Over the past few months, we’ve frequently found ourselves sitting on the other side of the desk -learning directly from researchers about what they need most from publishers - at events such as this ALPSP Seminar, Sense about Science workshops, SSP and through our own UX testing. Below are some of the strongest messages that are coming across:
1. If I have to remember one more password…Researchers are busy people. Time and resources are tight and getting tighter, and the potential for information saturation is a factor that accelerates with every new technological breakthrough. It’s not enough to deliver the technology; publishers need to ensure that the technology represents tools that researchers can and will use to increase the impact of their research.
2. Article vs journal? As a research tool, altmetrics are embraced as a means to assess the quality of articles/research material outside of the source journal. But, when it comes to publishing the outcomes of their work, researchers still use journal impact as a primary deciding factor. Developing alternate ways to demonstrate research impact, beyond the IF, is important in today’s cutthroat competitive grant and tenure processes – however, for altmetrics to provide researchers with a tangible edge, they’ll need to advance beyond their current squishy correlational state.
3. Social review. Social media is more than just another route to content. As well as a tool for sharing and collaborating on research, it is increasingly used as a platform for post-publication peer review. Researchers want social media platforms incorporated at the article level.
4. Getting acquainted. Researchers are social creatures – it’s not just the article they engage with, but the author/researcher who produced it. They may read the article on a publisher platform, but will then contact the author directly (via PubMed/ResearchGate/social media/email). Can publishers facilitate this?
5. A better user experience. Researchers want publishers to continue developing ways to deliver content in a more user-driven way, to ensure the best possible experience for research, reading and publishing. This means easy, fast and efficient access to relevant content. They want to find the right stuff quickly and then access it immediately, ideally from one place.
6. Open the black box. Researchers want more communication more frequently during the publishing process.
The ongoing challenge – and opportunity - for publishers is to make life easier for researchers. But – looping back to #1 - when developing new products or workflows, it’s worth remembering these questions, as framed by Figshare’s Mark Hahnel at an ALPSP presentation earlier this year, "The key questions researchers ask are: What’s in it for me? Is it hard to use? Will it take up my time? Do I have to do it?”