Much of the debate around open research within scholarly publishing has focused on addressing the challenges that face science, technology and medicine disciplines (STM) scholars who work traditionally with research article-based formats, destined for a ‘journal’. Yet the drive to open access and the development of open workflows has also gained significant traction across scholarly disciplines that rely on books and monographs to share and publish their work. This session will showcase new solutions for scholarly book workflows and publication that support researchers whose outputs are outside the well-developed journal systems.

Speaker abstracts:

Anke Beck, CEO, IntechOpen
Abstract: ‘See me – get me – cite me: Book authors in a 4.0 world’
In the last 20 years Open Access has focused largely on opening up research in journal formats. At IntechOpen we have been purely a book publisher since 2015 when we sold our journals. We take the best of the journal workflow to ensure academics get the speed they require along with the curation and space that come with the book format. Academics want to be seen, read and cited, so how can we bring the benefits of journal workflows and open research knowledge to books to ensure we serve the broadest range of academic communities and ensure they are?

Alison McGonagle-O’Connell, Editoria Community Manager, Coko Foundation
Abstract: ‘Meet Editoria: A community-led, open source approach to books workflow’
It sounds too good to be true… There is an open source, web-based, adaptable books production system that facilitates online collaboration and rapid digitization? A tool that adapts to modern workflows? One which works with the community to develop desired features? And even for smaller presses? Editoria is this streamlined production tool; created for the use of publishers of all sizes. Its first iteration was built by the Coko Foundation in collaboration with California Digital Library and University of California Press. Today, this open source platform continues to develop in partnership with other organizations via a community-led model. Learn about what is possible within the system and the community!

Heather Staines, Head of Partnerships, MIT Knowledge Futures Group
Abstract: ‘Freeing Frankenstein: A multimedia tale”
The editors of Frankenstein: Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds (MIT Press, 2017) sought to create a freely available, open-source, open-access digital edition of the book to foster an engaged community around the most-assigned novel in the United States. Published on PubPub in 2018, this edition includes a rich set of annotations, including all annotations from the print edition as well as new text, audio, and video material to draw out the novel’s scientific, ethical, literary, pop culture, and historical threads. The grant from the Sloan Foundation to support this edition also went toward developing PubPub to better support books and long-form content. On PubPub, readers can use multiple “lenses” of expert commentary alongside text and contribute their own rich-media annotations individually or through private discussions channels for classrooms and other reading groups.

Charles Watkinson, Director, University of Michigan Press
Abstract: ‘Exploring Open Access Ebook Usage’
Usage information is the currency of open access publishing, reinforcing the commitment of authors, publishers, and funders alike. While delivery mechanisms for journal article usage are well-developed, the infrastructure needed to track ebook usage has fallen behind. Because many ebook publishers don’t control their own platforms, openly licensed ebooks are also widely redeposited leading to further loss of usage and engagement data. This presentation describes several initiatives aimed at redressing this situation, including a project led by the Book Industry Study Group and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish a data trust for book usage data.

Download slides:
Parallel 1c – Heather Staines
Parallel 1c – Anke Beck
Parallel 1c – Charles Watkinson


Mr. Simon Ross
CEO, Manchester University Press
Simon Ross joined Manchester University Press as CEO in August, 2016. Prior to taking up this role he was Managing Director for Journals at Cambridge University Press and also the Deputy Managing Director for the global Academic Publishing group, spending the last 4 years based in CUP’s New York office. He has held senior editorial and management positions at Sage Publications, Pearson Education and the Times Publishing Group. Before moving into publishing, he was a research scientist and lecturer in psychology and computer science and has an MBA from the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge.


Dr. Anke Beck
CEO, IntechOpen
Dr Anke Beck is CEO for IntechOpen, the open access book publisher. She joined IntechOpen in August 2018 and has been a vocal champion for open access books in the competitive OA marketplace. Her career in publishing began in 1994 as Editor in Chief of Mouton de Gruyter and in 2007 she joined the senior management team at De Gruyter. She was appointed Managing Director of the company in 2013. Anke Beck studied Linguistics at the University of Regensburg and received a Masters in Languages and Linguistics and International Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. She received her PhD in Linguistics from the University of Bielefeld.

