, Betsy Donohue. Betsy, welcome. Betsy Donohue is vice president, publisher business development at Digital Science, which is a global media company operated by the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group. Digital Science is a technology company serving the needs of scientific research. Its network of companies and projects include Figshare, ReadCube, and Altmetric, among many others. Betsy joined Digital Science in 2013 and has nearly 20 years’ experience in the publishing industry.
To my left here is Alice Meadows. Alice, welcome. Alice is director of community engagement and support for ORCID, whose vision is a world where all who participate in research, scholarship, and innovation are uniquely identified and connected with their contributions and affiliations across disciplines, borders, and time. Alice was recently elected to the board of the Society for Scholarly Publishing for the second time, and she blogs regularly for Scholarly Kitchen.
And at the very far end, on my left here, is Brandon Nordin. Brandon, welcome. Brandon is senior vice president, sales, marketing, and digital strategy, for the American Chemical Society. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society. Brandon leads ACS publications efforts in growing global revenue and market share, building preference for ACS brands and products, and accelerating the adoption of emerging digital publishing.
Again, welcome to all of you. I’d like to start with this discussion around open access and the entrepreneurial publisher by giving people a sense of the market. Kate, I want to turn to you, because that’s the expertise of Outsell. You’ve looked at this market, and perhaps – my impression is that for all of the talk about open access, which we do a lot about at Copyright Clearance Center, it’s really punching above its weight. As much of an impact as BioMed Central has had within the scheme of STM publishing, it’s still a relatively small slice of the pie. Tell us more.
WORLOCK: Yeah, that’s true. We have a number of reports that look at the size of the STM publishing market in general and then the size of the open access market. We found in our most recent study that the STM market is about $27 billion globally in 2015. Of that, the journals market is about $7 billion. Open access revenues were around $335 million in 2015. That makes it about 5% of the journals market. That’s up from about 4% in 2014. So there’s been a certain amount of growth, but it’s still only, at this point, about 5% of the total market in revenue terms.
KENNEALLY: And what has happened though, I think, in the last few years is that this has gone from being a fairly novel piece of scholarly publishing to really an established part of a spectrum of business models. I wonder if you can kind of put that in perspective as well. We’ve seen tremendous growth rates but perhaps a kind of slowing of that growth rate. Have we kind of plateaued? Where do you think this is?
WORLOCK: Yeah. I don’t think we’re quite at plateau stage yet, but we’ve seen growth in 2012 to 2013 of almost 50%. That’s slowed now to about 15% a year. So we certainly still aren’t at the stage of being flat growth, but certainly coming down from those heights. And that reflects some of the data that we see from DOAJ, for example, which showed about 11 –
KENNEALLY: The Directory of Open Access Journals.
WORLOCK: – yeah, which showed about 11% growth rate over the last year. And really I think now we’re starting to see growth more from the launch of new open access journals rather than from the hybridization – that’s an awful word, so sorry for mangling the English language – for either moving towards hybrid journals or switching subscription journals into an open access model. So the growth now I think we’re seeing is more from the launch of new OA journals rather than any kind of switching activities.
KENNEALLY: Right. And then there are the third parties that lie directly outside of the publishing world, and we’ll hear about some of that in just a moment, who have begun to really address the central issue, which is that the author is now the customer. This has really been important to the development of open access.
WORLOCK: Sure. I think that’s right. It’s certainly something that Vitek referred to, with authors being readers and authors simultaneously. So simply being able to facilitate access as effectively as possible, I think, is one of the driving forces that he was discussing. That continues to be of crucial importance.
KENNEALLY: Right. Brandon Nordin, I want to turn to you next and talk about the experience at ACS, which is really quite remarkable, because you’ve had a number of significant OA-related initiatives in the last couple of years. And they’ve been successful, and they’ve, I think, allowed the entire workforce – the staff at ACS – to begin to think in new ways. That kind of entrepreneurialism that Vitek Tracz kind of pioneered in open access has now found its way into ACS.
NORDIN: Yeah. I’m not sure it was entrepreneurialism as much as from a forced migration, but I do think there was a period where all the language around open access was owned by the revolutionists talking about disturbing the powers that be in publishing.
I think when it became apparent to many publishers that there was – thanks in many cases to some of the experiences that pioneers like Vitek have done – that it was actually a business model as opposed to a faith-based organization, the publishers saw that, wow, we can actually serve our community in different ways. And I think that’s where – we’re all very much in the experimental phase. Certainly our experience at ACS has been basically our open access, whether you look at just number of manuscripts or – it’s still only about 5%, between 3% to 5% of our manuscripts being published.
