From vanity to strategy
Hans E. Roosendaal
Kasia Zalewska-Kurek 2
Peter A. Th. M. Geurts 3
Eberhard R. Hilf 4
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Business models in the research environment
Acquisition of scientific information
Market of scientific information
Criteria for business models in scientific publishing
Scenarios for scientific publishing
Consequences for stakeholders
Summary and conclusions
About the authors
The starting point in this book is that scientific information is here to serve researchers in producing scientific knowledge. This means serving researchers in making scientific results public and in acquiring scientific information.
Following this line of thinking and using the concept of the business model as guidance to analyse the research environment, we first provide a discussion of research. In this discussion, the competition in research and the drivers in research for making research results public and for acquiring these results by other researchers play an important role. We analyse the scientific information market further from the viewpoint of the continuing development towards e-science as e-science opens up new possibilities of sharing information. Sharing information is shown to be the main value proposition in the business model or the main purpose for scientific information, in particular when collaborating in research projects across research institutions. E-science will create new challenges for the smaller and medium institutions to participate in such collaborations. E-science promises new possibilities for the production of knowledge and will most probably change our research agenda of the future.
Our basic premise is that publishing business models should be commensurate with the research environment and should thus serve research. This is just another way of saying that publishing business models should be commensurate with the business models in the research environment.
Serving in research is possible only if such business models support researchers, being as users the main stakeholders in doing research. This makes the understanding of the mechanisms of scientific communication in the research process a requirement in developing a publishing business model. The roles of scientific information in the research process, in particular sharing scientific information is therefore discussed before dealing with business models following the argument that scientific communication and scientific information is at the core of research.
A discussion of publishing business models results in a critical discussion of the well known business models, the subscription model and the present open access model and proposes a suite of business models separating the two main parameters: availability of research results and selection in the acquisition of information.
The subscription business model is the business model known from the paper age: a publisher produces a journal and charges the libraries for delivery and also for keeping toll access digital copies posted on the Web as extra service.
A strategic alternative, which came up as a proposition for the digital documents in the digital age, is the open access business model. One of the riddles to be elucidated in this book is why the present open access model did not result in a market penetration of more than about 15%. We show that the reason is that the value chain of the stakeholders is still the one from the print age, and that the role of each stakeholder does not meet its incentives. This means that the optimal business model is yet to be found, a business model that will meet the requirements of researchers, give incentives to each stakeholder to allow optimal sharing and division of labour and include the professional add-on services necessary to make use of the service.
The research agenda has been seen to be determined by the relation between research and society at large. This relation is presently in flux, moving towards an increasing intertwinement of research and society. The basic premise in the relation between society and researchers is that this relation should create incentives for both parties. As observed, scientific research appears of interest not only to researchers but also to their societal environment. This societal environment plays a major role in setting research policies and research directions and has a direct impact on scientific knowledge production.
We analyse the strategic positioning of researchers in the environment with an eye to the consequences this strategic position has for the researcher's demands with respect to scientific information. In analysing strategic positioning we then view the relation of researchers with the environment as a sort of alliance allowing us to use concepts of the existing strategic management literature. In particular, we use the two dimensions of organisational autonomy and strategic interdependence in analysing this strategic positioning.
This approach is different from the usual approach taken in research policy literature in that it not only allows an outside-in view, but that it also allows an inside-out view, i.e. taking as starting point the unique resources and competences of researchers, be this at the individual, the research group or the research institute level.
This description leads to a continuum of modes of such relations of researchers and environment. Well known modes are the 'ivory tower' and 'strategic research', known also as mode1 and mode2 and the recently introduced mode3, the 'research entrepreneur'. These different modes lead to different demands for scientific information, both in terms of making results public and in acquiring scientific information. As any business model in scientific publishing should serve researchers, in the strategic positioning of researchers in the environment, and in claiming the intellectual property of the invention, it is therefore argued that any business model should duly take into account these different demands researchers have.
Competition is seen to play a role here in that it drives researchers to create new research results and triggers innovative changes and drives researchers to make these results public. And indeed researchers can withhold relevant scientific results in order to gain competitive advantage over their colleague competitors by not sharing this information homogeneously throughout the research community, in this way hampering the integrity of science. Competition between researchers creates demands for the acquisition of information in that it calls for competitive selection tools to monitor and anticipate what research competitors intend.