Alison McGonagle-O’Connell
Editoria Community Manager, Coko Foundation
Alison is passionate about moving scholarly communications forward. After over 15 years in the industry working for commercial publishers (Houghton Mifflin, Blackwell Publishing, Wiley) and SaaS vendors (EBSCO, Aries), Alison has developed special interest in leveraging technology to increase collaboration and transform workflow. In early 2018, Alison joined Collaborative Knowledge (Coko) Foundation to build community among organizations building platforms with PubSweet, and leveraging Editoria in books workflow. She is co-chair of the CRediT Program Committee, and she participates on the ISMTE Board of Directors.

Ms. Heather Staines
Head of Partnerships, MIT Knowledge Futures Group
Heather is currently Head Of Partnerships at MIT Knowledge Futures Group. Her previous roles include Director of Partnerships at Hypothesis (a non-profit and open source technology company dedicated to bringing standards-based annotation to scholarly communications) and positions at Proquest, SIPX (formerly Stanford International Property Exchange), Springer SBM, and Greenwood/Praeger. She is active in many industry events, including ALPSP, Charleston, SSP, STM, and COUNTER. She has a PhD in Military History from Yale University.

Mr. Charles Watkinson
Director, University of Michigan Press
Charles Watkinson heads up the publishing division of University of Michigan Library which includes University of Michigan Press, Michigan Publishing Services, and Deep Blue repository and research data services. He previously held a similar position at Purdue University and was director of publications at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

View Transcript
[00:00:00.49] [MUSIC PLAYING] [00:00:16.11] SIMON ROSS: Welcome, everybody. So continuing our open theme, where you’re looking at innovation in open books– and it’s nice to see that there is a lot of innovation that’s going on in book publishing. We haven’t had to wait another 2,000 years for major innovations, which is good. And I would say that some of the most exciting work is going on in the way in which we’re looking at, particularly around scholarly publishing of academic monographs.
[00:00:47.78] And today we have four very interesting talks but also quite brief talks. We’ve only got 45 minutes. We’re trying to stick to 10 minutes per talk. So yes, good luck, I hear from the audience.
[00:01:03.80] We changed the order slightly. Alison from the Coko Foundation is joining us via link, so we put her on first. Because we just tested the link, and we know that it works.
[00:01:18.12] So any moment now, you’re going to see Alison’s face at the top right. And her presentation– I’m going to hand you over to Alison.
[00:01:28.13] ALISON MCGONAGLE-O’CONNELL: Great, thanks so much, Simon. And good afternoon, all. I’m Alison from Coko. And I’m thrilled to be here to talk with you today about Editoria And I want to thank Liz Allen for the invitation to participate today, and also the organizing committee, and all the co-presenters.
[00:01:48.80] So Editoria is a browser-based book’s production system that was developed by Coko. And it was created in response to a partnership between Coko, and the California Digital Library, and University of California Press. And these three groups were seeking to address the challenges that are associated with producing open access monographs. And of course, as you well know, these include cost, and efficiency, and scale.
[00:02:16.62] So Coko’s open source infrastructure and modular approach to system design was best able to support these shared goals of the project. And so with generous funding from the Mellon Foundation, these three organizations were able to begin working together in 2015. And so from there, they began to set more specific goals for the project.
[00:02:39.69] And so of course everybody talks about and really wants to speed up and modernize the book’s production process, which is largely stuck in the ’80s or the ’90s– some previous decade. And so what this meant to this group and means to many is to get away from proprietary tools like Microsoft Word and Adobe and to try to cap the rising costs and wild delays in workflow. And so it means empowering also workflow participants to work the way that they actually want to rather than the way that they have to because of the limitations of some of these tools and workflows that are legacy. And so the way that we think they want to work is in a transparent and collaborative fashion that still leverages all of the important editorial value adds that the web has to offer and then incorporating some of the benefits that you get when you use open source technology and emerging and increasingly widely-adopted standards such as HTML. And in doing this, you then fuel a truly digital-first workflow.
[00:03:44.59] So one of the most fascinating parts of this project is its approach. So it’s quite different in the sense that, to start, Coko implemented a collaborative design methodology, where they employed those who will actually use the product in the end– so the editors, and project editors, or production editors at university presses– to actually design the system that they wanted to use. And they did this through facilitated sessions. And from those sessions came the first requirements that led to the earliest releases of Editoria.
