How academic publishing facilitates innovation

Academic publishing plays an integral role in the research and innovation ecosystem, according to new research.

The UK’s academic journal publishing sector is a global leader, exporting around £1.4bn per year. The sector supports the UK’s science base and the UK’s £33bn R&D sector. Academic publishing contributes to the UK’s innovation cycle, but the report highlights an evidence gap meaning that this value is not particularly well understood or articulated.

The nature and extent of academic publishing’s role in facilitating innovation is largely absent from existing research or government thinking – meaning the broader impact of the sector may be underestimated or misunderstood.

Publishing contributes to the innovation cycle in four key stages.

Research funding: Publishing helps funders assess research quality via peer review; metrics and the provision of bespoke tools such as FundRef and SciVal.

Activity: Publishers support and improve research activity through peer review and additional contributions before, during and after publication which help maintain research quality and integrity. Publishing can also enhance collaborations, help create fields of study and affect behaviour change.    

Outputs: Publishers help make research outputs more useful, ensuring they are accessible (including increasingly via Open Access) searchable, discoverable, inter-related, up-to-date and archived. They also ensure clear attribution by establishing IP and primacy, as well as signalling quality and validity.

Innovation: Publishers create and develop tools and work with industry to improve absorptive capacity. These include data platforms, collaboration management and sector-specific tools.   

The full report is published by Frontier Economics. You can read more about the research via The Publishers Association.