Consultancy

Simon Inger Consulting provides a wide range of services to publishers, a number of which are outlined here. For further information on any aspect of this work, or to discuss a project that you have in mind, please contact us.

Competitor Analysis

SIC frequently undertakes competitor analyses for clients, often looking at how well a range of publishers' delivery platforms satisfy the needs of students, researchers, authors, ... show more

SIC frequently undertakes competitor analyses for clients, often looking at how well a range of publishers' delivery platforms satisfy the needs of students, researchers, authors, societies and libraries. These studies can help prioritise product development choices, refocus content discoverability work, and help the producers of sales and marketing materials to focus on the key differentiators. As part of these studies we will look at reputation and customer service satisfaction too.

Competitor analyses have also looked at journal subscriptions pricing, "gold" open access APCs, backfile sales, and other systems, such as manuscript and production tracking technologies. ... show less


Content Discoverability

Most publishers will tell you that most people arriving at their web sites do so having being referred from Google. However, most publishers aren't in a position to combine those referral statistics with usage statistics, but those who are generally recognise that most subscribers start from a range ... show more

Most publishers will tell you that most people arriving at their web sites do so having being referred from Google. However, most publishers aren't in a position to combine those referral statistics with usage statistics, but those who are generally recognise that most subscribers start from a range of key resource discovery services, like abstracting & indexing databases, library RDS and other specialist academic portals. We help publishers recognise and support the discovery channels that their readers prefer to use and have a track record of enhancing subscriber access to content, and with it help drive improvements to citations and impact factors.

Our knowledge is backed up with hard data - we are the authors of How Readers Discover Content in Scholarly Journals (link takes you to free, summary edition) available from Renew Training, our publisher training organisation. ... show less


Editorial and Production Workflow

Journal publishers have been working to streamline their production and editorial processes for a long time. Much of production is outsourced, of course, but often there are challenges ... show more

Journal publishers have been working to streamline their production and editorial processes for a long time. Much of production is outsourced, of course, but often there are challenges in marrying up the workflows for front matter, editorial, and journal articles. A recent drive to open access publishing has refocused attention on keeping costs low so that APCs can be competitive, and yet publishers pay wildly diverse rates for outsourced work for ostensibly the same work.

Editorial workflows are also under review, as new pressures are placed on systems where authors are increasingly seen as the primary client, for example in gold open access. These workflows have to be adapted to make life easier for the corresponding author, and yet still capture all the data necessary to support the publication process.

Testimonial (August 2014): As part of the Simon Inger Consulting team, Julie Neason helped to design a cost-effective editorial and production workflow for RCN Publishing Company Limited to achieve its electronic publishing strategy. Julie was professional, diligent and creative, and, perhaps most importantly, pragmatic. Julie is a personable individual and demonstrated a high degree of expert knowledge. Rhonda Oliver, Managing Director, RCN Publishing Company ... show less


Library Licence Health Check

Many librarians admit to signing publisher licence agreements that they know they are going to break. It's because many publisher agreements contain clauses or technical requirements for the library ... show more

Many librarians admit to signing publisher licence agreements that they know they are going to break. It's because many publisher agreements contain clauses or technical requirements for the library that either cannot be met or breach local laws, e.g. data privacy. Rather than breaking a licence or negotiating on problem areas, some libraries take the decision to not subscribe, and so cost you significantly in lost revenues, particularly in growth countries where the technological infrastructure is so different to what publishers know and understand.

Your legal team has probably constructed a licence that protects your interests absolutely, but may not be workable for libraries. Our Health Check will highlight licence paradoxes, check your library licence is up to date with current best practice, and suggest alternative workable models that you can subsequently put to your legal team for consideration. We will make it easier for you to reach agreement with libraries.

Download our flyer on Library Licence Health Check for more details.

Testimonial (September 2014): Spandidos Publications was a launch client for the Library Licence Health Check service from Simon Inger Consulting. We are very pleased with the outcome and we now have a licence agreement for our journals which is fair and balanced between the needs of the publisher and the library. Company Director, Spandidos Publications ... show less


Open Access Strategy and Product Development

Every established publisher needs a strategy for Open Access, but it certainly isn't a "one size fits all". Our open access work has looked at internal processes and costs, external factors ... show more

Every established publisher needs a strategy for Open Access, but it certainly isn't a "one size fits all". Our open access work has looked at internal processes and costs, external factors and the subject and regional variations in the market, author needs, funding agency requirements, and the whole issue of career stage as an influencer of strategy for both editorial boards and researchers alike. For many society publishers, focused on a single subject area, open access publishing can be a very good fit, but we have also considered how broadly-based titles can possibly migrate into open access.

Open Access strategy will often combine business, financial, and market analyses with the more political angles associated with peer review and editorial board management. ... show less


Platform Selection and Migration

Most journal and book publishers review their primary electronic delivery platforms on a regular basis. SIC has years of experience in helping publishers through this process ... show more

Most journal and book publishers review their primary electronic delivery platforms on a regular basis. SIC has years of experience in helping publishers through this process, avoiding some major pitfalls. On the face of it, the major platform providers provide very similar services, but behind the scenes their offerings are quite differentiated in ways that really matter to any project's success. Some providers have a ready-made toolkit from which publishers choose their functionality, while others can build anything you like, but require a very high degree of detail to avoid disappointment later. We have worked on specifications ranging from 20 pages to over 1500 pages in length. We can manage the whole process of RFP generation, vendor selection, and implementation for you.

