NISO/ALPSP Committee Releases Best Practices for Journal Article Versions

BALTIMORE, MD - The National Information Standards Organization (NISO), in partnership with the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), has published the Recommended Practice Journal Article Versions (JAV): Recommendations of the NISO/ALPSP JAV Technical Working Group (NISO-RP-8-2008). The publication is designed to provide a simple, practical way of describing the versions of scholarly journal articles that typically appear online before, during, and after formal journal publication. This document is freely available from the NISO website at
"Static, single copies of research papers that are essentially facsimiles of a single, unambiguously identified printed document are a thing of the past," stated Bernard Rous, Deputy Director of Publications at the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and Co-Chair of the JAV Working Group. "Changes in the way we create, produce, and store articles lead to multiple versions that are often all discovered together through web searches. Our working group addressed the consequent problem: how to identify the versions retrieved and clarify the relationships among them."

In September 2005, NISO launched the partnership with ALPSP to bring together experts from the publishing, library, library systems, and user communities to examine the problems associated with the proliferation of different article versions. Led initially by Cliff Morgan, Vice President, Planning & Development Director at John Wiley & Sons Ltd., the group focused its attention on describing the important stages in the production of scientific articles.

The JAV Working Group also created use cases to explore the lifecycle of journal articles, starting from a base case that describes a typical interaction among author, institutional repository, and publisher. Rather than addressing all possible iterations of an article from origination to publication, the group focused on key stages in recording a document's development.

"This project has made a significant advancement in the identification and description of common lifecycle stages of articles," noted Ian Russell, Chief Executive of ALPSP. "The evolution of articles--and possible attributes of each instance of an article version--is a critical component of understanding, managing, and sharing information in the rapidly changing publication landscape."

Several variables were considered as possible dimensions to identify a particular article version:

  • Time: from first draft to latest version
  • Added Value: from rough draft to polished publication
  • Manifestation/Rendition: different document formats and layouts
  • Siblings: multiple mappings between technical reports, conference papers, lectures, journal articles, review articles, etc.
  • Stakeholders: author, editor, referee, publisher, librarian, reader, funding organization

Components of the JAV Recommended Practice include a narrative that explains the project background and rationale for recommended terms and definitions, and appendices that cover "Graphical Representation of Journal Article Versions and Relationships with Formal and Grey Literature; Assumptions, Primary Challenges, and Best Practices," use cases, and comments from JAV Review Group on recommendations received on an earlier draft document.

"The breadth of participation in this process helps to ensure that the group has captured the essence of production lifecycles across a broad range of publishers," said Todd Carpenter, Managing Director of NISO. "In addition, having the partnership with ALPSP behind the report should encourage the wide adoption of this terminology and descriptive information in our community."

NISO plans to aggressively promote use of the JAV recommendations in the information dissemination community over the coming months.

A NISO Recommended Practice provides guidance on methods, materials, or practices. Such documents usually represent a leading-edge, exceptional model or a proven industry practice. Use of any or all elements of a Recommended Practice is discretionary and may be used as stated or modified by the user to meet specific needs.

About the National Information Standards Organization (NISO)
NISO fosters the development and maintenance of standards that facilitate the creation, persistent management, and effective interchange of information so that it can be trusted for use in research and learning. To fulfill this mission, NISO engages libraries, publishers, information aggregators, and other organizations that support learning, research, and scholarship through the creation, organization, management, and curation of knowledge. NISO works with intersecting communities of interest and across the entire lifecycle of an information standard. NISO is a not-for-profit association accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). More information about NISO is available on its website:

About the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP)
ALPSP is the international trade association for all types of non-profit publishers and those that work with them. It is the largest trade association for scholarly and professional publishers, with over 360 organizational members in 36 countries who collectively publish over 10,000 journals--nearly half the world's total--as well as books, databases, and other products and services.

ALPSP's mission is to play an active part in shaping the future of academic and professional communication, promoting "Scholarship-Friendly Publishing". At this time of unprecedented change in the publishing environment, we believe that non-profit publishers have a unique role to play. We therefore aim to serve, represent, and strengthen the community of non-profit publishers, and those who work with them. More information is available on the ALPSP website, at