Heather Staines, Director of Publisher and Content Strategy for ProQuest SIPX, spoke to us recently about how SIPX is serving students, faculty and librarians and what's next for the start-up.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how SIPX came about?
A. I come from the publishing world. I spent a number of years as a military history book acquisition editor for Praeger Publishers, eventually serving as editorial director for a multi-format imprint. I fell in love with what we then called “electronic publishing,” and I moved to Springer Science + Business media to be Global eProduct Manager for SpringerLink. After working on a large rights-clearance project for the Springer eBook Archives, I made the move to SIPX in the fall of 2012.
SIPX draws its name from its origins as a research project at Stanford University—the Stanford Intellectual Property Exchange, an initiative designed to apply technology to help people better understand and navigate copyright and content complexities. The first focus was of course to solve some of the problems the research team faced themselves in the higher education space, and SIPX focused on solving pain points and creating efficiencies and savings for students and schools in course materials processes. Connecting into existing course and teaching workflows (like through Learning Management Systems, library e-reserves services or bookstore coursepacks), SIPX brings visibility to and automatically applies library collections and open content resources to these workflows to ensure that faculty are aware of licensed materials paid for by the library and to prevent any needless, redundant royalty payments by students. If any additional permission is needed, SIPX seamlessly handles this process, managing the payment transaction, royalties and invoicing through scalable microtransaction technology and not manual effort. While SIPX was designed for use on campus, our connection with Stanford meant that we were also involved in new learning initiatives, like Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), as well as distance learning and continuing studies. To explore some of these newer models, we continue to build partnerships with a small but diverse cross-section of publishers, from academic to trade, higher education to university presses.
Q. How does SIPX make life easier for the educator, the student and the librarian?
A. SIPX was developed from the perspective of educators who often find themselves in a complex and overwhelming copyright maze. By automatically surfacing and recognizing library holdings, open educational resources, and providing real-time pricing information for non-subscribed content, a teacher finally (and instantly) has the easy insight they need to set up course readings in a fraction of the time it used to take, see what other relevant content is available for use in a course, and understand what additional costs they are creating for their students or school. SIPX also connects to a growing collection (currently at over 25 million) of publisher documents to save the teacher or support team time and energy in tracking down or scanning a source document. Instructors also see analytics on student engagement with the assigned readings, so they can adjust their teaching for their students in real-time too.
Students enjoy considerable flexibility and savings through SIPX. By unbundling the traditional coursepack into individual digital readings, SIPX offers students immediate and convenient access to their assigned readings, and publisher-provided documents give students the best reading experience with the clearest content possible. If purchases are needed, students can buy what they need as they need it, allowing them to stay fully up to date in classes even when their budgets might be strained at the beginning of every term when they’re also trying to manage tuition and textbook costs.
Librarians benefit from more exposure of their collections to the faculty and students who rely on this content for teaching and learning. For schools that offer library e-reserves services on their campus, SIPX easily connects to these systems to bring its same efficiencies and savings to the library team. The library also has access to a dashboard that gives them aggregated data insights into their campus’ curriculum needs – not only what subscribed usage is, but also what non-subscribed content is being selected by teachers and used/purchased by students – real data that helps a library tailor its collections to bring more value to its campus.
Q. SIPX aims to eliminate duplicate spending on holdings at institutions, but how does it helps libraries leverage the holdings they already have?
A. When SIPX is set up for a school, it ingests library holdings data to ensure the system understands when an institution has purchased a content license, from individual subscriptions to the CCC’s Annual Copyright License. When course readings are set up in the system, the SIPX technology always automatically matches library holdings data against the search results to ensure that students receive instant access to the content that the library has curated for them. This also allows the library to be recognized by the faculty and students for the value and savings they create for the campus through the library collection.
Q. SIPX was recently acquired by ProQuest. What kind of change did that acquisition bring about and what’s next for SIPX?
A. SIPX—now ProQuest SIPX—operates as its own business unit and continues in its mission to support more affordable and high quality education under the leadership of SIPX founder Franny Lee. ProQuest was attracted to SIPX by the cutting-edge work that SIPX was doing in the teaching and learning space, both on campus and in online education, and ProQuest refuses to let us lose our start-up! While it is business as usual for the SIPX team, we’re excited to have access to all of the additional resources that ProQuest brings to the table. From existing university relationships, to powerful technology and services, to a wide array of content agreements, ProQuest offers SIPX the opportunity to more quickly grow our unique technology, workflow efficiencies, and cost savings to a wider audience. We’re continuing to build in every respect, from service enhancements to content partnerships to more and more universities and colleges coming on board. We take our user feedback very seriously and continually strive to fit better with existing institutional workflows.
Q. Finally, I see that you were a Google Glass Explorer. Do you think Google Glass has a future?
A. Yes, and Glass still has a very bright future, although it will likely be grounded in the enterprise space. The Glass at Work project is very much alive and well and rolling out a new waterproof version of Glass soon. Wearables are a tough market, as we’ve seen lately with disappointing sales of the Apple Watch. I still believe that there are tremendous opportunities for hands-free wearable devices, whether those are in industry, for people with hearing or visual disabilities, or for folks with autism. I still use mine regularly for pictures and video, and I look forward to the next iterations of Glass.