Market conditions sink Springer flotation
In an unexpected move, Springer Nature has postponed its planned flotation on the Frankfurt stock market the day before trading was due to begin. The initial public offering (IPO), which some experts were predicting only a few days earlier would be oversubscribed, was deferred due to ‘market conditions’, according to a company statement, which stated that ‘Springer Nature and its shareholders will continue to closely evaluate the market environment in general and opportunities regarding an IPO of Springer Nature in the future.’ The move had been expected to raise €1.2bn in fresh capital.
Meanwhile, a new Nature journal has been criticised by academics in its field more than seven months before the first issue is due to appear. Researchers have called for a boycott of Machine Intelligence, due to be published for the first time in January 2019, because it will be published on a subscription model; a statement signed by almost three thousand researchers pledged not to submit, review, or edit for the journal, asserting that ‘We see no role for closed access or author-fee publication in the future of machine learning research and believe the adoption of this new journal as an outlet of record for the machine learning community would be a retrograde step.’ A spokesperson for the publisher highlighted the open access options Springer Nature already offers in the field of AI and mentioned plans to launch a multidisciplinary open access AI journal later this year, adding that the publisher believed that spreading the costs of highly selective journals like Machine Intelligence amongst many readers – rather than a few authors – was the fairest way of producing them.
In happier news for Springer Nature, Dr Magdalena Skipper has been appointed the new Editor-in-Chief of Nature, becoming the first female editor in the journal’s history, and only its eighth editor in almost 150 years. Skipper has worked for Nature for more than fifteen years, most recently as Editor-in-Chief of Nature Communications.
Peer review continues to be an area ripe for innovation. Publons has partnered with the American Psychological Association (APA) to pilot its Reviewer Recognition Service across thirty of the association’s core journals, enabling reviewers to add records of their reviews to Publons with a single click. The partnership builds upon growing organic demand for the service, with 1,800 APA reviewers having added more than 6,000 reviews already. And two more publishers have joined Springer Nature on a pilot project exploring how blockchain technology can be applied to resolve some of the growing challenges around peer review. Taylor & Francis and Cambridge University Press will work with Springer, blockchain experts Katalysis, and ORCID on a protocol that will store information about peer review activity on a blockchain so that the review process can be independently validated and reviewers recognised. All three publishers will contribute workflow information and access to several of their journals; Katalysis will provide technical expertise for the creation of the test platform, and ORCID will share its insights into personal identifiers and authentication; the project is managed by Digital Science.
New layer for Cambridge, new hub for Taylor & Francis
Both Cambridge and Taylor & Francis have further news this month. Cambridge has partnered with the Qualitative Data Repository and Hypothesis to make eight of its social science articles available to the Annotation for Transparent Inquiry (ATI) initiative, a pioneering attempt to make qualitative and multi-method research more transparent. ATI adds a digital layer over the top of articles when viewed on the publisher’s website, connecting passages of text to annotations by the author discussing how the data were generated and analysed, and linking to their sources; these annotations can be viewed immediately alongside the main text.
Meanwhile, Taylor & Francis has implemented a new Journals Communications Hub, intended to make authors’ lives easier and accelerate the publication process. Built on the CollectionPoint platform developed by Boston-based technology company codeMantra, the hub manages all communications related to submission, peer review and production, and engagement with all editorial, author, peer review, production, and publishing contributors.
In other news
SAGE Publishing has acquired software and services developer Global Village Publishing (GVPi), which specialises in the delivery of customized digital publishing solutions. The two companies had already worked together for more than sixteen years, delivering products including SAGE Knowledge, SAGE Research Methods, SAGE Video, and SAGE Stats.
Intech Open has become the first book publisher to implement Dimensions badges across its 3,350 open access titles; the badges provide information on the frequency and source of citations, and how they compare with those for other titles.
Alastair Horne is a PhD student at the British Library and Bath Spa University