The London Book Fair 2018, held at Olympia on 10th – 12th April, seemed a little less well-attended than usual, perhaps because it clashed with the UKSG Conference that took place at the same time in Glasgow.  For Cambridge University Press, however, it was a very busy and successful event: each day the large Cambridge stand was packed with visitors either attending pre-arranged appointments or just dropping in.

One of the highlights of the fair was the seminar given at The Faculty (the academic publishing presentations meeting space) by Brigitte Shull, Director of Scholarly Communications and Scholarly Research for Cambridge Academic, and Andy Woodfield, Head of Brand Communications for Cambridge Academic. The seminar was entitled Author-Centricity: how the author experience is shaping the scholarly communications landscape.  Brigitte and Andy were joined by James McDougall, an academic author, Abigail Jones, Researcher and Public Engagements Co-ordinator at Sense about Science, and Damian Pattinson, VP of Publishing Innovation at American Journal Experts.

LBF Speakers
L-R James McDougall, Brigitte Shull, Andy Woodfield, Abigail Jones, Damian Pattinson

James McDougall said that academic authors were feeling less and less central to the scholarly process, which increasingly seems to be more about measurement and meeting targets.  Different means of engaging with large audiences are becoming more common: academics wonder what others are doing with their work.

In UK Higher Education, the Teaching Excellence Framework [TEF], which is metrics driven, and other metrics are driving the way universities think about academics’ work.  This is disempowering: it takes the initiative away from authors.  Conversely, however, publishers are increasing their interest in the kinds of support authors want.  Career pressure is still the paramount driving force for academics: “the only metric that counts is the monograph”.  Publishing monographs that are then reviewed in academic journals give authors standing in their chosen fields.

Younger researchers rely on publication to make their work visible and to get it discussed.  Sometimes it is difficult to balance the importance of impact factors with their standing in the field.  They need to understand when and how to publish.

Brigitte said that Cambridge University Press has long understood the need for publishers to collaborate with authors.  Academic publication is becoming more community driven.  CUP’s authors come from all continents and vary in status from eminent scholars to academics just starting out on their careers.

Discussion with authors is invaluable both to them and to the publisher.  CUP has established many ways to keep its finger on the pulse: it conducts author surveys; commissions market research; and keeps in touch with authors every day through its own staff.  It is therefore aware that authors face many challenges before the publisher even enters the process.

Brigitte Shull emphasised the importance of close collaboration with authors

Cambridge has partnered with American Journal Experts [AJE] to understand what the issues for authors are and provide them with a more personally tailored service.  Cambridge also sponsors Sense About Science, as peer review has always been and continues to be the hallmark. It exists not just as a facet of the publishing workflow, but as training for early career researchers.

Starting in 2015, CUP has been engaged in implementing Nomensa Persona Research.  This has provided insights into social sharing and the types of support authors and society publishers need.  As a result, Cambridge has developed Core Share, a research-sharing facility on its flagship Cambridge Core platform.  It has also developed more rigorous and sophisticated tools to support authors. Brigitte emphasised that the tools complement, rather than replace, the vital in-person conversations that are still needed.

Andy Woodfield talked about CUP’s newly launched Author Hub.  This provides authors with a wide range of facilities, from a sales and royalties dashboard to Altmetrics.   In addition, Cambridge has a well-established author video service.  This involves inviting authors to come into the Cambridge offices and participate in short films / videos.  Over the past five years 250 authors have been filmed.  A LinkedIn group for authors has also been set up to answer questions and share author experiences.

The findings from its author surveys showed Cambridge that it needed to develop and expand Author Hub.  It has conducted a range of internal workshops to consider the issues from the author’s perspective.  Again, this is a supplementary service: it is not intended to replace direct contact.  Because it uses Agile technology, it is possible for this service to be developed over time, as needs evolve.

More information about Cambridge Core Share may be found at https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/sharing-content

More information about Author Hub may be found at https://www.cambridge.org/authorhub/

More information about Cambridge Author Services may be found at https://www.cambridge.org/academic/author-services/

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