The following is based on a recent presentation given during the NISO webinar “Content Presentation: Diversity of Formats.”

Silverchair hosts journals, books, proceedings, and many other content types, in addition to custom-built learning and testing tools, so content diversity is a perennial part of our strategy. From our years of experience as publishers, technology providers, and participants in the scholarly publishing industry, we’ve developed a number of ways to approach this topic.

First, in thinking about new and diverse content types, it’s beneficial to think of their lifecycle—from when these new types are seen as helpful ways to communicate research and related artifacts, all the way to the point of those artifacts being discovered and cited.

content lifecycle

Starting with stakeholders, these general groupings each provide their own views and motivations:

  • Researchers/the Academy
  • Editorial/Publishers
  • Funders
  • Technology providers
Making sure all these voices are considered in the discussion around content types helps to ensure more successful adoption and a more robust support throughout the content lifecycle.

Next, in thinking about the consensus of having a new content artifact emerge, it can very quickly come to a game of chicken and egg. Who decides what formats are key to research or what new formats are worth full adoption? Do a plurality of the research outputs themselves lead to a wider communication and adoption? Is it the funders mandating the communication of data they’ve helped to support? Is it the capabilities of the platforms partnering with their publishers? Is it the publishers themselves taking a risk in a pilot to communicate in these new ways? Perhaps a learned association is moving the needle? Or is it the development of an exciting new start-up that drives adoption and innovation?

The answer is likely a combination of all, but in our experience this is not a “build it and they will come” scenario – proactively building out capabilities does not necessarily mean that they will be adopted. While everyone is eager to be an “early adopter,” jumping at every new trend can result in wasted efforts whereas patience for wider consensus can help to inform truly useful developments that support the ecosystem’s needs.

When measuring critical mass for adoption, our product team and publisher working groups discuss what constitutes a new content type, how granular can we get as far as defining content types, and what merits a natively built solution versus the reliance on a third party. For Silverchair, we prioritize meeting specific publisher needs while remaining flexible for future growth. This means being a consultative partner and being prescriptive when thinking of technological requirements but not when regarding editorial vision and acceptance criteria.

Our platform development plan is informed by a number of inputs:

  • Publishers on the platform and the disciplines of their research
  • Competitive space – avoiding ‘bandwagon’ solutions that aren’t evidence-based
  • Balancing the core competencies of the platform with the presence of best-in-class technology partners
  • Striking the right balance between tailored and scalable solutions
Overall, Silverchair is moving toward relaxing structure around certain workflows alongside the injection of new metadata, investing in core platform functionality but stopping short of reinventing the wheel.

Finally, in considering the addition of new content types, it’s important to maintain certain features of traditional formats to support discoverability. Well-structured metadata and DOIs help to ensure the long-term discoverability of content in all shapes and sizes, even as the pathways to discovery may change.

As we look to continue future-proofing the ways we think of content, Silverchair engages in ongoing discussions with our publishers who are on the frontline of these discussions with researchers. And while the idea of the Silverchair Platform disseminating formats such as smells may not happen anytime soon, conversations with our publishers regarding future first-class publication objects have yielded some very interesting ways to capture various activities within the scholarly ecosystem. We can’t wait to see what’s next.


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