[00:04:19.99] And now with several releases down the line, today’s version incorporates the needs of not just that initial group but also the entire community as it exists today. So these are self-identifying publishers who want to participate in defining the future features of Editoria. And so today the system could support two workflows out of the box, as it were.
[00:04:41.53] And so that’s a post-acquisition workflow, which is a workflow where content moves from DOCX to HTML. And then within the system, clean up, and styling, and editing, and eventually export to multiple formats is performed. And then the other workflow that’s supported today is a flat collaborative workflow. And so this is a workflow where everybody could even be in one room.
[00:05:05.77] So these are groups of people that are working together. There’s not a hierarchical structure in place, because everybody can just talk to one another and let permissions take a back seat or manage them socially. So in this workflow, Editoria is truly a collaboration engine. And still in the future, there are opportunities to build out Editoria further to support additional use cases. And because we have the community support, we have ready feedback to do this.
[00:05:42.14] And so now I’m just going to give you a quick look at the Editoria workflow, because we don’t have a lot of time. So when you enter Editoria as a user, you see your dashboard. This is customized to only the books that you are associated with.
[00:05:56.14] So within Editoria, the rule association happens at the book level, which means that users only see books that they have some kind of responsibility for. And then at the book level, the association with the kinds of responsibilities you’ll have and the permissions you’ll have– they can differ from book to book. Because they’re not assigned at a higher level such as your user role.
[00:06:20.25] So the next area of Editoria is called the Book Builder. And this is a dashboard at the book level. So this is where you literally go in, and you build the book. You can upload the DOCX Files. And they convert to HTML.
[00:06:35.58] Or you could do live authoring of content right within Editoria here. So you could add chapters and have teams or individuals just writing directly into the system. And so this is an area where one can set pagination rules. One can always reorder the run order of the content. And regardless of whether you’re using Editoria in the flat collaborative or the post-acquisition workflow, you can always manage your book and the pieces and parts that compose it right here.
[00:07:11.33] And then from there, at the chapter level, you can always go into the web-based word processor, which is a Cabbage Tree Labs module called Wax. And this is where styling, formatting, commenting in the post-acquisition workflow will happen. And then within the flat collaborative workflow, this is right where you would be doing that authoring and initial collaboration, as well as styling, formatting, commenting. There’s a robust notes workflow with linking. There is a robust track changes functionality, as well as other editing tools that you’ll expect within similar environments.
[00:07:49.77] And so within this workflow, when you’re loading files from DOCX, this system is going to make a best guess when it’s pulling the content into HTML. And so you will want to go through, as project editors or production editors, and just make sure that the tagging has been achieved. And you can adjust it very easily based on these tools. And so from here, because we’re creating semantically-structured HTML, it’s really easy, then, to move forward and apply the CSS rules that are within the system for a given book and move to an EPUB or PDF as the output.
[00:08:34.72] And so the next step is export. And so at this point, after content has been through the production workflow, this is where you can export the HTML. What you’re seeing here on my screen is that the system can render a view of a paginated output in the browser. So this itself is not the EPUB. But this is a view of an EPUB through a tool called Page.js, which is another Cabbage Tree Labs module.
[00:09:00.31] And so using Page.js, what’s great is that you not only can see the paginated output and then push further, you can print to PDF, which leverages the browser’s PDF. Or you can get an EPUB of the same content. But you can also tweak the CSS on the fly.
[00:09:15.70] And I’m not sure if you can see, but on the left hand side of my screenshot, those are all the CSS rules. And they’re totally editable. And then you can click a button and sync the changes literally within seconds and see meaningful changes occur to the way that the book is laid out and designed. OK, and so here are some examples of books that have been born in the browser with Editoria. So several organizations, including Coko, including C&F Editions from France, and our sister organization BookSprints, which is based in Berlin– all of these organizations, as well as many others, have made books in the browser with Editoria.
[00:09:55.29] And so these are some of the additional organizations that are active within our community. And we’re super grateful for all of their participation and the unique perspective that each of these organizations brings to the wider community. Because these are the folks who are defining what features and functionality need to be in future versions. So they are they are literally building Editoria with us.
[00:10:20.13] And so, in December of this year coming up, we’ll host the third Editoria community meeting in Chicago. At these community meetings, we talk about the current state of Editoria basically as you’ve heard about it today. But we also discuss other workflows that the community would like to support. So an example could be OER workflows or something like that.
