The Science Museum Group Journal, a creation of the Science Museum Group that comprises various Museums in the UK, is a forum that showcases peer-reviewed papers. The mother organization, The Science Museum Group, Comprises of four national museums of the United Kingdom which include: The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, The Science Museum in London, The National Media Museum in Bradford and The National Railway Museum in York. The research papers offered by the forum are relevant to the global International Science Museum Community (Teufel 2010, p. 21). The journal offers a platform for scholars to share their knowledge about scientific matters to a very large audience globally without charge. As a business forum, The Science Museum Group Journal (SMGJ) needs modifications in terms of mode of delivery and form of deliverables in order to meet the ever-changing demands of the information consumers and thus achieve its goals (Hunter et al. 2010, p. 34).
Goals of the Journal
The SMGJ brings together stakeholders from the various Museums in the group, each with its own organizational objectives. The core objective of the journal is to act as an output for the group’s research and thus help in promoting their collections. To achieve this end, the journal and the Science Museum Group have varied outlined objectives, all aimed at achieving the overall goal.
Although each museum in the group has its own objectives, group goals are drawn each year, culminating in an outline of short, medium and long-term goals. Some of the goals that have been outlined from the 2013/2014 annual report include strengthening the core operations and portray dynamic displays in various galleries, reaching out both nationally and globally and securing objects that are on display to the public amongst many others. These objectives are to be achieved through specific goal definitions.
In working towards the achievement of the core objective, one of the goals of the journal is to provide learners interested in scientific matters all over the world a platform where they can quench their thirst of knowledge (Science, 2010, p.4). This is to be achieved through the provision of already produced academic research papers free of charge from their website and provision of any historical science materials that any individual may be interested in during a research exercise (SMG 2014, 8). The aim of doing this is to encourage participation of scholars in the production of quality work, which is likely to encourage audience growth (Hughes, 2003, 14). Another way used by the journal to achieve this end is through giving scholars a chance to publish their work at minimal costs.
This saves the scholars the cost of publishing their work as well as finding readers since the Journal already does that. It also helps in the dissemination of knowledge. The Journal seeks to get many scholars who are willing to carry out research and publish it in their site without the many financial gains that publishing houses can offer (Solomon, D. 2008, 12).The scholars however receive the social gains associated with public access to literature such as the creation of intense public awareness of their work and the museums’ collections.
Another objective of the SMG journal is to produce and disseminate both soft copy and hard copy knowledge through the use of the available museum collections as well as any other way that may be deemed suitable by the group (SMG 2014, 8). The collections that aid in knowledge acquisition include images, literature work and various scientific artifacts (Debelak, D. 2006, 15). The journal also works at the preservation of these artifacts that may aid in research. These artifacts are distributed depending on the need of the specific researcher (SMG, 2014, 8)
The Science Museum Group Journal also aims at improving the education standards of students across the globe (Macdonald, 2002, 40). The free articles available for the readers offer them with quality and free knowledge about some scientific matters. In addition to providing free access to scientific literature, the Science Museum group also organizes exhibitions, debates, and teaching fora for the enlightenment of students and the academia in general. For instance, an initiative started by the Museum of Science and Industry that carries out school-based teaching founded on scientific principles aims at achieving this goal of improving education standards (SMG Annual Review, 2014, 32).
All scholars desire to use only high quality articles in their research work. To ascertain that a certain literature is of high quality, one of the most commonly used measures is the aspect of peer reviews. The number of times an article has been received peer reviews enable authors to determine the quality and effectiveness of a particular work in their research field. Consequently, articles with more peer reviews and higher ratings continuously attract more references and citations. By including in its database several peer reviewed articles; the journal creates a foundation for the achievement of its academic related objectives. The journal articles undergo a double blind peer review process where a reader reviews an article without knowing the author and the author receives an article review without knowledge of the source.
The Science Museum Group Journal through its mode of operation and materials contained in the site target a varied number of people. The e-journal targets both individuals and groups based on the needs of the specific readers as well as the varied content of the site.
- Museum Professionals- these refer to experts in museum matters such as artifacts that should be preserved, preservation principles, as well as acquisition of museum preservations for use in academic and social set-ups (Bailey, 2005, 28). In order to develop their academic and professional prowess, these individuals seek information from the Science Museum Group Journal.
