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Knowledgespeak Exclusive: An interview with Ziyad Marar(Twitter: @ZiyadMarar), Global Publishing Director, SAGE - 03 Jul 2012

Q

Knowledgespeak: Earlier this month you announced the launch of three new titles to SAGE’s Open Access (OA) portfolio. Can you tell us a little more about these new titles?

A

Ziyad Marar: We are pleased to be launching these three major Gold OA titles this year, which will be open for submission later in the summer. SAGE Open Engineering will be the first broad spectrum journal dedicated to the field and will focus on all aspects of engineering and material science. SAGE Open Medicine will cover all aspects of Medicine, and SAGE Open Medical Case Reports will provide a vehicle for the publication of short case reports that often do not find a place in traditional primary research.

We chose to launch these journals following the success of our first broad-spectrum journal, SAGE Open, which we launched last year. Our three new titles recognise the continued demand for high quality OA publication vehicles within these growing disciplines. The titles will be rigorously peer-reviewed by experts in the relevant fields and will not limit content due to page budgets or narrow thematic focus. The idea is to accept articles on the basis of scientific and methodological validity of each article. The journals will be supported by author-side article processing charges.

With Open Access continually in the news, it is becoming increasingly important to support the changing needs of the scholarly research community: authors, readers and the scholarly societies that we publish on behalf of. The launch of these three new open access journals builds on the availability of publication options from SAGE.


Q

Knowledgespeak: Does SAGE expect to launch further similar titles?

A

Ziyad Marar: Certainly, if these prove successful: SAGE is committed to exploring all viable ways of disseminating and accessing the research which we publish for the scholarly community – open access journals are clearly an important part of this.

The above mentioned titles have been launched in disciplines where SAGE already has a strong presence and where we feel demand from our author/scholarly community. These titles support our traditional journals business, but as ever, we will continue to review and adapt to the appetite of the scholarly community and support their needs.


Q

Knowledgespeak: You launched SAGE Open in January 2011 as the first and only broad-based open access journal in the humanities and social sciences. What feedback have you had from the academic communities?

A

Ziyad Marar: SAGE Open has been positively and widely received in the academic community. It was quite a significant move to make given the uncertain penetration of Open Access models in the social science community. And as the only broad-based OA journal for the social sciences and humanities, it created a great deal of interest. The response to the journal was very positive, we received over 1000 submissions in its first year.


Q

Knowledgespeak: As you have indicated, changes are taking place within the scholarly community, Open Access, being one key development. In light of the recent report from Janet Finch, what do you foresee to be the major challenges for academic publishers such as SAGE?

A

Ziyad Marar: We recognize the intrinsic value of our traditionally-published journals, but we are also part of a changing scholarly community. As David Lewis, the author of the recent article “The Inevitability of Open Access,” and dean of libraries at IUPUI wrote, “open access publishing could account for 50% of the scholarly journal articles sometime between 2017 and 2021, and 90% of articles as soon as 2020 and more conservatively by 2025.” (SAGE - What is the future of Open Access publishing?). SAGE is committed to navigating this path with our society partners. Key to this will be to maintain open dialogue with our stakeholders in order to work together to play our parts in the effective implementation of Finch’s recommendations.

SAGE, for some years, has promoted an Open Access option in our STM journals, SAGE Choice, and from 2007-2011 developed a suite of 37 fully OA journals working with Hindawi Publishing. As a global academic publisher we are actively involved in the open access debate and were one of the first major publishers to actively engage with this way of disseminating research to the global scholarly community. We were a founding board member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) in 2008, and were also one of two publishing partners in the EC funded FP7 Framework project, the Study of Open Access Publishing. Our commitment to exploring all viable publishing models reflects our ability as an independent academic and professional publisher to take a long-term view on these developments and to explore a variety of models in consultation with the scholarly community.

The Finch Report emphasised a balanced package of changes and has offered a roadmap for increasing access to the extremely strong output of research from the UK community. One of the key challenges that the report highlighted is the need for changes in both policy and practice by all stakeholders, and we recognize the need for ongoing contact and dialogue between all the parties concerned.

At SAGE we pride ourselves on our strong society relationships. As the publisher of the journals of many leading scholarly societies across a wide spectrum of disciplines, we do see differences in how scholarly publishing works in the social sciences and humanities compared with STM. We are actively seeking responses and are reviewing the report in detail with our society partners to assess how the proposals will impact their missions and how best we can support them. As a global publisher we are also fully aware of the debates around the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) happening in the US, and are actively considering the implications of such movements for our global partners.


Q

Knowledgespeak: How is SAGE positioned to adapt to these changing scholarly landscapes?

A

Ziyad Marar: SAGE was founded with the belief that education is intrinsically valuable, and that access to scholarship creates healthy minds and healthy cultures. At our heart is to support the scholarly community through the widest sustainable dissemination of their work. Our status as an independent company enables us to focus on the broad publishing needs of our authors, editors and societies, and drives us and our approach to innovation and change.

The Finch report recognised the opportunity of the Gold Access model and the stronger role that this is likely to play. SAGE is well aligned with this development, as our recent launches indicate. We continue to expand our OA journal offering and the expansion of the availability of SAGE Choice OA options to many of our subscription journals.

As the scholarly publishing landscape changes, we are committed to maintaining an open and supportive dialogue with our publishing partners: from scholarly societies to librarians. We value our strong partnerships and stay close to the issues that our partners are affected by. For example we recently hosted a roundtable on the future of Open Access with the British Library, the results of which will be published later this year.


Q

Knowledgespeak: Given the rapid increase in literature being published in languages other than English, how do you see that literature is becoming more discoverable?

A

Ziyad Marar: In our recent white paper "Improving the Discoverability of Scholarly Content in the Twenty-First Century" one of the key takeaways was the need for more robust discussion and collaboration between publishers, librarians and their vendor partners to talk about further visibility and usage of scholarly communication. Such conversations, however, must also consider a growing range of topics; discovery tools, web discovery services, publishing tutorial services and library research/research pages as well as the increasing presence of social media, including the Googlization of everything.


Q

Knowledgespeak: Do you see a need for abstracts and other metadata for book chapters to enhance their discoverability?

A

Ziyad Marar: Readership habits are changing. Today’s researchers, at all levels, demand simplicity, precision and visibility – to locate not only what they seek, but also what they ultimately need, to further their work. The academic landscape as we have discussed is changing dramatically and new web-scale discovery services are one way of enabling fast and easy access to research.

Researchers are increasingly looking to access content in ‘bites’, at a chapter level. Accessibility and discoverability is not about quantity it is about quality, and the ability to access a range of relevant information in a fast easy way. Through our partnership with TEMIS, we have recently completed the launch of SAGE Knowledge, where researchers can cross-search and seamlessly access more than 2,500 titles, including SAGE book and reference content, from one source. With the addition of allocating Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs), researchers get a better user experiences as they are able to link relevant convent, improving navigation and increase discoverability of relevant research.

As Joe Esposito stated at the ALA Midwinter, “we are fast becoming the metadata generation’. Over 20% full-time equivalent library staff is dedicated to metadata generation, management, and maintenance of institutional discovery systems (SAGE Discoverability Panel at ALA Midwinter 2012). Our industry is becoming more and more digitalised, researcher habits are changing and people want things at the click of a button. We will continue to review and develop products that effectively support the scholarly community.


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