[00:10:42.72] And so then we can have discussions around the functionality needed that we would want to build out if we’re going to support additional workflows. We also have focused breakout sessions for organizations that use Editoria along similar workflows. And also, this year for the first time, we’re going to convene an advisory group.
[00:11:04.38] So we’ve created an Editoria advisory group. And that group will meet on site in Chicago at that meeting. So that’s a really exciting step toward governance for the platform, as well as for the community.
[00:11:17.29] And ahead of the meeting as soon as later this month, the next version of Editoria is going to roll out. And so again, all feature ideas at this stage of Editoria’s development come from the wider community– so all of the organizations that are participating. And we do this through a process called the community roadmap.
[00:11:36.60] And these organizations can submit proposals through GitLab, which are assessed by the wider community– so commenting on each other’s proposals, and up-voting and down-voting them in GitLab. And then ultimately, the developers are able to assess this feedback and select a group of features that will be developed. And that becomes the next release.
[00:11:55.80] So we have this release coming very soon. And we’re really excited about it– and also, to open up the next round of proposals. So it’s a great time to get involved with Editoria.
[00:12:08.63] And so also this fall, there’s a lot going on. Our first service provider is launching. And it’s a service called Editoria Express. Now, this is a third party that offers hosted versions of Editoria.
[00:12:20.12] And the idea is that, once this service is live– and we’ll make sure that it’s very visible to everybody– anyone can go to this website and request a three-month trial of the system. And it will be completely hosted and delivered to via link. And you’ll set up your logins and go from there. But after that three-month trial, there’ll be a 30 euro charge per month to continue with the service.
[00:12:47.60] And just as an FYI, this is the very same service provider who is currently powering the free trials that pretty much everyone in the community uses to do both beta and live work. And so just to point out that, even though Editoria is open source and anyone can take the code, and perform a local install, and do really what they want with it, because the code’s available via an MIT license– so far, we found that the university presses and library publishers primarily interested in Editoria don’t choose that road. They choose the hosted option.
[00:13:23.00] And so as I mentioned, we have a lot going on in terms of new things rolling out and new developments this fall. And so we’re lucky to be covered right now by a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation. And that was for the year 2019.
[00:13:39.29] And starting this month, we’re collaborating with the Open Textbook Network and doing some work that is being funded by the IMLS. And so we have new collaborations that will be announced soon. We– of course I mentioned– have the community meeting and the advisory group coming up. And we’re really excited about that, as well as the new release and the launch of Editoria Express.
[00:14:03.68] So that’s it. And thank you so much for the opportunity to talk with you today. And if you’d like to see more in depth with Editoria, just please reach out to me.
[00:14:14.24] SIMON ROSS: Thank you, Alison.
[00:14:15.44] ALISON MCGONAGLE-O’CONNELL: Thanks.
[00:14:19.05] SIMON ROSS: If you can stay on the line, hopefully we’ll have some questions at the end. Now next up is Anke Beck from IntechOpen, who is going to continue on the workflow theme.
[00:14:36.70] ANKE BECK: Hello. Thanks very much for the invitation for this session on innovation in open books publishing. Quickly something about my background– I’m the CEO of a pure open access books publisher based in London.
[00:14:55.20] So far, IntechOpen has published roughly 4,200 books in a very, very short period of time. And the goal is this year to publish 900 books and next year 1,300 books. And it is working and it’s working quite well.
[00:15:20.37] Something else to my background– I come from a traditional German publisher with roughly exactly the same number of traditional published books– not open access or just a few. And the attraction in my previous publisher was always to publish more in open access journals, of course. But we don’t see the reason why at IntechOpen. So we wondered, what makes the author decide to publish in a journal rather than a book? Because to me, in the 21st century, there doesn’t need to be a difference.
[00:16:00.26] So we took that question, why do you prefer to publish more in a journal than a book, to the audience. And the answers were just pretty straightforward from authors. They said they really liked the workflow of a journal. So to be published without a delay– they wanted to be read instantly. And they wanted to be cited immediately.
[00:16:29.81] So we thought, come on, 21st century. We can take exactly the same workflow to books– no problem at all. And we took that. And that’s how it came to the title of my presentation.
