What comes first? Publishing business or publishing studies?

What comes first? Publishing business or publishing studies?

Josipa Selthofer

UDC: 655:378=111

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15291/libellarium.v8i1.220

Research paper

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to analyze and compare publishing studies, their programmes at the undergraduate and graduate levels and scholars involved in the teaching of publishing courses at the top universities around the world and in Croatia.

Since traditional publishing business is rapidly changing, new skills and new jobs are involved in it. The main research question is: Can modern publishing studies produce a modern publisher? Or, is it the other way around? The hypothesis of the paper is that scholars involved in the teaching of publishing courses at the top universities around the world have a background in publishing business. So, can they prepare their students for the future and can their students gain competencies they need to compete in a confusing world of digital authors and electronic books?

The research methods used were content analysis and comparison. Research sample included 36 university publishing programmes at the undergraduate and graduate level worldwide (24 MA, 12 BA). The research sample was limited mainly to the English-speaking countries. In most non-English-speaking countries, it was difficult to analyse the programme curriculum in the native language because the programme and course description did not exit.

In the data gathering phase, a customized web application was used for content analysis. The application has three main sections: a list of websites to evaluate, a visual representation of the uploaded website and a list of characteristics grouped by categories for quantifying data.

About twenty years ago, publishing was not considered a separate scientific branch in Croatia. Publishing studies are therefore a new phenomenon to both scholars and publishers in Croatia. To create a new, ideal publishing course, can we simply copy global trends or is it better to create something of our own?

Keywords: publishing studies, publishing course, publishing business.

Introduction

Traditional publishing business is rapidly changing since new skills and new jobs are involved in it. Publishing professionals require higher levels of both general ICT and business skills as:

  1. digitization has affected all areas of the business including sales, marketing and support
  2. publishers have to adapt their business models more rapidly to the changing market and technology conditions.

Publishers require a wider skill base to produce the products and support the customers, in the same way as the business and STM information database providers (European Comission 2003).

In the changing world of digital content and authors, e-publishing and self-publishing, it is hard to determine the core publishing competencies of the future. Although, traditional skills and competencies in publishing business can still be treated as core competencies, regardless of the medium, neglecting the need for change can have a critical impact on the publishing business of today and of tomorrow.

The required core competencies for publishing from now on can be expressed in two words: databases and networks. Before computers, databases were “lists” and networks were “webs of contacts”; competent command of databases and networks is a topic of concern for all top managers – the next important change in some publishing houses (Shatzkin 1999).

Before trying to determine the competencies of the publishers of the future, one must define competence itself. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development:

A competence is more than just knowledge or skills. It involves the ability to meet complex demands, by drawing on and mobilizing psychosocial resources (including skills and attitudes) in a particular context. For example, the ability to communicate effectively is a competence that may draw on an individual’s knowledge of language, practical IT skills and attitudes towards those with whom he or she is communicating (OECD 2005).

The European Commission’s Cedefop glossary (Cedefop 2008) defines a skill as follows:

…the ability to perform tasks and solve problems, while a competence is the ability to apply learning outcomes adequately in a defined context (education, work, personal or professional development. A competence is not limited to cognitive elements (involving the use of theory, concepts or tacit knowledge); it also encompasses functional aspects (involving technical skills) as well as interpersonal attributes (e.g. social or organizational skills) and ethical values.

Publishing competencies should be learning outcomes of the curricula of the undergraduate or graduate publishing studies programmes. Research reports on this issue are rare, regardless of the publishing programmes and curricula at the undergraduate and graduate level at the universities around the world. A Swedish study by Arvidsson identified and discussed the strategies of five different publishing studies programmes aimed at adapting to the digitization of the industry. The author emphasizes

…the need of the second degree specialization in publishing, because it is an industry relying on traditions and old values threatened by new superpowers driven by other values. The students studying publishing should know and appreciate the old industry but also help it find its place in the modern world. Therefore the wide humanities knowledge must integrate with the skills and knowledge of technology and science (Arvidsson 2014).

Publishing studies in Croatia

Most scholars involved in teaching at the publishing studies have a background in publishing business. Some twenty years ago, publishing was not considered a separate scientific branch in Croatia. Therefore, publishing studies are a new phenomenon to both scholars and publishers in Croatia. Currently, there is no undergraduate or graduate publishing studies programme in Croatia.

