Ian Mulvany

October 26, 2021

a new again model of scholarly publishing

This announcement from CUP crossed my radar this week - https://www.thebookseller.com/news/cups-research-directions-offers-new-journals-concept-1285697

It's really interesting, and I'm looking forward to seeing what is launched. The press release outlines the ambition of the project as such: 

"In contrast to the traditional, self-contained research paper, researchers will be able to contribute at different stages in the process, sharing and building on each other’s work, the publisher said. They can submit results that address the questions posed, or analysis of others’ results, offering alternative insights and interpretations and using the findings to inform their own work." 

This sounds akin to a platform that enables some form of micropublication, with some metadata led connective tissues between components, all with the goal of creating a growing research narrative. If it is like that then it certainly won't be the first to try that. 

Nature produced something like that back in about 2012 - the Nature Encode project (https://www.nature.com/encode/threads) - now deeply broken. 

eLife has it's executable research article format - https://elifesciences.org/for-the-press/eb096af1/elife-launches-executable-research-articles-for-publishing-computationally-reproducible-results

The idea to "be able to link research published on Cambridge Core to preprints, data, conference presentations and other supporting material that they post on the press' early research platform", sounds less groundbreaking than what one might expect from any platform on the web. 

There are four things that interest me about this initiative. 

1) this is being led by a publisher, so we can hope that the service model is setup to support the research process. 

2) it is being built on top of a refreshed core publishing platform. Will that platform allow them to innovate without having to try to develop new services using a double-sided sticky back plaster approach of shoe-horning unsuitable technologies together. 

3) this kind of idea is a bit like twitter clients used to be, or weather apps are today - a kind of application that is easy to describe, yet that opens to the door to a wide range of experiments with the user experience and information architecture, what will this look like? what kind of clarity can using the web bring to a complex set of activities. 

4) the underlying idea is a good one, but how can one shift researcher behaviour, will this support the creation of an excited community, and how will they remain incentivised to engage with the platform? 

I'm looking forward to seeing what comes out of this project, it should be exciting.