Learned society publishers and repositories (and a bit of rugby)

Added by Stephane Goldstein on 08 October 2007 10:56

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On 5 October, I attended a workshop organised by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) on the theme ‘Repositories - for better or worse?’  This was genuinely interesting, and the question in the title proved to be satisfyingly open.  Had such an event been run a couple of years ago, I suspect that the overwhelming consensus on the day would have been ‘for worse’ ? but on this occasion, there was a real debate, symptomatic perhaps of changing attitudes.

This is not to say that concern and worry about the development of repositories has vanished among learned societies ? far from it.  However, the discussion at the workshop underlined a willingness from many quarters to think about new business opportunities.  These include the provision of value added services and enhancements as text harvesting, dynamic formatting and Web 2.0 applications.  There was a suggestion that, on this basis, publishers could actually generate revenue from repository usage, effectively by providing services that can exploit their content. The possible role of publishers in relation to data publication was also evoked, and this elicited much interest.

To my mind, one of the most interesting ideas raised by one of the societies was that ‘publishing’, as an all-embracing term, is an outdated concept.  The view was that, from a business modelling, perspective, it is better to deconstruct ?publishing? into distinct but related processes that form an integral part of the research endeavour: broadly, (i) selection of scholarly material, (ii) validation, and (iii) editing - each of which could in principle be offered as a service, with cost implications, in its own right.  Incidentally, this is not dissimilar from the view contained in RCUK’s original draft position statement (June 2005) on access to publication outputs.

All in all, this was a useful afternoon, and I can recommend ALPSP’s programme of such activities (not the first I’ve attended), even for non-publishers.

And now for the really important news…

As a citizen of the French Republic, I couldn’t possibly resist the temptation to gloat about the fate inflicted on the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup quarter final.  Sadly, I missed the match, as I was at a party on Saturday night.  There were several New Zealanders there, and the dropping of jaws at the propitious moment when the result was confirmed was a momentous sight…. It?s France v England in Paris next weekend, and all I can say is, allez les bleus!

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