Midway through a wide-ranging London Book Fair discussion on what an academic publisher is today, moderator Audrey McCulloch (CEO, ALPSP) asked a pointed question: for all its ambitious goals, has open access publishing so far just made scholarly publishing more complicated?

“Hell yes,” responded panelist Martin Wolf (Research Support Lead at University of Liverpool).

From “porous” paywalls, to “freemium” content, to new models and the future of libraries as funders of research, a panel of experts, including Wolf, Michael Cairns (CEO, Publishing Technology), Steven Inchcoombe, (managing director of Nature Publishing Group & Palgrave Macmillan), and Steve Scott (head of research tools at Digital Science), ran down some of the top trends in academic publishing. But despite a flurry of tech-driven changes, publishing has not been “disrupted,” said Scott at one point, decrying the oft-overused word, but rather "enhanced."

Over the course of the hour-long talk, the panel agreed that technology and advances, like open access, have brought challenges, not only technological, but cultural, and administrative (for example, dealing with government or funder-mandated public access policies). But NPG's Inchcoombe closed the session with some important perspective. “Open access is only a part of the open science and open research movement,” he said, cautioning the audience not to lose sight of the “pivotal, longer term” goal: improving scientific research.

“Science is the ultimate massively collaborative enterprise,” Inchcoombe said. “The purpose of open access is to enable that better."

For more on the London Book Fair, check out the PW London Show Daily.