Will societies miss the opportunities in professional development?

As a strategy consultant in e-learning, and formerly a marketing director, I’ve been hearing since the early years of the ‘Noughties’ about the fantastic opportunities technology offers to professional societies. They have large and dispersed member bases. They have a wealth of leveragable learning resources. They rarely have direct competitors. Many have members who rely on the learning they provide to maintain their accreditation. There is a points-based system in place (CPD/CME) to record the learning that keeps their knowledge and/or accreditation current, which has its jaw hanging out for automation. Many societies have the budgets to invest in technology, or redundant assets (in this day and age) such as underused conference centres that could be liquidated to fund development. And useful new technologies such as Tin Can, which might have been purpose-designed for recording unstructured CPD, continue to come along the track. Yes, the opportunities in professional development just keep on getting better – so why do they keep on being ignored? Continue reading

ALPSP Seminar: What do researchers want… and what are we doing about it?

The recent ALPSP Seminar entitled “What do researchers want… and what are we doing about it?” offered some great insights from a panel of four early career researchers from various disciplines. Understanding user needs is fundamentally important to developing profitable tools and services, yet it’s often not given the prominence it deserves, so it was refreshing to see the researchers take centre stage. This summary of the day explores the themes that were discussed and offers some thoughts on how to give users what they want out of digital publishing. Continue reading

The mysterious survival of print

At a time when the direction of travel in the information industry is overwhelming towards digital (and when many scholarly publishers are still struggling to migrate their long tail that way) it comes as something of a surprise to register a movement in the opposite direction. In the words of Digiday, many born-on-the-web emagazines and blogs are ‘backwards-engineering their online publications for the physical page’. Meanwhile college students seem to be rejecting digital textbooks in favour of print – and in the world of distance learning, ‘dead-tree’ resources still appear to be holding their own, despite the much-hyped phenomenon of MOOCs. It often seems there is an implicit assumption in our industry that print will eventually disappear altogether, but is this right? And if not, what is the place for print within a predominantly digital landscape? Continue reading

The devil in the data: what publishers have to gain from open sharing

The recent statement of policy on data sharing by PLOS has generated a furore that usefully highlights the diversity of data involved in scholarly publishing, and the problems it causes when faced with such across-the-board stipulations. But amidst all the sound and fury, is an important commercial opportunity being missed? It is worth pointing out that this statement does not contain any substantial new requirement from PLOS. To quote their blog: ‘PLOS journals have requested data be available since their inception’. Rather it attempts to reinforce a stipulation that is probably more honoured in the breach than the observance at the moment. But in doing so it seem to have pressed on a pain point for some, who have not just attacked PLOS for having a poorly worded policy on data. More broadly, it seems, they want to question the utility, and even the principle, of providing the data that underpins research results as a means of validating, reproducing and possibly reinterpreting those results. Continue reading

How it feels to be a winner!

Scolaris winner of 2014 CODiE We have been invited by the SIIA, the body that runs the CODIE Awards, to comment on what it felt like to win the award for Best Scholarly Publishing Information Solution this year with our Scolaris platform. Apart from the obvious response – absolutely great – we have feelings about this particular award that go beyond the usual sense of gratification we get when one of our projects is recognised. Continue reading