What’s most interesting, though, is fully 50% of our open access manuscripts are coming from areas where it’s truly a funded mandate, so typically northern Europe. So you have a disproportionate application where you actually have a pool of funds that are there.
KENNEALLY: OK. But we heard Kate Worlock talk about entirely new journals that are coming into the open access arena, and you’ve got a project like that at ACS. I believe it’s Central Science.
NORDIN: Yeah. Actually we have two that we’ve launched in the last couple years. And certainly with the potential for change brought by open access, it gave us also the ability to say, well let’s do two things – one, we can really say let’s see if there’s enough room in the market for another highly selective, prestige-level journal, and that’s what Central Science goes after – a relatively small number of articles but with, we hope, a profound impact in the sciences to come. But then also, with ACS Omega, which we launched earlier this year, going into the megajournal space and seeing if we can –
KENNEALLY: Right – directly competing with PLOS.
KENNEALLY: And that’s remarkable, isn’t it? Do you ever think of yourself – I don’t suppose that PLOS thought that would ever come from ACS. It’s surprising to see these kind of players now working in the same space, isn’t it?
NORDIN: Yeah. But once you decide to go swimming, it’s hard to do it halfway wet, right? You’re in the pool and you play.
KENNEALLY: Absolutely. Alice Meadows at ORCID, one of the things that enables open access is identifiers, because in this digital space, the funders and the publishers and the authors and the customers all need to – the readers, I should say – all need to understand that open access mandates have been fulfilled, that compliance is taking place, that they’ve done things they’re supposed to be doing so they’re not endangering further research grants and so forth. Talk about the role that ORCID can play in helping to enable that – ORCID and all the other identifiers.
MEADOWS: I guess at a sort of philosophical level, ORCID is an organization that’s built on openness. So the O in ORCID stands for open. Our governance is very open. We have a public API. So as an organization, we’re very committed to openness, although we’re actually also completely business-model agnostic. Obviously we want to work with organizations from right across the spectrum. But I think philosophically we come from that kind of space.
In more practical terms, I think two challenges for open access are discoverability – I think people often think you make something open and it automatically becomes discoverable, and that’s clearly not the case – so persistent identifiers, including ORCID IDs, but also very importantly DOIs and organization IDs, funder IDs, as you say, also enable that discoverability. One of the challenges, for example, is open access articles that are deposited in institutional repository often kind of disappear there, because there’s no easy way for people to find them, and persistent identifiers make them discoverable. I think that’s one good example.
And then I think transparency is also something that’s really important, so persistent identifiers enable those really clear, unique, unambiguous connections between people, places, and things that create that transparency that allows open access to flourish.
KENNEALLY: Right. Well, Vitek Tracz has told us that if it were left to the researchers, a lot of this wouldn’t happen. They’re interested in science. And I believe that for ORCID, which is of course concerned with the researchers and their future, you’re trying to push them in this direction. This is beginning to happen. And they’re beginning to see some of the benefits here, right? So beyond the compliance piece and the transparency piece, ORCID allows for a kind of updating of information. Tell us about that.
MEADOWS: Yes. I don’t want to go too far in that direction, because there is a bit of a misconception that ORCID is a profile system, and that’s not what we are. Some record holders do use their ORCID record as a kind of profile, but we don’t collect the kind of information that your average profile system would collect. But what we do do is to enable both researchers themselves, but also, really, really importantly, their organizations to connect information about the researcher and his or her activities, works, affiliations to their record. That builds trust in the record.
So having Researcher X say I’m affiliated with this institution is helpful. But having their institution say, yes, this researcher is affiliated with us is even more helpful. And then having their publisher say, oh, and they wrote this article makes it even more helpful. So really the point about the ORCID record is not as much what the researcher him- or herself connects with it as what their organizations connect to it.
KENNEALLY: Right. And there are benefits to a variety of players – the benefits for the researchers, the funders, and so forth. But I believe you see a particular approach or a benefit that will come to the multiplatform players and some participants like Digital Science, for example. Tell us about that.
MEADOWS: Yeah. I think one of the real strengths that hasn’t necessarily been as well exploited yet as I hope it will be, and this applies to organizations like Digital Science – sorry, Betsy – a bit but also, for example, associations and other organizations that have multiple databases with essentially a lot of the same people in each of those databases but no way of matching them across those databases – so ACS, I think – I know you’re taking steps in this direction – is another good example.
