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[ Publishing Workflows ] December 6, 2022

Innovation and scholarly publishing: the importance of adopting digital solutions

Is the scholarly publishing industry lagging behind? Innovation and technology is revolutionizing traditional systems around us. So what stops scientific publishing from staying on the cutting-edge side of innovation?

While it might seem basic in today’s environment, the shift from print publishing to digital systems was significant.  However, since that time, the orthodox publishing models and systems are still entrenched in tradition. Today's scholarly publishing landscape demands workflow efficiency and prioritization of faster research dissemination and ease of access to results. But despite the opportunities that abound, the slow pace of innovation - partly stalled by incentive-based reasons - shows that scholarly publishing may have an innovation problem.


Publishers and the adoption of innovation

The scholarly communication field is constantly evolving, but publishers have shown a slow response to the use of digital innovations. This industry tends to be risk-averse or conservative and is sometimes more likely to criticize new innovations rather than explore the opportunities they provide. Today competitive approaches continue to govern scholarly publishing. We still see extreme pressure to publish in top impact factor journals. The industry needs to find ways to innovate traditional models and implement methods that ensure a more efficient publishing process.

Clearly, the development of new innovations alone will not solve all of scholarly publishing’s problems. That needed transformation will require stakeholders to see and explore the possibilities and potential innovation offers. 

From improving workflow efficiency and properly documenting the progress of science to delivering exceptional publishing services, digital innovations can help solve the myriad challenges facing scholarly publishers.


Factors contributing to the slow implementation of innovation

Information about new innovations with great potential circulates widely, but its implementation largely depends on the wishes of stakeholders. Factors such as the impact on the publisher's reputation, efficiency, revenue, and cost of implementation all affect the decision-making on how new innovations are adopted. 

Furthermore, publishing processes are closely connected with commercial practices; therefore, the real business value of any new innovation is also a key deciding factor. As gatekeepers and self-regulators of the mechanisms of research dissemination, publishers need to look beyond the status quo and see the opportunities that lie in innovation to allow the industry to experience meaningful change.


How digital innovation can transform scholarly publishing

Motivated by concerns over inefficient processes, several innovations have been proposed. This includes software that enhances the role of technology in the peer review process to ensure that issues such as ethical standards and research integrity are addressed. But despite its great promise for improving publishing systems, the adoption of digital innovations has been predominantly slow. 

Here are talking points that indicate the importance of digital innovation in solving scholarly publishing challenges.


  •  Peer review workflows

The major concern for researchers is the need to expedite peer review processes and publish content faster. Stalled by the traditional peer review systems, the inefficiency of manual workflows is one of the great many reasons why the industry needs digital innovations more than ever. 

Advances such as AI and automation have shown excellent potential in ensuring research quality and faster peer review through integrity checks and automated workflows.


  •  Utilizing data

Data can create a more interconnected and integrated publishing ecosystem. Digital innovations can help the industry manage the complexities of handling data, tracking research impact, and improving business solutions. Furthermore, data can be used to quickly find and attract suitable peer reviewers for submissions and enable publishers to place researchers' needs first in delivering services.


  •  Research accessibility

There are nearly 1 million research papers published each year. The need to streamline the process of finding, filtering, and extracting relevant content can only be made possible with digital tools. 

Furthermore, as the increasing demand for open access publishing continues to threaten traditional business models, digital transformation could be key to sustainability in research dissemination and revenue generation.



On an industry-wide scale, the conventional ways of managing scholarly publishing still prevail, despite evidence of flaws and proposed advantages of innovation. The industry must see the bigger picture and the urgency in ensuring that scientific discovery finds its way to the future. And this can only be made possible through the efficiencies that digital innovations provide.

Microscope cutting of a cell with messaging about the future of publishing infrastructure