There are seven universities in Croatia. One of them, the University of Rijeka, has a Centre for Electronic Publishing which offers a lifelong learning programme entitled Electronic Publishing for an Educational and Research System.

In the academic year 2015/16, a publishing programme will be launched by the Department of Information Science of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University of Osijek.

At the University of Pula, there is an initiative to launch a publishing studies programme (Creative Writing and Publishing).

At the University of Zagreb and the University of Zadar, publishing courses are part of the curricula of the Information Science programmes, but they offer specialisation in Information Science, not in publishing.

Research

The aim and purpose of research

The aim of this paper is to analyze and compare publishing studies, their programmes at the undergraduate and graduate level and scholars involved in teaching at those publishing courses, at the top universities around the world.

The research focuses on two main aspects:

  • Publishing program curriculum
  • Teaching staff at publishing programmes

Research questions:

  1. Can modern publishing studies produce modern publishers?
  2. Can these studies prepare students for a future in publishing?
  3. Can students at the undergraduate and graduate levels of the publishing studies gain competencies they need to compete in a confusing world of digital authors and electronic books?
  4. To create a new, ideal publishing course in Croatia, can we simply copy global trends or is it better to create something of our own?

The hypothesis of the paper is that scholars involved in teaching at the publishing courses at the top universities around the world have a background in publishing business. So, can they prepare their students for the future; can their students gain competencies they need to compete in a confusing world of digital authors and electronic books?

Methods

The research methods used were content analysis and comparison. Research sample (see Appendix 1) included 36 university publishing programmes at the undergraduate and graduate level worldwide (24 MA, 12 BA). The research sample was limited mainly to the English-speaking countries. In most non-English-speaking countries, it was difficult to analyse the programme curriculum in the native language because the programme and course description did not exit.

In the data gathering phase, a customized web application was used for content analysis. The application has three main sections: a list of websites to evaluate, a visual representation of the uploaded website and a list of characteristics grouped by categories for quantifying data. The proposed customized IT tool allows the data to be exported to a widely-supported MS Excel format for further analysis. The web application was built using agile software development method on a LAMP stack and it is available online (URL: http://oziz.ffos.hr/epub/JosipaDoktorat/index.php).

The following categories for validation were entered in the application:

  • Course Curriculum - BA Studies
  • Course Curriculum - MA Studies
  • Staff - Academic position
  • Staff - Academic Title
  • Staff - Professional Background
  • Study - Course
  • Study - Name
  • Study - Title

Research results and discussion

Publishing Studies

Publishing programmes from the research sample are generally referred to as “publishing studies” (20). Some of them are named “Publishing and Editing”, “Publishing and Writing”, “Publishing, Editing and Writing”, “Book Editing”, “Book Publishing”, etc. (Table 1)

Table 1. Names of the publishing programmes from the research sample

 1

Most of the publishing programmes from the research sample are part of the Social Studies Departments or Faculties. Table 2 contains a list of BA and MA titles that students gain after completing their publishing studies at the undergraduate or graduate level.

Table 2. BA and MA titles after completing publishing programmes from the research sample

2 

Research Results – Publishing Studies; BA Programme Curriculum

At the undergraduate level of the publishing studies from the research sample, Electronic Publishing (18), Typography & Graphic Communication (17), Production Process (15), Marketing in Publishing (13), Editorial Management (12) and Legal Issues in Publishing (11) are the most represented courses in the programme curricula. Less represented courses were Material Technologies, Censorships, Critical Analysis of Texts, E-book from the Library Perspective (1) (Table 3). Consequently, the research results indicate that publishing competencies (editorial, graphic, marketing) are incorporated in publishing studies from the sample on undergraduate level.

Table 3. Curriculum of the undergraduate publishing programmes from the research sample

 3-1
3-2

Research Results – Publishing Studies; MA programme curriculum

At the graduate level of the publishing studies from the research sample, Editing/Editorial Management (31), Internship (24), Marketing for Publishing (17), Publishing Project (15), Design and production for publishing (15), Publishing Management (13), Digital Publishing (12), Research Methodology (12), Writing for Editors (12), Electronic Publishing (11), Legal and Ethical Issues in Publishing (11), Production Process (10), Issues in Contemporary Publishing (10) and Book Publishing Technology (10) are the most represented courses in the programme curriculum (Table 4). So, the research results indicate that publishing competencies (editorial, ICT, business, graphic, marketing, organizational, cultural) are incorporated in publishing studies from the sample on graduate level.

