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The scale and scope of non-profit scholarly publishing

The economics of scholarly publishing is in turmoil with a large scale shift from subscriptions to Open Access under way and deep technical change undermining the dominance of the large commercial players. Many studies have identified that scholarly society publishers are a crucial part of this change, and scholarly societies face their own sustainability challenges in the years ahead.

To date, there has been no large scale study of the scale and activities of scholarly societies and publishers. Very recently the activist Carl Malamud has been successful in obtaining electronic copies of US non-profit tax filings. As the majority of US scholarly societies file these forms annually we now have for the first time access to thousands of summaries of financial returns for these organisations.

In this project we will develop a strategy to identify relevant returns from this dataset and to mine them for financial information. This will generate a novel dataset allowing a landscape view of US scholarly societies and their activities. This will support work on developing new sustainability models for these organisations so as to address the financial crisis that many such organisations face.

This project would suit a student interested in developing skills in information retrieval and content mining. The project will also touch on issues of community governance and economics and is therefore suited to someone interested in developing a broad perspective of research communities and publishing.