Adding Business Value with Design


A knowledge community built for academics, by academics

Emerald Publishing published their first journal article in 1665 and over the past 350 nothing much has changed. Their business model has not altered either. Experts write articles based on emerging research, these are reviews by their peers then published in a journal or book and then read by academics and students;generating more research and knowlwdge. The state of academic publishing is also changing, heading towards an open access business model.



What does the next generation of users want from an academic publisher like Emerald Group Publishing?

The challenge was to help emerald create a strategy by using design to innovate their current position in publishing and make sure emerald can survive the open access system in the future. We used user research and desk research to get a better understand then challenges and pain points for both academic readers and publishers. We then used several business strategy tools to create an future proof solution using design to add value to Emerald Publishing.

The output was a presentation to 50+ Emerald staff at their headquarters in Bradford as well as a strategy report with prototype tests.



Emerald Publishing

Project Lead Time:

3 Weeks


User Journey

Team Member:

Shirley Sarker
Phil Hesketh
Mira Bordoloi
Anna Evans
Sérgio Andrade




Neuro Strategy

Near Value Proposition for a knowledge community built for academics by academics.
A platform for academics to create their own journals defined by what they are reading and publishing

Value Proposition

What does Neuro provide?

  • An online academic community platform for article sharing and publishing
  • Share and recommend journals with others in the field globally
  • Curated articles for an in-depth user experience
  • Quality search based on user based recommendations not citations
  • Interactive agile Post Peer-Review system for an evolving open book publication
  • Increase transdisciplinary research opportunities
  • Seamless mobile to desktop hand off

Customer Segments

Who is Neuro for?

  • Students in universities reading articles to write their papers
  • Researchers that publish their research and want to be up to date in their field
  • Non academics who are interestested in relevant knowledge in their field
  • Publishers who are looking to advance in their careers
  • First time authors that are in need of a platform to expand their academic profile

Key Partners

Who will help make Neuro possible?

  • Readers who will recommend and curate content
  • Publishers of articles
  • Peers in the field to create a better post evaluation process
  • Universities who will provide access to their students


A glimpse into the prototype and user journey of Neuro the online article aggregator and academic community.

Project Process

After the interviews, we downloaded our  findings as a group and found the following patterns after analysis:

• Publishing was essential for academics to progress in their careers
• Finding quality, relevant content is a laborious and time consuming process
• Generally the systems to facilitate the search process is poorly designed and people hacked their own workarounds to achieve their goals
• The value exchange between academics and industry was important, but was almost non-existent

To deepen our understanding of academic publishing from the perspective of those who engage with it deeply, we sourced several candidates from our personal networks and Twitter. Due to availability and time restraints, we arrived at the following interviewees:

• Bio-politics PhD Candidate

• Bio-med Researcher

• Journalist of Scholastic Communication

• Design PhD Candidate

• Mathematics PhD Candidate

Once the prototype was built, we did some initial testing to see if users understood the value proposition. We discovered that we needed to add some more clarity around how the service worked and change the Sign Up form to look more like a Create An Account form, because users felt Sign Up suggested the service was an email newsletter rather than a platform. We made the revisions and tested again, which helped us validate that the proposition was clear and that the prototype was ready.