As the OSTP mandate speeds movement to OA models, many scholarly publishers have found themselves facing new challenges in translating their old B2B marketing tactics to a B2C approach.
Specifically, publishers who have long catered to libraries and institutions as middlemen must now reconsider how they appeal to an entirely new set of customers: Readers, reviewers, and authors.
Why Does Author Experience Matter Even More in OA?
Authors want to be read by their peers, and the esteem of publishing in high-prestige journals may have once been enough to sway them. But impact factor alone is not enough of a selling point - especially under gold OA models, where authors must pay to publish and the content is free to read.
While OA does provide a greater opportunity for the visibility and discoverability of scholarly output, the burden of paying for each article will influence the decisions an author makes about where to submit.
When authors pay APCs, they’re primarily paying for the amplification of their research as a result of appearing in the journal. Publishers must evaluate the author’s work, and may (and often do!) reject it or request revisions.
As noted in a recent post on author experience shared by Clarke & Esposito:
“This dynamic introduces the central tension in (Gold) OA publishing: publishers are paid when they accept papers, but attracting papers requires a certain degree of selectivity.”
In order to attract and retain the best authors for their portfolio, publishers will need a new arsenal of tools and tactics to market to authors who are engaged, whose content is engaging to a journal’s readership, who are actively looking to publish, and who are producing relevant research.
What Do Authors Want?
1. Efficient publishing processes
The journey to publish often includes numerous steps for submission, review, acceptance, and publication. How efficiently and effectively a publisher can conduct these steps has a huge impact on how likely an author is to want to publish with you again.
After all - if Amazon can ship something in two days, why would you buy it from a company that can get it to you in a week and a half?
Even when time-to-publish can’t be easily influenced, there are numerous touch points along an author’s journey where publishers can add efficiency and value, including:
- Responsiveness to author questions or concerns throughout the publishing process
- Value and fairness during peer review (Don’t forget - your author pool may overlap with your reviewer candidates!)
- Clear expectation-setting on timelines and next steps, and proof that progress is being made
2. Easy-to-use author tools
Navigating a journal’s manuscript submission system can be an arduous task, even for seasoned authors.
If authoring tools are complex or your systems force authors to complete redundant submission steps, authors will be less inclined to submit articles. Consider how your tools support researchers that may stumble over the details of funding policies or institutional agreements, or those less familiar with the publishing process as a whole.
Alleviating points of friction with author submission tools can also contribute to the overall efficiency of your publishing process. For example, Hindawi recently shared that improving their submission and peer review platform increased editor engagement and lowered peer review turnaround times by 24%.
3. Messaging only when relevant.
Soliciting authors and peer reviewers is an inevitable part of journal operations, but blasting all your past and prospective authors with solicitations that aren’t relevant to their research is one surefire way to get them to stop opening your emails altogether.
Readers aren’t the only ones who have come to expect a more personalized, relevant digital experience.
The better you’re able to collect and connect behavioral data to your individual users, the better you can:
- Identify potential special issue topics
- Suggest potential editor or author candidates
- Personalize marketing to recruit new editors and authors
- Deliver relevant messaging to retain top authors
Download your copy of Hum’s latest whitepaper - Turning Your Disparate Data into Solid Gold - to see two strategic segments publishers can use to target their top authors in OA and read and publish deals for personalized outreach.
4. Proof of Impact.
Your relationship with an author doesn’t end once their research has been published.
Remember - authors are incredibly motivated to publish as a means to amplify their research, and showing them the impact of their scholarly output only reinforces the value of their work.
Citation counts and h-index can take years to accumulate, but incorporating alt metric reporting can provide a more immediate picture of impact for authors, including data on:
- Depth of reads
- PDF downloads
Make Author Experience a Competitive Advantage
In order to keep readers engaged and coming back for more, publications need researchers to publish in their journals. Open Access has provided publishers with an opportunity to reform the author recruitment process and make author experience into a competitive advantge.