At a point in time that none of us could ever have imagined, when we are all dealing with extraordinary changes in our societies, our lives and our jobs, Insights looks to remain a constant amid the chaos. Our core remit is to facilitate communication across the scholarly communications community, and never has that mission been more critical.
Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that this year’s much-loved UKSG Conference in Brighton has had to be cancelled, and it would be easy to think that dark days are here for good, so we are delighted that some of our disappointed speakers have agreed to write up the presentations which they had planned to deliver at the Conference and these will be published in Insights over the coming weeks and months. However, out of the crisis many good things are emerging. New ways of working are being developed at speed, new technologies are being rolled out to meet the immediate demands of an information hungry world, and libraries, publishers and other suppliers are working more closely than ever to ensure that we continue to support our scholarly communications communities. We are sure that over the coming months we will be publishing articles which highlight some of these massive achievements.
Over recent weeks we have been pleased to bring you a range of articles demonstrating the proactive and dynamic ways in which our academic libraries have been and are adapting to meet the changing demands of the 21st-century environment. Alison Brock kicked us off with her look at how to develop a methodology for conducting a review of library resources, and this was followed by Olivia Walsby’s fascinating article looking at how the University of Manchester has implemented a new reading list strategy through “collaboration, innovation & determination”, while Susan Boulton presented an enlightening case study looking at “Social engagement and institutional repositories”. One of the most important collaborative initiatives over recent years has been the development of the UK Research Reserve (UKRR), so we have been particularly delighted that Theo Stubbs and Chris Banks brought us their article looking back over the formative years of the initiative, “UKRR: a collaborative collection management success story”.
In an age when life can change in the blink of an eye, research occupies such a critical place in the scholarly ecosystem. Colin Nickels & Hilary Davis brought us an article which demonstrated how they are trying to better understand researcher needs and raise the profile of Library Research Support”. Complementing this article, Dominic Walker took a look at how libraries in the UK are engaging with the REF (Research Excellence Framework), focusing on how libraries are making a significant contribution to research excellence, and Scott Taylor continued the theme, presenting an overview of OA services at the University of Manchester Library and highlighting how the library is working with other institutional bodies to support researchers to promote their outputs, especially to non-academic audiences.
This drive to open up scholarship beyond the academy was also the theme of Tiberius Ignat and Paul Ayris's article entitled “Built to last! embedding Open Science principles and practice into European universities”. We also brought you an article by Jack Hyland, Alexander Kouker and Dmitri Zaitsev on Open Access eXchange (OAeX), which is looking to provide an economic model and platform for fundraising to support open scholarship services.
Lest our publishing colleagues think that we have overlooked them, fear not! They too have been changing to meet the ever-evolving world in which we all operate. We are a hugely diverse community, and we all benefit massively from that diversity, so we have been delighted to publish Saskia Bewley’s article which takes a look at how one publisher, Hachette, has been responding to the diversity and inclusion agenda, both as a publisher and as an employer. Tasha Mellins-Cohen and Gaynor Redvers-Mutton then took us on a fascinating journey into the possible futures for society publishing. Casting a slightly more philosophical eye on the publishing industry, Eamon Costello brought us one of our most thought-provoking articles ever, "Requires proofing by a native English speaker", in which he takes a very stimulating personal perspective on language, colonisation and scholarship.
Following on from these articles, and picking up on the theme of change within the scholarly communications community, we could not let the year begin without taking a look at Open Access and how it continues to challenge and reward us as a community. Publishers continue to be pushed by libraries, researchers and funders to transition away from traditional subscription-based revenue streams and towards pay-to-publish models. But, this transition is not without its challenges, and it has led to a number of national stand-offs with major publishers. Lisa Olsson very kindly agreed to take a look at the challenges presented by the transitional period in which we live, presenting a Swedish perspective, “Cancelling with the world’s largest scholarly publisher: lessons from the Swedish experience of having no access to Elsevier”.
Over the coming months, we will continue to pick up on this theme, with articles focusing on whether we are Plan-S ready, the relationship between research and digital innovation, and electronic resource management in a post Plan-S world. We will also be taking a look at inclusive scholarly publishing, accessibility and universal design for learning, the librarian as academic author, and how libraries can engage with Wikipedia, amongst other thought-provoking topics.
As always, we are extremely grateful to all our authors, both past and present, but would encourage you to become one of our future authors. We are always thrilled to receive submissions on topics of interest from new authors, early career professionals and those who have simply never put pen to paper before (or should that be finger to keyboard?).
However, before we end this editorial, we have to pause to offer huge thanks to our Publications Associate, Ally Souster, who retires at the end of April 2020 after many years of guiding, steering and generally keeping us on track. Without her dedication and energy Insights would be a much lesser publication, so, under the current circumstances, we find ourselves wishing her a ‘virtual’ farewell. Thanks for everything, Ally, and welcome to Elaine Koster, who joins us to keep a steady hand on the rudder.
So, as we all struggle through these incredibly dark times, keep safe, keep sharing, keep finding comfort and support in our rich and diverse community, and keep reading Insights!
Lorraine & Steve