Transcript: Outsell Open Access Report Highlights

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“Open Access: Market Size, Share, Forecast, and Trends”
Interview with Laura Ricci, Senior Market Analyst, Outsell Inc.

For podcast release February 13, 2013

KENNEALLY: Across all types of media, the onslaught of digital disruption typically prompts a defensive reaction. Publishers struggle to maintain their legacy business models even as they must build out new models that are sustainable and scalable. Welcome to Copyright Clearance Center’s podcast series. My name is Christopher Kenneally.

The digital challenge is nowhere more keenly felt than in scientific and scholarly publishing, where a revolution in free content and mandates for open access to information are upending centuries of tradition. Outsell, Inc., a research and advisory firm focused on media, information, and technology, has just issued a research paper, Open Access: Market Size, Share, Forecast, and Trends, that will be required reading in editorial offices around the globe.

Joining me to discuss highlights of the report is Laura Ricci, Outsell’s senior market analyst, and Laura, welcome to Beyond the Book.

RICCI: It’s a pleasure to be here, Chris. Thank you.

KENNEALLY: Well, it’s nice to have you back with us, and among your specialties, you work in the education and training and science, technology, and health care practice areas, and your bio notes that you’re especially focused on reporting on disruptive innovations. And my gosh, Open Access is about as disruptive as it gets to the scientific, technical, and medical publishing world.

RICCI: Yes, I would agree. It’s certainly been a pleasure learning more about it and talking to lots of people in the ecosystem who have a lot of interest in it.

KENNEALLY: A very complex issue, and we’ve been trying to cover it as well as we can here at Copyright Clearance Center. Your report is available to our listeners if they go onto our website, copyright.com/openaccess, so they can read it in full. But I’d like to talk with you about some of the high points.

If you’re in the publishing world, you want to know what to do, and your report has a number of – five, actually – essential actions for publishers and for others involved in this revolution. Tell us what those are.

RICCI: Sure. Well, the first one that we would start with is if you are a publisher, traditionally, what you’ve been monetizing for the users of your journal is the access to that journal. Now, in an Open Access model, that goes away. Anyone can read the journal that you’ve published, and what you’re trying to monetize now is the services that you provide to authors.

It’s important that you focus on being able to provide value to an author so that they know when they’re submitting that paper to you, that you are able to get them access to the audience that will grant them the most prestige as possible, that will grant them the ability to communicate with other people with interest in their field. So, that would be the first place to start.

KENNEALLY: An important shift. It’s focusing more on the services, as you say, rather than the content creation itself.

RICCI: Exactly, exactly. And of course, as part of that, there already are communities of scientists that have found ways to communicate with each other online in places like arXiv for physics, and with changing peer review models, looking at pre-prints and commenting on those before they comment or look at the finished journal article.

So the second thing that publishers should do is co-exist with the research community, understand what conversations are already going on, and rather than trying to bottle it, try to take advantage of it. Try not to wrest control of the scientific conversation, but know that your value as a provider is to have the ability to disseminate knowledge in new forms and new formats.

Of course, the next thing I think that’s also important is as Open Access increases, there’s going to be a higher incidence of journals that don’t create barriers between different niches, that are mega-journals. They expect as many journal articles as they feel are technically appropriate, and that’s part of the changing conversation.

That’s going to be difficult for some to scale up as more and more people submit technically appropriate articles. Then, the publisher should be aware of that change, and it’s a different mentality for them, again. It requires a lot of forward planning in terms of what kind of personnel they’re able to apply to all of these articles coming in, and also the collection of the article processing charges, which are different. They’re from individual researchers instead of from big institutional libraries.

KENNEALLY: Right. And those are two key differentiators in this new world of Open Access, Laura. The first would be these mega-journals that you’re speaking about. Define who those are. Give us an example or two.

RICCI: The typical example everyone thinks of is PLoS ONE. That was the first one, and that was actually only launched a few years ago. Now, since then, there have been others launched, and the most notable one I would point to was published by a major publishing group, and that was Scientific Reports.

