March 7, 2021

A New Project From NISO to Facilitate Manuscript Exchange Across Systems

From NISO:

2018-05-09_16-56-23Voting Members of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) have approved a new project to develop a common means to easily transfer manuscripts between and among manuscript systems, such as those in use at publishers and preprint servers. Those who work in manuscript-processing areas such as production systems, preprint servers, and authoring services are invited to actively engage in community development of a NISO Recommended Practice intended to alleviate pain points encountered by researchers as well as service providers operating in the scholarly ecosystem.

Currently, in workflow processes such as manuscript rejection or alternate recommendations for article submission, there is no easy way for a manuscript to move programmatically from one publisher system to another’s. The result is frustration for authors and reviewers who complain of wasted time, duplicative efforts, and delays in enabling access to novel research. An open protocol available for adoption across the industry would ease this process substantially and better support publishing operations and communication among all stakeholders.

“Authors lose time and effort when their manuscript is rejected by a journal and they have to repeat the submission process in subsequent journals. Plus, it is estimated that 15 million hours of researcher time is consumed each year repeating reviews. Both of these challenges could be addressed if journals and publishers could transfer manuscripts between publications using different submission-tracking systems,” says John Sack, Founding Director at HighWire Press and the originator of the collaboration. “We also see the potential for this exchange protocol to be more generally applicable, potentially helping other affiliated manuscript systems as well. We are excited to be working with NISO to actualize the work we’ve done so far and that we’ll continue with additional industry participants and insights,” comments Tony Alves, Director, Product Management at Aries Systems Corporation and one of the sponsors of the work proposal. In addition to HighWire and Aries, the original collaborators on the design of MECA included eJournalPressClarivate Analytics and PLOS. The group has documented its current work product at www.manuscriptexchange.org.

A new NISO working group will continue the work in Manuscript Exchange Common Approach (MECA) which has been underway by a number of cooperating institutions, assembling a vocabulary to address common understandings and further developing aspects of packaging, tagging, identification, transfer of peer review data, and description of the transfer itself, among other issues.

NISO’s Associate Director for Programs, Nettie Lagace, adds, “NISO has been monitoring the MECA project and its progress with interest since its initial scoping. We are pleased to be able to support additional voices in the conversation and to eventually formalize the protocol as a NISO Recommended Practice. NISO is pleased to provide a neutral forum to enable collaboration across industry stakeholders to solve problems of mutual interest.” Lagace continues, “We encourage working group participation from producers and users of manuscript systems, including production vendors, publishers, preprint servers, or author service vendors. We are looking forward to hearing from interested volunteers who can dedicate their technical talents to this important effort.” Those who are interested in participating in the Manuscript Exchange Common Approach (MECA) working group should contact Lagace.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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