RCUK-sponsored journal study

April 27, 2006 at 8:28 am | Posted in Electronic Publishing, Journals Publishing, Open Access | Leave a comment

The RCUK has announced an Analysis of data on scholarly journals publishing. It would appear that the results of this study of the journal publishing aspects of the scholarly communications process and its costs will be analysed before RCUK release the long-awaited final version of its policy on Open Access:

This study got off the ground in mid-April 2006 and should conclude by the middle of summer.’ It is being undertaken on behalf of the three joint funders by Electronic Publishing Services Ltd (EPS), in association with Loughborough University Department of Information Science.’ The aim is to assist in UK domestic policy-making, by reviewing information about scholarly journal publishing, assessing the data available about the process and the reliability of that data. The main purpose of the study is to gain more reliable information about the operation of the journal publishing aspects of the scholarly communications process and its costs.’ The study focuses specifically on journal publishing, but it should be viewed in the context of a projected body of work involving all key stakeholders in the context of the scholarly communications framework.’ This is likely to include related but separate studies of other aspects of scholarly communications, including for instance the development, funding and viability of digital repositories.

The key objective of the project is to provide the three sponsors of the study, and other stakeholders in the scholarly journals industry, with an accurate review of reliable and objective information about the journals publishing process….

Scholarly journal publishing is a key component of the spectrum of functions and activities that form part of the scholarly communications process.’ This has been the focus of much interest lately, in particular because of the considerable interest generated by recent debates on open access.’ Although this level of debate has provided a welcome opportunity to consider challenges relating to the dissemination of research outputs, it has also been characterised by a degree of mutual suspicion and misunderstanding stemming from the often conflicting positions of the different actors and stakeholders with an interest in these issues. There has also been tension over the quality and completeness of the information and data that the different stakeholders have used in support of their respective positions.’ As a result of these tensions and suspicions, it has been difficult to achieve a consensus on how best to exploit the potential of new technology for enhancing the scholarly communications process and its cost-effectiveness.’ This has had implications for the development of public policy, as evidenced by the debates surrounding the Wellcome Trust’s policy on open access, and the delay in agreeing a definitive RCUK position statement.

In this context, there is a clear need for objective information that all stakeholders can agree upon as a means of defining and achieving common goals in scholarly communications.’ The DTI-sponsored Research Communications Forum has provided a useful arena for the exchange of information and views.’ The recently-created scholarly communications group facilitated by the RIN will work collaboratively to identify key issues in scholarly communications and gaps in our understanding, and to develop a better, evidence-based understanding of these issues – for instance, the development, funding and viability of digital repositories – as a basis for informing public policy.’ This group includes representatives of all the key stakeholders (notably the Research Councils, the library community, publishers, the RIN and key Government Departments such as the DTI and OST).’ The current study, focused on scholarly journal publishing – which has been the focus of some of the more lively debate – will be timely contribution to the development of understanding in the field of scholarly communications as a whole.

(Via Open Access News.)

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