[00:16:47.66] They summarized their feedback in– I would like to be seen. I would like to be read. And I would like to be cited.
[00:16:59.42] So the journal’s workflow, funny enough, is more developed than the book’s workflow. And I’m very happy to see that there is more work being done, as the previous presenter said. So I think that applying the journal’s workflow is appropriate, because roughly 80% of all book productions are in collected works. It’s not monographs.
[00:17:23.63] So there is no difference in the handling of the single article. And you do not have to wait until the last chapter is submitted. I take you on a journey of a real author– so this is [INAUDIBLE]– and present you the workflow as we follow.
[00:17:47.82] So first of all, so IntechOpen doesn’t wait for a book proposal. What they do is they go on the internet. And they research, what are the hottest topics? And then they’ve put out this topic and invite for contributions to this topic. So it starts with a little different angles and traditional publishers do.
[00:18:11.18] Then of course, in the second go, the author submits a chapter. This is very normal. Then the article is being reviewed, gets a feedback, going back and forth quickly. So that’s just the normal CRM as we know from journals.
[00:18:31.86] Then that is also normal. Then we send it to copy editing, proofreading, and send it to production. So in production, very often, traditional publishers do not do not apply XML. So this is the first difference.
[00:18:52.95] So the publisher I’m representing produces throughout in XML, which gives them a very good database for the future. And of course, we apply for each chapter a DOI. And then we upload every single article in a new book to A & I services and to as many platforms as possible. Because what I’m saying is that the only currency an open access publisher has is the citation and the download, nothing else. So that’s the only currency the authors pay us for.
[00:19:35.19] And then, of course, for 99% of all articles– unless a government tells us to apply another license– a CC BY license is attached to the chapter. And then our author user gets published. And what we observed is that the author needs an instant gratification on the reach of their work.
[00:20:06.93] And this is why we also took care of a very thorough post-publication information. And I’ll come to that in a second. So we also felt– or that was the feedback– authors want to know immediately what kind of impact their article has made and not wait for the review published in a journal, or on a blog, or anything.
[00:20:36.32] But the essence of the difference between the journals and a book author is that the book author was mostly unaware what kind of impact he or she had made. And therefore, we applied everything which usually a modern journals publisher applies. So we licensed dimensions. We upload everything on Crossref.
[00:21:12.26] And of course, the Clarivate Analytics, the Web of Science connection is also there. And this is the download of a real person, a real book with 133,000 downloads, 11 citations in the Web of Science, 11 citations in Crossref, and 33 dimension citations. So I think that supports, again, the argument that the journal and the book workflow does not need to differ. No, to the country, it supports the author’s visibility.
[00:21:51.28] So, what is the future? So the future, we think, is– it doesn’t differ at all from the journals workflow and whatever developments are there for journals publisher. So we need to do exactly the same. Whoever has attended the interesting session on technological developments this morning– so what the developments are– so connecting all the little bits and pieces, data curation, and so on, and so forth.
[00:22:26.27] So this will also be the next step for our publisher to implement that and drill really deep down into the book’s data. The figures need to interact in order to produce new results. And of course, AI also plays a role into our thinking for the future. But I will not go into that right now.
[00:22:54.32] So, in essence, we work on that what I said before. So the first step for us is make the best or give the best visibility to the author by distributing not only the book but the single article and in the future also the single data of that publication wherever you can. Get a response from the platforms. Collect it. Feed it back to the author so that the author knows where he or she is seen.
[00:23:35.42] Get me free accessibility. Of course, for an open access publisher, it’s a no brainer. So I do not need to go into that, either. And of course, cite me– if you’re more available, you can be more cited.
[00:23:53.06] In conclusion, I would say– so I think I have emphasized in this talk very much that I don’t see any difference between books and journals. But I think it’s also time that the academic world switches to other metrics than the impact factor in journals. Because as we all know and as we tell each other in every session I go to– that the impact factor is a thing of the past. Because it doesn’t tell you anything about the attractiveness of the chapter or of the article. But it just tells you something about the average attractiveness of the journal in the past two years.
[00:24:37.41] And of course, also, the academic evaluation needs to change. So what makes an academic to step up the academic career ladder? But that, of course, is for another talk. So that’s an encouragement for the ALPSP organizers to take this on board for the next session or year. Thank you.