What you want is to be able to say, for example, Member A over here, who’s written these articles, has also – oh, look – reviewed these articles and written this book and attended this conference and given these papers. And also really importantly, oh, look, this person isn’t a member, and yet they have done these activities. We should be – and the same, I think, across Digital Science, that at the moment, those connections haven’t necessarily been made between your different services. So I think this will be a huge value of ORCID, but right now is not being as fully exploited as hopefully it will be.
NORDIN: I think that’s one of the – I guess the real lessons of entrepreneurship. As Vitek was pointing out earlier this morning, there are either unintended or unforeseen consequences that many times take your original innovation and just bounce it into a slightly different vector. And I think it’s interesting to hear you, from sort of the founders’ perspective or the internal perspective of ORCID, talking about transparency and openness, where as a publisher, we just look at it as a UPC code for scientists and to say, yeah, it is – it’s a persistent identifier. And as long as it’s something that we can have assurance –
NORDIN: – has a high level of tie rate to the truth, it allows us to put it into our systems and our business systems to say, yes, we can now trust, when someone uses that identifier, that we can debit this account or we can credit this reputation system or whatever.
KENNEALLY: All right. But I don’t want to let the point get away that you alluded to a couple of times, which is this entrepreneurial approach, this entrepreneurial culture. What we’re trying to address here is the way that we are seeing experiments undertaken. We’re seeing people take just the kind of risks that Vitek Tracz took 15 years ago. You’ve taken risks at ACS. Is that difficult to get people moving in that direction, Brandon?
NORDIN: Well, obviously with scale in publishing – and we have gone from essentially a craft industry in the last 20 years to something which is – you know, we’re looking at really large numbers – there’s always going to be a level of inertial resistance to start with. But I also think that publishing is actually pretty good at absorbing innovations or looking at innovations that work inside the building.
So I think as a community, the STM publishing marketplace has navigated successfully the transition from print to digital compared to some of the other industries that we’ve often been compared to. The challenge is we actually have a very conservative user base, and in some cases, a conservative channel, that still apply old paradigms to the market that retard, I think, an awful lot of innovation that happens at the front end, at the end-user end. For all our focus on digital innovation, we are still basically in a PDF delivery system, where we’re taking a 19th century format that is in many cases bound by 19th century or early 21st century economics of how do we cram as much type on a page in a two-column format and six-point type and still trying to deliver that in electronic format as opposed to a more native or more engaging way.
KENNEALLY: All right. Well, from the 19th century to the 21st century, Betsy Donohue, the approach that Digital Science is taking is very much 21st century. A number of the products that are there, the projects that you are undertaking – Altmetric, for example, is really taking a 21st century approach to impact factor, to what goes beyond impact factor. And I know your own experience in publishing is to engage people, to make them a partner in a project. Why is that valuable in entrepreneurialism?
DONOHUE: Well, I think probably from my perspective – and I think this speaks to the culture of digital science as well – you have to understand and literally be on the side of the table of the publisher. That means not walking in the door to try to sell something. You want to be collaborative, and you want to provide a solution to a real problem. So I think probably the short answer from the kind of bigger digital science culture and the way that we kind of look at it is that the mission of Digital Science is to serve researchers. As long as we keep that absolutely central to what we do, anything that we do with our other partners – whether institutions or funders or publishers – as long as we keep that true, we’ll be able to represent that researcher in those different relationships.
KENNEALLY: Indeed. What’s happening, though, with products like Altmetric and Figshare is that they were designed for researchers, but their adoption is happening in the publisher space as well, so you’re clearly serving those adjacent needs there.
DONOHUE: Absolutely. Yeah. We use the term bubbled up a lot, so the Digital Science portfolio products bubbled up from the communities that they now serve. Publishers are becoming increasingly aware that their authors are their customers. And there has been this distance between the publishers and the actual authors – the actual end users. So Digital Science is trying to kind of bring that relationship closer. Altmetric is a perfect example of that. Publishers often put badges on their individual article pages, not just because it enhances their content, but their authors love it. They get really excited to see it there, and they see the immediacy of the societal impact of their work. So it kind of ticks that box of getting closer to their authors as well as better serving their end users, their readers.
