Return to Elsevier.com

Author Archive

Experience the ‘Article of the future’

lsevier’s “Article of the Future” project is part of an ongoing collaboration with the scientific community to redefine how a scientific article is presented online. The project has now introduced its first two prototypes. They present articles in a non-linear structure, with multimedia features and enhanced graphical navigation

Read more >


Elsevier introduces prototypes designed to make articles more useful to its customers

Elsevier’s “Article of the Future” project is part of an ongoing collaboration with the scientific community to redefine how a scientific article is presented online. The project has now introduced its first two prototypes. They present articles in a non-linear structure, with multimedia features and enhanced graphical navigation. By clicking on tabs, you can navigate easily between article components, viewing the introduction, results, figures, references, comments and other sections in any order. You can find graphics and multimedia in a single section as well as within the text, accessing more information by scrolling over an image.

The prototypes were developed by the editorial, production and IT teams at Cell Press in collaboration with Elsevier’s User Centered Design group, using content from two previously published Cell articles. They take full advantage of online capabilities, allowing readers individualized entry points and routes through content, while exploiting the latest advances in visualization techniques.

Emilie Marcus, Editor-in-Chief of Cell Press, said: “The genesis of the ‘Article of the Future’ project came from a challenge to redesign from scratch how to most effectively structure and present the content of a traditional scientific article in an online environment. The rapid pace of technological advancements means this will undoubtedly be an evolving design, but we’re happy to be able to address some key reader and author pain points, such as the integration of supplemental data with these initial prototypes.”

We're confident these tools will enhance the presentation of scientific results and improve the interpretation and speed of result analysis

“Together with the Elsevier Grand Challenge, the ‘Article of the Future’ project forms part of Elsevier’s commitment to collaborating with our scientific community on content innovation,” said IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg, VP of Content Innovation for S&T Journal Publishing. “Sharing these prototypes and inviting feedback is the next step. We’re confident these tools will enhance the presentation of scientific results and improve the interpretation and speed of results analysis.
“These initiatives are central to driving innovation in scientific publishing,” he added. “They represent our investment in the future of research, enabling scientists all over the world to access and interpret results more efficiently and create better science.”

What's next?

The prototypes can be viewed at beta.cell.com, where Elsevier and Cell Press are inviting feedback from the scientific community on the concepts and implementations.

Key features

  • A hierarchical presentation of text and figures so readers can elect to drill down through the layers based on their current task in the scientific workflow and their level of expertise and interest. This organizational structure is a significant departure from the linear-based organization of a traditional print-based article in incorporating the core text and supplemental material within a single unified structure.
  • Bulleted article highlights and a graphical abstract. This allows readers to quickly gain an understanding of the paper’s main “take away” message and serves as a navigation mechanism to directly access specific sub-sections of the results and figures. The graphical abstract is intended to encourage browsing, promote interdisciplinary scholarship and help readers identify more quickly which papers are most relevant to their research interests.

To cite this article, please use Ylann Schemm, “Experience the ‘Article of the Future’”, Elsevier Editors’ Update 28, November 2009. (Reprinted with permission from Publishing Connect, Issue 658, 29 July 2009)

Useful Links

‘Article of the Future’ interactive prototypes

IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg explains the ‘Article of the Future’ initiative. Watch the video

EU27_01_AndrewKirby

Finding and retaining reviewers

On several occasions in the past year, I have spoken with journal editors about the process of peer review. For some, it is the cornerstone of their work, a pleasurable opportunity to interact within their professional network. But for others, it is a chore, and a dispiriting chore at that. When they speak of being ignored or turned down by reviewers, you hear distress and even puzzlement in their voices: ‘I’m doing my part, the author is doing hers, so why won’t you play yours?’

Read more >


On several occasions in the past year, I have spoken with journal editors about the process of peer review. For some, it is the cornerstone of their work, a pleasurable opportunity to interact within their professional network. But for others, it is a chore, and a dispiriting chore at that. When they speak of being ignored or turned down by reviewers, you hear distress and even puzzlement in their voices: ‘I’m doing my part, the author is doing hers, so why won’t you play yours?’

To be fair, there are probably as many reasons to turn down a review invitation, as there are to accept one. Everyone is busy, so we can take that as given. But there are some explanations that are harder to understand. I’ve noticed, to take one example, that some academics have an astonishingly small comfort zone and refuse entreaties to pass judgment on anything a millimeter outside their realm of expertise. That automatically involves turning down requests from another discipline, another country, and even a journal with which they are not familiar. In short, they like to feel that they are working on a warm, familiar Kuhnian puzzle, and they become unhappy, even disoriented, if asked to venture outside their own zone of reference.[1] For this type of reviewer, the biggest kick is trying to guess who wrote the manuscript in question, and by definition that demands that they stay in a small pasture. [In my experience, academics in this group loved graduate school, and have yet to relinquish their vinyl record collection.]

Other academics are more flexible but are more concerned for appearances. They have very refined radar for the academic caste system, know the impact factor of every journal in their field and absolutely won’t slide too far down the Web of Science rankings; some will review the paper as requested, but you sometimes get the feeling that it is hard for them to type and hold their nose at the same time.

To be fair, there are probably as many reason to turn down a review invitation, as there are to accept one.

To stay with line of thought for a moment—we might ask ourselves just what are the incentives to do a conscientious review? Done well, it can be a major time sink. Editors do occasionally sight the legendary Loch Ness monster of reviews—the three-to-four page response in which the referee goes back to the original data [perhaps in other fields, she returns to the archive, or builds a new laboratory], and essentially tests the paper in a Popperian manner until it drops to bits; alternatively, like a medieval torture test, if the paper floats, the author is innocent and it can be published.[2] With a review like this in hand, you feel as an editor that you can ask the author to fix the split infinitives, respect the journal’s word limit and generally re-write it to your specifications.

But consider the human cost. The anonymous reader spends a vast amount of time doing the work that the author should have done himself [or his advisor should have done with him]. She gets no tangible reward—and increasingly, there isn’t even the satisfaction of seeing better science in print. Many authors [especially those with publication pressures upon them] simply withdraw the manuscript, and cycle down the list of journals in the field until they reach one that will publish without all those pesky changes. Graduate students test out their abilities at referees’ expense but are often reluctant to work on revisions. And even with incontrovertible evidence that their work is flawed, plenty of authors are willing to argue out what they will and won’t do to pander to editors [as they see it]. So, in some ways, it is almost rational to provide the other kind of legendary assessment, the one that simply states ‘reject—this is unacceptable’. Of course, that’s succinct, but not actually very helpful, unless you plan simply to inform the author that ‘we must reject the paper as Professor Bauhaus insists upon it’.

I call this situation, in which authors manipulate the system at the expense of reviewers and editors, “free-ridership”, and it’s increasingly rational precisely because the academic system encourages it. In the UK, the departmental review process demands that personnel produce papers but offers no reward whatsoever for the chores that make it possible—such as reviewing manuscripts of books and papers. Much the same is true in the US, where an endless cycle of annual, three-, six- and twelve-year reviews, plus post-tenure assessments, insists upon production but does little to recognize the infrastructure that makes it all happen. Hence, all those unhappy editors.

We might ask ourselves: just what are the incentives todo conscientious review? Done well, it can be a major time sink.

So, how does one remain an editor and keep one’s sanity? From my perspective, there are a number of strategies that are helpful, even liberating. Here are some suggestions that can make one’s life easier without doing any damage to the integrity of the peer review process. Not all are relevant to every journal, but most have general applicability, in my experience.

  • First, don’t review every paper. If you have any doubts about a manuscript’s ability to compete for scarce journal space, then save a great deal of time—and precious reviewer labor—and return the paper as ‘unsuitable for review’. In my experience—including that as an author—most of us would rather receive a rejection in a week rather than in three to six months. And if you are wrong, then the paper will surface elsewhere, with no damage done.
  • Don’t expect to get three to five readers for every manuscript. Quality is more important than quantity, and if reviewers are drained less, then they are more likely to provide quality reviews in turn. And if you finish up with two reviews that disagree, use the Editorial Board to adjudicate.
  • Don’t return to the same referees [or Board members] every time—use them sparingly, and ask yourself why you like Reviewer B: is it the quality of her insights, or just that she always replies within three weeks? Don’t sacrifice objectivity for productivity.
  • See reviewers as part of the community served by the journal. If your journal supports a blog, make sure that you acknowledge their contribution. In some fields, it is customary to list all the reviewers used in the previous year. Invite the conscientious ones on to your Board—most institutions like to see their names and their affiliates in print.
  • Work to build up a community of scholars who have an investment in the quality of the journal. It is certainly appropriate to use past authors, who should have positive feelings for the journal, and who have a vested interest in ensuring that the journal in which they publish has high standards.
  • Be creative about finding new recruits and do not be apprehensive about their quality; some may not do a good job, but then you don’t have to keep using them. Go outside the comfort zone; if you are finding it hard to get responses from those on the faculty, then use advanced graduate students—after all, they should be knowledgeable in the field and should have more disposable time to devote to reviewing. And they should be keen to be seen to do a conscientious job as jobs get harder to find.
  • Alternatively, look further afield; in many emerging economies, reviewing for foreign journals is often viewed as prestigious and is even rewarded; their use of the English language may be idiosyncratic but be realistic—it’s probably much better than your Turkish or Spanish.
  • And finally stay with your database; grey is not the same as dead, and emeritus faculties are often pleased to be asked for their still-relevant opinions.

i call this situation, in which authors manipulate the system at the expense of reviewers and editors, 'free-ridership'.

Most of you reading this will recognize these as tactical responses to the ever-increasing demand for journal space as the market place becomes truly global. My editorial workload has probably trebled in the past five years, and so these have been necessary patches and fixes. This still leaves bigger strategic issues untouched. There need to be structural rewards for all the aspects of publication—notably review—and not simply the production of material. Graduate students—those not driven from the academy by a shortage of jobs—must learn that being in a community involves obligations and not simply rewards. And of course we are all trying to deal with the opportunities, and costs, of new media and an avalanche of new technologies. These are, of course, bigger issues than we can deal with here, but we can make small changes to our own practice, with some helpful results.

Andrew Kirby has been a journal editor in one guise or another for nearly thirty years. He has sat on nine editorial boards and recently reviewed a manuscript for his 33rd journal. He welcomes comments.

To cite this article, please use: Andrew Kirby, “Editors’ View: Finding & retaining reviewers”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 27, August 2009

[1]. Referring to Thomas Kuhn’s ideas of normal science, in which an academic community is committed to a specific set of research puzzles.
[2]. Karl Popper told us that we should attempt to rebut an argument rather than confirm it.

EU27_02_Ewezenbeek-1

Targeting relevant reviewers

Among their many responsibilities, editors say that finding & retaining qualified reviewers is one of the most challenging. We spoke to Egbert van Wezenbeek, Director Publication Process Development, about how Elsevier is helping, and what improvements are expected in the future.

Read more >


Among their many responsibilities, editors say that finding & retaining qualified reviewers is one of the most challenging. We spoke to Egbert van Wezenbeek, Director Publication Process Development, about how Elsevier is helping, and what improvements are expected in the future.

“Editors are searching, not just for available reviewers, but more importantly for those with the right expertise who are qualified to review the particular papers at hand,” van Wezenbeek explains. “That means scientists in that particular field of study, with knowledge and expertise in the subject matter. That search can be long and difficult.”

To lighten the load, van Wezenbeek and his team are exploring ways to simplify and streamline the reviewer search process. They are exploring ways to create a search tool specifically designed for identifying qualified reviewers matching a particular paper and, from there, being able to start up invitation to review.

Focusing on efficiency

“We’re trying to reduce the number of steps to arrive at accurate reviewer search results,” van Wezenbeek continues. “We need the wealth of information that a system like Scopus provides, and combine this with the ease of use and efficiency of EES.”

One possibility is to add a specially designed search tool to EES itself (see related article, here). By extending the scope of EES to include reviewer finding and selection, Editors will be able to increase their lists of qualified reviewers, and the reviewers themselves can benefit from a more streamlined process as well.

“A reviewer finding tool also opens the door to discussions on additional functionality,” van Wezenbeek says. “For example, if we can track the number of papers that each scientist is currently reviewing, we can avoid multiple requests to one reviewer, while others have very few. Authors benefit from this: a higher acceptance to review rate will expedite the peer review process. Finally, the possibility to track a scientist’s reviewing history could also prove to be helpful.”

We're trying to reduce the number of steps to arrive at accurate reviewer search results.

Van Wezenbeek says that although the project is in the beginning phases, it is considered a high priority in the department – as it is for journal editors.

The longer term

A second challenge comes once the desired reviewers are found. How do we keep them reviewing? What tools are in place to help editors ensure their reviewers will want to review again?

“There are things editors can do, both before and after the review process, to help maintain reviewer satisfaction,” van Wezenbeek continues. “Through technical screening and an initial editorial review, many journals are able to greatly reduce the number of papers to enter the peer review process that do not meet up to the basic scientific, style or subject matter standards of the journal.”

In some cases, language polishing is a third level of control that can help ensure that reviewers are receiving the best possible work. “That way, the reviewers can simply focus on the science of the paper.”

Elsevier also offers ways to recognize, and even reward, reviewers. This begins with free, 30-day access to Scopus and Science Direct to all reviewers. But it continues with annual lists of contributing reviewers in an increasing number of journals and other forms of recognition, such as systems to reward reviewers when they review a certain number of papers.

“The key is to provide our editors with as many tools and resources possible to ensure that they are attracting and keeping the best reviewers. We’re working towards improvements at every step in the process to make that happen.”

To cite this article, please use: Toni Bellanca, “Targeting relevant reviewers”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 27, August 2009

Useful Links

How to find & keep reviewers (PDF)

Reviewing the review process

Editors understand that attracting and retaining the best reviewers is based, in part, on how reviewers feel about the experience. But what do reviewers want and expect, and how do they really feel about reviewing? We ask Adrian Mulligan, Associate Director of Research & Academic Relations, and Laura Hassink, VP Strategy and Journal Services, about Elsevier’s Reviewer Feedback Program.

Read more >


Editors understand that attracting and retaining the best reviewers is based, in part, on how reviewers feel about the experience. But what do reviewers want and expect, and how do they really feel about reviewing? We ask Adrian Mulligan, Associate Director of Research & Academic Relations, and Laura Hassink, VP Strategy and Journal Services, about Elsevier’s Reviewer Feedback Program.

As an editor, you may already have experience of the Reviewer Feedback Program (RFP), either because your journal is in the program or because you have participated directly as a reviewer for another journal. Certainly, as an editor, you understand the challenges involved in attracting and retaining the best reviewers. Improving the peer-review experience is one way that Elsevier can support reviewers and editors, and the RFP is how it collects feedback on how reviewers feel about the process.

The initiative is entirely voluntary. Editors elect to have their journal included, and with almost 900 already participating, enthusiasm is high. Reviewers on participating journals are sent a questionnaire after they have reviewed a manuscript for the journal, but no reviewer is asked to provide feedback more than once a year, regardless of how many reviews they perform. Again, interest is strong, with a 40% response rate.

So far, the results have been good: over 90% of reviewers would be happy to review for again for the journal and 89% are happy with the overall process, says Adrian Mulligan, Associate Director of Research & Academic Relations. “We are up three points in two key service areas over the last 12 months: communication between editors and reviewers, and support for tools and services provided by the publisher. And it is also good to see that such a high number of reviewers - 91% - agree that the articles they are sent to review are appropriate for their areas of expertise,” he adds.

Responding to feedback

The RFP tracks key parts of the review process, such as the quality of the articles they are sent, the clarity of instructions, the relevancy of the article, the reasonableness of the deadline, as well as any support tools. Feedback is measured, reported and benchmarked carefully.

Over 905 of reviewers would be happy to review for again for the journal and 89% are happy with the overall process.

The RFP has established that reviewers value feedback from editors and the opportunity to see reports from other reviewers. And it might be surprising to learn that the relevancy of manuscripts is a far more important criterion when deciding whether to review than quality.

“Quality is still important though, and we can improve in this area by making sure that fewer poor quality manuscripts are sent to reviewers,” says Mulligan. A possible solution is to increase the number of manuscripts that are rejected prior to peer review. On some journals, editors are rejecting as much as 30% of manuscripts at this stage. For journals with an above-average number of poorly written papers, Elsevier has introduced technical screening. This service prescreens papers (and returns poor-quality manuscripts to the authors) before they land on a reviewer’s desk.

Not only is quantitative data captured in the RFP, so too is the voice of the reviewer. Comments made by reviewers are particularly valuable, as Mulligan explains: “If a reviewer disagrees with a statement, he or she is invited to explain why, the insights collected are assessed, and are used to help target improvements.” They have been used to help develop the peer-review process in terms of the technology, reducing bureaucracy and speeding up the process.

Endlessly improving

The RFP also gathers data on peer-review generally. While there are issues common to all, what reviewers think is important can be specific to the field, and can vary from journal to journal. For instance, various communities have expressed different preferences for the type of peer review (open, blind or double blind).

Our aim is to improve quality and speed, but this means different things for different people.

“Our aim is to improve quality and speed, but this means quite different things for different journals,” says Laura Hassink, VP Strategy and Journal Services. “We need to listen to as many points of view as possible, so we can effectively target weak areas and tailor our responses to meet the needs of each community.”

Hassink believes that this is a mutual and ongoing exercise: “We are working closely with editors and reviewers to improve both the peer-review process and our services to reviewers.”

Editors want to attract the best reviewers and make efforts to improve the peer-review process on their journals; and for this, they have Elsevier’s full support. From collecting and analyzing feedback to offering guidance, and solutions, the RFP is providing the tools necessary to identify strengths and weaknesses in every journal’s peer-review process.

To cite this article, please use: Michelle Pirotta, “Reviewing the review process”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 27, August 2009

References:

1. Reichheld, F.F. (2003) ‘The one number you need to grow’, Harvard Business Review, HBR, December 2003.

Raising the bar: Net Promoter Score

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a forward-looking metric (1) that measures reviewer recommendation. Adrian Mulligan explains: “It is important that we ask a question that gives an indication of future health and performance of a journal, and the NPS does exactly this.”

For the last 24 months, reviewers have been asked to indicate on a scale from 0 to 10 how likely they are to recommend the journal in question to a friend or colleague.

Grouped into “detractors” (0–6), “passives” (7–8) and “promoters” (9–10), the NPS score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. “Reviewers are also asked why they gave a particular mark, and this allows us to understand why they would or would not recommend the journal, and take appropriate action.”

In 2008, Elsevier’s NPS score was 27; today it is 29. To find out your journal’s NPS, speak to your publishing contact.

EU27_04_HenkMoed

Rewarding performance

In recent years, research has been increasingly measured based on bibliometric indicators, such as the Impact Factor. Now, in the midst of global recession, those holding the purse strings are looking for strategic investments, and funding is increasingly being awarded based on similar performance indicators.

Read more >


In recent years, research has been increasingly measured based on bibliometric indicators, such as the Impact Factor. Now, in the midst of global recession, those holding the purse strings are looking for strategic investments, and funding is increasingly being awarded based on similar performance indicators.

The economic crisis is affecting academia, just as it is in most other industries. A lot of funding comes directly from governments, which are already diverting budgets to help free up the money markets. Meanwhile, publishing, an essential component of scientific development, is mainly carried out by private companies or associations, many of which are facing higher costs and lower returns for the foreseeable future. The natural reaction in any recession is to cut investment and contain costs to ride out the storm. But for science, funding is all about investing in innovation for the future.

For those organizations dispensing funds, the aim is to identify the best candidates for funding as efficiently as possible, and to do this they are utilizing many different indicators to help them find those institutes and groups that can offer the highest returns on investment based on their performance.

Indicating potential

According to Dr. Henk Moed, of the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) in the Department of Social Sciences at Leiden University, the Netherlands: “Performance-based funding is gaining ground, and indicators are becoming an essential aspect of this process.”

Once upon a time, none of this really mattered to research institutes, but times have changed. Moed has witnessed this trend growing over the past decade. “A lot of funding comes from government sources. Politicians are demanding greater value for money in all areas, and science is no exception. This means that applicants for funding will have to be able to demonstrate research impact or risk losing funding over the long term.

Politicians are demanding greater value for money in all areas, and science is no exception.

“At CWTS, we measure research performance on behalf of other organizations, such as research institutes and research councils. What we do is quite relevant during times of economic recession. The results of our research help institutes identify areas of productivity, enabling them to see where they can make budget cuts and where they should protect budgets – for instance, for highly productive groups.”

While experts like Moed often carry out performance-impact analyses based on indicators, research institute managers are increasingly using specially developed tools themselves to analyze performance within their own institute. These tools can also generate analytical breakdowns of research performance across an institute, and provide data for benchmarking exercises both within the institute and with its peers.

Moed stresses that such indicators do not aim to replace qualitative analyses made through peer assessments of impact. “These indicators have been developed to support qualitative evaluations by supplying background and historical data on past performance.”

Showing your best face

Indicators may make life easier for those assessing performance, but it is far more important to ensure that we are serving science first. Some researchers can feel pressured to meet performance targets rather than doing the very best research.

Moed confirms that is a concern for those using them as well. “Both the producers and users of indicators are aware of the importance of looking at the impact of such indicators on researcher and editor behavior. This is quite a new idea. The UK’s Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), for instance, is heavily based on indicators, and there the discussion is focused on the effects this could have on research.”

Little empirical research has been done in this area, but anecdotal evidence abounds. For instance, some editors have learned that particular types of behavior can improve their journal’s Impact Factor, and it is natural that they would act accordingly. In most cases, this can improve a journal’s relevance to the community it serves.

Ina sense, all indicators suffer this phenomenon: where there are rules, some people will learn to play them very well.

Moed says: “In a sense, all indicators suffer this phenomenon: where there are rules, some people will learn to play them very well. But it’s worth keeping in mind that even when indicators aren’t used, game playing takes place. If you know you are being evaluated and have a good idea of what you are being evaluated on, you tend to show your best side. It’s human nature. If an author knows that one criterion against which his overall performance will be evaluated will be how many papers he has in certain journals, he will naturally work towards getting himself published in them. This happens regardless of whether it is the best place to publish that research.”

These effects on editor and researcher behavior will happen as a result of performance analysis, regardless of how such analyses are conducted, and the effects will often be positive as people work towards achieving greater impact in their research efforts. So, while there may be less funding available, the outlook is that this will result in more efficient research, rather than halting the progress of scientific innovation altogether.

Criteria for all

Another concern is that standardized assessment criteria could lead to standardized research, as people aim to meet the targets set for their performance.

Moed believes that this will depend on how institutions use these indicators. “As I said before, research performance analysis only gives you the data, the trends. To really understand research performance, the qualitative aspect is essential, and of course, how this is applied depends very much on the institution. While analysis might show that a particular research group is underperforming, the institute directors might know that this group is on the verge of a major breakthrough, and might therefore decide to protect their budget.”

He also believes that each country should have a plurality of funding sources, each with their own, different assessment criteria. For instance, research councils assess proposals and are essentially looking towards the future; national research funds tend to base their awards on past performance, while other funds are allocated directly to a university to re-distribute on its own criteria.

“A good mix of funding sources and reviews based on a wide range of criteria, both quantitative and qualitative, should serve to protect all types of good research, whichever criteria it happens to do well in,” says Moed.

To cite this article, please use: Michelle Pirotta, “Rewarding performance”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 27, August 2009

 

EU27_05-TraceyBrown

Sense about Science survey asks scientists about peer review

What is the future of peer review? What does it do for science and what does the scientific community want it to do? Should it detect fraud and misconduct? Does it illuminate good ideas or shut them down? Does it help journalists report the status and quality of research? Why do some researchers do their bit and others make excuses? And why are all these questions important not just to journal editors, but to the public? A new study, to be released at the British Science Festival 2009, is about to tell us.

Read more >


What is the future of peer review? What does it do for science and what does the scientific community want it to do? Should it detect fraud and misconduct? Does it illuminate good ideas or shut them down? Does it help journalists report the status and quality of research? Why do some researchers do their bit and others make excuses? And why are all these questions important not just to journal editors, but to the public? A new study, to be released at the British Science Festival 2009, is about to tell us.

Sometimes we find it easy to dismiss pseudoscience. We’ve all grimaced about marketing, websites and headlines proclaiming miracle cures, deadly toxins, magnetic detox remedies. We’ve shrugged them off as bogus, and turned to the real news. But at other times, it’s not so simple. We wonder how one medical claim weighs up against another and whether reports that scientists have discovered a new therapy or a new hazard are reliable. Sense About Science has made it their business – and the business of the research community – to help the public question such reports and claims. Founded in 2002, this charitable trust promotes an understanding of good science through collaborative publications, panels and public activism campaigns against the misrepresentation of everything from homeopathy to radiation, from cell phones to bird flu. A core element in the popular tool kits they have developed is an understanding of peer review.

Sense About Science and their network of early career researchers (VoYS) have succeeded in making peer review – once the dusty business of scholars – a popular topic of discussion across schools, universities, community groups, government and science festivals by relentlessly asking ‘How do you make sense of science stories?’. “One of our goals is to generate a wider public discussion about good science and help people make sense of isolated claims,” Tracey Brown said: “Peer review seemed central from the outset. The differences between scientific reports and, for example, marketing material, didn’t seem to be explained. We thought it was worth trying, but nothing prepared us for the enthusiastic interest from libraries, newspapers, scientific publishers, policy makers, patient groups, universities, and especially early career researchers — our next generation of reviewers.”

One of our goals is to generate a wider public discussion about good science and help people make sense of isolated claims.

While SAS has been working on expanding the understanding of peer review among the general public and journalists, they have recently turned their attention to peer review itself, seeking to explore how scientists (who range from highly supportive to apathetic and distrustful) understand peer review and how publishers safeguard the process. For a scientific publisher such as Elsevier, where peer review is facilitated on a daily basis - totaling one million reviews for 500,000 articles a year – it is imperative to ensure quality and a deep understanding of the issues. With the resources of Elsevier and other publishers, Sense About Science embarked on an ambitious, worldwide survey of 100,000 scientists’ preoccupations and preconceptions as both authors and reviewers of scientific papers.

The results of the 2009 peer review survey will be unveiled at the British Science Festival in September when Tracey Brown, SAS’s Managing Director, will lead debate and discussion with Dr James Randerson of The Guardian, and Dr. John McConnell, Editor, The Lancet Infectious Diseases—and of course scientists, policymakers, journalists and the public.

To cite this article, please use: Ylann Schemm, “Sense about Science survey asks scientists about peer review”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 27, August 2009

Reprinted with permission from article for the British Science Association Festival.

 

Science Fact or Science Fiction: Should peer review stop plagiarism, bias or fraud?

Date: Tuesday September 8th
Time: 10:00 - 12:00
Venue: University of Surrey

Useful Links:

• Sense About Science
• Seed magazine’s interview with Tracey Brown
• Elsevier’s role in peer review

Scopus: Reaching out to reviewers

Editors use Scopus to search for author information and to gain insight into all of a scientist’s relevant publishing activities. The unique algorithms in the system allow for targeted searching and accurate results, including citation data and co-author information. But did you know that this comprehensive tool also offers assistance with the (often difficult and time-consuming) search for reviewers? We spoke with Fabian Kersten and Ulrika Honée-Nordlof, both Solutions Marketing Managers for Scopus, to find out more about how Scopus can help.

Read more >


Editors use Scopus to search for author information and to gain insight into all of a scientist’s relevant publishing activities. The unique algorithms in the system allow for targeted searching and accurate results, including citation data and co-author information. But did you know that this comprehensive tool also offers assistance with the (often difficult and time-consuming) search for reviewers? We spoke with Fabian Kersten and Ulrika Honée-Nordlof, both Solutions Marketing Managers for Scopus, to find out more about how Scopus can help.

“The same tools that can help editors locate information about authors can aid in the search for appropriate reviewers,” Kersten explains. “The content and technology that give Scopus such a powerful advantage can carry over to more targeted reviewer searches, as well.”

Honée-Nordlof agrees. “Since Scopus is a tool designed to provide accurate, complete author information, it’s a logical step to use it for reviewer searching, since the two communities overlap significantly,” she says.

Using Author Identifier

Scopus has the capability to sort through massive amounts of information and distinguish one scientist from another – even if they have the same name – by matching subject areas, publication and citation information, and filtering it all down into relevant search results. The tool identifies author profile information including h-index, co-author information and the complete citation list for a particular author.

“Clearly, this functionality can help streamline reviewer searching by identifying everything a specific author has written, and all related data, such as conferences attended, and other relevant details,” Kersten says. “In this way, editors can find reviewers that are focused on specific subjects. Scopus can also help editors identify the authors on the leading edge of current research, and broaden their reviewer ‘pool’ by gaining information about co-authors.”

Scopus can help editors identify authors on the leading edge of current research, and broaden their reviewer 'pool' by gaining information about co-authors.

The scope of Scopus

In addition, Scopus can also be used for a keyword search, limiting to a specific subject area from start. Honée-Nordlof explains: “Doing a search within a specific subject area and refining the search, editors can narrow down and identify any and all authors who have been publishing within a specific subject for example, thereby giving editors an accurate list of the most influential publications and their authors in the field. That means editors can find the newest authors working on cutting-edge research. The technology Scopus uses also allows users to sort search results by citation counts or latest publication. This, again, increases editors’ likelihood of identifying the most appropriate – and timely – reviewers.”

Scopus includes titles from over 5000 publishers and can be linked with other relevant content resources that an institution subscribes to, and integrates full text articles, Scirus search results, web resources and patent information, so editors can streamline their searches to a single attempt, instead of needing to search on each individual channel. “Our editors can save time by conducting simple searches for reviewers,” Kersten explains.

Finding the connections

Another Scopus feature that can help identify appropriate reviewers is the Affiliation Identifier. “With the Affiliation Identifier, administrators within an institution can view the research output of their institution and search the performance of specific authors, thereby identifying the most prolific authors within an institution,” Kersten explains.

In this way, the Affiliation Identifier can help bring ‘unknown’ researchers to the forefront, thereby increasing the reviewer pool even further. “For example, if you know a certain university or institution is strong in a particular subject area, you can make connections between that subject area, and the scientists and researchers who are working in it. An editor’s own knowledge of leading institutions will help them select the most appropriate reviewer candidates,” Honée-Nordlof explains.

An editor's own knowledge of leading instructions will help them select the most appropriate reviewer candidates.

Analyzing for resources

Editors can even use Journal Analyzer to identify other reviewing resources. By obtaining information about journal performance, and how other journals rank as compared to the editors’ own journal. Journals ranked higher than the editors’ own may offer valuable insights. “Editors who take the time to track and compare their journal to their competitors may find additional support hidden in the results. It’s certainly worth the effort to see what’s possible,” says Kersten.

By analyzing data such as the trend line in the Journal analyzer and citations, editors have another resource for identifying the trends and developments in their field, and locating the hottest stars in that subject – while also increasing the scope for viable reviewers.

Looking forward with focus

In the future, developments will further focus on getting the most out of available content with even better tools. By improving author profiles and alerting services, editors will have further support in locating appropriate reviewers. Scopus’ highest priority to ensure that all author profiles and affiliations are kept up to date and provide the maximum level of accuracy, Kersten says. “This will ensure that search results will always contain the most complete, quality information,” he explains

Alert functionality and search parameters already help deliver all relevant and accurate information straight to the editors’ mailboxes. “Editors can already set up specific alerts, which will deliver them any publishing information that matches search criteria based on author names, subject specific keyword or citations counts,” Honée-Nordlof says. “In the future, we’ll further refine these tools and expand on these services.”

To cite this article, please use: Toni Bellanca, “Scopus: Reaching out to reviewers”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 27, August 2009

Useful Links

Scopus Author Identifier

Better solutions through PAMs

Sometimes, the best way to serve Elsevier’s external customers – such as editors – is to improve the internal workings of the organization. Elsevier’s PAM (Product Ambassador) program is just such an initiative.

“PAM is designed to improve two-way communication within Elsevier, increase product awareness and provide better solutions to our mutual customers,” explains Dash Brookins, Partner Relations Manager and PAM project lead.

An initiative of Elsevier’s Partner Relations Team, PAM aims to develop a group of ‘product champions’ – or ambassadors – in each Elsevier product and service. The team offers a variety of channels for dialogue, in order to foster cross-discipline collaboration and communication. “That includes bi-monthly conference calls, quarterly webinars, a bi-monthly podcast for updates, and a yearly meeting. The PAMs also include Sales and Marketing stakeholders, in addition to journal editors, so that all sides of each product and service can be examined,” Brookins says.

But how can this internal team help editors – specifically in their search for qualified reviewers? Brookins explains: “PAM members on the publishing end are very close to the editors of the various journals, and are in tune with what is going on in the industry. They are beneficial in finding relevant reviewers because of their expertise and their ability to keep their “ear to the ground”.

In the search for qualified, specialized reviewers, PAMs can offer unique support. Their intimate product knowledge and close contact with journal editors puts them in touch with specialists and experts in a variety of fields. "There are, perhaps, opportunities or resources known to PAMs that editors will find quite helpful," Brookins says.

To find out more about the PAM program, please contact Dash Brookins (or Elizabeth Zwaaf, PAM Administrator).

EU27_06_ScottShookhoff

Did you know? EES can help in review process

Peer review is a core part of the scientific publishing process. But what if there is a shortage of qualified reviewers? Scott Shookhoff discusses some (perhaps unknown) ways that EES can help.

Read more >


Peer review is a core part of the scientific publishing process. But what if there is a shortage of qualified reviewers? Scott Shookhoff discusses some (perhaps unknown) ways that EES can help.

The Elsevier Editorial Service (EES) was developed specifically to streamline the editorial process. It has helped reduce the time from submission to decision by an average of nine weeks. Within this process, overall review times have also been reduced, sometimes by more than 50 percent. But this increased efficiency is dependent on having sufficient reviewers available, a problem many editors face. Editors’ Update talks to Scott Shookhoff, EES NAHS & Societies Liaison, about ways of locating, contacting and retaining good reviewers.

When EES was first launched, some editors expressed concern that reviewers would find the system impersonal and too systematized. On the contrary, it appears that it has been well adopted by both editors and reviewers. In addition, a high degree of personalization is possible within EES, in addition to allowing editors to work most effectively. Shookhoff explains: “Each journal maintains its own database of users, and user details - name, phone number, fax, email address, as well as areas of expertise - are uploaded and saved in EES. Editors can then access and search this information to locate qualified reviewers. Once an appropriate scientist has been identified, editors can send an email through the system to invite them to become a reviewer for the journal.”

EES has helped reduce the time from submission to decide by an average of nine weeks.

Each journal has access to a standard invitation letter, but there is also the option to set up and customize different types of invitation letters, depending on the situation. EES then tracks any invitations that are sent out. “This is one of the functionalities we’ve found to be particularly popular, because it makes it easy to see which invitations are outstanding. Based on this information, the editor can then decide to send out one or a series of reminders. At present, the reminder letters are not automated, but we see that becoming an option in the future.”

Reviewer performance reports

Once an invitation has been accepted, it is equally as useful to be able to track reviewers’ performance. “Another really helpful functionality, which is not always taken advantage of, is the reviewer performance reports available to managing editors or other senior editorial staff. These reports show, over a specific period of time, which reviewers are performing well, who is agreeing or declining frequently, who is always late - and could be helped to improve - etc.”

In addition to helping editors locate and communicate with reviewers, EES also aims to facilitate reviewer retention. Most editors will already be aware that Scopus, Elsevier’s abstract and citation database, is fully integrated into EES. “Editors have unlimited access to Scopus, which can be an additional way of finding well-cited authors who may agree to become reviewers for their journal. For reviewers, who for the last two years have received 30 days free access for every paper they agree to review, Scopus makes it much easier for them to verify references. This is particularly true since we started offering reference linking through Scopus, which includes direct access to full-text articles in Science Direct. But reviewers can also use these databases for their own research purposes.”

Reviewer performance reports show...which reviewers are performing well...and which could be helped to improve.

Getting the most out of EES

To help editors, authors and reviewers get the most out of EES; Elsevier has developed a series of interactive tutorials. Last year, the Training Desk was launched to provide ‘bite-sized’ training sessions. Typically lasting 30 minutes, the sessions are done through web conferencing, so participants can see the trainer’s demonstrations. “However, if an editor can’t attend a session, it is recorded and can be viewed at another time on Windows Media Player. Like EES itself, the online nature of these trainings means users can access the information when it is convenient for them, and select the trainings that will help them get the most done in the shortest amount of time.”

To cite this article, please use: Cecily Layzell, “Did you know? EES can help review process”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 27, August 2009

Finding reviewers

Inviting reviewers

Sending reminders to reviewers

Receiving attachments from reviewers

What You Said – Some feedback from our Editors’ Update readership survey

“I would like to share ideas about how to find proper and decent reviewers for the journal with other editors since it is quite difficult to find proper and helpful reviewers nowadays.”

Read more >


“I would like to share ideas about how to find proper and decent reviewers for the journal with other editors since it is quite difficult to find proper and helpful reviewers nowadays.”

- Hopefully, this special peer-review focused issue helps address this. If you have suggestions for future issues don’t hesitate to contact us.

“The colours used in the on-line version don't print very well on a black and white printer - please produce a black and white printer friendly version for printing.”

- You will find the link to this new feature direct from your email.

“The webpage is difficult to navigate and is not user friendly”

- We have initiated a project to organize our archive and make sure Editors’ Update is easier to access from the Editors’ Home page: www.elsevier.com/editors. We anticipate this will be completed in July.

“Feedback about other editors’ experiences” and “Feedback from successful policies on other journals”

- We have begun a new section “Editors’ View”, to allow you to write specifically about a particular issue or policy on your journal. This can include great successes or significant challenges you face. If you would like to be involved or to submit to the new section, let us know

“'I think it's great as it is. The input from senior Elsevier staff (and the pictures, so you can put a face with a name) is important, and I appreciate that their comments are often specific and not just generic sound bites.”

In addition, you suggested a number of specific topics you’d like to see covered. We have added these to the list of items that will be addressed in future issues. These include: more information about EES (upgrades), coping with poor quality papers, rewarding authors and editorial board members, ranking journals within disciplines and handling challenging interactions with authors.

EU26_01_PaulEvans

Scientific investment

The recent economic downturn has caused disruption for many industries. Global recessions and the credit crisis are slowing progress and causing drastic budget cuts. But despite the frightening financial situation, there is one area for investment that experts are saying remains vital to financial recovery: investments in innovation. We spoke to Paul Evans, Senior Vice President of Publishing and Research Relations at Elsevier, about the role of scientific publishing in our investment in the future.

Read more >


The recent economic downturn has caused disruption for many industries. Global recessions and the credit crisis are slowing progress and causing drastic budget cuts. But despite the frightening financial situation, there is one area for investment that experts are saying remains vital to financial recovery: investments in innovation. We spoke to Paul Evans, Senior Vice President of Publishing and Research Relations at Elsevier, about the role of scientific publishing in our investment in the future.

“Everywhere we look, people are finding ways to cut costs,” Evans says. “From family household expenses to multi-million dollar corporate budgets, the credit crisis affects us all, and the most natural reaction is to cut spending.” But Evans says this tendency to tighten our belts and weather the storm should not be allowed to affect innovative scientific developments and healthcare breakthroughs.

“Without investments in science and healthcare innovation, we won’t find long-term solutions to our biggest problems whether in finance, healthcare or the environment,” Evans explains. “Everywhere, companies are looking for faster, cheaper, more efficient technological solutions and faster access to better healthcare. That kind of innovation requires investment and a practical, long-term view.”

Contributing to the change

“A downturn in the business cycle is the most important time to support innovation, which will enable the economy and society to later climb back into growth. This idea was first put forward by the Austrian economist Joseph Alois Schumpeter in 1911, and has been supported by researchers in innovation studies ever since. It applies just as much to the knowledge-based industries, where publishing sits, as it does to other industries.”

Today, Virgin Group’s leader Richard Branson has invested billions into research for cheaper, more efficient alternatives to fossil fuels. Intel recently invested $7 million in their chip plants. Paul Otellini, Intel's chief executive, explained: "we're investing … to keep Intel and our nation at the forefront of innovation.”

“This philosophy also extends to the work we do as scientific publishers,” Evans explains. “We all recognize the impact of scientific publishing on the advancement of science, and the importance of continuing investment in scientific research that can improve not only the quantity of life, but the quality, as well.”

The current climate has helped to break down barriers for better use of resources and faster developments for the industry.

Publish or perish

That’s why it’s not only through continued funding for research and continued support for publishing that make a difference. It’s also through investing in innovative ways to make publishing itself more efficient. Evans explains: “Disseminating the latest research to the widest possible audience is a major political concern, but to best help research outputs and productivity overall, we need to find innovative ways to improve and streamline processes and services. It’s also the best way to ensure that progress continues.”

Publishers, like Elsevier, are exploring options for improving efficiency and scope at every stage of publishing – from identifying research funding and providing better publishing metrics for evaluating scientific progress to all the myriad developments that ensure high quality speedy dissemination of the ‘minutes of science’. Support for programs that examine more efficient submission processes, streamlined peer review exchanges and eco-friendly dissemination are some of the ways they’re trying to help.

Balancing the scales

“What’s most important to keep in mind is that we are clearly not in a position to spend indiscriminately,” Evans continues. “There are limited resources and limited funds. Sensible, practical approaches to innovation are the only ones that will be sustainable over the long term. But there is also a need for optimism: we can be part of shaping a better world, and therefore need to remain steadfast in our efforts.”

Evans says that agility with limited resources is a breeding ground for creativity. It’s a question of ‘thinking inside the box’: finding new and creative solutions within the boundaries of limited funding and key needs.

“In recent years, we’ve even seen increased collaboration between researchers, publishers and librarians – three groups that in recent decades have not always worked fully in harmony. In fact, there has been some considerable friction at times,” Evans says. “The current climate has helped to break down the barriers between these groups, and they’re all working together for better use of resources and faster developments for the industry as a whole.” It is through these kinds of collaborations that solutions can be developed – and brought to the public – faster and more efficiently than ever.

As scientists and scientific publishers, our role is clear: continue to invest in efficient and widespread dissemination of information that will play a key role in a brighter future for us all. The option of a world without innovators, such as scientific publishers, would lead to stagnation of the knowledge industries. Now more than ever, the need to bring forward a new crop of ideas, services and knowledge to feed progress is clear.

To cite this article, please use: Toni Bellanca, “Scientific Investment: balancing optimism and pragmatism”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 26, May 2009

EU26_03_IanRussell

Mapping STM investments in the digital age

The introduction of electronic delivery systems and online management tools has dramatically changed the publishing process. The impact of these tools has been felt in almost all the steps of the publishing process, from easier submission and article tracking to faster publication and wider dissemination. The history of electronic delivery via the Internet only goes back about 15 years, however, which means in many respects it is still in its infancy. Ian Russell, CEO of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) explains why further investment is needed if scholarship is to get the maximum benefit from these tools.

Read more >


The introduction of electronic delivery systems and online management tools has dramatically changed the publishing process. The impact of these tools has been felt in almost all the steps of the publishing process, from easier submission and article tracking to faster publication and wider dissemination. The history of electronic delivery via the Internet only goes back about 15 years, however, which means in many respects it is still in its infancy. Ian Russell, CEO of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) explains why further investment is needed if scholarship is to get the maximum benefit from these tools.

