Interesting Days

So.. recently, as in – yesterday – there was some news that Elsevier are acquiring Aries. Aries makes the closed source Manuscript Submission System – Editorial Manager.

Elsevier is like the Death Star in the Journal world… I mean, so many in the academic and scholarly publishing worlds despise Elsevier that it is actually a little shocking to hear them talk about it.

Aries is also not very well liked either since they have produced a pretty terrible software for managing journals. It is expensive and painful to use. Despite ridiculous assertions that it is a ‘best of class’ system:

Not many publishers would agree with that! It is a thoroughly unimaginative and misguided assertion ripped straight out of the Aries Press Release – https://www.ariessys.com/views-press/news-opinion/elsevier-acquire-aries-systems-best-class-publication-workflow-solutions-provider/

So, the coupling of the two seems to be quite an event, especially since many Journals, the ones that don’t like Elsevier, have their content hosted in Editorial Manager. Seems like the worst of the worst situation for those folks.

Which is exactly what our good friend Alison Mudditt must have been feeling (we worked with Alison when she was at UCP) when she posted the following:

At Coko, we have been telling people since day one that publishing infrastructure should be open source because one day you will wake up and you just don’t know who will now own the keys to your workflow and content kingdoms…

These things are not hard to predict… if you want to make some money as a seer, just pick a popular closed source platform and say out loud ‘I predict one day they will make decisions that are not in your best interests’… recently I said this about Medium and Github, as well as Editorial Manager…

…and what do you know… yes, astonishing, I must have the best crystal ball ever!…. sigh…. predicting the future has never been so easy. Sadly this kind of makes predicting the future a tragic business to be in. It’s like a reverse boy-who-cried-wolf situation – what happens when you cry wolf but everyone stays in bed, and the wolf shows up and eats a villager – every time? What do you do with that?

It is apparent Aries did not have their clients’ best interests at heart – they know the feeling the sector has about Elsevier… and for many, many publishers this will be seen as a breach of trust. Bad luck for their clients that are now feeling very uncomfortable and wondering what Aries has landed them in.

So, if I might make another prediction – I think this recent acquisition is going to be awesome. Awesome because it may finally be a wake-up moment for publishers, a reminder that they should own their own infrastructure and not be beholden to organisations that do not have their best interests at heart.

For those feeling disorientated right now and wondering what to do… come talk to us, and join the growing movement to replace the current proprietary publishing tools with an open source publishing infrastructure. We are happy to help!

2 thoughts on “Interesting Days”

  1. Not too much to say about this until things are finalized, but I did want to point out that the feedback from journal production staff has been overwhelmingly positive.

    We both agree that things could be at lot more modern & on a personal level, the legacy systems at Elsevier have blocked a bunch of innovations I’ve wanted to move forward, but it’s just not correct to say that this wasn’t received well. Mostly people like it and they trust Elsevier to be careful stewards of their data. We’ve been running Scopus, a cross-publisher database, for a long time!

    That said, I think it’s a great strategy for Coko to position themselves as an Apache or Mozilla in this space & it can only lead to better services for the end users.

    1. Thanks for your comment William. I think we must be talking to different people – the response I am hearing from publishing staff is far from positive. There is quite a bit of anxiety out there. I do appreciate you seeking this corner of the web out to discuss this however, many thanks!

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