In the third part of our interview series with publishing experts, Charlie discusses the highlights of Kudos for researchers, how Kudos is collaborating with institutions and funders, as well as the future plans for Kudos. Parts 1 and 2 will give you a brief insight into Kudos’ beginnings and outreach efforts.
Tony: What have been the highlights for Kudos since you launched?
Charlie: A massive highlight for us was in fall 2015 when we won the 2015 ALPSP Award for Innovation in Publishing. This was a huge testimonial and endorsement of the need for something like Kudos, and a sign that we had gotten the model right in terms of what we were doing and that it was making a difference. It was a fantastic endorsement by our peers and people who are qualified to judge whether what we are doing is worthwhile.
There have been lots of other exciting moments along the way. A little before that, we won some funding from the U.K. government, which was a really difficult process to go through with no guarantee at all that we would receive anything. That was a major highlight when we were successful in that respect.
One of the big highlights of 2016 was a piece about us in Nature when we were added to the Nature toolbox, which describes tools available to help researchers of all types. They took a very close and rigorous look at what we were doing and the ways in which it was helping researchers. They spoke to lots of different people and got some great, supportive comments about Kudos. It was very exciting to be talked about in such a prestigious publication.
Tony: That is fantastic. What about research funders and research institutions—how is Kudos being used by that sector to track the impact of the research that they are funding?
Charlie: Obviously they are very interested and watching very closely what we are doing. We have begun working with institutions already. In the last few weeks, we signed an agreement with Jisc, which mostly manages the procurement of content, but also increasingly manages services like ours in the U.K. That is exciting because it again shows that institutions are recognizing the need for what we are doing. We look forward to rolling out our institutional services more widely, and the process of securing that Jisc agreement caused us to totally rethink the way we were pricing our service for institutions around the world as well. Although the Jisc deal is specific to the U.K., its benefits will be felt by institutions globally.
On the funding side as well, we have a lot of conversations in process, and many people are watching very closely what we are doing and are very interested in it. Everybody benefits if you can manage researchers’ communications about their work in a centralized way. There is so much to be gained from that intelligence, and that is a dataset that just hasn’t existed previously. For funders, it is really interesting to be able to see which of the people you fund are actually taking active steps to undertake outreach around their work, what effect those efforts are having, how they are influencing the metrics, and so on. That is really important intelligence, and thus we are seeing a lot of interest from funders and universities.
Tony: Very interesting. What new features do you see coming up in Kudos over the coming months and years?
Charlie: We have a full road map for development, as you can imagine. It will take us through many years, but it has lots of exciting things in it. They include some quite high-end initiatives, such as taking the product idea that we developed for publishers and institutions and repurposing it for societies, which could then use the intelligence in Kudos to help them with everything from supporting current members to actually seeking out potential new members. We are also working with people in the corporate sector who are interested in tracking how research that might refer to their products is being discussed in the literature.
Along with big developments like those, all the time we are undertaking incremental improvements in how we do things. One big example in that respect at the moment is what we are calling “actionable insights.” Currently, we have a report-based system where all the intelligence is there, and you can download it or manipulate it a little bit, but ultimately you have to connect the dots yourself in terms of what it means for you. We are starting to do some of that thinking for people and heading toward giving people “action cards” so that they could log on to the site and it will present you with a series of five or six actions that you could take with a couple of clicks. In other words, we are telling you what this intelligence means for you and what you need to do with it to increase engagement with your work or the impact of your work. Eventually, we will take that approach across all our different customer groups, boiling that intelligence down to make it even quicker and easier for people to take advantage of it and act on it rather than requiring people to figure out what to do with it for themselves.
Tony: In a relatively short period of time—less than three years—Kudos has established itself as a core brand within the scholarly communication industry. What are your future plans?
Charlie: We have certainly achieved a lot in a small amount of time, but we are not oblivious to the fact that there is a lot more to do. One thing I would really like to see us doing is extending the reach of our brand in the researcher community. I think we are very well-known in the publishing world and increasingly so among institutions, funders, and societies, but the researcher world is obviously much bigger and there are many more individuals whom we would like to connect with.
In particular, we would like to expand our connections with researchers in Asia and other countries that have less developed research infrastructures and where people are struggling much harder to achieve impact with their work. They are doing great research, but they are struggling to gain the visibility that they deserve to have on the international stage. We could play a big role in this regard by giving them simple tools to increase the visibility and recognition of their work.