“India is a key contributor to academic publishing”

shares Dr Sangeeta Mehta, Director South Asia for Research Solutions at Elsevier in conversation with AABP.

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The next generation prefer access on smart phones, tabs and computers. Certain industries in field of Pharma, Health science and Chemical Engineering are now looking at acquiring APIs to integrate knowledge in their workflows. Thus, content will become like water, taking shape of vessel you would want to put it in and India will continue to be a key contributor to this content. Here, Dr Sangeeta Mehta, Director South Asia for Research Solutions at Elsevier shares her views on academic publishing.

AABP: What is the future of academic publishing in India in the context of the key challenges being faced by publishing industry and publishers today?

Dr. Sangeeta: While India is a key contributor to academic publishing, there are challenges in terms of quality, ethics and topics, like most of other countries, mainly due to lack of training and resources.

Elsevier recognises and supports researcher and user needs – we analyse research trends globally through SciVal and Scopus to provide insights for our customers, to inform product development, help researchers identify and capitalise upon collaboration opportunities, and see where to invest their effort.Many workshops are being conducted year around for potential authors to support them in terms of quality as well as ethics challenges and this will continue in coming years as well.

AABP: How is technology changing the publishing landscape?

Dr. Sangeeta: New technologies are expected to transform the researcher workflow, with data science skills becoming more important, and researchers will need to work faster and smarter, find new ways to increase article discoverability, and demonstrate impact

As we all know, when performing interdisciplinary research or when learning about a new subject area, users may come across unknown terms or topics. Therefore, we created ScienceDirect Topics to address the user need to bring comprehensive, credible and interdisciplinary knowledge into a user’s natural research workflow.The objective was to better connect researchers to the right resources to allow them to ‘get up to speed in a new or unfamiliar field.’

Apart from discoverability of content on platform, improving the authoring experience is one of our primary goals, and our new online authoring platform ELSA is designed to do just that. It is an easy-to-use, online, end-to-end content creation platform for authors, contributor. Authors can now write, edit, track progress, and monitor manuscript quality — all with the help of a centralized dashboard.

AABP: In your opinion, what would be future of higher ed in the next decade, with a special focus on the next 3-5 years?

Dr. Sangeeta: Interdisciplinary research is critical in future. Due to hosting of Journals and reference content on one platform, Elsevier can see the co-usage of both the content types. With co-usage we can clearly see the path of researchers, moving across subject areas and across content types. Researchers’ behaviour demonstrates the need for interdisciplinary research is more prevalent than ever. A look at new courses being introduced at Indian Universities and Institutions is a proof that we are constantly moving towards more Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary sciences and new generation researchers would need more interdisciplinary content, which is discoverable and modular. This will push entire publishing industry to develop content free of designated form such as Journal or books or encyclopaedia and make the manuscripts future ready for Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine leaning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AABP: How has the industry changed in last 10 years and where is it headed?

Dr. Sangeeta: Last decade had been a decade of transformation. Industry moved from negligible to significant transformation to digital content from print. Decade has witnessed the learning curve of both libraries and publishing during this transformation. What started with NLP is now complete with ML and AI being used to make sure content is discoverable faster.

The next generation prefer access on smart phones, tabs and computers. Certain industries in field of Pharma, Health science and Chemical Engineering are now looking at acquiring APIs to integrate knowledge in their workflows. Thus, content will become like water, taking shape of vessel you would want to put it in.

AABP: With the proliferation of Free access content, how is it affecting the economics of publishing in a price sensitive market like India?

Dr. Sangeeta: Free access content cannot be always relied upon. Research is built on the skeleton of ethics thus only peer reviewed, authentic and trusted sources can be referred and cited. It puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of publishers, librarian and heads of universities and Institution to create awareness around free access content and open access reliable content. Price sensitivity should not lead to compromise of ethics of publishing.

A flexibility is highly demanded in open access discussions and each Institution has its unique goals and situations and hence Elsevier keeps an open mind and supports optimal situation to take price pressure off our patrons.

AABP: How do you think India fits in the global publishing scene in the next few years?

Dr. Sangeeta: In past 5 years, India has emerged as key contributor of articles/ chapter published on ScienceDirect platform. Approximately 18% of all the contribution on research references on ScienceDirect comes from India in STM. This is going to be increasing in coming years..

AABP: How is your publishing house poised for business in India?

Dr. Sangeeta: India remains a growth market for Elsevier both in term of content and revenue thus a lot of high-level meetings are being conducted at various ministries and commissions to make sure, we align with India’s growth objectives and policies and able to support.


Dr Sangeeta Mehta is Director South Asia for Research Solutions at Elsevier. She has Doctoral degree in Microbiology with specialization in drug target discovery and biological control and MS with specialization in Pathology. She has been awarded NIH Fellowship and Adjunct Faculty position at the Burnett School of Medicine, Florida, USA and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

Before joining Elsevier, Dr. Mehta has worked at organizations such as Agilent Technologies, Thomson Reuters, ASSOCHAM and TERI. To date, she has 11 peer reviewed publications, 4 invited book chapters on applied Microbiology. She is key inventor on 4 PCT, 4 US, 1 European, 2 Indian and 1 South African published patents in the field of Applied Microbiology. Also, she has successfully transferred microbial technologies to blue chip biotechnology companies in India and globally.

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