Nature’s Managing Director on future trends in publishing

Steven Inchcoombe, who became Managing Director of Nature Publishing Group (NPG) last October, is interviewed in the June/July issue of Research Information. He answers questions about the main information needs of researchers, the role of peer-review, NPG’s position on open access, and provides some predictions for the future.

Open access means that authors or their funders may have to pay to publish papers and I think this will make them demand a higher level of service from publishers. They will want more visibility about what is happening in the publishing process. And once papers are published, authors will want to know who has accessed them as they might want to approach them about possible collaborations.

In addition, self-archiving mandates require authors to do more work. If publishers are clever they will offer authors more help to do this. Also, as more authors are not native English speakers, publishers may have to help them more in how they express themselves in their papers.

There are more and more versions of content available to readers. To justify their versions, publishers must offer serious value such as in forward and backwards citation linking.

Another big challenge will be bringing in rich media such as audio and video.

See the Research Information website for the full article.


  1. Report this comment

    Stevan Harnad said:

    Steven Inchcoombe writes “We also support and encourage self-archiving of the author’s final version of accepted articles.” But if you look in the Romeo directory of publisher self-archiving policies, you will find that whereas Nature is indeed among the 92% of journals that have endorsed the immediate self-archiving of the author’s unrefereed first draft (the preprint) Nature is not among the 63% of journals that have endorsed the immediate self-archiving of the author’s peer-reviewed final draft (the postprint) — the one that is the real target of OA, and indispensable for research usage and progress.

    Nature used to be “green” on the immediate self-archiving of both preprints and postprints, but, taking half of NIH’s maximal allowable access embargo for its own minimum in 2005, Nature became one of the few journals that back-slid to impose a 6-month embargo on open access to the peer-reviewed final draft.

    It doesn’t make much difference, because Institutional Repositories still have the almost-OA email eprint request Button to tide over research usage needs during the embargo, but let it not be thought that Nature is still on the “side of the angels”as it once was, insofar as OA is concerned.

    Stevan Harnad

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    Maxine said:

    Don’t forget that people can always read the article in the journal, Stevan, as soon as it is published! The vast majority of scientists are either at an institution with a site license or can access the journal free via OARE, AGORA or HINARI, so they don’t even have to take out a subscription.

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    Stevan Harnad said:

    The self-archived postprint is for those would-be users who are not “at an institution with a site license or can access the journal free via OARE, AGORA or HINARI”: Can you think of any good reason why they should be denied access for six months?

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    Maxine said:

    Stevan, authors are welcome and encouraged to post preprints of the submitted version of their scientific papers on recognised preprint servers, eg ArXiv and Nature Precedings, where anyone can read them. This was covered in the Research Information article (link in post), from which you have selected one aspect for your comment here.

    I think that Nature journals do plenty to ensure additional availability of the material they publish, as things stand, by the means I’ve described in my two comments to this post. But if you have any general issues with the policy, or further recommendations you wish to make, please do write to the publishers directly.

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    Stevan Harnad said:

    I am referring to the peer-reviewed postprint, not the unrefereed preprint. And I have written to Nature for over a half decade urging that the green light be given to postprint self-archiving immediately upon acceptance. As noted in my first comment above, this was first heeded, with Nature Green on both preprints and postprints, and then, anticipating NIH’s allowable embargo, Nature back-slid and adopted a 6-month embargo on postprint self-archiving.

    So I repeat my question to you, Maxine: What about those would-be users worldwide who are “[n]either at an institution with a site license [n]or can access the journal free via OARE, AGORA or HINARI”? Is there any reason whatsoever why they should all be denied access for six months if they (or their institutions) do not “have [the funds] to take out a subscription”? Because that is what OA is really all about.

    Maxine responds: Stevan, if you are in communication with Nature’s publishers about this matter, and have conveyed your views to them, then they can respond or take them into account if they wish. I don’t have anything more to add on this particular topic to my two previous comments above.

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