New research outlines ‘integral role’ of academic publishing in UK

AcademicPress Release

Academic publishing plays an integral role in the research and innovation ecosystem, according to independent research released today.

The report, by Frontier Economics, sets out publishing’s contribution to the innovation cycle, incorporating existing research with stakeholder views. It finds that without the highly specialised and time-intensive tasks carried out by UK academic publishers, innovation may be less effective.

It also suggests that the nature and extent of academic publishing’s role in facilitating innovation is largely absent from existing research or government thinking – meaning the broader impact of the sector may be underestimated or misunderstood.

Academic journal publishing is one of the UK’s strongest performers and the sector is a global leader, exporting around £1.4bn per year. The sector supports the UK’s exceptionally strong science base as well as the UK’s £33bn R&D sector, two thirds of which is performed by businesses and one quarter by universities.

Stephen Lotinga, CEO of the Publishers Association, said: “This report outlines the huge contribution that the academic publishing industry makes to our world-class research base, a contribution which is not always very well understood. The research shows the many different ways that publishers use their highly specialised skills to make research go further and do more – and it comes at a crucial moment for the sector.

“Recent developments around Open Access including Plan S and the forthcoming UKRI OA review must be approached with the utmost care by UK policy makers, or it could risk jeopardising a hugely important industry that is a vital part of the UK’s research and innovation ecosystem.”

The report finds a framework of four core stages where academic publishing contributes to research and innovation:

  • Funding: Publishing helps funders assess quality of research through peer review, metrics and bespoke tools, as well as pointing to emerging research areas.
  • Activity: Publishers support and improve research activity through peer review and additional contributions before, during and after publication which help maintain research quality and integrity. Publishing can also enhance collaborations, help create fields of study and affect behaviour change.
  • Outputs: Publishers help make research outputs more useful, ensuring they are accessible (including increasingly via Open Access) searchable, discoverable, inter-related, up-to-date and archived. They also ensure clear attribution by establishing IP and primacy, as well as signalling quality and validity.
  • Innovation: Publishers create and develop tools and work with industry to improve absorptive capacity. These include data platforms, collaboration management and sector-specific tools.

Find out more by reading Publishing’s contribution to research and innovation here.