Finding a Better Approach to Workflow and Technology Integration
American Academy of Religion
Strategic and Operational Guidance
A niche online-only book reviews publisher seeks to streamline editorial operations and enhance discoverability through selection and integration of best-fit tools/technologies/platforms.
The American Academy of Religion (AAR) is the publisher of Reading Religion (RR), a born-digital, freely available website publication that provides short reviews of a diverse range of scholarly books in religious studies. The RR site was launched by a motivated editor, with little operational oversight from AAR, and on a homegrown platform. The site quickly took off, and as RR grew it became increasing difficult to maintain. Inefficient workflows and siloed technologies overtaxed staff and limited AAR’s ability to plan strategically for the future. AAR wished to reassess its technology options and improve the operational efficiency and discoverability of RR.
What We Did
C&E was retained to evaluate RR’s current backend tools and website platform within the context of the scholarly publishing ecosystem. Assessment activities included parsing workflows and identifying system integration points; understanding strategic plans for RR and how they relate to other AAR initiatives; and interviewing RR editors, book reviewers, and book publishers about editorial processes, content presentation, and website visibility. C&E provided a comprehensive findings and recommendations report and facilitated a workshop with RR staff and AAR leadership to determine next steps.
Through this workflow and technology/platform assessment, C&E helped AAR determine which tools and technologies to keep and how to develop them for more streamlined workflows and tighter system integrations. AAR was also able to determine which “pain points” could not be eliminated through technology changes, and to what degree RR would/would not benefit from implementing the scholarly publishing industry standards and practices used by traditional book and journal publishers. In addition, AAR was able to use this new knowledge in service of a subsequent platform RFP to identify a new website provider for RR.