That business models for scientific publishing should serve researchers in the acquisition of scientific information also means that these business models should take into account that the acquisition of scientific information is considerably determined by strategic positioning of researchers and the competition they are facing.
The role of strategic positioning in the acquisition of scientific information is illustrated along an extensive case study of a research institute, the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology of the University of Twente, the Netherlands. The results show a spread over the different modes in positioning, albeit that the researchers are predominantly located in mode3: the research entrepreneur and mode2: the strategic researcher. This is also reflected in the observed motives to publish as these are spread over combinations of the three main motives: recognition, sharing knowledge and external pressure. Sharing knowledge only is seen to be perceived as somewhat idealistic or even naive and occurs only in combination with one of the other two motives. In choosing a publication outlet prestige, impact factor and the specific audience are therefore overriding factors.
The market of scientific communication is analysed in terms of the forces driving this market and the functions it should perform. Although it would presently be tempting to turn to technological forces driving the market, we have chosen for forces and functions that are invariant for technological change. This approach is consistent with the position taken in this book that scientific information should serve researchers and therefore should take researchers as the pivotal point in the analysis requiring forces and functions expressing the basic requirements of researchers independent of technology. Technology is enabling these basic requirements on the basis of the most up to date options. In this vein, and based on the analysis of the strategic positioning of researchers, we arrive at the following four forces driving the scientific information market: recognition of researchers, competition between researchers, availability and selection of information. Following similar arguments we arrive at the following functions to be performed in the market: the internal functions of certification and awareness, and the external functions of registration and archiving.
The certification function is found to depend on the modes of strategic positioning of researchers. The specific research mode influences the authors' choice for a specific style of certification of the combination of content and potential application of the research being reported. This results in a deliberate choice for certain journals having the right philosophy and style of reviewing research papers commensurate with the research mode. Journal editors are therefore advised to cater for the intended research mode, next to the intended market segment and consequentially for the right visibility and recognition for their clientele, the researchers, as there exists in particular a strong relation between intellectual property and the referee system.
The awareness function is seen to potentially benefit from technological developments in terms of a wide array of value added services aiming at increasing the selection of the reader, both in the developments of communicating research results and in creating new landmarks alerting the researcher to material of interest. The aim is foremost to find all relevant information and this seems still far away.
Next to the certification function, the registration function is most important for the author to claim the intellectual property to the research results. Coupled to the registration function is the protection of the intellectual ownership to these results. Important questions still to be solved to make the breakthrough to genuine modular publications are reliable authentication and time stamping as well as encryption to ensure the integrity of the information.
The archiving function should ensure the sustainable deposit of material and its precise retrieval. A major problem in this arena is that the evolution of software, how necessary and positive this is in itself, makes existing information carriers and formats obsolete and thereby practically unusable making the claim of archiving as archiving for posterity a hollow one. A way out for long term archiving may be the strict logical separation of content and format and a strict usage of non-proprietary formats for the rather complex digital information products that this market requires. Neither the technological nor the organisational problems on how to distribute the material safely over a number of archives in creating sustainable digital archives have been solved but the necessary regulations, organisation structures and international agreements have been condensed to an expertise for a national policy of long term archiving of scientific documents. The essential obstacle on the way towards a federated global document information system is the missing policy for the archiving and posting of data and for document providers.
Bringing the elements discussed in the previous chapters together, we are able to formulate criteria for business models in scientific publishing by analysing the different elements in the business model: the value proposition, the market segment, the strategic position of researchers, the value chain of scientific publishing, the competitive strategy and the potential for revenues and the cost structure.
The value proposition of the market is to serve the production of knowledge by sharing of information: making research results public and acquiring information at the right time. The main property in the market is the intellectual property researchers claim when making research results public. The organisation of property protection of the researchers' intellectual property is essential to the value proposition. Adequate availability of the information is a prerequisite for sharing knowledge.
The market segment has been shown to be not only the research environment worldwide, but also the wider societal environment. Which market segment is most appropriate depends on the mode of strategic positioning of the researcher as this mode has been seen to determine what type of scientific information is being required, acquired and produced.
