Transcript: Scholarly Sharing Explained

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Interview with Matt McKay, STM Association

For podcast release Monday, August 22, 2016

KENNEALLY: On these websites, millions of registered users around the world share published materials, argue and collaborate, or just form communities of common interests. The domain names, though, are ones you may not be familiar with. Don’t think Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Think ResearchGate, Mendeley, and

Welcome to Copyright Clearance Center’s podcast series. I’m Christopher Kenneally for Beyond the Book. Scholarly collaboration networks, known as SCNs, have received much credit from academics and scientists for bringing research into the digital age. Publishers and institutional librarians, though, also recognize that everyday activity across SCNs raises questions about the proper sharing of materials. Now there’s a website for getting answers to those questions. From the United Kingdom, Matt McKay, director of communication and events for the STM Association, joins me with the details. Welcome to Beyond the Book, Matt.

McKAY: Hi, Chris. Thanks for having me there.

KENNEALLY: Indeed. We look forward to chatting with you about this. As the leading global trade association for academic and professional publishers, STM over the last two years has undertaken a thorough look at the current landscape of article sharing through scholarly collaboration networks and sites, and STM sought to clarify how, where, and what content should be shared using these networks and sites. That effort has brought forth, now available in beta. Tell us what we will find there, Matt.

McKAY: Sure, Chris. So we’re hoping will be a new hub for sharing materials for all across scholarly communications. It came out of a consultation we ran on our voluntary principles for article sharing last year. We’ve launched it in beta effectively to make a start to put the voluntary principles that we’ve developed, that you might ask me about shortly, onto this new site, and then over the next six months to work collaboratively with the community to build up a real resource of information, tools, contacts, and links about scholarly sharing that we hope can really add a little bit of clarity to that landscape.

KENNEALLY: Right. The voluntary principles you mentioned are agreements among a variety of publishers. Fill us in a bit more on that.

McKAY: Sure. So effectively, as you identified in your introduction, STM has been working in this sphere for a couple of years now, and what we did as a starting point was we really wanted to come up with some type of document, some type of a system whereby everyone could agree to a level playing field, so to come up with principles that effectively allowed sharing to be of a benefit for all.

Rather than STM as an association simply writing those principles and sticking them out there and saying, hey, here are the principles, what we did was we ran a six-month consultation. So we developed an initial draft document. We then went out to the wider scholarly community – librarians, publishers, SCNs themselves, and we said, hey, what do you think about this document? Please send us your thoughts. We received over 50 consultation comments. All of those are available on the How Can I Share It website as a historical record. We took those comments, and then we reshaped the principles once again. So they did reflect that collaborative process of working with the community to come up with a document that shows how sharing could be of a benefit to all.

Where we’re up to with that now is that document is available on How Can I Share It. We have six different language versions, so people in other countries can read it in their native language. And likewise, we’re looking for further endorsements of those principles. We have a lot of publishers, but we also have publishing suppliers and SCNs themselves signed up to those principles as a mechanism for making sharing work in the future.

KENNEALLY: Right. And the real challenge, Matt McKay, is that the web is an evolving space. So the ways that information is shared within the research community – those ways are changing, evolving. So that makes the principles around sharing occasionally unclear. I think that’s the real challenge here, right?

McKAY: Yeah, absolutely. That’s where this work came around. When STM started this work and did a review, it was quite abundantly clear that there was quite a lack of consistency around sharing and also a lack of knowledge around what can I do, what can’t I do, how should I do that? That led into the consultation, but then certainly led to the gestation of the beta website How Can I Share It as an effort to bring that clarity and to start to bring that information – but as I said, ideally in a collaborative way.

As you correctly identified, our space is moving really quickly, so STM doesn’t see this as a one-hit wonder whereby what we put up there will be good forever. What we really want to do is work with all stakeholders across the community to continue to develop this site so that we represent and show the latest thinking and the latest information, as well as providing that clarity which we feel is much needed.

KENNEALLY: Right. And there are so many different types of journals with so many different types of licensing agreements, and we hear a great deal about open access. People probably are making assumptions from something they’ve read in a headline somewhere. What really allows them to do is to check those assumptions and validate them and be sure that they are, in fact, doing what they ought to be doing.

McKAY: Yeah, that’s certainly what we’re aiming at as we move out of beta and we add some more resources and particularly some more tools, exactly as you said, Chris, to add the resources there so that someone could visit the site, look up a particular article, find out about that article in terms of, well, how can you share it, where can you share it, and then get further on with links to make that process much, much easier, so all in one place.

From our end, what we really need to do is to work with publishers to make sure that their licensing and copyright information is as clear and simple as possible, and likewise does address sharing specifically as one means of distribution. So it’s quite a big body of work, not only to start looking at building those tools to help people, but also working with publishers to make that process as simple and as streamlined as possible.

KENNEALLY: We are speaking today on Beyond the Book with Matt McKay. He’s director of communication and events for the STM Association and telling us about a new website from STM, So tell us – look into your crystal ball there, Matt McKay, and tell us what’s going to be coming next. As you say, this is really an evolving site, a dynamic site. But what can we look forward to in the next few months and beyond?

McKAY: Sure. On How Can I Share It, we’re working heavily on enhancing the site both from that tools perspective, looking at adding in useful widgets that people can come to visit the site, to find out more about their article, what they can do with it, to refine the information that we have on publisher sharing policies to, again, make that user experience of someone having an article and saying, well, what I can do with it? Where can I share it? How can I share it? How can you help me? So that on that side of things, they’ve got all their information right at their fingertips, which they don’t often get when engaging directly with SCNs themselves. We see that as a real market need, for someone to provide that important licensing information all in one hub, because it’s not necessarily the most transparent of things from SCNs currently.

Along with that, we are looking to add to the hub of How Can I Share It with more resources, more links. We’ve certainly got some visualizations which are not far off coming which will add a little bit of color to the site and hopefully will take people through that sharing journey even if they’re coming to the site with very little knowledge. So we’re working across it on all aspects, and we’ll be very keen to hear from anyone within the scholarly community who wants to inform us on what would be helpful to them or to collaborate with us. As I said right from the start, we do see this as a collaborative project, so we really want to work with everyone in the community to make this as successful, as broad, and as detailed as possible.

KENNEALLY: Well, we are very happy indeed to help you share the information about this effort. We have been speaking today with Matt McKay. He’s director of communication and events for the STM Association and telling us about the new website from STM, Matt McKay, thanks so much for joining us on Beyond the Book.

McKAY: Thanks, Chris, for having me. It’s a pleasure.

KENNEALLY: Beyond the Book is produced by Copyright Clearance Center. With its subsidiaries RightsDirect in the Netherlands and Ixxus in the United Kingdom, CCC is a global leader in content workflow, document delivery, text and data mining, and rights licensing technology. You can follow Beyond the Book on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the free podcast series on iTunes or at our website,

Our engineer and co-producer is Jeremy Brieske of Burst Marketing. I’m Christopher Kenneally. Join us again soon on Beyond the Book.

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