New SciComm Services for Researchers: Knowledge Translation, Public Relations, or “Predatory” Publishing?
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Like many science librarians I regularly receive concerned emails from faculty asking whether certain publishers or journals are “predatory.” In recent years however a growing number of these inquiries have been regarding what seems to be a new form of publisher seeking to promote the work of scientists… for a fee. They offer the science communication (SciComm) services of professional writers to create high-quality, magazine-style articles on the scientist’s research in accessible language for a general audience. Additional services may include glossy brochures with graphic designing, website production, social media marketing and promotion, and even podcast episodes discussing the research. Faculty encountering these publishers are understandably wary. There has been extensive concern and discussion in academia about so-called “predatory” publishers for the last decade, so much so that any unfamiliar publishing model is treated as suspect - especially those sending unsolicited emails and asking for publishing fees. However, the entities I have investigated appear to be offering a legitimate service with transparent costs. But what needs the service is fulfilling, and what the motivations of their clients are, is debatable. Is it for knowledge translation or mobilization purposes (increasingly required by funding agencies)? Is it for increasing the reach or impact of a researcher’s work? Or is it driven by vanity or ego? In this session I will introduce several examples of these publishers, discuss their business models and the services they offer to clients…and what the potential motivations of their clients may be. My goal is to raise awareness among STEM librarians about this new kind of publishing service so that they are prepared to respond should they receive similar concerned emails from their science faculty!
Part OfSTEM Librarians Collaborative 2021 Meeting (online)
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