KENNEALLY: And not only are the authors customers, but they’re entrepreneurs, and that’s really fascinating. What I would say to Vitek Tracz is that your efforts at BioMed Central in the late 1990s have opened up a whole world of possibilities that weren’t there before – business possibilities as much as possibilities that serve science. Would you agree?
TRACZ: Probably not. (laughter) I think ideas fly all the time. People come up with ideas. And I don’t think we particularly open – we brought some innovations that people use, but I don’t think we particularly opened up ways for – Digital Science would be here with or without open access. It’s really necessary. And ORCID is so essential and so important. Science would not survive without ORCID. It’s one of the most important new –
MEADOWS: Thank you.
TRACZ: – tools for the science to grow. So I don’t think – I can’t take on myself the responsibility for that, even though I’d like to, yeah.
KENNEALLY: But what’s interesting, though, is that interesting relationship between science and publishing. As you said yourself, they really can’t exist without each other. And Betsy, these scientists, these researchers, these authors are now so much closer to the business than they had been in the past that they perhaps are seeing opportunities.
I was just thinking, Alice Meadows, for Scholarly Kitchen, you wrote a piece at the beginning of this year – in March, I think it was – looking at what researchers need to know about publishing. The point you made at the outset, since we’re talking about authors who aren’t here, their understanding of the business is somewhat limited, and they need to better appreciate not only their place in that business but how the other parts fit together.
MEADOWS: Yeah, and vice versa. But yes, I think there is a need. We talk about ORCID as being part of the research infrastructure plumbing. None of us really needs to know exactly how that plumbing works, but we do need to have enough of an understanding of it that we can turn a tap on and off or stop our house from flooding or whatever. So I think that, yes, researchers absolutely do need some understanding. And actually much more widely than ORCID, I think that persistent identifiers are something that are being increasingly adopted and that researchers are coming across in their day-to-day life more and more. Some publishers now require ORCID IDs, for example. All – pretty much all – journal articles have DOIs.
So one of the things that we are talking about actually with a couple of other persistent identifier organizations is some training for researchers – a kind of a very basic curriculum of resources for researchers to have that better understanding. Shameless plug alert – we’re going to be talking about that at PIDapalooza in Reykjavik on November the 9th and 10th. Sorry for the commercial break. (laughter)
KENNEALLY: Brandon, Vitek just said that these things didn’t have to – they didn’t require open access to happen, that they would happen anyways. Science moves forward as publishing moves forward. What’s been the impact for your membership? That 157,000 members of ACS – they’re the most important piece of your business, aren’t they?
NORDIN: Well, interesting – it obviously depends where you sit. If I was the VP of membership for ACS, I’d say of course they are. But really, when I look at the publications business, where this year we’ll do well over 300 million searches on our system, 100 million page downloads, we’re serving a much broader marketplace than that. So I look at it saying no, the most important things are focusing on the global audience and really trying to understand where you fit in their lives as opposed to potentially trying to make them value publishing more. I tell people I love the title of publisher, but when I tell people I’m a publisher, they think I run a print shop. People have very little idea what publishing really is.
Even our scientists – you know, it took me a while to realize that yes, there’s this sort of legacy, 500-year legacy, of peer review and of the good of science. But really we think we’re in the publishing business, but we’re really in a reputation enhancement and validation business from their perspective. I think that’s where – you know, when I look at what ORCID can provide, when I look at what Figshare can do – helping scientists communicate their value is as much as important as communicate what they’re actually doing from an intrinsic knowledge standpoint.
And I think that’s where – you know, if you look around this hall, publishing is all about innovation. Whether you’re bringing a children’s book to market for the first time that was laboriously illustrated on someone’s kitchen counter or you’re coming with a publishing system, there’s an awful lot of – there’s a low barrier to risk in this market. People bring out new things all the time. It’s crossing that chasm from the Moore paradigm that’s really the challenge. And in some cases, sometimes it’s really well thought out and strategic, and sometimes it’s a lucky bounce. That’s kind of the fun part of coming to a fair like this.
KENNEALLY: Right. And certainly one of the things that’s had an impact on ACS’s approach is the globalization of this marketplace and now seeing submissions and seeing readership grow far beyond what had been the boundaries. You have now a tremendously important audience in China. Tell us about that and the impact that is having on your approach.