The value chain has been adequately described by the forces and functions in the market in describing the dynamics in the market as a whole and in this way the value in the market.
Competition in research is reflected in claiming the intellectual property and creating in this way competitive advantage for the owner of this property. But also, the acquisition of information carries a competitive element. Effective acquisition requires powerful selection tools in the hand of the reader and at the individual level. It then requires the researchers' choice of these tools in terms of value added services. A business model should provide a proper balance between availability and selection at the researcher’s discretion.
The revenues and costs structure depends on the two dimensions of availability and selection as presented in the business model. A further requirement, and not the least, of the business model is that any business model for scientific information should be sustainable. A subsidised system could be considered, subsidised e.g. by research, but it should be noted that such a subsidised and therefore political system, would possibly not only render the publishing system very vulnerable, but could also endanger independent certification of the research results, in this way endangering the research process itself.
The core of any business model is its ability to further the production of knowledge by sharing research results in an appropriate way. Core to sharing is the concomitant claim and protection of the intellectual property of the researcher and core to the validity of this claim is the certification function or the peer review process.
In developing scenarios, we notice that any publishing business model should be concerned with a proper balance between the two indispensable parameters of availability and ability to select.
We also note that availability determined by the basic services comprising of peer review on the one hand side and enhanced power of selection on the other hand side are in principle two distinct services. These two distinct services can in principle be provided by separate suppliers: one responsible for wide availability of scientific information and one responsible for value added services, such as services to enhance the power of selection by researchers.
In this way, a publishing business model can allow different combinations of availability and power of selection. This leads to a suite of different business models for scientific publishing in which availability and selection can in principle be provided by different combinations of suppliers. Responsibilities and costs for availability can be kept separate from responsibilities and costs for selection. These models allow researchers acquiring selected information and selecting services for which they want to pay additionally.
The way availability and selection have been arranged in the present market are demonstrated using the subscription model and the open access model. Furthermore, based on the observation that in principle basic services can be split from value added services a suite of optional business models are proposed meeting this requirement of such a flexible separation. It can be concluded that only such a demand oriented and research centred model providing basic services combined with optional added value services meets the conditions for scientific information as demanded by the research community taking all elements of the business model into account. Many business models meeting these general conditions as sketched above will be possible allowing a much richer market than the present market with one dominant business model. Rather than listing all possible business models we restrict ourselves to conditions to business models only.
Inspecting the presently dominant business model, the subscription model, it is shown that this model is supply oriented and publisher centred. The open access model in all its variations present in the market is seen to be in essence also supply oriented and publisher centred.
This means that both these business models do not meet the demand of convergence of the scientific information market towards e-science as this is shown to require a demand oriented and research centred business model.
Any business model should comply with the prime demand of research of sharing scientific information for the benefit of research, i.e. sharing information in a very dynamic environment demanding that information must be made public and can be fully acquired. Such a business model leads to a network comprising the research environment as the pivotal stakeholders together with the other stakeholders. Such a network requires careful strategic positioning of these other stakeholders with respect to the research environment. The analysis then arrives at the conclusion that libraries can best be absorbed into research, whereas publishers and other intermediaries should establish a symbiotic relation with the research environment, also to guarantee a sustainable business model. The relation between publishers and other service providers requires revision and may lead to a tighter amalgamation of these service providers with the publishers. This will therefore require further emancipation on the part of the publishers.
The creation of a cohesive and coherent network should allow and guarantee the best return on investment, in whatever form, for all stakeholders on their own terms, be they public organisations such as e.g. research and higher education institutions or private organisations such as e.g. publishers. It is in the interest of each individual stakeholder to strive for maximum flexibility in the market place. This can best be achieved by organising the market in such a way that it allows maximum compliance with the vision present in the market place.
The guiding thought throughout this book is that scientific publishing is here to serve scientific knowledge production. Stimulating e-science is the challenge for scientific publishing. E-science means a further step in the integration of information into the research process requiring new strategies and business models for scientific publishing.
This book discusses some of the aspects of new strategies and business models that are required to meet this goal of serving research throughout.
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Hans E. Roosendaal (Email) is professor of strategic management at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. His specialisation is in strategic knowledge and information management.
