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Looking at the Barriers to Access and Discovery in the Corporate Sector

Over the past year, I have developed a bit of a reputation in the publisher and publishing technology communities as the user experience “rabble-rouser.” By focusing on my own personal experience as a researcher, I have been able to call attention to the poor quality of information discovery and access workflows. Because publishers and libraries alike have invested substantially in user experience for their own platforms and websites, today it is the pathways between and across services and sites—the workflows—where the problems are greatest. Some issues are readily fixed, others are understood but awaiting investment, and still others pose real community dilemmas about how to solve.

In many fields, publishers cannot resolve these dilemmas based on the needs of academia alone. Especially for STM publishers, the medical and corporate sectors account for substantial shares of revenue.  But research workflows vary substantially from sector to sector, and even in some cases within sectors. From a publisher perspective, it is not possible to make certain kinds of changes, which might benefit the user experience in one sector, without ensuring that it will not damage users in another.

It is against this context that I am pleased today to be able to share findings from a new research study examining barriers to discovery and access to the scientific literature in companies from the chemical, pharmaceutical, and food sectors. This study, sponsored by the Copyright Clearance Center, will help to inform improved approaches to discovery, off-site access, e-resource management, and other issues, bearing in mind the specific context of the dozens of companies that took part. It is my hope that this study can contribute to a broader set of efforts to rethink many aspects of the discovery and access ecosystem for users whether they be in academia, corporations, medicine, or beyond.

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