Tag Archives: Guest Post

Stand Up For Science: Why STM Publishing in April is all about March?

Today we have a guest post from STM publishing professional, Emma Williams.

Emma Williams STM publishing

After completing an MA in Publishing at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies (OICPS) Emma began her career in STM Publishing almost 7 years ago at Elsevier, specializing in licensing and journal management. Emma is currently happily employed within the Health Sciences group at Wiley, helping partner societies to manage and develop their journals to their fullest potential. Also a former Society of Young Publishers Oxford Chair, Emma is a particularly keen follower of industry developments and innovation and interested in supporting early career professionals. Emma advocates The Scholarly Kitchen blog to nearly everyone she meets in Publishing, and is active on Twitter where you can get in touch via @TheRightsOne (personal) or @JournalsEmma (professional) respectively.

Stand Up For Science: Why STM Publishing in April is All About March?

You may not see it, but scientific and academic research is all around you. It helped build your house, fixed your headache, drove or cycled you to work, was mixed into your coffee and even contributed to that mysterious three lbs that you just can’t shake…

(Authors Note: This could also be the commonly practiced Schrodinger’s Biscuit Tin experiment too- if the lid is closed, are there even edible biscuits in there?)

Research in all its forms and fields is effectively the pursuit of an objective truth, often for the purpose of the benefit and/or advancement of humanity. In a time when ‘alternative’ facts and false news run riot, we must be like Indiana Jones and the Grail Knight- well informed so we can choose wisely. By this, I mean that we must try to understand and communicate the importance of well structured, methodologically sound, evidence based research practices and their contribution to defensible end results.

In the past, there have been barriers to communicating research to the public, outside of traditional scholarly journal publication.

Historically, science was commonly a pursuit for the wealthy elite and discussed in technically complex language between experts in the field firstly through correspondence, which eventually became formalized within Scholarly publishing. I would encourage everyone (especially all early career STM publishing professionals) to look at the creation of The Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions for more on the development of early scholarly publishing.

Alongside the formalization of these academic conversations around research, history has also documented public distrust of science and scientists. Perhaps this relates to an amount of disconnect from scientific conversation, but it may also be defensive (science is always a potential catalyst for innovation) against change for reasons which people may not like, be ready for, or even fully understand. This is clearly documented internationally in many cases of fear of ‘magic’ or witchcraft, religious conflict, and even cultural stereotyping.

Just think briefly for a moment on events like the Salem Witch Trials (circa 1692), or films such as Terminator (1984). Consider novels like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) or Frankenstein (1818). What about the depictions in both old and new media primarily made for young children, of Belle’s so called ‘crackpot’ inventor father in the story of Beauty and the Beast (1991) ? His eccentricity (i.e. scientific curiosity) predisposes him to such general public concern that he is nearly sent to an asylum- a particularly terrifying and often permanent commitment in past days. It is clear that in the historic public consciousness, there were very real fears that scientific curiosity, or developments, left unchecked would then get humanity ‘in over their heads’ across a variety of situations.

I believe that most people, living during even the more modern dates of some of these examples, would have thought of 2017 as sufficiently advanced into ‘The Future’, to expect better understanding, explanation and truthful rationalization of some of these fears. However, the modern citizen now faces a frightening time- we see heightened (or certainly more vocalized) opposition to evidence-based science; fear of globalization; and concerns about access to quality education.

So where can we find these trusted truths, to understand our world, communicate with each other and inform appropriate decision making for public good?

Although publishers and academia alike have recognized and begun to rectify some of the conversational gaps between academic research reporting and the general public through a wide variety of science engagement initiatives (Pint of Science events, or Publisher blogs for example) there is clearly still a lot of work to be done around mitigating unfounded fears and improving integrative discussion.

Now more than ever, the public must be able to either understand research processes directly, or to trust a third party to understand these and then report research results accordingly. Only then can we assess that end result and allow it to inform our own decisions and opinions. If we are not able to understand or we do not have access to such trusted sources, we are increasingly vulnerable to choosing poorly, and any ensuing negative consequences on an individual, national and a global level.

This is why scientists, academics, publishers and many other people gathered in various locations worldwide to March for Science on Saturday 22nd April. My personal experience of the global research community is that it is richly diverse, and full of those who have decided to embrace their curiosity about how something works, or could be improved, or could be learned from, and report back to the rest of us. I consider these people- our scientists and researchers- as an advanced guard, gathering intelligence on everything from climate change to medicine to lessons from history.

It is my opinion that we should fund and support research and engage with scientists and academics wherever possible in order to ensure that we don’t repeat mistakes, help people faster and preserve our world for generations to come.

For more information, please see:

https://www.marchforscience.com/
https://hub.wiley.com/community/exchanges/discover/blog/2017/02/16/values-have-no-borders?referrer=exchanges
Want more? Please see the below articles that the author came across while writing this, for ‘interesting’ further reading:

1. ‘Fake research’ comes under scrutiny, by H. Briggs, BBC News, 27th March 2017. Accessed via http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39357819 on 18th April 2017.

2. 8 Hilarious Historical Fears That Seriously Delayed Progress by P. Carnell, Cracked, March 11th 2015. Accessed via http://www.cracked.com/article_22224_8-plainly-stupid-fears-that-held-back-human-progress.html on 17th April 2017.

3. We have always been modern, and it has often scared us by R. Higgitt, The Guardian, 24th June 2013. Accessed via https://www.theguardian.com/science/the-h-word/2013/jun/24/technology-history-modernity-speed-fears on 18th April 2017.