Educated as a physicist, in 1974 he joined the University of Bielefeld (Germany) as faculty staff. Between 1983 and 1998 he served Elsevier Science in various management positions as publisher and in corporate strategy and acquisitions. He joined the University of Twente in 1998 as chief information officer, and has also served as a member of the executive board of the university.
He has authored journal and book articles on both surface physics and scientific information. The articles on scientific information focus on strategic aspects of the transformation to a digital environment.
Hans is chairman of the Foundation natuurkunde.nl, a foundation supported by the Dutch physics community with the aim of making physics more attractive to young people. To this end, the foundation operates two websites: natuurkunde.nl and sciencespace.nl
He served on a number of evaluation committees on digital libraries, e-science and e-learning, and from 2004 to 2008 was a member of the BMBF standing evaluation committee on D-Grid. Since 2006 he has been a member of the Standing Accreditation Committee of the Zentrale Evaluations- und Akkreditierungsagentur, Hannover, Germany.
Kasia Zalewska-Kurek (Email) is an assistant professor at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. She holds a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Wroclaw, Poland, and has specialised in the sociology of small urban and rural communities. Her master’s thesis dealt with the quality of life in a small town, describing relations between the perceived quality of life and a number of external influences such as economic, cultural and social factors (derived from Manuel Castells’s theory of urban subsystems).
In 2004 she joined the University of Twente to pursue a PhD, and in 2008 defended her dissertation, entitled ‘Strategies in the production and dissemination of knowledge’. The dissertation answers questions on the dynamics of and conditions affecting the production of knowledge; it also applies the concept of the business model to the research environment.
Her research interest is in the strategic management and organisation of scientific research: in the research process, including production and transfer of knowledge, and in the management of research institutes and universities. She has co-authored articles and a book chapter on the management of the production of knowledge and scientific information.
Peter A.Th.M. Geurts (Email) is associate professor for research methods and methodology of the social sciences at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. He specialises in survey methods at large, and more specifically in such methods in the context of contingent valuation and international comparisons. Educated in mathematical sociology, he joined the University of Twente as faculty staff responsible for the teaching of research methods in public administration.
He has authored books on methodological issues concerning questionnaire construction and research proposals, and books and journal articles on scientific information, mixed methods, contingent valuation of welfare change and issues of social and political participation in democracies.
Since the beginning of the 1990s he has conducted and published several studies on the impact of ICT, more specifically the internet, on publishing models in science and developments in scientific and business communication. His primary concern here is the theoretical and empirical underpinning of the transitions taking place under the influence of internet.
Peter is a member of advisory committees for research grants of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and a reviewer for several scientific journals.
Eberhard R. Hilf (Email) is CEO of the Institute for Science Networking Oldenburg at the Carl von Ossietzky University. The institute works on innovative services for the management of scientific information in the digital age.
Eberhard's interests are digital scientific publication services: refereeing, printing on demand, metadata, distribution, networking and semantic analysis, with open access as a prerequisite.
Educated as a theoretical physicist (Hamburg, Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt), he was a research assistant at the University of Würzburg and professor at the Universities of Düsseldorf, Darmstadt and Oldenburg, with sabbaticals at Seattle, Jerusalem, New York and Orsay/Paris. He has organised many scientific conferences in both in physics and science information management.
Eberhard was on the scientific advisory boards for HAL, the CNRS Central Archive, the National Data-Centre FIZ Karlsruhe, the National Networking of Chemistry e-Learning and the Virtual Scientific Library ViFaPhys (Technical Information Library TIB Hannover), and a member of the Action Committee for Publication and Scientific Communication (EPS European Physical Society).
He has served in the DINI German Initiative for Network Information, and co-founded and chaired the IuK Initiative for Information and Communication of the German Learned Societies, and the Action Group for the reform of the Urheberrechtsgesetz for science and academic learning, the National Data-Centre FIZ Karlsruhe, the National Networking of Chemistry e-Learning and the Virtual Scientific Library ViFaPhys (Technical Information Library TIB Hannover), and a member of the Action Committee for Publication and Scientific Communication (EPS European Physical Society).
He has served in the DINI German Initiative for Network Information, and co-founded and chaired the IuK Initiative for Information and Communication of the German Learned Societies, and the Action Group for the reform of the Urheberrechtsgesetz for science and academic learning.