H. Frederick Dylla Director's Matters

The Oxford script
Last week I had the honor of presenting a keynote lecture at the Second International Conference of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), which was held just outside of the city of Oxford in the United Kingdom. For a former practicing scientist now at the helm of a major scientific and publishing organization, being in the vicinity of the great science and publishing centers of London, Oxford, and Cambridge was a privilege. As a relative newcomer to the publishing business, I felt that the transition in my own career provided a basis for my talk—“A 360-Degree View of Scholarly Publishing or Will Anyone Pay for Anything?”—in which I offered my perspective on the past and future of scientific publishing. I used to know scientific publishing only from the input side of the business—the typical view of a scientist who, as an author, communicates the results of scientific research and also peer reviews other articles. Even though I had served as an editor for several journals, like most scientists I remained blissfully uninformed of the business side of journals and of my rights as an author and a copyright holder. Over the last two and a half years at AIP, I have developed a much deeper knowledge of the business, legal, and political aspects of journal publishing. Coupled with my previous experiences, this knowledge affords me a better understanding of how to communicate with our authors, reviewers, and editorial and business partners.

Fred DyllaThe first part of my talk was a brief look at what has changed and what remains the same in scholarly publishing since the first journal—Philosophical Transactions—was published by the Royal Society in 1665. I then focused on the changes that are still in progress as journals move from print to online. We are in the midst of the most interesting changes, as AIP and other publishers attempt to harness the full power of the internet, enabled by new communication technologies, to make the journal a multidimensional and multimedia experience. For the most part, electronic journals are still only digital copies of the printed page—albeit with the added benefit of an enhanced archive that allows access to any article back to the first issue with the click of a mouse. The next generation of journals, however, is upon us. By combining layered information such as semantic tagging with search routines, we can put the increasing complexity of digital files to work. The emerging technologies are enabling scientists to deal with the millions of articles and related databases that are published each year. (I recommend a very interesting article on this topic that gives several examples: A. H. Renear and C. L. Palmer, Science 325, 828, 2009).

I concluded my presentation with a look at the political and sociological aspects of our business. Readers of this column know that I have invested a considerable part of my career at AIP trying to negotiate mutually agreeable solutions to access issues and changing business models that have tended to stress the publisher–stakeholder relationship. In my August 24 column, I described recent developments in the effort to arrive at a consensus. One such development involves my participation in the US House Science and Technology Committee Roundtable on Public Access. My colleagues on the roundtable come from publishing (both non-profit and for-profit) and from the library and university administration communities. Throughout the summer we have worked to identify the key aspects of scholarly publishing that need to be strengthened and to find sustainable means of providing the optimal access to scholarly publications. All in the group are pleased with the tone and collegiality of our deliberations, and we are optimistic that our recommendations (yet to be released) will be useful to the entire community.

A final but important footnote: As I was discussing the innovations in scientific publishing, I had the opportunity to briefly promote a new AIP offering. AIP unveiled AIP UniPHY, our new scientific networking application for the physics community, a project AIP developed with Collexis. ALPSP conference participants reacted enthusiastically to the announcement, as did the press and first users. For more information, see the story below.


Bringing collaborators together with AIP UniPHY
AIP UniPHYIn early September, AIP announced the launch of a new website—AIP UniPHY—the world’s first literature-based, professional scientific networking platform for physical scientist researchers. AIP UniPHY allows physical scientists to identify and connect directly with other scientists whose expertise they may need in future collaborations. Through AIP’s partnership in this venture with Collexis Holdings, Inc.—a developer of semantic technology and knowledge discovery software—AIP UniPHY allows users to

  1. retrieve relevant scientific knowledge quickly and accurately;
  2. search and locate documents, researchers, trends, and new discoveries; and
  3. profile individual scientists based on their publication history.

Through our partnership with Collexis, the features and functionalities of AIP UniPHY will continue to evolve. 

Find out more about AIP UniPHY in the press release of September 9.  Since its debut, AIP UniPHY has generated a positive buzz in the media. See the AIP website for some of this press coverage.

Physics Today mentioned in Entertainment Weekly
Physics Today received unexpected publicity in the September 18 issue of Entertainment Weekly. Television network CBS paid ET to insert a 40-minute video ad—the first-ever use of video in a magazine print advertisement—in the fall TV preview issue. The insert, actually a small video screen, automatically plays when the magazine is opened to that page. The ad begins with actor Jim Parsons, who plays theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper on the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, welcoming readers to “the current edition of Physics Today” before finding out he has been duped into supporting a different product. To see the video clip and read more about the ad and the technology involved, visit the News Pick “Video in Print” on Physics Today’s website.

Staying healthy and informed
You have probably heard a lot via the media lately about the spread of the H1N1 (“swine flu”) virus. Although it is a serious concern, the best defenses are very simple. First, stay informed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website has extensive information about the H1N1 virus, including information on vaccinations that will soon become available and weekly updates on the flu’s status. Second and most important, the CDC offers advice on what you can do to stay healthy: wash hands frequently, use hand sanitizers, and stay home when you are sick.

Improved e-mail marketing capabilities
LISTSERV Maestro e-mail marketing software is available to use for your e-mail campaigns. Maestro integrates with AIP’s LISTSERV bulk e-mail system to easily send targeted and personalized messages. Maestro also gives you the ability to track certain actions, like when a recipient clicks on a URL or opens an HTML-formatted message.

Maestro’s user-friendly interface can manage jobs, generate HTML content, mail-merge data, and even send more than one version of an e-mail and compare the results. The campaign dashboard provides an overview of all e-mail activities, with information about recent e-mail jobs as well as jobs that are in progress. The powerful reporting module, also available from the dashboard, allows you to quickly analyze the results of your campaigns. Multiple levels of tracking are available, so you can specify the amount of information to collect and the degree of personally identifiable information to track.  

Please contact Mike DeGregory from Business Systems and Operations for a demonstration or more information.

We invite your feedback to this newsletter via e-mail to aipmatters@aip.org.

For past issues of this newsletter, visit the AIP Matters archives.