It’s done fairly well, actually. In its first year, it’s published more than a thousand papers, so that strong brand from Nature has really brought more than one PLoS-style journal into the fore, and now we’re seeing others being launched by – SAGE has a few now. There’s one being launched by the Institute of Engineering and Technology that’s going to be the engineering journal.

So, we’re seeing more and more of these being launched, and it is a change in the way the journal itself as a container is being conceptualized.

KENNEALLY: Right. And so, as you say, the journal as container. It’s no longer a container for a specific niche of scientific research, but across a whole spectrum of fields.

RICCI: Yes, exactly.

KENNEALLY: And the other point you made was regarding article processing charges, APCs, as they’re called. These are the fees that authors pay in order to be published within an Open Access journal. It’s an area that is of interest to us at Copyright Clearance Center, and indeed in the report’s list of 10 to Watch, you talk about CCC and its potential role in all of this.

Certainly, we want to encourage people to look at the full report, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you to explain how you feel the value-add is that Copyright Clearance Center has.

RICCI: Sure, sure. Well, Copyright Clearance Center is already entrenched in the ecosystem with RightsLink, and that’s a transaction engine for rights transactions. But now I see that Copyright Clearance Center is focusing on Open Access solutions. They’re building that into RightsLink.

And why that’s interesting is because publishers are able to support more flexible rights and pricing variations, so they can experiment with charging lower fees for researchers at member institutions or varying the license as dictated by funder mandates because, as you might recall, the RCUK mandate which is coming out actually is now requiring CC BY, whereas previously, many copyright Creative Commons licenses have been CC BY-NC.

So these are all different things that now publishers have to keep in mind, so the Open Access solutions and RightsLink are now allowing them to manage that.

KENNEALLY: Indeed. And I’ll just have to be sure we help out the audience listening here who may not understand some of these terms, and it can take you down lots of different paths. The RCUK is the Research Council of the United Kingdom, which has issued a mandate regarding Open Access, so for anybody receiving funds from it, it affects researchers in the U.K. or researchers receiving funds from that U.K. source, which is not a very large portion of the scientific publishing marketplace, but still a significant one.

And then the two licenses you’re talking about are two kinds of Creative Commons licenses, which essentially provide for free access to the materials so long as attribution is provided, and the distinction is whether there’s commercial use allowed or not commercial use.

So for all of the information on that, we do urge people to go to copyright.com/openaccess. We have a wealth of information there about that, so I don’t want to tie up Laura too much, because we want to chat with you about some of the other points you make.

The actions that you suggest these stakeholders take also include what you refer to as breaking down barriers. What do you mean by that?

RICCI: That does go back to the mega-journal model and what we see is that the peer review process and rethinking even how the container of the journal behaves. We want to look now at what possibilities that provides. It could mean that we could provide a broader corpus of findings. We don’t need to focus on, “Is this a monumental piece of research?” We can start to publish things like negative research, positive research. Maybe it’s conclusive; maybe it’s actually not. That’s still valuable knowledge for scientists who might be trying to embark on similar research of their own.

So, it’s a change in the scientific conversation. I liken it to changing what’s in the bloodstream. There’s a lot more going through the bloodstream, actually, and it’s all variable knowledge when you include it as part of the corpus.

KENNEALLY: Indeed. And then finally – and I think this is kind of a point that’s been throughout the discussion so far – is you urge the stakeholders to experiment. This is a very dynamic environment we’re in, and there’s no reason to be shy from trying to go down a few new paths and see where they lead.

RICCI: Yes, I think so. I think the next three years are really going to be key, and we’re already seeing at the start of 2013 that there are more people who are interested in Open Access from disciplines that previously may not have been. There might not have been a lot of awareness.

This initially grew out of disciplines like the biosciences where there was a lot of funding, and something like an article processing charge was only a small part of the research budget. Now we’re seeing that even the humanities are starting to become interested in it, potentially. There is an advocacy group that was just launched. There are some journals coming out of, for instance, the Palgrave List.

That’s exciting, I think. I think that there are now more researchers who are going to have to publish Open Access, so it’s an opportunity to see what works, to see what doesn’t, to see what pricing structures and to see what article processing charge structures and what journal structures actually generate the most work for the scientific community as a whole.