[00:25:10.98] SIMON ROSS: So I think we’re all in awe of you being able to produce 1,300 books a year. That’s amazing. So next up is Heather Staines from the MIT Knowledge Futures Group talking about the only monster you want to hear about.
[00:25:25.49] HEATHER STAINES: Hi. Thank you so much. I really appreciate this opportunity to speak with you. As Simon said, I’m with the Knowledge Futures Group four and a half months in. So I’m still new at presenting on some of these topics. But I’m really excited to tell you today about Frankenbook.
[00:25:42.28] So for the 200th anniversary of the original publication of Frankenstein, the MIT Press undertook a project– a really exciting project that started a couple of years back. But it’s continuing and ongoing. It’s really a living project.
[00:25:57.76] It was published in January, 2019. It’s got, which I’ll show you, a wide array of invited annotations by specialty folks in different disciplines. It’s got multimedia embeds and lots of useful activities that can be combined with the classroom. And there’s an ongoing community discussion on the book, as well.
[00:26:23.74] Currently– I had them run these stats for me– there’s 850 threaded discussions. And there’s been about 93,000 visits so far. So Frankenbook is actually hosted on an open source platform that was developed through the Knowledge Futures Group. It’s called PubPub. You can go see it at
[00:26:47.31] Currently, there are 500 communities. A community can be a book. It can be a journal. It can be a blog. It can be a conference. It could be quite a number of things.
[00:26:56.37] And Frankenbook was really the first long-form publication that was undertaken. So the process of putting Frankenbook together helped the PubPub team conceptualize what they wanted to do in the book space, which was relatively new.
[00:27:13.62] You can go to PubPub. You can follow the link and explore some of the publications there– free to get started. We’re developing specific publisher tools around some paid models. But there’s always going to be a free version available.
[00:27:30.78] As I mentioned, Frankenbook was the first long-form publication. This is the Home page. And you can see there on the black band across it– in addition to the book, I’m going to show you these things.
[00:27:43.11] There are essays. There’s multimedia and lots of information. And so it’s an idea that you no longer need to have content distributed on different platforms. You could put it all together in one spot.
[00:27:58.35] I mentioned the annotations by invited experts. You can see one here that’s been added by Nicole Herbots, where she’s elaborating on the concept of wondrous power. So the experts are able to bring out aspects– again, largely for the education space– of the text that might not be easily apparent to the students.
[00:28:24.60] There’s a lot of discussion prompts and explanation of place names and terms that might not be familiar. So there are different types of annotations that were added. And the annotations are labeled with these different facets.
[00:28:40.47] So if you only want to look at annotations that are around the science or that are personally relevant to the life of Mary Shelley, you can filter by that. And it’s almost like a choose your own adventure. You have a different experience going through the books with each one. This is an example at the bottom of how the annotations are laid out with their labels.
[00:29:02.70] I mentioned it’s more than just the book. There are commissioned essays that are responses by experts in different fields tying instances and themes in Frankenstein to ongoing developments, either literary or cultural. They’re quite interesting to explore.
[00:29:22.86] And as the title of the talk, “Freeing Frankenstein,” there are amazing little videos that were put together. I don’t have any videos embedded in this, because it’s short, and it would take up all my time. But you can find them on– just another little example about science.
[00:29:44.97] And there’s even an interactive game. I have played this game. There’s three scenarios. One is global warming. One is around availability of organs for transplant. And the third is a little genetic engineered experiment about potentially getting rid of mosquitoes, which is actually a real thing now in the Pacific.
[00:30:08.88] And as you go through, depending upon the choices that you make, you play out different scenarios. I will warn you off the body snatcher one, because it’s actually really, really creepy. That means you’re going to want to go to it. But trust me.
[00:30:21.69] In closing, I just wanted to show– so the annotations that were added to Frankenbook were by invited experts. But the PubPub platform is also being used for open peer review irrespective of whether the final publication will have any connection to PubPub or not. So just two quick examples of how this has happened– and I’ll be publishing a blog post next week with these examples for peer review week– Data Feminism, which was a great book that’s going to publish in 2020, was up through with open review through– I think it was January or February this year. And it was part of the MIT Press Strong Idea Series.
[00:31:06.70] But when it closed, it had 500 comments and 3,000 visits. And I’ve talked to the authors. And they said that the feedback that they got from the community review– many of the folks were invited to come and look at it– was, in many ways, more useful to them than the blind review that they got– something to think about.
