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2013 started on a bad news with the death of Aaron Swartz’, however was a good year for academic publishing. Many important announcements were made, a lot of things were tried for good or for bad. Take down notice to Academia from Elsevier was one of those attempts where the biggest commercial publisher tried to safeguard it’s commercial interest. It was seen as a bad move, as Elseiver was seen as to curb the free flow of knowledge. However, when you look from another point of view, Academia.edu is also a “for profit” company and by allowing academics to upload their research papers and circulate them publicly (copyright of that was of course with Elsevier) it deliberately (or may be not so deliberately) indulged in a practice which served it’s profits in a way. However, towards the fag end of 2013 Elsevier also announced flipping of 7 of it’s subscription journals to Open Access from 2014.
There are occasions which marked significant changes in near future to come. I have compiled few of them, which, in larger prospective gives an inside view of emerging trends in academic publishing world.
1. Decline of Commercial Publishers – Though commercial publishers like Elsevier, Springer etc. will still be the major player and will maintain their monopoly over academic publishing, they will however also begin recognizing the importance of Open Access and will start taking it more and more seriously. Elsevier for example, announced towards the end of 2013, about their decision to flip seven of their subscription journals to Open Access in 2014.
2. Rise of Academic Collaboration – Research community is perhaps the most apt for collaboration. Collaboration among researcher will not only benefit the researchers but the research itself. A better research would mean a better community and a better economy. As we all know, research it engine for economic growth of a region. The two largest economies of the world are also the largest publishers of research papers.
3. Rise of Small Publishers – With Digital publishing becoming a norm,and publishing becoming a simple procedure, it will be rather easy for many small publishers to come in. 2014 will see a lot of small publishers coming up, of course most of them will choose to be a part of Open Access.
4. Rise of Open Access – 2013 saw the rise and rise of Open Access, so much so that the movement threatened the existing business model of traditional commercial publishing. Rise of Open Access will give rise to Open Access Search Engines like RockYourPaper and Repositories like DAOJ and Arxiv etc. These websites increasingly become relevant to access information on Open Access.
In February White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy announced that all federal agencies with large research budgets will now need follow the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) lead in providing public access to research publications within one year.
Similar announcements were made by Science Europe, a body representing 51 European Funding agencies.
The year ended on a high note with UNESCO’s release of Open Access Repository.
5. Fall of Impact Factor – Commercial Publishers have long used Impact Factor to their advantage. Academics were forced to follow a process of Impact Factor which has the potential of getting manipulated easily.
On December 16, 2012, a group of editors and publishers of scholarly journals, including representatives from The Company of Biologists (COB), publisher of Disease Models & Mechanisms, gathered at the Annual Meeting of The American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco, CA, USA to discuss current issues related to how the quality of research output is evaluated, and how the primary scientific literature is cited. It announced The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment . It recommended not to use journal-based metrics, such as journal impact factors as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles
As I mentioned earlier in this article, these are few of the trends and the list is not exhaustive. You are welcome to discuss and add on the trends in the comment section.
I came across this interesting story and thought of sharing it with you. It’s one of the Aesops fables.
One day the various parts (Aesop says ‘members’) of the human body, including the brain, arms, legs, eyes, feet, hands, lungs, etc., got together to discuss the body’s belly and what they thought about its contribution to the group efforts on behalf of the body.
The body parts were all unhappy and resentful for various reasons, and chose to target their collective anxieties at the belly, in a rather bullying way.
The unhappy body parts decided that the belly was not doing enough towards maintaining the body’s operations, and accused the belly of spending its time lazily consuming food and allowing other members to do all the work.
“We have decided that we will no longer do what we need to do in order to feed you,” they said to the belly, “Because you do nothing to help us, and you are lazy and unproductive.”
And they stopped feeding the belly. The belly soon starved. But then so did the body and all of its parts starve too. The unhappy body parts now realized – too late unfortunately to save themselves and the body – that although the belly seemed to be doing nothing, it had in fact been fulfilling a vital function necessary for the well being of the body and all of its parts.
Moral: Often group efforts include certain members whose contributions may seem inconsequential or less valuable than others, and whose behaviors may seem different and less worthy than other louder more obvious contributors, but it is not generally such a simple matter.
Group dynamics are complex, and it is easy to misinterpret and undervalue other members‘ efforts when we do not understand the entire situation, and particularly when we do not understand how individual members might be crucial to overall teamwork and results. When we target and victimize group members we weaken the group, and all of its members.