Are Digital Advancements Having a Positive Impact on Academic Publishing?

Digital Publishing, a revolution for educational materials? Lets explore…



The main advantage of digital publishing within the educational field is that it’s generally more affordable (though remember that the development and maintenance of electronic publications’ are not free, mainly for multimedia applications). Digital publishing excludes upfront costs to a greater extent. These costs are related to printing and shipping. Therefore, around the world, readers have equally affordable access to research via digital means (Internet). Moreover, some traditionally costly types of print publications like those of excessive length, steeped in colour, and/or laid out on shiny paper stock can be spread out digitally in a more cost-effective way.

Mcgraw-Hill is a prime example of an Education Publisher that is really taking advantage of the advancements and demand for technology, opening their digital education hubs in Boston and Seattle which Stephen Laster, the chief digital officer of Mcgraw-Hill has said ‘will play a pivotal role in our efforts to transform education through the use of collaborative, intuitive and adaptive digital learning technologies’. 

Most Publishers have long been taking advantage of these modern advancements, including CoMo textbook supplier:

Publishing Links @dluspublishing THE VIRTUAL COLLEGE EDUCATION: CoMo textbook supplier takes big leap in digital publishing: Columbia, 4/23/13 …

Technology can improve efficiency and make communication so much easier through online distribution channels, and ever-developing digital means are wiping out complications and resolving ergonomic hitches as soon as they are established.This is very evident within academic institutions, as Sarah demonstrates in this clip:


Tablet sales have exploded following the launching of iPad in 2010. Experts expected that the sales of tablets would make up a full 50% of the PC market in 2014, and due to increasingly fast processors and more attractive displays, users of tablet are demanding interactive text that is designed for these applications instead of simple content and images. Trevor Bailey’s article advocates ‘better study habits with tablets’ using data from a Pearson Foundation survey to defend his statement.

People are hearing more about enhanced eBooks and 2013 was the year for more interactivity within eBooks. Frequently triggered by the considerable growth in tablet computing, the academic part was in high demand for non-fiction and learning eBooks to be more immersive and intuitive.


Open access (OA) is certainly one of the main topics now in academic publishing, which will surely not go away in 2015, and is destined to become much larger. A NISO working group has recently been considering the standardisation of metadata for OA text, which will mean even more finding, indexing and accumulation for free-to-read scholastic content.

Open Education Database (OEDb) is currently pursuing 4 of its 8 2013 forecasts on different topics related to OA. Even though wrongly calling open access “open source” frequently, it addresses the conversion to OA from subscription journals, gold open access and Creative Commons licensing. Moreover, libraries are very keen to dodge publishers taking advantages of “double-dipping“, and are forcing for price reviews on subscription titles.


The most recent trend is data and text mining to gain traction, specifically within Governments. There is the interest not only in what can be done with large data sets, but there are issues related to data loss, as it is not being systematically caught and stored. For example, Dryad and DataCite’s data sources have started to appear after the model of content repositories. There are a lot of journals that require authors to create their supporting data, either by storing it in one of these public sources, or by providing it to the article as a supporting file. As an instance, authors are required by all PLoS journals to provide a Data Availability Statement and it assures that all data will be publicly made available by them, free from restriction, instantaneously upon publication of their article.

With the rise of digital academic publishing and the concomitant rise in the desire to develop indicators of online attention to scholarly articles and associated outputs, have come numerous providers of article-level data. A dominant commercial source of such data called ‘altmetrics’ – is, which tracks various indicators in four broad groups: Social Activity (Tweets), Mass Media (mentions on news sites), Scholarly Commentary (scientific blogs), and Scholarly Activity (articles in reader libraries). The overall gathering and analysis of these mentions are bonded beneath the umbrella of “altmetrics”.



Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley-Blackwell are all examples of ‘for-profit’ publishers who charge a fee for accessing a collation of scholarly articles. There are varying opinions on this, some seeing it as unethical and many who are in agreement. Hugh Gusterson is a professor of cultural studies and anthropology at George Mason University, who believes this system is wrong. Gusterson, along with others, see this as selling Academic’s intellectual knowledge without paying for it themselves. He suggests that people ‘insist that these publishers pay a modest fee to acquire our intellectual content if they publish our articles’.


2014 was the year academic publishers mastered the art of engaging digital consumers via social media and this trend will be continued in 2015. Regarding the volume of online mentions of academic articles, social media channels like Twitter provide by far the greater number of data points. According to a report, more than 75% of young adults access social media sites around the world. Nevertheless, due to the broad user base of Twitter and incomplete information content (being limited to 140 characters each tweet), other indicators may be more important in terms of comprehending intellectual usage. As an instance, databases like CiteULike and Mendeley are platforms used for sharing data employed mostly by researchers. The mass media and scientific blogs followed by are authored by professional science journalists or research workers themselves.

The major social impact has been the recasting of the rules outlining expertise. Before the introduction of social sites, when a reader agreed or disagreed with claims or arguments of an author, they had few choices for discussion. At present, they can promptly connect with an audience of peers to articulate the qualities or inadequacies of a certain piece of work.

Take into consideration the approach some breaking news reporters have adopted along with Twitter’s realities. As live events are pushed out to the public, various media outlets are going towards incorporating images, video and reactions being shared by people in the affected area. An example of this is demonstrated via the use of “hashtag” – which creates a platformScreenshot 2014-12-20 20.23.31m for debate and sharing of information.

This more collective form of storytelling realises the worth of sharing numerous perspectives, which can at times even bring doubt upon existing assumptions. However, this model is only feasible for specific sorts of articles, it is necessary to consider the way similar innovations can be applied to the present process of scholarly publishing.

Social media is becoming the world’s most viral platform for information sharing and plays a huge role in the contribution to Globalisation. The Internet, in general has endless answers and solutions to many questions and it is a vastly popular entity within student culture. Take the example of this “bookless library”, adapting to the modern-age and switching to digital…


There are however, opposing views on the use of technology within education. Although digital material brings about great efficiency, economy and fun, there are still those who believe that it is, in-fact, negatively impacting on student studies. The perceived negative impacts include: deduction in learning time, overuse and the causing of “game mentality”. The common perception that digital technology distracts students from their studies instead of actually enhancing the learning environment is contradicted by research.

For example, these results show that technology-enabled training completions have been out-growing traditional classrooms since 2008:

Tech classrooms

This growth in technology-use in the classroom has proven to have a positive relationship with test scores:



To conclude, I think it is safe to say that technology has definitely revolutionised teaching methods: one of these methods being the accessibility and platform in which educational material is provided.

Now that the majority of society is computer literate and a large proportion of communication is transacted via the Internet, Academic Institutions and Educational Publishers would be silly not to take advantage of this. As well as being a very popular and ever-growing entity, digital technology is cutting costs of educational facilities and improving the ease of access and portrayal of information from teacher to student.

However, aside from the minority who believe technology in the classroom is nothing but a distraction and a gimmick, there are the few who fear job loss due to this revolution. Now that academic publishers are supplying the demand for digital material and so much studying and testing takes place online, via virtual learning platforms, eBooks and video media; the need for teachers’ is diminishing slightly.

Screenshot 2015-01-01 18.32.42

It is evident from research that publishing of educational course material is continuing to utilise online facilities more so and the demand is still growing, subsequently reducing the need for classroom teachers.

However, this growth isn’t necessarily resulting in a reducing demand for physical institutional courses. I suppose it is similar to the example of the book and the eBook… eBooks have made reading a lot easier for some people but there are still people who cherish the experience of reading a physical book.

All in all, there are rather split opinions on the digitalising of academic publishing and teaching methods, but studies have concluded that technology within the classroom is positively impacting on test scores.

Gabrielle Lewis – Twitter @gabriellenlewis

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