Monday, 7 December 2015

From submission to sharing: the life cycle of an article


From submission to sharing: the life cycle of an article

Understand the different steps of the publication process by following an article through its life cycle

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When an author decides to submit a manuscript for publication, that
manuscript begins its life cycle, going through many phases as it is
checked, refined and adjusted. Here we follow an article through its
life cycle, to understand the different steps of the publication process
and see how they contribute to ensuring an article is scientifically
rigorous and accurately presented.

Phase 1: Conception and birth

article is conceived in the author’s lab book, but it really comes to
life once the author has written the manuscript. The fledgling article
has been read by co-authors and supervisors, and it has been tweaked,
checked and double-checked ready for submission.

The author has
chosen a home for the article – the target journal – and checked the
Guide for Authors to make sure the article is in the correct format. For
many journals, Elsevier enables authors to submit in their chosen
format through the Your Paper Your Way
program, which means specific formatting isn’t needed until the article
has been accepted. For most, though, requirements like line numbering
and file format determine what the article looks like at submission.

The author will also check to see which content innovations are available for the article – enrichments that give the reader better insight into the research, such as the 3D molecular viewer, interactive maps and AudioSlides.

Phase 2: Submission

article leaves the author and begins its development in the journals
submission system – home to more than a million articles a year. The
article will soon be picked up and assessed by an editor and then the
life cycle splits: the article may go back to the author, or move on to
the editor determines that the article is unsuitable for publication,
the article will go back to the author with a rejection letter,
suggestions for major changes, or an offer to submit to an alternative
journal. The criteria depend on the journal, but scope and quality are
two key requirements. If the journal is part of Elsevier’s Article Transfer Service,
the editor may suggest that the submission be transferred to another,
more suitable journal. If the author chooses to transfer the submission,
this submission phase of the life cycle will restart.
the editor thinks the article is suitable for the journal, and is of
high enough quality, the article will move on to the next phase of its
life cycle.

Phase 3: Reviewers

editor sends the article to peer reviewers, who read it carefully, ask
questions and suggest adjustments. With 200,000 referees checking
submissions, there are around 1 million referee reports sent to Elsevier
every year.
also have a lot of peer review experiments going on at Elsevier. One of
the pilots enables reviewers to discuss a paper with each other before
they submit their reports. This helps reviewers align their feedback,
making the decision of whether to publish easier for the editor. In
another pilot, submitted abstracts are published before peer review and
acceptance on the journal homepage of participating journals, such as Atmospheric Environment, profiling the authors and their work.
The peer review phase
of the article’s life cycle is effectively the certification process,
ensuring the article is suitable for the journal it’s heading for, and
that it’s scientifically sound. In their review reports, reviewers make
one of four recommendations to the editor:
  • Accept without revisions (rare)
  • Request minor revisions (such as adjusting tables and figures, rewriting sections)
  • Request major revisions (could involve repeating experiments)
  • Reject
the article has been assessed, it goes back to the authors to adjust,
or submit to a different journal: the article either restarts the peer
review phase, or returns to the submission phase. Assuming it continues
on its cycle, the article is updated and is now in a state of
near-completion. It has been checked, tweaked and checked, and is ready
for publication.
Elsevier publishing
in numbers

  • 350,000+ articles published every year
  • 10 million researchers listed as authors
  • 4,500+ institutions represented
  • 180+ countries represented
  • 700 million+ downloads per year
  • 3 million print pages per year

Phase 4: Production and publication

article has been accepted in its target journal, and it now enters the
production phase, during which its appearance will change considerably.
The editor’s job is complete, and the journal manager takes over the
reins to guide the article through its transformation.
first step is for the article to be converted into the journal’s
specific layout. Typesetters transfer the text, tables, figures, links
and references into the new layout, and stamp it with a CrossMark – an identification that shows readers whether they are looking at the most recent version of the article.
comes the proofing process: traditionally, this has been a source of
delays in an article’s life cycle, so Elsevier has been working on
several projects to make the proofing process more efficient and easier
for authors. Proof Central
is a system that lets authors check their articles and correct mistakes
directly in the text, instead of having to mark up a PDF. Automating
the approvals process and enabling this direct interaction shortens this
phase of the life cycle dramatically.
the article is with the author for a final check, the journal manager
assigns it to an issue of the journal and it’s uploaded to ScienceDirect. In its current format, the article is an accepted manuscript
and it’s available in the articles in press section of the journal’s
ScienceDirect site, complete with DOI. If the journal has anarticle-based publishing (ABP)
process in place, the article is put directly into the next available
issue in progress. This will be its home for the rest of its life. If
the journal doesn’t yet use ABP, the article will wait in the articles
in press area – a sort of waiting room – until it’s time to compile the
article has been checked by the author and it’s free of typos, full of
interactive links and ready to enter the next phase. Our article is now
in its permanent home online, fully citable, with a DOI and page

Phase 5: Dissemination and archiving

Share LinksThe article is published, but its life cycle isn’t yet complete. In this phase, dissemination can start; sharing the Share Links
article helps increase readership and make it more visible. The article
is assigned a Share Link: a direct link that provides 50 days’ free
access. The author can share this link via email and on social media,
and encourage colleagues, peers and other contacts to read the article.

earlier version of the article – the accepted manuscript – is also
available on the author’s institutional website and on Mendeley. Through
green open access, authors can share accepted manuscripts on academic
sites for research and educational purposes.
article is also archived at this stage. Occasionally, articles need to
be corrected if a mistake slips through the proofing net during the
production phase (we’re all human, after all). Since the article is
archived and has a permanent home, any corrections that need to be made
through corrigenda and errata, for example, can be linked to the article
also vital to make sure the article is available in perpetuity:
archiving is very important for the scientific record. Archiving means
that researchers can look back at the article for information long into
the future; it’s still possible to find the original The Lancet paper describing Alzheimer’s disease from 1950.

Author biography

Floris de HonFollowing his PhD in Molecular Immunology at the Central Laboratory of the Netherlands Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service (now Sanquin), Dr. Floris de Hon did a science journalism course and worked with Excerpta Medica,
a medical communication company once owned by Elsevier. Floris
joined Elsevier in 2003. In his current role as Publishing Director,
Applied Biosciences, he is responsible for an international team
managing more than 120 peer-reviewed scientific journals, various
conferences and other information solutions. Floris is the project lead
for Atlas, an idea he developed with various colleagues during multiple high-impact content workshops.

From submission to sharing: the life cycle of an article

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