Speaking up for quality in publishing (upcoming event)

Attempts to harmonize easily strand when considering population environmental banks to harmonize with disease-oriented/clinical banks.

Make sense? Thought not. But that sentence was taken from a medical journal with subscription costs of nearly €900 a year, a journal covering important developments in European medical research.

Important research work is undermined when the results are presented in garbled form. It’s also a waste of our money: published research often represents the fruits of years of public funding. But it’s happening because publishers aren’t willing to spend the necessary money on good professional editing.

Many authors are now complaining about the extra unpaid work they have to do to repair the damage done in the editorial process. One writer (who asked to be anonymous) said:

We as authors try hard to make our articles impeccable, and time and time again we see the production process thwart our efforts, or necessitate double effort. And all because some intermediation occurs by people who are supposed to be professionals about typesetting and production, but who appear to either not care or not be knowledgeable enough to do this.

The Oxford & District branch of the NUJ is trying to get to the bottom of what this careless, cost-cutting approach means for the people who read, write for and peer review academic publications. That’s why we’ve organised the Quality in Publishing open meeting, where three speakers with expertise in this area will share their knowledge.

  • Peter Wrobel, former managing editor of Nature, will talk about offshoring copyediting to Asia and the cost-quality calculations that underpin it.
  • Professor Ursula Huws did the first ever case study of offshoring in a major academic publisher and will talk about the effects of globalisation.
  • Professor Stephen Ball is from the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies, the only body whose brief includes researching and analysing trends in the publishing industry. He will talk about the implications of the huge changes to book and journal production.

The second part of the meeting will be an opportunity for people working in publishing to share their own stories, ask questions of the speakers and discuss solutions.