What is the role of the publisher in the developing knowledge economy, where launching a journal – traditionally a three-year cycle – can be achieved by anyone with the capacity to put up a website and solicit open access submissions?
Credibility is certainly vital; while predatory startups may do little more than collect author fees, established publishers have a vested interest in maintaining quality and ethical standards. But publishers are also finding ways to advance research through increased discoverability and usability of their content, by revealing and tapping the implicit connections within it. At the heart of these developments is content enrichment, the transformation of text and figures into linkable items identified according to in-depth knowledge of a topic, yielding a dynamic resource instead of a “flat” article pdf. It’s not magic, but it requires skills and infrastructure, and it’s changing the way people are thinking about publishing. Where previously the focus had been on reducing the time to publication from manuscript acceptance, there’s been a shift towards taking the time to add value.
Taking fingerprints, following threads
We’re all familiar with the use of keywords in articles, but through content enrichment we can go far beyond that to generate a “fingerprint” of an article that represents its focus and scope in a fairly nuanced way, providing a kind of “index on steroids.” This can be done automatically as an article is published, making several things possible that benefit researchers, authors, editors, and societies.
A life scientist accessing a Wiley Online Library article about the interaction of specific proteins and genes, for example, will see a list of related articles on the abstract page. And with a service like the pilot project SmartFigures Lab, a reader could navigate through journal content via related images.
For editors, it can be a challenge to find reviewers outside their usual pools to provide fresh perspectives within a discipline. With article fingerprints in place, we’re able to build a service that can identify relevant authors from their highly similar, previous works and present them for consideration. By the same token, a researcher working on, say, diabetes in children with healthy lifestyles and no genetic predisposition to the disease, could easily find a collaborator this way.
The traditional journal issue paradigm offers no ready way to survey related content across the various titles in a society’s portfolio. Content enrichment is powering society “hubs” that allow researchers to do just that. In many cases these hubs are bringing researchers’ attention to titles they may not have explored. By way of example, this results page from a search on “history of geophysics” reveals content published across all the AGU journals. Similarly, a publisher can create a cross-society hub, delivering a rich collection of material within a subject area.
In all these scenarios – some actual, some potential – it will be important to establish industry standards so that the knowledge models for topics are shared across the scientific and research community to enhance the discovery and evolution of knowledge.
A foundation for the future
Content enrichment isn’t a silver bullet, but it’s driving an iterative process that is changing the conversations we can have with our audiences. Where in the past we might limit our conversation with a society to how we’ll host their content on Wiley Online Library, we can now have a dialogue beyond that, and go on a journey together to make their content richer and more useful, and give them a foundation so that five years down the road they’ll be able to do things they don’t yet know they want to do.
A visual representation of related articles in color-coded Wiley journals
SmartFigures Lab allows readers to navigate through journal content via related images