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How to Get Ahead in Academic Publishing

Today we have a guest post from Academic Professional: Suzanne Kavanagh.Suzanne Kavanagh Academic Book Week

 

Suzanne Kavanagh has worked in publishing for over 20 years, most recently as Director of Marketing and Membership Services at ALPSP. You can contact her via @sashers or suzanne.kavanagh@gmx.com.

 

How to Get Ahead in Academic Publishing

Armed with a fistful of crumpled CVs and an Art History degree, I trudged up and down Charing Cross Road looking for a bookselling job. I’d set my heart on working in publishing in my third year at uni, but trawling through The Guardian I realised it would be hard for me to stand out from hundreds of applicants who, no doubt, also felt just as passionately about books and read voraciously as I did. I figured bookselling would be a good starting point.

This was the first time I’d considered what I had to offer. It made me think about how selling jeans in a shop provided influencing, negotiation and questioning skills. I realised that bar work provided customer service and conflict resolution skills (as well as excess consumption of warm white wine…essential for low budget book launches). Fast forward a few weeks and I was happily ensconced at a specialist art bookseller.

Aside from a borderline obsession with alphabetising each section and secretly sniffing new stock, I learned a lot that would be relevant for my career.

It was pretty cutting edge for *coughs* 1993 *coughs*. We had a PC networked stock management system. We used this to mail out subject leaflets to customers around the world. I used my enthusiasm and retail experience to help customers find the book they were after and proved to be an occasional foil to the sometimes-grumpy owner.

My first job at a small trade publisher was in the sales and marketing team. I dealt with bibliographic information, wrote jacket blurbs, marketing copy and produced the new titles catalogue. I got to know everyone in the company and gained a real insight into the publishing process.

But the low salary made it hard to live in London. Sound familiar?

Meanwhile a friend kept telling me about the publisher she worked at. They published academic texts for students, researchers and professionals in the humanities and social sciences. She loved working there. And she was paid quite a bit more than me. Academic publishing had never occurred: I’d always assumed that publishing meant fiction, poetry and pictures. But the facts speak for themselves.

The UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport reports that the publishing sector employed 200,000 people in 2015 – an increase of 3.7% on the year before. (Source: DCMS 2016 Focus on Creative Industries report). These figures include book, journal, newspapers, magazines and database publishing. However, in 2011, Creative Skillset reported the breakdown by sub-sector: Journals and Periodicals employed 26% of the workforce and Book Publishing 17% and Academic is drawn from both these categories.

In May 2016 the UK Publishers Association reported that total sales of book and journal publishing were up to £4.4 billion in 2015. Academic journal publishing was up 5% to £1.1 billion and there were £1.42 billion export revenues with two thirds of this figure in education, academic and ELT (English Language Teaching). (Source: PA Statistics Yearbook 2015 news release)

Academic is a vibrant sector employing a lot of people and is a major economic driver in the creative industries.

My second publishing job was at that academic publisher promoting journals and reference works. When asked why I wanted the job, the answer was clear: I’d relish working with books that support education, research and the furthering of knowledge. I got the job and – to my surprise and delight – a decent pay rise.

The great thing about many academic publishers is that they tend to be large organisations with more opportunity for training and promotion. I took all options open to me. I applied for internal jobs to learn about different lists and improve my skills. I was curious, enthusiastic, worked and played hard. I got to know people, respected different departments and personalities it took to run the business. Roles included Marketing Coordinator, Executive, Manager, Senior Manager.

Since then I’ve had the privilege of working in a range of organisations including Taylor & Francis, Continuum and the Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers. I saw first hand how diverse the sector is at ALPSP, an international trade body for not-for-profit organisations. Their members include the American Historical Association, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the OECD, SAGE, as well as all the larger commercial companies like Elsevier and Springer Nature. There are a lot of publishers covering pretty much all disciplines.

I know it seems obvious, but the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that job mobility and training go hand in hand with progressing your career.

You may start in one department/role. That doesn’t preclude you moving to others where your experience is applied in different ways. There are plenty of opportunities with more specialist jobs where, with the right training, you can become expert in a particular niche.

When I started out, it was relatively simple: assistant / coordinator / executive / manager roles in sales / marketing / production / editorial. And now? Well a quick glance through the Atwood Tate vacancy list tells a story. Roles like ‘Predictive Analytics and Insight Specialist’ and ‘Instructional Designer’ sit alongside Product Editor and Marketing Executive. It’s a taste of how the industry is changing. If you move roles, and learn new skills, you’re more likely to get on.

So what does the future hold for you and what skills do you need to be successful? There are three main areas you need to plot your profile against. Where do you map yourself on this chart? Where do you want to be? This is by no means exhaustive, but provides insight into where the industry will be.

Academic Flow chart

My final advice for working in academic publishing?

  1. Be curious: ask open questions, listen and learn
  2. Read industry publications, blogs and research
  3. Remember you’re dealing with people: be courteous, build your network
  4. Take every training opportunity – from free webinars to paid-for courses
  5. Enjoy it! You’re giving something back to advancing human knowledge.

 

We thank Suzanne for her wonderful guest post!

For more information about Academic Book Week, and more information about academic publishing, see the official website and the Twitter feed.

If you are a publishing professional and would be interested in writing a guest post for Atwood Tate just get in touch.

Please email: eleanorpilcher@atwoodtate.co.uk or get in touch via any of our social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram.

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