The 2020 Installment of the Frankfurt Academic Conference Shines a Spotlight on Open Access

Taking place in a digital format, the most recent edition of the Frankfurt Academic Conference has overviewed key topics for publishers, such as Open Access, as they seek to maintain relationships with their stakeholders around the world, e.g., via online communities.

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On December 3-4, 2020, owing to the pandemic conditions, the Frankfurt Academic Conference took place in an online format for a series of expert presentations and question-and-answer sessions revolving around academic publishing.

Co-chair of Outsell’s Leadership Programs, David Worlock has given the opening presentation on the ongoing and expected impact of Open Access transitions on the various players in the book and journal publishing market such as individual researchers, university libraries and publishing houses.

In his talk, Deputy Director of Bielefeld University Library, Dirk Pieper has highlighted that as Open Access initiatives, such as the Plan S, reach a critical mass, they also bring about a profound transformation in the relations between publishers and libraries internationally and, in particular, in Europe and the United States. Consequently, as Pieper suggests, publishing market stakeholders are increasingly engaged in organizational change in response to Open Science initiatives.

This process also apparently involves the growing publisher efforts to deploy online communities for stakeholder outreach, e.g., via blogging platforms involving journal editors and authors. In this domain, Benjamin Johnson, Head of Communities & Engagement at Springer Nature, has shared his experience with improving stakeholder engagement through digital community initiatives that emphasize blog-format storytelling, complementary social media strategies and impact measurement.

Yet, as Ann Okerson, Senior Advisor on Electronic Strategies for the Center for Research Libraries, has reminded the conference audiences, for academic and research libraries, the need to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic has added to the strain on their extant operation models with significant effects for their collection management practices, as usage becomes predominantly digital. Thus, in response to both the multiplicity of Open Access models, as represented by transformative agreements, and external demand and supply shocks, libraries, in North America and elsewhere, are likely to be hard pressed to develop lockdown-compliant and post-pandemic strategies.

This is echoed in the look back at past, not highly successful efforts at format innovation in the book publishing industry of Peter Brantley, Director of Online Strategy at the University of California, Davis Library, as they have been confronting market conditions and their continued evolution under the impact of digitalization. In this context, collaborative online text editing initiatives, such as SciFlow, presented by Carsten Borchert, startup co-founder, indicate continued industry efforts to optimize publishing workflows.

Similarly, as Sven Fund, Managing Director of Knowledge Unlatched, has discussed in his presentation, despite the growing prevalence of Open Access in the publishing industry, it continues to encounter scalability and sustainability challenges, which demand context-specific pragmatic responses.

By Pablo Markin


Featured Image Credits: Connecting the Dots: Digitalization, Finance & Sustainable Development, Frankfurt, Germany, January 27, 2020 | © Courtesy of Robert Hörnig/German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)/Flickr.

Pablo Markin

Community Manager, Open Research Community

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Go to the profile of Pablo Markin
7 months ago

As Sven Fund suggests in his presentation slides, in terms of the market share, presently Open Access content only accounts for around 3.3%, whereas with 96.7% closed access content continues to predominate. This is also reflected in the market-level revenue share that the Open Access output (7%) generates, which stands in stark contrast to that of closed access, paywall-protected content (93%).