The scholarly publishing industry has undergone significant changes over the last few decades, and with the pandemic outbreak, it became significant for the scholarly communication sector to understand and respond quickly to the new normal. Technology has played an essential role in refining the research and publication landscape. Over the years, digitization has become a vital element of every research and publishing aspect, thereby accelerating the overall publishing process.
Technology’s role in augmenting research and publication processes is a known fact. Over the years, the emphasis has shifted from unilateral passive scientific communication to outreach and engagement. Making relevant content easily discoverable is vital to create an impact, and digital innovations such as artificial intelligence, digital object identifiers, and search engine optimization can help achieve this.
The digitization wave created new ways for researchers, publishers, authors, investors, and other stakeholders to demonstrate the impact of research in encouraging policy or practice and boosting user/reader engagement. Recent digitization initiatives and the development of new digital resources have further fuelled research initiatives. Scholars today have access to a wide range of information and related services. This has not only helped reduce their time to find relevant information but has also enabled ground-breaking research inquiry. The advent of digital libraries and other digital resources have opened up new opportunities for researchers with regard to accessing different types of information.
Researchers today have unprecedented access to scholarly content. A 2018 STM Report estimated annual full-text downloads at over 2.5 billion and cost per download at relatively low levels – less than $1 per article for several big customers. Several surveys have revealed that researchers identify journal articles as their first choice for improved access. However, what may have been extraordinary standards of access in the past can no longer satisfy current demands. Information overload can also contribute to annoyance because not everything findable is accessible.
The world has witnessed a tremendous increase in the amount of scholarly content that is being published. Journals alone may no longer be the best medium to share knowledge or act as knowledge repositories. There is a need to provide easier access to various format types, such as preprints, working papers, datasets, experimental protocols, computational notebooks, and literature reviews. To safeguard long-term access and preservation of content, publication venues and back-end infrastructures must be dependable, steady, and sustainable. All dissemination possibilities must be indexed or connected to catalogs, information systems, or discovery tools in order to be made available to the scholarly community at large.
What was seen to be a medium to build a personal network has now emerged to become a key channel for content dissemination and outreach. Scientists and researchers can take advantage of the different social networking platforms for sharing and promoting their scientific research and knowledge. It is crucial for scientific research to undergo an extensive peer-review process before it is published. While this process is underway, several scientists/researchers take to social media platforms for a quick review of their work by their peers. Reviews posted help them assess their work and rectify errors much in advance. Some social media platforms allow creating groups and pages, enabling scientists/researchers to form a community of like-minded people to collaborate on projects, discuss new developments, and learn together.
Collaboration among researchers is on the rise. The Covid-19 pandemic and advances in communication technology have definitely had an influence. Researchers today are seeking to work with the best of their peers to enhance quality and improve productivity.
Collaboration has never been more critical than it is today. The world is confronted with a wide range of ‘global challenges’ such as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, energy security, food security, and other infectious diseases. International scientific collaboration is vital to stand a chance to tend to the causes or deal with the impacts of these issues.
The research response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful example of the value of collaboration among researchers.
Today, more specialized content is being generated and made accessible across a variety of domains. Multidisciplinary journals are publishing a wide range of research topics. There are also super-specialty niche journals focussing on explicit areas of research. Recognizing the need for transparency, publishers are also showing greater interest in reaching out and engaging with their audiences through author education, editorial workflow support, etc.
Going digital is the way forward. Technology will continue to play a crucial role in further transforming scientific communication. New technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain will enable enhanced functionalities in scholarly communication and value-added services. Publishers are implementing AI-based technologies to address peer review issues, detect plagiarism, search relevant content, and identify data fabrication and image manipulation.
Concerns regarding peer-review quality, plagiarism, publication bias, OA publishing cost, image manipulation, predatory publishing, etc., are ongoing challenges. Broader issues such as academic integrity, reproducibility, and preventing fraud and data falsification also remain at the forefront of any scholarly publishing debate. New enabling technologies like Artificial Intelligence and blockchain can address some of these challenges, if not all.
STM publishing continues to evolve and serves a wide array of academic & scientific communities. And the rise of open access, the impact of mobile tech, and the shifting demand for online content to stay relevant is shaping up their business strategies.
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