Article from Media+Environment published by University of California Press
Article from Media+Environment published by University of California Press

Producing beautiful academic journal articles can take a lot of time and energy.

Many journals still adhere to print-centric practices of yore, manually creating PDF articles in software like Indesign and then converting those PDFs into XML and/or HTML via subsequent in-house or external processes if they have the time/budget. In which case, they have to factor version control for those different file types into proof review.

Other journals are branching out and trying new digitally driven single-source production approaches wherein one code-based file is used to create articles in PDF, HTML, and XML. The single-source production movement is a leap forward — journals no longer have to format PDFs by hand, go through multiple rounds of file conversions, or worry about versioning control.

But, up to this point, single-source production options have required editors to format articles within XML templates or to adopt special XML editing tools. Both approaches come with learning curves, often necessitate having XML-versed editors, and still lead to extra formatting steps. Still not ideal.

So what’s the way forward? At Scholastica, we’re taking a different approach to single-source production with our digital-first production service that does all the heavy lifting for journals — no XML templates or tools required.

This blog post highlights how our digital-first production service helps journals save time and costs by cutting manuscript formatting steps and combining automation with human quality assurance.

No manuscript formatting guidelines required for authors or editors

All journals want their articles to be consistently formatted, from font type to overall layout. Having a house formatting style can help establish a journal’s identity and result in professional-quality articles. But doing so can also create extra steps in a journal’s workflow that delay production. Using PDF templates or WYSIWYG XML text editing systems might result in more consistent article formatting – but it can also mean more work.

That’s where Scholastica can help. Our digital-first production service uses automation to create articles from original manuscript files without any preformatting required by editors or authors. All you have to do is give us your accepted manuscripts and accompanying files in their original format (e.g., Docx file), and we’ll send you a typeset proof within seven days.

Since we don’t require authors or editors to adhere to stringent formatting guidelines, we’re able to produce beautiful PDFs and consistent HTML and XML article files without any labor-intensive steps for journals. Our production service can fit right into your existing workflows – whatever they look like.

To help make your article production process as efficient as possible, we do provide some loose recommendations for author guidelines. We send all new production service customers an annotated sample article Docx file with a simple submission checklist they can share with authors. These include submission recommendations that can make the turnaround time for article production even faster — though none are required to use our production service.

Along the way, we also provide hands-on customer support throughout every stage of the production process. We work with editors to help them fit our single-source production service into their existing workflows. Our goal is to make journal production as easy and fast as possible for journals.

Integrating with other Scholastica solutions makes metadata production easier than ever

At Scholastica, every article we produce includes machine-readable XML metadata in the JATS standard, ready to submit to archives and indexes. And when journals use our open access publishing platform for hosting, we automatically generate HTML metadata for each article page, making it easier for search engines to crawl them.

You can learn more about why and how Scholastica automatically generates rich metadata for all articles and the benefits here.

When journals use our peer review system and production service together, they can also automatically add article-level metadata to typesetting requests, so editors don’t have to reinput it. Metadata fields can be imported straight from peer-reviewed manuscripts to typesetting requests by default, like:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Keywords
  • Author information
  • Article lede
  • Header image

These are just some of the many ways our modular services can work together to make journal production faster and more efficient.

Combining the efficiency of automation with the human touch

You might be wondering: how can we do all this without formatting steps for journals? We combine automation and multiple rounds of quality assurance by our US-based production team to provide the efficiency of automated processes with the attention to detail and care of human typesetters, giving you the best of both worlds.

We use automation wherever possible. This turns what are traditionally the most difficult article features to typeset into elements that we are able to generate with the click of a button.

For example, we automatically mark up tables to retain all essential elements of the originals. The tables we produce match the borders, shading and colors, text alignment and justification, indentation, and layout of the raw data provided immediately and automatically. Similarly, we automatically import both inline and block equations (no matter how complex) and reproduce them using LaTeX.

Of course, even the most advanced automatic processes can sometimes overlook important details or allow certain elements to slip through the cracks. That’s where our production team steps in. Our US-based typesetters comb over every article to ensure it matches the original manuscript as closely as possible.

Every article we produce undergoes multiple rounds of quality assurance before we send a proof to editors and authors. Then, we work with authors and editors to ensure all elements of that article match their original intent before approving them for publication, enabling authors to provide a final round of feedback before their article is published (or editors, if you prefer).

We provide correctly-formatted, consistent citations with no additional author guidelines required

Citations can be another pain point for authors and editors. Even though reference managers like Zotero or Endnote have come a long way in helping authors format their references, not everyone uses these tools. And, sometimes authors write papers in the citation style they are most familiar with rather than the journal’s preferred style.

Our combination of automation and quality assurance allows us to be flexible when it comes to citations. We support all the citation styles most commonly used in academic scholarship, including AMA, APA, Chicago, and MLA.

Because we know citations can be a headache for authors and editors, we have the ability to produce references in any of the styles we support – regardless of what style was followed in the original manuscript. For example, if an author formatted their citations according to AMA style, but your journal uses APA, our typesetting team can automatically convert all references to your journal’s house style for you using our software-based process.

Our use of automated citation import and machine learning makes this process quick and consistent. We even support multiple citation style languages for interdisciplinary journals (e.g., Hispanic Studies Review)!

Our single-source production service provides synced articles in three formats (PDF, HTML, and XML)

Since Scholastica’s production process is single-source, the different article formats we produce are always synchronized. That means any updates our typesetting team makes are reflected in all three article formats immediately and automatically. So you don’t have to worry about inconsistencies among the different versions of the articles in your journal or paying for extra rounds of edits.

And because we are digital-first, rather than XML-first, your team doesn’t need to become XML experts to use our service. When you give us an original, unformatted manuscript file, we take it from there and generate XML, HTML, and PDF versions of the article within seven days — no need for you to touch the XML at all. You can learn more about why HTML and XML are essential for academic journals in the digital age here. Our team also provides personalized support to ensure all articles look how you want them to before approving them for publication.

Read more about our digital-first production service here.

Putting it all together

At Scholastica, we want to help streamline your journal production process by creating consistent articles quickly and easily. But don’t just take our word for it! You can see what customers have to say about our production service and how it integrates with our peer review and publishing software by visiting our Testimonials page.

We’re also constantly iterating on our production process to improve it. Our development team regularly ships updates that make journal production more efficient and articles even more dynamic than they already are. And we take user feedback very seriously when considering improvements to our production service.

Stay tuned for further updates to our Production service!

Want to learn more? Click here to schedule a demo of our production service and any of our other products and see how Scholastica can improve your journal workflows.

Garrett Wright
This post was written by Garrett Wright, Technical Editorial Associate
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