Russell believes that a key role of publishers is helping academics get to the information they need as quickly as possible. In the digital age, content is increasingly found, delivered and consumed online. “Publishers have invested considerable time and money in developing electronic tools because they see the benefits for both themselves and the academics they serve,” he says. “However, the technology and its widespread use are relatively new and evolving, so publishers are still in a development phase. Online platforms used to contain a lot of personalization features, for example, but the rise of Google has meant that academics find their way to articles via a search rather than bookmarking publishers’ websites. As a result there is now less focus on personalization features and more focus on search engine optimization, ease of navigation and user experience.”

Ease of navigation has also been carried through to online workflow tools such as the Elsevier Editorial System (EES), which is designed to simplify and accelerate the article submission, tracking and refereeing process. “Investment in these kinds of tools has led to reduced turnaround times for manuscripts, even just from the point of view of postal delays,” says Russell. “In the past, sending a manuscript from India to the UK, for example, could take weeks; now it takes seconds. These tools also facilitate more efficient workflow management and greater convenience for reviewers.”

More papers are being published globally, with a particularly rapid growth in output from countries such as India and China – the latter’s output growing by 18 percent per annum over the last ten years, according to figures published by Scopus. The number of reviewers has not increased at the same rate, however, which is putting pressure on existing reviewers. In addition, there are still things like cultural and English-language issues that need to be overcome. “Several publishers are setting up regional offices in countries like China to help local authors prepare their papers to an acceptable standard for international journals, but the technical and language polishing services that some publishers have built into their online submission process to filter papers before they reach reviewers, are also going to help greatly.”

The role of publishers is to help academics get information they need as quickly as possible.

Interactive research

While workflow tools continue to be improved for authors, reviewers and editors, other online tools and services are being developed with researchers in mind. All research builds on earlier achievements and discoveries. This is one of the primary reasons why dissemination of and access to research is so crucial to scientific progress. In the coming years, the ability to access millions of full-text journal articles through online databases such as Science Direct – which has already succeeded in significantly cutting researcher search times – will be enhanced by the ability to access the underlying data as well.

“I anticipate changes in the way information online is visualized and the way the primary literature links to underlying data,” says Russell. “One example is allowing the reader to change the parameters of a graph and to see how the outcome is affected in real time, or to select which data sets are displayed and compared. It is already possible to assign Digital Object Identifiers to tables and charts, which can then link through to the underlying data. In the arts, literature could be linked to a piece of music, a dance performance or a 3-D image of an artifact. We are only just beginning to scratch the surface of this kind of functionality; the real benefits of these kinds of innovations are still to come.”

The Open Access question

The Web’s collaborative nature has also given rise to interesting joint projects, such as Publishing and the Ecology of European Research (PEER). Supported by publishers, repositories and researchers, PEER aims to investigate the effects of the large-scale deposit of peer-reviewed research articles in openly accessible online repositories (so-called Green Open Access) on user access, author visibility, journal viability and the broader European research environment. The project will run until 2011, during which time over 50,000 manuscripts, published in the approximately 300 participating journals, will become available for archiving.

“Funders are paying more attention to how the research they are associated with is being used,” says Russell. “At the moment, we don’t know if open access improves research efficiency and productivity but we do know that currently journal brands pay a vital role in helping academics quickly assess the likely standard of a paper they encounter. It will be interesting to see the results this project produces.”

Evolution not revolution

Scholarly publishing has changed considerably over the last ten to 15 years, and will continue to change. Russell believes those who don’t invest will get left behind. “Our industry has been an exemplar of adopting new technology – regardless of comments made to the contrary. Having said this, there are ongoing, and important, discussions on issues such as copyright, business models and access, and how best to approach these in a digital age. But I think we’ll see evolution not revolution.”

About the ALPSP

Founded in the United Kingdom in 1972, the ALPSP is the international trade association representing not-for-profit publishers. Membership is diverse, however, and includes university presses, learned societies, intergovernmental organizations and commercial publishers such as Springer and Elsevier.

In addition to its representation and advocacy work, ALPSP provides information to members through its website and regular meetings, as well as publishing a range of position papers and guidelines for good practice. A program of training courses has been set up to equip those working in the academic and professional publishing market with the skills they need to operate effectively in a challenging and changing publishing landscape. Course topics cover everything from how to be a successful journal editor to why Web 2.0 technologies matter.

To cite this article, please use: Cecily Layzell, “Mapping STM publishing investments in the digital age”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 26, May 2009

Useful links:

Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers

CrossRef

Publishing and the Ecology of European Research

EU26_04__LizHolmes

CiteAlert: collaboration through citation

In January of this year, Elsevier launched a new service that will benefit authors and editors alike. CiteAlert is a unique service that automatically generates citation notifications and sends them – free of charge – to the authors who have been cited, as long as the cited journal is one of the 16,450 that have been indexed by Scopus.

Read more >


In January of this year, Elsevier launched a new service that will benefit authors and editors alike. CiteAlert is a unique service that automatically generates citation notifications and sends them – free of charge – to the authors who have been cited, as long as the cited journal is one of the 16,450 that have been indexed by Scopus.

Authors of referenced articles receive a CiteAlert email, which includes both authors of articles in Elsevier-published journals, and authors from non-Elsevier-published journals, as long as the journal is indexed by Scopus. This is quite likely, since Scopus indexes journals from more than 4,000 publishers.

“We launched CiteAlert in response to the need for a user-friendly service to keep authors up-to-date and alerted to newly published research in their area of specialization. Extensive research and user testing indicated that this would be a very welcome and valuable research tool.” Says Liz Holmes, Global Project Manager, Elsevier Marketing Communications. During the pilot-project, 50% of authors indicated that the research in the article to which they were alerted was new to them, and relevant to their current research.

When an article is published all cited authors will receive an automated weekly alert, listing the Elsevier articles that have cited their article. Self-citations are not included in the alert.

So far, this service is able to generate citation information for all Scopus journals since 2005. The most recent citations are collected weekly, and notifications sent based on the newly published information.

50% of the cited authors indicated that the research in the citing article was new to them, and relevant to their current research

Expanding journals’ reach

In addition to the increased exposure that the service provides, CiteAlert also opens up the community of researchers in any given field, expanding out beyond the Elsevier community, into the research community. CiteAlert has the potential to help improve a journal’s reputation or standing in the community, by indicating each author and expert who has been published – or been cited – in that journal.

“Journal editors know that any opportunity to expand the community in their field is an opportunity to build the journal’s reputation and impact,” Holmes explains, “and CiteAlert can be another way to do just that.”

For Elsevier, the service is another step forward in expanding the scientific network and breaking down barriers. This kind of cross-border, cross-journal connectivity will contribute to a wider scientific community, as much by the introduction of the fresh new faces in science as by the continuous recognition of field experts.

Continuous improvement

Staying true to Elsevier’s commitment to continuous improvement, Marketing Communications is already busy discussing the next phase of improvements to the three-month-old service. “User feedback is, of course, our best indicator of desired next steps,” says Holmes, “but we’ll also look at technical and cost implications while developing this first phase of improvements.”

For now, a sample citation notification is available, and all authors should already be receiving their free notifications. There is no need to sign up or log into the service, but authors are free to opt-out if they prefer not to receive the reports.

To cite this article, please use: Toni Bellanca, “CiteAlert: collaboration through citation reporting”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 26, May 2009

Useful links

CiteAlert

EU26_05__KevinCohn

The science of serendipity

Journals, books, libraries – these were sources not only of targeted, specific research, but also of surprise discoveries: ‘eureka moments’, or instances of serendipity. With the recent boom in online information, are search engines removing serendipitous moments from the information discovery and research process? We spoke to Kevin Cohn, Director of Product Management for Atypon, about ways to ensure the serendipity of information is not lost to the Internet ether.

Read more >


Journals, books, libraries – these were sources not only of targeted, specific research, but also of surprise discoveries: ‘eureka moments’, or instances of serendipity. With the recent boom in online information, are search engines removing serendipitous moments from the information discovery and research process? We spoke to Kevin Cohn, Director of Product Management for Atypon, about ways to ensure the serendipity of information is not lost to the Internet ether.

“To stay in business, companies like Amazon need to ensure that consumers continue to ‘discover’ new books or music. They employ ’recommendations’ and ‘related items’ functionality to keep customers aware of the newest products, in the same way that they used to with displays, bookshelves and CD racks,” Cohn explains.

If online ‘shops’ do not provide consumers with the capacity to browse and search for items that are related to their areas of interest, they simply will not buy. While scholars and researchers are likely to make the effort to search for information – after all, it is part of their job – tools that help lead them to ‘related items’ can be useful to them, too. Amazon is in the business of product discovery, while publishers are in the business of information discovery. Is there any real difference between the two?

According to Cohn, the difference is negligible. “Scholarly publishing has a lot to learn from consumer publishing,” he says. “The most competitive publishers should treat scholars and researchers as ‘consumers’ if they want to retain their business – especially in the current economic climate. And that means making information discovery easier for researchers.
Serendipity is one form of information discovery in print, but it can be greatly enhanced in online media by employing better technology.”

Print vs. online

In Cohn’s opinion, the number of serendipitous moments that actually occur when people use print media is far lower than is perceived. Books and journals require the reader to flick through thousands of pages, which means there’s a low ‘hit rate’ when it comes to accidental discoveries. While there may be serendipitous moments, these are few and far between. “As a medium, print is very inefficient,” claims Cohn. “Online media can work far more efficiently because the response can differ based on the user’s actions. That means you don’t see everything out there on your computer screen – you just see the ‘cloud’ of information that your actions have generated.”

Serendipity in print is overblown

One of the problems with searching and browsing online is that it is undirected. It is impossible to uncover the rich and varied ‘random’ content available without some specific, directed input from the user. And once this limitation has been imposed, does online media still deliver the possibility for creative thinking? Or does it instead limit the potential for fortuitous accidental discoveries?

While on the one hand, technology narrows down the information you receive, it may, on the other hand, be deployed to provide other resources that do not specifically match search criteria, but that are related or useful in some way. Cohn explains that, by employing advanced algorithms, technology can ‘predict’ what information users may find interesting and guide them to it, without them having to search for it specifically.

Collaborative filtering

Technologies that make use of user data to determine what information they return are known as collaborative filtering features. For example, Atypon’s collaborative filtering implementation checks the content users have viewed, and in which order, so as to predict other content that users may be interested in. Cohn claims that for Atypon, “algorithms can make this prediction process up to 40% successful. This reduces the time researchers need to spend searching for content and increases the time they can spend actually using it.”

Scholarly publishing has a lot to learn from consumer publishing

There are many actions that can be fed into the collaborative filtering algorithm to improve a service’s recommendation functionality. A user’s past searches, their current search criteria, whether a user tends to look at abstracts or full-text articles – all these provide additional filtering possibilities.

“Google is not the be-all and end-all of search tools,” says Cohn. “And we shouldn’t leave information discovery in the hands of search engines alone – it doesn’t solve all problems. But collaborative filtering is one way of supporting information discovery.”

Return on investment

In the current economic climate, however, does it make sense to spend money on new technologies to improve these functionalities? Scholarly publishing tends to be more resilient to downward economic trends than other businesses, but the market for investment is still competitive. Sales of scholarly publishing materials are increasingly based on researchers’ usage rates. Librarians are assessing online information on a cost-per-download basis, wanting to be sure of the potential return on investment before buying subscriptions to online media resources.

Cohn explains: “This means that online publishers need to demonstrate that their content has a high value-to-cost ratio. To do this, they can either reduce their prices or increase the value of their offering – and by extension their usage – by guiding users to interesting, new and relevant content.”

While the scholarly publishing industry can benefit hugely from the technologies that consumer companies like Amazon have put in place, scholarly publishers may take longer to adapt. If Cohn’s argument is anything to go by, the technology is there: and the most forward-thinking online publishers should be investing in it if they want to stay ahead in difficult economic times.

About Atypon

Atypon is a software development company serving the information industry. Their product ‘Literatum’ is an end-to-end solution for publishing content online. It includes a collaborative filtering algorithm that leverages users’ input to generate more relevant, interesting information as quickly and efficiently as possible. This facilitates the research process, allowing scientists to spend less time searching for information and more time reading and responding to it.

EU26_06__ShiraTabachnikoff

Bridging the information gap

In previous issues of Editors’ Update, you may have read about Research4Life and Elsevier’s role as a founding partner in these three programs that give developing countries free or low-cost access to scientific literature. These programs are helping to enhance the work of scientists in some of the world’s most underdeveloped nations, allowing them to introduce innovations that have a real impact on people’s lives.

Read more >


In previous issues of Editors’ Update, you may have read about Research4Life and Elsevier’s role as a founding partner in these three programs that give developing countries free or low-cost access to scientific literature. These programs are helping to enhance the work of scientists in some of the world’s most underdeveloped nations, allowing them to introduce innovations that have a real impact on people’s lives.

For several years, Elsevier has been a major partner in three information philanthropy initiatives. Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI), Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA) and Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE) are aimed at those countries that have the least amount of access to information resources. In most advanced countries, access to research is not a pressing problem for researchers, when compared to other issues, such as funding. In the poorest countries, it is a more fundamental barrier. Publishers like Elsevier have been working hard to close down this gap. Together the programs offer scientists in 114 eligible countries free or low-cost access to some 7,500 scientific journals, books and databases.

Getting the story across

The programs are valuable resources for academics, but promoting them to the media, potential funders and additional partners presents its own problems. “Have you tried saying HINARI-AGORA-OARE in quick succession during a phone call?” says Shira Tabachnikoff, Elsevier Director of Corporate Relations. “When you’re talking with a journalist, you want something quick and easy to get the essence of the story across.” As a result, the program partners recently launched Research4Life, an umbrella brand that encompasses the three initiatives. “The program names still exist,” explains Tabachnikoff. “The new brand just makes it easier to communicate what we’re doing.”

Countries with access to HINARI saw a 63% growth in the number of authors in peer-reviwed journals, compared to 38% in countries without access.

The need to promote Research4Life and increase the number of registered institutes and find potential new partners, was one of the reasons why Tabachnikoff recently visited Nairobi. “When you talk about the programs, it’s often in terms of statistics: how many institutes are registered, how many publishers are involved,” she says. “I wanted to get a better understanding of the impact the programs are having on local communities.” She chose Nairobi because it has a large number of institutions that utilize the Research4Life programs. In addition, the Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) was holding a three-day training course to teach researchers and librarians how to use HINARI efficiently. It was an ideal opportunity for Tabachnikoff to meet the course participants and find out how they were planning to use the program. “I was really impressed by the number of participants who recognized the importance of the training,” she says. Professor James Kiyapi, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Medical Services, officially opened the proceedings. He wanted to be present to encourage people to participate fully in the training, so that they could return to their institutes and teach others.

Value of current research

The importance of access to current research was underscored by the results of an analysis conducted by Elsevier last year. This study showed that from 2002 to 2006, countries with access to HINARI saw a 63% growth in the number of authors publishing in peer-reviewed journals, compared to 38% in countries without access. “Having access to this level of science clearly does make a difference,” adds Tabachnikoff. “We want more scientists from developing countries to participate in the global scientific debate.”

“In the past, people in underdeveloped countries would often do research without realizing that they weren’t utilizing the most up-to-date resources,” she says. “They would then try to publish only to be told that it had been done already or their results were outdated.” Tabachnikoff met a biochemist, a young woman, who was using HINARI in her research. She said that knowing the material was current made a huge difference.

Changing lives

Another scientist Tabachnikoff met in Nairobi was Dr. John Weru, a senior medical officer at Kenyatta Hospice that deals largely with cancer patients and people with HIV/AIDS. HINARI is Dr. Weru’s main information resource for his research into palliative care, a healthcare field that is relatively undeveloped in Kenya. Access to HINARI has enabled him to define and practice palliative care and to train others to deliver it as well. “It is helping us to put life into the days of patients, instead of simply putting days into their lives”, Weru has said.

As well as changing the face of healthcare delivery, Research4Life is also having an impact on agriculture. A team led by Professor Paul Kimurto at Egerton University is using AGORA to identify drought-tolerant crops of chickpea and sorghum that will grow in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands. Farmers involved in Kimurto’s project have seen a tremendous turnaround in production compared to previous years and, although no official data is available yet, an increase in sustainable crop production of 20% to 30% is expected.

With results like these, it is hardly surprising that the Research4Life partners are committed to continuing the programs until at least 2015. This ties in with the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals for sustainable improvements in agriculture, environmental management and health. The UN has even recognized Research4Life as the ideal type of private/public partnership needed to achieve the Millennium Goals.

Even in the current economic downturn, Tabachnikoff is optimistic about Research4Life’s future. “Developing countries need to have access to science that can help them take their economies and scientists to the next level,” she explains. “We’ve made a commitment to the programs even in tough times. Hopefully Research4Life can help these countries overcome their own economic problems in the future.”

Research4Life is just one of the many philanthropic initiatives in which Elsevier participates. To learn about others, please download the Information Philanthropy Pamphlet, sponsored by Library Connect and Elsevier’s Department of Research & Academic Relations.

To cite this article, please use: Francis Cox, “Bridging the information (philanthropy) gap”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 26, May 2009

Useful links:

To learn more about how Research4Life is benefiting science in Kenya, watch this short video made during Tabachnikoff's recent trip to Nairobi. Values in Motion (video)

Research4Life

HINARI

OARE

AGORA

Millennium Goals

If you would like to get involved in Research4Life, please contact Shira Tabachnikoff.

Forum results: Results of the EU Readership Survey

The Editors’ Update Readership Survey was intended to gauge editor interest and satisfaction with the publication, as well as to generate ideas for further improvement. While responses to the survey were varied, respondents offered a variety of suggestions in three primary areas: saving time, ease of use and subjects of real interest to you, our readers.

Read more >


The Editors’ Update Readership Survey was intended to gauge editor interest and satisfaction with the publication, as well as to generate ideas for further improvement. While responses to the survey were varied, respondents offered a variety of suggestions in three primary areas: saving time, ease of use and subjects of real interest to you, our readers.

“It was no surprise that editors are seeking ways to save time,” says Paul Evans, Senior Vice President of Publishing and Research Relations. “We recognize how busy editors are, and appreciate their desire to save time whenever they can. That’s why the shorter, summarized email alert emerged as the favorite feature of the publication.”

Although time is certainly at a premium for most of our editors, many take the time to view the online version of the newsletter. In fact, of the 81% of respondents that read EU at least occasionally, more than two-thirds of that number read the online publication quarterly, when each new issue comes out. “Of those respondents who don’t read it every quarter, 51% said they ‘don’t have time’ to do so,” Evans says.

“This is an idea that we struggle with in the publication, because we want the information to be complete and substantial, but realize the longer article format can be time-consuming. We’re exploring ways to balance substantive information with quicker accessibility,” he continues. Changes to the web version of the newsletter and improvements to navigation were among the ideas suggested. These are already being explored.

The voices of your colleagues

No less than 76% of respondents indicated an interest in hearing directly from fellow editors. Whether through sharing experiences, communicating best practices, or offering tips for finding good reviewers, many readers want the information straight from the source.

“We were, however, surprised to learn that editors don’t want this information communicated through blogs. Only about 1/5 of respondents had an interest in seeing blogs included in the newsletter,” Evans continues. “This begs the question: what formats do editors prefer to use when communicating with other editors? Which types of technological tools work best for this group?”

In the meantime, the publication’s editorial board is exploring possibilities for close editor involvement in the newsletter, including ‘guest contributions’ from editors, discussion panels or ‘Ask the Editor’ feedback sections. Possibilities will be explored for feasibility, effectiveness and desired outcome, and conclusions for improving the communication medium will follow. Discussions are already underway.

Seeking support

Among the topics that respondents felt needed more coverage, articles about editor and reviewer support and helpful hints for finding reviewers were top of mind. In addition, some attention to issues of h-index and impact factor scores was also mentioned, as well as issues of ethics and language polishing. In general, there seemed to be a preference for a focus on more material of a practical nature, to directly assist with the role of the editor.

Listening and responding

Elsevier is constantly exploring ways to improve communication with our editors, in general. This includes Editors’ Update and similar publications, as well as the editor conferences and other services that are designed to serve the needs of this valued group.

“In order to improve and expand our relationship with editors, we must truly partner with them directly,” Evans says. “We aim to do more to ensure we are listening and responding to the needs of the group, and providing the best support we possibly can. We welcome further input.”

Evans is hopeful that more EU readers will choose to include their input into the mix. “We’re now entering discussions to further review how we can improve the publication. These include changing the length, style, layout and content or subject matter of the articles. If editors feel strongly about certain aspects of the publication, or if they are eager to see specific changes, now is the time to respond. After all, editors are our best, and most important, source for information on improving communication between Elsevier and editors. We need to know what you want, so that we can try to provide it to you in a way that is useful in your busy schedules.”

If you have additional suggestions input, comments or questions, please send an email to editorsupdate2@elsevier.com, and we will be sure to include them in our ongoing review.

“We would also like to thank those editors who took the time to fill out the survey. We realize that you are all extremely busy, and we appreciate your effort to communicate with us,” Evans concludes. “It is only through your feedback that we’ll be able to address the issues of most importance to you. I assure you, we’re listening. ”
To cite this article, please use: “Forum Results”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 26, May 2009

eu26rowlands

The true value of e-journals

“Over the past five years, there has been an incredible increase in the number of e-journals on people’s desktops. The main aim of our study, which is only at the half-way stage, is to ask what this is achieving,” says Dr. Ian Rowlands, Reader in Scholarly Communication at University College London’s Department of Information Studies.

Read more >


“Over the past five years, there has been an incredible increase in the number of e-journals on people’s desktops. The main aim of our study, which is only at the half-way stage, is to ask what this is achieving,” says Dr. Ian Rowlands, Reader in Scholarly Communication at University College London’s Department of Information Studies.

Rowlands, and the other members of the Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research (CIBER) study group, recently published a preliminary report entitled Electronic journals: modeling journal spend, use and research outcomes.

Gathering data on publishing innovation

The preliminary report is based on data collected from 112 UK universities between September 2006 and August 2007. “It was basically a quantitative exercise,” Rowlands explains. “We had no preconceptions, but simply gathered data and looked at whether any patterns emerged. This is often how we work: first gathering and examining data, looking for trends, then asking informed questions and performing further qualitative analysis to arrive at conclusions.”

“When we initiated this study, we simply didn’t know what questions to ask, because the whole field of electronic journals (e-journals) has been changing so quickly, both in terms of technological advances and growth. Digital libraries have only existed for 15 years, at the most, and represent the first major change in the library environment since the invention of the printing press. In historical terms, we’re only just getting used to this new environment.”

Various public agencies collect statistics on library investment in the UK, such as how much each university spends on resources like e-journal subscriptions and, more recently, full-text downloads, and how these resources are used. “The rise of electronic publishing and electronic access to resources means that it is now possible to collect vast amounts of information about how universities, departments and individuals use these resources,” Rowlands says. “We were also able to collect data on PhD awards, research grants and papers published at various UK universities and in different subjects.”

Initial findings

Allthough Rowlands and his team are only halfway through the study, some interesting – and strong – correlations have already been identified.

Spend/usage

“One of the first things we noticed was a strong correlation between spending on e-journals and their usage. This correlation is not as obvious as it might first appear,” he says. “Worldwide, approximately US $8 billion is spent annually on scholarly journals. The strong correlation between expenditure and usage demonstrated in our study seems to suggest that e-journals are not simply being subscribed to for the sake of completeness of the library. This may lend strength to librarians in their efforts to negotiate increases in their budgets each year.”

Usage/research outcomes

Another striking pattern suggested by the preliminary study concerns the relationship between the number of downloads from e-journals and research outcomes at various UK universities. “It seems that the universities with higher download figures also award more PhDs and publish more papers, even when we take the size of the institution into account,” Rowlands reveals. “Although whether this is merely coincidental remains to be seen.”

Usage/research grants

Initial analysis of the data revealed a significant pattern in the relationship between the number of downloads and the value of research grants awarded to different universities. “Again, this apparent correlation, which is also scale-independent, needs further investigation, but it is certainly intriguing,” Rowlands comments.

Search times

Having been granted access to ScienceDirect and Oxford Journals logs at UK universities, CIBER performed deep-log analyses to ascertain how people were accessing information, from where, for how long, etc. “What struck us most was that people tend to initiate searches outside ScienceDirect, via gateways like Google (Scholar) or PubMed,” says Rowlands.

“We also discovered a statistical relationship between session length and (Hirsch index) research rating. It seems that the higher-rated researchers spend less time obtaining information. They tend to use third-party services and are much more targeted than some of their colleagues. In addition, researchers of the same subject at different universities displayed similar behavior patterns during research sessions, but noticeable differences in behavior patterns were apparent between researchers of different subjects.”

The next step

The second stage of the study began in April, and is due to be completed early in 2010. “During the second stage, we will take a much closer look at these apparent relationships and patterns, and we will also extend the time frame of the study to cover the previous four or five years,” Rowlands says.

“We already know that there is a statistical correlation between usage, expenditure and research outcomes, but we don’t know whether this is simply a coincidence. In addition, if we do prove that these relationships are real, we will also try to answer the question ‘In what direction are they headed?’ For example, do successful researchers create demand for library services, or does library investment lead to success?”

The broader picture

“So far, we have only performed the preliminary study and we need to be careful not to draw conclusions in advance of the second stage,” Rowlands cautions. “In general, however, I feel that publishers could make a stronger case for the added value they provide, in performing peer reviews, for example. They should be more transparent about the processes and costs involved in publishing scientific journals, where demand is more finite and less elastic than in other forms of publishing. In fact, I’d say that the entire scientific community (scholars, publishers and librarians) could improve its promotion of the added value it provides.”

“Our preliminary study provides good ammunition for this, and will be of particular interest to scholarly publishers and librarians, since it offers fresh insights into the behavior of their users, as well as the relevance and usability of journals and services. During the period covered by the preliminary report, 102 million articles were downloaded at the UK universities surveyed, which proves that the material is being used. The second stage of the study should provide more compelling evidence upon which to base more far-reaching conclusions. Watch this space.”

E-journals represent good value for money

UK universities and colleges spent £79.8m on licenses for e-journals in 2006/07 (total serials expenditure: £112.7m).

Estimated that researchers and students in higher education downloaded 102 million full text articles in 2006/07, at average cost (excluding overheads, time and other indirect costs) of £0.80.

On average, every registered FTE library user downloads 47 articles a year.

To cite this article, please use: Gary Rudland, “The true value of e-journals”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 26, May 2009

Useful Links

Ian Rowlands’ Biography

CIBER News

UCL Centre for Publishing

25_1_Chi_photo

Motivation for innovation

“In this special issue of Editors’ Update, what is remarkable about the achievements highlighted is their broad scope,” says YS Chi, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Academic and Customer Relations at Elsevier. “Some of the products and services focus on publishing efficiency and speed, others on access and dissemination, still others on education and training. And yet, despite this diversity of scope, all of Elsevier’s accomplishments have a single element in common: they all require the dedication, hard work and innovation of many different teams within Elsevier.”

Read more >


“In this special issue of Editors’ Update, what is remarkable about the achievements highlighted is their broad scope,” says YS Chi, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Academic and Customer Relations at Elsevier. “Some of the products and services focus on publishing efficiency and speed, others on access and dissemination, still others on education and training. And yet, despite this diversity of scope, all of Elsevier’s accomplishments have a single element in common: they all require the dedication, hard work and innovation of many different teams within Elsevier.”

Lateral thinking, forward motion

Chi credits Elsevier’s teamwork and lateral management style for the success of all of these initiatives. Instead of a ‘top-down’ approach of implementing ideas brought by senior management, Elsevier teams with direct access to customer needs drive the initiatives that make a difference. As a result, the best and most innovative ideas come from that level. Editors, authors and reviewers are often the catalysts for new developments. As ideas grow and develop, however, everyone has a role to play, from the teams who execute the work with passion, to the managers who provide resources, to the leadership that maintains the right environment for growth, to the customers who provide feedback.

“Innovation is not a strategy, but rather a culture,” Chi continues. “The job of leadership is to create an environment where innovation is encouraged, ideas are supported and resources are made available. To me, Elsevier is an ideal working environment, because teams know that their next great idea has a very real chance of being developed.”

“And, for every one of the 25 achievements listed here, there are as many or more that have not been mentioned. But every improvement, every step of progress, is part of the bigger picture,” Chi says.

Teamwork is key

No project happens within a single department or business silo. A great initiative requires input and commitment from a number of teams in order to be realized. “For every project and person featured in Editors’ Update, we know that there are many other people working behind the scenes, without whose input these accomplishments would never have been possible. That includes administrators and project managers, technical specialists and communicators, sales and marketing staff, and a host of others.

“Rarely are there profound, earth-shattering changes to the way scientific publishing works. This is not a business full of overnight heroes or radical change. No, the real heroes are the teams that have the passion and drive to work day-to-day, in an environment of long-term development and big-picture thinking.” And it is that long-term, strategic thinking that will ensure Elsevier continues its positive momentum well into the future.

The energy of progress

“In my role, I spend a lot of time traveling, talking both with internal Elsevier teams and the customers we serve,” Chi says. “There is definitely a positive energy in the air, and a feeling of opportunities around every corner. I am optimistic about the fact that for as many accomplishments as we can celebrate today, there will be even more tomorrow.”

Chi continues: “On behalf of Elsevier, I would like to express my appreciation to everyone involved in these programs. No matter how great the ideas are, they do not become a reality without the hard work, endurance and innovative thinking of each one of you.”

From improved technology to strategic resource allocation, from dedicated teams to strong leadership, the future of Elsevier looks very bright indeed. We invite you to read about some of the most interesting developments achieved on behalf of editors thus far, and welcome your input about the developments of tomorrow.

25_2_photo_Smith

A check against plagiarism

Plagiarism is a serious concern for editors. Tools such as PERK and the membership of all Elsevier journals in the COPE program have gone some way to helping editors address the problem. Nevertheless, both editors and Elsevier staff spend considerable time on the issue of plagiarism and how to combat it.

Read more >


Plagiarism is a serious concern for editors. Tools such as PERK and the membership of all Elsevier journals in the COPE program have gone some way to helping editors address the problem. Nevertheless, both editors and Elsevier staff spend considerable time on the issue of plagiarism and how to combat it.

As a result, since June 2008, Elsevier has been a full member of CrossCheck, a service organized by CrossRef in partnership with iParadigms, a plagiarism detection software provider. Liz Smith, Director of Journal Services, explains.

“With CrossCheck, users have an efficient way to check the content of a document against items in the CrossCheck database and a Web repository, to detect text matches that may represent plagiarism. The database will eventually contain over 20 million articles from published sources.”

The initial rollout of random checks on papers for 80 Elsevier journals is planned for early 2009. A percentage of accepted papers will be randomly selected by Elsevier staff to run against the database for similarities. Those exceeding a predetermined similarity threshold will be referred to editors for review and potential action.

More information about CrossCheck is available on Elsevier.com.

25_3_Schilpp_photo

Why marketing matters

Marketing is one of the core ingredients of a journal’s success, but because much of it is carried out behind the scenes, some parts can go unnoticed.

Read more >


Marketing is one of the core ingredients of a journal's success, but because much of it is carried out behind the scenes, some parts can go unnoticed.

"Editors may be aware of direct (e)mail campaigns carried out to increase the subscription base of their journal," says Carma Schilpp, Director of Periodicals Marketing. "But the marketing team is responsible for a wide variety of activities, ranging from market research and advertising to conference attendance and PR.”

An example of successful media coverage is the publication of a Press Release in early June, announcing publication of research that described a study on very little damage in the brain of a 114-year-old woman, published in Neurobiology of Aging. The news garnered widespread media attention, including a number five spot on Yahoo's homepage on June 8.

Marketing information gives editors valuable insights...and may even result in refocus of editorial direction

Increasing and maintaining the visibility of journal titles also includes close collaboration with our global sales teams and local sales offices to ensure the journal finds its way to as many institutional libraries as possible.

"We try to share as much information as possible with editors, for example on the most downloaded articles or the results of readership surveys we've carried out", Schilpp continues. "This feedback can provide editors with valuable insights into what readers are looking for and may even result in a refocus of editorial direction."

25_4_photo_Mulligan

Feedback that gets heard

The last few years have seen Elsevier shift to a more customer-based culture. As part of this move the Editor Feedback Program was introduced, to gather and track editors’ opinions. So far, more than 3,000 editors have taken part.

Read more >


The last few years have seen Elsevier shift to a more customer-based culture. As part of this move the Editor Feedback Program was introduced, to gather and track editors’ opinions. So far, more than 3,000 editors have taken part.

What did editors say? “The editors identified a number of areas where they could receive more support,” says Adrian Mulligan, Associate Director of Elsevier Research & Academic Relations. “They indicated we could provide more help managing peer review, we also learned that they wished to be better informed about the performance of the journal - from usage statistics, citations, to being able to track submissions. Some, but by no means all, wanted to be more involved in the marketing of their journal, others clearly indicated they needed more support for submissions from non English-speaking countries. A few indicated that they simply wanted more contact with us.”

Laura Hassink, VP Strategy & Journal Services, says, “The initial feedback wasn’t always comfortable reading, but it did give us for the first time a holistic view of what editors thought and how we should respond.”

Specific actions have taken several forms. To support peer review, for example, reviewers have been given free access to Scopus (soon to be expanded to include ScienceDirect); and to help authors who have difficulties writing articles in English, more editors are involved in marketing, relationships have been established with English-language polishing services, journal performance reporting has been improved. “Feedback shows we’re making good progress in many of these areas, but there’s still more to do,” says Hassink. “We want editors to keep telling us what they think - the good as well as the bad, this will allow us to enhance our support and ensure we deliver world class services.”

Read Adrian Mulligan’s full-length article about feedback programs, as well as an article featured in Editors’ Update Issue 21.

25_5_photo_Tedford

Support that never sleeps

Elsevier’s global reach means that one of its customers somewhere in the world will always be awake. The company ‘woke up’ to this fact and introduced a 24/7 Editor Support service. “Editors can contact us via chat, phone and email,” says Adrian Tedford, Manager of Editorial Production Customer Support. “For editors who want a more personalized service, they can also opt to speak to one specific agent. This dedicated support has been so successful, in fact, that some editors and agents exchange Christmas gifts and cards each year.”

Read more >


Elsevier’s global reach means that one of its customers somewhere in the world will always be awake. The company ‘woke up’ to this fact and introduced a 24/7 Editor Support service. “Editors can contact us via chat, phone and email,” says Adrian Tedford, Manager of Editorial Production Customer Support. “For editors who want a more personalized service, they can also opt to speak to one specific agent. This dedicated support has been so successful, in fact, that some editors and agents exchange Christmas gifts and cards each year.”

Customer satisfaction levels for Editor Support hover around the 90 percent mark, and since a more robust self-help tool was introduced in May, 2008, the number of unique visitors to the self-help site has increased five-fold. At the same time, queries relating to article tracking information, guidance for authors and assistance with the review process has decreased. “EES queries, in particular, have reduced by 20 percent in the last six months, as more and more customers use the self-help tool to find their own solutions,” says Tedford. “And like Editor Support, it is available at any time of day or night.” Editor Support also offers EES trainings and refresher courses

This dedicated support has been so successful, some editors and agents exchange Christmas gifts and cards

Visit the Editor Support pages and choose your preferred method of communication, whether telephone, email or chat.

25_6_photo_Kort

Bringing editors and Elsevier together

Editors’ Conferences provide an opportunity for important dialogue between journal editors and Elsevier. “The first conference was held in 2001, and we’ve held 29 conferences in total,” explains Hans Kort, Associate Director of Research and Academic Relations, responsible for these conferences from their inception. “The conferences provide editors with the opportunity to meet, and hear directly from, (senior) Elsevier employees about developments in the company and the wider scholarly communications market.”

Read more >


Editors’ Conferences provide an opportunity for important dialogue between journal editors and Elsevier. “The first conference was held in 2001, and we’ve held 29 conferences in total,” explains Hans Kort, Associate Director of Research and Academic Relations, responsible for these conferences from their inception. “The conferences provide editors with the opportunity to meet, and hear directly from, (senior) Elsevier employees about developments in the company and the wider scholarly communications market.”

Conference programs usually include presentations and interactive sessions, and cover topics ranging from editorial systems and technology to strategy and publishing trends.

“Research, by its very nature, is progressive and future-focused,” says Paul Evans, Senior Vice President of Publishing and Research Relations. “In this ever-changing environment, it is important for Elsevier to work within the research community, and not just for it.” By tailoring the conferences to fit the editors’ expressed needs and suggestions, Elsevier provides a platform for discussion of the topics most compelling for its participants.

Evans, who has a strong publishing background and an eye on future development, says Elsevier’s relationship with stakeholders in research organizations is key. “Our partnership with editors is crucial to our success in engaging with the global research community and satisfying their needs. I welcome suggestions from all editors about ways we can improve the Editors’ Conferences, and any other initiatives involving this all-important group.”

As result of the conferences is that editors go home with lots of new and unexpected ideas.

If you have an feedback or ideas for improvement, please contact Paul Evans at p.evans@elsevier.com.

25_8_photo_Sheehan2

Supporting authors and reviewers

he relationship between an editor and their community of authors and reviewers is an integral part of the smooth operation of a journal. As Marie Sheehan, Head of Customer Communications, S&T Journal Publishing, explains: “If authors understand clearly what they need to do to submit a manuscript, editors and reviewers spend less time following up on submissions. Similarly, we often hear from editors how difficult they find it to recruit and retain reviewers. By supporting reviewers and making tools available for them, we support editors.”

Read more >


he relationship between an editor and their community of authors and reviewers is an integral part of the smooth operation of a journal. As Marie Sheehan, Head of Customer Communications, S&T Journal Publishing, explains: “If authors understand clearly what they need to do to submit a manuscript, editors and reviewers spend less time following up on submissions. Similarly, we often hear from editors how difficult they find it to recruit and retain reviewers. By supporting reviewers and making tools available for them, we support editors.”

An overview of the support for authors can be found on Authors’ Home, a dedicated section of Elsevier.com that includes information on language editing, pre-submission guidelines and Elsevier policies. Reviewers’ Home, a similar resource that addresses reviewers’ specific needs, was recently launched, and appears to be a welcome resource, judging by the high visitation rates. However, initiatives to help reviewers work more efficiently – and to reward them for the essential job they carry out - have been in place for several years. “Two years ago, we began offering reviewers 30-days access to Scopus; from now on, reviewers will also have access to the full text of referenced articles in ScienceDirect via EES,” says Sheehan.

Overall review times have been reduced, sometimes by more than 50 percent.

“The introduction of EES, in combination with these other initiatives, has reduced overall review times, sometimes by more than 50 percent. And the complete editorial process from submission to decision has been reduced by an average of nine weeks.”

Ethical PERKS

Before the Publishing Ethics Resource Kit (PERK) was launched in February 2008, there was very little clear guidance available on publishing ethics for journal editors. Now, editors know where to turn for help.

Read more >


Before the Publishing Ethics Resource Kit (PERK) was launched in February 2008, there was very little clear guidance available on publishing ethics for journal editors. Now, editors know where to turn for help.

PERK is a ‘one-stop-shop’ where editors can access information, procedures and guidelines on ethical issues. This means editors can handle any cases of alleged ethical misconduct in a fair and consistent way.

The PERK web pages host a collection of case studies that can help editors identify the type of alleged misconduct they suspect. It has advice on the right steps to follow to resolve a dispute, answers to frequently asked questions, and letter templates for editors to use in each stage of the complaint process.

In short, the site helps to make the investigation and resolution of disputes as straightforward as possible. And with over 22,000 hits to the website by November 2008 – an average of more than 2,000 visitors every month – it’s clear that this is a tool that editors want, need, and use.

PERK is another great example of Elsevier’s commitment to working with, and understanding the needs of journal editors. This endeavor works alongside Elsevier’s other publishing ethics initiatives, including the CrossCheck project.

Read more about PERK in the full length article presented in Editors’ Update Issue 22

25_10_photo_Wezenbeek

Screening: relief for editors and reviewers

“I want to express my sincere appreciation for all of the fine work you have done in screening and pre-editing all the many manuscripts you have handled,”
says one satisfied editor whose workload has recently been lifted.

Read more >


I want to express my sincere appreciation for all of the fine work you have done in screening and pre-editing all the many manuscripts you have handled,
says one satisfied editor whose workload has recently been lifted.

In 2007, Elsevier rolled out the Technical Screening program as a service to journal editors. By reducing the number of poorly prepared manuscripts that reach peer review, our editors and reviewers can focus their attention on quality manuscripts.

The program has been successful. Despite some initial teething problems, by working closely with editors, the system was improved and where possible tailored to the needs of individual journals. Elsevier now receives regular feedback from the editors of the 260 journals in the program, who say the program is successful and saves them time.

Technical Screening is not just a quick spell check. “We do much more than simply identifying errors in language. We look at the manuscript as a whole to determine whether the write-up is logical and understandable. This information is fed back to the authors so they have concrete points to focus on for improvements,” says Egbert van Wezenbeek, Director, Publication Process Development.

As a result of Technical Screening, each year over 20,000 fewer poorly prepared manuscripts are landing on editors’ and reviewers’ desks. As our satisfied editor concludes:

The number of comments from referees on language issues have dramatically decreased with your help, and the general quality of the articles that go to the referees has improved.

25_11_photo_Klinkenberg

Citations: speed matters

Want a simple way to ensure your article is cited as often as possible? According to Adriaan Klinkenberg, Executive Publisher, timing can make a big difference.

Read more >


Want a simple way to ensure your article is cited as often as possible? According to Adriaan Klinkenberg, Executive Publisher, timing can make a big difference.

Studies show that the sooner an article has citations attributed to it, the more citations it is likely to accumulate throughout the year, resulting in a greater Impact Factor and a higher rating on the Immediacy Index.

“Early citations do matter. If an article isn't cited early in its life cycle, its chances of being well-cited later are small,” Klinkenberg explains.

In 2008, Elsevier reduced publication times by enabling uncorrected proofs to be submitted to PubMed. In 2009, Elsevier will continue to be a pioneer, cutting publication times by up to three weeks by submitting abstracts from author manuscripts.

“Elsevier's strong performance in getting articles to press has significantly reduced the overall perceived publication times, taking pressure off editors,” says Klinkenberg.

The 2008 changes are already resulting in positive outcomes: “articles in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications (BBRC), can now be in PubMed within two weeks of final acceptance. And ScienceDirect's Top 25 Hottest Articles now lists early, unpaginated articles. These papers would not get the same visibility or recognition without the early PubMed coverage.”

“Looking to the future, editors can expect Elsevier to be at the forefront in the development of more time saving solutions in editing and publishing.”

25_12_photo_Tedford

EES: right on time

“The enormous success of the Elsevier Editorial System (EES) is due in part to the users themselves,” says Adrian Tedford, Manager of Editorial Production Customer Support. Each upgrade and expansion of capabilities includes responses to feedback directly from the editors, authors and reviewers who use it.

Read more >


“The enormous success of the Elsevier Editorial System (EES) is due in part to the users themselves,” says Adrian Tedford, Manager of Editorial Production Customer Support. Each upgrade and expansion of capabilities includes responses to feedback directly from the editors, authors and reviewers who use it.

“The people supporting EES (such as Customer Service, Publishing, Production, IT) are all listening intently when users provide us with feedback,” Tedford explains. “We want to improve the system as much as we can and make their time working in EES as easy as possible.”

