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London Book Fair 2023: scholarly publishing highlights

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

This post was written by Megan Taylor and Emma James.

The 2023 conference circuit is in full swing, bringing abundant chances for networking and scholarly insights.

Discover more about the key highlights from this year’s scholarly publishing forum, including diversity and inclusion in STM publishing, the role of metadata in the scholarly research ecosystem and more in our round-up.

Lou Peck - CEO, The International Bunch, Wayne Sime - Chief Executive, ALPSP

We were thrilled to attend the research and scholarly publishing forum at London Book Fair this year, which provided rich exploration into several hot topics in academic publishing.

As always, it was a great opportunity to catch up with some of the amazing people we are lucky enough to work with, from across such a diverse and innovative industry.

D&I at STM Publishers

Michiel Kolman, SVP Research Networks, Academic Ambassador, Elsevier

In this insightful session, one fundamental and crucial question was answered: are we on the right track regarding Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) in STM publishing? Furthermore, what can we do to improve progress, and how are publishers leading the way with DEIA initiatives?

The STM publishing industry is increasingly diverse and it is our responsibility to support this further to ensure that people can bring their authentic selves to the workplace.

Yet, despite this, significantly more needs to be done to create a more inclusive environment.

Several key statistics were highlighted:

  • Diversity is a driver of corporate performance – companies with more women at board level perform 21-27% better than those with less women.

  • 75% of the industry is female, with 60% at executive level.

  • The US publishing industry comprises 75% white, and 89% non-disabled people.

In addition to this, ac

cording to the 2022 publishers association UK survey, around half of respondents have experienced mental health issues whilst in the industry.

It is clear that there is more to be done to support mental health and wellbeing in the industry, though some publishers are beginning to adopt mental health initiatives.

At Elsevier, only 29% of editorial board members for Elsevier journals are women, and they are actively working to address this. For instance, Elsevier’s Lancet journals have grown female editorial board members from 30% in 2018 to 54% in 2023.

It’s important to note that DEIA is not just about forging an inclusive work culture. The content that we generate also matters, including in marketing. Sensitivity readers can help ensure that content is inclusive of all people.

Elsevier are making a conscious effort to ensure that the content it generates aligns with DEIA, improving diversity representation in content. This includes gender, race and culture diversity representation in STEM content using diverse anatomy models and patients in health titles.

In addition, publishers are committing to following the Publishers Association Inclusivity Plan’s 10 commitments for 2023-2026.

Publishing, IP, Policy and Parliament: What are the current and potential future publisher-related policy challenges?

Chaired by Leslie Lansman, Global Permissions Manager at Springer Nature, this informative session explored policy and copyright developments in parliament and how they may effect publishers in the future.

In March the government committed to creating a code of practice for rights holders and AI firms. If this doesn't have the desired impact, the government will look at legislation.
Will Crook, Policy and Communications Manager, Publishers’ Licensing Services.

The past year has been a turbulent one, with prime minister changes, covid fallout, and the impact of the Ukraine-Russia war. All this combined has meant a year of constant policy changes, impacting directly on scholarly publishing developments.

The high turnover of IP Ministers, and the creation of the new role of the AI and the IP Minister means that policies related to scholarly publishing and research are subject to significant change and debate.

These conversations with government are integral – they have an impact o

n publishers, rights holders and society as a whole. The stasis at a governmental level has bought us time as an industry to push back and be heard.

Saskia Perriard-Abdoh, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, British Copyright Council

Crucially, one thing was made clear: STM publishing is not resistant to change. As an industry AI is being used where beneficial in abundance. There are some concerns for the future of course, including who will have input into the upcoming code of practice and how useful and practical will it actually be?

There is no need for legislative intervention or exceptions, we are creating functional market based solutions.
Duncan Campbell, Senior Director, Global Sales Partnerships, Wiley

Library Panel Discussion session

In this session, leading librarians from throughout the US, UK and France covered how international policies are changing scholarly communication.

Chaired by Rob Johnson, Managing Director, Research consulting, other panel members included:

  • Dr Torsten Reimer, Dean, University of Chicago Library

  • Chris Banks, FRSA, Director of Library Services, Imperial College London

  • Julien Roche, Director of Libraries and Learning Centre, University of Lille and President of LIBER

One key thing to note is that the evolution of scholarly publishing is constant. We have more and more research outputs to evaluate, and a lack of researchers available to review them all. This is driving the move to use more preprints to get the research out there.

A current challenge for librarians is that we see APCs rocketing in cost, making it prohibitive to many researchers and institutions with restricted OA publishing budgets.

The library world is seeing researchers railing against relinquishing their rights and wanting more control.

We are still very much in an article-based economy but researchers are poised and driven to help drive change in this to make things more diverse and eclectic.


Megan Taylor, Director of Content and Research, The International Bunch

As always, London Book Fair was full of fantastic insights into scholarly communications and the current landscape of our industry. How will the future of libraries be shaped? Are we heading towards a brighter future of inclusivity in the industry? We’re excited to find out.

Interested in learning more about the latest industry news? Check out our weekly round ups, which share the latest updates in marketing and scholarly communications. You can also sign up for our mailing list to discover the latest updates from us.


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