Margy Avery on Complicating the Question of Access (and Value) with University Press Publications
Marguerite Avery, who is a Research Affiliate in the program, presented the talk below as part of Shaking It Up — a one-day workshop on the changing state of the research ecosystem jointly sponsored by Digital Science, MIT, Harvard and Microsoft.
For the past ten years, Margy was Senior Acquisitions Editor at The MIT Press where she acquired scholarly, trade, and reference work in Science and Technology Studies, Information Science, Communications, and Internet Studies. She joined the research program in September to collaborate on explorations of new forms of library publishing.
A number of themes ran through the talk:
- The two formats published by vast majority of University Presses books, and journals, increasingly compromise the ability of the press to capture and publish modern research.
- The time to publish is also increasingly out of sync with the pace of research — publication occurs too slowly.
- Existing business models and price points are a significant barrier for university presses that do wish to move to different formats or more agile publication models
As a follow-on, we are collaborating to analytically unpack the “university press” model, and identify the minmum necessary characteristics for a sustainable publisher of scholarship. Some preliminary thoughts on a short list include:
- A process to ensure durability of the published work — possibly through supporting organizations such as Hathi Trust, the Internet Archive, Portico, SSRN, LOCKSS, or CLOCKSS
- A mechanism to persistently and uniquely identify works — likely through ISBN’s (supported by Bowker) and DOI’s (supported by CROSSREF)
- Metadata and mechanisms supporting metadata discoverability — e.g. MARC records, LC catalog entries, WorldCat entries, ONIX feeds
- Mechanisms for supporting content discoverability and previewing, — e.g. through google Google Books, Google Scholar, Amazon, Books in Print
- A business process to broker and process purchases and subscriptions
- A way to select quality content and to signal the quality of the selection
- A process to establish and maintain an acquisition pipeline
- A production workflow
- Marketing channels
Matching these necessary criteria to new forms of scholarship, which are accompanied new affordances and barriers, promises to be an interesting and challenging task.