The new version of EES (v. 6.0) launched in November and included a number of notable new features that editors said would make their jobs easier. These include rescind decision, sanitization of reviewer attachments, ad hoc correspondence to anyone, introduction of production notes and search submission enhancements.

EES has made the editorial and peer review process much easier and more cost-efficient.

But it seems that EES users really do want to help themselves to solutions, as well. The introduction of a self-help tool in May has reduced queries to the EES support team by 20%.

“Access to the system from anywhere in the world is a huge benefit to people who are incredibly busy,” Tedford continues. “EES has also made the editorial and peer review process so much easier and more cost-efficient.” In addition, the introduction of CrossCheck in January 2009 to a limited number of journals provides editors with an excellent tool for checking submissions for plagiarism,” says Tedford, “and other improvements are underway.”

More information about EES is available on elsevier.com.

 

25_7_photo_Erb2

A one stop shop for editors

Type a search query into any general search engine, and chances are Wikipedia will appear somewhere within the first ten results. But where does the scientific community go to find publicly available, yet credible scientific information online? SciTopics (formerly Scirus Topic Pages), was launched on 20 January 2009 precisely to offer the answer.

Read more >


Type a search query into any general search engine, and chances are Wikipedia will appear somewhere within the first ten results. But where does the scientific community go to find publicly available, yet credible scientific information online? SciTopics (formerly Scirus Topic Pages), was launched on 20 January 2009 precisely to offer the answer.

SciTopics is a free, science-specific Web service that offers journal editors the ideal solution to address their information needs as a researcher, author and editor in one place without having to go to multiple websites and applications.

Each page on SciTopics is written by an expert in a field, who is invited to contribute by a subject editor, a profiled author or an Elsevier journal editor. This strict editorial policy guarantees the quality of the site’s content, while ensuring the content is also accessible for readers who may specialize in a different area.

Authors list references and relevant links to other websites. Automatically generated links to the most recent and most cited articles from Scopus and links to relevant results on the Web and news results via Scirus are also included on the SciTopics page.

Journal authors and editors can also contribute SciTopics pages, increasing their visibility, social networking capabilities and web exposure.

“We are constantly working to improve SciTopics and we welcome any feedback on the service and its functionalities,” says Christine Erb, Product Manager SciTopics. “But with 488 active authors and 30,880 visits in October 2008, it’s clear we’re becoming an increasingly popular and valuable resource.”

25_13_photo_Menefee

The benefits are mutual

It’s not often that you can help others by helping yourself, but for editors of Elsevier journals, simply doing what they do best is improving science in the developing world.

Read more >


It’s not often that you can help others by helping yourself, but for editors of Elsevier journals, simply doing what they do best is improving science in the developing world.

You may already know about three of our information philanthropy programs – HINARI, AGORA and OARE -- now grouped under the umbrella name, “Research4Life”. In developing countries, response to these programs has been even better than expected, given the unique challenges of communication and dissemination in developing regions. In fact, that the UN has singled out Research4Life as a prime example of the kind of public/private partnership that will help achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Such a distinction is a great honor.

For Elsevier editors, knowing that their content is making a significant difference in the developing world is a key benefit for both their journals and authors. In addition, involvement is recognized as a major contribution to Elsevier’s Information Philanthropy program. Furthermore, journal board members, especially those sitting on society journals, seek this type of recognition in order to demonstrate their willingness to aid scholarship in the developing world.

But there is more to this Research4Life that is beneficial to editors. By making your content available, the journal brand extends beyond the traditional boundaries of the developed world and goes into new territories. Usage reports, moreover, show dramatic increases in readership and, subsequently, more manuscript submissions from these countries.

Daviess Menefee, Director, Library Relations, adds: “The content is only one part of our philanthropy; we sponsor training sessions for librarians and users in the developing countries to support their work and scholarship. Research4Life is designed to be a comprehensive approach to providing information to the developing world.”

Research4Life
HINARI AGORA OARE
Registered institutions 3,344 1,404 1,094
Countries 142 107 127
Participating publishers 100+ 40 340
Journals available 1300+ 1,278+ 1,500
Average downloads of full-text articles (per month) 350,000 30,000 25,000
Number of Elsevier journals 1,300 400+ 1300
Average Elsevier downloads (per month) 125,000 20,000 15,000
25_13_Collins_photo

A place to call home

Where do you go when you need up-to-date information about journal policies, how Elsevier works with authors and reviewers or which products can help you work more efficiently? Elsevier’s Editors’ Home is the answer.

Read more >


Where do you go when you need up-to-date information about journal policies, how Elsevier works with authors and reviewers or which products can help you work more efficiently? Elsevier’s Editors’ Home is the answer.

“Editors’ Home has been online for a few years, but was re-launched in July 2007 as a more editor-oriented, active resource,” explains Christy Collins, Academic Relations Manager. “The information on this part of the site is now updated more regularly, and an increased and broader range of items, such as news and journal marketing tips, are included. In September 2007, when we redesigned Editors’ Update, we also incorporated a bar that linked through to the newest or most interesting items on Editors’ Home.”

The result of these changes has been significant. Visits to the site have doubled in the last year, to more than 20,000 per month. One of the most recent developments on Editors’ Home is the new ournal Performance Measures module, which clarifies some of the ways journal performance is measured.

 

25_15_photo_Gainford

Striking the right balance

Elsevier authors retain more rights than they expect after being published in one of Elsevier’s journals.

Read more >


Elsevier authors retain more rights than they expect after being published in one of Elsevier’s journals.

"We’re always looking to find the right balance of what is good for the author and what is good for the journal," explains Helen Gainford, Director, Global Rights. "We think we’ve found harmony in our copyright policies so that the authors can increase awareness of their work, while we can continue to attract excellent authors to our journals."

Key to this balance was the introduction of the online Journal Publishing Agreement (JPA) and the Short License Agreement (SLA). “The online JPA and SLA contain more information and definitions than the old Copyright Transfer Agreement. They clarify our policies and the rights retained by authors,” says Gainford.

There has been a positive response to the online agreements. Over 90% of authors have completed the JPA online. Since the JPA Online launch, Elsevier has received over 14,000 forms.

“Another benefit is that the information from each JPA flows automatically into our systems, reducing the time spent and speeding up time to publication,” Gainford says. A full-length article in Editors’ Update Issue 18 explains more.

25_16_photo_Veldema

Making the connection

When Elsevier combines a vast array of scientific information with publishing expertise, great things happen for journal editors and reviewers. Reference linking is the product of just this kind of innovation.

Read more >


When Elsevier combines a vast array of scientific information with publishing expertise, great things happen for journal editors and reviewers. Reference linking is the product of just this kind of innovation.

Reference linking has revolutionized the Peer Review process, by allowing editors and reviewers one-click access to the sources cited in a manuscript.
Editors use reference linking to assess the quality of submitted manuscripts, check authors’ claims and find missing reference details, saving valuable time and resources.

Reference linking can also be used to identify suitable new reviewers, by connecting scientists and bringing well-cited authors to the forefront. Through reference linking, editors can find the authors of references, including their e-mail addresses, and contact them directly.

“This has been an example of truly integrating what Elsevier has to offer to the scientific community in terms of tools and databases,” says Jacob Veldema, acting Project Manager for Reference Linking.

One hundred and fifty journals have already been added to the reference linking service, and it’s expected that most science and technology journals will be able to join the service in the coming months.

To find out more about reference linking and how you can get connected, go to the Elsevier reference linking page.

 

Creating communities online

Editors use 2collab to create a community around their journal, improving awareness and reach.

Elsevier’s Director of HS eJournals, Diane Bartoli, is working to integrate Health Sciences products effectively and efficiently The social bookmarking tool 2collab has been named by Information Age as one of the ten most significant Web 2.0 business successes, alongside other big names such as GE, Proctor & Gamble, and IBM.

Read more >


Elsevier’s Director of HS eJournals, Diane Bartoli, is working to integrate Health Sciences products effectively and efficiently The social bookmarking tool 2collab has been named by Information Age as one of the ten most significant Web 2.0 business successes, alongside other big names such as GE, Proctor & Gamble, and IBM.

“We’re in the process of integrating 2collab on the HealthConnect platform,” explains Bartoli. “Editors can use 2collab to create a community around their journal, improving awareness and reach.”

Editors use 2collab to create a community around their journal, improving awareness and reach.

With the number of new registrants increasing by around ten per cent each month, chances are you’re already online. But are you making the most of what’s available?

Here are Bartoli’s top tips on 2collab for editors:

2collab

 

 

 

 

  • Promote the papers published in your journal by bookmarking them in a group and sharing them with the wider community.
  • Link to published articles, and include resources that aren’t usually published, like corrections, images, presentations, and videos.
  • Use 2collab to find and contact researchers who are actively contributing to their field.
  • Take advantage of the latest features. Use the subject categories now applied to all bookmarks to browse for the information you need.

For more information on 2collab, see Editors’ Update Issue 22 or visit the 2collab Home Pageto find out how you can create your own online community.

 

The value adds up

Health-care professionals around the world have come to rely on MD Consult to answer clinical questions and provide the information that they need to make better decisions.

Read more >


Health-care professionals around the world have come to rely on MD Consult to answer clinical questions and provide the information that they need to make better decisions.

MD Consult collects the highest-quality medical publications into one easily searchable database. For journal editors, MD Consult’s availability in medical schools, hospitals and other healthcare organizations increases their visibility and allows their up-to-the minute research to have a direct impact on patient care. “This is particularly true of specialty journals that might otherwise never reach the broader general practitioner audience,” says Michael Takats, Vice President, MD Consult.

MD Consult is starting to expand into a wider international market, recently launching a German-language version.

Takats reports: “We regularly receive correspondence from customers thanking us for MD Consult. A letter from a teaching hospital in Ghana said: ‘Several patients’ lives were saved as a result of this great resource. As a matter of fact, just last month another patient was saved from hypoparathyroidism because of the answers we got from MD Consult’. Such stories make our hard work worthwhile.”

MD Consult

a25_19_photo_Hammond

Reports with a purpose

Elsevier’s Journal Reports bring together a vast range of statistics on journal performance that can help editors better understand and further improve their journals. Chris Hammond, Executive Publisher, explains the details.

Read more >


Elsevier’s Journal Reports bring together a vast range of statistics on journal performance that can help editors better understand and further improve their journals. Chris Hammond, Executive Publisher, explains the details.

How have Journal Reports developed?

From a primary focus on production-related statistics, article flows, publication speeds and the regional distribution of journal authors, the reports have grown in scope over the last year to include:

  • Lists of top-cited articles from Scopus,
  • Regional distribution of readers on ScienceDirect,
  • Author satisfaction statistics from Elsevier’s Author Feedback Program.

What do the Journal Reports show?

Charts on publication speeds, broken down per step of the process, are consistently useful in addressing journal quality issues. These charts highlight trends and give an immediate understanding of how either the production or editorial sides of the publication (or both) can handle authors’ manuscripts more quickly.

Are there any anecdotes that illustrate the benefits of Journal Reports?

When the initial report was first launched, Elsevier staff estimated that it would take around four days to get all the figures collected and drawn up in tables and graphs that were presentable. With the automation of the reports, this time was reduced to four minutes.

25_20_Ruth_photo

Supporting the scientific community

Founded in 2002, the Elsevier Foundation provides support for institutions in global health and science communities working to advance scholarship and improve lives through scientific, technical and medical knowledge. The Foundation thus focuses its support on two key areas: the world’s libraries through the Innovative Libraries in Developing Countries program and scholars in the early stages of their careers through the New Scholars program.

Read more >


Founded in 2002, the Elsevier Foundation provides support for institutions in global health and science communities working to advance scholarship and improve lives through scientific, technical and medical knowledge. The Foundation thus focuses its support on two key areas: the world’s libraries through the Innovative Libraries in Developing Countries program and scholars in the early stages of their careers through the New Scholars program.

Since its inception, the Elsevier Foundation has awarded more than 50 grants worth over $1 million to non-profit organizations working in these areas. At the beginning of 2008, the Elsevier Foundation announced a total of $594,000 in new grants to 13 institutions from around the world, selected for their innovation and potential for impact in the developing world and academic workplace.

Elsevier employees also can take advantage of a Foundation program that effectively doubles the impact of their charitable contributions. “The Employee Matching Gift Program means Elsevier matches every dollar employees donate to the charity of their choice,” explains David Ruth, Senior Vice President, Global Communications. “Since this program relaunched in 2006, more than 350 employees have participated, benefiting hundreds of organizations around the world. It’s a way that employees and the Foundation can work together to really make a difference.”

25_21_photo_Hassink

Revamp for user-friendliness

The revamped journal homepages, launched on December 1, have a new look and layout designed to make them more dynamic and user-friendly.

Read more >


The revamped journal homepages, launched on December 1, have a new look and layout designed to make them more dynamic and user-friendly.

New features for the journal homepages include:

  • A prominent space for displaying journal content, including recent, top 10 cited and most downloaded articles and an overview of special issues.
  • A statistics box that lists the journal’s impact factor and issues published per year, with more items to be added in the future.
  • The option to add a society logo to the new title bar.
  • A new Actions menu that prompts users to submit an article, order a journal, get a free sample issue, recommend to a friend and bookmark the page.
  • A redesigned right-hand menu.

In addition, the revamped journal home pages allow more flexibility for customization: editors can add personal notes, comments and announcements to their journal’s home page.

In the future, automatic, time-saving feeds from a variety of Elsevier resources will ensure that data becomes available on journal home pages faster than ever before.
“These are major accomplishments,” says Laura Hassink, Director, Business Development, Journals, “I’m convinced that features such as the prominent display of the most cited and most downloaded articles will have a positive effect on usage and will contribute to an even higher satisfaction rating with our editors.”

 

Helping editors work

By really getting to know the tools, editors will boost their productivity significantly.
Elsevier’s range of editorial research tools help to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of editorial decision-making and the editorial process. Below are the answers to some frequently asked questions about the scope and advantages of these tools.

Read more >


By really getting to know the tools, editors will boost their productivity significantly.

Elsevier’s range of editorial research tools help to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of editorial decision-making and the editorial process. Below are the answers to some frequently asked questions about the scope and advantages of these tools.

How do editors specifically benefit from editorial research tools?
Through ScienceDirect, Scopus and Scirus, editors have access to a wealth of information that helps them edit their journal. This includes analyzing new scientific developments, finding authors for special issues or key authors they want to approach about submitting to their journal, identifying new reviewers and assessing prospective editorial board and editorial advisory board members.

What are some recent milestones?

Scopus, for example, has made it easy for editors to assess the scientific importance of prospective authors by incorporating indicators such as the h-index directly into its database. Tools for reviewers also indirectly help editors by simplifying the peer-review process. We recently launched a service called Reference Linking, which gives reviewers access to referenced articles published by Elsevier directly from the manuscript they are reviewing.

What is the most important thing editors should know about editorial research tools?

That investing a little time now in really getting to know the tools will boost their editorial productivity significantly in the long term.

For more information on editorial research tools and the support they can provide, please visit the dedicated page within the Editors’ Home framework.

25_22_photo_Kleinert

COPE-ing with ethical issues

In February 2008, all 2,000 of Elsevier’s Health Sciences and Science & Technology journals became automatic members of the Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE). Publishing ethics is an important factor in the peer-review process, so the partnership was a way for Elsevier to offer its editors a dedicated, external channel for their ethics queries.

Read more >


In February 2008, all 2,000 of Elsevier’s Health Sciences and Science & Technology journals became automatic members of the Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE). Publishing ethics is an important factor in the peer-review process, so the partnership was a way for Elsevier to offer its editors a dedicated, external channel for their ethics queries.

Among a range of benefits, COPE members also have access to:
• Confidential advice on sensitive ethical issues;
• Members-only area of COPE’s new-look website;
• Online distance-learning course on publication ethics, launching later in 2009.

“Probably COPE’s greatest resource is the 17 flowcharts that provide algorithms for editors to follow when they suspect publication misconduct,” says Sabine Kleinert, Vice-Chair of COPE, These flowcharts are being or have been translated into Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Croatian, Farsi and French, suggesting that editors all around the world find them helpful.

“To give another example of how COPE’s assistance can work in practice,” Kleinert continues, “a journal editor, alleging serial misconduct by an author and senior academic at his university, asked us to investigate and report on his concerns. The subsequent report, which was forwarded to the university authorities, protected the editor by providing independent corroboration of his concerns.”

More information about Elsevier’s policies and ethical guidelines is available on elsevier.com as part of the PERK ethics resource kit.

 

25_24_Tabachnikoff_photo

Reaching out in targeted ways

The Elsevier Press Office sent out more than 200 press releases in 2008, more than 50% of which were directly related to journal research of note. The Press Office also works with societies and institutions, to maximize publicity efforts.

Read more >


The Elsevier Press Office sent out more than 200 press releases in 2008, more than 50% of which were directly related to journal research of note. The Press Office also works with societies and institutions, to maximize publicity efforts.

Shira Tabachnikoff, Director of Corporate Relations, explains the importance. ‘Targeted media outreach expands the reach of the journal and the author, as well as drawing readership and attention to groundbreaking research,’ she says.

But the right kind of media attention for science can achieve even more. Policymakers, scientists, students and the general public are interested in reading about the latest important research. Important issues of the day, and policies of tomorrow, can be influenced by the right type of media campaign. Policies on health, safety and the environment can be influenced by the media’s coverage.

‘Articles must of course be exciting enough to capture attention in busy newsrooms. That means striking while the iron is hot and the research is just out, and targeting appropriate audiences.’

The Press Office not only releases news proactively, but also manages Flash and the Online Newsroom, two popular products that prove that the team’s approach is getting excellent response from the media.

The team also assists journalists with questions they have about research, offers experts to give opinions or explanations, and gives free access to ScienceDirect to all accredited science journalists. Tabaknikoff explains: ‘this ensures that the media has a solid understanding of science and has the information they need to write well-informed articles.’

Tabachnikoff is an experienced media trainer who can offer advice about how to optimize media opportunities and promote journal brands.

For more information, email the Elsevier corporate relations team.

Insight into: bibliometric reporting

Which authors publish most in my journal, and which authors or topics are most cited? Are Special Issues useful? How does my journal compare to its competition? Who would be a suitable board member?

Read more >


The result shows a whole research field's worth of journals in a blink of an eye

Which authors publish most in my journal, and which authors or topics are most cited? Are Special Issues useful? How does my journal compare to its competition? Who would be a suitable board member?

Judith Kamalski, Publishing Information Manager, says answers to these and many other questions can be found through bibliometric analysis.

Every report contains more than just data. “We can advise on steps to take and possible changes to further develop your journal,” Kamalski says. “When we do any bibliometric report, you will always receive not only the data but also our view on what these data mean for your journal.”

So which report will give you exactly what you need? Kamalski says she is “a big fan of citation maps. They illustrate in a clear way who is citing whom. It takes some work to set up, but the result shows a whole research field’s worth of journals in a blink of an eye.”

Citation maps clearly show a visual representation of citation connections, thereby making analysis much more straightforward. “It’s so much easier to interpret than a long list of journals and the number of citations they have made to yet another long list of journals.”

If you’re not sure where to start, contact a member of the Scientometrics & Market Analysis team, Dr. Andrew Plume or Dr. Judith Kamalski, or your publishing contact. For more information on measuring journal performance, Editors’ Update Issue 21 was dedicated completely to this topic

Forum Results

In issue 24 of Editors’ Update, we discussed some of the ways in which technological advances have changed and improved scientific research, publishing and dissemination. And we asked you which set of tools or functionalities is likely to be the most beneficial to the future of your journal?

Read more >


In issue 24 of Editors’ Update, we discussed some of the ways in which technological advances have changed and improved scientific research, publishing and dissemination. And we asked you which set of tools or functionalities is likely to be the most beneficial to the future of your journal?

A. Tools for managing and streamlining the editing process, including facilitating communication with authors, co-editors and reviewers, such as EES;
B. Functionality related to dissemination and visibility, such as YouTube abstracts and Proceedia, which allow for new ways to access more complete information;
C. Social networking tools, to help in building relationships between scientists and allowing for collaborative projects across geographical and disciplinary boundaries.

With 31 responses, the clear favorite was A, with 89% of respondents finding the most beneficial path for the future of their journal lying with editorial tools such as EES.

One respondent felt “it is sometimes easy to forget just what a massive step forward [EES] was – particularly for editors – but for reviewers and authors also… I sometimes wonder how I managed…” Some respondents took the opportunity to raise issues that still need addressing in EES, and we have passed these on to the development team. Those with additional comments can always convey these to the EES team by sending an email to support@elsevier.com.

Many editors dismissed options B and C outright, as either irrelevant or as not yet having proved their value. But some felt these technologies would prove important to their journal as time goes on.

Eleven percent of respondents felt dissemination and visibility technologies (Option B) were the most important to their journal. “Option ’A’ was a vital step and still needs refinement but substantial gains in efficiency have already been made. The biggest bang for the buck will come from ‘B’” reasoned one respondent. Another felt “maybe… video abstracts will attract a young audience and will increase the visibility of science results.”

Social networking (Option C) did not receive any unique support, although a few editors cautioned against discounting the importance of C entirely: “when properly organized, a research network can help significantly to maintain research quality, thus working finally for the benefit of the journals.” Although another felt that these technologies just provided another forum “where the talkative talk, not where the workers work.”

24_0_Rafael_photo

Making sense out of science

One of the more positive results to come out of The Publishing Consortium’s investigation into attitudes to the peer-review system is the fact that most academics appreciate its role as a quality-control filter. The vast majority understands and benefits from this, both in improving their own papers the papers they read.

Read more >


One of the more positive results to come out of The Publishing Consortium’s investigation into attitudes to the peer-review system is the fact that most academics appreciate its role as a quality-control filter. The vast majority understands and benefits from this, both in improving their own papers the papers they read.

However, an oft-forgotten audience is the general public, who can find it hard to distinguish between pseudo and real science when it is reported in the news. According to Sense About Science, a charitable trust that promotes good science and evidence for the public, peer-review is not only a vital part of scientific communication, it is the basis on which lay readers can assess the value of scientific findings that they read about.

Separating the wheat from the chaff

Ellen Raphael, Head of Programs at Sense About Science, says, “We’re here to help the public assess scientific research. Knowing that a piece of research has been peer-reviewed and published in a respected journal is an easy way to distinguish between what is scientific and what is just opinion.”

Sense About Science aims to promote a culture of questioning in the public. “We want people to question the things they read in the newspapers, and one of the questions they should be asking is ‘has it been peer-reviewed, and if not, why not?’,” says Raphael.

Sense About Science works at several levels. First, it is actively encouraging opinion formers, including scientists, journalists and members of parliament, to clearly indicate where their research comes from. “Most journalists now say where the results they are reporting were originally published, and this is an important development. It also means that people can follow up if they are interested,” Raphael adds.

There's a big difference between results that have been subjected to scrutiny and those that haven't, and we need to help people understand how to make this distinction.

Sense About Science also wades in whenever a debate of public interest is getting out of control. “One example was the controversy over the relationship between mobile phones and cancer,” she says. “A lot of the early reports were based on unpublished data. Another serious example is anything to do with health. We are about to publish a leaflet for people with neurological diseases, giving them the tools to evaluate research claims. There’s a big difference between results that have been subjected to scrutiny and those that haven’t, and we need to help people understand how to make this distinction.”

People are unlikely to move from a newspaper report to the original paper. For a start, the general public does not generally have access to academic journals; however, this is not the point. “We’re not expecting people to start reading scientific studies into conditions they may suffer from, but if they know where the research comes from, they can easily identify what’s worth paying attention to and then follow up with their doctors,” Raphael explains.

Clear information

Raphael says it is important for scientists to be clear about whether or not their research has been published and for journalists and other opinion formers to provide the sources of their information.

She also believes that publishers need to be more open about their quality-control processes. “When we were researching peer review, we found very little information. It isn’t easy to find out how it works, who uses it, or much about the scene. The public needs more information on identifying good papers and journals. Publishers should communicate better with the public, explaining what standards they employ and what they are trying to achieve. If they were more open about the process, people would have a much better idea of how to distinguish good from bad science.”

Reaching further

Sense About Science’s pamphlet on the peer-review process, I don’t know what to believe… Making sense of science stories, has been distributed to or downloaded by 160,000 people.

We want people to question the things they read in the newspapers, and ask: 'has it been peer-reviewed, and if not, why not?

The Trust also has links with 3,000 experts in a wide range of disciplines who can answer questions and bring some clarity into public debate.

“Meanwhile, we’re stepping up our education efforts: as I said, we regularly publish guides to science under discussion in the public domain, from chemicals through to health tests. We’re also putting together a teaching resource on peer review for use in the National Curriculum. Few people, especially if they haven’t studied science at university level, are even aware that there is a system for distinguishing quality science from that which people just make up, and this will go some way towards remedying that.

“We also organize workshops. At the moment we are preparing one for post-graduates who are about to start publishing to help them understand the system and what it can mean for the public.”

Since young scientists are one of the groups claiming that peer-review is biased in favor of established scientists, this may help them find their way through the system.

For scientists who are weary of reading dubious ‘scientific’ facts in the popular press, one way to clarify the situation and distance themselves from scaremongering pseudoscience is through clear communication. Tell the public how science is assessed and how peer review helps us identify the very best research that is taking place across the world right now.
To cite this article, please use: Michelle Pirotta, “Making sense out of science”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 24, November 2008

Useful links

Sense About Science

I Don’t Know What to Believe

The Guardian – Science Blog: “Don’t judge peer review by its occasional failings” by Adrian Mulligan, Associate Director of Research and Academic Relations at Elsevier

24_1_Ware_photo

Reporting back…Attitudes about peer review

The peer-review process has been part of academic publishing since the 18th century, although the systemized and institutionalized form familiar today is a more recent development, since the Second World War. Yet for such a long-standing institution, peer review can provoke heated debate within the scientific community. It is a sensitive issue and people tend to have very personal and strongly held views.

Read more >


The peer-review process has been part of academic publishing since the 18th century, although the systemized and institutionalized form familiar today is a more recent development, since the Second World War. Yet for such a long-standing institution, peer review can provoke heated debate within the scientific community. It is a sensitive issue and people tend to have very personal and strongly held views.

Throwing a little water on the flames is Mark Ware, a private consultant commissioned by the Publishing Research Consortium to investigate attitudes about the peer-review process. Peer review: benefits, perceptions and alternatives (1), the first large investigation into attitudes towards peer review, has confirmed that almost all academics are satisfied with current system, considering it an integral part of science. In addition, the study has identified the contentious elements in the process.

Mixed feelings

The study has found that while most academics are committed to peer review, they do have some misgivings. Most notably, according to Ware, they are concerned that reviewers are overloaded, wait times between submission and final publication are too long and there is suspicion of bias and abuse of power by anonymous reviewers.

Those concerned about any or all of these issues often express their dissatisfaction loudly, yet Ware’s study failed to identify any serious objection to the process among the more than 3,000 academics questioned.

It is an emotional issue. Academic careers are made or lost in the publishing world. Careers are measured by successful publications, and this is linked to the positions and funding available. “Of course people get upset if they suspect bias – this is their career we are talking about and if you feel you are being discriminated against, you are likely to speak out,” says Ware.

90% of authors reported that peer review improved their last paper, 85% agreed that it greatly improves scientific communication and 83% believe there would be no control without peer review

In fact, the most remarkable result of the study is the mixed feelings it has teased out. For instance, 90% of authors reported that peer review improved their last paper, 85% agreed that it greatly improves scientific communication and 83% believe there would be no control without peer review, while only 3% think it is completely unnecessary. Yet, with such support, the statement “peer review needs a complete overhaul” received a surprisingly high level of support, with opinion split between 35% disagreeing and 32% agreeing. A similar division was seen in the response to the statement “the current system is the best achievable” (36% against and 32% in favor).

Meeting specific concerns

Some 90% of authors questioned in the study are also reviewers. While the average number of reviews was eight per year, 44% of the reviewers questioned actually carried out 79% of reviews, and this group reported doing more reviews each year than they were comfortable with, suggesting serious overload in a core group.

The study also investigated what would tempt more people to review. Free subscription to the journal came out as a clear favorite (56%), closely followed by acknowledgement. Although reviewers are less likely to review if their name is revealed to authors (47%) or if their reports are published with the paper (49%), many would like to be acknowledged (44%). Ware suggests that journals print a list of all reviewers once a year, thanking them for their contribution.

Long wait times are also a major cause of dissatisfaction. According to the study, review times of up to 30 days are acceptable by about two thirds of respondents. However, for those waiting three to six months, only 19% were satisfied, and beyond that, the satisfaction rate drops to just 9%. Ware says, “This is obvious. As the world gets used to instant results, people expect things to move faster, not slower.”

Justice is blind

Although single-blind peer review, where the reviewer’s identity is hidden, is the most commonly used and experienced form of peer review, it is not the only option available (see sidebar). The practice of hiding the reviewer’s identity goes back to the 18th century and is considered an essential component. Without it, few would be prepared to review. Yet many authors claim that this encourages bias and other dubious activities behind the veil of secrecy.

This helps explain the overwhelming support for double-blind peer review, which also masks the authors’ identities, with 56% citing it as their preferred option compared to 25% for single-blind.

According to Ware, this can be partly explained by the fact that it seems more scientific. “Since science is supposed to be unbiased, many academics, especially those in scientific fields, tend to believe that a double-blind system would eliminate any perceived bias.”

Ware adds that a lot of the suspicion of bias comes from non-Anglophone regions, which generally experience higher rejection rates. However, there can be many reasons for this, including inferior English language skills and less well developed research infrastructure, rather than any specific bias. Women also claim discrimination, although there is little hard evidence for this view (Link to: last issue), and young authors say that their papers are being rejected unfairly in favor of more established names.

Since science is supposed to be unbiased, many academics, especially those in scientific fields, tend to believe that a double-blind system would eliminate any perceived bias.

Double-blind reviews would go some way towards dispelling these concerns; however, as many commentators have pointed out, in small academic circles it is not difficult to guess who the author is, so would hardly be worth the effort. There is also some support for open peer-review, with 27% considering it effective, although only 13% prefer it. Post-publication was considered effective by 37% of respondents, although only 5% said it was their preferred option. Ware puts this discrepancy down to the fact that it can be used as a supplementary review.

Seal of quality

Returning to support for the system as a whole, most academics see the peer-review process as part of the general procedure for maintaining and improving quality. The simple fact of having your work reviewed by your peers confers a sense of having met some standard. It also helps support the system that routes better papers to better journals.

According to Ware, “Most academics see peer review as part of a wider system that improves both individual papers and the literature in general. It is good for readers and is an accepted part of the system for assessing research.”

Especially for readers outside a specific community, peer review helps everyone identify leading research and understand what fits with the general consensus on a particular topic (see Sense About Science).

Yet, for a system to be truly accepted, it not only has to be fair, it has to be percieved to be fair, and in this respect single-blind peer review is failing. While no one is calling for the system to be scrapped, the community as a whole has certain misgivings that need to be addressed.

According to Ware, “this topic is very broad, and the next step is for the community to try out different peer-review models. There is overwhelming support for peer review, but what we have found is that certain reviewers are carrying the bulk of the load, so journal editors need to find ways of easing their role. They also need to think about review times, and look into ways of bringing the wait times to acceptable norms for their communities.”

The problem of perceived bias is probably the hardest to dispel; for authors of substandard papers, it is easy to accuse the reviewer of prejudice. However, it is also impossible to guarantee that it never happens, and the majority of authors would certainly welcome more transparency.
To cite this article, please use: Michelle Pirotta, “Reporting back… Attitudes about peer review”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 24, November 2008

Types of peer review

Single-blind: this is the most commonly used and experienced form of peer review. It involves hiding reviewers’ identities from authors, but not authors’ names from reviewers. It is used by 72% of journals* and has been experienced by 85% of respondents to the Peer review: benefits, perceptions and alternatives study1. The main argument for this system is that it gives reviewers the freedom to comment without censure. However, its critics claim it is biased and that dubious actions can take place behind the veil of secrecy.

Double-blind: this system involves concealing the identities of both authors and reviewers. Twenty-two percent of journals used this system and 45% of respondents have experienced it. Proponents believe this will root out bias while detractors claim that in small academic circles it is easy to guess the authors’ identity anyway.

Open: this is the opposite of double-blind, and both authors’ and reviewers’ identities are revealed. This was used by 3% of journals and has been experienced by 23% of respondents. Advocates believe that removing blinding completely will make the process more transparent, which means reviewers are more likely to make considered judgments. However, few reviewers would be prepared to review if their names were revealed.

Post-publication: this has become possible with the advent of electronic publishing, and involves placing a paper online for readers to review after it has been published. Only 1% of journals did this, and just 8% of respondents have experienced it. This system has the advantage that it can be used in addition to pre-publication peer review and can spark debate in the community. As an untested system, there is little criticism of it as yet, although few academics would like to see it replace prior peer review.

* There is slight room for error here, as although 72% of the journal editors questioned said they used single-blind, some of the editors might have been commenting on their experience with the same journal.

References:

(1) Ware, M (2008) Peer review: benefits, perceptions and alternatives. London: Publishing Research Consortium.

Useful links

Peer review: benefits, perceptions and alternatives

Nature discussion forum on peer review and the Publishing Research Consortium study

 

24_2_Fennell2_photo

A win-win-win situation

For years, Elsevier’s journals have provided Guides for Authors, which are an invaluable source of information, especially for new authors wishing to submit articles. With more than 2,000 titles and a corresponding number of Guides for Authors, ensuring that all guides are accurate and up to date is a massive undertaking.

Read more >


For years, Elsevier’s journals have provided Guides for Authors, which are an invaluable source of information, especially for new authors wishing to submit articles. With more than 2,000 titles and a corresponding number of Guides for Authors, ensuring that all guides are accurate and up to date is a massive undertaking.

“Our 2,000-plus primary research journals cover an enormous range of subjects in the Health Sciences and Science & Technology fields,” says Catriona Fennell, Head of Journal Development. “The aims and scope of these journals can vary significantly, and each has its own character and identity. This is reflected in each journal’s Guide for Authors, which is freely available via the journal’s home page on Elsevier.com. The guides provide both general guidelines and individually tailored instructions for each specific journal.”

 

Some author guidelines are the same for all journals, such as instructions for the submission of electronic artwork and information about Elsevier’s ethical policies on plagiarism and duplicate submissions. The remaining parts of the Guide for Authors are unique to each journal.

“All of our Guides for Authors need to be accurate, up to date and in good English,” explains Ralph Lupton, Application Manager. “Some authors submit articles to several of our journals, so it’s important that sections appearing in various Guides for Authors are consistent. For example most journals have similar technical requirements for the preparation of electronic illustrations, and submitting electronic illustrations in the preferred format can save authors a lot of time. It speeds up the editorial and production process and can lead to earlier publication. A significant benefit of the improved method of updating these guides is that it now instantly picks up any changes made to ethical or publishing policies and automatically implements the update in all of our Guides for Authors.”

Fennell adds: “Having accurate and up-to-date guides benefits not only the authors, but also editors and reviewers: a win-win-win situation, if you like! For example, some journals have relatively strict length requirements for submissions, and may automatically return articles that are too long. So it’s in authors’ best interest to submit articles in accordance with the appropriate Guide for Authors, and it goes without saying that if an article is well-presented in the preferred format, it makes everyone’s job easier.”

First impression

“For many of our authors, Guides for Authors are often the first point of contact with the journal from a submission point of view, representing one of the first impressions authors receive about a journal and about Elsevier,” Fennell says. “So it’s important that they are professional, accurate and consistent. Offering clear and up-to-date guidelines to authors is the best way to help ensure this.”

With clear and consistent guides, authors know exactly what is required of them in terms of the journal standards, including the length, style and format of their articles and illustrations.

On average, a Guide for Authors is accessed every 10 seconds. In response to authors’ feedback, Elsevier decided it was time to review them. “We are committed to supporting authors and the peer review process,” Lupton explains. “Part of this customer-centric strategy has focused on making the process of getting research published easier and smoother. As a result, a review of the many Guides for Authors was considered a priority, in order to make the entire publishing process easier for authors, editors and reviewers, and to improve overall journal quality.”

Fennell explains: “With clear and consistent guides, authors know exactly what is required of them in terms of the journal standards, including the length, style and format of their articles and illustrations. Editors spend less time handling queries from authors which, in turn, speeds up the reviewing process.”

Each journal is unique

“Guides for Authors differ in detail from one journal to another, and our publishing team will consult our editors where appropriate to ensure quality and accuracy in their own specific guide,” Lupton emphasizes. “The beauty of the new approach is that it allows for frequent and accurate updates with a single stroke, and we’re also using the transition as an opportunity to revamp, update and clean up our guides.”

“We’re aiming to keep the system as lean and speedy, simple and universal as possible, but it’s still more dynamic than ever before. New information always needs to be added, on subjects such as NIH and other funding body policies, language and submission instructions. In recent years, there has also been a marked increase in the number and type of video and audio clips included on journal websites,” Lupton says.

“As a result of developments in publishing, technology and the scientific community, in general, our Guides for Authors are continually evolving,” Lupton concludes. “Consequently, we hope even experienced authors will benefit from the changes we’re implementing.”

Weblinks

Check out your journals’ Guide for Authors

24_3_collins_photo

New service for reviewers launched

Reviewers are as important to scientific publishing as authors. Peer review is the touchstone of modern scientific method. Editors will agree it is a crucial component for ensuring the validity, quality and integrity of scientific journals. In fact, it’s thanks to you editors that Elsevier has introduced a new service specifically for reviewers. Christy Collins, Elsevier Academic Relations Manager, explains.

Read more >


Reviewers are as important to scientific publishing as authors. Peer review is the touchstone of modern scientific method. Editors will agree it is a crucial component for ensuring the validity, quality and integrity of scientific journals. In fact, it’s thanks to you editors that Elsevier has introduced a new service specifically for reviewers. Christy Collins, Elsevier Academic Relations Manager, explains.

“Editors frequently ask us for ways to help reviewers,” Collins says. “We’ve heard the call for more reviewer support at the editors’ conferences, in the editors’ forum discussions, and through the editors’ feedback program. This is a project we have been working towards for some time and is part of our more general efforts to help editors help reviewers write their reviews in the quickest and most pain-free way possible.”

Elsevier’s increase in service and support for reviewers should have a knock-on effect for editors. “Not only will this new facet of the Elsevier website help reviewers, but it should also please editors, as it saves them time, effort and frustration. The new pages should reduce the number of reviewer queries, and give editors somewhere to direct any queries they do receive,” Collins points out.

After listening to editors’ suggestions, Collins’ team identified the components that the new pages had to have. “Firstly, we needed to help new reviewers in particular, by taking away some of the apprehension about reviewing in general,” she reports. “We needed to explain the expertise that was required, the process that would be undertaken, the expectations that editors have, and the consequences that occur if these expectations aren’t met. Secondly, we wanted to create a tool to which editors would be happy to refer reviewers. And thirdly, and this was probably the most ambitious of our requirements, we wanted to create a comprehensive resource on the web not solely aimed at Elsevier reviewers, but rather for the entire reviewer community. So, in that sense, it’s a unique tool that is not available anywhere else— and one that will continue to grow.”

So how does this new resource measure up? Let’s take a look at what a visiting reviewer will find.

Editors’ advice

One of the most useful features has to be the ‘Advice from editors’ section, where reviewers receive specific advice direct from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. This reflects the direct relationship that editors have with reviewers and has the advantage of allowing reviewers insight into how the people who make the final decisions on the manuscripts, the editors, would like to see a review written. This section of the site is earmarked for future growth as Elsevier seeks out editors from differing fields to contribute.

Not only will this new facet of the Elsevier website help reviewers, but it should also please editors, as it saves them time, effort and frustration.

Top answers

The ‘FAQ’ section contains a large amount of detailed information to satisfy many reviewer queries. If however, the reviewer cannot find the answer to his or her question here, there’s a link to live (online) support. This is the place to send the most demanding reviewers!

Quick reference

Many reviewers have questions about statistics. Now, rather than skipping over statistics or referring these questions to editors, reviewers can use the quick-reference guide presented in these pages.

Portal

Useful links to other web resources, including Sense about Science and the Council of Science Editors can also be found on these pages. It appears that many universities and other institutions have PDF guides to reviewing, but while these may be useful for some, nowhere on the web will reviewers find such comprehensive information as is found on the Elsevier Reviewer pages.

Policy and procedures

In addition to general information about peer review, the new pages outline the Elsevier-specific peer-review policy in detail, and how EES works. There’s even a section explaining the free Scopus access for reviewers.

New newsletter

To signal its commitment to reviewers, Elsevier is also producing Reviewers’ Update, a free quarterly newsletter aimed specifically at reviewers. News, commentary, and debate about peer review will feature. Reviewers can sign up for this e-update (and enter the drawing to win an iPod) on the new Reviewers’ Home page.

Evolution

The content of this part of the Elsevier site is set to evolve to meet the needs of both reviewers and editors. “We’re currently working on a way to provide key information as a web-cast or pod-cast for reviewers,” Collins reveals. “If editors have things they want added, they should get in touch,” she adds. “We see the launch of these pages as the launch of a new service dedicated to reviewers—a way to support the people who make science publishing possible. We hope it will become the ‘go to’ reference for science and medical reviewers for all journals. ”

If you have comments or suggestions regarding the new Reviewers’ Home pages, please contact Christy Collins.

To cite this article, please use: Kirsten Spry, “New service for reviewers launched”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 24, November 2008

Useful links

Reviewers’ Home Page

24_4_Clark_photo

Procedia: a faster link to conference materials

Conference proceedings are often eagerly awaited and highly regarded in the scientific world. Often journals dedicate many issues to reporting on important conference materials. But Elsevier’s division of Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science and Astronomy (PMCA) has developed an online conference-reporting service that offers more speed and convenience than ever before possible.

Read more >


Conference proceedings are often eagerly awaited and highly regarded in the scientific world. Often journals dedicate many issues to reporting on important conference materials. But Elsevier’s division of Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science and Astronomy (PMCA) has developed an online conference-reporting service that offers more speed and convenience than ever before possible.

In August of this year, PMCA launched Procedia; an online service dedicated to conference proceedings and related materials. David Clark, Publishing Director of PMCA, explains: “Procedia is a direct result of feedback we received from scientists and editors in our division,” he says. “Conference attendees repeatedly requested a faster and more complete way to receive materials discussed and presented at important conferences. After about a year of development and testing, Procedia is now ‘live’ and addressing that need.”

An online only publication, Procedia offers the room and capability to quickly and conveniently publish all conference materials in a very short time frame – often not more than six weeks after the conference is concluded. Unlike a conventional journal, Procedia has no regular publication schedule, so can publish an issue whenever one is needed. “Procedia enables conference organizers to disseminate materials in a reliable, affordable, fast and easily accessible format,” Clark says.

Applying to Physics

“We used Physics conferences as our ‘test case scenario’, since Physics conference materials seem to be in very high demand and highly regarded among researchers and authors,” says Charon Duermeijer, Publisher Nonlinear, Statistical and Applied Physics, PMCA. “Attendees from Physics conferences are always eager to receive the materials as soon as possible. We decided that would make it the perfect place to start our work on Procedia,” she says.

Physics Procedia has already released its first issue, and there are as many as six more issues already in the pipeline. Duermeijer explains that speed of publication is only one of the benefits of the new journal. “Often, when journals publish a print version of the materials, they are limited by space and format constraints. Journals aren’t able to publish all materials, and often only include the most prominent materials or edited versions of manuscripts.”

