Reinventing University Publishing – final thoughts

by Paul Maharg on 18/03/2015

I missed the keynotes and some other sections of the conference, but from what I saw I thought it was a useful, in fact essential, conference for any academic staff thinking of digital publishing for research, data curation or learning and teaching purposes.  There were a few descriptions of University Presses etc that weren’t really reinventing university publishing, though they were clearly successful operations (on second thoughts, maybe that does reinvent university publishing).  But it was good to come across new organisations, new university presses and new projects in the field.  The best presentations were from those giving us practical, imaginative solutions to the near-intractable financial problems our libraries face, thanks to ever-rising purchase costs.  And from researchers in the field presenting new ways of thinking about wide varieties of scholarly publishing, reading and writing.  The multi-disciplinarity was really impressive.  Nothing from Law!  That has to change – actually there are rich comms innovations in our discipline; but we probably need to do better on innovation in scholarly communications generally.  One final thought – weren’t we all rather too polite to journal publishers?  For more on their practices, see here.  Or see George Monbiot here, where he observes that in 2010 ‘Elsevier’s operating profit margin was 36% (£724m on revenues of £2bn)’ which he observes was the same ratio as in 1998 — and in the midst of a global financial crisis.  That surely has a major effect on how much innovation we can fund in scholarly publishing.

Best conference poster, for me, was Georgina Taylor’s Open Access Button – more information here:


I couldn’t stay for the final wrap-up session, but I’d certainly like to see a follow up conference.  Many thanks to Roxanne Missingham and her conference committee colleagues Ross Coleman, Lorena Kallenopoulis and Agata Mrva-Montoya for planning and hosting this one.  For at least several projects that I’m involved with in the ANU College of Law, I found it very timely and very stimulating.

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