Voting 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 eJournalPress, Clarivate 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 at nlagace (at) niso (dot) org.
NISO, based in Baltimore, Maryland, 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 information standards. NISO is a not-for-profit association accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). For more information, visit the NISO website.