NORDIN: Well, I think that all publishers have had – just in the last, I think certainly, 10 years, this huge growth in opportunity both in terms of manuscripts being submitted as well as readership in markets that in many cases historically we thought of as almost giveaway markets of China, India, other parts of Asia. The challenge is saying how do we engage those communities fully? In many cases we have a vast number of submitters from an India or from a China. Building a culture of reviewers is a lot tougher, especially a knowledgeable culture there. Trying to understand what are the paradigms of both adoption – even whether it’s traditional subscription journals or in open access, the different markets are moving at different speeds.
And so I think from a publisher standpoint, we’ve opted to say, rather than try and come up with a relatively rigid series of boxes, let’s allow as much choice to happen, whether it’s authors choosing immediate or 12-month open access or libraries being able to choose from traditional subscription models to hybrid, to publishing fully open access journals like Central Science and ACS Omega, it’s still a time rife with experimentation.
KENNEALLY: Right. And further experimentation from Vitek Tracz is the announcement that F1000 made in a partnership with Wellcome to begin to publish a Wellcome journal. That is going to further develop relationships – I guess is one way to put it – because the researchers are going to be publishing their own material, working with a funder. They’ll be peer reviewing it as well. This is opening up new possibilities, isn’t it? Beyond simply the author as customer, this is now the author as reviewer, as almost editorial staff.
TRACZ: What we do with Wellcome is not a journal. I believe that journals cause harm and are not necessary anymore. Part of our objective is to move to a world where journals are no more. I think that’s a really significant, profound change in the future. It will affect publishing as a business more than anything in the last 100 years.
KENNEALLY: It will affect everyone upstairs. Absolutely.
TRACZ: It’s completely different. And I think it will happen and it needs to happen. You mentioned that publishers are in the business of validating and qualitative assessment of scientists. That’s really what happened. The problem is that the whole system of validating and assessment of a scientist is wrong. It’s biased. It’s based on impact factor. It’s completely misleading, inappropriate.
But journals do cause harm to science in a whole variety of other ways. They delay publication unnecessarily. They operate a secretive refereeing system that is open to abuse and is being abused. They create selections of articles that are not appropriate to the needs of science. And they are not needed. Readers don’t need to use journals anymore. Readers can get to any articles they want to be very efficient and effective services. Journals only exist because authors need them for their brownie points derived from the impact factor. It’s inappropriate brownie points – a bad, misleading thing.
So what we do with Wellcome is not a journal, and it’s not a journal mainly because it makes no selection. The moment you remove selection, you remove the sense of a journal. A journal cannot exist without selection. So it’s a new system. It’s another scheme of publishing. It’s immediate publishing, like a preprint. It has a post-publication peer review. But most importantly, it’s not a journal. And once you remove that idea of a journal, it changes the whole world of how the business is made, because journal is the vehicle of making money in publishing. If you go through and think through what will happen if there are no journals, it’s very nontrivial to work out how to survive. It really is.
KENNEALLY: A world without journals, Kate Worlock – we’re far from that right now, as you were telling us about the size of this business. I saw you listening with interest to what Vitek has to say. It seems to me that the development over the last few years has proven that in fact there’s room for everybody here. There’s room for that approach. There’s room for other –
TRACZ: Can I make one quick comment, just one small comment? Do you remember typesetting? We had typesetting business – remember typesetting system – and typesetting systems suddenly became computerized and started moving slowly. And then it disappeared. It’s disappeared. We have no typesetting system anymore. The business, the industry disappeared. These changes can happen fast. They may start slowly. We might not see hardly anything. Open access is not the predictor. Open access is not what we’re talking about, because open access runs journals. In that sense, open access is as problematic as closed access. Open access does one good thing – opens the access. Otherwise, it’s very problematic in many ways.
The issue is journals – the need for journals, what will happen without journals. And in my opinion – I really believe it. I’ve been wrong before – I really believe it – it can happen fast. Within few years, we will be living in a world that will not have journals. It will affect our lives profoundly.
KENNEALLY: It’s a place that’s a showstopper. But I have to go to Brandon, because I feel that you have a response to that. I know you do. It’s not going to be a world without journals, as far as ACS is concerned.
NORDIN: Let’s face it. I think this is a big tent. In a market such as publishing, ideas take time to nurture. And as long as you have the patience and the deep pockets to lose a lot of money, you can perhaps survive the adoption curve. But I guess, as – I’m a professional publisher but I’m also a professional marketer. And the reason why people use brands, even though in many cases they’re widely reviled – brands ease the selection process. They are a trusted identifier. There’s value in brands. Whether you call that the brand of aspirin you buy in a world of generics or the brand of journals you choose to associate with, there is an inherent value to that to the scientist, to people that are referring to that scientist – and whether you are saying it’s based on the impact factor or the quality of the editor of the color of the cover, it’s the brand that I think serves as a validator. That’s a very different thing than just saying we have a distribution mechanism that we can – you can put a paper on the Web and it can get pumped out.
