Tim Hill - Publisher, Dove Medical Press

Tim Hill, originally from the UK, has been in the business of publishing scientific, technical and medical journals for most of the past 45 years. In 1969, Tim commenced working for John Wright and Sons at the Stonebridge Press in the UK.

Tim left John Wright and Sons to join a very progressive mathematical photocomposition publisher. From there Tim and family relocated to New Zealand in 1982 and Tim commenced working for ADIS International Ltd.

After working in many different roles at ADIS, including Vice-President for Information Technology Tim became Managing Director until leaving ADIS in 1999.

After a year as a business consultant, Tim was recruited by The Open Polytechnic of NZ to establish a journal publishing operation where he was the Chief Executive Officer. In 2005, Tim, together with former colleagues from ADIS International established Dove Medical Press with offices in the UK and NZ.

Tim is the Publisher at Dove Medical Press and has a staff of 30 publishing professional based in Auckland, New Zealand. Dove Medical Press publishes some 130 journals in the areas of medicine and science.

How did you get started? What inspired you to start this business?

Most of the owners of Dove Medical Press were formerly senior executives with ADIS International/Wolters Kluwer Healthcare. Journals were not the whole of what ADIS/Wolters Kluwer Healthcare did, but a significant part of the business and one that we all thought had done very well. After we left ADIS/Wolters Kluwer Healthcare  we all did different things and kept in touch as former work colleagues and friends. In 2003 we thought that we would like to work together again and came up with the idea of Dove Medical Press and making the main focus of that business the publication of peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals.

How do you make money?

Through the Publication Processing Fees that we charge our authors if their papers are accepted for publication. We also sell   reprints of some of our papers.

How long did it take for you to become profitable?

We started making a modest profit in our third year – until then we were reliant on shareholder funds and bank borrowings.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?

Yes it was a difficult time as we started selling conventional journal subscriptions to our scientific and medical journals. This was a doubly difficult task because our journals were new with little or no track record and breaking into the library subscription collections takes time and therefore money.

I certainly had doubts that we would be able to make it work and even had to lay staff off at one stage. It was only after we had been publishing for a few years and so people were more aware of us. Our decision to move our journals away from subscriptions to Open Access was the change that saw the business begin to turn the corner.

How did you get your first customer?

By letting people know what we were about and our editorial standards. We also tapped into personal networks of contacts to get those crucial first papers.

What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?

We decided from the outset that knowing many competitor publishers are not very customer focused that we could differentiate ourselves by being especially focused on the customer and ensuring that our authors had a great experience in dealing with us. After people do business with other people, not companies.

We receive many, many compliments from our authors who say that they have enjoyed working with Dove Press and our staff and that it is something that they want to do again.

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?

We have become increasingly aware over the previous months that “authorship for sale” or the so-called paper mills are becoming much more widespread than they ever were. This has presented us with several challenges because such papers are not always easy to identify. As a result we have had to add considerable compliance checks for all the papers that we receive.

At the end of the day this wasn’t a tough decision because there really was no alternative.

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

I think that we have a great team throughout Dove Press that is firmly focused on our brand values: Conservative behavior; Credibility; Professionalism in all we do; Authoritative; and always being Approachable.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

I think that I have two:

  1. Receiving the first submission when we started the business. That made the effort and gamble that goes with any new business show some initial result; and
  2. When we received our first Journal Impact Factor scores.

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?

I think that the future holds very good prospects for the future of Dove Medical Press. We envisage more of our journals receiving Journal Impact Factors and the continuing loyalty of our authors to keep returning to one of our journals to publish their work in.

I am most excited about: 1) Moving more and more into video to add another dimension to our publication of peer-reviewed scientific and medical articles. Our authors have been involved with submitting video abstracts of their papers for a while now. The video abstracts have been very well received by our readers; and 2) We want to add a new dimension and include new video content that provides a richer scientific environment in which our authors can access opinions and information on the increasingly diverse computer platforms in use.

What makes Dove Press different to the other publishers?

We are very responsive and work to establish good collegial relationships with our authors, editors, peer reviewers, and readers. While we have a manuscript management computer system as our competitor publishers do.

Ours is a bespoke system that fits perfectly to our business and is not one that we have had to shoe horn our business into. Like any business ours is dynamic and changes frequently. With our own bespoke system we can change very rapidly in order to keep up with changes.

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