A recent headline which caught my eye, but certainly didn’t surprise me, was one which valued global STM publishing at $35 billion annually. Breaking this down a little, research from International STM and Outsell valued the STM publishing market at approximately $25 billion, plus $10 billion in additional journal revenues.

The report itself makes for a long but interesting read and really serves to highlight the sheer scale of this sector, the importance of technology, and the value attached to licensing.

Given some of my company's recent interactions with large STM partners such as Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer and Kogan Page, the report rightly touches on some of the key territories, and growing opportunities, in this sector on a global scale.

There has been particular growth in the scholarly market, the report notes, in East Asia and China. China, the report states, is "now the second largest producer of research articles in the world (and has overtaken the U.S. in some subject disciplines)." Additionally, growth has been notable in India and Brazil.

China’s increasing importance is especially evident in terms of generating revenue for journals in translation, thanks in large part to a flourishing pharmaceutical industry. India and Korea were also highlighted as markets of growing interest within this area. Feedback from other IPR members suggests that the journal translation market in Brazil has been slow on the uptake more recently, mainly due to the pharmaceutical companies focusing their budgets on advertising at major events such as the recent World Cup and the upcoming Olympics.

In addition to these highlighted markets, the report also places an emphasis on technology and innovation within the STM sector. As the report states: "STM publishing can rightly pride itself on its history of innovation, but the game is changing and future revenue growth will be more innovation-led, and potentially disruptive innovation more common." It goes on to not that publishers "will have to come to terms with a faster rate of change" and "more frequent development and release cycles."

I believe publishing platforms will be increasingly convergent with respect to content type (i.e. hosting journals, books and data equally), and neutral as to business model. Given this, it will be interesting to see just how STM publishers can continue to embrace and maximize innovations moving forward. But from conversations we’re having, it appears that this is on sector which will be focused on making a host of rights and licensing transactions even more efficient and lucrative.

Tom Chalmers is executive director at IPR License.