With Physics Procedia, conference organizers can post all materials in a single location on Science Direct, and Procedia will make the entire collection of materials accessible – including multimedia files and other files not communicable in a print environment. No special subscription is needed, since anyone with access to Science Direct can view the journal. Conference organizers can therefore share the results of recent conferences not only with attendees, but with all specialists in the field. Costs for publication vary, based on the amount of material provided, and access to the journal is free to all.

Broadening the scope

While Clark and Duermeijer are concentrating on Physics Procedia for now, they anticipate expansion into other areas very soon. Procedia is already working on an Energy version and a Chemistry version. The goal is to eventually open up the publication to many more fields of S&T and Health Sciences, where appropriate.

“We realize that the journal will be more helpful to some fields than to others,” Duermeijer says. “We’re working on new editions of Procedia based on need and the feedback we receive, both in- and outside of Elsevier. Hopefully, we’ll eventually be able to serve the needs of all relevant participant groups.”

Procedia offers conference organizers the opportunity to save time, space and costs of a print version of proceedings, and helps bring Elsevier closer to the trend towards electronic publications and faster results.

Service for satisfaction

“In principle, Procedia is much more a service offering than a conventional publication,” Clark says. “It’s a way to connect communities of scientists in the field and helping to continue the important discussions and issues addressed at conferences.”

procedia conference organisers to disseminate materials in a reliable, affordable, fast and easy accessible format.

This also offers clear benefits for journals, as well. By taking conference proceedings out of the regular publication schedule, journal editors are free to again fill their pages with other timely and relevant information in their field, without losing any benefits of publishing conference results. “In some instances, editors will continue to publish the best papers from a conference in a journal, but now we can use Procedia to publish all other papers of that conference; before we wouldn’t be able to accommodate such a request. It’s a win-win situation for all,” he continues.

Access to information

“There are, essentially, three ways we might receive a request to publish materials in Physics Procedia,” Duermeijer explains. “Requests can come either from journals who are currently printing their materials, or from conference organizers themselves. In addition, we are busy exploring and selecting prominent conferences and approaching them ourselves, to ensure that the most relevant and timely information is featured in an issue.”

“Physics Procedia is one more way Elsevier is working to improve the dissemination of relevant scientific information,” Clark says, “and at the same time, taking advantage of emerging technology to improve scientific communication.”

In addition to developing new versions of Procedia for other scientific disciplines, both Clark and Duermeijer expect further expansion of capabilities and features. “For the most part, we are open to the requests and suggestions of our customers,” Duermeijer says. “The online platform allows us room for development and improvement, to continue to serve the needs of our audiences.”

To cite this article, please use: Toni Bellanca, “Procedia: A faster link to conference proceedings”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 24, November 2008

Useful Links

Physics Procedia Journal Description

Physics Procedia

24_5_goss_photo

Behind the scenes…increasing journal visibility

“When I was a student, I would have loved to have been able to click on a video abstract and see great scientists discussing their ideas at various points in their careers,” says David Goss, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Number Theory, about the rationale behind his journal’s innovative approach to abstracts.

Read more >


“When I was a student, I would have loved to have been able to click on a video abstract and see great scientists discussing their ideas at various points in their careers,” says David Goss, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Number Theory, about the rationale behind his journal’s innovative approach to abstracts.

Since April of this year, authors whose articles have been accepted for publication in the journal have been able to submit a video abstract along with a traditional written abstract. As part of Elsevier’s strategy to develop various forms of multimedia content and Web 2.0 applications, videos will eventually appear in permanent electronic archives on ScienceDirect. As ScienceDirect does not currently support Flash, however, it was decided that YouTube would be a viable and cost-effective interim host.

Humanizing science

So far, six videos have been submitted, some of which have already been watched more than 1,300 times. “This is excellent for a scientific idea,” says Goss. Ranging in length from around two to four minutes, the videos are made by the authors themselves with a simple video recorder or webcam. “Of course, it is not obligatory to submit a video, but for the authors who want to, we provide guidelines for how to create an abstract. The videos are not polished, nor are they supposed to be. What’s important is that they convey the enthusiasm and emotion of the scientist. Videos are not going to replace scientific papers, but they are a very immediate and informal medium and thus a great way of humanizing science,” he says

Video abstracts convey the enthusiasm of the scientist.

Some of the videos are very simple indeed, showing the author looking into the camera and reading the abstract as it appears at the top of the paper. “One such video was submitted by an author in China,” says Goss, “The sound quality was not perfect, but even so, there is something compelling to me about being able to see and hear an author from the other side of the world talk about research they have conducted that is relevant to my field.”

Other authors have gotten quite creative with their videos, putting mathematical formulae up on a blackboard and talking through these in the context of their papers. “This is a great way of visualizing the problem the author will go on to discuss in the paper; and highlights just how useful video abstracts can be, even – or perhaps particularly - for something like number theory, which most people would not immediately regard as a visual field,” says Goss.

Recording science for the future

One of the other core ideas behind Goss’ adoption of video abstracts is their ability to – quite literally – record science for future generations. “Suppose, hypothetically, that these video abstracts had been done routinely since the 1950s,” he says. “It is mind boggling to think of all the great careers that would be chronicled in this fashion. If we start now, future generations will be the beneficiaries. In fact, I recently read that young people use YouTube more than cable TV, so video is becoming an increasingly natural, if not essential, way of communicating with upcoming scholars and potentially also attracting young people to science.”

In 2003, ScienceDirect received an average of 146 articles containing multimedia files per month. In 2008, the average is 1,900 per month.

Goss worked closely with Tyge Burgess, Publishing Editor for Journal Development, to set up this channel. “The YouTube videos are just one example of the kinds of initiatives currently being set up at Elsevier. They provide tools and resources for our authors to present and distribute their content in innovative and sophisticated ways,” says Burgess. “In addition, these sorts of channels can act as a valuable marketing tool for journals by building brand awareness and driving users back to ScienceDirect for the full-text article. Most top mathematics graduates are not at the level where they can publish now, but in a few years they will be, and they will know the journals from YouTube.”

Growing trend

Goss believes that other publishing groups within Elsevier could eventually pick up video abstracts and evolve into an industry trend. “My journal is performing an important experiment. We’ve received very positive feedback on this initiative so far from Elsevier publishing teams and from our authors. Whatever the final outcome, I hope to see video abstracts becoming the norm instead of the exception,” he says. In 2003, ScienceDirect received 1,759 articles containing one or more multimedia file. Five years later, this number has increased to an average of 1,900 per month. This explosion is a clear indication that the trend Goss envisages is not too far away.

To see an example of one of the Journal of Number Theory video abstracts, link from the full paper on ScienceDirect through to YouTube or go directly to the video via this open  link.

To cite this article, please use: Cecily Layzell, “Behind the Scenes… Increasing journal visibility”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 24, November 2008

Useful Links

The Journal of Number Theory

Thousands of hits for the newest video abstract

The most recent video abstract added to David Goss’ growing collection has gathered a great deal of attention.

“Fun With F1” is a creative presentation by Alain Connes, PhD, of the College de France. Dr. Connes who is a Fields Medal winner (this is the highest award given in mathematics) shows the power of these video abstracts in his discussion of his work with Caterina Consani and Matilde Marcolli.

In the first 8 days after it was posted, the abstract had already received more than 2203 ‘hits’, either on the Journal Number Theory posting, or Connes’ own posting on YouTube.

Goss is understandably pleased with the success of the most recent abstract. “For pure math (as opposed to Britney Spears!), the number of hits is totally remarkable and shows the real interest in these videos.”

The producer who helped Dr. Connes create his video is also pleased with its success. He has even offered to help other French mathematicians create their own video abstracts.

What you said about Women in Science

As always, Editors’ Update welcomes your feedback, comments and suggestions in our response mailbox, EditorsUpdate2@elsevier.com. Our 23rd Issue, which focused on Women in Science, attracted a response even more substantial than usual. Editors are clearly interested in, and wish to continue to discuss, the gender issue as it applies to the scientific community. Here is some of the feedback we’ve received:

Read more >


As always, Editors' Update welcomes your feedback, comments and suggestions in our response mailbox,EditorsUpdate2@elsevier.com. Our 23rd Issue, which focused on Women in Science, attracted a response even more substantial than usual. Editors are clearly interested in, and wish to continue to discuss, the gender issue as it applies to the scientific community. Here is some of the feedback we've received:

Thank you for your report on women in science… I would like to inform you that at women working in science are already recognized in Brazil. In fact, there is a special grant funded by L’Oreal, The Brazilian Academy of Sciences and UNESCO that is awarded every year only to women working in the filed of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Biomedicine. For more information, please, go to the Brazilian Academy of Sciences homepage, www.abnc.org.br
E.Z.

I am happy to see that Elsevier has realised about how few women form part of the Editorial Board. Many field and aspects of Science have the same problem. In Spain a group of Geologist are working on this and I attached you our first contribution…Regards and thanks for this work.
A.A.Z.

You might be interested to learn that when I was editor of Stochastic Processes and their Applications, I had 6 women on the editorial board... The previous high number of women for this journal's editorial board was (I believe) one woman. The countries of these women were France (3), Israel, Spain, and Brazil. All of the women did excellent jobs as Associate Editors.

Also, when I stopped being editor, I helped arrange for the Brazilian woman M.E. Vares to become the editor in chief, a position she currently holds.
P.P.

Thank you for a timely edition that examines the relative paucity of women in scientific publishing. The following quote may be appropriate:

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. Max Planck.

In time, the number of women in this realm will assume a more accurate balance. It is taking place now in other activities in the field.
Best regards,
K.R.S.

Thanks, it’s not like this everywhere and I would be interested in discussing this issue.
A.E.

Thanks for your message on this question. Just one comment, which is VERY out of date as I left my old university (Cambridge) in 1975.

Certainly there were fewer girls in the physics lectures than men but among the professors/lecturers, women held some of the most prestigious posts. In pure mathematics in particular, I estimate that women were proportionally more numerous than men, given the huge imbalance in the women/men ration when the colleges were still unisex. Of course, such an imbalance meant that many of the girl undergraduates were very bright indeed, selection being so severe.

My point is simply that in such a discussion, the number of women should somehow be weighted to take account of the importance of the posts they hold.

I have no information about the sex ratio among editors but among editorial staff at publishers, I have mostly dealt with women, most of whom were tremendously efficient and competent and pleasant to deal with…
P.H.

I am glad to say I work for a company where women are very highly placed (research committee 3 men two women).
Frankly considering the work involved in editorial boards and the zero kudos - I think this shows more intelligence on the part of women!
M.S.

I could write you a book on this topic!
E.K.S.

I am co-editor of Advances in Space Research. Since editor-in- chief of this physical journal is a woman, Dr. Peggy Ann Shea, I do not see particular gender problem.
J.L.

Forum results

In the last issue of Editors’ Update we asked: Does your journal have a role to play in supporting the careers of women in science and academia?

Read more >


In the last issue of Editors’ Update we asked: Does your journal have a role to play in supporting the careers of women in science and academia?

A. Yes, with small steps I can make a difference. By asking women to submit to, review for, or be on the editorial board for my journal.

B. Yes, but that role is minor and ultimately science itself will take its course and merit will determine the careers of scientists of both genders.

C. No, this shouldn’t be the role of the journal.
The majority of respondents (41%) agreed with statement A, feeling that it was possible to make a difference in this area without compromising on the quality of science published or the integrity of their journal. “Progress on equity can be slow if left to its own devices,” observed one editor, “I think proactive efforts are appropriate.”

One contributor felt a particular obligation to help early-career women and women from developing countries and does so via offering a little extra assistance to bring submissions up to the required standard. A couple of respondents observed that women required a little more encouragement than men to submit, speak up, and self-promote when it comes to candidacy for editorial positions. There seemed to be general interest in boosting female representation on editorial boards to the level that they were representative of the gender balance of contributors.

The qualifications of women were not questioned: “women are still a minority group…any woman that makes it to the top rank has, by definition, an exceptional proven track record.” In some cases women were seen as a superior choice: “I tend to choose a women…when I have a choice between two equally qualified reviewers…in my experience women are more likely than men to deliver good reviews on time.”

The view that the role of the journal is minor and that merit will take its own course was held by thirteen percent of respondents. And sixteen percent felt that the journal had no role to play in the gender balance issue in science. “We edit a scientific journal [not] running a service for perceived disadvantaged groups. I really don’t care whether our editorial board is 100% male, 100% female, or somewhere in between.” However a number of editors who gave these responses had some ideas of how women could be supported in pursuing a scientific career including faculty mentorships, hiring outstanding female academics when they are available (without necessarily waiting for a specific position to match her competencies), encouraging female graduate students to apply for faculty positions. Others referred to the problem of women already being over-burdened, both in- and out- side of science. One contributor mentioned feeling guilty about both aspects of her life while trying to divide herself between family and science; another indicated that the gender issue itself leads to additional obligations and invitations for female scientists to boost female representation in boards and committees.

In general contributions acknowledged that there is an issue, but also that opportunities for women have increased enormously in recent years, your contributions indicate that they will continue to expand over the coming years.

23_veritybrown

Attaining gender balance

Research by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that women make up less than 20% of senior academic staff in the majority of EU countries – a surprising statistic when numbers of male and female university students are roughly equal. Verity Brown, Editor-in-Chief of Neuroscience & Biobehavioural Reviews, talks to Editors’ Update about the possible reasons for this mismatch.

Read more >


Research by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that women make up less than 20% of senior academic staff in the majority of EU countries – a surprising statistic when numbers of male and female university students are roughly equal. Verity Brown, Editor-in-Chief of Neuroscience & Biobehavioural Reviews, talks to Editors’ Update about the possible reasons for this mismatch.

In biological sciences, nearly two thirds of undergraduates are female, while just over half of post-graduates and only 45% of post-doctorates are female. By the time we get to staff level, only 30% are female, and at professorial level the figure stands at just 10% (source: www.setwomenstats.org.uk/sections/index). These statistics appear to show women dropping off the academic ladder at every rung. Is an academic career less attractive to women? It is certainly the case that, overall, women in academia are paid less than men. But what are the reasons for this phenomenon? We ask Verity Brown, Editor-in-Chief of Neuroscience & Biobehavioural Reviews and Head of the School of Psychology at St Andrew’s University in the UK, for her opinions.

Asking the right question

“Of course, if women are choosing not to go into academia, or if they’re not progressing at the same rate as men within academia, it should not be surprising that there is a gender pay gap,” explains Brown. “When we conducted a survey at St Andrews, we found that male and female staff performing the same job at the same level were paid equally. The gender pay gap is entirely due to the fact that women disproportionately occupy lower grade positions.”

Similarly, as managers and editors are drawn from the pool of senior academics, it should not be surprising to see a greater number of male editors across Europe. The real question is not ‘why are women paid less than men?’ but ‘why are there fewer women occupying senior academic positions?’

Reasons for the gender gap

Although the proportion of men and women in academia is about equal, women are disproportionately represented in the lower pay-grade positions. There are undoubtedly many factors involved in this phenomenon, but changes in employment legislation in Europe have removed some of the more obvious ones, such as bias in recruitment processes and employment policies. It is apparent that social factors remain highly significant for women considering an academic career.

The gender pay gap is entirely due to the fact women disproportionately occupy lower grade positions.

Brown goes on to explain: “there is a perception that an academic career in the scientific field will not result in a permanent job for up to seven years after a bachelor’s degree. Many women consider this an obstacle to their plans to start a family, and are concerned that they will only just be getting a foot on the career ladder when they are considering having children. The irony is, research and editorial work is actually far more flexible than many other professions, meaning that women could more easily balance the demands of a family with those of their career.”

Realistic role models

Encouraging women to apply for the top jobs might also be a solution. It is widely thought that while men readily put themselves forward for promotion, women might not do so until they are confident that they already have every qualification and criterion required. “We need more female role models within the field,” Brown continues. “But they need to be realistic role models that provide realistic aspirations. With the recent appointment of Louise Richardson as Principal of St Andrews University, for the first time in my career, I will work in an organization with a woman in a senior line-management position – it’s amazing to me that there are still so few women in management roles.”

Multitasking editors

But this gender gap does not just apply to men and women performing university management roles; it also applies to editors, not least because these are often the same people. Among journal editors, there is a difference between so-called ‘figurehead’ editors – big name editors of large journals – and editors of smaller journals. “It may be cliché to say that women are multi-taskers,” Brown explains, “but in the journal world it would be helpful if it were true, because it does seem to be the case that smaller journals that require one editor to perform many roles are often led by women; whereas larger, staffed journals tend to led by men. Of course, the big-name journal editors are usually paid more too. This, again, contributes to the misconception that men and women are paid unequally for the same roles – it’s only to be expected that the editor of a bigger journal would be paid more. What’s unfortunate is that more women are not filling these highly visible figurehead roles.

We need quality female candidates at every academic level. if we can manage this the gender pay gap will take care of itself.

“Elsevier is different. Unlike society journals, which in the past have often appointed editors following informal enquiries, Elsevier conducts a search for a new editor and follows company guidelines to ensure equal consideration is given to male and female candidates. This way, Elsevier can be sure that the best people are leading its journals and that talent is not overlooked on the basis of gender.”

Reasons to review

One place in which the gender balance is rather different is in the reviewing role. While peer review is a crucial part of the publication process, it is not always a part in which scientists gladly participate. “Scientists may agree to review an article for several reasons,” Brown claims; “a good working relationship with the journal editor is one, but, perhaps more significant, is the article itself. If an article is directly in your field, reviewing gives you the opportunity to find out the latest thinking before it’s published. In addition, a reviewer must chose to balance the ‘service to the discipline’ against other demands on their time. There are no data available to suggest a gender effect on the tendency of reviewers to accept an invitation to review, not least because the gender of the invitee is not always apparent to an editor. However, anecdotally, it does seem to be the case that junior academics are more likely to accept invitations than their senior colleagues. It might, therefore, be important to research whether there is a gender-imbalance in the reviewing system, with women taking a disproportionately large burden of the peer-review process.

The gender pay gap in the scientific world, it seems then, has more to do with the roles women are performing than in fundamental inequality. Optimistically, Brown concludes: “The data indicating gender-imbalance are cross-sectional, so they inevitably reflect past hiring and promotion policies. Academia today is more family-friendly and the prospects for women have never been better. The most important task is to recruit and retain quality female candidates to every academic level, and increase the visibility of women in leadership roles. If we can manage this, the gender pay gap will take care of itself.”

 

To cite this article, please use: Vicky Hampton, "The gender pay gap among science editors", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 23, August 2008

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@Elsevier.com

Useful links

European Commission research: Women and science – Gender difference, gender equality
UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology
Wise Campaign (only available to UK residents)

Question time

In this section of Editors’ Update, we ask editors their opinion on a topic pertinent to the current issue, which is ‘Women in Science’. We asked a few prominent editors:

Read more >


In this section of Editors’ Update, we ask editors their opinion on a topic pertinent to the current issue, which is ‘Women in Science’. We asked a few prominent editors:

1) What are your experiences of positive or negative gender discrimination?
2) What does the future hold for women scientists in general, and for female authors in particular? How do you see this issue developing over time?

Dr Sue Barlow, independent consultant in toxicology working in the UK and Associate Editor of Food and Chemical Toxicology (since 2002).

1) As a scientist I have had few negative experiences that I am aware of. As a young scientist in the 1970s, I was sometimes asked inappropriate questions in interviews about my home circumstances – partner’s work, children, etc – and it is good to see that such questions are now off-limits.

On the other hand, having worked for many years in a medical school and in the UK Department of Health, I have seen and experienced a different kind of discrimination – favoring medically qualified staff over equivalent or better-qualified scientists.

On the positive side, as Chief Scientist in the UK Department of Health, I was part of a team with oversight for career issues and opportunities. Part-time working and job-sharing was encouraged and welcomed, enabling women to continue at work while raising young children. Indeed, in the 1980s and early 1990s there were somewhat more women than men scientists in the Department, with many in senior positions.

Since 1999, The European Commission has been influential in ensuring gender equality by launching an action program for women in science. And, for its collaborative research programs, it is making it essential for applicants to address gender issues, both with respect to employment and mentoring of scientists within projects, and the content of the research itself.

I have been a member of a number of advisory committees and discussion groups at both national and international level and there have been noticeable occasions when I have been the only woman present. Women scientists in academia and in commerce will no doubt have had similar experiences. The reasons for this are complex and do not necessarily involve discrimination. However, it does illustrate there is still a significant gender issue out there.

2) I think the future for women scientists looks good. Gender action programs are still necessary but have undoubtedly made a positive impact in the world of science during the last three decades. We have at least moved from a situation where employers were unaware they were discriminating to one where the legal and social climate has reduced overt gender prejudice and provides remedies for those who feel they have been unjustly treated. The greatest social force for further improvement in the promotion of women as research scientists perhaps lies in the realization by scientists of both sexes that, for many, the work-life balance is currently in an unhealthy state and requires some radical change, both by employers and employees.

Professor Lynette Ferguson, Professor of Nutrition at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and Editor of Mutation Research, Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms.

1) When I first started as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Auckland Medical School (1979), there were around 30 men at professor or associate professor level and two women associate professors. While this ratio has improved somewhat, equal numbers of women and men are appointed at lower levels but no more than a quarter of those in the highest echelon are women.

While I thought this was bias, I should note that I have served on the promotions committee and observed that women tend to wait far longer than men to put in their promotion applications. Men seem to be more confident; women are afraid they will get knocked back. I see it also in my journal experience. It is my impression that women more often wait to cross the t’s and dot the i’s.

One very positive thing that has happened at this university has been the Senior Women Leadership Programme, which I have been involved in through speaking and mentoring younger women. I do my utmost to encourage them to push themselves forward more confidently.

For a time there were some strong incentives to take on women preferentially in university jobs, but this led to a downgrading of women and almost made the situation worse. I remember when I was appointed at Associate Professor level one male colleague remarked, “Well, they must have needed to increase their quota of female associate professors that day!”

The Royal Society in New Zealand appoints around 20 new fellows each year. In the past two years, only one woman has been given this public honor.

In general, as a woman working in a male-dominated system, I have not found it easy to emerge as a senior academic and researcher. I think what has happened, however, is that such experiences have made me more focused in my ambitions, and possibly more effective in my work habits.

2) I feel the situation has improved significantly in the time I have been in science. Benchmarking tools such as Scopus provide a completely unbiased assessment of whose work is being cited – and do not distinguish males from females. They also enhance visibility, which is essential for good scientists to emerge.

However, while women bear children and are their primary caregivers, it is not always easy for them to work such long hours or travel when and where they please. Thus, biology does not make it easy.

It is reassuring to see today’s female role models in situations where they would not have been 10–20 years ago. For example, I am program leader of Nutrigenomics New Zealand, one of the major funded research groups in the country. This is largely based on an evaluation of numbers of publications, their nature and their impact.

My advice to younger women would be: keep publishing; don’t be caught up in self-doubt.

Professor Caroline Finch, Research Professor in Human Movement Science and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Principal Research Fellow, School of Human Movement and Sport Sciences, University of Ballarat, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. Finch is also Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

1) I was fortunate to have a father who was a leading university academic and strongly encouraged my entering science as a career. The message I heard clearly as a child was that women could achieve success just as well as men. I majored in statistics in both my undergraduate and postgraduate studies, in heavily male-dominated mathematics departments, and did not feel that there was any particular discrimination against women. It was not until I started to work in more medically oriented research groups that I started to perceive some preferential opportunities for my male colleagues, particularly those with medical training. However, as my career has progressed further and my own professional reputation been established, I have not strongly felt the impact of any gender discrimination. Perhaps the only negative factor I have experienced has been a lack of women role models and mentors to help guide my career.

2) I am always surprised when I hear that female authors in some disciplines may be disadvantaged. These days I work in the broad field of epidemiology, which is a popular career choice for women interested in undertaking medical research, and I often read papers by female authors. Neither my female colleagues nor I have, to my knowledge, experienced publication discrimination. As Editor-in Chief of JSAMS, I can truthfully say that the gender of authors has never been a factor in the consideration of any paper submitted for publication. The advice I would give young female authors is the same that I would give young male authors: partner with a more experienced scientist or seek mentoring advice to help you develop skills in writing for a formal scientific audience and in responding to reviewers’ comments. Most senior researchers have much knowledge to impart and, in my experience, are particularly excited by younger scientists (of any gender) who really want to learn and develop as future research leaders.
To cite this article, please use: Kirsten Spry, "Question Time", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 23, August 2008

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@Elsevier.com

Female Nobel laureates

Physics, 1903 Marie Sklodowska Curie, 1963 Maria Goeppert Mayer

Read more >


Physiology and Medicine

Physiology and Medicine

Read more >


23_yildizbayazitoglu

Behind the scenes … Women On the Board

Today, women scientists have as many, if not more advantages than their male counterparts. Women are highly sought after by leading universities and journals, who are struggling to balance gender gaps. However, true equality remains elusive. One success story is the International Journal of Thermal Sciences, where Editor-in-Chief Yildiz Bayazitoglu, HS Cameron Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Rice University, USA, recently appointed four women to the board.

Read more >


Today, women scientists have as many, if not more advantages than their male counterparts. Women are highly sought after by leading universities and journals, who are struggling to balance gender gaps. However, true equality remains elusive. One success story is the International Journal of Thermal Sciences, where Editor-in-Chief Yildiz Bayazitoglu, HS Cameron Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Rice University, USA, recently appointed four women to the board.

These are far from token appointments: all four are highly respected engineers and, as Bayazitoglu says, “these are people we want on our board. Regardless of gender, they are leading scientists”.

Her female appointees are Professor Cristina Amon, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto, Canada; Professor Adrienne Lavine, Chair of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of California, USA; Nesreene Ghaddar, Professor and Endowed Qatar Chair in Energy Studies in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon; and Professor Pamela Norris from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia, USA.

Bayazitoglu firmly believes that, “it is a mistake to give misplaced credit to women and wrong to have less qualified women just to boost numbers.” She wants the very best people on her editorial board and that four of them are women is incidental.

The glass ceiling

Despite efforts to encourage women in science, some of the most prestigious jobs still seem to be a male preserve, which could be attributed to lingering sexism. Bayazitoglu, however, has her own theories.

For a start, education policies directed at attracting girls to science are relatively recent, and the first recipients of such encouragement are only now coming of age. Bayazitoglu believes that as time passes, this imbalance will diminish.

It is a mistake to give misplaced credit to women and wrong to have less qualified women just to boost numbers

However, she explains that the biggest barrier is simply that at some point in their lives, most women are going to have children, and this is likely to occur at a key stage in their career. She makes it clear that this is also true for men to a certain extent.

Bayazitoglu’s own career and life is an excellent example of what women can achieve if they can balance the demands of work and home. Today, at 62, she can look back on a shining career. She holds several patents, has more than 150 publications in technical journals, has refereed conference proceedings, has been asked to chair the ASME Heat Transfer division and her undergraduate textbook, Elements of Heat Transfer, was translated into Korean. Her work as an academic and educator has been recognized throughout her career, resulting in an impressive list of awards.

She is also the mother of three, now grown-up, boys, all of whom are successful in their own right and bear testimony to a remarkable woman. But Bayazitoglu is modest, turning the conversation back to her husband, whom she credits with bringing joy to her life and making her career possible.

As she explains, she comes from an era when it was perfectly acceptable for women to stay at home. And if it were not for her love of research and teaching and the support of her husband at home, she might have done just that.

A woman’s work is never done

This, for her, is a key consideration: once women have children, their priorities change and without support, their work will suffer. But if this means women have to abandon their careers, science also loses their unique perspective.

According to Bayazitoglu, both mothers and fathers would benefit from some sort of assistance, through crèche facilities and more flexibility to structure one’s own career. “A cyclic work life whereby women reduce their work loads while their children are young, only to return later when they have the time and energy would be of great benefit to science in general.”

As she explains from her own experience, she now has the time to dedicate to her work and enough energy to keep on contributing for many years to come. “If they want to return later, it should be possible. I’m 62 and I can’t even imagine retiring. I’ve got enough energy to carry on for a long time.”

In her view, men and women are equally capable of success, but only when the parameters are the same. She firmly believes that to manage any high-level career, both men and women need help at home. The encouragement she received from her husband gave her the freedom to push her career forwards.

As things stand now, it is very hard for women keep their careers moving forward at the pace required to win top positions later in life. Bayazitoglu explains: “At every stage, after your immediate family, your career has to be your next priority. You need to make sure you can keep up with your research, papers, teaching duties and administration. Enough women are choosing careers in science, but they will inevitably find it hard to balance their responsibilities. Then, when they return with full energy, they see all their male colleagues have been concentrating on their careers and are now far ahead.”

Room at the top

This goes a long way to explaining the absence of women on editorial boards: first, the pool of suitable candidates contains few women; and, second, they have other priorities.

As Bayazitoglu explains, the role of editor-in-chief cannot be taken lightly. “It is a time-consuming job and the return in terms of career progression is minimal. For women with other responsibilities, I would recommend associate editor or editorial board positions. For me, I now have the time, and I have the support of my co-editors-in-chief and our publishing editor, who incidentally is also a woman. It is one of the few things in my career that I still had left to do, and I love it. But it is important to see it as a hobby. I have got so much out of science that I felt it was time to give something back.”

However, she is still keen to get women into visible positions. “I think it’s very important to give such opportunities to women. First of all, their input is valued, and, secondly, they will act as role models for younger women coming up.

Enough women are choosing careers in science, but they will inevitably find it hard to balance their responsibilities.

“I personally wasn’t aware that journals were finding it difficult to recruit women to their boards. I respect and personally like the women I appointed and simply wanted to work with them. But it’s not like I forced them on; everyone agreed they were the right candidates. There was certainly no conscious effort to increase our female members.”

Although she won’t admit it, Bayazitoglu is a role model for women in science herself. She was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan, and the first woman to win the Heat Transfer Memorial Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Without any fuss, Bayazitoglu is steadily achieving for women scientists exactly what they deserve: respect.

To cite this article, please use: Michelle Pirotta, "Behind the scenes… Women on the board", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 23, August 2008

Bayazitoglu on dealing with sexism

I entered science at a time when there were fewer women and the whole feminist movement was still in its early days. Of course I encountered sexism at the beginning, but I just ignored it. If a male colleague was sexist, I simply ignored that part of his personality and interacted with him on a professional level. Eventually, if you are confident in yourself and your abilities and truly believe that you were appointed because you’re good and not because you are a woman, you will see people’s attitudes changing towards you. I believe that I have changed some people’s minds and shown them that a woman can do the job on her own abilities. This is why I don’t believe in preferential treatment for women or appointments to quotas: in the short term, this may help increase numbers, but in the long term, we all stand to lose. Women need to establish themselves on their own terms, playing to their own, special strengths. Only in this way can we earn the respect of our colleagues.

Smashing the glass ceiling

  1. Remember that women have children: a little understanding and space during child-rearing years would go a long way towards keeping women in science.
  2. Introduce family-friendly measures: crèches and other child-friendly initiative will ease the pressure on both male and female scientists at a crucial stage in their careers.
  3. Don’t fill gaps with token females: this will only cause resentment; women can and want to make it on their own credentials.
  4. Encourage women to have families if they want them: children bring richness to their parents, which is then transferred through their work to the general benefit of science; don’t set up a system in which women are destined to fail unless they act like men.
  5. Be more flexible when it comes to career paths: most people have good and bad times, but not everyone has them at the same stage in life. After children have left home, many women (and men) have a lot more time and energy, and this should be tapped.

 

Redressing the gender balance

Few would deny that women are underrepresented in science; however, while some blame publishing practices others believe working conditions are the problem. Editors’ Update talks to two ecologists about the peer-review process and its effect on women’s careers.

Read more >


Few would deny that women are underrepresented in science; however, while some blame publishing practices others believe working conditions are the problem. Editors’ Update talks to two ecologists about the peer-review process and its effect on women’s careers.

Investigating bias in publishing

“Given the changing landscape of scientific publishing, we want to investigate bias in the publication process,” says Dr. Amber Budden of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California. Budden is a member of Ecobias, a working group supported by NCEAS that explores bias in ecology and evolution.

Ecobias thought the journal Behavioural Ecology (BE) would be a good model for investigation. “As a behavioral ecologist, I was familiar with BE and its switch to double-blind peer review in 2001. We wanted to see whether there were demographic differences before and after the introduction of double-blind peer review. We compared our results with an out-group of similar journals with single-blind peer review,” Budden explains.

Using a simple chi-square analysis, Budden et al found a significant increase in female first-authors published in BE after the journal introduced double-blind peer review. In the journals using single-blind peer review, only one showed a significant increase in female first-authored papers over the same period. Budden and her colleagues recently published their results in Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

Much discussion and support

The findings have initiated a great deal of discussion, and female scientists in particular feel it is time for a change. While Budden does not believe that this single study provides definitive evidence of gender bias, she feels that double-blind is a more objective method of peer review that merits further investigation.

peer review [is] one of the many factors that could influence the representation of women in science.-Amber Budden

“I appreciate that there are limitations in terms of implementing it at journals,” she says. “I also understand that in some disciplines, the author’s identity can still be determined, but that shouldn’t prevent us from testing this model and exploring the implementation of double-blind peer review.”

Despite community support and some indications that it would be worthwhile, journals are reluctant to adopt double-blind peer review. The transition would be costly and there is no strong evidence that the single-blind peer-review system is flawed.

“That may well be true,” says Budden. “Journals have access to data that may defend single-blind peer review.” She believes that journals should publish the data to reassure the community that the current system is appropriate, objective and unbiased.

Encouraging other initiatives

Budden’s critics have suggested that rather than focusing on peer review, resources could be better invested in programs that promote female equality in science. These include Women into Science Engineering and Construction and the Royal Society’s Athena SWAN Charter.

However, Budden does not believe that a choice has to be made. “Resources are not so scarce that they can’t be spread across multiple initiatives,” she says. “We can pursue alternative peer-review models while encouraging other proactive activities.”

Budden feels fortunate to be working in the ecology field, where “women are represented in a much more balanced way than in other life sciences.” She continues, “Ecobias isn’t trying to fix a major problem, but improve the current situation.” Part of that will involve better employment conditions for working mothers. Budden says, “to ensure that both men and women can balance their personal lives with an academic career, certain aspects of academia need to support young families.”

In any case, Budden is happy that this study has inspired discussion about current review models and possible alternatives. “I’m not suggesting that peer review is going to solve all our problems,” she says. “It’s one of many factors that could influence the representation of women in science.”

Down a (double) blind alley

Dr. Tom Webb of the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield agrees that women are under-represented in the ecology and evolution field. “Particularly when you get past the early career stage into medium-level and senior positions,” he says. So he was particularly interested in the Budden et al study. “I read it carefully, but was suspicious about the strength of their conclusions, given the apparent shortcomings in the data.”

Together with Prof. Robert Freckleton, Senior Editor at the Journal of Applied Ecology, and Bob O’Hara of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Helsinki, Webb looked at the findings in more detail.

“When we reanalyzed the data, we found no evidence that double-blind peer review benefits female authors,” says Webb. He acknowledges that there has been an increase in female authorship at BE but he was interested in whether this was exceptional compared with other journals.

“We used a single analysis to see what the broad trend was,” he explains. They found an increasing level of female authorship at all six journals examined by Budden and her team. “We couldn’t find any evidence that the increase at BE was more pronounced.”

Webb also looked at the number of female authors published in BE since its first publication in 1990. “There had been a proportional increase in female authors since 1990. It had been going on for 10 years before double-blind peer review was introduced, and there has been no significant increase since.” The difference hinges on which analysis technique is used. Webb and his colleagues feel their approach addresses the question more directly.

Analyzing peer review

Peer review is currently a hot topic and Webb is concerned about the attention Budden et al’s study has received. “The conclusions have been picked up by some influential institutions, and my concern is that the conclusions are not supported by the data.”

On the positive side, journals are starting to examine the peer-review issue more closely. Webb: “They are doing this kind of analysis in-house and none of the results I have seen show that female authors are more likely to be rejected.” He also points out that most papers have multiple authors of both sexes, making it difficult to reject them based on gender.

In an article responding to Webb’s counter argument, Budden et al suggest that female authors could be more attracted to journals with a double-blind peer-review policy. “It sounds plausible,” Webb admits, “but I don’t think there’s any evidence for it.” He says some journals have offered a double-blind peer-review option, only to abandon it after lack of uptake.

None of the results I have seen show that female authors are more likely to be rejected. -Thomas Webb

He also cites an example from Budden et al’s own study. “Despite using single-blind peer review, Animal Behaviour has a higher proportion of female authors than BE. That wouldn’t be the case if women were preferentially submitting to double-blind journals.”

Rectifying gender imbalance

Webb has been interested in the gender imbalance in ecology for some time. In 2007, he and Dr. Alison Holt of the Environment Department, University of York, wrote a feature on the subject for the Bulletin of the British Ecological Society (BES).

“We used a questionnaire to measure BES members’ opinions,” he explains. “We received all kind of feedback, but we didn’t get any complaints about the peer-review system.” The feature cited childcare and unintentional bias as the main obstacles for women pursuing a career in science.

Webb feels that flexible working patterns would be more beneficial. “Women still take on more childcare responsibilities than men, and their career break during maternity is longer,” he says. “The current system makes it quite difficult to restart your career after taking time off,” he says.

He adds that groups such as Women into Science Engineering and Construction and Athena SWAN can raise the issue. “Universities are far behind other professions when it comes to gender equality,” he says. “We would all benefit from making science more attractive for both genders.”

While everyone agrees that there is a gender bias, opinions remain divided on the causes of the imbalance in science and the solutions needed to redress it. But the positive result of this debate is that people are now discussing the issue constructively. In the long run, this can only benefit female scientists and science as a whole.
To cite this article, please use: Francis Cox, "Redressing the gender imbalance", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 23, August 2008

Useful links

Blogs: Deep Thoughts and Silliness
Fame, Journals, and Blinding
Gender Differences: Need More Data!
Summary of an international study of Peer Review in Scholarly Journals (.pdf)
Athena SWAN

References

Budden, A.E. et al (2008), “Double-blind review favours increased representation of female authors”, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Jan, 23(1), pp. 4–6.

Budden, A.E. et al (2008), “Response to Webb et al: Double-blind review: accept with minor revisions”, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Jul, 23(7), pp. 353–54.

Webb, T.J. et al (2008), “Does double-blind review benefit female authors?”, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Jul, 23(7), 351–53.

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

 

N_Fowler

Models for better access and dissemination

Until the mid-1990s, most scientific publishing companies still used the same basic publishing model established in the 17th century. As Nick Fowler, Director of Strategy at Elsevier, explains, “authors would submit their articles to an appropriate journal, which would then facilitate the peer-review publishing process that culminated in publishing the final article.”

Read more >


Until the mid-1990s, most scientific publishing companies still used the same basic publishing model established in the 17th century. As Nick Fowler, Director of Strategy at Elsevier, explains, “authors would submit their articles to an appropriate journal, which would then facilitate the peer-review publishing process that culminated in publishing the final article.”

Today, particularly as a result of the Internet, we now have more distribution options at our disposal. “Elsevier’s largest platform for disseminating published journals is now ScienceDirect, and other stages of the peer-review publishing process have also undergone an electronic revolution,” says Fowler. “Authors can now submit articles via electronic submission systems, for example. In addition, publishing online, as well as in print, provides researchers with additional features that can dramatically improve productivity, including the ability to instantly access electronic versions of cited articles, rather than having to locate, request and wait for a physical copy. Consequently, researchers now read around twice as many articles from more than twice as many journals as they did in the 1980s.”

Changing business model

Over the past decade, Elsevier has also adapted its business models in response to technological developments. “For instance, electronic licenses often enable volume discounts,” Fowler continues. “A library that once subscribed to, say, 300 of Elsevier’s 1,800 print journal titles can, in an electronic environment, now access some or all of the remaining 1,500 journals at highly discounted rates. This has dramatically improved access levels for researchers, who now place ‘access to journals’ twelfth on their lists of concerns.” Their leading concern remains ‘access to research funds’.

Open access

The main four types of open-access publishing are: Author Pays, Sponsored Articles, Delayed Access and Open Archiving. Fowler points out that open access does not mean ‘free of charge’ or ‘open source’. “There are certain costs inherent to publishing articles in any respected journal, such as peer review, editing and printing, and these costs always have to be recouped.”

Author Pays

In Author Pays publishing, there are no subscription charges, so anyone can read the articles for free. “The disadvantage is that the author only pays if the article is accepted and published,” says Fowler. “Not only are some authors – in developing countries, for example – unable to pay, but this model could also put pressure on publishers to accept articles that they would otherwise reject. Since quality control could be compromised, Elsevier has chosen not to explore this avenue, which currently accounts for less than 1% of all articles published.”

Sponsored Articles

Sponsored Articles are peer reviewed and, if accepted, published in subscription journals. However, authors – or an author’s funding body – can pay a fee to make the article immediately accessible to anyone. Fowler says, “Elsevier is currently testing this option on 40 of our journals and, so far, we’ve found that very few authors are willing to pay the additional fee.”

Delayed Access

Delayed Access applies to around 6% of articles published in subscription journals. After a certain period of time (e.g. 12 months in fast-moving disciplines, such as Life Sciences), the articles are made available to non-subscribers. This model may work, provided that the time period is sustainable for the journal concerned. If it is too soon, subscriptions could be cancelled, compromising the journal’s sustainability. Fowler says, “Because usage and other factors vary so much across titles, the journal itself is in the best position to decide what this time period should be.”

Open archiving

Certain publishers, including Elsevier, voluntarily allow authors to post their accepted manuscripts on their own or their institution’s website. Authors are permitted to post the peer-reviewed manuscript, but the published journal article can only appear in one location, in order to preserve its integrity. “While most journals maintain a similar policy, only around 5% of authors take up this option and author-posted manuscripts have not yet significantly increased access levels,” Fowler says.

Maintaining perspective

Some forms of open access date back 10 years and all have been widely known for around five years. According to Fowler, “Their material effect on the established scientific publishing model has, so far, been marginal. Authors have not been willing to pay to publish their own articles, although a few institutions, such as the Wellcome Trust, are prepared to pay for unlimited access to Sponsored Articles. New access models are constantly developing, and Elsevier is open to testing and learning about positive innovations.”

Fowler adds, “Five criteria matter most to the researchers who read our journals: access, quality control, researcher efficiency, preservation and cost-effectiveness. We always assess the impact any new model will have on these criteria before making any decisions. There’s no point in making a step forward in one area if it causes a step backward in another.”

Five criteria matter most to researchers who read our journals: access, quality control, researcher efficiency, preservation and cost-effectiveness.

Exploring alternatives

Of course, open-access models are not the only new methods for accessing and disseminating information. “Other methods work well, too, and in some cases can produce additional benefits, such as improving researcher efficiency,” Fowler explains. “ScienceDirect is probably the best Elsevier example, as it has helped researchers read twice as many articles as in the past. Use of ScienceDirect is growing at around 20% per annum, and we’ve had more than a billion downloads from the site since it first went online more than 10 years ago.”

Publishers are also looking at other ways to expand access. “Under a UN initiative, we’re making content available free of charge to libraries in developing countries as part of the AGORA (agriculture), HINARI (health) and OARE (environment) programs,” says Fowler.

In September 2007, Elsevier launched its OncologySTAT portal, aimed at cancer researchers. The portal is free for users and is funded through advertising. “The portal is new and we’re currently assessing whether it is useful to oncologists and researchers, and whether advertisers are willing to fund it,” Fowler comments.

