STM Newsletter - December 2017

Alastair Horne
Opinion - Academic Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Alastair Horne, in association with the London Book Fair, on developments at Springer Nature, content-sharing initiatives, and other news from the STM publishing world


Springer Nature contemplates IPO; announces new pilot, and editor-in-chief
Springer Nature has confirmed reports from Reuters that it is exploring the possibility of organising an initial public offering (IPO) next year on the Frankfurt stock exchange, according to the Bookseller. Currently, German publisher Holtzbrinck owns 53% of the company - formed in 2015 through the merger of Springer Science and Business Media with most of Macmillan Science and Education - while BC Partners hold the rest; though the latter is expected to sell some shares, Holtzbrinck reportedly aims to retain a stake of at least 40% in the company. The IPO, valuing the company at between €4 and €5bn, is expected to raise around €700-800m, which may be used to cut the company's net debt of €3bn.

In a busy month for Springer Nature, the company has also announced a one-year pilot partnership with PaperHive, the annotation system and copyright-compliant collaborative research platform. The pilot will enable PaperHive's annotation, group conversation and sharing functionality for book and textbooks titles from Springer and Springer Spektrum, the company's natural sciences and mathematics publisher in German-speaking regions.

It has also been announced that Sir Philip Campbell is to stand down from his role as editor-in-chief at Nature. He has occupied the role for the past 22 years, but is to take up a new position as editor-in-chief for Springer Nature next summer. The company is searching for a replacement.

Content sharing initiatives continue to grow
Sharing academic content beyond those with institutional access increasingly seems an idea whose time has come. Springer Nature has shared results from the first year of its free content sharing initiative SharedIt: since its launch in October 2016, articles from more than 2,700 journals owned by the company and its partners have been shared by authors, subscribers, and media outlets more than 3.25m times, in over 200 markets and across almost 29,000 institutions. Subscribers accounted for 1.24m shares, authors 1.15m, and media outlets 885,000; the two most popular articles, each accessed more than 40,000 times, concerned neural networks and artificial intelligence.

Meanwhile, Cambridge University Press has announced the launch of its own content sharing service, covering a select number of journals in an initial pilot period. Cambridge Core Share will allow authors and subscribers to share read-only links online; authors will be able to monitor the resulting usage, allowing them to demonstrate impact more easily. This new pilot follows the launch last year of the press's Cambridge Core platform, which has seen content usage rise by up to 25%.

New PLOS ceo halts development of workflow system; addresses concerns
In an open letter to the communities served by open access publisher PLOS, new ceo Alison Mudditt has announced that the organisation has decided to halt development of its workflow system Aperta. In a separate response to an article in Scholarly Kitchen, Mudditt insisted that the company remained strongly profitable, despite a recent decline in submissions, and would address issues around growth and diversification of its revenues.

Wiley increases revenues; launches publishing learning programme for researchers
Wiley has announced financial results for the second quarter, ending 31 October 2017: revenues increased 6% to $452m (3% at constant currency), driven by growth in Research Journals, STM and professional publishing, education services, and the acquisition of Atypon. The publisher is also launching a comprehensive research publishing learning programme, Wiley Researcher Academy, to offer a modular, self-paced learning programme for early career researchers who wish to develop their expertise and understanding of the scientific publishing process, and for mid-career researchers seeking to update and perfect their skills.

COPE issues new 'Core Practices' document
The Committee on Publication Ethics, COPE, has consolidated its two advisory codes of practice, "Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Editors" and "Code of Conduct for Journal Publishers", into a single, streamlined document entitled "Core Practices". The simplified guidelines are intended to be more flexible than before, and link to more detailed materials.

More announcements from Digital Science
Digital Science has announced several new partnerships amongst its stable of start-ups. ReadCube has partnered with ICE Publishing, the publishing division of the Institute of Civil Engineers, to use the company's tools to enhance the discoverability of the publisher's journals and ebooks. Peerwith has launched a pilot of its researcher services platform with the library of Erasmus University, Rotterdam. And stablemates Symplectic and Figshare have announced an integration of their services so that research outputs deposited in either system will be automatically reflected in the other.

Brill appoints Lange
Brill has appointed Jasmine Lange as chief publishing officer and member of the management team, starting from 1 January. Lange, who joined Brill in 2011, will focus in her new role on open access, developing new business models, and integrating new acquisitions.

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