So far with my blog, I have shied away somewhat from talking about what I personally do in publishing. Some of you may be wondering what it is I actually do that qualifies me to write about publishing on a blog.
First off, I would say that anyone interested in publishing, I mean interested as a passion, not just as a job, should write about it. It’s been a great experience for me and has led to an expansion of my network and some wonderful collaborations.
No matter whether you’re just starting out in the world of scholarly publishing, or if you have been in the industry for years, I’m sure you have something to say. Feel free to reach out to me if you’re struggling to get started!
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I work with societies, specifically, establishing partnerships with societies so that they can make informed choices about their journal.
Ideally, I believe that all journals should move to an Open Access model of publishing, but I recognise that some societies might not be in the position to do this. The decision to move to a new publishing model or a new publisher for that matter is a big one.
There are always practical matters that are important to these decisions. The finances need to line up, the society membership need to feel included in the decision process, and there is nearly always a long line of Committees and Chairs waiting in the wings, ready to provide their opinion (which is usually, on the whole, extremely helpful). But there is also something intangible about any partnership with a society that revolves around values, culture, mission and vision.
Societies are usually created because there is a world-altering problem needing to be solved, or perhaps an undervalued scholarly community that needs support. Societies aim to make the world a better place, by bringing together the world’s best and brightest in that field (often in-person at an international conference) to put a spotlight on the problem. And it’s for all these reasons (and more) that societies are still needed. Societies are still relevant.
Yet societies face growing threats. Mid-small sized societies provide a venue for niche scientific communities, but it is, unfortunately, these smaller societies that are increasingly under strain. Revenue streams for non-profit societies (as most are NPs) have been a concern globally. Societies are facing calls from their members to demonstrate value for money for their membership fees. In parallel to this, society journals are moving to Open Access, which frequently means a fee for authors (even if they are members). Societies have also seen dwindling numbers of in-person attendees to their conferences post-Covid, which has resulted in a further strain on their revenue streams.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Societies thrive on collaboration, whether that’s with their members, funders, or publishers. I believe that collaboration, via values-based partnerships, will fend off these threats that are nipping at the heels of many historic societies. Without collaboration, we may lose societies from the publishing landscape, which would be a tragedy for science. Finding a partner, and a publishing partner specifically, should be a values-based search. A publishing partner should be able to understand and empathise with a society’s position, and more importantly, innovate solutions to resolve those challenges.
Where do values-based partnerships fail? Well, to put it simply, values-based partnerships do not work when values are not aligned. Let’s say a society highly values maintaining a stringent level of quality for individual manuscripts, which takes time, but is worth it to ensure every manuscript is carefully checked. On the other hand, their publishing partner values speed and efficiency. It won’t be long before these publishing partners will be butting heads. These partnerships can still work, but they ask for compromise. Is compromise always worth it? Maybe not, both partners lose out, neither partner is fully happy.
My advice to societies? Make sure you pick a publishing partner that is aligned with your values and vision for your journal from the outset. Don’t be taken in by financial deals that “look too good to be true”, it’s worth paying a little more to work with a partner who is committed to your vision and aligned with your values.
I hope you found this blog post on Publishing Partnerships helpful and interesting. Make sure you subscribe to MugsPubs to receive notifications in your inbox and keep up-to-date with the latest posts and developments.
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