In December, David Crotty, Editorial Director, Journals Policy for Oxford University Press, published a piece in Scholarly Kitchen lamenting the shutdown of Aperta, the workflow solution created by Public Library of Science (PLOS), giving voice to the disappointment of the research community which has had “high hopes for much-needed improvements in the manuscript submission process.”
More than a decade ago, when journals and their submission process became digitized, researchers rejoiced at the speed and ease at which their work could be published and how that would change the future of scholarly publishing. What they had not anticipated was how unnecessarily complicated the submission process could become.
As Crotty notes, PLOS ran into trouble when working with different editorial teams. Each publisher has their own format and style, and submissions from researchers come in a variety of formats, with new media being added to submissions all the time — from charts to photos to videos. Publishers have their own individual workflow systems, and scientists and researchers want to publish their findings in an effort to further discovery and don’t have time to figure out each individual, often labor-intensive, process. Plus, once you do figure out the submission process, as Phill Jones, Director of Publishing Innovation at Digital Science, notes in an article inScholarly Kitchen, “People complain about slow upload speeds and poorly designed workflows that mean they have to babysit a submission for several hours.” This is unsurprising considering every effort to create a uniform, efficient submission process across all publishers has been unsuccessful.
As Jones suggests, “My advice would be for publishers to try out their submission systems themselves (under realistic conditions, with large files and multiple authors) and see how much of a pain they are to use. If you do this, you’ll probably see some easy wins.”
With Open Access and the increased use of social media, the future might see researchers electing to publish and promote directly to the research community, bypassing journal publishers altogether. What journal publishers are realizing is that their future could be unstable if they don’t implement a change in their publishing process.
If publishers cannot agree on one uniform style guide, then what they need is a system that easily adapts to each individual publisher’s needs, while making the submission process as simple as possible for writers.
For the last two years, the team at PageMajik has been working with large and small publishers on developing a workflow solution that deals with these very issues.
The team has created a cloud-based system that allows each publisher to pre-set their specific requirements to adapt any submission automatically to the required format. The system also highlights any missing elements so writers can easily add those in and complete the submission process quickly and easily. This bespoke solution allows submissions of all types to be transformed into an easily-publishable format which will help reduce publishing gridlock on both the writer’s and publisher’s sides, and help researchers get their work out into the world more quickly. As digital publishing becomes more a part of our lives, eliminating the pain points for both researchers and publishers alike will help traditional journal publishers retain their position in the publishing landscape for the foreseeable future, improve research’s speed to market, and bolster the scholarly community’s ability to produce top-notch work.