Best-Sourcing in the Scientific Technical and Medical Content Industry

Industry Background

The Scientific Technical and Medical (STM) content industry is a small but highly complex component of the larger content/information industry. According to the Outsell Report of 2013, STM accounted for $31 billion and approximately 4 % of the $712 billion content/information industry. The industry consists of two kinds of players—(1) Publishers who source and own content directly from authors and are known for depth and quality of content and (2) Aggregators who source content from various sources including publishers, free sources, industry feeds, etc., and are known more for scope of content. For example, Elsevier, Wiley, Springer, and Wolters Kluwer are some of the larger STM publishers and Proquest and EBSCO are some of the larger aggregators. The STM content industry continues to grow at ~4-5 %, but is undergoing tremendous structural changes.

Evolving Industry Structure

The STM content industry has three key stakeholders as noted in Fig. 7.1[1]—authors or content creators; the content information providers and the consumers who could be researchers, corporations, universities, and so on.

Historically, the content value chain has been very linear and all stakeholders were located in the developed markets. Most of the authors, creating original content were located in universities, research facilities and corporations in North America or Western Europe. Publishers were also located in the same geographies along with consumers of the content. However, over the last decade, the structure of the industry has changed. More and more research is being generated in regions outside the traditional geographies. China, which ranked 9th in terms of original research documents produced in 1995, has moved to the 2nd place in 2013, India has moved to 6 th rank from 12 th. Newer countries such as South Korea, Brazil, Iran, Turkey, and Malaysia have also moved up significantly in the rankings (SJR, 2016).

Similarly, consumption of content is also transforming. Emerging economies have significantly increased their share of information consumption. Increased research, movement of key industries like pharmaceuticals and technology to these markets, and faster growth in local economies, have led to this increased appetite for content.

In addition to regional changes, other factors are also contributing to turbulence in this industry. Increased availability of free content is driving down price points at which data are being consumed. A dramatic increase in volume of content has also made search and relevance very critical for content providers to maintain market share. All this has led to increased investments in newer technologies and content platforms, driving up costs.

  • [1] All figures in this chapter were either created by the authors based on information provided byQuatrro Global Services or obtained directly from the Company’s archives. The authors have fullpermission to publish the content.
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