News: Academic Publishing Weekly

Book lists, digital marketing strategies, and the ethics of research

By Sabrina Cofer, digital media assistant, Choice
Academic Publishing Weekly graphic; reads: "the latest curated news from around the industry"

Book List Round-Up, For Your Book-Buying Pleasure

Last weekTIME offered up its “must-reads” of 2020 and other publications have quickly followed suit. Not to be outdone, The Washington Post unveiled several lists: “50 notable works of nonfiction,” “The 10 best books of 2020,” and, my personal favorite, “The most 2020 books of 2020.” If you’re looking for a particular genre, there are also categorical lists for thriller and mystery, romance, audiobooks, poetry collections, and more. The New York Times joined in on the list-making fun by releasing its “100 Notable Books of 2020,” which includes titles from Oxford and Princeton university presses. Fiction and nonfiction make up the list, which on the website can be separated into poetry, memoirs, and short stories for your convenience—helpful!

Something Light: The Ethical Ramifications of Facial Recognition Research

Richard Van Noorden looks at the intricate web that makes up facial recognition technology research, particularly a 2018 Wiley study in which researchers built algorithms to locate the faces of Uyghur people, a primarily Muslim minority group in China. China had a history of mass surveillance and detention of the Uyghur people, which sparked not only calls to retract the paper, but a general revaluation of this research’s possible consequences. Van Noorden explores other facial recognition papers (retracted or not), what level of consent is needed for these studies, and a survey on how academics believe this technology should be used. Do researchers need look outside the academic bubble to prevent harmful use of their work? The responses were…mixed. [Nature]

It’s important to denounce controversial uses of the technology, but that’s not enough, ethicists say. Scientists should also acknowledge the morally dubious foundations of much of the academic work in the field — including studies that have collected enormous data sets of images of people’s faces without consent, many of which helped hone commercial or military surveillance algorithms.

Richard Van Noorden, Nature

Selling Books in the Modern Age

During the PubTech Connect 2020 conference this week, marketing professionals gathered (virtually) to talk strategy on “The New Marketing Toolkit” panel. Participants stressed the importance of flexibility and remaining nimble; as the world constantly changes, so must marketing schemes. Other tips included consistent engagement with consumers, digital events, and clear goals for new marketing approaches. They also discussed the need to create a comprehensive “virtual shopping environment” since COVID-adapted buying habits seem here to stay. Hm, might be a good time to refresh that university press website? [Publishers Weekly]

Speaking of Marketing Strategies…

Perhaps one of the more surprising revelations of this year is that webinars, virtual conferences, and online workshops can be as enlightening and engaging as real-life events. Given the success, they most likely will stick around once we reach a post-pandemic world. Mark Thomas, an ALPSP tutor, breaks down how to make your virtual workshop as engaging as your in-person ones, through precision, planning, and adept technological skills. With 12 virtual workshops under his belt, Thomas explains the six key factors in keeping engagement strong. One of his tips? Just because it’s virtual doesn’t mean it’s a lighter load, so plan accordingly. [Scholarly Kitchen]

The Effects of COVID (Psychosocial and Otherwise)

Book cover of Make Shift: Dispatches from the Post-Pandemic Future, MIT Press
Make Shift:
Dispatches from the Post-Pandemic Future
, MIT Press

Canadian researchers have compiled studies on the psychosocial effects of COVID, groups that are most affected, and why. The discoveries focus primarily women, parents, people with disabilities, and those in Indigenous communities. Most of the surveys revealed damaging consequences—rises in domestic violence, higher suicide rates due to social isolation—though some uncovered positive adaptations, like families spending more time bonding with their children. A more scholarly (and economic) effect from the pandemic is an increase in COVID-related content. Inside Higher Ed compiled a list of current or upcoming university press books that relate to COVID-19 or pandemics in general. Some focus on public health, like creating a vaccine or efficient contact tracing options, while others look at future policy changes. Yale, Michigan, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Minnesota, and many more populate the list. [University Affairs]

Japan Says Hello to OA

Elsevier and the Japan Alliance of University Library Consortia for E-Resources (JUSTICE) have an open access proposal in the works. The three-year deal will give participating universities “green” and “gold” open access publication options. This proposal marks a first for the Japanese consortium, and the Japanese academic community in general, as Japan looks to advance its open access opportunities. This deal is also the first of Elsevier’s in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region. JUSTICE’s steering committee chair Seiji Hosokawa sees the agreement “as a small step for us, but one that we hope will lead to a major leap forward in promoting open access in Japan.” [Publishing Perspectives]