He continues, “WiserWiki is an experiment in community-based publishing, in which registered doctors can update the content themselves. Users can access WiserWiki for free while we explore its usefulness and research funding possibilities. We’ve simply planted a seed and are waiting to see whether it grows.”

Finally, 2collab is an interactive communication tool for scientists. “It’s an electronic environment in which scientists can comment on each others’ work and communicate with each other,” Fowler says.

Read more about these three tools in other articles in this issue.

The big picture

These are exciting times and Elsevier will continue to experiment with, test and learn new applications as they develop, explains Fowler. He compares the future of publishing to the future of energy. “We’re all looking for more efficient and sustainable sources of energy, but switching from an established system that delivers significant and broad benefits and moving to entirely new and untested alternatives is unlikely to be the answer. The costs and benefits of all sources need to be well understood, and often you can improve the yield or decrease emissions from existing sources. Similarly, in publishing, we’re experimenting with new models that can fulfill different roles, while constantly striving to improve existing models and maintain overall quality standards.”

To cite this article, please use: Gary Rudland, "Models for better access & dissemination", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 22, May 2008

Useful Links

ScienceDirect
OncologySTAT
WiserWiki
2Collab
HINARI
AGORA
OARE

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@Elsevier.com

J_Phimister

Disseminating science and health

For over 300 years, the subscription model has been the most effective way to circulate scientific and medical research. It’s also a tried and tested way of sustaining the crucial peer review system, which ensures the quality and integrity of science. But new approaches may close remaining access gaps. We talk to Dr. James Phimister, Senior Manager, Strategy, about three initiatives Elsevier is testing.

Read more >


For over 300 years, the subscription model has been the most effective way to circulate scientific and medical research. It’s also a tried and tested way of sustaining the crucial peer review system, which ensures the quality and integrity of science. But new approaches may close remaining access gaps. We talk to Dr. James Phimister, Senior Manager, Strategy, about three initiatives Elsevier is testing.

“I take the communication of science and health research very seriously,” he says. “I strongly believe in testing and exploring new access models to meet the needs of the research communities we serve.” Phimister joined the Elsevier strategy group about three years ago. Prior to joining, he was a consultant at McKinsey, and the J. Herbert Hollomon Fellow of the National Academy of Engineering. He holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. Since joining Elsevier, he’s focused on testing new business and access models.

Addressing Access Gaps

“We’ve been examining where there are gaps in access and how to best close them,” says Phimister. “In the developing world, Elsevier helped found HINARIAGORA and OARE, providing free or very low cost institutional subscriptions to developing countries. To help patients access and interpret the latest medical research, we helped found Patient Inform.”

Phimister continues, “Some initiatives that our authors and editors are less aware of include our author archiving policy, options for author sponsorship to provide non-subscriber access for articles, and journals that provide free access to their recent archive. As we test new approaches, we explore whether the approach is sustainable, if it ensures continuity of the scientific record, and if the quality of the research published is maintained.”

Author archiving

Let’s look at each one of these initiatives in turn. Firstly, we examine author archiving, or author posting, as it’s sometimes called. Elsevier’s policy allows authors to post their accepted author manuscript to an institutional repository or home page, provided it is not for commercial purposes or purposes of systematic distribution. “An author may post their accepted author manuscripts that incorporate changes made during the publishing peer-review process on his personal website and on his institutions’ website, including its institutional repository. Each posting should include a citation and a link to the journal’s home page,” explains Phimister.

Elsevier was an early adopter of the author archiving policy and received praise for it. Professor Peter Suber, in a SPARC Open Access Newsletter published at the time of the policy’s launch said, “Elsevier deserves our thanks for adopting this most helpful policy.”1 Similarly, Prof. Stevan Harnad recognized Elsevier as a publisher that “…has heeded the need and the expressed desire of the research community.”2

Since Elsevier implemented this policy in 2004, many other publishers have followed suit. Phimister reports, “About two-thirds of publishers and 90% of articles published each year have adopted this posting policy. Approximately 5% of authors make use of the policy, with many manuscripts appearing online as electronic pre-prints.”

Why don’t more authors self-archive? Phimister believes it’s a testament to excellent access levels. “Elsevier works hard to promote its journals’ content and to increase visibility. And authors understand that having the research published by Elsevier already provides a ‘seal of approval’ and easy accessibility for most researchers,” he says.

I strongly believe in testing and exploring new access models to meet the need of the research communities we serve

Service to authors

He continues, “If there are opportunities to further provide services for our authors, we will look into them. For example, for the last couple of years, even before the recent NIH mandate, we’ve been depositing author’s manuscripts into a third-party repository, NIH PubMed Central. We’ve been working with the NIH and National Library of Medicine (hosts of PubMed Central) to create a sustainable approach to archiving manuscripts on this public platform. ”

Article Sponsorship

The second initiative, on trial since May 2006, is article sponsorship. “There’s a small community of authors who have requested that their published journal article be available openly to non-subscribers on ScienceDirect,” explains Phimister. Elsevier is now testing this option for around 40 journals. “We offer authors the option to sponsor non-subscriber access for individual articles. This option costs authors $3,000; a charge necessary to offset publishing costs – from managing article submission to peer review, typesetting, tagging and indexing articles, hosting articles on dedicated servers, supporting sales and marketing to ensure global dissemination via ScienceDirect and preserving the published article in perpetuity.”

Partnering with funding bodies

While we’re on the subject of sponsorship, it’s worth highlighting Elsevier’s partnerships with the Wellcome Trust and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). “We engaged with The Wellcome Trust and HHMI when they announced archiving policies for their grant recipients. In each case, there was a strong desire to identify a solution that would serve our authors and researchers that they fund. By working closely together, we have been able to identify agreeable solutions and we are actively trying to make both policies a success,” says Phimister.

Access to the Recent Archive

Free access to recent archives is the third initiative Elsevier is testing with a number of journals. Essentially, access to any user, whether a subscriber or not, is granted after a pre-determined period of time since publication. This time period depends on a journal’s individual usage characteristics and is decided in consultation with society partners. At the moment, all Cell Press titles, as well as some Elsevier and society titles, make their content available free to non-subscribers after a period of one year or more. Journals in fields where usage is spread more over time may be available after a longer period, such as 24 months.

Invest and engage

“We continually invest in areas that will enhance the communication of science and health research,” reports Phimister. “We are willing to test different approaches and engage with the communities we serve. From editors to authors, reviewers and researchers, there shouldn’t be any hesitation to engage with Elsevier on access issues. We invite all members of the scientific community to keep this in mind.”

To cite this article, please use: Kirsten Spry, "Disseminating health & science research to a wider audience", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 22, May 2008

Useful Links

Elsevier’s Access and Dissemination policies

Citations
1. SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #74, June 2, 2004
2. Posting to American Scientist Open Access Forum, May 27, 2004

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@Elsevier.com

R_Kiley

Behind the Scenes…Funding Bodies

As the UK’s largest non-governmental funder of biomedical research and the second largest medical charity in the world, the Wellcome Trust is a major source of research funding. It spends some GBP 500 million a year supporting research and activities aimed at improving human and animal health. “Supporting the brightest scientists with the best ideas,” is how Robert Kiley, Head of e-Strategy at the Wellcome Library puts it. Two years ago, the Trust introduced an open access policy requiring all Wellcome-funded researchers to make their final papers available through PubMed Central (PMC) and UKPubMed Central (UKPMC) as soon as possible, and in any event within six months of publication. “The policy had been in gestation for several years,” Kiley explains. “In 2003 we commissioned various studies to look at how research results were disseminated. We concluded that limited access to peer-reviewed research wasn’t serving the best interests of science.”

Read more >


As the UK’s largest non-governmental funder of biomedical research and the second largest medical charity in the world, the Wellcome Trust is a major source of research funding. It spends some GBP 500 million a year supporting research and activities aimed at improving human and animal health. “Supporting the brightest scientists with the best ideas,” is how Robert Kiley, Head of e-Strategy at the Wellcome Library puts it. Two years ago, the Trust introduced an open access policy requiring all Wellcome-funded researchers to make their final papers available through PubMed Central (PMC) and UKPubMed Central (UKPMC) as soon as possible, and in any event within six months of publication. “The policy had been in gestation for several years,” Kiley explains. “In 2003 we commissioned various studies to look at how research results were disseminated. We concluded that limited access to peer-reviewed research wasn’t serving the best interests of science.”

Reaching agreement

The new policy had huge implications for both authors and publishers. “We realized that our researchers would potentially be at a disadvantage when it came to publishing in major journals if those journals did not offer a Wellcome-compliant publishing model.” Kiley continues. The Trust already had agreements with Blackwell Springer and the Oxford University Press that complied with the policy, but Kiley and his colleagues knew they had to reach an understanding with Elsevier, the biggest single STM publisher of Wellcome authors. “With Elsevier – and indeed, this applies to any publisher – the objective was to reach an agreement such that our researchers could continue to seek publication with Elsevier and still meet our open access requirements.”

The basic principles were agreed early on. As the Wellcome Trust was happy to meet the open access, article processing charges levied by Elsevier, Elsevier was, in turn, happy for the final version of the papers (which includes all copy and language edits) to be made freely available in PMC and UKPMC at the time of publication. “That was achieved relatively easily,” confirms Kiley. “The issue we spent a lot of time discussing was the rights the public at large would have in terms of re-using these articles.” Wellcome is eager to foster reuse of research findings by other researchers as long as that reuse is properly attributed. It wanted computers to be able to read the articles, mine the content and make connections between data that a human might miss. “We were quite happy for Elsevier to retain exclusive commercial rights,” says Kiley. “We needed a copyright license in place that would enable text and data mining to take place without the user - or more likely, the computer - having to seek permission. It took some time, but now we have an agreement in place.”

Limited access to peer-reviewed research wasn't serving the best interests of science

Benefits on both sides

Wellcome sees the agreement as a win-win situation. “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” adds Kiley. “Our authors want to publish in high-impact journals and Elsevier editors want highly credible authors to submit articles. It was inevitable that we would reach agreement with the big STM publishers.” As a result of work Wellcome has done over the last 18 months, over 90% of journals publishing its authors’ papers now have a Wellcome-compliant policy. Those publishers that lack a compliant policy are aware of the agreement with Elsevier and this puts pressure on them, since some of their journals compete with Elsevier’s. “They’re all competing for the same papers,” Kiley reasons, “If Elsevier has an advantage, non-compliant publishers can’t hold out much longer.”As a result of the agreement, Elsevier has modified its manuscript submission system. When a paper is accepted for publication, the author is notified and asked to identify their funding source. If they indicate the Wellcome Trust, they are informed about the open access policy and given the ‘author pays’ option. Elsevier then carries out the peer review and language editing as normal and deposits the final article in PMC (which is then mirrored in UKPMC.) The costs for this are charged back to the author and the author’s institution, in turn, claims the funding from the Wellcome Trust. In this way, the publisher provides a service in which Wellcome sees real value. “At the Wellcome Trust we believe that publication costs are legitimate research costs, which we are prepared to meet” says Kiley.

Fair shares

Of course, most research is financed by more than one funder, meaning that Wellcome is currently paying publishing costs that potentially should be shared with others. “We can’t achieve everything overnight,” Kiley admits. “Obviously, we would like to see publishing cost allocated proportionately.” To that end, Wellcome is working with seven other funding bodies, including the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK. All of them view publishing costs as legitimate research expenses, so with the funding in place, all that is needed is the mechanisms for authors to allocate costs fairly. “Research offices are used to apportioning other research costs, so it shouldn’t be especially problematic,” says Kiley.

All of these measures put a lot of the onus on authors. What can they do if their author agreement is incompatible with their funder’s archiving requirements? “They have two options,” says Kiley. “They can go back to their publishers and ask them to comply with their funding body’s requirements, or they can modify the copyright license to accommodate the funder’s policy.” If neither of these solutions work, Wellcome requires its authors to look for another publisher, since its agreement with the author precedes the publishing agreement. “We expect our researchers to meet their grant conditions,” Kiley explains. “That’s why we’re working with publishers. If we can reach agreement with them, authors don’t have to worry about compliance. They can get on with their research.”

With other funding bodies like the US National Institutes of Health and the European Research Council adopting similar open access policies, Kiley believes it is only a matter of time before all peer-reviewed, biomedical research is freely available in publicly accessible repositories. “Open access is here to stay.” he says. Publishers will have to find ways to add value beyond publishing peer-reviewed papers. Possibilities include author deposition services and paid subscriptions for analysis of open access articles. “The challenge to publishers is to find models to help manage these services in an economically sustainable way.”

To cite this article, please use: Francis Cox, "Behind the Scenes... Funding Bodies", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 22, May 2008

Useful links

Wellcome Trust

Elsevier agreement with the Wellcome Trust

Elsevier’s Funding Body Agreements

UKPubMed Central

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@Elsevier.com

mark_seeley

A little perk adds a lot

Elsevier has always been committed to setting the highest standards for ethical publishing behavior, both in our publishing process and in our policies. But for the first time, all of those ethics policies and procedures are now available in one place on Elsevier.com. Mark Seeley, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, and Federica Rosetta, Publishing Editor for Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Science Journals, have helped to establish the team that created PERK – the Publishing Ethics Resource Kit.

Read more >


Elsevier has always been committed to setting the highest standards for ethical publishing behavior, both in our publishing process and in our policies. But for the first time, all of those ethics policies and procedures are now available in one place on Elsevier.com. Mark Seeley, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, and Federica Rosetta, Publishing Editor for Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Science Journals, have helped to establish the team that created PERK – the Publishing Ethics Resource Kit.

When journal editors encounter a situation in which unethical behavior is suspected, it is their responsibility, as part of the peer-review process, to evaluate, investigate and make a final decision about the appropriate action to take. “But it is the role of publishing editors to provide whatever assistance and support they can,” Rosetta explains.

As early as 2005, Elsevier’s publishing staff was discussing policy approaches to retractions and removals of problematic articles, plagiarism, multiple submissions and other ethical concerns. “As more policies were developed, it became clear that these all needed to be collected together in a logical way,” explains Seeley.

Rosetta continues, “We knew that different checklists and procedures were also being used by various publishing editors throughout the company in response to specific experiences and queries, and we wanted to collect all of their valuable information in one place.”

Responding to the call

While publishing editors were doing their best to help journal editors make these difficult decisions, they still felt like more support was needed. “Journal editors first raised the idea of an Ethics Helpdesk at one of our editors’ conferences,” Seeley says. “They wanted to be able to call or email with questions about ethics issues they encountered.”

In September of 2006, the Ethics Helpdesk was launched as a pilot program. It was a combination of helpline support via phone and email, a comprehensive guide to all of Elsevier’s policies and procedures with regard to ethics issues, and a ‘procedural manual’ with checklists and form letters for the different types of issues.

“There was a large surge of calls and emails to the Helpdesk when we first launched,” Seeley continues, “but we began to notice an interesting trend. As more and more publishing editors got hold of the Ethics ‘manual’ contact with the Helpdesk began to drop off.” The Helpdesk team realized that making the manual more widely available would be the key to assisting publishing editors with their queries about ethics. It was right at this stage that the PERK team first got together and started to work on a framework proposal.

Building the tools

The two teams ‘merged together’ and focused on creating the most comprehensive, user-friendly, easy-to-navigate guide they could. They knew that the best way to streamline the guide was to make it digital. Thus, the first stage of PERK – the Publishing Ethics Resource Kit – was born.

Launched on World Medical Ethics Day, September 19, 2007, PERK was initially released as an internal pilot resource for Elsevier’s publishing editors, and was available on the company’s Intranet, Nonsolus, before moving to the Elsevier.com site five months later.

“We established a central ‘resource center’ where publishing editors could get everything they need – policies, checklists and communication tools – from a single point of entry, and then use the information to guide journal editors,” Rosetta recalls. “The first step was to collect, assemble, update and recheck every bit of information to ensure that it was complete.”

The team then went even further. “Many specific circumstances surround each case,” Seeley says. “We needed to broaden our scope to help editors identify their unique situation in the guide.”

The PERK team set about organizing the ethics guide to address various issues, such as how the author accused of misconduct might respond to charges of unethical behavior. They added and revised tools and form letters to help publishing editors find out precisely the situation that their journal editors were facing and the right communication to use. “We used a lot of ‘if’ statements,” Rosetta explains, “as in, ‘if the corresponding author rejects the position of the complainant...’, along with a form letter that the editor could use to pursue the matter further.”

PERK is a central 'ethics resource centre' where publishing editors can get everything they need - policies, checklists and communications tools.

The next step was to provide external support and validation. For this, the PERK team turned to the Committee on Publishing Ethics (COPE), one of the most highly respected ethics organizations in scientific publishing. COPE had already produced ‘decision trees’ – step-by-step, visual representations of the appropriate steps to take in any given situation of misconduct. “Because the COPE procedures so closely matched our own, we were offered a licensing agreement and we were able to add the COPE decision trees to PERK,” Rosetta says.

Today, all Elsevier journals are registered with COPE, which means that if journal editors are still unsure of the right plan of action after visiting PERK and discussing options with the publishing editor, they can take their most complex cases to COPE for further discussion.

PERK offers other tools, such as the ‘Identify your case’ functionality, to help editors define and identify their ethics issue quickly and easily. PERK then leads them to the right set of resources to handle that issue.

Comprehensive case studies outline specific, anonymous cases taken either from actual Elsevier editor experiences or from COPE’s extensive archive. The case studies provide even clearer indications of the right course of action in almost any misconduct situation.

The extensive ‘Q&A’ section represents a valuable resource of useful information in reply to a large number of questions that were identified by the PERK team when reviewing the case studies and decision trees.

Broadening the scope

Although PERK was originally available on Nonsolus, it was always the team’s intention to take it public. “PERK does not contain privileged information,” Seeley says, “but useful resources that can help many editors deal appropriately with misconduct. Making it available on the Internet was the next logical step. We knew taking the kit public would benefit not only Elsevier’s journal editors, but journal and publishing editors from external companies, as well.”

In February of 2008, PERK officially went live on elsevier.com, just in time for the Editors’ Conference in Singapore. Response to the release was highly favorable.

But the PERK team has little time to celebrate their success. “It will be an ongoing task to keep PERK up-to-date and comprehensive,” Rosetta says. “We will be constantly looking for gaps, changes in policies or new situations that need to be addressed.”

Seeley agrees. “Even at the Singapore conference, editors identified other areas of interest to them, such as a basic standard of ethics regarding animal testing, and ethical guidelines that can be incorporated into instructions to authors. We’re already looking into those kinds of additions, and we encourage journal editors to visit PERK and continue to send us feedback and suggestions.”

To cite this article, please use: Toni Bellanca, "A little PERK adds a lot of support", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 22, May 2008

Related Links

PERK

COPE

CrossCheck plagiarism software pilot

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

23_charlotteseidman

A sweet OASIS for editors

OASIS is a service that helps editors follow a paper through the production process after it has been accepted for publication. Editors’ Update talks to an editor who has used OASIS for almost a decade, to find out how it has helped her and what the latest version promises.

Read more >


OASIS is a service that helps editors follow a paper through the production process after it has been accepted for publication. Editors’ Update talks to an editor who has used OASIS for almost a decade, to find out how it has helped her and what the latest version promises.

“My experience with OASIS has been absolutely positive,” says Charlotte Seidman, Managing Editor of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM), the leading international peer-reviewed journal for prevention science, education, practice and policy. Charlotte manages the flow of papers, from submission to publication.

When she first started, she used a teacher’s record book as a tracking system, assigning each paper a tracking number and following each through the process. Initially, she received a monthly verbal report, indicating that all the papers she had sent had been received and logged in. Later, a monthly written report was developed, which she didn’t always receive.

Directing them to OASIS will help the editorial staff do a better job - and make the publishing process smoother

I first heard about OASIS about a decade ago,” Seidman recalls. “I’ve been a regular user ever since. The program has saved us many lost workdays, as I would sometimes find that a paper we had sent had not been logged in (i.e., it was lost in the system somewhere). Once I’ve notified production, they can track down the problem and enter the paper into the system. This keeps all the papers for an issue together and helps to avoid ‘catch-up’ with the lost papers.”

Latest version

“I’ve been more than impressed playing around with the latest iteration of OASIS, and see great uses for it here,” Seidman says. “‘How OASIS Works’ is a must for anyone new to the system. I particularly like the feature that allows me to decide how I like to see the list displayed when I first open the program. In the past, there was one way of viewing, and no flexibility for complex searches. Most importantly, navigating is easy – and intuitive.”

New features

Version 1.1 was launched in June, with some new functionalities: OASIS will display the ‘date of submission’ and ‘date of acceptance’; the date of ‘uncorrected proofs online’, ‘corrected proofs online’, and ‘article online’ will be shown, with a link to the actual proofs or article in ScienceDirect.

“This will help to maintain a seamless workflow, using OASIS as a supplement to an Editorial Manager,” Seidman explains. “It’ll also enable staff to know where to find tracking information – a time-saver for people who track papers in editorial offices.”

The site provide a teaching tool for reviewers who don't quite 'get it', which could really improve the quality of reviews.

Seidman thinks OASIS could be useful for journal staff that set goals for themselves. “Being able to track your progress in shortening the time from submission to production is a great motivator to do better.”

Elsevier.com

Seidman also recommends clicking into the Editors’ Home (from the ‘How OASIS Works’ screen), where you’ll find a navigation bar with a list of interesting topics, including ‘supporting editors’, ‘supporting authors’, and ‘supporting reviewers’. She loves the guide for newly appointed editors, written by a veteran editor. Editors can help authors and reviewers online too. “Directing them to these resources will help the editorial office staff do a better job – and make the publishing process run smoother,” Seidman says. “One of the biggest benefits is that it can be used for more than just tracking manuscripts.”

You can use the reports and FAQs to orient new office staff (or update current staff) to Elsevier’s practices and policies. The new Reviewers’ Home provides a teaching tool for reviewers who don’t quite ‘get it’, which could really improve the quality of reviews. Seidman continues: “The author’s site could be equally important, especially for foreign-language papers. I think it will help non-English writers improve their papers before submission. The authors’ site leads to ‘all Elsevier journal home pages for author instructions’. This saves authors time; instead of having to contact each editorial office - or search for them online - the journals are all listed in one place.”

To cite this article, please use: Karin Engelbrecht, “A sweet oasis for editors”, Elsevier Editors’ Update, Issue 23, August 2008

Useful Links

OASIS information on Elsevier.com
How OASIS Works
Elsevier.com Editors’ Home
Elsevier.com Reviewers’ Home

S_Virkler

Internet innovations

Part of Elsevier’s efforts to disseminate its peer-reviewed research to a broader audience includes the use of the Internet. Editors’ Update spoke to Scott Virkler, Vice President of Web Search Strategy and Business Development, to discuss how Elsevier is bringing high-quality medical and scientific information into the Internet age.

Read more >


Part of Elsevier’s efforts to disseminate its peer-reviewed research to a broader audience includes the use of the Internet. Editors’ Update spoke to Scott Virkler, Vice President of Web Search Strategy and Business Development, to discuss how Elsevier is bringing high-quality medical and scientific information into the Internet age.

Today more than ever, the Internet is being used as a key tool to find relevant medical information – and not only for researchers and physicians. In fact, studies show that patients and their families are searching the Web for relevant information that they would otherwise not be able to access easily. Virkler and his team are exploring the most convenient and cost-effective ways to do this.

Patient Research brings greater understanding

In October 2006, Elsevier launched a beta version of a website called Patient Research – an online research tool aimed specifically at patients and their families and caregivers. The site currently utilizes 30 of Elsevier’s journals, and there are plans to expand this to include an additional 70 journals before September 2008.

Patient Research allows patients, their families and friends to search Elsevier journals for information about a specific illness. Although the journals tend to address issues on a deeper, more scientific level, Virkler says this is precisely the kind of information this audience is seeking. “When it comes to an illness affecting them directly, patients - and even more often, their families - are better informed than ever before, and are seeking a broader scope understanding. They consistently say they want to read the same material their doctor is reading,” he explains.

Patient Research was initiated in response to direct requests from patients and families. “Imagine a parent whose child is diagnosed with a chronic disease they have little understanding of,” Virkler says. “Parents quickly become experts on that disease, and will read everything they can get their hands on to understand what’s happening to their child. Before Patient Research, searching for and finding credible information was extremely difficult.”

Because Patient Research is funded completely by Elsevier, a very minimal processing fee allows users to gain access to the site. “This is not intended to be a money-making initiative on our part,” Virkler explains. “We wanted to help non-traditional readers to gain access to the latest information easily.” Feedback from users has been positive, energetic and grateful, so Virkler expects that the site will continue to generate more visits.

[patients] want to read the same things their doctor is reading

Free portal for Oncology professionals

In September 2007, Elsevier launched another online tool, this one specifically designed for physicians and healthcare professionals. OncologySTAT provides cancer care professionals with trusted, peer-reviewed information and research in a clear, organized and accessible way. Best of all, the site is available for free. In addition to providing abstracts and full-text Oncology-related articles from more than 100 Elsevier journals, OncologySTAT also provides news, access to drug interaction information, conference coverage, blogs and webinars.

But OncologySTAT is no replacement for traditional subscriptions to Elsevier publications, as Virkler explains. “Most journal subscribers will recognize immediately that OncologySTAT is a supplement to journal subscriptions,” he says. “While OncologySTAT is a way to gain fast, immediate access to a collection of the latest information, it certainly cannot replace the value and in-depth coverage of a journal subscription, which remains a vital part of the academic and research processes and a valuable tool for specialists.” The goal is to make the most recent Oncology information as widely accessible as possible, and to bring further recognition to the journals that are distributing the original source content.

Virkler continues: “OncologySTAT is focused on the latest industry information for Oncologists. While strong in that area, it does not focus on traditional research functionality, such as archiving.. But a busy physician or general practitioner who needs quick, organized Oncology information will find it on OncologySTAT.”

A wiser way to Wiki

Elsevier is also capitalizing on the popularity of another online tool – the Wiki – to bring medical knowledge to the general public. A Wiki is a collaborative website on which a variety of editors can contribute to information. The most famous ‘Wiki’ is Wikipedia, a growing online encyclopedic resource that claims to support 75,000 active contributors.

Along the same lines, Elsevier has created WiserWiki – a site that contains only medical and scientific information. “The difference between WiserWiki and other Wikis is that WiserWiki can only be edited by Board-certified physicians,” Virkler explains, “so we can feel confident that the information posted and edited is of the highest quality and accuracy possible.”

Still in its beta version, WiserWiki is a test run for something much bigger. “WiserWiki was started with the idea that there may be a way to simplify, speed up and reduce the costs of the print publication of scientific books with multiple authors and editors,” Virkler explains.

Changing priorities

Virkler and his team are constantly refining their existing Web tools, and developing new ones that meet the needs of their expanding audiences. They look at customer feedback, user statistics and behavior patterns to help predict their next focus area.

“Most of our product lines have very solid business plans, and a list of primary goals for the coming months,” Virkler says. “But the features that top those lists are very much determined by the feedback we get from current users. As the needs and expectations of our users evolve, we will evolve with them to stay relevant and useful.”

Virkler adds, “what motivates us is the idea that we are providing high-quality content to a wider audience than ever before, and that we are meeting the needs of non-traditional audiences who seek relevant medical and scientific information. We are also increasing exposure to the full range of Elsevier publications and bringing those publications more recognition and utilization than ever before.”

To cite this article, please use: Toni Bellanca, "Internet Innovations", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 22, May 2008

Useful links

Elsevier’s Access and Dissemination policy

OncologySTAT on Elsevier.com

OncologySTAT

WiserWiki

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

23_doughaynes

Foundations for a better balance

For years, female scientists have felt the need to choose between career and family. For many, raising children seems nearly impossible, given the high demands of careers in science and technology. But now the Elsevier Foundation Grant’s New Scholars program is helping address this challenge while the efforts of institutions such as the University of California – Irvine, mean scientists can now strike a work-life balance that benefits us all.

Read more >


For years, female scientists have felt the need to choose between career and family. For many, raising children seems nearly impossible, given the high demands of careers in science and technology. But now the Elsevier Foundation Grant’s New Scholars program is helping address this challenge while the efforts of institutions such as the University of California – Irvine, mean scientists can now strike a work-life balance that benefits us all.

Dr. Douglas Haynes, Director of UC-Irvine’s ADVANCE Program for Faculty Equity and Diversity, explains. “One of our biggest challenges is combating the misconceptions about work-life balance,” he says. “Women scientists sometimes believe they must choose between their careers and starting a family. But, through ADVANCE, we are making support services available to help pre-tenure faculty achieve both their personal and professional goals.”

The ADVANCE program was initially funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and was initiated in 2001. Its goal is to promote gender equality and the advancement of women faculty, especially in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). UC-Irvine was one of the first schools to receive funding from the program.

While many scientists wished to engage, but they could not because of restricted childcare options.

A 2002 Mason and Gulden study of early family formation among STEM faculty showed men are 24% more likely to achieve tenure. Couple that with a general misconception about the ‘danger’ of threatening one’s career by starting a family, and UC-Irvine knew it had to help change perceptions and provide support.

Bringing support closer to home

While UC-Irvine already has a number of family-friendly initiatives, they noticed a significant gap. “We already have policies for tenure clock extension (interrupting the pre-tenure schedule for each birth or adoption), provision for modified duties and family and medical leave programs,” he says. “But we were aware that families with children had other, more immediate needs.”

The nature of STEM research requires intense, and often lengthy, laboratory or field experimentation. Regular communication with colleagues in the field and presenting at professional conferences or research meetings is essential. “We conducted a survey and found that while many scientists wished to engage in these activities, they could not because of restricted childcare options,” Haynes explains.

Foundation for the future

Enter the Elsevier Foundation, and their New Scholars program. The Foundation provides funding to institutions that advance scientific knowledge, and the New Scholars Grants were designed specifically to support women scientists and their families. Applicants who presented sustainable ideas with a high probability for success were considered.

UC-Irvine’s Professional Development Grant for Parents of Infants and Toddlers fit the bill. The innovative program directly addresses the unique challenges faced by scholars with family responsibilities who need to attend conferences and meetings to advance their careers and contribute to scientific discovery. By providing financial support for childcare, the Grant allows scientists to develop their careers without repercussions.

“We’re now accepting applications for the first round of grants,” Haynes says, “but we’re hearing nothing but positive feedback about the childcare program. Everyone from the former Chair of our Academic Senate to our regular faculty is applauding the effort.”

A long-term, sustainable view

Haynes and his team recognize the sustainability of the Grant for Parents of Infants and Toddlers. Given the overwhelmingly positive response to the initiative, and the expected advancement of personal career tracks, the program is expected to continue long into the future. The Elsevier Foundation funds will support it into the 2011 academic year. By then, there will be significant evidence to support longer-range funding from within the University.

Only when we have adequately addressed all of these needs, can we truly say we're doing all we ca to help advance scientific discovery.

“The Elsevier Foundation has generously provided us with the funds during these crucial beginning phases,” says Haynes. “Our success rates will be more than sufficient to secure ongoing funding. We’ll be able to show the direct impact the Parent Grant can have on advancing scientific development,” says Haynes.

Broader scope brings more support

Haynes and his team don’t have much time to celebrate the success of their newest family-friendly initiative. “We realize that we still have major challenges ahead of us, but we’re ready to address them,” he explains.

The first objective is awareness. Haynes will be responsible for a number of initiatives that raise awareness of UC-Irvine’s wide range of family-friendly support measures. “We need to make faculty aware of all of the support we can give them to pursue their scientific careers, and dispel some of the myths about getting involved in these programs,” he says. Through workshops and detailed information packets, faculty will be assured of reliable, consistent support that does not carry a stigma or slow their career progress.

Secondly, Haynes aims to expand the service offerings to include other types of family support. Often, the department encounters faculty who provide care for elderly loved ones, or who have other family obligations that limit their time and resources. “Only when we have adequately addressed all of these needs, can we truly say we’re doing all we can to help advance scientific discovery.”
To cite this article, please use: Toni Bellanca, "Establishing a better balance", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 23, August 2008


The right Foundation is key

Founded in 2002, The Elsevier Foundation supports institutions in health and science communities across the world. Shira Tabachnikoff, Director of Corporate Relations, explains the Foundation’s primary objectives. “We support access to and advancement of scientific, technical and medical knowledge that improves overall quality of life,” she says.

Two-tiered effort

In 2007, the Foundation focused on two primary areas: Innovative Libraries and New Scholars. “Our Innovative Libraries program provides funding for scientific libraries in developing countries. Initiatives that partner with libraries in developed countries are given special consideration, due to the long-term support those partnerships can provide,” Tabachnikoff explains.

The New Scholars program focuses specifically on Women in Science, advancing the careers of young females who face unique challenges in their pursuit of scientific excellence.

“By focusing on these areas, we’re able to make an impact on two major obstacles in scientific advancement – and we make a real difference in the individual programs we fund,” she says.

Narrowing the search

The Foundation receives hundreds of grant applications each year, of which only a few can be selected. This year, around six Innovative Library grants and seven New Scholars grants were awarded based on a specific set of selection criteria.

“From all the worthy applicants, the selection committee must decide which have the most sustainable long-term plans and the greatest chance for success,” Tabachnikoff continues. “We also look for programs that address universal needs and serve as role models for other institutions.”

The wide variety of library- and family-focused 2007 grant recipients have common elements. They are small in scale and aim to address specific needs. “Unfortunately, our funds are limited, so we aim to have as much impact as possible on a local level.”

All Foundation grants go to programs that make genuine contributions to the scientific community. “For example, our New Scholars grants specifically address the challenges that women scientists face in balancing a demanding career with their own personal, family goals. That way, we can have a direct effect on individual lives, and on the scientific community as a whole.”

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

Forum results on measuring journal performance

The Editors’ Forum in the last Editors’ Update focused on how best to emphasize journal performance. Some 93 editors participated, giving their views on the following question:

Read more >


The Editors’ Forum in the last Editors’ Update focused on how best to emphasize journal performance. Some 93 editors participated, giving their views on the following question:

Measuring journal performance is important for the editor and publisher, not only to review the journal’s position but also to allow them to take decisions for its future development. When discussing the performance of my journal I prefer to emphasize:

A Usage statistics - this reflects readership and trends which tell me whether we are on the right track. Usage figures are also current;

B Citations to articles in the journal - to me it is important to know how the journal and the articles are being used in the science community. This tells me that we publish the right articles and also helps me establish scientific market trends;

C Author feedback - It is important that the authors are satisfied with the journal. Highly satisfied authors are loyal and also recommend to others to publish in my journal.

More than 49% of respondents selected option B, although many of these also clearly acknowledged the potential pitfalls involved in citations statistics. Some comments for this choice included: “Option B gives editors (and authors) a good overview of how often, and in what context, the articles are used by other authors and journals,” and ”citations lead on to impact factor, which has become an important criterion for choice of a journal for submission of papers.”

In contrast, although still claiming article citation as the most important factor in measuring performance, many respondents conceded that this was due more to standard practice than to the accuracy of the measurements.

Citation engineering

Respondents in favor of option A, usuage statistics (15%) included editors of young journals (less than 3 years in publication), or those working in specific industries, who do not have access to relevant citation data as yet. Still others who selected ‘A’ argued that high usage/citation statistics are not necessarily an indication of quality. “Many times, indexes measure the applicability of the topic rather than the real quality of a journal,” according to one editor.

Some respondents claimed even stronger positions. “A paper that has errors and/or erroneous interpretations may attract more attention than an important result that is ahead of its time,” one respondent said. “In addition, the competition for citations has created a trend of ‘citation engineering’, whereby all kinds of tricks are used to attract citations. Editors often come across reviewers who insist on citing their [own] papers. However, it is difficult to propose an alternative measure.” Several authors mentioned the trend of ‘artificial citation numbers’ as a serious problem.

Author satisfaction key

A small number of respondents (3%) stated that author satisfaction was key. “If authors are loyal and active, and new authors are attracted on a regular basis, this is the best sign of journal health... The fact that people are happy to do reviewing and that referees take their task very seriously is important as well.”

Around 11% of editors who responded said all three indicators were important. This was summed up by an editor who wrote: “Usage statistics are the most transparent approach with regards to the journal. Citation results must also be taken into account, and are generally reliable, but do require some care. Author feedback is also useful, but is more a reflection on the editor rather than the journal, and can be strongly influenced by side factors.”

Forum results

In our most recent Editors’ Forum, we asked you for your opinion about the best way of broadening access to peer-reviewed scientific material. The question, and your responses, are listed here.

Read more >


Access & Dissemination

In our most recent Editors' Forum, we asked you for your opinion about the best way of broadening access to peer-reviewed scientific material. The question, and your responses, are listed here.

Broadening access to scientific and medical research is an important issue in scientific publishing. Regardless of the funding source or access model, the approach for effective dissemination of peer-reviewed research should:

A. Focus on the journal as the portal to scientific literature, which will, in turn, provide
the best support for ongoing research. Branding, community building and marketing
are essential.

B. Focus on further developing electronic publisher platforms (like ScienceDirect,
Scopus, and others). Adding value to enhance research speed and productivity is
essential.

C. Focus on supporting institute libraries, which have been and will continue to be the first port of call for targeted scientific literature research.

At the time of writing we had received 18 responses.

The clear majority (72%) felt that efforts should be focused on further developing electronic publisher platforms as this was seen as "the best opportunity for effective dissemination [with regard} to speed, effectiveness, completeness, access from anywhere, support to developing countries, etc." One respondent referred to a future where the journal no longer exists and all articles are simply part of a large online database.

Four respondents (22%) supported focusing on the journal as the key portal to scientific literature this is thought to "work well at the present time and for future development...a gradual evolution incorporating the best elements of the other two options [i.e. libraries and electronic platforms].” One of the supporters of journals as the key way forward suggested a need to highlight specific journals, articles and collections at specific times.

One respondent felt that institutional libraries have been neglected and more support is required, for example for the up-keep of reading-rooms, if students are to be sufficiently broadly informed around their area of specific interest.

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

B_Emery-1

New networking opportunities

Access to information is becoming faster and more dynamic, and interaction models are changing. Researchers need new tools to process and filter the information, to organize and share resources, and to connect and collaborate online. That is where 2collab comes in, providing a free collaboration, bookmarking, networking and discussion tool that caters specifically to the scientific community.

Read more >


Access to information is becoming faster and more dynamic, and interaction models are changing. Researchers need new tools to process and filter the information, to organize and share resources, and to connect and collaborate online. That is where 2collab comes in, providing a free collaboration, bookmarking, networking and discussion tool that caters specifically to the scientific community.

Launched in November 2007, 2collab is still very young. Just four months later, however, it is already making its mark on the world of scientific research, especially among so-called ‘early adopters’ – those who are curious and willing to try new technologies. Brant Emery, Development Manager, explains the major functions of 2collab: “first and foremost, it allows scientific researchers to collaborate, share their findings and create discussion groups to further their ideas. It also acts as a reference management tool, allowing users to bookmark URLs in one central location, which they can then access from any computer and easily share with colleagues or other users. 2collab uses these bookmarks and tags to allow users to network; the user profile is a key factor in enabling users to network with other specialists in their field or to meet scientists in other fields. We’re encouraging people to fill in as much profile information as possible to make it easier for them to network effectively with peers. Discussion groups fall into one of three security categories, ranging from closed groups that are controlled by a single administrator and whose content is available only to members, to open public groups in which anyone can participate.”

Web 2.0: the user revolution

In very recent years, there has been a shift in thinking: from the Internet as a platform for offering traditional products, to services centred around users. This user revolution, known as ‘Web 2.0’, has changed the ways in which people interact and participate in creating content. Internet user expectations have changed as well, shifting towards social applications to support these new models.

Camelia Csora, Product Manager explains how 2collab fits in: “unlike other social tools, 2collab is a scholarly tool, tailor-made for researchers, to help them connect and collaborate with peers and specialists in their research areas. 2collab allows users to contribute relevant, scholarly content and to enrich it with their own knowledge. With tagging, rating and commenting, users can share their opinions on a specific scientific resource, connect with others or find valuable resources already shared by people within their field.”

As well as providing a central portal for valuable scientific knowledge, 2collab enables scientists to build and consolidate their trusted scientific communities online. Research groups can collaborate on writing their next paper; librarians can recommend preferred scientific information sources; teachers and students can share reading lists; authors can promote their papers within a specific subject-focused community, discuss ideas, connect with people and seek answers from peers.

The future of collaboration

Feedback from 2collab users has been positive; like all new technologies and developments, it is a continuous quest to understand the users’ needs and how these tools can fit into their day-to-day work. Csora says: “our aim is to continue developing this tool in close partnership with our users by involving them regularly in generating ideas, sharing feedback, reviewing new features and testing new functionalities.”

She continues: “Developments over the next six months will focus on building new collaboration features for the scientific community. Feedback from users has shown that they would like to start up and facilitate discussions within groups based on certain topics, rather than discussions stemming from a particular URL. Deeper integration with other platforms and information providers, and ‘question and answer’ functionality, which will allow specialists from trusted sources to post answers to users’ questions, are just a couple of items we will be focusing on.”

A platform and tool for researchers to connect with their peers, enhancing the way they work together.

Benefits for authors and editors

While 2collab is a great tool for networking and gaining access to the work of others, it also provides authors with a platform to disseminate their own work. “Making your papers available via 2collab is a good way to disseminate your research and to gain more citations, which means broader recognition for your work” says Csora. “It also helps feed the research process, by helping other researchers to find relevant papers more quickly and easily – directly through recommendations from their peers.

Members of an editorial board are often geographically distant from one another; 2collab provides the platform and tools needed to overcome the limitations of time and space, so that people can connect and interact in one ‘place’. “Similarly,” continues Emery, “while a medical journal could publish several articles on a particular topic, in 2collab users can share and access video, photos, websites and online media about that topic, just as easily and in the same place as printed articles and conventional media. 2collab is a great supplement to traditional journal content; it will never replace journals but it enhances their value by bringing people and ideas together.”

From a networking perspective, 2collab can help editors create subject-specific groups, invite people in their trusted scientific environment to discussions on that topic, encourage other non-members to join or recommend the group to other specialists in the field. “In this way,” explains Csora, “editors can connect to potential reviewers who are currently and actively interested and involved in that specific subject field.” Emery concludes: “2collab offers authors, editors and researchers the ability to access and disseminate scientific content, to connect with their peers, enhancing the way they work together and offering an open and accessible space that fosters collaboration.”

To cite this article, please use: Vicky Hampton, "New networking opportunities for scientists", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 22, May 2008

Useful links

2collab

21caroltenopir

Readership trends: how they affect journal usage

How do readership patterns and usage statistics impact journal performance over time? Carol Tenopir, a professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the Director of Research for the College of Communication and Information, has been researching electronic academic readership patterns for the past 30 years, and for the last 14 with colleague Donald W. King. She gives Editors’ Update an insight into how readers’ online experiences are helping to shape current trends in journal usage.

Read more >


How do readership patterns and usage statistics impact journal performance over time? Carol Tenopir, a professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the Director of Research for the College of Communication and Information, has been researching electronic academic readership patterns for the past 30 years, and for the last 14 with colleague Donald W. King. She gives Editors’ Update an insight into how readers’ online experiences are helping to shape current trends in journal usage.

“On average, subject experts are reading more,” Tenopir says. “The number of articles read by subject expert has been steadily increasing over the last 30 years.” Several factors contribute to this growth. First, more research is being published than ever before, and experts need to keep up with new developments in their field. Second, as more scientific information becomes available online, researchers have access to more information, thereby increasing overall readership and usage. Electronic access also means that readers who are not also authors – such as researchers in scientific corporations and governmental bodies – are accessing more information than ever before.

