Case study Cambridge University Press
From woodblock to Web without tears
Cambridge University Press (CUP) is one of the world's largest educational and academic publishers, as well as its oldest. It produces more than 2,000 titles annually in print form. Now, this venerable company has made its mark on the Web via a major information technology shake-up.
Although CUP already had its first-generation Cambridge Journals Online (CJO) system, by the late 1990s it found that the technology was beginning to creak. Other publishers were moving into online publishing and the company realised that it must use leading-edge technology to promote its brand and services. The solution was a complete overhaul of its electronic systems.
In 1999, CUP invited tenders for a comprehensive new online system. The brief was for a sophisticated and versatile content production and delivery platform - initially for journals and, in due course, book content.
"The issue was fundamental", says Dr Conrad Guettler, Journals Director of Cambridge University Press. "We realised that if we were to retain our existing client base and maximise the value of our journals to them, we had to improve their experience as CJO users."
The company chose InterX as it was convinced that this proven, robust and scalable architecture provided the most future-proof online publishing solution.
InterX met the objectives of Cambridge University Press in several key areas:
- To make best use of existing technology investment and implement future-proof design and platform functionality.
- To maintain and enhance the reputation of CUP as a premier source of scholarly information, and make Cambridge Journals Online a portal of choice.
- To offer more personalised services and a wider portfolio of products.
- To attract journal content delivery from other scholarly information providers.
- To protect existing revenue streams and, in the longer term, reduce the cost of service provision.
Dr Guettler notes: "We felt that we could work well with InterX as they immediately understood what we were trying to achieve. The company's consultancy-led approach and proven experience in the media, magazine publishing and e-commerce arenas, were also key factors in our choice."
In addition to core products and client applications, InterX provided initial training for Cambridge University Press users and system administrators.
The new Cambridge Journals Online system went live in October 2000. Its much improved user-friendliness means that academics are now offered:
- The facility for all users to conduct searches, view content tables, and view abstracts for all journals on the site.
- The possibility for registered users to receive alerts regarding articles of interest as well as tables of contents for journals of interest.
- Simultaneous full-text access to all journals subscribed to by a given institution, regardless of whether individuals at the institution choose to register on the site.
- A powerful search engine providing full text searching throughout the database, allowing users to set search parameters, and store searches for future reference, and offering the advantages of Boolean searching.
- Recognition name of institutional users by IP address and/or domain.
- The ability for institutional subscribers to assign an 'account administrator' who will directly manage the institution's online subscriptions, including setting and modifying valid IP addresses and/or domains for that institution.
- Context-sensitive help screens that will open directly to the relevant help page from the page where the user is experiencing difficulties.
This first phase has radically improved the user-friendliness of Cambridge Journals Online system. It provides also a solid foundation for future expansion into other online publishing possibilities. CUP's plans include book chapters online and subject-based collections of scholarly content.
So, what can Cambridge Journals Online users expect during the coming months? CJO will offer:
- The option of buying articles and subscriptions
- Reference linking via CrossRef, and links to ISI and Medline where applicable
- The ability for institutions to post messages to their patrons.
It all looks good on paper, but what do the punters think? CUP's websites are visited by over 2.5 million people world-wide annually - sure proof of money well spent.