The purple jacarandas were in full bloom in Midrand near Johannesburg, and Table Mountain in Cape Town was looking its best, as we congregated for our two Editorial indabas (gatherings) in October. The two meetings were well attended by journal editors, co-publishers, society partners, and funders.
Representatives from fields as diverse as philosophy and palaeontology, security studies and soil science, education and economics were present to discuss developments in global journals publishing and issues arising in the local context. Key areas flagged up by editors were: publication of African research, training authors and reviewers, understanding the implication of open access (OA) for the local context, and international accreditation.
Global Journals Publishing Director Dr. David Green opened both events by addressing the seismic shift that has taken place in publishing in the past few decades, and elaborating on metrics, media, and marketing which have become ever more important.
No longer just mantra of 'publish or perish' – also be discoverable or die, be visible or vanish, be cited or suffer: Green #TandFEditors
— Herman Wasserman (@hwasser) October 24, 2013
One of the most striking trends that emerged through the data was that South African research output has had very strong growth in the social sciences and humanities in particular. At least in terms of research publication productivity, this does not seem to tie in with a perceived South African “crisis in the humanities.”
On the OA front we have seen the matter of “re-use” replacing “access” as a key issue, with the focus being placed more on the licensing terms, and society and publisher brands are increasingly seen as important marks of trust, scientific authority, and peer review standards. Amidst these changes in business models, the roles of publishers, learned societies, and expert editors will remain essential in ensuring research excellence. We shared the results of African and specifically South African responses to our OA survey (more about which can be found on our forthcoming Taylor & Francis Africa blog and Twitter stream).
#TandFEditors: @zenpublisher: dichotomy -strong interest in #OA in Africa but most authors choose journal based on relevance, reputation
— Janet Remmington (@janremm) October 24, 2013
Janet Remmington, Editorial Director, spoke about “Marketing and metrics for maximum impact,” elaborating on ways in which our direct marketing efforts have shifted from print marketing to electronic campaigns to great effect. Social media and metrics have changed and enriched the world of marketing, creating greater engagement within and beyond the academy. Sometimes articles go viral beyond all expectations – those Twitter birds take off.
African scholars face huge challenges, but there 's optimism & new technologies offering new avenues & access! #TandFEditors
— NceKu Nyathi (@Ku_Nyathi) October 24, 2013
Mariëtte Enslin, Regional Managing Editor, addressed the challenges and the opportunities that metrics and altmetrics provide for the African context. For African journals, traditional metrics do not necessarily reflect accurately on the journal or article’s usage and “citedness.” Differences in index coverage will mean that local journals, even if well cited by other local sources, tend to perform badly on metrics such as the impact factor. Although there are so many alternative metric tools that are coming to the fore, empowering the individual researcher to raise the profile of their research, the digital divide is still a reality. What tools could be created to facilitate regional research making a greater impact?
Excellent to have Gracian Chimwaza of ITOCA at #TandFeditors on e-resources training in #Africa; @R4LPartnership pic.twitter.com/1JtNP6dnNL
— Janet Remmington (@janremm) October 18, 2013
We ended our indabas with lively debates during our panel discussions, tackling: “How do journals make an impact, and how do editors and publishers make a difference?” “Impact” was discussed in the broadest sense and panelists addressed how publication of research is applied in policy, professional, practice, and local publishing environments, as well as within the academic arena. Lay summaries, social media treatments, briefs, and press coverage all came out as forms of engagement.
Tradition of scientific authority #OldenburgPrinciples vs impact of public engagement in panel at Joburg indaba @TandFAfrica #TandFEditors
— David Green (@ZenPublisher) October 18, 2013
Thank you to everyone who attended, and especially those who participated in the face-to-face and virtual discussions, ensuring a stimulating debate!
We left the indabas reflecting on old and new currents within publishing. For Janet, what stood out was the absolute bedrock of “slow,” hard, in-depth intellectual work that makes up the research and the article creation process, combined with the now lightning outreach through social media. For David it is the change, yet also the continuity, within publishing that is evident. We step into a river, though we may be “washed by different waters,” as Heraclitus once reflected. We keep moving with the times to keep ahead of the game. At the same time, we draw on tried-and-tested quality values and traditions.
More about Taylor & Francis Africa
Taylor & Francis has a regional publishing office in South Africa based in Johannesburg which was established in 2007 and consists of three staff members. The African Journals portfolio consists of approximately 60 titles, 22 of which are co-published with UNISA Press and 17 with NISC. We also work with the British Institute in Eastern Africa among other organizations across Africa, and are launching Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies in 2014. For more information on T&F Africa events, please follow us on Twitter @TandF_Africa!