Monday, March 30, 2009

No Revolutions For Scholarly Publishing – Derk Haank, Springer

In contrast to Hindawi's predictions for a ‘Journal Commoditization’ revolution in the next decade, Haank’s view is that the major advancements in scholarly publishing have already taken place. For a revolution to occur people have to be very dissatisfied with the current situation and that is no longer the case since the shared publishing goals of 1998 have already been achieved. These were:

1) improving access;

2) seamless linking; and

3) improving value for money.


The CrossRef initiative has solved one of the biggest problems by providing pure linking to enable seamless access to everything, for everyone. The fear and excitement of the late nineties meant that publishers “invested heavily - too much in my view - in technology” and this resulted in having to charge much higher fees for publishers’ platforms, rendering content inaccessible to some users.


The technology will not be important in the next decade as people are no longer concerned with how systems work, only with the end product/use. “The techies are back in the cellar where they belong”. So Haank doesn’t care about the next Web (2.0/3.0 or 99.9) as we’ve already achieved a lot and it will not be possible to invest much further anyway.


We’ve talked about Open Access for ten years but only 3% of articles are published in the OA model – hardly a revolution. But of course OA will not disappear (noting his recent investment in BioMed Central!) but will build slowly alongside and in parallel to traditional publishing business models as an evolution, not a revolution.


More content is produced each year than the previous year but library budgets do not increase so we just need to get much more efficient every year instead of looking for the next big development.


Haank’s conclusion for 2014-1019 is that “we’re in for a boring decade” but pointed out that while he and Hindawi may disagree, they could both be right!


PS – Haank was asked about the "elephant in the room" and said that Springer is not up for sale but looking for a third additional partner not replacing current shareholders.

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