Conversely, as the total amount of time and material being read increases, the time spent per article decreases, as researchers and students have tools that help them access and review key articles and extract the specific data they are seeking more quickly. As researchers are more pressed for time and expect quick and easy electronic delivery, so, too, must journals adapt to these changing conditions.

Identifying the patterns

The availability of older journal issues through back files is also impacting journal readership trends. As libraries invest in back file purchases and expand their online databases, there has been an increase in the readership of articles after the first year of publication. In addition, readers are finding and reading articles from a wider variety of journal titles. This impacts a journal’s exposure and continued use.

New tools and resources are increasing those numbers even further. “Relevance rankings in search engines such as ScienceDirect mean that older articles are read more often,” Tenopir explains. ”This is contributing to a broadening of information used in scientific research.”

This broadening also has an impact on the quality and depth of new research, and will thereby strengthen a journal’s future publications with more substantial, well-researched contributions.

Cultural differences

Until 2000, most of Tenopir and King’s studies regarding electronic media were conducted using source material from North America. In the last eight years, however, that research has expanded to Australia, Finland, Japan and other countries where electronic media is now becoming an industry standard among scientific publications. “We limit our research to countries or regions that have good access to electronic media,” she says, “but the number of countries and regions is growing every year, and although our global work is not very systematic yet, I can envision a time when it will be.”

Furthermore, Tenopir believes that cultural and societal norms play a role in the size and scope of available electronic media. ”Even if the infrastructure controls remain constant, cultural differences might also influence our findings when it comes to usage and readership statistics, particularly in the humanities.” For now, the major differences we find have to do with the discipline of the subject experts. Physicians, for example, rely much more on peer-reviewed journal articles for current awareness than engineers do. Scientists read more journal articles per year for research than do humanities scholars.

In the electronic age,editors will need to organise and present their information attractively.

Journals in the Internet age

Another key factor in determining the impact of electronic media on journal performance is researcher demographics, such as age and professional position. As one might expect, students and researchers under the age of 30 are much more likely to do their primary research and reading online.

While print is less popular among the under 30’s, a printed PDF is still more popular than onscreen, and print remains the predominant medium for core titles, Tenopir reports. “The convenience, browsability and ease of access of print publications are still hard to beat.”

At the moment, core readers still prefer print publications, especially in certain fields, including medicine. “An interesting case in point is pediatricians,” Tenopir elaborates, “who are often known to carry their journals around with them to read between appointments at various locations. However, we think this will change as the current generation of students take their electronic reading habits with them and as portable electronic devices get better at displaying redesigned articles.”

This means that, over time, as reading patterns move steadily toward an online environment, and as technology makes mobile access easier and less expensive, journal editors need to be aware that the choices they make in online publishing will have a direct impact on their journal’s overall performance in the future.

New ways of searching journal content

But how do trends like these translate into new responsibilities for editors? Tenopir explains. “In the electronic age, editors will need to continue to organize and present their information attractively. They will need to concentrate on the most salient facts in articles or papers when they register key words and search terms on electronic databases. We do know that purpose affects reading usage and that, ultimately, relevant information will be sought and utilized. At the same time, the combination of more articles being read and less dedicated reading time per article is obviously not a sustainable pattern over the long term. There is an increased need for tools, graphics and other visual readership aids that will help readers get to the most essential parts of the article most quickly.”

HTML coding in online articles also allows the opportunity for researchers to find information in a particular segment of a larger article or in a graph, photo or diagram. Editors need to be particularly aware of this new opportunity to make their journals as easily searchable as possible. “Until now, we haven’t focused on driving people from indexing towards more marked-up versions of articles, but this is changing. Visuals must be strongly contextual, and sometimes, even just a graph in the article can make the difference. These factors will contribute to de-aggregating the journal,” Tenopir reports.

That’s why abstracts and article summaries are more important than ever before, especially when it comes to electronic media. But the next step will be to move beyond abstracts and to improve quality filters as well. Tenopir predicts that the electronic quality filter will soon manifest itself in student course management systems.

Future focus

In her research, Tenopir discusses how both the implicit and explicit quality of a journal article has a direct impact on that journal’s perceived value. Therefore, high-quality presentation and delivery of information influences the perceived value the journal offers.

“Bringing together the strengths of print with the access to information of the PDA could be a potent combination in the future. From a reader’s perspective, core reading now favors print, with peripheral reading being more electronic. But this can easily change if the approach to electronic design and layout adapts to the changing readership needs and preferences. As electronic journals become more widely available to larger audiences – students, government experts, scientific corporations and academics – non-author subject experts are on the increase. Forward-thinking editors will bear this in mind as they plan and execute electronic strategies.”

To cite this article, please use: Toni Bellanca, "Readership trends: how they affect journal usage", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 21, February 2008.

Useful links:

Carol Tenopir’s homepage

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

21donaldleung

Behind the scenes…the impact of journal bibliometrics on journal quality

Editors’ Update talks with an editor who has successfully implemented policy changes in bibliometrics and achieved positive results with his approach.

Read more >


Editors’ Update talks with an editor who has successfully implemented policy changes in bibliometrics and achieved positive results with his approach.

Dr. Donald Y.M. Leung is currently Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) and The Edelstein Family Chair of Pediatric Allergy-Immunology at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver. The JACI is the official journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). The journal is aimed at specialists in allergy-clinical immunology as well as anyone who treats or investigates allergies, asthma and immunologic diseases. The JACI strives to publish the very latest and best research in the allergy-clinical immunology specialty, with a special interest in clinical medicine and basic science as it translates into optimal patient care

The citation impact factor for the JACI was 3.7 in 1998, when the current Editorial Office took over the journal. The aim at that time was to further establish the journal within the asthma-clinical immunology specialty, so while bibliometric information was useful, the editors also took advantage of direct feedback from society members.

Expansion beyond specialty

“The JACI was already the most-cited journal in its specialty; the next task was to expand our readership beyond it,” explains Dr. Leung. “We have done this in several ways: by working with Elsevier to make selected articles available to members of other related specialties; by working with our society’s media relations team to increase promotion of our articles to the lay media; and recently by bringing in a medical writer to help improve readability and facilitate greater comprehension.”

As the journal’s audience widens, it has been necessary to rely on bibliometrics to see which articles are of the greatest interest to readers outside the specialty – this can be deduced by how frequently articles are cited in non-specialty journals. Bibliometrics is also used to locate the top authors and topics from related fields that would be of most interest to the journal's readership.

The biggest change over the past 10 years has been an increased awareness of the amount of information bibliometric data can yield, as well as an appreciation of how journal policies can impact some of the bibliometric measures. Increasing the stature of a journal benefits authors, readers, the scientific community and the journal itself, so it is important to understand the various methods of assessment and bear these in mind when making decisions that will affect the course the journal takes.

Dr. Leung explains: “We noticed that our immediacy impact – how fast a published article makes it into the cited literature – was fairly static, so we started looking at ways to bring published articles to people’s attention faster and more efficiently. This starts as early as initial submission, where improvements in Editorial Office processing and the introduction of new technology have allowed us to decrease the amount of time from submission to acceptance. In addition, the Articles in Press option means that we are able to get ‘hot’ articles published promptly – something our authors appreciate.”

The JACI was already the most-cited journal in its specialty; the next task was to expect our readership beyond it.

Impact factor and submissions

A decision was made to introduce bibliometric policy changes not only because impact factor is a recognized marker of a journal’s success, but also because it is often used to determine promotions and funding of grant applications. It is also one of the elements authors consider when deciding to which journal to submit their work.

Dr. Leung says: “If we wanted to appeal to the best researchers and attract the best work, we knew that we would need to make our impact factor competitive, and that meant understanding exactly what the impact factor is and what it measures.”

Of course, impact factor is just one way to measure a journal’s success, and several editors and members of the JACI’s editorial board were wary of chasing that figure over other gauges of success, such as readership interest. This is one of the reasons why the JACI works with Elsevier and the AAAAI: to conduct regular readership surveys in order to obtain a more complete picture of readers’ satisfaction with the journal. This is how the success of popular but non-citable sections of the journal is tracked.

Insights into bibliometrics

The most important step towards the introduction of changes in the journal’s bibliometric policy was increased communication with Elsevier. David Tempest, from Elsevier’s bibliometrics department, made a presentation at the JACI’s Editors’ Retreat, in which he explained what bibliometrics can tell you about your journal as well as its limitations. “Improving the journal and responding to the needs of both readers and authors is a team effort, so we wanted to make sure all of the editors had a chance to discuss these issues and ask questions. The important thing to remember is that these numbers are not the be-all and end-all. It is easy to get too caught up in a journal’s impact factor. It is interesting to see which topics are most highly cited, as this is often an indication that readers are eager to read more about these topics,” explains Dr. Leung. Although patterns do emerge, some of the ‘hot’ topics will change over time, so it is not possible to use only data from the past to determine the path to follow in the future.

The response to these policy changes is an ongoing process. As the impact factor has increased, so has the number of new submissions, which has forced the journal’s editors to be more selective about which articles are accepted for publication. The Editorial Office staff works with the editors and reviewers to ensure that manuscripts are handled promptly and provides feedback from authors and reviewers. Regular surveys are carried out to ensure that the readership is satisfied. It is also understood that not every article is going to be highly cited. The journal has a large clinical audience and their interest in an article is more likely to be evident in the number of times it is downloaded than the number of times it is cited. One of the gauges used to determine whether to accept an article is its ‘priority’ for the journal’s readership. Determining what is a ‘high priority’ to readers requires understanding all of the tools available for assessing this.

“For the short-term, at least, I don’t see bibliometrics changing too drastically,” concludes Dr. Leung. “However, as new technologies shape the ways in which people locate and access content, it will be particularly important to keep an eye on how efficiently readers are finding our articles. This is something bibliometrics will be able to help us determine.”

To cite this article, please use: Gloria Kenny, "Behind the Scenes… The impact of bibliometrics on journal policy", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 21, February 2008

Useful links:

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI)

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI)

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

21tonvanraan

The role of bibliometrics in journal performance

Journals are the most important means of representing results in the field of science communication, particularly in the natural science and medical fields. With the use of bibliometrics, it is possible to analyze in detail the role of a journal in a specific field of science. Elsevier and the Centre of Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University in the Netherlands have been working together for the last 21 years to analyze journal performance.

Read more >


Journals are the most important means of representing results in the field of science communication, particularly in the natural science and medical fields. With the use of bibliometrics, it is possible to analyze in detail the role of a journal in a specific field of science. Elsevier and the Centre of Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University in the Netherlands have been working together for the last 21 years to analyze journal performance.

Ton van Raan is the Director of CWTS. We talked to him about the relationship between bibliometrics and journal performance and asked him what tools are available to measure this performance.

“Bibliometrics is about how scientists cite each other and how many times a paper is cited, taking into account the citation characteristics of the field,” explains van Raan. “Citations of one specific publication might not be statistically significant in themselves but they will be as part of a larger entity or a network. Bibliometrics is a method by which citation analysis can provide information about the role of a journal such as scope, impact and prominent authors in a particular field.”

Different tools for different uses

There are a number of tools that can be used for the purpose of measuring journal performance, depending on which information is required. A publisher of several journals might be interested in knowing what their share of the market is. “They might, for example, have five journals in the field of immunology and would like to know how many of these journals are increasing their market share,” adds van Raan. This measure of journal performance is market-related and involves just figures.

The next step in citation analysis is to look at the impact of the papers in a journal, for instance how often the journal is cited by other journals. A publisher can own several journals but they might attract little interest and are therefore not being cited frequently. This means, as a publisher, that you have a strong share of the market in terms of the number of papers, but your journals may have very little impact. It is therefore necessary to carry out a citation analysis in order to establish the impact of the papers in your journal.

Bibliometrics is a method by which citation analysis can provide information about the role of a journal.

Next, you need to analyze how the impact is developing over time, whether it is increasing or decreasing, and what the impact is per document type, such as letters, reviews, etc. Different document types have different citation characteristics. It is important to know what the contribution of these different documents to the total impact of the journal is. “If you look at the share of a journal within all the journals of a publisher as far as its impact is concerned, it is very possible that the share is not large but yet the journal is frequently cited, comparatively speaking,” according to van Raan. In certain fields, like mathematics, the citation level, or amount of references made in a paper to other papers, can be quite low, which can be rather different in other fields, such molecular biology, where it is quite high. Therefore, it is of crucial importance to normalize the impact factor according to the standards of the field. man, the media and making babies’, Professor Robert Winston, one of the world’s leading authorities on the human reproductive system, talked about his life and work; while Nick Arnold, best-selling author of the Horrible Science books for children covered gruesome, curious and revolting in a family event.

The next important issue to look at is the distribution of impact in terms of citations of papers within a journal. This distribution is very skew. Only a few papers receive many citations, while most papers receive very few or none. It is important for a publisher to know who the most impact-attracting authors or institutions in a journal are. “For Elsevier, we analyze which papers contribute most to the impact of the journal. We also establish for these highest-impact papers whether they come from only one or a restricted group of authors or institutions, or whether they are more evenly spread” explains van Raan.

It is also important to look more precisely at the relationship of a journal with other journals. Impact is generated by papers in other journals which may come from a different field. If you analyze the citations received by your journal, you can build up a good impression of the influence of the journal in its own field and possibly also in other fields. You can make a profile of the journal, in which it becomes visible how it is cited by other journals and how it affects other fields.

Network analysis

A further step in journal performance involves analyzing all the citation relationships between journals in a specific field of science. A network analysis of a journal is carried out, making it possible to establish how the citations from other journals give structure to this network of journals. Thus, on the basis of the ‘citation traffic’ between journals, it is possible to create a picture of all of these links between journals and to make a landscape of related journals, some close and others less so. This is what is known as journal mapping, which is a very important tool for editors of journals to establish what the positions of all journals in the network are and, especially, the position of their competitors. “Network analysis of related but different journals based on citation relations gives information regarding all these connections. This makes it possible for us to then build networks of journals in which often a number of smaller clusters can be identified which indicate separate subfields and, perhaps, even emerging research themes,” concludes van Raan.

To cite this article, please use: Gloria Kenny, "The role of bibliometrics in journal performance", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 21, February 2008

Useful links:

Centre of Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@Elsevier.com

21claracalero

Journal citation network analysis

Clara Calero Medina has been a Ph.D. researcher at the Centre of Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University in the Netherlands since 2002. The main topic of her thesis is social research network analysis applied to bibliometric data.

Read more >


Clara Calero Medina has been a Ph.D. researcher at the Centre of Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University in the Netherlands since 2002. The main topic of her thesis is social research network analysis applied to bibliometric data.

“The introduction of social network analysis in bibliometrics is one of the principal developments in the field in recent years. The social network perspective bases itself on the relationships between different units, such as universities, scientists and journals. These relationships can be based on co-publication, citation or co-citation links. From the perspective of bibliometrics and journal performance, the goal with journal citation network analysis is to be able to provide a quick overview of which relevant journals a specific journal is related to, in terms of citations given and received. First, it needs to be established what these journals are, how important they might be and what position they occupy in the network.

As a starting point, we focus on a specific journal, which is known as a ‘seed’ journal. It will have citation links with other journals, both given and received. When we have a set of journals, we are able to determine the connections between them based on the citations they give and receive. After that, we will extract the most prominent journals. In short, we could say journals that are cited often by others are called authorities, while those that tend to give many citations are called hubs. Authorities and hubs show what could be called a mutually reinforcing relationship: a good authority is a journal cited by many good hubs; a good hub is a journal citing many good authorities. This methodology was first developed in social network theory to separate web pages into authorities and hubs.

Finally, we create a network map that contains the most important hubs and authorities journals related to the ‘seed’ journal. In just one simple network map, we present the relevant citation environment of a ‘seed’ journal. This new approach is of obvious interest to those who work in journals, as well as to the publishers of these journals.”

To cite this article, please use: Gloria Kenny, "Journal Citation Network Analysis: new developments", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 21, February 2008.

21adrianmulligan

Feedback with impact

Adrian Mulligan, Associate Director of Elsevier Research & Academic Relations, explains how data collected from authors and reviewers can have an impact on specific publications, or on the publishing process itself.

Read more >


Adrian Mulligan, Associate Director of Elsevier Research & Academic Relations, explains how data collected from authors and reviewers can have an impact on specific publications, or on the publishing process itself.

“Through our various feedback programs, we can clearly see the issues and concerns most relevant to key contributors, and we can address them directly,” Mulligan says. “This ensures that we have a benchmark for performance and that we are constantly honing and improving our processes.” In this way, he explains, Elsevier remains connected to the community it serves.

Listening to our authors

The Author Feedback Program (AFP) is designed to collect relevant data from authors about their recent experience of publishing in a journal. It covers the whole range of the publishing experience, from submission through the peer-review process to final publication.

More than 86% of the journals eligible for involvement in the AFP are currently enrolled. “Each month, around 15,000 authors are invited to complete an AFP questionnaire,” Mulligan says. The corresponding author on each article is approached. “We have an average response rate of about 33%, which is remarkable for this type of survey.”

Data collected through the Author Feedback program affects global Elsevier policies and procedures

By collecting and analyzing feedback from journal authors, Elsevier is uniquely positioned to help guide development to make real improvements. Consistent negative feedback about peer review, for example, would likely mean an evaluation of that journal’s peer-review process was required. The program highlights specific weaknesses and is a starting point for discussion on how best to improve performance. In addition to the snapshot reports available every six months, journal trend reports are also available. Journal performance can be seen over a three-year period, and reports show significant trends in overall journal performance. Impacts of any new processes can be easily discerned over these longer periods.

Data collected through the AFP is not only used to facilitate development on a specific journal’s performance, but affects global Elsevier policies and procedures as well. For example, consistent feedback about the importance of publication times ensured that Elsevier invested in and developed online submission channels. The introduction of this online service meant significant time savings during the entire publishing process, and led to higher author satisfaction. “Compared to previous methods of submitting manuscripts, namely through regular or electronic mail, the online submission system offers significant time and cost savings, and allows for a more streamlined and efficient submission process,” Mulligan explains.

Reviewers’ review

Similar to the AFP, the Reviewer Feedback Program (RFP) was established in June 2006 as a way for Elsevier to collect and analyze feedback from a reviewer’s perspective. The unique and critical role of reviewer carries with it a specific set of responsibilities – and concerns. By tracking reviewer opinion, we are ensuring that we are best placed to provide appropriate support.

“Reviewers have a specific set of expectations and criteria for determining whether a review process was satisfactory or not, and this carries over into whether they are willing to review for a particular journal in the future,” explains Mulligan.

When invited to review an article written by a peer, a reviewer is most concerned about the relevance of the article. This makes the search and selection process critical to choosing the right reviewer for a manuscript.

“Reviewers are very busy people,” Mulligan elaborates. “They are first and foremost concerned with their own research and writing, and the good reviewers are often inundated with requests to review. Unsurprisingly, how relevant an article is to their expertise is absolutely key to the reviewer’s decision making.”

In addition to relevance, reviewers consider the quality of the article, the amount of time allotted for the review process and the reputation of the journal as key factors in their decision.

By employing the RFP, a journal can measure the effectiveness of their reviewer search and make adjustments to ensure that the right reviewers are engaged to review the right articles. Changes ranging from minor adjustments – such as revisions to keywords in databases – to substantial revisions to the peer-review process can result from the data collected and distributed by the RFP.

The core of the matter

In addition to the targeted surveys aimed at Elsevier authors and reviewers, Mulligan and his team are also involved in broader-scale, research projects. These broader studies seek to collect quantitative data regarding worldwide trends and general issues relating to publishing.

A recent study Elsevier commissioned investigated current trends and concerns in the industry – not just Elsevier publications. The results of this study were, at times, surprising. For example, it had been assumed that the technological advances of the last decade – the advent of the Internet and developments in electronic communications – would have a massive effect on the motivations and behaviors of researchers, and might even have an adverse effect on the publishing industry.

“What we came to discover,” Mulligan reveals, “is that although technology and electronic communication have improved the ways in which we transmit and process information, and certainly sped up the process, it has not radically changed authors’ motivations for publishing, nor has it altered their desire to do so.”

Ten years ago, authors published in scientific journals for four key reasons:
1) to facilitate dissemination of their research;
2) to have their research published in a reputable and respected journal;
3) to make their findings readily and publicly available; and
4) to ensure long-term archiving and a historical record.

By employing the Reviewer feedback progra, a journal can ensure that the right reviewers are engaged to review the right articles.

The core trends study indicates that these are precisely the same reasons authors publish today. Despite radical changes in the way authors submit and process their manuscripts, their motivations remain remarkably similar.

Peer review study

Elsevier also participates in studies via the Publishing Research Consortium (PRC), an organization of society publishers, industry bodies and publishing houses, which supports global research into scholarly communication in order to enable evidence-based discussion. A recent study in which Elsevier participated concentrates on the peer-review process. “Peer review has been the focus of a number of discussions and debates recently. The PRC undertook a broad-scale, in-depth look at peer review,” Mulligan continues. “The study examines all aspects of the topic – the merits or otherwise of different types of peer review and the attitudes towards post-publication review. The study provides benchmarks for various aspects of the peer-review process and, importantly, will provide baseline data that will facilitate discussion.”

This international study will report back on the opinions and perspectives of reviewers. Through this data, Mulligan hopes to identify the key issues and trends that will help Elsevier develop more effective and useful tools for facilitating the peer-review process.

“Like all of our studies, this research will help further understanding. It will also help ensure that we provide the best support through our innovative and leading-edge solutions.”

To cite this article, please use: Toni Bellanca, "Feedback with impact", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 21, February 2008

Useful links:

Publishing Research Consortium (PRC)

"Is Peer Review in Crisis?"

"Journal Futures: Researcher Behavior at Early Internet Maturity" - 2006 UKSG Annual Conference Presentation

"Opportunities in Network Publishing" – STM Conference

Sense About Science's Voice of Young Science Workshops

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

21hannekesteuten

Measuring usage

As the Head of Elsevier’s Usage Research Group, Hanneke Steuten is responsible for analyzing and reporting on the usage of Elsevier journals and articles through ScienceDirect and Scopus. She then reports her team’s findings back to customers – predominantly subscribing university libraries – on a monthly basis.

Read more >


As the Head of Elsevier’s Usage Research Group, Hanneke Steuten is responsible for analyzing and reporting on the usage of Elsevier journals and articles through ScienceDirect and Scopus. She then reports her team’s findings back to customers – predominantly subscribing university libraries – on a monthly basis.

“We monitor the number of articles downloaded per journal - as well as the number of searches made, articles most read, etc. – and produce reports that our customers can retrieve via our website,” Steuten explains. “Each customer has access to up to 20 reports per month, which are created automatically, on request.”

Measuring impact

“In the past, before our journals were available online, we weren’t able to gather any usage information whatsoever,” Steuten continues. “Customers subscribed to certain journals, which were placed in their libraries, but we had no way of knowing how many people were reading them. Our main source of feedback on the audience and impact of a journal was provided via bibliometrics based on citation data, which is still very important. We rank the journals we publish based on the impact factors provided by Thomson ISI on an annual basis.”

A high impact factor for a journal or a high number of citations for an article provides an indication of its importance within the academic community, thereby adding prestige to the article. “Citing an article is a very formal way of acknowledging the significance of that article and citation data represent ‘author behavior’. At the same time, usage data are also an acknowledgement of the value of an article or journal, but in a much broader and less formal sense, representing ‘reader behavior’.”

In certain scientific fields (physics, for example), there is a large amount of overlap between the author community and the reader community of a journal. In other fields, the majority of readers do not publish articles and the reader community is much larger than the author community. “Lots of people outside academic circles read medical journals, for example, because they work in the field or they have an interest in a certain disease or new form of treatment,” Steuten explains. “Physics journals, on the other hand, are very specialized and do not appeal to such a wide audience. They attract a higher percentage of citations per reader than medical journals, due to the academic nature of their readership.”

Vast improvement

“The World Wide Web has changed the way journals are read. Since the Internet is now the main way to access journals and articles, this provides us with a much more accurate overview of how they are being used. Usage can differ from journal to journal – some have a large number of personal subscribers, for example – but most subscribers are libraries and a lot of the time, articles are accessed through Web searches. Consequently, we now have a wealth of information on the amount and frequency that articles are read, which universities use which journals most, and the number of readers of journals and articles."

Statistical benefits

As Steuten explains, there are many advantages to be gained from the ability to gather accurate and current usage information. “As far as our customers (university libraries and R&D departments) are concerned, they can use the information to make informed decisions, such as whether to renew their subscription to a particular journal. Other factors are involved, of course, such as the faculty’s opinion of the journal and its impact factor, but they can now make decisions with the additional knowledge of how often the journal is referenced.”

Usage rates have been growing at a remarkable rate since 2000, when we first started tracking usage statistics through our databases

“Internally, publishers can see which universities use which journals the most, which articles are downloaded more often and which have the highest number of readers. This information can be used to assess whether special theme issues are more or less popular than standard issues, for example, thus influencing the editorial policy of the journal.”

“It’s also important for society journals to know how often they are used. In general, they aim for as broad an audience as possible and we can offer them information not only on the number of readers, but also on their geographical spread. In recent years, for example, China has become a large and growing user of our journals and articles. Around 12% of our worldwide download usage now stems from China, compared to 24% in the United States and 26% in the whole of Europe.”

“Finally, accurate usage statistics are also useful for our own sales organization. We can show customers exactly how journals and articles are being used as an incentive to renew contracts.”

Hot topics

Nothing stands still for long where the Internet is concerned, and the gathering of usage statistics is no exception. “Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, in the United States, have set up a group called the MESUR Project,” Steuten explains. “They are carrying out research into whether impact factors can also be based on usage information, rather than citation data alone. They are using Elsevier log file information from ScienceDirect and Scopus to create formulas to measure the comparative impact of journals and articles within the same field. These alternative impact measurements would be very useful to librarians, who currently rely on citation impact data, mainly.”

Another organization, called Counter, is also researching the possibility of creating impact measurements on the basis of usage data. “Counter is a co-operation between publishers and librarians that has introduced standards for the usage information provided by publishers,” Steuten continues. “In the past, different publishers used varying criteria when compiling usage statistics, making it difficult to compare journals and articles from different sources. Counter has developed a standard, with which Elsevier and the majority of publishers now comply.”

Work in progress

“Since all of our journals and articles have been available via the Web, through resources such as ScienceDirect and Scopus, the use of journals, in general, has increased considerably,” Steuten concludes. “This is due to various factors. In the past, for example, readers needed to visit a library to find a printed copy of a journal, whereas now they can access virtually any journal or article from their desktop. In addition, the increasing efficiency of Web search technology, the fact that our journals are covered by widely accessible abstract databases, like Pubmed, and the fact that they are now also indexed by Google has made it quicker and easier to locate specific articles on the Web.”

“The whole process has become much more efficient and accessible. As a consequence, usage rates have been growing at a remarkable rate since 2000, when we first started tracking usage statistics through our databases. In the early years, usage doubled year on year, while in 2007, for example, download usage via our websites still increased by 24% in a single year and I wouldn’t be surprised if 2008 also produced double-digit growth.”

To cite this article, please use: Gary Rudland, "Measuring usage", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 21, February 2008

Useful Links:

Usage reports website

What Counts and What Doesn’t: An Insider’s Guide to Usage Reports

MESUR Project

Counter

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

Forum results – EES provides the missing link

The Editors’ Forum in the last Editors’ Update focused on how to achieve visibility for your journal. Some 88 editors participated, giving their views on the following question:

Read more >


The Editors’ Forum in the last Editors’ Update focused on how to achieve visibility for your journal. Some 88 editors participated, giving their views on the following question:

Visibility is key for the success of any scientific journal. How should this visibility be achieved?

A) It’s most important to promote the journal in order to build the community around that journal.

B) It’s most important to promote the scientific results published in the journal as ultimately we need the support of universities, funding bodies and the general public.

C) The focus should be on attracting the best authors. The quality content they publish promotes itself and visibility will follow.

While the majority (64%) of editors supported option C, attracting the best authors, this option was not without its controversy and challenges when put into practice. Many editors raised the issue of how to identify the best authors as problematic; one pointed out that the “best authors” often don’t stay the best and are only highly read and cited for a short period, while others were concerned about excluding good science from young scientists who have not yet made a name for themselves, arguing that “celebrity” authors are not necessarily a reliable indicator of good work. Finally, even if the good authors have been correctly identified, it remains a question of how to attract their papers in practice. One editor felt this could be achieved through increasing access to the content (to an open access model), others felt options A and B needed to play a role in this.

Option B, promoting the scientific results in the journal, was considered the most important aspect by 12% of editors. “Promotion of results is [of] vital importance for visibility of science and…for the journal…without advertisement there is no sale” one respondent noted, “we should be seeking to emphasise the value of the science that we publish as that is the real definition of quality. The more authors and other audiences appreciate the high status and quality of the research…, the more they are likely to identify with the journal and seek to place their best papers there.” This option also has its challenges, one editor remarks, “it is the most difficult approach as it requires both effort to identify and promote the best science, and receptive outlets which will further disseminate the scientific messages.”

Option A, promotion of the journal to build the journal community, received 7% of votes. Editors who supported this aspect felt the journal name was of key importance to visibility and that if journals are not promoted even the best scientific work can get “lost”. Some respondents felt that this aspect was of decreasing importance as journals move away from print towards electronic formats. Concerns raised by this option were the difficulty for multi-disciplinary journals to achieve this type of community and that such a focus might lead to the journal becoming a self-promoting club.

21terheggen_hendriks

What do editors think of the reference links?

Editors will be excited to hear that the New Year brings with it a major and most-requested improvement to EES—reference linking—the seamless click through access to abstracts of cited articles. And that’s not all! Within a couple of months, EES will be further expanded to integrate both Scopus and ScienceDirect, enabling editors and reviewers to click through to the full text of cited articles. Elsevier explains the new functionality and the benefits for editors, reviewers and authors.

Read more >


Editors will be excited to hear that the New Year brings with it a major and most-requested improvement to EES—reference linking—the seamless click through access to abstracts of cited articles. And that’s not all! Within a couple of months, EES will be further expanded to integrate both Scopus and ScienceDirect, enabling editors and reviewers to click through to the full text of cited articles. Elsevier explains the new functionality and the benefits for editors, reviewers and authors.

Philippe Terheggen, Director Journal Development & Support, S&T Journal Publishing: “Elsevier is extremely committed to supporting editors and the peer-review process. One request we’ve heard repeatedly during meetings, focus groups and conferences with editors, and also from the one million or so reviewers we support, is for the automatic click through from manuscripts to referenced texts. We’ve seen that the difficulty in accessing references is a ‘pain point’ for both editors and reviewers in the peer-review process so we’ve invested time and considerable expense enabling this function within EES, the editorial workbench.”

Two-clicks

In just two clicks you are taken from the manuscript to the referenced article. Like any significantly advanced technology, it seems to work by magic. Franka Hendriks, the Project Manager driving this development over the past two years, walks us through the workflow. “The way it works is that authors submit manuscripts to us and we use automated software to extract the reference information and find the correct records,” she explains. “What the editor or reviewer will see are hyperlinks to CrossRef (and Scopus as of March) in a result table in EES.”

For Elsevier articles, the editor/reviewer is passed on to ScienceDirect. If the person is a ScienceDirect guest user, or does not have a ScienceDirect subscription, the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) system brings the EES user to the abstract. With a journal subscription in ScienceDirect, the abstract, full text and even the article’s references can be viewed.

In just two clicks you are taken from the manuscript to the referenced article.

Hendriks goes on to explain, “When the editor sends the manuscript for peer review, the reviewer is instantly able to use the hyperlinks to directly access the cited article—thanks to 30-day access to Scopus (integrated in EES) that can be quickly activated by the reviewer. A reward for the reviewers,” Hendriks points out. “While editors, linking directly from EES, are soon to have unlimited access to Scopus and ScienceDirect.”

Quick and easy

The simplicity is one of the many things that enthused the editors and reviewers who took part in the pilot project. But there are also quite a number of other benefits that excited them. “Unlike other publishers, we don’t require the author or editor to use a special tool or program to insert hyperlinks,” explains Hendriks. “And editors don’t need to enter different usernames and passwords—once they’re logged in as an editor in EES there’s a seamless link through to the other platforms. Furthermore, not only will editors and reviewers be able to see the links in EES, links will also be available in the PDF version of the manuscript. So if you’ve saved the manuscript to your desktop, you’ll still have the links available to you,” she says.

While all this is very satisfying, it’s the enhancement to the peer-review process that has everyone really smiling. Terheggen says, “Editors and reviewers will have quick access to the abstracts of the manuscript’s references. They will be able to check the scientific merit and identify missing or incorrect references. We’re hoping that seamless access to references will reduce the time a reviewer needs to spend on the review. We understand that we’re asking reviewers to contribute valuable time as well as their expertise and are striving to make the review process more enjoyable and more efficient.”

More reference links

To let editors and reviewers take advantage of this enhancement as soon as possible, reference linking will be rolled out with CrossRef links in January. CrossRef links will then be replaced with Scopus in March. "The Scopus abstract database offers much more content than CrossRef, enabling us to provide more reference links" Hendriks says, "In addition, reviewers can also benefit from tools to retrieve citation counts (that help the reviewer evaluate the reference), up-to-date email addresses for authors and, as of March, seamless integration with ScienceDirect to view the full-text."

After replacing CrossRef links with Scopus links in March, the plan is to provide links to full texts in ScienceDirect, also by March. Once this is done, Terheggen, Hendriks and their team will continue to look for more ways to deepen the integration of the editorial process. Already they have plans for EES to be able to send an alert to the reviewer when the article they reviewed is published, give access to the published text and then report the citation data to the reviewer. Now if only they’d figure out a way for EES to make the coffee too!

To cite this article, please use: Kirsten Spry, "EES provides the missing link", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 21, February 2008

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

21tonyvernon

Question Time…Impact of Performance on Journal Content

The pilot version of the new reference linking function in EES has been on trial by selected journals for the past few months. So what’s the verdict?

Read more >


The pilot version of the new reference linking function in EES has been on trial by selected journals for the past few months. So what’s the verdict?

We decided to ask Dr. Tony Vernon, Co-Editor-In-Chief of Personality and Individual Differences, who was involved in the trial, if the new reference linking in EES works as well in practice as it does in theory. His journal is a very well established journal that produces 16 issues per year and receives about 850 submissions per year.

“The new reference linking in EES saves time and makes the peer review more efficient. It has made it a great deal easier and quicker to check citations and has had a really positive impact on our workload and workflow,” he says. “The improvement is due to the ease with which editors, associate editors and reviewers can cross-check references that contributors include in their manuscripts.”

When asked if there are any “kinks” that need ironing out, or further improvements that could be made to the reference linking function, Vernon replies, “I haven’t encountered any. I know there are plans to expand the integration of EES and Scopus within the next few months to include ScienceDirect and thereby allow editors and reviewers to click through to the full-text of cited articles. This is a very welcome additional feature that will make cross-referencing and finding related papers straightforward and relatively effortless.”

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

Forum Results…On Visibility Of Journals

In this section of Editors’ Update, we ask a group of editors for their views on a relevant topic. The theme of this issue is journal performance, which can be assessed in various ways.

Read more >


In this section of Editors’ Update, we ask a group of editors for their views on a relevant topic. The theme of this issue is journal performance, which can be assessed in various ways.

This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Impact factor – a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited in a particular year;
  • Paper flow – the total number of (non-solicited) submissions to your journal per year;
  • Rejection rate – the percentage of all submitted articles that are rejected;
  • Usage statistics – total number of electronic downloads, number of institutional accounts and geographic distribution of usage;
  • Publication times – the amount of time that lapses between acceptance of a paper and publication;
  • Author feedback – feedback from authors on their experience of publishing in a particular journal that is logged in Elsevier’s Author Feedback Program;
  • Reviewer feedback – feedback from reviewers on their experience of reviewing for a particular journal that is logged in Elsevier’s Reviewer Feedback Program.

Our questions to editors this issue are:

1) What are the principles that determine your journal’s content policy?
2) To what extent does journal performance have an influence on your content policy?

 

Giuliano F. Panza

Professor of Seismology, University of Trieste, Italy
Honorary Professor Chinese Earthquake Administration, Beijing
Editor of Earth-Science Reviews

1) I am an editor of a journal dealing with review papers aimed at bridging the gap between textbooks and research articles.
The content of the papers is controlled by the following factors:

I personally solicit papers on topics I consider relevant. These may cover controversial subjects or fill gaps in the literature. In selecting authors, the use of the h-index is of paramount importance. An author with a high h-index should guarantee an optimal impact factor for the journal.

I welcome non-solicited submissions as long as they are clearly motivated and could have not only a large impact on scientific progress, but also in the education of young scientists.

The rejection rate of papers submitted to my journal is mainly controlled by the quality of the papers. However, I try not to accept more than one paper on a given topic in the same year and to keep to a minimum the number of papers motivated by fashion. I encourage a wide geographical coverage in the publication, thus I tend to encourage the submission of papers involving scientists from developing countries.

2) The quality of papers is paramount. I look for balance between classical problems and controversial topics. Speed also plays a large role. Reviewers’ timely feedback is key for attracting authors. The amount of time that lapses between submission and publication is, in fact, a very important factor influencing the performance of a paper, and by extension, the journal.

I particularly value the possibility offered by my journal to publish many figures and tables of original data. In regular scientific papers, these are often sacrificed on the altar of conciseness, and this may hamper the reproducibility of results, as required by Galilean Physics.

Ian Henderson

Professor of Vertebrate Endocrinology, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Editor-in-Chief of General and Comparative Endocrinology

1) My journal’s content policy is based on three main principles. First and foremost is good, sound endocrinology in its broadest sense. Following that is originality and novelty. For example, we recently received papers on elephant endocrinology and the endocrinology of sea mammals. These papers were not totally original but they were novel and presented good science. Other areas that I consider original are the molecular and cellular bases of hormonal actions. Research here is exploring how the same hormones act differently in different species.

We also publish special issues, such as an issue that came out recently reporting on a meeting held in Manchester, UK last August. I work closely with my Co-Editor-in-Chief Bob Dores to decide what topics to cover in these special issues.

2) ‘Journal performance’ is very hard to define. I receive regular reports from Elsevier covering things such as my journal’s impact factor and the results of the Author Feedback Program. This informs me, for example, that my journal’s impact factor is increasing and reached 2.5 in 2006. It’s useful – and gratifying - for me to know that the journal is on an upward path, and I also realize IF can be important for researchers in attracting funding. However, there are journals in my field that we are never going to be able to compete with in terms of IF – and wouldn’t want to.

Instead of worrying too much about my journal’s performance, I’d rather concentrate on the quality and novelty of the papers’ content. While a controversial or novel paper might attract a high number of citations in the short term, thereby appearing to improve the IF, if one has any doubts about the soundness of the science, the paper should be rejected as it could, and in reality almost certainly will, affect the journal’s credibility in the long term.

Stefano Ruffo

Associate Professor of Condensed Matter Physics, University of Florence, Italy
Editor of Communications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulations

1) My journal publishes articles in the broad field of nonlinear science, with an emphasis on both fundamental and applied aspects. This field of research grew quickly at the end of the 1970’s. The developments were originally restricted to
mathematics, physics and chemistry. It is now a mature field, which has a strong impact on several other disciplines, such as engineering, biology and sociology.

Most of the papers that we receive are unsolicited, but we also publish topical issues for which we seek contributions from recognized experts. Content policy should be determined by the high standard of the work and the timeliness of the contribution. We receive various papers from Asian countries (China, Iran, India etc.), and many of them are numerical exercises of doubtful interest. However, the quality of these papers is improving all the time and we should adopt a content policy that stimulates researchers to direct their efforts towards relevant and interesting open problems of nonlinear science.

Other factors that could influence journal content policy include: maintaining close relations with referees and creating a referee database with regularly updated (at least each year) personal information such as areas of expertise, interests, absence from the home institution, and so on; and holding an editorial board meeting at least every two years in order to discuss journal policy in detail.

2) Let’s examine separately the different issues.

i) Impact factor: An important ‘objective’ factor. There are ways to increase journal performance, such as publishing high-level topical issues.

ii) Paper flow: Definitely high for our journal and for many journals. However, we should try to bias the flow towards more interesting research topics, which is something editors can influence.

iii) Rejection rate: Currently 50-60 percent for my journal, rising to 70 percent. The rejection rate should not become too high or one runs the risk of rejecting papers that could attract many citations.

iv) Publication times: Having an official publication date can influence an author’s career. Very long publication times can result in massive backlogs unless one increases the rejection rate; but if the latter is too high, it can negatively affect the impact factor.

v-vi) Reviewer and author feedback: Both are important because they can retro-control editor behavior.

Please send responses to:EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

20_David_Ruth_-_Science_sells

Science sells: promotion, press and the public

When it comes to the media, science is a hot topic. Where previously scientific research was often limited to scientists themselves, these days the public has access to, and an interest in, more information than ever before. This presents a great opportunity for Elsevier and other scientific publishers to promote good science through the media. How, then, to inform journalists and, by extension, the public about what is going on in the field of scientific research?

Read more >


When it comes to the media, science is a hot topic. Where previously scientific research was often limited to scientists themselves, these days the public has access to, and an interest in, more information than ever before. This presents a great opportunity for Elsevier and other scientific publishers to promote good science through the media. How, then, to inform journalists and, by extension, the public about what is going on in the field of scientific research?

One of Elsevier’s core functions is to promote science, both to the public and within the scientific community. David Ruth is Senior Vice President of Elsevier’s Corporate Relations Department based in New York; Editors’ Update asks him why it’s important to promote science, how Elsevier goes about this and what developments there are in this area.

The rise and rise of the media

With the advent of blogs, the rise in online research and publications, plus the continued use of traditional media, information about scientific developments is everywhere. But often the people writing about them do not have a scientific background and their stories can be driven by the public’s desire for the human-interest angle. According to Ruth, “articles about neuroscience, behavioral science, psychology, climate change and the environment are the most popular in the media these days. Some of the information available on these subjects is inaccurate or misleading, so it’s our aim to ensure that journalists are well educated about these topics and that they have access to informative, peer-reviewed journals. We do this by alerting journalists to particular articles that target the areas we know they find interesting to write about. Our aim is to make it easy for them to understand the gist of the research and its relevance.”

Elsevier is also constantly promoting science through the media and uses various tools to do this. The Newsroom on Elsevier.com was recently launched, and is seen as a valuable resource for journalists; we also regularly send out press releases. Further, we promote journal information via newswires geared towards science and health journalists.

In many cases, there are archives and podcasts of interviews with researchers that journalists can access in order to find more in-depth information on the published research. “More recently,” adds Ruth, “we developed ‘Flash’, a bi-weekly news alert of four to five ‘hot’ research stories that are generating media interest. This media tool is resulting in mainstream coverage in publications such as The Economist and The New York Times – coverage that helps explain how research is changing the world we live in.”

Elsevier offers free access to ScienceDirect – the online database of the scientific, medical and technical information we publish– to the journalists that subscribe to Flash. And they regularly use ScienceDirect to find research on which to base their next story. We work closely with editors and researchers to write clear explanations of their research so that reporters can find the information they need and understand it easily. “The flow of information is two-way,” explains Ruth. “We also encourage journalists to let us know of upcoming articles so that we can help them in their research. We then see if we can provide them with an expert in the field to help build a solid foundation for the story.”

