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In medicine, time to rethink scholarly publishing?

More advanced STM journal formats could have positive ripple effects in medicine.

Scholarly journal publishers play an outsized role in research of all kinds, and this is a massive responsibility. These publishing houses are the arbiters of knowledge between science, technology and medicine (STM) companies, and their policies could determine how quickly important breakthroughs are made. Behind every vital discovery is a long history of experimentation, testing and peer review, and all of these elements are coordinated through scholarly journals. These publications are going through a transformative time, one that bears watching by everyone from researchers to publishing executives. With e-journals representing a whole new outlook on publication, it's a good moment to consider what elements of the market can change.

Future alternatives in medical publishing
The medical field has a special kind of imperative nature to its research. It is clear to see how breakthroughs in this industry lead directly to increases in quality of life. This should serve as ample incentive for publishers in the field to reconsider how they distribute information and spread research findings. A recent MD Magazine editorial by University of Colorado School of Medicine professor Arlen Meyers posited several directions the field could go in the next few years, empowered by digital distribution and in need of new and more open ways to share research and get more eyes on that data.

Doctors are finding new ways to publish their work and share findings.
Doctors are finding new ways to publish their work and share findings.

Meyers, realizing digital distribution models that affect publishing can come from a number of outside sources, name-checked musical streaming models as a possible future for scholarly journals. He said that just as Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora pay recording artists based on whether people listen to their songs, today's online journals could offer such a rate to researchers. He speculated that this would be a fair way to spread the money that goes from taxpayers to nationally-subsidized researchers. Many of Meyers' ideas centered on ways to distribute resources equitably now that digital distribution has opened new channels of medical journal access.

The direction the industry is going is clear - online publishing and access are becoming key factors. Meyers shared a personal anecdote in which his plan to create a digitally distributed article repository was vetoed by a major publisher, then became an important part of the infrastructure within a few short years. This new paradigm opens up ample ways for scientists and the publishers that spread their work to strike up agreements about payments and rights, and revised models could be in the immediate future. After all, the technology has already arrived.

"The switch to accessible publication methods is an ongoing trend."

The digital imperative
The switch to more current and accessible publication methods is an ongoing trend in the scholarly journal market. Recent TechNavio research explained that the change in format is "the only way ahead" for companies in the industry. Organizations seem to realize that this is their best bet, as the same report detected publishers spending more on research and development. With the addition of new features to their products, these companies can reach their readers via new and more responsive features. Interactive STM journals, with valuable new features improving the peer review and collaboration processes, could soon be the face of the field.

Digital Content Development
Healthcare & Pharmaceutical
Information Technology
Professional Publishing

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