And I think, yes, it absolutely – that’s an author-driven value, not a reader-driven value. Wuite frankly, one of the most interesting dynamics is authors care about the journals. The readers are looking for not super selectivity. They’re looking for all the content they can get.
KENNEALLY: Jen Goodrich, my colleague at Copyright Clearance Center, who is responsible for our RightsLink for Open Access solution and so much of what’s been developed recently at Copyright Clearance Center. We have an announcement here at the tables – at the chairs, rather – about Wiley going beyond open access charges and looking at color and preprints and so forth. So this notion that this is not only about open access – this is about so much more – we’re seeing that ourselves.
GOODRICH: Yeah, we absolutely are. The publishers are looking at open access, but they’re looking at a whole range of services for their authors and for their researchers. It’s a fascinating discussion today. I love the tension between publishing in a journal and not publishing in a journal and watching how that develops as new modes of publishing develop and platforms develop. The whole challenge to the journal is happening, but what you call it, I think, is interesting.
KENNEALLY: Betsy Donohue, I was thinking about a remark that Brandon made about brands and the importance of the brand – the journal brand. But Altmetric, as one example, is addressing the author as brand. Are publishers and authors beginning to understand they each have some brand value and trying to work together to develop that, do you think?
DONOHUE: I think so. But the term publishers is very broad. So within that term, there’s kind of chunks. You’ve got your university presses. You’ve got your larger university presses, your commercial publishers, society publishers. So it’s hard to give you one answer to that. But at least in my experience from day to day, yes, there’s definitely an understanding from publishers that they need to do more for their authors, they need to be closer to their authors, and they have to provide opportunities for collaboration and giving credit where credit is due, because I think that’s the common thing that everybody’s been touching on – the ability to give credit and to empower the researcher to do well in what their work is. Yeah.
KENNEALLY: Well, we’re going to be here for the whole morning. And we would certainly appreciate if you’d join us for a program with Tracey Armstrong starting at 11:00. We’ll have some light lunch after that. We have time for one more question. And I guess I’m going to take the nearest one here. David Worlock?
WORLOCK: OK. I wondered if any of this distinguished group had a view on the relevance of blockchain technology to secure delivery of content from creator to user with no intermediary steps.
KENNEALLY: A topic for another panel, I think, but very briefly, blockchain – anyone have a thought on blockchain? This is now the new hot topic.
NORDIN: Yeah. Well, whether you look at it from a technology standpoint or you just broaden and say what’s the role of unmediated content acquisition dispersion? So we’re experimenting with the concept of a preprint server that goes along that line. It’s not a technology-driven solution – or it will be enabled by technology, but it’s really focusing on saying what is the traction in the marketplace for papers that are submitted but have relatively light vetting but are widely accessible? Again, it’s a learning process for us.
But I think – again going back to my fixation maybe on brands – brands depend on cognate authority. And the further you have a distance between sort of the authority and the actual brand or the actual work, the harder it is for that transference of authority to happen. And so I think that’s the challenge – is the old saw being nobody asks your GPA if you say you went to MIT. They assume you’re smart. And I think that’s the same thing – if you’re able to say your work has been vetted, whether it’s a brand level or at a publisher level or at a prize level, that distinguishes it in a way from the competition.
KENNEALLY: Right. Well, this year’s guests of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair are the Netherlands and the Flanders region of Belgium, who share a common language of Dutch, and the various programs celebrate creativity and self-expression in novels and poetry. For centuries, though, Dutch has also served as a language of science and humanities. Indeed, we owe the Dutch in the person of Erasmus for the invention of the very notion of humanities. Your library is your paradise, he observed. He also said something that will warm the hearts of publishers and booksellers – when I get a little money, I buy books. And if any money is left, I buy food and clothes.
As a closing thought for today’s program on open access and the entrepreneurial publisher, then, I want to give the last word to Erasmus, the prince of the humanists. There are some people who live in a dream world and there are some who face reality. And then there are those who turn the one into the other. On behalf of Copyright Clearance Center, thank you all very much for coming.