The migration process can be equally fraught, and needs careful planning. For example, using the same domain name for the old and the new requires a hard switch-over date, whereas a new domain, although not without its downsides, allows for parallel running. Since most readers discover your site from another site, coordinating the indexing of your new site with third parties is critical, and each one of them needs unique handling. We have seen publishers leave this aspect to chance and suffer a 90% reduction in readership.

Migration is also about the content of course, and all publishers recognise this. However, many forget that subscription records and user details also need to be moved, and this is often the more complex part of data migration. If it goes wrong, of course, usage will suffer greatly, and so might renewals. Our substantial experience in this field will help to smooth this process. ... show less


Publications Strategic Reviews

Most society publishers will undertake a strategic review of their publications business every five to seven years. Our impartiality and extensive experience ... show more

Most society publishers will undertake a strategic review of their publications business every five to seven years. Our impartiality and extensive experience in financial and business analysis has successfully guided many publishers. Many small to medium publishers, especially in the not-for-profit arena, don't feel optimistic about their future, but while smaller organisations cannot compete on some of the advantages that scale brings, they often have a unique reach into the individuals in their field, and can leverage that to generate new success.

For societies who have outsourced their publishing program to a publisher, or for one considering doing so, we have set up a separate consultancy called Renew Consulting for Societies.

Testimonial (September 2014): Renew Consulting for Societies was recently employed by the Advertising Association to conduct a review of its publications business. The final report was comprehensive, transparent and extremely informative and helped the Association to take the decision to tender its journal's business. Simon Inger and Julie Neason managed the procurement process from start to finish, advising and supporting the Association over a six-month period. The service we received was excellent: Simon and Julie are very knowledgeable and were able to combine strategic thinking alongside the more practical considerations. Ultimately, the help we received enabled us to negotiate an excellent long-term publishing partnership and has secured the future of the Association's publishing operation. We would have no hesitation in recommending Renew Consulting for Societies. Karen Fraser, Strategy Director, Advertising Association

Testimonial (August 2014): Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) engaged Renew Consulting when our journals publishing contract came up for renewal. Renew advised and helped us through every step of the process - from drafting the RFP to evaluating responses and conducting presentations all the way to negotiating the final contract. Renew's expertise and advice proved to be invaluable and allowed us to avoid many of the pitfalls this process can be fraught with. Engaging Renew ultimately saved us both time and money and I would recommend them without hesitation. Claudia Flavell-While, Director of Publications, Institution of Chemical Engineers   ... show less


Rejected Articles Analysis

Cascading isn't new. Papers rejected by one journal usually find a home somewhere else, and historically, that "somewhere else" has meant another publisher's journal. ... show more

Cascading isn't new. Papers rejected by one journal usually find a home somewhere else, and historically, that "somewhere else" has meant another publisher's journal. Many publishers are experimenting with an inclusive open access journal as a target for papers that would otherwise be rejected by the publisher's flagship journals.

It is now more important than ever that publishers understand not only where their rejected articles end up, but also how many citations those articles have attracted. Undertaking a simple search to track down these articles is insufficient because authors rewrite articles, abstracts or just the title as part of a resubmission. To solve this problem, we employ subject experts to properly track down rejected articles.

The output of these studies not only sheds light on which titles are considered by authors to be your nearest competitors, but also allow you to understand the likely citations that a journal of your otherwise rejected articles might attract, and hence a theoretical impact factor of the new journal can be calculated.

In past studies we have seen that rejected articles can even find a home in higher impact factor journals, or, with minimal changes, get resubmitted to the same journal and get accepted. ... show less


Sales & Marketing Strategy and Pricing

The landscape for subscription sales is changing all the time. While some, more-traditional markets are somewhat in decline, either for economic reasons or the diversion of subscription monies to other projects, other markets are still strongly growing. For every publisher there is a different solution ... show more

The landscape for subscription sales is changing all the time. While some, more-traditional markets are somewhat in decline, either for economic reasons or the diversion of subscription monies to other projects, other markets are still strongly growing. For every publisher there is a different solution, depending in part on the size of its current title collection, the trade-off between maximising both revenue and usage, its attitude towards third party aggregators, and document delivery. We have successfully implemented tiered pricing, package pricing, and pricing for consortia deals.

Content marketing goes way beyond traditional mailers, and we will consider the impact of improved product visibility through a content discoverability strategy, marketing to authors, social media marketing, and enabling authors to market their content on the publisher's behalf. Managing the impact factor is always going to be an important factor in these discussions too.

Our approach to these projects is always to consider the broad picture and how sales and marketing functions sit within your business, and we will work with a wide range of your stakeholders to help shape the future marketing strategy. ... show less


Surveys and Market Research Reports

SIC undertakes a wide variety of market research projects for its clients. Recently, we have undertaken a number of author surveys, testing the effectiveness of peer review ... show more

SIC undertakes a wide variety of market research projects for its clients. Recently, we have undertaken a number of author surveys, testing the effectiveness of peer review and editorial functions. Surveys are also a key part of the product development process, and we have undertaken many librarian and researcher surveys to support this.

SIC was contracted by ALPSP to repeat its survey of Scholarly Journals Publishing Practice which was published in 2013.

All our surveys are carefully interpreted, making sure that the sample populations are representative, and we won't draw conclusions from surveys unless there is real evidence to support them. ... show less