An Open Question
In her role as John Wiley & Sons' vice president and director of open access, the question Rachel Burley faces every day is quite a challenging one. In fact, it's one that the whole of the scholarly journal and book publishing world is wrestling with these days, as well.
How do you rethink the business of peer-reviewed scholarly material as changing business models redraw the landscape for how scientific, technical and medical (STM) content is created and distributed?
Burley's been busy helping Wiley figure out the right answers since she assumed the newly created role at the publisher earlier this year. So far, so good. Wiley—which has a track record of migrating its offerings online since the days when folks surfed the Internet's primordial ooze on Mosaic browsers—is forging into fairly uncharted territory, and Burley is helping to lead the way.
"I think the challenge for a lot of publishers is adapting business models to a new model of open access," she says.
Open access—allowing free access to peer-reviewed journal content online—has been on a lot of peoples' minds lately. The STM publishing business—which until recently was ruled by subscription-based revenue models—is coming under increased pressure to open up to free access content that originated from publicly-funded research. Some see it as the future of digital publishing; others see it as a well-meaning but ill-conceived effort that will ultimately damage the quality and credibility of research.
For Wiley and its STM publishing peers, the mission critical is to stay ahead of the times when it comes to the demand for more freely-available content. The traditional subscription-based model of offering scholarly works to libraries and universities is fading away. In its place, various models of distribution have arisen, with various forms of open access leading the charge.