Total revenues for the scientific, technical and medical publishing market are estimated to rise by 15.8% over the next three years—from $26bn in 2011 to just over $30bn in 2014—according to a new report which also heralds the "era of the platform".
The market forecast report, compiled by information industry research specialists Outsell, predicts that the scientific and technical segment of the market will show the lowest level of growth, rising by a little over 3% in each of the three years to the end of 2014. The medical subsegment is anticipated to rise by 5.2% in 2012, increasing to 6.3% in 2014. The geophysical subsegment is the one forecast to perform most strongly, growing 7.4% in 2012 and rising to 8.2% in 2014.
The report indicates that free online services such as Google Scholar (a free citation tracker), and Microsoft Academic—which produces lists of top authors, publications and journals as part of its search function—could rival paid-for trackers. The report also forecasts, however, that the projects may be too general to become real rivals to commercial offerings.
The forecast urges publishers to focus on integration, saying this will be the "era of the platform, not the product", as publishers react to users' needs by integrating content from many different sources.
Meanwhile, the report predicts pressure from open access content will spur information suppliers to try to move up the value chain, developing their content into more sophisticated products to offer solutions for clients rather than just undeveloped content.
Operating from within emerging markets was also highlighted as one of the most important steps STM publishers can take, as they have already proved to be a source of above-average growth for many companies. But the report stressed the need to stop relying on outsourcing, and to build a physical presence in those countries, with East–West acquisitions likely to become increasingly common.
In terms of strains on the market, the report indicates that revenue pressure stemming from government spending cuts is likely to make the process of renewing contracts more challenging.
The report also highlighted 10 companies to watch, identifying them as firms which are innovating with content delivery, or companies whose content is particularly relevant to current market demand. Elsevier; Wolters Kluwer; Macmillan's new business unit Digital Science; and Sage Publishing were listed as cutting-edge performers.
Also listed in the category were Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Journals (described as an "intriguing but as yet unproven venture"); Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search; Healthline Networks; online platform provider Silverchair; HighWire Press; and social networking directory Doximity.