- Members of professional bodies- Professional bodies spanning the fields of medicine, engineering, technology, media and transport all desire to improve their members knowledge, thus widen the capabilities of their associations. According to the SMG Annual Review (2014, 37), the SMG offers the requisite knowledge through forums such as the ‘teach first’ initiative which enables the SMG stakeholders to get in touch with potential STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Technology) teachers. With quality information being offered through the SMG online journal, it is highly probable that professional bodies refer their members to the group’s journal articles.
- Institutions- Being the first active museum group, universities, colleges and various schools depend on SMGJ as a source of valuable scientific information (Bailey, C. 2005, 40). Since institutions engage in research activities as part of their mandate, it is imperative that a reliable and accurate source of information be identified for effectiveness of the research process. SMGJ offers valuable information through peer reviewed articles based on the historical scientific artifacts preserved in the group constituting museums (LaGuardia, 2014, par. 2).
Apart from the target audiences mentioned above, the Journal also targets other individuals interested in the works of the constituting museums (Science, 2010, 50). For instance, the Museum of Science and Industry reports attracting more visitors in family units compared to educational visitors (SMG, 2013, 15). It is likely that the visitors who are interested in the cultural preservations of the Museum of Science and Industry can be attracted by the SMG online journals as they seek greater knowledge about the items observed during their physical visits to the museum.
Business Model of the Journal
The Science Museum Group Journal uses the Open Access model commonly known by the abbreviations OA (KE, p. 4). In most journals using this business model, the Authors pay so that their work can be published in the Journal, while the readers access the published literature free of charge (Weber, 2005, 10). The SMGJ however does not charge the authors for publication since most authors are from within the group and they aim at promoting the group’s collections through their articles (SMG, 2013, 9). The SMG provides their materials for copying, downloading or printing free of charge since the journal was intended to be non-profit making (Science, 2010, 4). However, they specify rules regarding the accessibility and use of copyrighted materials such as images that are in use in their website (SMG Journal, 2014, par. 3).
Due to the open access policy, the journal does not incur any additional costs as a result of marketing, and the publication of articles does not depend on whether the journal articles are sold or not, as long as the submission meets the requirements of the journal’s submissions, it is published. SMGJ depends on grants and donations for funding besides the physical access fees paid by visitors to the constituting museums, (SMG, 2013, 18). However, the grants have been reducing from 2010 and the group has been forced to find new sources of funding for the project. Engagement in income generating projects such as simulator attractions and introduction of green screens helps in the acquisition of more income (SMG, 2013, 9).
Recommendations for Ensuring Success
Success for the Journal simply means there is continuous flow of articles by scholars for publishing, and there is continuous flow of readers in the site who read the articles that are produced (Science, 2010, 34). The open access business model of the Journal translates to distribution of knowledge to a large population as the main objective of the Journal.
Use of Crowd sourcing to obtain articles
Dunn and Hedges (2012), assert that far from being a source of cheap labor, crowd sourcing can be very effective in the creation of high quality digital content. The process operates through the requisition of content developers in humanities or sciences (Dunn, S. and Hedges, M, 2012, 40). In this context, the content to be developed refers to the high quality literature that is desired by the site readers. Since the site operates on a low cost basis for authors, it would be easy to obtain authors through crowd sourcing. This will increase the quality and quantity of the content that can be availed by the site. However, while using crowd sourcing as a source of labor, it is necessary that the site provides the required materials upon which the crowd sourced scholars will based their researches since the journal specializes with artifacts from the group member museums.
Providing a list of key words for search engine optimization
One of the methods that are commonly used by websites to increase their online presence is through search engine optimization. This operates through the specification of a variety of key words which when typed on a search engine, produces the site in question. The Science Museum Group e-journal can benefit through the use of this method to increase the public awareness of its presence. In so doing, many readers are likely to be attracted to the site leading to increased audience outreach. Besides this, search engine optimization is also likely to attract scholars who are able to submit good articles based on information from groups museums.
A search engine optimized website attracts more visits compared to any other site. It is therefore important that the site, being new should be advertised through several methods including optimization.
