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Knowledgespeak Exclusive -- An interview with Mr.Gordon Tibbitts, President, Blackwell Publishing, U.S - 29 Mar 2006

Q

Blackwell publishes on behalf of 665 academic associations and professional societies. As a publishing partner, what value proposition does Blackwell offer to societies that hitherto were self-publishing/in-house publishing units? How much does the impact factor improve when an association or professional society partners with Blackwell?

A

The breadth and depth of publishing experience at Blackwell is unmatched in the industry. Because we have many years of experience partnering with societies, we understand the intricacies of how societies work and what needs to be done to fulfill their individual missions. In a partnership with Blackwell, we offer societies expertise, financial resources, economies of scale, and market reach that they might not be able to achieve on their own.

In fact, we are seeing increases in the impact factors of societies who transfer their journal to Blackwell. Of the 19 ISI-ranked journals that transferred to Blackwell in 2001, the average increase in Impact Factor between 2003 and 2004 reached 21%.


Q

Please elaborate on the Online open service that Blackwell has launched. What is the current number of journals that have agreed to offer the online open service to their authors?

A

Since the beginning, Blackwell has been an active participant in the Open Access dialogue. We launched the Online Open trial service to explore the viability of a new publishing model and report our findings back to the publishing community. Currently, close to 80 journals have agreed to offer the online open service to their authors.


Q

Can you elaborate on Blackwell’s corporate technology initiatives, including web-based content development? How well is Blackwell geared up to emerge as a successful e-publisher?

A

Blackwell is both conservative and assertive when it comes to embracing new technologies. Our web strategy team continually analyzes the implications of new technologies while considering the impact on our key stakeholders. We seek emerging standards and systematically incorporate them into our fabric. There are costs to being leading edge and in these times of limited library funding and stresses on the peer review system, we believe that something new must simultaneously reduce the burden on the system and improve efficiency.


Q

Based on your extensive past experience in integrating electronic publishing technology into traditional publishing modes, can you elaborate on the key challenges that scholarly publishers need to be prepared for and how are these to be addressed?

A

Successful systems for archiving e-scholarly content which includes journals, books, dissertations, repositories, teaching papers, lecture notes, dynamic data such as message boards, peer-review commentary and supplementary research data will be critical. Near time ranking systems for "good enough" quality information coupled with ubiquitous federated search tools will become more ingrained. A move from the use of silos of information to a more integrated "translational" landscape will permeate many fields of science and medicine as well as the humanities. Modern publishers will have to embrace collaboration, learn to exist in symbiotic relationships with each other as well as partners in technology, distribution, and other communication and information organizations.

Organizations like CrossRef (the citation linking backbone), open standards for storage and interoperability, and collaborative efforts such as CLOCKSS (a community-based scholarly archiving solution) represent the beginning of ways publisher are evolving to manage the challenges moving forward. More initiative and change are on the horizon.


Q

Please comment on Blackwell’s performance for the year 2005. What will be the key opportunities and challenges for your company for 2006/07?

A

Blackwell has been and continues to be a very successful company. We are different from other companies because we remain private and independent. Our private ownership structure allows us to partner with the community for the long-term and be more focused on the relationships to our customers (we are the world’s largest society publisher) and their needs.


Q

What are your plans for developing countries? What model do you suggest for researchers from developing countries who may not be able to afford the “author pays” model?

A

Blackwell continues to participate in the HINARI, AGORA, and INASP initiatives to provide content for free or subsidized rates to developing countries. This is a good step; however, more can be done. Blackwell is seeking large right-minded organizations to partner with in tackling this problem in access and support. Blackwell is also interested in helping to develop support services in the form of written instruction, translation services, and access to influential members of our society community in order to provide the extra help scholars from the developing and under-priviliged countries need.


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