Assessing Publishing Partnerships to Support New Society Strategy

Materials Research Society

Publishing Services Agreements

Aligning a new society-level strategic direction and a quickly changing publishing landscape helped MRS pick the best-fit publishing partner.


The Materials Research Society (MRS) was in the second term of a publishing services agreement with a major university press when it brought in C&E for a strategic assessment designed to help it put its publishing program on best possible footing in advance of contract renewal decisions. The MRS publications program includes five journals, including the long-running and highly regarded MRS Bulletin and Journal of Materials Research. The program also includes an Online Proceedings Library and a small but ambitious books program. The publications program is aligned in part with the MRS Spring and Fall Meetings, which are well-respected and well-attended events for the international materials research community.

Our engagement resulted in identification of a set of goals related to journal quality that allowed MRS to make focused investments that created a positive trajectory for the program. At the same time, the MRS Board was introducing a number of society-wide strategic initiatives and determined it was the right time to reassess its current publishing partnership in light of these strategic goals and of changes happening in the publishing industry, especially new editorial models (such as editorial cascades) and new open access business models (including transformative agreements).

What We Did

C&E managed a request for proposal process for publishing services — helping MRS manage the decision-making process, evaluate the range of potential publisher partners, select the best-fit partner, and negotiate favorable terms. The process included direct involvement by a highly engaged, formal RFP Task force of MRS leadership (high-level staff and volunteers), whose directive was to assess publishing services partners within the context of the MRS Board’s strategic priorities.

Taking into account the overarching directions the society wished to pursue, and leveraging the insights and perspectives of the MRS RFP Task Force members, we designed an RFP strategy that allowed the society to evaluate which publisher best aligned with the MRS publications program and also offered the most potential for alignment in other areas such as meetings and events.


After a highly competitive RFP process, MRS selected a new publishing partner in Springer Nature that could provide stability in a changing climate, brand alignment that benefits both society and publisher, a reinvigorated books program strategy, and new opportunities both within the publishing program and adjacent to it.

Read the press release announcing the agreement between MRS and Springer Nature.

Clarke & Esposito’s unparalleled industry expertise, strategic mindset, and professionalism were critical to the success of our engagement. They quickly established trust and rapport with MRS’s RFP Task Force (a team comprising society and staff leadership) and provided essential guidance, education, and insight at every step. We are delighted with the outcome and look forward to working with C&E on future projects!

Eileen Kiley

Director of Communications