Give us a brief update on SAGE since you were last featured in Knowledgespeak in June 2006?
In 2009 SAGE publishes more than 520 journals and some 800 books and reference works every year. We’ve continued to grow our business and profitability, expanding into new areas – such as the rapid growth of our scientific, technical and medical journals publishing – and through acquisitions, including CQ Press which joined the SAGE family in 2008.
Our journals publishing continues to expand to support an even wider community of researchers. We’re now the fifth largest journals publisher globally, publishing on behalf of some of the world’s leading societies, such as the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine and the British Sociological Association. We pride ourselves on the excellent relationships we have with these organizations, thanks to our being big enough to matter in a global market, yet small enough to offer a personal approach. In the last two years 100% of society journals that were up for renewal chose to stay with SAGE.
Perhaps one of the most important updates for SAGE since 2006 is our continued stability as a leading independent publisher. We’re proud that even in a difficult economic climate our publishing programmes continue to deliver high quality, thanks to the excellent authors, editors and societies that choose to work with us. We’re one of the leading social science higher education textbook providers worldwide, and our professional lists in counselling, education and nursing continue to thrive. Our Reference publishing, which also began electronic publication in 2007, is set to grow even further in 2009, with the migration of 80 of our most successful Handbooks onto the SAGE Reference Online platform.
As one of the most successful academic publishers, can you briefly summarize how the needs of information-consumers have evolved in the recent few years? What according to you, are the main access problems faced by researchers?
The majority of readers of scholarly content now search for, and access, their content online, with obvious consequences for publishers. One of our highest priorities is making it as easy as possible to find and use our content. We work with librarians to ensure our online platforms are intuitive, and provide the content that users want. In 2008, both our online platforms were recognized for excellence: SAGE Journals Online (SJO), our platform hosted with HighWire Press, was awarded the 2007 Professional Scholarly Publishers’ award for Excellence, while our Reference Online platform was selected as a 2007 CHOICE outstanding title. Our work with content resolution partners, including Serials Solutions, further ensures that bibliographic data relating to SAGE content is accurate and up-to-date, so that users can find our content.
Finally we are committed to a long-term preservation strategy, with archiving agreements with Portico, CLOCKSS and the Dutch KB. In 2008 we became the first publisher to trigger a journal from a dark archive, providing first hand evidence that these services work and can ensure that users will continue to have access to the content they need in the future.
Can you briefly tell us about your recently launched social networking site Methodspace. How has the research community responded to the site? What are your long term social networking strategies?
Methodspace helps to connect the online research community. Whether you are looking for resources in research methods, want to discuss a particular approach, or just connect with other researchers, this is the place to go.
One of the most exciting possibilities that Methodspace offers is the ability to connect the research community from around the world, regardless of their geographic location or the discipline that they work in. Research Methods is the common thread that unites every researcher: from undergraduate to professional it is something they all encounter at some stage in their academic journey. Often, it’s difficult for researchers in a single institution to connect with others using the same techniques or methodologies. We see Methodspace as a dynamic way to support the research community that we publish on behalf of by facilitating discussion, collaboration and debate. We are the world’s leading publisher of research methods, with more than 1200 books, journals and reference works across the behavioural and social sciences, so it is an important area for us to support. The rapid growth of the site shows that researchers value Methodspace: in just one month of going live it passed 1000 members, and the users are truly global, with discussions between researchers from every continent.
SAGE and Hindawi Publishing announced an agreement in late 2007 to jointly launch a suite of fully open access (OA) journals. Briefly talk about this partnership and the resultant synergies. How has this helped in economic terms, in terms of cost, market shares and penetrations?
It is still early days for this partnership. During 2008, we launched our first two journals, and earlier in 2009 launched a further five titles. SAGE-Hindawi will allow SAGE to gain valuable first hand experience of OA: although it has been proven to be viable in select biomedical disciplines, it is unclear how broadly it can be applied and exactly what role it will take in the academic process in the long term. Through this venture we are finding out how to make it work. We have ambitious growth plans this year with further titles currently planned for launch. News about these titles will be announced during the year.
Earlier last month, you launched the SAGE Reference Online Handbook Collection on the SAGE Reference Online platform. Do you expect librarians and researchers to respond favorably? How does it compare with other offerings?
The collection is actually launching this summer, with 80 of our most highly-rated handbooks joining the SAGE Reference Online platform. The response from our customers has been extremely positive. The Reference platform already hosts more than 90 of SAGE’s encyclopedias, many of these are award-winners, including most recently the Encyclopedia of Political Communication; Encyclopedia of Counseling: Encyclopedia of Business Ethics and Society; and the Encyclopedia of Global Warming and Climate Change, which were all honoured on the Library Journal Best Reference list. Our encyclopedia and handbook titles cover timely and important subjects, and having both available electronically (new titles will be available simultaneously in print and online) is a huge advantage for students and researchers looking to dip in and out of shorter encylopedia entries and longer more in-depth handbook chapters.
Can you elaborate on SAGE’s plans for the developing countries? Do you have any statistics that you can share on the total number of waivers or other incentives that the company has granted to authors from the developing countries, in 2008/09?
SAGE has partnered with a number of initiatives that aim to make academic journals and research more widely available in low-income countries at no or greatly reduced cost: The Journal Donation Project, based at The New School, NY, which assists "in rebuilding major research and teaching libraries in countries that have fallen victim to political or economic deprivation"; INASP, the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications; and the UN’s Research4Life initiative, which encompasses the AGORA, HINARI and OARE programmes. Through these initiatives we offer access to SAGE Premier (our journals collection) to nearly 6000 member institutions.
What are the major challenges that you foresee for academic publishers like SAGE in the near future? How well is SAGE geared to tackle these challenges?
The changing patterns of teaching and learning and, like so many other publishers, harnessing the growing demand for e-resources. This means providing academics and students with content beyond the book – particularly for our textbook programmes. As the largest publisher of research methods we’re very excited to be developing an online research tool which will encompass our research methods content online, and enable researchers to explore not only content but research methods themselves, looking at key authors in a particular area, and looking at how various topics relate to each other. Watch this space for more on this!
With libraries also there’s an increasing shift towards acquiring electronic resources, hence our continued development of our online reference. We are also rapidly expanding the number of e- books we have available through third party aggregators such as Ebrary and MyiLibrary. In 2009 we will have some 1000 titles available. We’re also looking at a variety of options to extend the application of our textbooks, including providing online support materials for lecturers and students.