Table 4. Curriculum of the graduate publishing studies programme from the research sample

 4-1

4-2

Research Results – Publishing Studies; MA programme curriculum of the Department of Information Science, University of Osijek

Table 5 presents the curriculum of the publishing programme of the Department of Information Sciences in Croatia. The programme will be launched in the academic year 2015/16. As can be seen from the comparison of the courses that will be offered to Croatian students and the courses from the research sample (Table 6), most of the courses offered to Croatian students are similar to the top rated courses from the research. The courses from the research sample not listed among MA publishing courses in Croatia, which are similar to the ones from the research sample in terms of their structure and description, have been incorporated into one of the offered courses.

Table 5. Curriculum of the graduate publishing studies programme of the Department of Information Sciences, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Osijek, Croatia

5

Table 6. Comparison of the publishing programme curricula (MA studies from the research sample and in Croatia)

 6

Research Results – Teaching Staff

The most common academic title held by the teaching staff in publishing programmes from the research sample is BA (82), followed by PhD (75), and MA (63), as shown in Table 7. The most common academic positions at the publishing departments (Table 8) are Lecturer (88) and Adjunct Faculty (72). Most of the analyzed study programmes in publishing are organized in a way that allows the publishing industry to participate in the curricular activities; this explains the academic titles and the positions of the teaching staff.

Table 7. Academic titles of the teaching staff at the publishing studies programmes from the research sample

 7

Table 8. Academic positions of the teaching staff at the publishing studies programmes from the research sample

 8

Research Results – Teaching Staff

Information about the teaching staff professional background was gathered from the teachers biographies published on the websites of the research sample. Majority of the teaching staff at the publishing studies have a professional background in Editorial (41) and Publishing Management (31), as shown in Table 9. All publishing studies from the research sample cooperate with the industry and most of the teaching staff is involved in the publishing business.

Table 9. Professional background of the teaching staff at the publishing studies programmes from the research sample

9

 Conclusion

At the undergraduate level of the publishing studies from the research sample, Electronic Publishing, Typography & Graphic Communication, Production Process, Marketing in Publishing, Editorial Management and Legal Issues in Publishing are the most represented courses in the programme curricula. Thus, the research results indicate that publishing competencies (editorial, graphic, marketing) are incorporated in publishing studies from the sample on undergraduate level.

At the graduate level of the publishing studies from the research sample, Editing/Editorial Management, Internship, Marketing for Publishing, Publishing Project, Design and production for publishing, Publishing Management, Digital Publishing, Research Methodology, Writing for Editors, Electronic Publishing, Legal and Ethical Issues in Publishing, Production Process, Issues in Contemporary Publishing and Book Publishing Technology are the most represented courses in the programme curricula. The research results indicate that publishing competencies (editorial, ICT, business, graphic, marketing, organizational, cultural) are incorporated in publishing studies from the sample on graduate level. Majority of the teaching staff at the publishing studies have a professional background in Editorial and Publishing Management. All publishing studies from the research sample cooperate with the industry and most of the teaching staff are involved in the publishing business. Answer to the research question regarding students’ competencies for competing in a confusing world of digital authors and electronic books can be positively answered. As it is obvious from the research results, all publishing competencies are product of the most publishing curricula from the sample.

The answers to the research questions can be found in publishing curricula created based on the insights drawn from the publishing theory and practice, as well as field research.

The digital era puts an emphasis on New Media Competencies, the New Media Literacies, Researcher Development Framework, and Key Leadership Competencies. Creating digital works is a craft that requires the appropriate use of different media, technical skills, artistic and rhetorical competencies, and an awareness of the intended audiences and uses. Each of these can be developed through a combination of teaching, apprenticeship and autonomous project work (Sinclair and Gouglas 2002, 167–83).

The research hypothesis of the paper is that scholars involved in teaching at the publishing courses at the top universities around the world have a background in publishing business. That hypothesis is positively answered. Answer to the question: can they prepare their students for the future; can their students gain competencies they need to compete in a confusing world of digital authors and electronic books? – lies in involvement of publishing industry into publishing courses (practical work and internship). Internship and project work were the most common courses on the graduate level from the research sample.