Modifying the editorial team
The Journal should actually consider placing a 24/7 support team that has live chats. This will help the readers to have their queries addressed on time. The support team will reduce the load of mails that is received and this will make functionality smooth. Majority of the readers will be intrigued by the availability of a 24/7 support team who are on ground to help them with issues that may arise (Ilves, 2011, 30). This will increase the success of the Journal because it will create loyalty from the readers to the site. The loyalty leads to recommendation of the readers to other people and this will improve the flow of people in the site, which automatically means the success of the site is increased. Customer loyalty is the main indicator and driver to success of any profit making and non-profit making organization (Hughes, 2003, 45). Science Museum Group is not so unique from others so customer loyalty will greatly affect its success.
Increase the publication frequencies
The Science Museum Group Journal should consider increasing the number of times of publications from the bi-annual times to at least quarterly (Teufel, 2010, 43). This is because there is increased number of scholars who want their work published and with the bi annual method; they can even wait for three years before their work is published in the Journal. This limits the numbers of publications available to the readers. When there are limited numbers of publications, then the flow of people to the site will suddenly come to a halt when the available publications are exhausted (Teufel, 2010, 44). The increased frequency of publication by the Science Museum Group Journal will offer the readers with a large variety of work to choose from and this actually reduces the exhaustion of materials in the journal. This will increase the success of the site due to ever flowing readers and articles in the site.
The increased frequency of publication will also reduce instances of scholars running away to other sites to publish their work (Cox et al., 2006, 33). Increased publication frequency will make the scholars feel fairly treated since their articles will take a short time before they are published. The site is based on the articles that are written by the scholars so when they run away with their ideas and articles, the site will be rendered useless. Increased publication frequencies will increase the success of the company since the orders will continue to flow and the readers will continue to get satisfied.
Modification of the way Readers are allowed to contribute
The Journal should put minimal restrictions to the scholars for their work to be published. Presence of many restrictions may turn away many scholars. The restrictions should be lowered. As long as the article by a scholar is good and based on a collection of any of the museums constituting the group , then the site should not hesitate to publish it after it has been reviewed very well (Cox et al., 2006, 36). Minimal restrictions will actually increase the number of articles in the site and for that matter, good quality articles that have been well researched with clear factual evidence supporting the research. This will increase the success of the site greatly.
The Journal should place strict measures on the third party distributors in order to cite articles properly and give the site the credit it deserves (Cox et al., 2006, 39). When articles are cited properly, it will show that the third party distributor retrieved the material from Science Museum Group Journal (Science, 2010, 60). This reference will go a long way in attracting many people to the site based on the knowledge that the site produces high quality articles and work worthy of citation.
The site should allow articles done by other languages rather than English to be uploaded by scholars. The works should then be translated to English, which suits the site well. Acceptance of such articles is core because a very good research can be done in another language. Such a research might be vital and very much on demand. Accepting and translating will increase the variety of work in the site and at the same time increase the ratings of the site. This will increase the success of the site.
The Science Museum Group Journal should diversify the discussion platform between the scholars and readers (Cox et al., 2006, 70). They should introduce the use of interactive online modes such as teleconferencing where the readers will have time to call the Scholar who wrote a certain article online for more information. This will improve the efficiency of the site and the readers trust in the works published in the site. Live chats between the scholars and the readers should also be incorporated, as this will help the readers answer the questions or thoughts they have about a certain article. Readers’ satisfaction has many potential benefits to a website such as increased visits and user recommendation.
Moreover, the readers should also be given a forum for contributing their views about specific articles. This will go a long way in providing insight to potential authors as well as providing new points of view regarding already authored materials. In so doing, the original authors of given materials may improve their articles by making them more informative and including the views and needs of the readers based on both comments and questions from the readers. This might however result in copyright problems where malicious readers may distribute content based on slight modifications without permission of the journal.
Increase the intensity of advertisement of the site
The site cannot survive on the recommendation of the existing users alone. The Science Museum Group Journal should actually use other online media like YouTube, Facebook, and twitter to advertise their site (Ilves, 2011, 76). In using social media, the e-journal could for instance provide referral links to be used by their readers as well author to direct more people to the site. This will result in a heightened sense of public awareness to the benefit of the journal. The journal will thereby attain its objective of reaching masses. The main reason for using other online sources for advertisement is because majority of its target audience spend most of their time on social sites.
The site should be able to advertise its products in other languages apart from English since the journal is not just meant for English speaking nations alone but for the whole world. Advertising in the different languages will enable the message to be passed on to a larger population than it would have when it uses just English (Schumann et al., 2007, 12). This will increase the flow to the site and the articles in the site will be read by many people, assuring the success of the site.