[00:31:24.82] And then finally, a book that’s just close to my heart coming from my time In hypothesis, which is a very meta– you can annotate on a book about annotation. And they’re going to incorporate that back into the publishing experience. This just closed a few weeks ago for open review.
[00:31:42.04] And you can see examples here. I avoided the desire to go in and actually show one of my own annotations. Because I thought that would be weird. But there’s a lot of really useful material, as I said, that they will incorporate.
[00:31:54.55] So to experiment around open review, or to add materials to content– maybe digital humanities projects that might not fit to traditional hosting platform– blog post conferences, come find me. And I’ll talk to you as long as you’ll let me about any of these things. So thank you.
[00:32:17.60] SIMON ROSS: Thank you. Thank you, Heather. So last up is Charles Watkinson from the University of Michigan Press, who is going to be talking a bit about a project towards– well, the way I read the project was standardizing open book usage.
[00:32:33.09] CHARLES WATKINSON: Thank you. Thank you, Simon. So a number of the speakers have mentioned the issues of impact, and the importance of talking about usage and usage data as a currency of open access, and also some of the problems that beset books. And so that’s what is on my mind.
[00:32:55.89] This is a story. So this man is Branislav Jakovljevic. I did get it. But anyhow– Branislav J At Stanford. His book was published open access by us a few years ago. And he recently had this question for me. And it should be an easy question, but it’s not.
[00:33:23.20] So the data that we can deliver back to this author is messy. It’s incomplete. It’s confusing.
[00:33:33.49] We are trying our best. So we use digital science products. So we can give him some sense of citations and some sense about metrics. But of course, that’s only picking up mentions of the DOI effectively.
[00:33:49.01] So we do apply DOIs at the book level. But if the DOI or the stable URL is not mentioned, these systems are not going to pick that up. We can give him some sales data. It’s always disappointing at the moment.
[00:34:03.42] Sales data is not terribly useful, because we are actually insulated from the end user. So we actually can’t tell him very much about who we’re selling to, because there are intermediaries between us and the libraries. There are intermediaries like Amazon who won’t share any data back to us.
[00:34:19.89] And we can tell him usage stats. But the usage stats are pretty confusing themselves. They come in multiple different forms.
[00:34:30.56] So we are using Counter 5 now. Some of the usage stats are Counter 4. Some of them are from platforms that deliver the book as a whole book. Some of them are from platforms that deliver it chapter by chapter.
[00:34:47.19] ISBNs– different publishers have different approaches to assigning ISBNs to an open access copy. So that confuses the picture. So it’s just a mess.
[00:34:59.19] We also work with Knowledge Unlatched with KU Open Analytics. And we’ve realized that we really don’t have the capacity to manage the different platforms’ data. So we outsource that role to KU Open Analytics. And this is interesting visualizations.
[00:35:18.90] But you start to dig into this and you say, what does it really mean? How does this actually connect to Professor J’s ambitions for the book? Sure, usage by country– that’s a good story. He’s wanting explicitly to have international reach, so that’s good.
[00:35:39.03] Why would he care about usage by platform? As a publisher, we probably care about that to work out where we should invest our energy. But there’s lots of stuff not here.
[00:35:48.57] He’s interested in reaching beyond the Academy. This is a case study of how a dictator actually reinforces their power through performance. That may sound a little bit relevant today. And that’s actually his hope, as well.
[00:36:09.20] But we can’t tell him anything about crossover into a non-academic audience, for example. So it’s interesting. But it’s not really focused on the questions he’s interested in.
[00:36:20.39] So this is the challenge that we face in the book world. We face a very different form of supply chain from the journals world. And this is a graph actually from a report you may have seen, “The State of Open Monographs” that Digital Science did earlier this year.
[00:36:40.21] And it’s a bit of a messy diagram. But you essentially have this black box in the middle, this green box. And the problem about the green box is it’s all those intermediaries between the publisher and the reader.
[00:36:53.59] And these are playing a very important role in the book supply chain, a very valuable role but a problematic role when it comes to data flows. Because they sit in the middle. And there are all these various problems with identifiers.
