The challenges inherent to running a scientific, technical or medical (STM) publication are many and varied. Leaders must find ways to keep costs down amid fierce competition. Recent years have seen business models change rather drastically, and businesses are either prepared to make the switch or not. The choice now facing these publishing houses is clear: If they enthusiastically embrace the digital model alone or with a third-party partner, they will have access to the opportunities therein. If not, they may find their products forgotten by an STM community that moves quickly by default and leaves little room for error or miscalculation.
"Top-quality content can make all the difference."
Digital problems, digital solutions
E-journals have become prominent parts of the scholarly journal industry. The fact that this change has been so complete is no surprise. Equipped with the ability to send specialized information around the world with no printing costs or wait times, researchers have seized the chance. Getting the best research in front of eager audiences for peer review and the furtherance of scientific thought is the objective in the field, and online tools make it happen. Of course, publishing houses that have competed in the field since the days of paper may find this new system forbidding or difficult to master. Fortunately, top-quality content can make all the difference.
By working with top industry sources, publishers can ensure their documents appear to users searching for that type of research. If information is delivered through several channels, it will be easier to find and boost the profile of the publisher. Furthermore, strong digital tools can ensure content is easy to produce from the first step to the last. In an era when everything from submissions to peer review can be streamlined, leaders who don't embrace these possibilities may find their processes less efficient than their rivals and, consequently, less likely to produce positive return on investment. Legacy practices may still be in place at some publishers - it's never too early (or too late) to replace them.
"STM businesses have been unafraid of change."
An exemplary industry
Demonstrating just how ingrained modern ideas have become in the STM industry, a Digital Book World blog post by Tom Chalmers from earlier this year held up the sector's academic publishers as a model the rest of the book and magazine world could follow. As many paper-centric industries have struggled to regain their footing in the wake of wide-scale online distribution, academic publishing has taken new advancements in stride and added them to standard practices in a hurry. Chalmers explained that when faced with the reality of "today's market and opportunities," STM businesses have been unafraid of change.
According to Chalmers, the challenges academic publishers have faced are similar to the ones besetting the music industry. Leaders have stepped up, with the author describing alliances between major publishers and a desire to succeed together. With the ability to distribute information quickly and easily online presenting either enormous opportunity or a death knell to the industry, STM operators made their choice.
Equipped with the next generation of technological edges and capable of distributing high-tech products such as interactive STM journals to make the user experience better, these publishers have found a way forward.