The pros and cons of promotion

Promoting science in this way is beneficial to the journal and its authors on the one hand, and to the media and public on the other. Raising awareness of a journal improves its profile within the scientific community, attracting more submissions. It also increases the number of citations, which has a knock-on effect on the Impact Factor. Strengthening the journal’s brand improves the reputation of its individual authors and editors and, in some cases, the institutions or societies with which they are associated. The public, of course, benefits by being better educated, which in turn helps policymakers take informed decisions.

We encourage journalists to let us know of upcoming articles so that we can help them in their research

‘All publicity is good publicity’, however, does not always hold true. Accusations of plagiarism and ethically controversial stories are some of the downsides to media coverage. “Some of what we do,” Ruth continues, “is damage control. We need to protect the reputation of the journal in question by ensuring that the information published is top-of-class. It’s important that people understand the peer review system and how that contributes to the quality of the information.”

Global knowledge-sharing

As well as promoting science to the public, raising awareness of new research within the scientific community is of equal importance. Elsevier has been sponsoring lectures, workshops and journals in both the developed and the developing world. Recently, sponsorship has enabled journalists to attend conferences on science journalism, such as the World Federation of Science Journalists Conference, as well as the annual AAAS meeting in the United States. Through these events, journalists are exposed to science from all over the world and are able to talk to peers about their issues and challenges. Educating journalists about the publishing and peer review system also enables us to protect the reputation and mission of scientific journals themselves. We sponsor non-profit organizations such as the Science Media Center and Sense About Science to work toward these goals as well.

Other Elsevier initiatives to raise awareness of scientific trends and to promote them within the community include participation in and sponsorship of the annual BA Festival of Science, held in September. The festival, held this year in York, United Kingdom, aims to raise public awareness of science by bringing scientists and people together. This year we arranged a panel on Nanotechnology and the Environment, called ‘Nano Goes Green.’

Promoting peer-reviewed, relevant scientific research increases the public’s understanding of issues that could have an impact in their lives. It helps the scientific community to influence policymakers in an informed way and could in turn lead to improving healthcare and quality of life.

To cite this article, please use: Vicky Hampton, "Science sells: promotion, press and the public," Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 20, December 2007.

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

20_Julio_E_Celis_-_Promoting_science_sidebar

Promoting science: an editor’s perspective

Professor Julio Celis, Director of the Institute of Cancer Biology at the Danish Cancer Society and Editor of Molecular Oncology, talks about recent developments in his scientific field and shares his views on why it is important to promote them to a broader audience.

Read more >


Professor Julio Celis, Director of the Institute of Cancer Biology at the Danish Cancer Society and Editor of Molecular Oncology, talks about recent developments in his scientific field and shares his views on why it is important to promote them to a broader audience.

“Translational research is an emerging area of cancer research. It should be promoted to a broader audience as it promises to change the way in which cancer will be diagnosed, treated and monitored in the future. Its implementation will require the coordination of basic research activities, resources and infrastructure. In addition, integrated and interdisciplinary environments should be created with the participation of all the stakeholders on the cancer continuum.

One of the greatest challenges we face today is how to effectively bridge basic and clinical cancer research in order to expedite the translation of novel discoveries into clinical applications for the benefit of the patient. Molecular Oncology has taken on this challenge and will provide an international forum where researchers, health care providers, patient advocates and other cancer stakeholders can raise awareness of issues of broader interest.

Given the ever increasing multidisciplinary nature of science, as well as the growing costs associated with performing competitive research, it is becoming crucial to inform society of the benefits of scientific research. Our lives are increasingly being affected by scientific discoveries. As a result it is important to provide accurate and transparent information about new scientific breakthroughs and important developments that are of interest to the population at large. We must draw attention to the societal responsibilities of researchers and ensure that society understands the needs and limitations of modern research.”

To cite this article, please use: Vicky Hampton, "Science sells: promotion, press and the public," Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 20, December 2007.

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

20_Roland_Jackson_-_Reporting_Back

Reporting back…BA Festival of Science

“How can anyone hope to appreciate the deep underlying threads of intellectual life in his or her own time without understanding the science that goes with it?” (1)

With this sentence, Dr. Robert M. Hazen makes a powerful case for science literacy among the general public. Research conducted by the American National Science Foundation reveals some interesting statistics, however (2): while an increasing number of Americans are interested in science and technology and generally hold the scientific community in high regard, only 27% understand the nature of scientific inquiry well enough to be able to make informed judgments on issues ranging from the environment and nuclear power to preparing a nutritionally balanced meal for their families.

Read more >


“How can anyone hope to appreciate the deep underlying threads of intellectual life in his or her own time without understanding the science that goes with it?” (1)

With this sentence, Dr. Robert M. Hazen makes a powerful case for science literacy among the general public. Research conducted by the American National Science Foundation reveals some interesting statistics, however (2): while an increasing number of Americans are interested in science and technology and generally hold the scientific community in high regard, only 27% understand the nature of scientific inquiry well enough to be able to make informed judgments on issues ranging from the environment and nuclear power to preparing a nutritionally balanced meal for their families.

Although these figures relate to the United States, Americans are certainly not the only people who can find it hard to engage with science. Under the rubric ‘Connecting science with people’, the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA) exists “to advance the public understanding, accessibility and accountability of the sciences and engineering”, according to its website. One of the ways in which it achieves this is through an extensive program of regional and local events across the United Kingdom. Sir Roland Jackson, the BA’s Chief Executive, reports back from one of these events, the annual Festival of Science, which took place this year in the city of York from 9-15 September.

The now common term 'scientist' was coined at one of the BA's early meetings.

A festival of firsts

The BA was established in September 1831. A meeting was held the same year and there has been an event in that tradition every year since. Almost from the start, the BA established itself as a platform for scientific discussion and discovery. It is interesting to note that the now common term ‘scientist’ was coined at one of the BA’s early meetings and the 1894 event saw the first demonstration of wireless transmission. What has now become the BA Festival of Science is one of Europe's largest and longest running events of its kind, hosting over 250 events and 400 leading scientists and social commentators annually. In the United States, the American Association for the Advancement of Science was founded in the BA’s image in 1848. The annual meeting linked to this organization takes place in February, but is aimed more at those with a semi-professional interest in science, rather than the general public.

In the past, the BA Festival of Science was held solely on the university campus of the town or city it was visiting. “These events attracted the kind of people who felt comfortable in a university environment,” explains Sir Roland. “In recent years, the Festival has expanded into the surrounding city and into informal locations such as bars and cafés. You’re now as likely to find a scientist talking to Saturday shoppers in a pavilion on the high street as you are giving a traditional presentation in a university lecture hall.”

A large audience is still attracted to the onsite program, but other events across the city add to the number and diversity of presentations, debates and workshops as well as the people who attend them. The final attendance figures for York are not yet in but around 11,000 people booked in for events at last year’s Festival in Norwich, a city of roughly the same size, with a total of 150,000 attendances at events. The Festival is also a magnet for the top national and international science journalists and generates a huge amount of media coverage. The BBC news website, for example, received two million page views during the week of the Festival for Festival-related content.

From the sublime to the ridiculous

Planning for each edition of the Festival starts almost two years in advance. The first step of this planning process is notification of the theme chosen by the President for his or her Presidential Address. The program is then filled in with events and activities that support this theme, as well as a range of others of topical scientific and public interest. Highlights from this year’s program included:

  • Altering the genome of large animals;
  • Performance enhancement: the good, the bad and the Olympic gold;
  • Fetal testosterone and child development;
  • 50 years of space travel;
  • The bionic ear show and debate;
  • Fusion energy: star power.

As the Festival is very much about taking science out of the lab, prominent scientific figures have a central role. In ‘The man, the media and making babies’, Professor Robert Winston, one of the world’s leading authorities on the human reproductive system, talked about his life and work; while Nick Arnold, best-selling author of the Horrible Science books for children covered gruesome, curious and revolting in a family event.

You're now likely to find a scientist taking to shoppers on the high street as you are in a university lecture hall.

“We very much want to generate discussion with our audiences by posing a range of questions, some potentially difficult,” says Sir Roland. “A series of talks on chocolate asked ‘How far is chocolate addictive?’ and explored the role cocoa has played in the conflict in Cote d’Ivoire, the word’s largest cocoa producer. We also asked ‘Does God have a future in an age of science?’”

The BA was not the only one asking questions. Working closely with our editors and researchers, Elsevier sponsored a panel discussion titled ‘Nano goes green: Can technology benefit the environment?’ aimed at being informative on a complex issue as well as sparking debate. The discussion was well visited by both the public and more than 30 journalists at the press conference held there.

Major scientific advancements

The Festival also provides a platform for the unveiling of new research and major scientific advancements. “Scientists participate in our event for a variety of reasons. Publicly funded scientists, for example, often feel accountable to the public and want to share the results of their research with them,” Sir Roland continues. “Others want to alert the public to what they’re doing or take advantage of the media presence at the Festival to garner attention for their work; still others are interested in public feedback. One event that generated a lot of interest this year was ‘Reading the unreadable’. In this, Professor Tim Wess from the University of Cardiff, Wales explained Diamond Light Synchrotron. This is an X-ray source 10 billion times brighter than the sun, which can image the text in ancient parchments that may be too fragile to open.”

The 2008 Festival of Science will be held in Liverpool and the BA is already inviting proposals of content for the program. “The BA has good ties with Elsevier as a sponsor of the Festival,” says Sir Roland. “We would welcome talking to Elsevier editors about new science that’s in the pipeline to present at future festivals.”

To cite this article, please use: Cecily Layzell, "Reporting Back… BA Festival of Science", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 20, December 2007.

References:

(1) Why should you be scientifically literate?

(2) Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and Public Understanding

Useful links:

The BA

AAAS web site

NSF Science and Technology report

Diamond Light Source web site

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

20_Carma_Schilpp_-_Promoting_journals_in_Health_Sciences

Promoting journals in health sciences

Elsevier’s approach towards promoting health sciences journals depends on the journal, the message and the target group to which it is being promoted. “If we want to increase our subscription base, for example, we traditionally target three groups: individuals; potential members, in the case of society titles; and institutions. To increase our institutional subscription base we also work closely with an international team of subscription agents,” explains Carma Schilpp, Director of Medical Periodicals Marketing. “The traditional vehicle used is primarily direct mail mixed with other promotional components, such as advertising, distributing a variety of publicity materials, attending international meetings/conferences, etc.”

Read more >


Elsevier’s approach towards promoting health sciences journals depends on the journal, the message and the target group to which it is being promoted. “If we want to increase our subscription base, for example, we traditionally target three groups: individuals; potential members, in the case of society titles; and institutions. To increase our institutional subscription base we also work closely with an international team of subscription agents,” explains Carma Schilpp, Director of Medical Periodicals Marketing. “The traditional vehicle used is primarily direct mail mixed with other promotional components, such as advertising, distributing a variety of publicity materials, attending international meetings/conferences, etc.”

Technological benefits

In the publishing industry, as in almost every other, the use of online tools such as e-marketing is growing. “There has been a shift from direct mail to e-marketing and we use this not only to promote subscriptions, but also to achieve other objectives, such as increasing a journal’s visibility in the market place, raising journal brand awareness and to promote a journal as a benefit of membership,” Schilpp continues.

“We also use e-marketing to promote journals as the best place to publish an article. To support that message we can link to the most frequently cited or downloaded articles from particular journals, for example. Potential authors don’t have to look for the articles – they can go straight to them with the click of a mouse. Other advantages of e-marketing are that it’s much better for the environment. We are going ‘green’ and it’s an effective and efficient tool to reach a broad international audience.”

One component of the introduction campaign to announce the imminent launch of two new sub-specialty publications was an e-mail message. “This not only included the benefits of submitting original research articles to the journals, but also addressed the focus of the journals, by offering the option to see and hear what the new editors had to say about their challenging new roles,” Schilpp explains. “A link took interested readers and potential authors to an online interview hosted on the society website. Being able to use these multimedia options really takes e-marketing initiatives to the next level. Hearing all about why these new journals are starting, along with the new and emerging areas they will focus on, straight from the editor’s mouth, really adds value to this type of messaging and makes it not only an attractive but also a very informative tool.”

Reaching a wider audience

Other methods Elsevier uses to create interest around a journal include generating media coverage for individual articles of potential interest to a broad audience. “We’ve had quite a lot of success in this, in recent years, with article content covered in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, on CNN and the BBC, for example,” Schilpp enthuses. “Topics covered have included new developments in treatments, research breakthroughs and prevention issues. The authors are always very pleased to see their findings being shared with an interested audience outside the scope of the journal the article was published in. It means additional exposure not only for the authors and their research but also for the journal.”

“In order to select the article candidates, we work very closely with the journal editors and they alert us at an early stage to articles that could be of interest to the general public. We produce the press releases and after final approval, we send them out to our distribution list of news services, trade reporters and key journalists worldwide.”

E-marketing is growing...and it's much better for the environment.

Editor involvement

The type and depth of exchange between Elsevier and editors can vary from journal to journal. “In general, we work with the editor and, if applicable, the society directly, or in close collaboration with the responsible in-house publisher,” Schilpp resumes. “We produce in-depth reports on each of the journals we publish and these always include a significant marketing component. We also share our initial annual marketing plans with the editor/society in question and solicit their input, ideas and feedback. It’s very much two-way communication and an ongoing dialogue.”

Editors and Editorial Board members can also contribute towards the success of their journals by acting as ambassadors for them. “We can supply them with promotional material and sample issues, among other items, which they can use when they are attending seminars and workshops, for example. Having the journals included in as many library collections and accessible online to the widest possible audience is a goal we all share, and whenever editors can assist in increasing the awareness and visibility of the journal among their peers, this is indeed a valuable contribution to the initiatives Elsevier is undertaking.”

Building communities with Journal Gateways

A current trend in society, in general, is that of building online communities and social networking. Building communities around journals has added benefits in terms of ease of access and raised awareness for the journals and their content. Elsevier has created Journal Gateways around some of the key ophthalmology and urology titles, for example, the objective being to make information available at a particular spot, so people don’t have to search for it. Traffic can be measured to see which parts of the site are most popular and promote other relevant content from a single location.

“In the case of society journals, which have an in-built community element, we help to increase membership and we promote the journals and their online access to the societies’ members as one of the benefits of membership. While we’re positioning and showcasing the journal, we’re also showcasing the society behind it, linking the journal to the society’s vision and mission.”

Institutional subscriptions

Elsevier collaborates with an international team of subscription agents to stimulate institutional subscriptions, but it recently implemented a special institutional e-cluster initiative to support this process. “We sent out an informative e-mail to institutional decision makers, prompting them to look at their current journal subscription portfolio,” Schilpp concludes. “The message also contained a link to a Flash movie portraying Elsevier and its partnerships followed by an automatic redirect to dedicated specialty pages, showing a complete collection of journals in a given discipline. This is an innovative way to ensure our (potential) customers are well aware of the breadth of our entire program.”

To cite this article, please use: Gary Rudland, "Promoting journals in Health Sciences", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 20, December 2007.

Useful links

Elsevier US Health web site

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

20_John_Gale_-_Behind_the_Scenes

Behind the scenes…successfully promoting a new journal

Earlier this year, Elsevier launched the first International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control. It’s certainly timely, considering that climate change is one of 2007’s hottest topics. You may remember that Al Gore collected the Nobel Peace Prize this year for his work analyzing the science of global warming. While Editor John Gale and the Elsevier publishing team may not have won any prizes yet, this new journal, promoting the science and technology of greenhouse gas control, is doing its utmost to tackle this threat to our planet. Gale tells us a little about himself, how the journal came about and what tactics worked to increase the publication’s visibility, readership and reputation.

Read more >


Earlier this year, Elsevier launched the first International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control. It’s certainly timely, considering that climate change is one of 2007’s hottest topics. You may remember that Al Gore collected the Nobel Peace Prize this year for his work analyzing the science of global warming. While Editor John Gale and the Elsevier publishing team may not have won any prizes yet, this new journal, promoting the science and technology of greenhouse gas control, is doing its utmost to tackle this threat to our planet. Gale tells us a little about himself, how the journal came about and what tactics worked to increase the publication’s visibility, readership and reputation.

Green at heart

Gale is passionate about the environment. His CV testifies to this, with various environmental projects under his belt. He is a first-time editor, formerly a research scientist for British Coal, where he started as a trainee in the late 80s and undertook an industrial degree. He moved on to become a consultant in the 90s, working on biomass and waste firing projects in the United Kingdom and a variety of clean coal and environmental projects in China, India, Romania, Russia and South Africa. In the late 90s he joined the IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme (IEA GHG). The IEA GHG is an international collaborative research program that assesses technologies capable of achieving sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Its members include 17 countries, the European Commission, OPEC and 14 multinational industrial sponsors.

As well as editing the journal, Gale coordinates IEA GHG’s conference series, research networks and communication and publicity activities. “One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is seeing ideas come to life,” says Gale. “It’s been the same with the launch of this journal.”

Broad appeal

Gale explains: “The International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control covers developments in greenhouse gas control in the power sectors and the major manufacturing and production industries. It aims to cover all greenhouse gas emissions and the range of abatement options available and comprises both technical and non-technical related content.” The scope of the journal is extremely wide as it includes CO2emissions, transmission, capture, storage, mitigation, as well as the discussion of policy options and industry case studies. “The journal is aimed at scientists and academics primarily but will also be relevant to industry, governmental and non-governmental agencies,” Gale says.

The need for a peer-reviewed journal for articles on greenhouse gas control technology was identified in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report of CO2 Capture and Storage, published in late 2006. IEA GHG then submitted a proposal to Elsevier, which was eventually taken up and championed by Henri van Dorssen, Elsevier’s publisher in the energy sector in Oxford. Elsevier’s market survey results showed strong and growing demand for an authoritative forum in this multidisciplinary research area.

“To date, there’s been lots of research, conferences and workshops held on the topic but no focal point for the technical information generated - no central repository for information that’s readily accessible,” says Gale. “Furthermore, greenhouse gas control is a very interdisciplinary field and research in the area requires an understanding of the needs and interactions of the various components. We aim for our journal to provide readers with an impression of the whole subject area, which will hopefully broaden the individual specialist’s perspective on the CO2 capture and storage system. We also hope the journal stimulates more scientists to publish their work and creates a database of quality information on the topic.”

Recognition of the journal was initially slow, but after three issues we've begun to see a flood of quality submissions.

Driving submission

The connection with the IEA GHG has played a crucial part in the journal’s successful launch. “The IEA GHG has been running a conference series on this topic since 1992. The last conference, Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies 8 (GHGT-8), was held in June 2006 and attended by 960 people. Some 400 papers were presented orally or in poster form,” reports Gale. “For the first issue of the journal we invited 50 authors from the conference to submit papers. And the second issue was also based around the conference. However, the third and fourth have been stand-alone issues generated by direct submission. Recognition of the journal by authors was initially slow, but after three issues we have begun to see a flood of submissions,” he says.

Increasing the number of quality submissions was not the only goal for the journal in the launch phase. Increasing the journal’s visibility and subscriptions were equally as important. And this is where Elsevier played a huge role, with Simon Frankum, Marketing Communications Manager, undertaking an array of promotional tactics. Here are just some of them:

  • A series of Elsevier Flash advertising for the journal and articles featured within the journal. This mechanism provided outreach via services such as Eurekalert.com to scientific journalists.
  • Google adword program.
  • E-blasts. A Solus e-marketing activity using Elsevier’s author/editor databases and ScienceDirect alerting sign-ups.
  • Science Friday radio advert.
  • Elsevier.com homepage advertising.
  • Regular feature in Renewable Energy Focus e-news bulletin.
  • Library brochure mailing.
  • Key scientific people mailing that included copies of the journal and promotional giveaways such as a sustainable memory stick.

Drinks reception and ‘Meet the Editor’ session at the journal launch at the GHGT-8 conference in Trondheim, Norway.

Winning tactics

The promotion that has probably been the most successful is an Affiliate Web marketing campaign. The journal’s homepage traffic and ScienceDirect usage spiked as result of a series of Elsevier-run online banner adverts on sites such as Nature.com. It received an over 3% Click Through Rate (CTR), per 40,000 page impressions, over a three week period. This is the highest CTR of any journal advertised on the Nature websites this year. The Google adwords initiative also produced good Web traffic figures. Exciting plans for ‘viral’ promotions are also in the works, including a ‘forward to a colleague promotion’ wherein a podcast of an author introducing his article ahead of its publication is distributed via virtual networks.

Sustainable future

Gale says it’s been a flurry of activity. “It’s been a steep learning curve for me in producing the journal. Elsevier’s support has been terrific, and we’ve had very open and regular communication with our Elsevier team. From the outset we anticipated a lot of interest and hired three sub-editors to deal with the submissions,” he reveals. “To date there have been 164 submissions, 37 rejections, 58 papers in ScienceDirect and 9 citations,” he says. Not bad for a journal that’s less than a year old and has only published four issues. It seems that a belief in the topic combined with savvy promotion and a strong relationship between Elsevier’s publishing team and the external editorial team, will ensure a sustainable future for this journal.

To cite this article, please use: Kirsten Spry, "Behind the Scenes… Successfully promoting a new journal", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 20, December 2007.

Useful links:

The International Journal of Greenhouse Gases

IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

20_Laura_Hassink_-_Scirus_Topic_Pages

Scirus topic pages: an editor’s new best friend

Online communities are expanding rapidly and becoming an increasingly important means of sharing information. This includes scientific information and research results. Elsevier has launched Scirus Topic Pages to provide researchers with the tools they need to satisfy their quest for quality and peer-reviewed information.

Elsevier launched the beta version of Scirus Topic Pages in June and announced the introduction of other new support tools for researchers. These include a new free research tool and additional features to exist

Read more >


Online communities are expanding rapidly and becoming an increasingly important means of sharing information. This includes scientific information and research results. Elsevier has launched Scirus Topic Pages to provide researchers with the tools they need to satisfy their quest for quality and peer-reviewed information.

Elsevier launched the beta version of Scirus Topic Pages in June and announced the introduction of other new support tools for researchers. These include a new free research tool and additional features to existing products ScienceDirect and Scopus, which will help librarians and researchers better utilize the wide range of information resources available in today’s networked world.

What is Scirus Topic Pages?

Produced by carefully selected, credible scientific experts, Scirus Topic Pages is a free Wiki-like service that provides authoritative topic summaries. It facilitates knowledge sharing by assembling the latest and most relevant journal and Web results on a given topic. The listings on the Topic Pages include definitive reference lists of key published papers, citations, Web sources and other supplementary materials. Scirus Topic Pages is an initiative from Scirus, the world’s most comprehensive science-specific search engine with over 450 million items in its index.

Although promotion to scientists will only start in the second quarter of 2008, the launch of the beta version was well received by the leading industry analysts and media commentators.

Scirus Topic Pages is a free Wiki-like service that provides authoritative topic summaries.

As Scirus Topic Pages is a completely new initiative, the editorial strategy needs to be built from scratch and the policy for the creation and moderation of Scirus Topic Pages defined. The editorial strategy is currently being devised leveraging the editorial expertise and experience of internal Elsevier publishing staff in cooperation with journal editors. Policy issues that need to be tackled include: the depth of a topic page’s subject matter, the level of formality of the information, copyright issues, information update parameters and the control mechanisms that must be put in place to ensure the scientific veracity of the posted information. These policy issues are now in the process of being defined by internal Elsevier publishing staff in cooperation with journal editors.

"Personal opinion and informal communication are what make Scirus Topic Pages very interesting," comments Laura Hassink, Director of Development, S&T Journals at Elsevier. "We need some level of supervision, but without the strict control you find in our peer-reviewed journals. This is all new for us so we don’t want to define it in too much detail in advance. We want to leave users as much freedom as possible. After all, it is a user-generated medium."

Greater journal visibility

Scirus Topic Pages is set up in such a way that it is highly ranked on all search engines, thus ensuring great visibility for the Topic Page authors but also for the journals and authors of specific articles listed on it. Another benefit is that Scirus Topic Pages provides regular updated links to the most relevant journal and Web content, further fulfilling the researcher’s information needs. Editors are invited to be actively involved with the Topic Pages. This places them in a good position to suggest potential authors to write the synopsis of a topic page, which can help to improve the visibility of the journal articles and books in that particular field. It will also become a useful tool when looking for reviewers or if editors want to stay up to date with the latest developments in the field.

“Scirus Topic Pages is a giant leap forward in facilitating scholarly debate,” says Hassink. "This is important, as Scirus supports one million researchers, scientists and students worldwide, offering users a unique combination of free Web information and journal content in a less formal way than ever before. We see the Topic Pages as a great addition to traditional peer-reviewed journals, which remain as important as ever,” she concludes.

To cite this article, please use: Vera de Hen, Scirus Topic Pages:  Editors’ new best friend, Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 20, December 2007.

Useful links:

www.scirus.com

Scirus in Information Today

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

20_Marcia_Balisciano_-_Business_with_global_impact

Business with a global impact

Each year, Reed Elsevier publishes its Corporate Responsibility Report, which outlines the ways in which the company is striving towards becoming a more socially and environmentally responsible organization. But how do the initiatives of the larger Reed Elsevier organization affect our editors and how will the coming years serve to shape the way we do business? Editors’ Update spoke with Márcia Balisciano, Director of Corporate Responsibility, to find out

Read more >


Each year, Reed Elsevier publishes its Corporate Responsibility Report, which outlines the ways in which the company is striving towards becoming a more socially and environmentally responsible organization. But how do the initiatives of the larger Reed Elsevier organization affect our editors and how will the coming years serve to shape the way we do business? Editors’ Update spoke with Márcia Balisciano, Director of Corporate Responsibility, to find out.

The Reed Elsevier Corporate Responsibility Report 2006, released earlier this year, outlines the accomplishments and advancements Reed Elsevier and its operating companies have made in the past year, as well as their objectives and initiatives moving forward. “The report shows our editors how seriously Reed Elsevier (RE) addresses issues related to Corporate Responsibility (CR) and how the initiatives we set forth are not bolt-on, feel-good additions, but rather part of who we are and how we work,” Balisciano says. “In that way, these issues have a direct impact on the business.”

Focus for forward motion

The CR issues on which RE focuses can generally be divided into five broad categories:

  1. Governance: e.g., the Elsevier Code of Ethics & Business Conduct and support for global standards like the United Nations Global Compact;
  2. Marketplace: e.g., our products, services, including ethical publishing and supply chain operations;
  3. Workplace: e.g., creating a ‘great place to work’ by advancing the professional development of Elsevier employees as well as health and safety;
  4. Community: e.g., supporting communities through local outreach and wider-scale activities;
  5. Environment: e.g., understanding and working to limit RE's environmental footprint.

“All five categories will, to varying degrees, have an impact on the way our editors work,” Balisciano explains. Here are examples from Governance, Marketplace and Environment.

Follow the Code

Governance issues are most closely linked with the RE Code of Ethics, which, according to Balisciano, “provides guiding principles and sets expectations for ethical behavior throughout the organization.” Among initiatives discussed in this year’s CR Report is how RE is working to advance the UN Global Compact’s 10 principles covering human rights, labor, environment and anti-bribery, including through support of a 2006 ‘Learning Forum’ in Ghana with African and other business leaders.

Such ethical principles, Balisciano notes, are inherent in the editorial policies that support Elsevier journals. RE has an Editorial Policy, found in the CR Report and on the aREna intranet site, the Policy Zone, which outlines the company’s global editorial principles, including editorial freedom and reliable content free from bias and conflict of interest. The RE Editorial Policy is “not meant to supplant, but rather support individual journal policies,” Balisciano says. In fact, each CR Report highlights a different Elsevier editorial policy, with the spotlight this year on The Lancet’s ‘best in class’ practices.

RE’s culture of editorial freedom was evident in the challenge to the company’s involvement in the defense sector (through its Reed Exhibitions business) in an editorial from The Lancet’s editor earlier this year. Such concern, matched by that of other stakeholders, led to the decision by the RE Board to divest from the sector. In a press release issued on June 1, 2007, RE CEO Sir Crispin Davis said: "It has become increasingly clear that growing numbers of important customers and authors have very real concerns about our involvement…. We have listened closely…and this has led us to conclude that the defense shows are no longer compatible with Reed Elsevier's position as a leading publisher of scientific, medical, legal and business content."

The report shows how seriously Reed Elsevier addresses issue related to Corporate responsibility

Building a better business

Marketplace incorporates our products and services – dedication to producing world-leading content – as well as how we are supporting customers, including through more value-added online services. This dedication is part of RE’s responsible business practices, Balisciano states, and “is also incorporated in supplier relationships.”

The RE Socially Responsible Supplier (SRS) program identifies key suppliers – from paper manufacturers to shippers – and asks them to sign the RE Supplier Code of Conduct, holding them to the same standards the company sets for itself. Elements of the program include an annual SRS survey as well as internal and external auditing. In all five CR areas, a CR Forum, chaired by the CEO with senior Elsevier representatives, sets annual objectives, including for Marketplace and the SRS program. This year it includes having a full-time manager, Terry Martin, supported by the RE business units, to develop the SRS program further.

Leaving fewer footprints

Environment is among the timeliest topics covered in the 2006 Corporate Responsibility Report. Efforts to reduce RE’s carbon footprint and its use of consumables like energy and water are high on the agenda.

Each year, RE’s environmental champions concentrate on a specific area and in 2007 it is water consumption. The campaign was launched on World Environment Day with a message from the CEO, a poster developed by RE’s Variety division and a contest: cash for the best idea for limiting water use. The winner was Elsevier Oxford, United Kingdom, which suggested collecting rainwater for irrigation and other purposes.

But RE is also focusing on initiatives with a broader impact. RE’s Environmental Manager is working with colleagues at Elsevier’s Fuel on a carbon footprint exercise to compare the impact of both the print and online versions of the publication. Balisciano says, “It’s not clear whether reducing print will necessarily correspond to a decrease in energy consumption as hosting and customer searching seems to be leading to higher energy use at RE data centers.”

She believes that Elsevier’s best environmental impact might be through its cutting-edge environmental publications like Fuel, the Virtual Journal of Environmental Sustainability, RE Focus and more.

Future challenges

According to Balisciano, CR is about “what we do and how we do it” and is never finished. She invites feedback and involvement from Elsevier editors. You can contact her atM.Balisciano@ReedElsevier.com.

To cite this article, please use: Toni Bellanca, "Business with a global impact", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 20, December 2007.

Useful links:

RE Corporate Responsibility Report 2006

Defense sector press release

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

Forum results – Conveying the value of your journal

In the last issue we asked you: How do you convey the value of your journal to prospective authors, co-editors or new editorial board members?

Read more >


In the last issue we asked you: How do you convey the value of your journal to prospective authors, co-editors or new editorial board members?

We asked you to choose from one of the following options:

A) The market values Impact Factor most highly, so this is what I focus on conveying.

B) Impact Factor is important, but I also work with the publisher to raise the profile of my journal by communicating about e.g. usage, volume and speed of publication.

C) As a member of the editorial board, I play a key role in determining the quality of my journal, and that’s what I consider its most important defining feature.

This topic received 94 answers, with the following breakdown: only two selected option A (Impact Factor), while 29 chose option B (other measures) and 37 option C (editorial board), making this the most popular option.  The rest of the respondents selected a combination of two answers. All respondents were united in their wish to provide a platform for quality research in their field to authors, researchers, the industry, the government and clinicians, regardless of how this quality was measured or conveyed.

One respondent gave a definition of quality that most respondents seemed to concur with: “For me, as a researcher and editor, I prefer opening an issue and seeing very good papers from front to back, issue after issue, year after year.”

Impact Factor's only value

Impact Factor (option A) was the least selected option, chosen only by two respondents. One of these felt that despite its limitations,  “authors will choose the journal based on the impact factor… so I must support A.” Others agreed: “Impact Factor…is a recognized grading tool, so it will guide the decision to submit a manuscript plus give credence to papers in higher impact journals”. Those opposed to the Impact Factor leveled numerous concerns including that it is “arbitrary”, “easily manipulated”, “fickle”, “essentially worthless”, “artificial”, “a disaster for diversity in research” and even “tyrannical” and “dangerous”.

A number of editors expressed dismay at the over-reliance of authors and university administrators on Impact Factors for assessing the quality of journals and even of scientists who had published in them. One editor suggested that Elsevier could play a role in educating authors about the Impact Factor and how it is calculated.

One respondent summed up many responses in saying: “impact factor probably only has value for comparing journals in a very similar field but it is not a useful primary goal for an editor.”  Another added: “Impact Factor is the result of quality, not its cause.”

Importance of usage

A combination of usage, volume, speed of publication and other measures (option B) was a more favored way to convey journal quality among respondents.  Respondents varied in which measures they found most important. Some supported publication speed as key, while one editor felt quality could be improved by slowing down the process. For some journals usage is of prime importance, especially those with industry, policy or clinical applications, for these journals citations cannot adequately reflect the significance of the research.

Editors’ role

The key role the editorial board plays in determining quality (option C) was primary for the largest group of respondents. “I do my utmost…to raise the quality of our journal…by attracting excellent work and excellent authors to publish in it.” The crucial role of editors and their advisory boards in creating and maintaining the value of the journal was widely recognized. Given the shortcomings of the various measures available, many felt this to be the best way to think about the value of a journal. One respondent felt that this role in determining the quality of the journal was “the most challenging and gratifying objective for an editor.”

Please send responses to: EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

19ChrysanneLoweCommittedtovalue

Committed to value in journal publishing

Journal pricing is an important issue for editors, authors and customers. Editors’ Update looks at how pricing models have evolved and what Elsevier has done to control prices and deliver added value.

Read more >


Journal pricing is an important issue for editors, authors and customers. Editors’ Update looks at how pricing models have evolved and what Elsevier has done to control prices and deliver added value.

Historical context

“Pricing of journals can be an emotive topic,” says Mayur Amin, Senior Vice President, Research and Academic Relations. These feelings date back to the 70s, 80s and early 90s when journal prices were rising much faster than inflation for the entire Scientific, Technical, and Medical (STM) industry. That period also witnessed an increasingly widening gap between the growth in research funding and the growth in library funding. “We got into a situation where the demand for research publishing (as reflected in the number of accepted articles) was growing at 3 to 4% per annum over and above inflation,” continues Amin. “Library funding, which essentially pays for the research output that was published in scholarly journals, was not keeping pace with the funding that was driving the research.”

Declining journal sales

With limited funds and increased research output, some libraries were not able to afford the volume of journals being published so they started canceling subscriptions. As a result, journals were seeing declining sales yet more demand from authors submitting papers. Journals have very high fixed costs so publishers raised subscription charges to cover the increased costs. This, combined with significant currency fluctuations, led to spiraling prices. “People, not surprisingly, found it very strange that publishers’ reaction to declining sales was to increase prices,” Amin continues. “In STM publishing there is a limited number of people interested in niche areas of research so if you reduce prices, sales don’t go up. In other words, demand is not elastic. Publishers were dealing with a situation of increased demand from researchers to publish more, with associated increased costs, on the one hand and declining sales via libraries on the other. Of course, libraries bore the brunt of the price increases at a time when in real terms their funding was static or declining.”

All of this created ill feeling and something needed to be done to get out of the spiral. “Publishers were trying to find a way to serve the research community and balance costs,” says Amin. “So in 1999 Elsevier took a bold step and promised to absorb currency fluctuations and keep the annual price increase percentage below double digits.” The company has kept that promise and its annual price rises have consistently been among the lowest in the industry.

Price factors

Even though Elsevier has managed to control price increases there is still a perception that some journals are over-priced. “There’s a tendency to think all journals are the same and they’re not,” explains Amin. The price of a journal depends on a number of factors. These include the nature of the journal, the number of articles, the size of the market, potential advertising income and additional revenue sources like membership fees, page charges, tax concessions and favorable postage rates. “You cannot compare a hybrid journal like Nature, which has high circulation and substantial advertising income, with a niche research journal that has low circulation, institutional sales and no advertising.”

So how does Elsevier’s pricing compare to the rest of the industry? “If you just look at the average list price per journal, Elsevier is higher than average,” admits Amin. However, Elsevier’s journals are also above average in size so on a list price per article basis, Elsevier journals are close to average. “Furthermore, if you look at average price per use, we’re quite low.” This is because electronic access has changed the pricing model. “The list price of a journal has little relation to the actual cost paid per journal as part of an institutional license agreement,” continues Chrysanne Lowe, Vice President Customer Marketing. “The opportunity for licensing a larger number of journals has driven the cost per title down significantly.”

In 1999 Elsevier promised to keep the annual price increase percentage below double digits. The company has kept that promise.

More choice, less standardization

Elsevier offers a variety of price models for different markets. There are pay-per-view, individual title selection, complete collections, subject collections and more. Institutions may take a mixture of print and electronic or eliminate print subscriptions altogether.

Although electronic publishing has brought greater flexibility and more favorable pricing, individual contract negotiation has made things more complicated and some customers have difficulty with this. “Lack of standardization brings more choice but more complexity across publishers,” Lowe continues. Gone are the days when you called a subscription agent who pushed a few buttons, input a projected price increase and gave you an estimated cost across publishers. “It’s a trade-off. You can now customize a contract to an institution’s needs. But a library now has several contracts with several publishers and each contract may be different”

To understand how electronic licensing has impacted actual price, Lowe cites the example of an institution in the United States. Its contract with Elsevier, which covers 10 sites, originally averaged 411 journals per site at an average $1,825 per title. Through consortia arrangements each site now accesses 1,147 titles at an average $638 per title. In effect, the institute’s collection has expanded by 65% at no extra costs.

Every title used

Although the new licensing deals allow customers to access more material at a vastly reduced price, some worry that deals are binding them to journals they do not really need. “What we’ve found however, is that there is high usage of the new journals,” says Amin. At the same US institution, 33% of its journal usage is from previously unsubscribed material. “It shows that there’s use for every title,” says Lowe. “The fact you didn’t subscribe to a journal in print doesn’t mean it won’t be used online. One US librarian said to me ‘the usage statistics prove that we never selected the right stuff in the first place.’”

Continuous usage growth has also had an impact on the cost per article. Globally, the cost of downloading an article today is five times less than it was in 1999, averaging $2.75 per article as of the beginning of this year. “It varies from customer to customer, of course,” says Lowe. “It depends on the institution’s research program, demographics, need and use, but all indicators are in favor of the customer. Some customers have a CPA under $1.50.”

More time for analysis

Declining article prices show how efficient the STM publishing sector has become. A study by Tenopir and King showed that since 2001, scientists read 25% more articles per year. Science is the only sector where researchers are actually spending more time analyzing rather than gathering information. “People aren’t just saving in terms of cost per use,” says Amin. “They’re also saving time.” Customers themselves have contributed to these efficiencies Lowe believes. “It’s the success of libraries and journals as well as publishers.”

As for the future, Amin and Lowe foresee even more benefits for customers. “We’re in a migration period,” says Amin. “We’re moving towards providing more flexibility in people’s licenses.” Lowe agrees. “It’s an evolution,” she says. “We’re committed to increasing value for customers. So we’re continuing to modify business models and work on pilots with individual customers with an aim to eventually roll out new commercial options.” Publishers are also committed to making their systems more efficient. “I’m sure we’ll see that in the next few years,” confirms Amin. “More access at a lower cost.”

In the meantime, how can editors and authors influence decision makers at their institutions to subscribe to more journals? “There has to be a greater balance between the budget that drives the research output and the library budget that effectively pays for it,” believes Amin. This balance could possibly be achieved by showing how the number of articles used and the number of articles published correlate to grants and contracts awarded. Lowe: “It’s about showing that libraries investment in this material delivers financial returns for the institution. For example, a recent study by Outsell indicates that by using an organizations’ library on average users reduce their time spent on information tasks by nine hours per interaction and save $2,218 in direct costs.”

References:

Outsell's Buyer Market Database, Dr. Carol Tenopir External link http://www.dlib.org/dlib/october03/king/10king.html

Useful links:

2007 subscription price list
http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/subscriptionpricelist.cws_home/subscriptionpricelist/description

GlenCampbellSocietypublishing

Society Publishing in Health Sciences

Having formed journal publishing partnerships with many of the world’s most respected societies, Elsevier has amassed an impressive list of long and fruitful society relationships. These include partnerships to publish society-owned journals and society-affiliated journals. In addition, some societies have an arrangement to sponsor an Elsevier proprietary journal, while for other societies Elsevier supplies all members with copies of a particular journal.

Read more >


Having formed journal publishing partnerships with many of the world’s most respected societies, Elsevier has amassed an impressive list of long and fruitful society relationships. These include partnerships to publish society-owned journals and society-affiliated journals. In addition, some societies have an arrangement to sponsor an Elsevier proprietary journal, while for other societies Elsevier supplies all members with copies of a particular journal.

In total, Elsevier publishes more than 500 society journals, predominantly in the United States and Europe. More than half of these are in the field of Health Sciences and, in the US alone, these account for more than 100 journals.

“The reason why Elsevier is so heavily involved in society journal publishing is that, in many cases, publishing a society journal is the same as publishing for an entire market,” explains Glen Campbell, Senior Vice President US Health Sciences Journals. “In other words, many societies actually define their particular market. Take cardiology, for example. The American College of Cardiologists has 25-30,000 members in the US and worldwide. So, when we work on a strategy for their society journal, we’re really forming a strategy aimed at all cardiologists. The same principle applies to the American College of Surgeons. The society defines the market.”

 

In many cases, publishing a society journal is the same as publishing for an entire market.

Pooling resources

Publishing a society journal involves providing advice on how to meet members’ information and knowledge needs, as well as providing a high level of service with regard to the production and publishing of the journal. “We provide the infrastructure for online journals, as well as global distribution and growth opportunities through all of our platforms and channels,” adds Campbell.

“One of Elsevier’s strengths is that we’re a global company with global reach. But having offices with society specialists in place around the world means that we can also work with societies on a local level to arrive at a publishing, marketing and distribution strategy with our customers. For example, all of the society journals we publish in the US are distributed around the world and, in fact, the fastest growing market for most US Health Sciences journals is overseas. Almost all US cardiologists are already members of a society, so the main growth area for their journals is in Europe and Asia, where we have great distribution channels and the ability to market publications. Some society journals are more geographically specific, but most are truly global in terms of their content.”

In addition to the many online journals Elsevier publishes, all society journals are published in a conventional printed version. “The reason for print and online publication is that the society journal is one of the most visible benefits of membership,” Campbell explains. “It is the major medium for communication between a society’s membership and its readership, and retaining a printed version remains critically important, even in today’s electronic age. The printed society journal almost acts as an official record of the society.”

Bidding process

Society journal publishing is an extremely competitive business and is becoming more so all the time. Elsevier must compete for publishing contracts with the likes of Wolters Kluwer and Nature. “The bidding process for a society journal usually begins with the society hiring a consultant, who issues a Request For Proposal (RFP),” Campbell continues. “This goes to around six, or more, publishers, who submit a written proposal based on the society’s brief. Three or four publishers are then selected to make a presentation to a publication committee, which may involve a site visit, before a final decision is made. References are also very important and are meticulously checked.”

Making a difference

The main difference between publishing a society journal and other journals is that with society journals, Elsevier is accountable to an external publishing partner. Campbell: “This not only applies to the journals’ content, but we also have to provide reporting on financial performance, production, online usage, distribution, commercial opportunities and the like. In other words, all of the value-added services that Elsevier brings to the table. We treat each journal as its own self-contained business.”