[00:37:08.14] But there is this big problem with aggregators, infomediaries of various sorts. And the problem they have– which is a very real problem– is, for open access books, their business model gets broken. Because the business model has always been to take a percentage of the sale price of the book. So there is very little incentive for them, even in a well-meaning environment, to match the really advertise the availability of an open access book and very little incentive or money for them to feed back data.
[00:37:43.76] And it’s becoming very much more difficult in an open access environment, where books are usually openly licensed. But there a whole new group of aggregators and platforms who are taking books and read depositing them and then delivering them. So are the aggregators and platforms a publisher has a relationship with and can work with. But then there are all these other platforms that are redepositing books, and splitting open access usage, and not bringing that data back.
[00:38:12.22] So we had some funding from the Mellon Foundation to explore this, to have a community conversation around exposing the issues and thinking about solutions. And it was an exercise that really got going last year and was an online conversation. There was a proposal document written by Knowledge Unlatched research– a provocation.
[00:38:42.55] We had lots of comments coming in on that. And then we invited a group of people who represented various stakeholders in the supply chain to come to a meeting in December in New York. And then this all resulted in a publication by the Book Industry Study Group that came out in May.
[00:39:03.91] And this was all about exposing the issues, talking through the issues, and coming up with some recommendations. And one of the central recommendations was to establish a data trust. It’s called a data trust, but that’s a very broad term.
[00:39:20.16] The basic idea is that there is a hub to actually discuss these issues, and also a governance mechanism, and also a technical infrastructure to actually bring data in from different suppliers and then have a provision for people to take data out. And it’s a mechanism used in other industries like the sugar industry, where you have a lot of competitors, but they all have common interests. So they have interests in crop yield or climate change. And they are willing to deposit data with the understanding that they can get more generalized pictures out for the common good or for the good of the industry.
[00:39:59.49] So it’s a project that’s developing. And in fact, a new proposal is invited by the Mellon Foundation. And Curtin University is taking the lead on developing this structure. And there should be more information about that soon. But at the same time, there are a number of other issues raised, which are, themselves, budding off into different research projects.
[00:40:23.58] And this is a space that’s just not going away. Almost every month, we’re seeing more announcements about open access book infrastructure. And I think you may have seen recently an announcement from Research England for what’s being called the COPIM Project, which is all about establishing open access infrastructures.
[00:40:46.80] And interestingly enough, these are open access infrastructures that sidestep some of the traditional players in this industry and actually place an infrastructure for dissemination that is directly competing with ProQuest, and EBSCO, and so on. So I think it’s a message that, if you don’t work as a infomediary with open access books and think about how to deal with open access books, there is going to be a group of publishers who is going to try quite actively to go around you, which I don’t think is particularly healthy. But it’s actually what’s going to happen.
[00:41:21.54] And then this work is happening in the UK. In Europe, the Hirmeos Project has just completed. But the Operas Framework is now moving into a new phase.
[00:41:33.12] And in the US, we’re a little bit more distributed, a little bit less centralized. But the Towards the Open Monograph Ecosystem Project is gaining quite a lot of traction in the US, as well. Thank you.
[00:41:53.81] SIMON ROSS: I believe we do have about 90 seconds of question time. We did actually manage to fit all of the presentations in into the 45 minutes. Are there any questions for our panelists?
[00:42:11.58] AUDIENCE: Hi, Simon Holt from Elsevier. So I just wanted to ask, particularly Anke from Intech, just about the funding of the books that you publish. I’m a books publisher myself. And it strikes me that the books we publish tend to be referenced rather than research, as in we’re publishing what was in the journals two or three years ago as opposed to new stuff, as it were.
[00:42:40.15] And what strikes me– that funding tends to be given for new research as opposed to summarizing existing research. So it’d be great if you wouldn’t mind just explaining to me where the money comes from, basically. Because that’s something I don’t quite understand.
[00:42:57.09] ANKE BECK: So reviewing the 4,200 titles, I can say that it’s fairly distributed. And I think that links into what the thesis was of my presentation, that the boundaries between journals and books really blur. So we have many publications which came out from the Horizon 2020 project or projects which were funded by private or governmental organizations. So I can’t really see that there is a pattern. And I do see an increasing amount of articles which report directly about the research outcome and not something like a summary report or anything about a research.
[00:43:46.50] SIMON ROSS: Any more questions? No? Well, we’ve probably reached that 45 minutes. So we finished on time. Thank you very much. Thank you to all our panelists.
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