News: Academic Publishing Weekly

University Press Week, possible trade deals, and the fight against misinformation

By Sabrina Cofer, digital media assistant, Choice

HMH Offers Up Trade

Simon & Schuster isn’t the only publisher up for grabs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a publisher just below the Big Five tier, is considering selling its trade division to focus on its much larger (and more lucrative) education sector. HMH is in the midst of transitioning from print products to digital in an effort to become “a pure-play technology learning company.” HMH executives hope the sale will fund its restructuring, while potential buyers—Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, even Amazon—line up to assess its value. [Publishers Weekly]

Does Your Data Tell a Story?

The strengthened integration of scientific data into politics, news, and social media due to the pandemic might become a trend that benefits both ordinary citizens and the academic community. Phill Jones, consultant in open science and publishing, breaks down a recent UK press conference on COVID. Jones picks apart the ineffectual presentation (confusing slide order, small text size, puzzling graphics), and the importance of concise data storytelling in and outside the academic sphere. Jones argues that sharing data is more than slapping a graph or table onto a slide deck; if you don’t make your information easy to follow, then “nobody will understand the context or care about the data.” [Scholarly Kitchen]

If we are to protect the integrity of science and the reputation of all those employed in this vital industry, then we should all take greater responsibility for spotting false scientific information and use our knowledge and authority to correct it.

Ian Moss, CEO of STM

Whose Job Is It to Monitor Fake News?

Ah, but the upsurge in scientific news also brings misinformation and conspiracy theories—no, mouthwash does not prevent a COVID infection. STM, the global trade association for academic publishers, is calling on those in the research community to do more to prevent “fake news” from spreading. Though the need for retractions are rare, predatory journals that circumvent the peer review process and social media’s notoriously lax fact-checking policies can allow false information to spread—sometimes with destructive consequences. CEO of STM Ian Moss wants academics to call out falsehoods when they see them: “We should all take greater responsibility for spotting false scientific information and use our knowledge and authority to correct it.” I’d argue that robust information literacy skills in the general public might also help combat this issue, but I digress. [Research Information]

University Presses Raise (Up) the Roof

University Press Week logo

Have academic publishers established a rallying cry yet? Maybe the whoosh of a sent email? The creak of a freshly printed monograph’s spine? Whatever it is, sound the alarm, because this week is University Press Week. Canadian publishers are celebrating by compiling a list of titles from each of their 11 university presses. Our friends up north are joined by a flock of other presses and publishers that are hosting events or compiling reading lists. Association of University Presses, which runs the event and chose this year’s theme (Raise UP), is collecting coverage in case you missed any of the excitement this week. [Publishing Perspectives]

Academic Publishing Players, Assemble!

Kudos, a research communication service, has announced the latest sponsors for its upcoming study Brave New World. The report will gather data on how COVID has impacted “research funding policy, university budgets and practices, and researchers’ workload and workflows,” then provide strategic recommendations for publishers for 2021. The sponsors include a hodgepodge of publishers, consultants, and societies like the Royal Society of Chemistry, American Society for Microbiology, and the BMJ. I suppose the project’s title is apt, though a bit chilling. At least they didn’t go with, The Hunger Games: 24 Publishers Go in, Only One Comes Out. [The Association of Learned & Professional Society Publishers]

Some Additions to Your TBR List

Is it too early for year-end lists? Possibly, but it’s been a stressful month (it’s only the second week of November? Really?) so we’ll let it slide. TIME released its list of 100 Must-Read Books of 2020, which include “the fiction, nonfiction and poetry that deepened our understanding, ignited our curiosity and helped us escape.” Penguin Random House dominates many of the entries, but Basic Books, Houghton Mifflin, Pantheon Books, and Hachette make appearances as well. It’s never too early to start holiday shopping, and with what looks like a long, solitary winter ahead, a nice book to read at home should do the trick. [TIME]