Publishing models are undergoing a new revolution, and societies are in a prime position to be at the forefront of this movement. Content enrichment is a vital component of this new wave of publishing.
A key financial activity for societies, publishing typically provides over 60% of their revenue. Until recently, it has been based on a print model for content development, and a subscription model for sales of that content. While the majority of access to content is now online, PDF has been remarkably tenacious as the primary format that people use for reading and sharing. As a result, we’re still very much working in a page-based model, bringing with it a range of quirks and idiosyncracies. For example, we want to enable users to read content on a range of devices, or even determine their own preferred layout, but we are spending considerable resource reviewing and approving format and layout of the PDF. Under these circumstances, all of that work becomes redundant.
The page-based model, and its associated challenges, are well documented; however, societies are facing new market pressures that are increasing the focus on their publishing business.
With online publishing the amount of content available is increasing at an exponential rate, which in turn is making it more important to make the content that you publish stand out, Simply having lots of content, or having it well-formatted, will no longer be enough.
Open Access is a major, and growing, publishing model. Scholarly publishing revenues have grown by 2.5%, while within that figure, Open Access revenues grew by 34% in the same period. This is already significantly changing the dynamic of the market, both in terms of how people are accessing content, but also the society’s relationship with the author. The author is now a customer.
Inherent in the Open Access model is the change in the revenue model for societies, and this will require careful management.
The rapid development of these new forces on society publishing will require a range of new strategies to be adopted. Prominent among these is Content Enrichment. By no means is it the panacea or silver bullet, but a society that implements a comprehensive enrichment strategy will be well placed to develop in this new world we’re living in.
To clarify, by enrichment we’re referring to rich classification and entity identification in and around content, in such a way that it can utilized by delivery applications and users. For example, being able to understand that article A discusses the diagnosis of diabetes in children that have been living a healthy lifestyle, or that Fig. 3a illustrates compound A catalysing compound B, resulting in compound C, with a yield of ‘X’. Much of this knowledge is in the content already, just not captured in a structured format that can be utilized. It’s a simplification, but Content Enrichment can be thought of as making the implicit information explicit.
With this enrichment in place, societies will be able to realize 3 key objectives:
Increase relevance, discoverability, and usage
Content that is better described will enable discoverability through improved indexing (Search Engine Optimization) and linking (e.g. related articles, browsing by topic) and ultimately increased usage. That usage can be key to driving Impact Factor, and is becoming even more important with the growing adoption of article level metrics. Also, as we move from subscription models, usage is vital to support advertising based revenues.
Credibility is key, not just from the arms race perspective (society ‘X’ is doing it, so we’d better do it), but also for securing authors, which is arguably more important. As authors become customers, society publishers will need to demonstrate more value to themby making their work easier to find and utilize. There are a number of ways that this can be achieved, but one strategy is to better capture their hard work represented by the data accompanying their articles.
Facilitate new value propositions
The future lies in being able to do more with content and its associated data. If content is enriched and well described, we open up new opportunities. Just one example is the ability to illustrate trends in research─i.e. which topics are becoming increasingly active, and which are becoming less so. With well-enriched content, these capabilities become easier to realize.
We are embarking on a journey where the basis by which we publish content, and the associated value model, is fundamentally changing. Moreover, it’s not yet clear what the new model is that we’re working towards. Consequently,we need to adopt a strategy that will add value to what we do today, and equip us to explore new business models and value constructs in the future. Implementing a content enrichment strategy is crucial to surviving and thriving in this new world.