The APE 2022 Online Conference Takes Stock of Global Challenges, Market Developments

The Academic Publishing in Europe (APE) outfit has opened the conference year with a three-day virtual event over 11-13 January 2022, while focusing on "The Future of the Permanent Record," as its umbrella theme.

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Due to pandemic limitations, this year's edition of the APE 2022 Conference, aiming to discuss scholarly, educational and social aspects of scientific publishing, continues to take place in a digital format. As in 2021, the main sponsor for the event that brings together different publishing market stakeholders is the Berlin Institute for Scholarly Publishing (BISP).

Given that scholarly publishing has been taking active part in COVID-19 response, such as through putting into Open Access relevant research papers and data sets, the pandemic context, climate change and technological risks represent global challenges that actors in the science and research domain increasingly seek to address. In this regard, preprints represent one of the output formats that bring Open Access to bear not only on scientific research but also public discussions, such as around policy-making.

Yet, as Prof. Dr. Maria Leptin, President, European Research Council (ERC), Brussels, highlights in her keynote presentation, preprints can differ significantly from the finalized versions of scholarly articles, due to peer review procedures, editorial input and quality control measures, which likely entails significantly higher costs than preprint repository management. As Open Access plays a growing role in the publishing market, different market actors adjust by adopting innovative business models, differentiating their offers in terms of service quality and tackling the issues of global inclusion with respect to scholarly publication processes and institutional access cost funding.

Similarly, Todd Carpenter, Executive Director, NISO (National Information Standards Organisation), Washington, DC, has drawn attention in his talk to the importance of persistent identifiers, such as those for books (ISBN), journals (ISSN), and digital publications (DOI), for metadata infrastructures, content discoverability and dissemination channels. This also directly relates to the focus that Martyn Rittman, Product Manager, Crossref, has placed on the metadata quality, which is especially relevant for Open Access infrastructures that need to constantly adapt to be able to handle a wide variety of content formats, such as empirical datasets, methodology protocols,  and digital contributions.

In this respect, Dr. Liz Marchant, Global Portfolio Director (Life, Earth & Environmental Sciences) at Taylor & Francis Group, Oxford, has stressed the importance of the version of record for scholarly content management and preservation. However, Prof. Dr. Christian Behl, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Cellular Biochemistry and Institute for Pathobiochemistry, University Medical Center of Johannes-Gutenberg-University, Mainz, has contrasted the exigencies of maintaining scholarly publication records with the debates that occur around hypothesis testing and refutation, their real world implications and false information proliferation, which also leads to publication corrections, retractions and criticisms. This increases the importance of gatekeeping mechanisms, quality control and misconduct identification in the field of scientific publishing.

Likewise, as Prof. Dr. Ph.D. Bernhard Sabel, Editor-in-Chief, Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience and Medical Faculty, Otto-von-Guericke University of Magdeburg, has discussed, the share of fake publications in the total scholarly output can be non-negligibly high, such as between 10% and 15% in some disciplines. This indicates that, for publishing models with author-facing fees, it is paramount to establish their trustworthiness, e.g., with regard to quality standards, vis-à-vis academic, funding and public stakeholders. As Tim Kersjes, Research Integrity Manager, Springer Nature, Dordrecht, has noted, this also has a bearing on research integrity preservation mechanisms that demand specialist expertise, technological solutions and prevention measures. Dr. Joris van Rossum, Product Director, STM Solutions, and Director of Research Integrity, STM, Amsterdam, has also indicated that research integrity represents a significant problem for scholarly publishers, journal editors and publication reviewers, as it relates to misconduct detection.

Yet, as the discussion moderated by Dr. Christene Smith, Chair of the Editorial IDEAL Committee at De Gruyter, Berlin, also suggests, the publishing industry needs to address the issues of inequality, discrimination and exclusion both in the society at large and in terms of organizational or cultural changes that different stakeholders can implement to address these. For instance, Ylann Schemm, Director, Elsevier Foundation and Corporate Responsibility, Elsevier, Amsterdam and Chair of the Research4Life Executive Council, has showcased how the Research4Life initiative provides free of charge and low-cost content to scholars and researchers in developing countries and emerging economies, e.g., in the Global South, while empowering these to become not only knowledge consumers but also research producers, especially in the context of Open Access.

By Pablo Markin


Featured image credits: Start of conference , Berlin, Germany, January 18, 2006  | © Courtesy of  Henri Laupmaa/Flickr.

Pablo Markin

Community Manager, Open Research Community