« IUPAC-NIST Solubility Database | Main | George Porter and Caltech Libraries: Growth of the CODA Repositories »

A Heartfelt Response: Penny Wilson, ICIS Global Editorial Director, Reaffirms ICIS' Commitment To Students

.: In response to previous postings about the sudden disappearance of Chemical Market Reporter, the shortly-thereafter emergence of the new ICIS Chemical Business Americas (ICBA) site, and the lack of available chemical prices therein, I have had two very productive conversations, first with Joseph Chang, Editor of ICBA, and most recently with Penny Wilson, Global Editorial Director of ICIS Publications. From their responses, I think it is safe to suggest that ICIS values its student readers highly, and that issues raised from the aforementioned events appear to be on the road to resolution, with a heartfelt commitment from ICIS to address the needs of chemical engineering and chemistry students, and their instructors around the world. I invited Penny Wilson to respond to my posts, and as with Joseph Chang's earlier letter, I am happy to present Penny's letter in this forum. She raises new issues for consideration, and seeks to involve us - librarians, professors, instructors and the students - in a forthcoming collaboration to create something of value and use to those in the educational setting. Penny writes:

Dear Randy,

Your well-deserved rant about our lack of attention to students' needs when redesigning the CMR website to accommodate our new magazine brand, ICIS Chemical Business Americas, sowed a seed so deep that it has preoccupied many of my waking thoughts. Indeed I have, for the first time ever, welcomed a few traffic jams - encountered on many roads deep in the English countryside - because they've allowed me more time to better form my thoughts on how we could better serve the student community.

It is true that in the whirlwind of a huge rebranding, innovation and change management throughout ICIS in which we have launched many new products and services, and significantly revamped others to answer to rapidly changing global needs, students have fallen off the radar. But I can assure you they have never left the screen. Actually, we're passionate about students because we can all remember what it was like to be one but much more importantly, they are the future generation of readers and users and we have to nurture them.

Your criticisms have spurred us into action but while we have a rudimentary map of what we would like to do, we need your help - and others from around the globe - to help us create a truly meaningful service that is sustainable now, and in the future. Most of all, we need students themselves to tell us what they want and need, harness that information, use it wisely, and deliver in spades.

I thank you wholeheartedly for agreeing to help us draw together an advisory panel, which in my view needs to spread globally to truly reflect needs and wants. This project will take time to bear fruit, and I ask only for patience and as much feedback as possible while we work it out.

Meanwhile, we remain immensely proud of the services and products that we DO deliver today - ICIS pricing, the 24-hour ICIS news, ICIS forecasting, ICIS conferences, ICIS radio, ICIS TV and, of course, ICIS Chemical Business Americas and its sister, ICIS Chemical Business covering Europe, Middle East and Asia. Much of this has been achieved in less than 3 years.

As with every business and rapid innovation, cracks appear and one has to work hard to fill them. Rest assured that we're not glossing over the one you have highlighted.

With kind regards,
Penny

Penny Wilson
Global Editorial Director
ICIS Publications
Tel: +44 208 6523921
Email: penny.wilson AT icis.com

Penny followed up with another e-mail to me, outlining ideas for a "student site" at ICIS. I will share these with you pending Penny's approval at a later date, and promise to continue posting about this new concept as it slowly unfolds. In the meantime, I would appreciate hearing back from anyone who would be interested in participating and contributing to such a student site. If you have ideas and feedback, let's hear from you, and please feel free to contact Penny Wilson and Joseph Chang as well. Finally, my thanks again to Penny, and to Joseph, for taking the time to respond to concerns raised on STLQ about their publication.

Comments

I am glad to see that you made some progress. I have been documenting my experience as well (recent posts 1 and 2).

I only had an email dialogue with Joseph Chang. He did not seem concerned about the changes, but kept repeating all the areas ICIS was concentrating in, such as news. I told him that CMR filled a great underserved niche market in chemical prices. In my opinion, they have underestimated what made them unique in academic libraries. They are focusing on news, which makes them direct competitors to many titles that we already subscribe to. I reminded him that I do not know to many academic libraries that have pockets full of money, and they are now playing in the a niche that already has extensive coverage.

I also suggested that the prices that they are actually covering (here is my take on that) probably offer little value to my students in engineering design or economic projects. I have never helped someone look up a price for a wax or the oils listed in the current price guide.

I wish they had listed all the prices as before, and just labeled the prices with "current as of ...". I think most of my professors would have been fine with this as long as students documented that the only price they could locate was "x years" old.

Let me know how I can help with the publishers effort to again serve students.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)