RedLink sat down recently with Advisory Council member, Howard Ratner, for a Q&A.

Please tell us a bit about yourself – where did you grow up, where and what did you study?

I grew up in New York City and graduated from Union College in Schenectady, NY with a BA in History.

How did you enter the field of academic publishing?  What was your first role, and your path to your current position?

My career began as many do in publishing: copy-editing and researching at Chelsea House Publishers — a small history book publisher. I then moved on to various book and journal production positions at John Wiley & Sons and Springer-Verlag. I became increasingly more involved in technology and Internet activities leading to my last position at Springer-Verlag as Director, Electronic Publishing & Production. Then for a little over 12 years I was the Chief Technology Officer, Executive Vice-President for Nature Publishing Group. In this role, I was in charge of all US operations and had global responsibilities for Production and Manufacturing, Emerging Technologies, Web Development and Operations, and IT across all NPG products including Nature and Scientific American. Somewhere during that time, I also found the time to be an occasional instructor at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, Crossref board member, SSP board member and eventually its president, co-founder of ORCID, and chair of the STM Future Labs.

What drew you to join CHORUS (Clearinghouse for the Open Research of the United States)?

After leaving Nature Publishing Group in 2013, I started consulting for a group of publishers and service companies interested in offering US funding agencies a streamlined solution to meet the public access requirements put forth by the US Office of Science and Technology Policy in February 2013 as well as a growing number of public access requirements from other funders. They wanted to create an organization to foster a streamlined system to showcase US funded research breakthroughs and discoveries by enabling access to the best available versions of papers reporting on funded research on publishers sites. CHORUS incorporated as a not-for-profit in October 2013 and in January 2014, they offered me the opportunity to become their Executive Director. Following a pilot with the US Department of Energy, the CHORUS system went live in July 2014 with its Agency Dashboard Service and beta Search Service

How has the work of CHORUS evolved over time?

Since going live with our first services, CHORUS has continued to improve its public access monitoring services and created individual dashboards for all of its Member Publishers. CHORUS has conducted three pilots with the University of Florida and University of Denver; Japan Science and Technology Agency and Chiba University; as well the Australian Research Council and La Trobe University. Each pilot providing unique learning experiences leading to the overall improvement of the CHORUS mission.

What trends in scholarly publishing do you find most significant or exciting?

I became interested in scholarly communication to help maximize the dissemination of research discoveries of all kinds. The open access movement while still considered controversial by some has led to many advances in our ecosystem. There is a real recognition now that identification infrastructure matters. Things like persistent identifiers having really come into their own. Identifiers that I helped build like DOIs, ORCID, Funder IDs are now deeply embedded into scholarly publishing workflows.

What is your favorite part of your work?

All of the people involved in CHORUS are amazing! From the CHORUS board through our working groups to our institution and agency partners, I learn a great deal from them almost every day. At heart I am a puzzle solver, knitting together the various pieces of the scholarly ecosystem is a giant every-changing puzzle looking to be solved on an ongoing basis.

What drew you to accept a role on the RedLink Network Advisory Board?

I have known Kent Anderson for many years especially from our work together on the SSP Board. Once he explained the RedLink Network mission to me, I was in. The mission of the RedLink Network to “provide a free IP registry and collaboration service for libraries and publishers to help them deliver secure access to subscribed content more reliably and efficiently” meets with my personal mission to help maximize access to scholarly content.