Inclusion of other science based organizations to the Group
The current members of the Science museum Group, which are the Science Museum, the National Railway museum, the museum of Science & industry, and the National Railway museum should consider adding other museums to the group (Science, 2010, 4). Opening the doors for other museums to join the group will increase the effectiveness of the Journal since they will come with new materials and articles. This will help in increasing the quantity of scholars who will be uploading the articles in the site as well as the quality and quantity of the journal contents. By having a limited number of members, the Science Museum Group limits the quantity of materials they can have free access to. Increase of materials will attract readers to the site due to content diversification (Cox et al., 2006, 80).
Beside this, by engaging even members outside of the United Kingdom, the group will be tapping into the diverse cultural potential of the entire world. For instance, it is possible that the artifacts in science museums in the UK differ greatly from those in the US or even Asia. The globalization of the Science Museum Group can go a long way in ensuring the success of the SMGJ.
Motivation of great contributors
The Science Museum Group Journal should come up with ways of rewarding the most loyal readers who write most useful reviews as well as those who refer more new readers, and equally reliable authors. The role of motivation in business effectiveness cannot be underestimated; it will enhance the reputation of the website as well as attracting new readers to the site (Hughes, 2003, 4). Through this process, the SMG museums self-advertise through the submissions of reliable authors such motivation can be in form of trips to the museums that form the group. Such motivations will increase the popularity of the site, widening its audience (Hughes, 2003, 5).
Incorporating Multi-Media usage
The Science museum Group Journal should consider incorporating multimedia files such as videos and pictures into their website home page. This will improve the visual appeal of the site, attracting more visits (Ilves, 2011, 28). With the current technological advancements in the world, short video clips of some artifacts in use are likely to assist in placing the potential readers within the context of the literature’s history (Hillstrom, 2005, 5). The Journal should also consider using a unique website design that is difficult to imitate or reproduce. With the increased instances of cybercrime and imitation, it is necessary for the journal to put measures to avoid instances of cyber crimes such as hacking to protect authors’ copyrights (Gerdes, 2009, 12). This is due to the potential of these crimes to result in malicious tampering with content. For instance, an imitation website might solicit funds from the readers, thus destroying SMGJ’s reputation (Hynson, C. 2012, 21). In addition to this, the implementation of effective website management procedures will also protect the site from server crashes and will protect the personal data of both authors and readers.
Variation of content format and classification
In order to make the e-journal more user friendly, the format of the various contents could be variable; the authors could add content in pdf, XML versions, RSS, RIS, Endnote, Refworks Tagged and Mendely. These formats allow direct printing and would be more useful to readers. In addition to this, direct printing of documents does not violate any policies of the site since it is open access for all materials except the copyrighted ones.
Besides variation of content format, articles may also be classified by their topics for ease of identification and usage. It will be easier for potential readers to find the articles that match their interest instead of rummaging through several articles, most of which may not be required at that particular time. It will thus help save time in finding and using articles.
One way of attracting more potential readers to the site is through content featuring. By displaying interesting article subtitles on the home page, the site is likely to attract more readers who will thus be able to look through all other contents. In so doing, the site achieves a one click promotion of the collection featured in an article on the home page with every visit.
Significance of Success of the Site
The site offers a platform for the museums that form the group to showcase what they have back in the museums (Science, 2010, 105). Like exhibitions such as those organized at the Antenna gallery and fora such as the Dana Center debate, the e-journal can also offer the involved museums a chance to showcase their collections. This enables the group to benefit from the increased public awareness, particularly by reaching those who are not in a position to access their physical events reached a large number of people. The museums are then likely to receive increased visitor inflows.
The site also offers an avenue for scholars to keep themselves abreast with technological and knowledge advancement in their areas of specialty (Science, 2010, 102). The success of the site will enable scholars to author and submit more high quality articles, expanding their knowledge bases. In addition to this, the low costs incurred by scholars in publishing their works compared to using toll-access e-journals also builds them in morale, expanding their capabilities.
Moreover, the e-journal site helps students and tutors in various institutions with research on historical scientific matters. Through provision of informative peer reviewed articles to both tutors and students, the journal will be able to enhance the quality of education across various sectors. Its success is therefore imperative especially for those interested in historical scientific facts and the cross-temporal evolution of science. This is particularly so since there is very few science museums, and what they have has received limited publicity over time (Science, 2010, 100).
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