by Carmel McNamara, IOS Press, Amsterdam, NL
The launch of this new IOS Press Labs website feels like a milestone and we are incredibly pleased to be able to finally unveil it this month. The project began its life little more than a year ago as just a spark of an idea and now we get to tell the story of that process, which is precisely the intended purpose of Labs. It is a space to share the background to our successes and is intended to be where we can also tell the world about projects that never see the light of day – and why. We hope that this transparency can lead to enlightenment and allow others to gain from our experiences.
Do you remember being in school and being told to “show your workings” or to explain how you got from A to B in some complicated problem? Well, the idea for this Labs website began with the realization that IOS Press did not have any platform where we could show the calculations for our projects. There was also nowhere to share our thought processes behind any digital transformations or catalog the development of new ventures. There are many technical developments within scholarly publishing that we have taken on board over the years in a seamless process and – with this new website – we now have the means to provide more detail about the why and the how when it comes to incorporating new software or technical tools into our workflow, making such transitions a more open process. Labs will showcase our innovative and technical achievements, as well as inviting the wider scholarly publishing community to join the conversation.
This website is a space to be able to discuss the possibilities and to shine a light on new trends within the publishing world – read more in the press release. Maybe we are not yet fully incorporating an idea across the board, but we have started taking steps towards a new way of working. One such example is the implementation of a more agile way of working in certain areas and applying tools that drive projects forward. “Working agile is valuable for any company. For IOS Press specifically, it applies because we offer our services to a diverse group of clients (librarians, editors, authors, researchers) who all need different things from us,” comments head of marketing Saskia van Wijngaarden. “To deliver, we need to listen to the clients’ needs and then work as a team to test ideas and try things out – sometimes that can end up with a product being developed that can be applicable to our various audiences with just some fine tuning. This continuous delivery approach ensures the product you are developing has value early in the process, as opposed to a more traditional way of development. Following an agile working method optimizes the use of resources and offers transparency and clarification on priority assignment.” Read more about agile working in digital publishing in the post by Dominique De Cooman of Dropsolid – the company that developed this very website that you are reading this post on.
As with any new website – and especially a blog-based platform like this one – we wanted to ensure the site was not an empty skeleton when launch day rolled around. The early posts were published on the IOS Press website as an interim home for the articles while the site was undergoing development in the background. Almost exactly a year ago, we shared news of the very first Labs post in our quarterly mailing in April 2020 (see here), which covered the story behind our new journal websites. It felt like a very freeing moment to be able to shed light on the digital transformation process, from how we began the journey to create a framework that was interoperable and flexible and going all the way to the final stages where we could build websites in-house that were easy to maintain and scale as required. Read the post in all its glory in its true home, on our lovely new website here.
The other posts from the remainder of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 were written and hosted on this site, unseen until its official launch on April 7, 2021. We are so happy that, finally, these posts have been revealed to the world and we can share a few of the developments we have been working on to facilitate the dissemination of research, including the new feature for preprint searching and how we have made COVID-19 content accessible.
The most recent post (prior to this one) is one that we really hope will help people to get their heads round a difficult subject (for most people not working in this field I expect it is a difficult subject anyway; it took me a while to get my head around it). That subject is the knowledge graph. You might have heard of this as a concept but don’t quite know what this is – and that’s where we hope our blog post on this topic will help. The post explains how we ensure the content we publish is machine readable and how, by using this linked data, we are developing tools for users to dive in and gain insights from all the published content. We do this through our knowledge graph, which you can also discover all about if you visit our rebranded and updated LD Connect site or read the recent press release here.
This new website comes at a time of digital development for IOS Press and coincides with the company’s 34th anniversary. “The launch of IOS Press Labs marks the culmination of the first phase of our 2021 digital innovation strategy. The next phases include plans for transforming and integrating our web initiatives over multiple platforms,” comments digital product manager Stephanie Delbecque. “Labs lets you take a look behind the scenes at IOS Press and is intended to stimulate collaboration, strengthening existing partnerships and establishing new ones.”
Anyone interested in contributing a blog post to the IOS Press Labs please get in touch with the marketing team via this contact form or read some tips about contributing here.