Although differences between publishing studies largely depend on the publishing industry and the market in a particular country, region, or part of the world, the fact is that global trends in publishing affect everyone. Croatia is a small country with a small market and a small language. As the answer to the fourth research question, only by following the examples of good practice from all over the globe, through cooperation of all participants in the publishing world, regardless of whether they are involved in theoretical research, practical application or education in the country, can modern publishers be successfully created.

References

Arvidsson, J. 2014. To grow plants in a changing environment. Att odla sticklingar i ett föränderligt klimat. Ett projektarbete om förlagskunskapsutbildningars anpassning efter digitaliseringen av branschen. Förlagskunskap Projektarbete VT 14.

Cedefop. 2008. Terminology of European education and training policy. A selection of 100 key terms. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

Clarke, M. 2010. “When your core competency is no longer core to the business you’re in.” Accessed September 3, 2014. http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2010/11/29/when-your-core-competency-is-no-longer-core-to-the-business-you-are-in/

The European e-Business Market Watch. 2005. European Commission Enterprise & Industry Directorate. General ICT and Electronic Business in the Publishing & Printing Industry. Key issues and case studies. Sector Report No. 03-I. Accessed June 4, 2014. http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/archives/e-businesswatch/studies/sectors/publishing/docu-ments/Publishing_2005_I.pdf

European Commission. 2003. Enterprise & Industry Directorate General. The EU publishing industry: an assessment of competitiveness. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

Halász, G., and A .Michel. 2011. “Key competences in Europe: interpretation, policy formulation and implementation.” European Journal of Education 46 (3): 289-306.

Harnad, S. 1991. “Post-Gutenberg galaxy: the fourth revolution in the means of production of knowledge.” Public-Access Computer Systems Review2 (1): 39 – 53. (also reprinted in PACS Annual Review Volume 2 and in R. D. Mason (ed.) Computer Conferencing: The Last Word. Beach Holme Publishers, 1992.

OECD. 2005. “Key competencies for a successful life and a well-functioning society. The definition and selection of key competencies. Executive summary.” Accessed October 15, 2014. http://www.oecd.org/pisa/35070367.pdf

Shatzkin, M. 1999. “Databases and networks – The core competencies of 21st century publishing.” Accessed July 9, 2014. http://www.idealog.com/speeches/1999/06/databases-and-networks-the-core-competencies-of-21st-century-publishing/

Sinclair, S., and S. Gouglas. 2002. “Theory into practice: a case study of the Humanities Computing master of arts programme at the University of Alberta.” Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 1 (2): 167-83.


 Sažetak

Što je prvo? Nakladničko poslovanje ili studij nakladništva?

Cilj je rada analizirati i usporediti nakladničke studije, njihove programe na preddiplomskoj i diplomskoj razini i nastavno osoblje uključeno u izvođenje nastave na nakladničkim studijima u Hrvatskoj i u svijetu. Tradicionalno nakladništvo se brzo mijenja, pa su sve potrebnije nove vještine za obavljanje novih poslova u nakladništvu.

Glavna istraživačka pitanja u radu su: mogu li moderni nakladnički studiji ishoditi moderne nakladnike ili moderno nakladništvo oblikuje nove nakladničke studije? Pretpostavka istraživanja je da većina nastavnog osoblja, uključenog u izvođenje nastave na nakladničkim studijima, dolazi s prethodnim radnim iskustvom u nakladništvu. Pitanja koja se nameću su: mogu li nastavnici ovakvog profila obrazovati studente za budućnost i dobivaju li njihovi studenti po završetku studija kompetencije potrebne za natjecanje u zbunjujućem svijetu digitalnih autora i elektroničkih knjiga?

Istraživačke metode korištene u istraživanju su sadržajna analiza i usporedba. Uzorak istraživanja (v. Prilog 1) činilo je 36 sveučilišnih nakladničkih programa na preddiplomskoj (12) i diplomskoj razini (24). Uzorak istraživanja bio je ograničen uglavnom na zemlje engleskog govornog područja. U većini zemalja ne-engleskog govornog područja bilo je teško analizirati sadržaje studija i nastavne programe na materinjem jeziku, jer opisi studija i potrebne informacije uglavnom nisu postojale.

Ključne riječi: studij nakladništva, nakladništvo, nakladnički kolegiji.


 

Appendix 1. List of universities offering publishing programmes included in the research sample broken down by continent

ap1

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.