KENNEALLY: We are chatting right now on Beyond the Book with Laura Ricci, Outsell’s senior marketing analyst and a co-author of a report from Outsell just out called Open Access: Market Size, Share, Forecast, and Trends, and that’s available, a free download at copyright.com/openaccess.

Laura, I wonder if we continue the conversation by talking about some of the potential disruptive forces here. There’s a kind of inevitability that people talk about when they discuss Open Access, but there are a variety of forces at play here that will either accelerate the change or possibly decelerate that. Tell us about that.

RICCI: Sure. As I just mentioned, these mandates are becoming broader, so there are going to be more scientists who are opposed to publish Open Access, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be the behavior that’s adopted. There’s a lot of discussion, there’s a lot of interest, but at the same time, it’s the choice between paying $3,000 to publish and not paying anything. You really can’t predict whether those mandates are going to turn into 100 percent compliance, 70 percent compliance. We’re just going to have to wait and see.

But even if that happens, it’s important to keep in mind for the publishers it’s a change as well. As increasing number of scientists submit to Open Access journals, you have to collect payment from each of those, and that’s a different model than they’re used to. They’re used to selling on sort of a B-to-B model, so they negotiate licenses with institutions, not individuals, collecting from lots of different people. Of course, that’s different levels of credit worthiness and that’s a growing number of transactions you have to make.

That could be somewhat of a complicated process, and so it’s something to keep in mind when experimenting, that some of these internal processes may have to change.

KENNEALLY: Indeed. And I guess really what is going to help drive this further will be an investment in infrastructure, and you mentioned some of the traditional players are putting their toe into this Open Access water. There are others who are new to the field that is the real startup disruptive forces. What kind of investment do you think the publishers should be making – are making – in these new publishing models?

RICCI: Sure. Some of the things that could be thought of is so far we haven’t seen a lot of investment in making the institution part of that article processing charge interaction. We do see that there are some providers that are starting to fill in some of the holes in there, and they’re starting to act as – I think some of the terms being used there are middleware. So they play that intermediary role. They start to smooth some of the inefficiencies in there. There’s certainly an opportunity for that to be part of the conversation, and allowing more partnerships like that I think could go a long way towards reducing some of the inefficiencies.

KENNEALLY: Well, Laura, we did have a chance recently to speak with another author of an important report, Ellen Collins, who was co-author for a research report from Research Information Network in the U.K., and we chatted with her about this new interplay between the traditional publishers and some of the upstart publishers as well with the institutions as well. If you could tell us a little bit more about where you expect that to lead.

RICCI: We see right now that it’s only a small proportion of the market that is made up with these institutional agreements. We believe that there will be more concentration and investment there, and it’s really in the interest of everybody for the institution who they themselves sometimes have funder mandates. Sometimes they have their own repositories. Many of these institutions are interested in having their researchers’ output out there in the conversation.

So, I think that they are also important stakeholders in what’s going on, and publishers are having that conversation with the librarians that they’re working with and making sure that, for instance, if there’s a hybrid journal, they’re reducing the charge for that journal in line with the amount of Open Access articles being published.

It’s all part of a broad conversation, I think, and it’s going to be something that we’re going to have to watch as the market itself evolves.

KENNEALLY: Well, indeed. And part of understanding the conversation is getting to know the players, know the terms, and certainly, if you have a chance, do download this new report from Outsell from our copyright.com website. You can find it online at copyright.com/openaccess. The report is called Open Access: Market Size, Share, Forecast, and Trends, and we’ve been chatting with one of the co-authors, Laura Ricci, a senior market analyst for Outsell. Laura, thanks so much for joining us today.

RICCI: Thanks. It’s been a pleasure.

KENNEALLY: It’s good to have you back, and we look forward to having you join us again.

Beyond the Book is produced by Copyright Clearance Center, a global rights broker for the world’s most sought-after materials including millions of books and e-books, journals, newspapers, magazines, and blogs, as well as now images, movies, and television shows. You can follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the free podcast series on iTunes or at beyondthebook.com.

Our engineer is Jeremy Brieske of Burst Marketing. My name is Chris Kenneally. For all of us at Copyright Clearance Center, thanks for listening to Beyond the Book.