Annual Meeting Reports

Looking Ahead: Advances in Publishing Technology from Author to Content Delivery

As scholarly publishing becomes more affected by available technology and tools, companies are becoming more experimental in providing tools and services for authors, publishers, and readers. It can be difficult to keep up with all the changes. This standing-room–only session at the 2013 CSE annual meeting in Montreal provided a peek into three new technology services.

Laura Stemmle, director of product management at Rubriq, presented a new service for authors that aims to decrease the amount of redundant peer review. Stemmle reported that millions of papers are submitted to journals every year, of which almost 40% are rejected after review. Rejected papers are often submitted to other journals.

Rubriq, owned by Research Square, promises independent standardized peer review decoupled from specific journals. Authors in biomedical fields submit a paper to be reviewed by paid reviewers who are invited by Rubriq. Authors receive a standardized scorecard that addresses the quality of research, the quality of the presentation, and novelty. They also receive summary comments and key points. The basic service costs $500. Additional services are available, such as CrossCheck reports and a list of recommended journals ($600). Starting in summer 2013, authors can pay $700 to receive these services and the ability to broadcast their papers to participating journals and extract their scorecards to send to journals in the Rubriq network. Stemmle also reported that Rubriq is providing peer-review services for at least one journal. The company hopes to expand this “outsource” service to more titles.

Mike Hepp, director of technology strategy at Dartmouth Journal Services (DJS), also spoke of new tools for authors but at the opposite end of the spectrum. DJS provides editorial and composition services to publishers and will be rolling out a new Web-based author-proofreading system that allows authors, publishers, and production editors to edit an HTML version of an article directly while maintaining the underlying structure of the XML content.

“With the flexibility of HTML and the focus on XML typesetting, why is the production workflow still based on print and the PDF? Why is it still a PDF-centric workflow?” Hepp asked. He reported that at the end of 2013, DJS will be offering ProofExpress, which moves the workflow from PDF to HTML. Sending PDF proofs to authors or editors is labor intensive and conducive to errors. ProofExpress allows authors to make changes in the HTML interface instead of annotating a PDF. ProofExpress is an online editing tool with structured sections and tracked changes that records all touch points (copyeditor, editor, and author). Authors’ papers appear in the Web form with author queries and in a widget with form fields for entering comments. In addition, structured elements— such as citations, references, and author lines—will be edited by using forms to keep the XML tags reliable.

Cory Klinkenberg, technology innovation and implementation specialist at Canadian Science Publishing, talked about the growing field of data management. He demonstrated the evolution of the Web and declared that we are now in Web 3.0, in which data are used to personalize user experiences. “Web 3.0 is the place where computers can read data on the Web—an intelligently linked set of databases,” Klinkenberg said.

Semantic tagging now links content to databases. The value is in choosing the correct databases that are relevant to the content and valuable to the user. Klinkenberg discussed the importance of giving users such options as pop-ups on tagged terms, which lets them choose the databases that they want to explore next.

Klinkenberg also argued that publishers and society database managers should consider including links to databases or content to serve the general public. The user-friendly links to, for example, images, news articles, or such general-information sites as the Encyclopedia of Life will add context for users of content who are not scientists or experts in the field. None of this is easy, Klinkenberg said. Disciplines are different, databases are not standard, and there is a lot of duplication and overlap in available databases.

“Publishing technology” is definitely the new buzzword in scholarly publishing. Innovations that promise to make publishing scholarly content easier, faster, and better are emerging rapidly. The panelists in this session showed three excellent examples of how technology can enhance or simplify the experience for authors, publishers, and end users.