Elsevier also ensures that the publishing process meets the needs and priorities of authors. “We are dedicated to providing authors with a professional publishing experience. Online tools, such as the Online Author Communications System (OACS), enable authors to track the status of their accepted article from decision to publication. And valuable insights from the Author Feedback Program help us to closely monitor and maintain our high quality standards. We can also provide language-editing support to non-native English speaking authors, if the editor so chooses.”

Mutual benefits

The main advantage to societies of publishing their journals through Elsevier is that they can enjoy the support of Elsevier’s infrastructure, such as ScienceDirect, its Health Sciences journal platform, its Production Tracking System (PTS) and the Elsevier Electronic Submissions (EES). “These are robust, 24/7 systems into which Elsevier has placed significant investment and resources, and it would be very difficult for a society to replicate these support systems on their own,” Campbell continues. “Something else that Elsevier can offer, which other publishers can’t, is access to Scopus - the world’s largest single abstract and citation database - on a temporary basis for peer reviewers, which is not only useful but a nice way for the journals to thank their reviewers.”

Elsevier also benefits from publishing society journals. “The main advantage to us is that these journals help to raise the profile and usage of our platforms, like ScienceDirect. All members of societies whose journals we publish can search through ScienceDirect in its entirety and take advantage of toll-free access to articles. In the US alone, we publish 16 society journals in the field of cardiology, for example, and membership of one of those societies provides access to articles published in many of the other journals.

“Another advantage to Elsevier is that we gain access to what individual researchers and clinicians are doing in their respective fields. We can use this input, along with what the journals’ editorial boards tell us about what they want and need, to inform our development strategy.”

Healthy relationships

“The most important element in society journal publishing is a good relationship between the responsible publisher and the society officials,” Campbell concludes. “The publisher needs to have both a thorough knowledge of the society’s field and STM publishing, and be extremely skilled in managing communications. Elsevier’s contact person for each journal is, therefore, of the utmost importance and in most cases we have a single contact person for each journal. The societies appreciate this and we’re always acutely aware of the fact that societies are not only strategic publishing partners; they’re also customers.”

Useful Links

Elsevier Health www.elsevierhealth.com

Elsevier Society pages http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/societyhome.societies

To cite this article, please use: Gary Rudland, "Society Publishing in Health Sciences", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 19, September 2007.

Forum results…your intellectual property

In the last issue of Editors’ Update we focused on copyright. Our Forum question asked you what you consider to be the most important aspect of copyright. We gave the following options:

Read more >


In the last issue of Editors’ Update we focused on copyright. Our Forum question asked you what you consider to be the most important aspect of copyright. We gave the following options:

A) The more I can make use of my article (within the constraints of the policy), in print and on the Web or for teaching and research purposes, the better.

B) My main objective is the visibility and accessibility of my article, within the constraints of the policy. This includes exposure in e.g. search engines.

C) While both the above are important, the highest priority for me is that my intellectual property is protected against plagiarism or illegal copying.

This topic received over 100 responses, the clear favorite being option B, supported by 58% of editors. Option A was the most important aspect for 12%, C for only 7%, while 21% of editors favored a combination of responses, most commonly A and B.

In support of option A, Don Wunsch writes that “if I can use the article the way I want, then visibility will be maximized … studies have shown that …papers available for free on the Web enjoy the highest citation rates. This implies that if the author or his institution can use the article on their own website…they and their readers are better off … [Elsevier] should allow…authors to do this” [Editors note: Elsevier does allow this. See www.elsevier.com/copyright]. Mark Machina feels the extent to which he can use his work will affect which journal he chooses to submit his research to.

Option B was supported for a variety of reasons but primarily because accessibility and dissemination were considered the primary goals of publication, if not science itself. Some editors felt that as their research is publicly funded, the public has a right to access their findings. Others pointed out that the key rewards of academia are related to the dissemination of their work. “The money, career prospects and appreciation may be rubbish in this business, but if you can get something tasty out there where people can see it, then it’s probably worth it,” says M.D. Coleman.

Jacques Roozen sees option C as central to “keeping our journal valued for its content” and by another respondent as increasingly important: “C is…going to be more important once scientific publication and the patenting system grow closer together, a development which is unavoidable.” Another respondent points out the additional support those publishing in languages other than English require in order to protect their ideas until their articles are translated. However, many agreed with Ahmet Hoke, that plagiarism “is usually not an issue and often comes out in the open at the end.”

Imitation the sincerest form of flattery

While some editors have themselves been victims of plagiarism and therefore support option C, others appear to agree with the old adage that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’: “I see no real harm in individuals copying my ideas and/or material – if done accurately. I see periodic plagiarism… as flattery,” says Leon Chaitow.

An additional argument put forward is that option C is important but a good scientist should not need to critically depend on other people’s ideas. Editors themselves can be perpetrators of plagiarism, says Jim Wright. “Modern technology makes plagiarism…easy and in some cases almost normative. Who has not cut and pasted Web passages into their lecture notes from time to time?” He goes on to argue that notions such as ‘copyright’ and ‘plagiarism’ are ill-suited to the realities of 21st century information processing technology.

Combination responses were mostly justified in terms of the overlap between options A and B. Some editors pointed to the different concerns of editors, authors, reviewers and publishers.

Open Access

This Forum question also raised some Open Access issues: some editors felt intellectual property laws were in place to help the publisher, not the author. Some championed author-pays publication to aid dissemination, while others advocated delayed Open Access once the article had paid for itself. Elsevier is currently experimenting with both these publication models. For example:

  • We make all articles published in our Cell Press journals openly available on our website 12 months after publication. IJSS is openly available 24 months after publication.
  • In May 2005 we adjusted our author agreements to test allowing NIH-funded authors’ accepted manuscripts to be posted to PMC (PubMed) within 12 months of final publication.
  • Some 50 of our journals are currently running a trial in which authors (or their institutes) are able pay for immediate and permanent Open Access to their articles (that is, authors cover the complete cost of publication, dissemination and archiving of their articles). Uptake of this option is around 1%.

Please send responses to this article to EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

Question time…evaluating authors

In this section of Editors’ Update, we ask a group of editors for their views on a relevant topic. This issue, we focus on the tools available to evaluate authors and how individual editors approach the evaluation process.

Read more >


In this section of Editors’ Update, we ask a group of editors for their views on a relevant topic. This issue, we focus on the tools available to evaluate authors and how individual editors approach the evaluation process.

Developed by Professor J. Hirsch in 2005, and recently adopted by Scopus, Elsevier’s abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature and Web sources, the h-index (or highly cited index) is a new metric for evaluating the impact of individual scientists, rather than journals, over the past decade. It does this by rating a scientist’s performance based on the number of citations each of their articles has received over its lifetime. It is calculated as follows: a scientist has index h if h of their n papers have at least h citations each, and the other (N-h) papers have no more than h citations each. An example of this would be: Professor X has an h-index of 29 if 29 of his 185 papers have at least 29 citations each and the other 154 (185-29) papers have fewer than 29 citations each.

The h-index is simple to calculate and takes into account both the productivity of a scientist and the quality of a scientist's articles. This can give editors a starting point when assessing prospective journal authors but should other factors be considered as well? We asked three editors the questions:

1) How do you personally measure the impact of your prospective authors?

2) And do you think indices will facilitate this process?

Joseph S. Alpert, MD

Editor-in-Chief, American Journal of Medicine

 

Wikipedia defines the h-index as “an index that quantifies the scientific productivity of a scientist based on the number of papers published by the scientist and on how often these papers are cited in articles written by other scientists. It can also apply to the productivity of a group of scientists, such as a department or university or country. The h-index is currently not a widely accepted measure of scientific productivity, but only one of a number of possible indices.”

Recently, one of my professor colleagues asked me if our medical school was employing this technique in deciding faculty promotion and tenure. His school was using this index. In order to understand the h-index better, I calculated my own index. I was enthralled to discover that my score was 59! My colleague informed me that tenure at his institution was usually awarded to anyone with an h-index score of 12 or higher and that my score put me in the range of members of the National Academy of Science.

However, my ego bubble soon burst when I examined which articles had been cited in my own personal h-index. I had served a four-year term on the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Guidelines Committee which publishes a number of important and very widely cited guidelines each year. The names of the members of the committee appear on each published guideline and had been interpreted as if the committee members were contributors to the published guideline. In fact, in most cases the guidelines are written by separate groups, not the committee members. Therefore, by just being on this committee, I was able to obtain a high h-index score.

2) With my egotism appropriately chastised, I realized that the h-index, just like the Impact Factor of journals, can be manipulated and should not be accepted uncritically. Promotion and tenure committees still need to review very carefully the specific articles and journals in a candidate’s curriculum vitae.

Max Lu, Professor

Federation Fellow and Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Functional Nanomaterials and Co-editor of the journal J. Colloid and Interface Science

1) The h-index is an interesting index that measures the accumulative impact of one scientist's published works. It definitely favors those scientists who have many years experience working in the field. The h-index can be a useful a guide when comparing scientists in the same field and of similar years of experience.

Evaluating the scientific impact of individual scientists is never an easy endeavor. Any attempt to measure such impact must be done with caution and done in the context of the purpose of the evaluation. Disciplinary differences should always be kept in mind. I would assess the impact of individual scientists by taking into account the following:

• Track records in publications in the top tier of refereed journals in their own field (say, the top 10%).

• For a young scientist, for instance, a prospective author, it is useful to check the citations of a few of their latest (in the three years) publications.

• Personally, I would use a combination of the h-index and the average impact factor of all journals in which the author has published to assess the quality of the publications.

2) I think the h-index is useful and can facilitate the process of assessing impact of research works. However, it must be kept in mind that it can only be useful if the context of assessment and field differences are taken into account.

William Barletta, Professor

Director of the United States Particle Accelerator School and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1) In my own field of accelerator science and technology and the associated fields of accelerator-based physics, my primary measure of the impact of individual scientists as well as of research teams, is a combination of my own knowledge of their work and the reputation they have with their colleagues.  Here I ask, "What difference has their work made on the work of others? Has the product of their work enabled new scientific progress by others? What have they built? What is the product of their formal scientific leadership?”

Secondary measures of impact are membership in national academies, awards of major prizes from professional societies and fellowship status in professional societies. Taken together in a holistic sense these considerations give a strong qualitative measure of a person’s impact. With respect to their impact as an author, I consider, “How well written are the person's papers? Are they complete? Are references broadly cited or are they a minimal set?”

2) In those areas with which I have less personal familiarity, I look for many of the same considerations. But in that case I do rely much more on numbers of highly cited papers. In that regard, the h-index is a suggestion but not more than that, especially as it is most relevant to theorists. So, yes, indices facilitate the process but they are far from dispositive.

19newthrowerpic-1

Behind the scenes…technical screening

Dr. Peter Thrower is known as ‘The Grandfather of the Carbon Society’. “Although, I’ve also been called ‘the Godfather’,” he quips. Among his many credentials for the title is 25-years as the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Carbon. So who better to discuss an issue many editors are grappling with: What can be done to ensure authors submit the best possible manuscript for review? Many editors are frustrated by the influx of papers from non-native English-speaking countries that present good science in bad English or are inadequate from a technical point of view. We talk with Thrower about the situation and find out if Elsevier’s newly implemented technical screening program is helping. But first, we find out some more about the man himself.

Read more >


Dr. Peter Thrower is known as ‘The Grandfather of the Carbon Society’. “Although, I’ve also been called ‘the Godfather’,” he quips. Among his many credentials for the title is 25-years as the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Carbon. So who better to discuss an issue many editors are grappling with: What can be done to ensure authors submit the best possible manuscript for review? Many editors are frustrated by the influx of papers from non-native English-speaking countries that present good science in bad English or are inadequate from a technical point of view. We talk with Thrower about the situation and find out if Elsevier’s newly implemented technical screening program is helping. But first, we find out some more about the man himself.

Award winner

Recently awarded the first ‘International Exceptional Contribution Award’, hereafter to be known as ‘The Peter A. Thrower Award’, given jointly by the American Carbon Society, the Asian Association of Carbon Groups and the European Carbon Association, Thrower is quite modest about the international accolade. The award recognizes “the distinguished contribution and accomplishments of an individual, which have significantly influenced the advancement of research in the science and technology of carbon materials and have contributed to the collaboration of carbon researchers worldwide.” It’s the crowning glory after 47 years in the field.

Technical screening has freed thrower up for more important editing tasks such as evaluating the creative and intellectual content.

Credentials

Thrower’s carbon career began in 1957 at Cambridge where he completed a physics degree. “I didn’t stay on at the university to complete a Ph.D.,” he explains, “but took a risk and opted to undertake research at the Atomic Energy Research Centre at Harwell (UK). The University of Cambridge was proposing a new Ph.D. degree that would allow scientists to get a Ph.D. on the basis of published research completed outside of the university. It was the long road to a Ph.D. Eight years, to the day, after graduating from my degree - the rules specified I could not apply any sooner - I submitted my published papers on nuclear graphite, underwent an oral examination and was successful.” At the time, Thrower was the youngest person ever to get a Ph.D. through this process. Relocating to The Pennsylvania State University (USA) was next as he took up work in the Materials Science department undertaking carbon and graphite material research and teaching. During his tenure he was awarded a total of three teaching awards, (“Enough for a shrine, according to my wife,” he jokes) including one for a science course he developed for non-science students. This course was so popular that it grew from 50 students, in the early days, to 1000 a semester, enough to fill a large lecture hall three times a day. Since 1982, in addition to teaching and research, he has also edited Carbon, growing the journal by five times and helping to create a publication that, with an Impact Factor (IF) of 3.88, has the second highest IF of all material science journals published by Elsevier. “We began with six issues per year, now we make 15. It’s published every three-and-a-half weeks and totals 3200 pages per year,” he says. “It’s funny, when I began as associate editor, the founding editor had been running it for 20 years. And I thought, ‘There’s no way I’ll ever be here that long!’”

Increasing workload

Retired from academia now for almost nine years, Thrower has returned to the UK where he has continued to edit Carbon. “The workload for the journal has increased, not decreased, over the years,” he says. “I’m usually in my home office from 9:00 AM till 1:00 PM or 2:00 PM each day, five or six days a week. I used to only spend about one-and-a-half hours a day on the journal. If I was still teaching at the university, I couldn’t manage the workload,” he reveals. “A lot of the increase in my work has to do with the growth in China and the pressure to publish that scientists there face. Most universities require at least a couple of published papers for a Ph.D. Each day there are about seven new papers in my inbox – six of which will be from China, or another emerging country, like Iran, where English is not the native language. The English in these papers is fairly understandable, to a native-English speaker such as myself, but it’s ‘Chinglish’, and I doubt non-native readers from countries such as France or Germany, for example, would be able to understand some of them.” Papers that are of an insufficient quality, as almost all editors will know, have spelling and grammatical errors, incomplete, inconsistent or outdated references, uninformative abstracts and poor quality illustrations, among other things. Thrower says, “Common problems I encounter include invented words, incorrect use of Latin phrases and abbreviations that are not defined. But the most frustrating thing is that I’ve received about 1705 papers so far this year and about 98 percent don’t adhere to Elsevier’s Guide for Authors or Guide to Publication. I wish I had one short-cut keystroke that I could use to reply to the author telling them to ‘Read the authors’ guidelines!’”

Free submission to blame?

“I really think that the Internet has not helped this situation,” Thrower continues. “Nine years ago, the mailman would deliver a two-inch thick pile of envelopes containing submissions in triplicate. The author had to pay postage, which in China for example was significant. These days it’s virtually free to submit a paper and as a result, I believe, the authors take a lot less care. In the past, if a paper did not adhere to the guidelines and had to be re-submitted by the author, it meant re-typing and re-posting - quite a costly exercise.” He reasons that this lack of care is also evidenced by the fact that often authors ignore the advice he gives them, re-submitting the paper without making the necessary changes. “It’s very tempting to react with: ‘If you ignore me, I will ignore you!’ I’m sure all editors share my frustration,” he says.

Pre-review editor works

While it appears that authors aren’t fully utilizing the language editing tools Elsevier has put in place, including the Guide for Authors, Editing Checklist and preferred third-party language editing companies, the one thing Thrower says is helping is the technical screening provided by the pre-review editor Elsevier has employed. Many other Elsevier journals have also signed up for this new service that directs submissions firstly to the pre-review editor based in Beijing who evaluates them on the basis of technical standards to decide if they are suitable for passing through into the formal peer-review process. Manuscripts that do not meet the minimum technical standards are returned to the author(s) with a checklist of missing or insufficient items. The author(s) then have the opportunity to re-submit. Sometimes the pre-review editor returns the paper to the author(s) up to six times. “It’s certainly relieving me of some of the burden,” says Thrower. “The downside is that sometimes authors get confused and think that the pre-review editor’s approval is the final approval. Of course, it’s just the approval to enter the review process.”

Getting the job done

Thrower explains that it’s been a longish learning curve for the pre-review editor – as Thrower has had to ‘train the trainer’, so to speak. And the pre-review editor is not always 100 percent effective either. But Thrower reports that it has certainly freed him up for more important editing tasks such as evaluating the creative and intellectual content and editing the abstracts (if necessary) and titles (“often added to papers as after-thoughts, so it seems”) so that they are concise and informative. In fact, Thrower believes “titles and abstracts are much more important nowadays than they were ten years ago.” In the current editorial in Carbon (issue 45/11, pages 2139-40), the first of a series of editorials intended to educate authors, Thrower gives some tips on how to make titles and abstracts "concise and precise". It’s not just editors who are relieved by technical screening, but reviewers too. “Jewels in the crown” is how Thrower refers to his reviewers. “They are very valuable to the journal, it’s important that they’re not overburdened and sent papers that aren’t technically up to scratch.” Thrower definitely sees Elsevier’s technical screening as a big step in the right direction. “Now, if only they’d bring back old-style copy-editing,” he suggests.

Useful links:

Technical screening program:
http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/editorsinfo.editors/technicalscreening
Language editing services:
http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/authorsview.authors/languageediting/languageediting
Guide for Authors:http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/authorsview.authors/languageediting/guideforauthors
Guide to Publication:http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/authorsview.authors/howtosubmitpaper
Information on Carbon:http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journalaudience.cws_home/258/description?navopenmenu=1
Latest issue of Carbon: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00086223

To cite this article, please use: Kirsten Spry, "Behind the Scenes… Technical Screening", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 19, September 2007.

19plumepic

Reporting back…experiencing open access

What is the current state of play in Open Access (OA) journals publishing? A one-day seminar on June 22 in London examined some of the central issues surrounding this publishing model. Hosted by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, the seminar was titled ‘Experience of Open Access – looking at data.’ Alongside the other speakers Doctor Andrew Plume, Elsevier’s Publishing Information Manager, Research and Academic Relations, was invited to present a 20-minute distillation of a recently published review paper.

Read more >


What is the current state of play in Open Access (OA) journals publishing? A one-day seminar on June 22 in London examined some of the central issues surrounding this publishing model. Hosted by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers, the seminar was titled ‘Experience of Open Access – looking at data.’ Alongside the other speakers Doctor Andrew Plume, Elsevier’s Publishing Information Manager, Research and Academic Relations, was invited to present a 20-minute distillation of a recently published review paper. He co-authored the paper with Mayur Amin (Elsevier), Iain Craig (Wiley-Blackwell) and Marie E. McVeigh and James Pringle (Thomson Scientific). Entitled ‘Do Open Access articles have greater citation impact?’ the review has been published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Informetrics (1), and a pre-print version is also available online (2). According to Plume, “the time was overripe to hold this seminar. Over the past five years or so, various claims have been made that OA should become the model for scholarly communication but there has been little examination of the evidence behind this assertion. In particular, the relationship between article OA status and citations has only now begun to be critically examined.”

There is no evidence to confirm the received wisdom that OA directly cause citations to accrue

The first research that showed a correlation between articles made available online (but not necessarily OA) and higher citations was published in 2001 by Steve Lawrence (3). More recent research has confirmed the correlation but has also begun to ask comprehensive questions about why this correlation occurs and what the underlying effect is. Plume’s paper is the first to objectively review all the existing OA literature at once and to highlight important gaps in our knowledge. “We now have about six years of OA information available, enough to draw early conclusions,” says Plume. “We are in no way criticizing previous research or saying that the authors of those papers did not produce useful data; rather, we’re saying that the methodology has now become refined enough to provide useful, more accurate answers. We certainly hope our paper fills some of the gaps but it is definitely also a call for further research to be conducted.”

Early View and Selection Bias

In reviewing the OA literature, broadly defined as being available online for free, Plume and his co-authors discovered several assumptions that were made and factors that some authors had not fully accounted for before they drew their conclusions. These included:

  • The assumption that articles of similar quality would receive a similar number of citations.
  • The differences in the citation behavior of authors in different academic disciplines.
  • Lack of a precise definition of a ‘citation window’ so that all articles studied had the same amount of time to accrue citations.
  • Plume argues that studying only the correlation between the number of citations and the OA status of an article is to ignore two primary contributing factors: Early View and Selection Bias.
  • Early View relates only to articles posted before final journal publication and suggests that the period between the early posting of an article (either pre- or post-print) and the appearance of the cognate published journal article allows for earlier accrual of citations.
  • Selection Bias suggests that the most prominent (and thus most citable) authors are more likely to make their articles available in an OA model and that they are more likely to do so with their most important (and thus most citable) articles (2) In his review of the literature, Plume found the 2007 study conducted by Henk F. Moed (4) to be the most methodologically advanced. By taking both Early View and Selection Bias into account in his analysis, Moed concluded that article OA status alone has little or no effect on citations.

Maintaining objectivity

Before Plume’s paper was published in the Journal of Informetrics, two of the paper’s peer reviewers commented that all the authors were affiliated with publishers and information providers and queried how this might look to readers. Plume was very aware of this and says: “All the paper’s authors have an academic research background and it was these analytical skills – rather than any bias relating to our work in publishing and information - that we brought to the review. Our peer reviewers didn’t find any errors of statement in the paper. If anyone has any doubts about the arguments we present, they can read the reviewed literature and decide for themselves. There’s a great deal more to be done but the outcome of the studies – whether ‘for’ or ‘against’ OA citation impact – is irrelevant if done well. To us, this remains a purely scientific question.” OA has principally been a topic of interest to authors, librarians and publishers, but not necessarily to bibliometricians, for whom citation analysis is a core tool. This is now changing, as sophisticated bibliometric methods are increasingly being applied to dissect the nature of the relationship between OA articles and citations. Plume is very much in favor of this development. “Bibliometric studies are difficult so the baton should be passed to the bibliometricians, who are best placed to perform these well and can approach the issue in a measured and dispassionate way.” While Plume’s paper summarizes the research showing little evidence for a causal OA effect on citations, he believes finer levels of information still need to be teased out. He estimates this could take another five years. “Most of the original data presented at the ALPSP seminar were ‘works in progress’”, he says. “OA as a publishing model has galloped ahead of the research that has been conducted into it. I wouldn’t be surprised if this seminar were a prelude to other events, although perhaps it should have been called ‘looking at preliminary data’ rather than just ‘looking at data’. Watch this space!”

References:

(1) Craig, I.D., Plume, A.M., McVeigh, M.E., Pringle, J., & Amin, M. (2007). Do open access articles have greater citation impact? A critical review of the literature. Journal of Informetrics, 1(3), 239-248. doi:10.1016/j.joi.2007.04.001
(2) www.publishingresearch.net/Citations.htm
(3) Lawrence, S. (2001). Free online availability substantially increases a paper’s impact. Nature, 411(6837), 521.
(4) Moed, H.F. (2007). The effect of “Open Access” upon citation impact: An analysis of ArXiv’s Condensed Matter Section. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (in press). Useful links: ALPSP seminar program and pdfs - http://www.alpsp.org/ngen_public/article.asp?pfs=0&aid=614 www.publishingresearch.net/Citations.htm
To cite this article, please use: Cecily Layzell, "Reporting Back… Experience of Open Access", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 19, September 2007.

19newtankepic

Journal strategy in a changing world

With developments in technology changing the way information is accessed and transferred, the environment in which journals operate is also changing. Martin Tanke, Managing Director, Science & Technology Journals talks to Editors’ Update about the role of Elsevier and our editors in enhancing the position of the journal in scientific communication. He also outlines Elsevier’s short-term priorities and long-term strategies.

Read more >


With developments in technology changing the way information is accessed and transferred, the environment in which journals operate is also changing. Martin Tanke, Managing Director, Science & Technology Journals talks to Editors’ Update about the role of Elsevier and our editors in enhancing the position of the journal in scientific communication. He also outlines Elsevier’s short-term priorities and long-term strategies.

What are the current trends in journal publishing?

Firstly, we see increasing evidence that authors continue to publish for prestige, which they derive from the journal’s brand value. Secondly, increasingly we’re moving from a reader’s to a creator’s (or author’s) market. These days, the exchange and sharing of information often occurs well in advance of the final publication. There are web-based tools that enable sharing, which potentially could remove some of the need to consult the formal journal article.

Interestingly, in all these Web 2.0 types of information sharing, I actually see a clear need for validation processes quite similar to the formal peer-review process we have in our journals.

What is Elsevier’s overall journal publishing strategy?

Elsevier’s strategy is to continue to be the leading journal publisher by ensuring that journals remain as attractive to authors as they always have been, and by enabling authors to continue publishing within our journals despite the demands being made on them from funding agencies and employers to submit their articles for inclusion on alternative disclosure platforms such as PubMedCentral or institutional or subject repositories.

We believe that the continuation of journals is fundamentally important for the communities in which they exist

At the same time Elsevier is determined to continue publishing content in ever-increasing richer functionality for its user community. Journals and their content have to be positioned closer to the day-to-day work processes of the researcher, both at the submission stage as well as when being used by readers. We are committed to making the necessary investments to foster these fundamental interests of scientists.

How is Elsevier able to translate its overall strategy to its many individual journals?

Elsevier’s structure enables each publishing team in a specialized market to take general concepts and overall developments, and apply these to the specific journals. We systematically apply a process of confronting market-specific needs and trends with the overall publishing developments. From that process the best strategy for the individual journals is established and modified on a periodic basis. Editors play a key role here, as they are the spokespeople for their research communities and make us aware of the specific needs of these communities.

Why is there so much emphasis on quality improvement in Elsevier’s strategy, and what exactly do you mean by “quality”?

Let me start with answering the second question: it’s hard to give a definition for that. Quality is in the eye of the reader – the user’s perception of the journal. On a quantitative scale numbers of citations and usage are measures of quality, but all of these have their limitations. There are, of course, other ways of defining quality, and we encourage our editors to determine what quality means to their community. We believe that quality attracts quality, but also that publishing low quality ultimately affects the existence of the journal. We believe that the continuation of journals is fundamentally important for the communities in which they exist.

Elsevier publishes a very large number of titles. How do individual journals benefit from Elsevier’s size?

There are three elements:

(a) Elsevier is using its resources to invest in major innovations, such as ScienceDirect, EES and Scopus, which can all positively affect the publishing process.

(b) By sharing knowledge and best practices. Positive publishing developments in one area can easily be transferred to other areas.

(c) Distribution network: we have far larger journal circulations than most other publishers. This benefits many smaller and medium-sized journals by exposing them to a wider readership and raising their profile with the audience.

What are the three biggest priorities for journal publishing?

Our biggest priority is improving the quality of individual journals. Our second priority is improving customer satisfaction, particularly that of editors, authors and reviewers. The third priority is finding the balance between introducing innovations in the publishing process without negatively affecting the critical path of traditional scholarly publishing we have followed up to now.

Can you mention some examples of service improvements Elsevier is rolling out?

We recently integrated EES with Scopus, the world’s largest abstract and citation database. There are direct links from EES to Scopus, which enable an editor or reviewer to search for the author of the submitted paper, or to check whether a paper with a similar title already exists. Later this year, the submitted articles’ references will be linked to the record of that article in Scopus/ ScienceDirect. This will make it much easier for editors or reviewers to check references, as they no longer have to log in and out of two platforms, but will be able to navigate seamlessly from EES to Scopus/ScienceDirect. The integration of these tools is helping editors and reviewers work more efficiently.

Another tool we recently introduced to support editors and reviewers, is technical screening. Feedback from reviewers indicates they are too frequently asked to review manuscripts of an insufficient quality from a purely technical viewpoint. This clearly frustrates them. We have started to take more active measures to ensure that manuscripts sent out for peer review adhere to a set of minimum technical standards. Manuscripts that do not meet the agreed set of minimum technical standards are returned to the submitting author with a checklist of missing or insufficient items. The author may resubmit after attending to these technical insufficiencies. Technical screening not only provides useful feedback to authors, but it is also substantially reducing the number of technically sub-standard papers reviewers receive.

We currently see a lot of innovative Web. 2.0 developments. Do you feel Elsevier is participating enough and can you give some examples?

The publishing process has always been about dissemination and communication around scientific discoveries. New Web 2.0 developments which target these fundamental needs get full support from Elsevier as most developments foster meaningful communications around scientific discoveries and link them closely to the formal publication record, the article. As our overall goal is to create a richer publishing environment we target those developments which clearly contribute to that.

We do this already with, for example, the Scirus Topic Pages which were recently beta launched. Scirus Topic Pages is a free, wiki-like service for the scientific community, where experts summarize specific scientific topics, and where daily updated links to the latest, most relevant journal literature and Web sources are presented on one page. We see the Scirus Topic Pages as an experimental platform where we give our authors novel ways to communicate and collaborate. From initial testing we know that the Scirus Topic Pages will be highly ranked in search engines, enabling us to give our authors more exposure. In the next couple of months or so we will communicate this more extensively to our journal editors, and engage them in the further development of this service.

What would you like to be able to say about Elsevier’s STM journal publishing business 10 years from now?

I would expect an environment where the difference between databases and journals is no longer very clear. There will be tremendous improvements in functionality whereby you can find real solutions deeper in the articles. Journals still exist as a brand for submission but the people who buy these journals won’t necessarily be paying just for content, they’ll be paying for the in-depth knowledge they can derive from it. What will remain the same is the need to validate the submitted content. The peer-review process might look somewhat different then, but in essence I feel it will be the same.

Useful links:

Scirus Topic Pages
www.topics.scirus.com

Scopus
www.scopus.com

Editors’ Home
www.elsevier.com/editors

ScienceDirect
www.sciencedirect.com

Please send responses to this article to EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

mark_seeley

Plagiarism, how is copyright protecting you

copyright is defined as the sole right to reproduce a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work. Academic work, such as the manuscripts, journals and papers published by Elsevier, is also subject to copyright and Elsevier asks all of the authors whose work it publishes to transfer their copyright to Elsevier itself.

Read more >


Copyright is defined as the sole right to reproduce a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work. Academic work, such as the manuscripts, journals and papers published by Elsevier, is also subject to copyright and Elsevier asks all of the authors whose work it publishes to transfer their copyright to Elsevier itself.

“We have looked at the administrative issues surrounding (multiple) authorship – such as the protection and enforcement of copyright, and the prevention of plagiarism – and our legal analysis shows that it’s much preferable for Elsevier to retain the ownership of copyright, in countries where this is permitted, in order to deal with potential infringements,” explains Mark Seeley, Senior VP and General Counsel of Elsevier. “If we didn’t own the copyright on the work we publish, we’d have to involve the author in any disputes and keep going back to them every time we wanted to reproduce the work, for example online.”

Journal Publishing Agreement

Until recently, all Elsevier authors were asked to sign a Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA), but this has recently been replaced by a Journal Publishing Agreement (JPA). “We make revisions to the agreement on a regular basis – at least once a year – so the JPA should not be viewed as a completely new agreement, but merely an update of the CTA,” Seeley continues. “The most recent changes clarify certain questions about authorship, the funding status of research, posting policy and posting for commercial purposes. Issues such as these go beyond copyright and this is the reason for the change of name. It’s simply more accurate.”

The latest improvements include more precision about the definition of various versions of manuscripts and how authors can use them. “I think it’s universally agreed that the final published version of a manuscript – including the peer review, copy editing, formatting and pagination – should be the authoritative version, but authors can still publish earlier versions of their work on their own and institutional websites, for example,” Seeley says.

The JPA also enables Elsevier to protect its revenue streams, which are required to fund other parts of the business and the publishing process as a whole.

Author-friendly policy

Elsevier’s policy, for a number of years, has been that authors are permitted to publish their manuscripts, including editing resulting from the peer review. “We ask them not to use the final published version of the manuscript, however, so that everyone knows that the Elsevier version is the authoritative version,” Seeley continues. “Lots of publishers don’t allow the incorporation of peer-review changes and insist that manuscripts are deleted from other sources over time. We’ve spent time talking to authors about what’s important to them, however, such as using their manuscripts in teaching and passing on their work to research colleagues. We have tried to accommodate their wishes as far as possible and I believe we’re also clearer about what is and isn’t permitted than most other publishers.”

Avoiding plagiarism

Put simply, plagiarism is the practice of passing off someone else’s work as your own. In practice, however, this can be difficult to monitor. “Elsevier can provide support to help avoid plagiarism,” Seeley resumes. We’re working with the CrossRef organization to see if submitted papers can be checked against papers previously published using text–recognition software.”

Another method of combating plagiarism is to formulate clear policies and supply guidance on the issue. In 2005, Elsevier issued a ‘headline’ statement on EES, which stipulated that all papers submitted should:

  • be the authors' own original work, not previously published elsewhere;
  • reflect the authors' own research and analysis in a truthful and complete manner;
  • properly credit the meaningful contributions of co-authors and co-researchers;
  • not be submitted to more than one journal for consideration;
  • and be appropriately placed in the context of prior and existing research.

“In September 2006, we established the Ethics Helpdesk as a pilot project to act as a resource, and provide advisory support to editors and their coordinating Elsevier staff (publishing editors) in addressing queries about issues such as plagiarism, authorship disputes, multiple submissions and research misconduct,” says Seeley. “This has already generated a Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual, which covers authorship complaints, plagiarism, multiple publication, the misappropriation of research results, research errors and fraud, and research standards violations, among others. Of course, many of our editors deal with issues such as these on a regular basis, but it’s still useful to bring together all our standard procedures in one place, not least of all for external editors and new members of staff.”

it must be a collective effort. If an external editor suspects plagiarism, they should contact the appropriate Elsevier publishing editor immediately.

“It must be a collective effort, so if an external editor suspects plagiarism, they should contact the appropriate Elsevier publishing editor immediately. The pilot shows that the publishing editor is the first resort for editors in these issues and the Ethical Helpdesk is there to support publishing editors. We’re also moving towards placing the SOP manual, with all its tools and procedures, online this summer, making it easily available to all of our external editors and publishing staff.”Who’s responsible?
In the first place, it is down to editors to identify possible instances of plagiarism and to initiate possible action. “Our editors are experts in their chosen fields, so they are in the best position to identify possible misuses of work,” Seeley continues. “Elsevier will, however, supply tools to support editors in any investigation that may be necessary. Our publishing editors will assist in the process and we’re also prepared to provide legal support, if needed.

Case scenario

While some of the ethical issues raised during the publishing process can be quite blurred – ranging from the use of false results to prove research, to questions about the correct identification of multiple authorship – cases involving plagiarism are reasonably straight forward to deal with.

“An author who is perhaps new to publishing may have copied small or large portions of someone else’s paper in their own. Once the possibility of plagiarism has been raised, the first thing we do is ask the editor to contact the author for an explanation. In some cases, the allegations are unfounded and no further action is necessary. At the other extreme, when plagiarism is proven to have taken place, we will issue a retraction, stating the reasons why. Unfortunately, when this sort of thing happens, it receives a lot of media attention, but thankfully cases aren’t very common and we very rarely have to remove an article completely.

“I must also stress that correctly attributing portions of work to the rightful author completely negates the possibility of being accused of plagiarism, so there really is no excuse for not doing so. Nevertheless, there have been some issues raised about whether authors are fully aware of standard procedures and their responsibilities, so we felt it was important to produce the SOP manual to provide clear guidelines.”

Cultural differences

It has been alleged that the traditions of originality and plagiarism are not as well understood in certain parts of the world as they are in others. “I have heard rumors about lapses in China, for example, but I haven’t come across many actual cases,” says Seeley. “I suspect that most academics and researchers in China, and elsewhere, are well aware of the rules and conventions on copyright and plagiarism.”

The traditional concept of plagiarism covers not only passing off someone else’s text as your own, but also their ideas. The scientific convention is that you should identify and credit your sources but, while it’s inappropriate to pass off someone else’s ideas as your own, that shouldn’t preclude discussion of those ideas. “The most important message to get across,” Seeley concludes, “is that if you attribute the borrowed work correctly, you have nothing to fear.”

Please send responses to this article to EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

scott_virkler

Protecting your ideas in the internet age

Content providers are in the middle of a period of significant change as search engines transform the search and discovery process for content. Over the past few years, Elsevier has chosen to work with several search engines, including market leader Google. Just as importantly, Google has chosen to work with Elsevier in addressing previously identified issues. By actively working with Google as a partner, Elsevier is making strides towards its goals of providing wide dissemination of authoritative content while also protecting copyright.

Read more >


Content providers are in the middle of a period of significant change as search engines transform the search and discovery process for content. Over the past few years, Elsevier has chosen to work with several search engines, including market leader Google. Just as importantly, Google has chosen to work with Elsevier in addressing previously identified issues. By actively working with Google as a partner, Elsevier is making strides towards its goals of providing wide dissemination of authoritative content while also protecting copyright.

In May 2005, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) sent a letter to Google’s CEO expressing concerns about “Google’s cavalier attitude towards the intellectual property rights of our members”. These concerns centered around the Google Print for Libraries program and were threefold: “that Google intends to (1) digitize our copyright-protected works without our consent, (2) retain a copy of our digitized content for Google’s own commercial use, and (3) deliver a copy of the digitized content to the participating libraries”.

This episode highlights the difficulties in protecting copyright in an age when millions of Web searches take place every day. Individual authors have no chance whatsoever of being able to monitor the correct use of their work and very little power to take action when their copyright is breached. Elsevier is actively working with industry groups, search engines and others to address these issues.

Copyright ownership

Consequently, Elsevier has long urged its authors to transfer the copyright on their work to Elsevier itself, for several reasons. “From Elsevier’s perspective, having the copyright allows us to protect the value add we provide in the publishing process,” explains Scott Virkler, Vice President Web Search Strategy. “In exchange for securing the income stream associated with the journal/article, we take on the obligation to manage the aggregation, coordination and publishing of the authoritative content in print and online. This model allows us to ensure the availability of the content over time and without it, we wouldn’t be able to fund those processes in the long term.”

From the author’s perspective, a major advantage of transferring copyright to Elsevier is that it enables the company to ensure the widest possible dissemination of the authoritative work and that this version remains available over time. “Our efforts with Scopus on the Web have revealed that only one third of web citations can actually be found and are available,” Virkler continues. “The problem is particularly extensive in universities, where servers tend to come and go over time due to changes of location, technology and infrastructure. Some of the articles available on Elsevier websites are more than 100 years old and the intention is that they will always remain available.”

Working together

Referring back to the Google situation, Virkler says that, in general, Google continues to use its own interpretation of copyright laws, but is now much more willing to work with Elsevier as a partner. “Google is an aggressively competitive company and tries not to let the market dictate its direction, but when in competitive situations it does tend to be much more accommodating,” he says. “In 2006, Microsoft launched its Windows Live Academic Search website and reached an agreement with CrossRef that addressed many of the organization’s concerns about copyright. Google also entered into an agreement with Elsevier, which not only allows for protection of Elsevier authors’ work, but also ensures the authoritative version, hosted by Elsevier, is the first-ranked result in Google Scholar for similar results. This is good for everyone involved - users, authors, Elsevier and Google - as the authoritative version of a journal or article receives preference over other versions in Google’s search results.” “Of course, we should not underestimate the benefits of working with Google, which are mainly increased usage and exposure,” Virkler continues. “We all go to search engines first when we need information, so it makes sense for links to Elsevier content to be included in Google search results, and those of other search engines. Interestingly, however, the increase in usage of Elsevier material through external search engines is not always very high – only 5% in some cases – because Elsevier does a very good job of disseminating information through its existing partners and its own publications and websites, such as ScienceDirect.”

External partnerships

Elsevier works with various free and subscription-based external search engines to ensure the wide dissemination of its publications. “We work with dozens of subscription-based search engines and the free search engines fall into two categories,” Virkler explains. “There are the extremely large consumer search engines - Google, Microsoft and Yahoo - and then there are specialized vertical search engines for specific market sectors, such as Healthline, GlobalSpec (engineering) and PubMed (health). We will continue to expand our cooperation with specialized search engines over time and are willing to work with any free search engine under the agreement conditions we have with Google and Microsoft. This is all part of our mission to ensure that content is discoverable wherever users are”

Individual authors have very little power to take action when their copyright is breached by a large web-based corporation.

Who gets what?

Elsevier’s agreements with Google and other external search engines give them access to the full article text, but only for indexing purposes. This enables the search results to better match users’ search queries, while ensuring that the search engines do not display more content than they are authorized to. “Part of the value we bring to the publishing process is making sure our partners use material correctly,” says Virkler. “It would be impossible for an individual author, or even most companies, to monitor all the different sources of information available, but Elsevier can spread and absorb the costs within its overall budget.”

The level of content accessible by users is typically governed by subscriptions. Anyone can see the abstract of an article, but further access depends on the subscription status of the IP address range of the server through which the search is performed. “If it’s a subscribing university server or that of another subscriber, users can gain access to the full article’” Virkler continues. “For non-subscribers, there is always a pay-per-view option and we are also testing a variety of new models, including making the full text available online for free after a certain period of time, for example 12 months. We’re constantly looking for new methods to balance the revenue equation and the publishing equation, while achieving the widest possible dissemination of articles.”

One of a kind

“Elsevier’s agreements with the major search engines are one of a kind, as far as we know, and certainly unique within the STM community,” Virkler concludes. “Only a handful of publishers around the world have agreements that even come close. The reason for this is the scale on which we operate. Other publishers, even global ones, simply don’t have the same quality and quantity of exceptional content. Elsevier’s scale and quantity of exceptional content is unique and it enables us to ensure the widest possible dissemination of our material through a variety of partners, while maintaining the authors’ rights, especially copyright.”

Please send responses to this article to EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

Helen_Gainford

Ways to use journal articles

When online article submission began in 2001 at Elsevier, it soon became the preferred medium for submission by authors. This led ultimately to the recently launched online and interactive Journal Publishing Agreement (JPA). Starting at the end of January 2007, Elsevier began rolling out the JPA and the Short License Agreement (SLA), replacing the previously used Copyright Transfer Agreement.

Read more >


When online article submission began in 2001 at Elsevier, it soon became the preferred medium for submission by authors. This led ultimately to the recently launched online and interactive Journal Publishing Agreement (JPA). Starting at the end of January 2007, Elsevier began rolling out the JPA and the Short License Agreement (SLA), replacing the previously used Copyright Transfer Agreement.

“The online JPA and SLA have been developed in consultation with Elsevier’s legal, corporate strategy and operations departments, and contain more information and definitions than the Copyright Transfer Agreement,” explains Helen Gainford, Director, Global Rights. “They also clarify Elsevier policies and the rights retained by authors. The JPA outlines other policies relating to the publishing process and requests information relevant to this process, for example information on certain funding agencies. In the application, authors are also requested to confirm the article does not violate any existing copyright, as well as the originality of the work.”

Launch rollout

For the initial JPA Online launch in January, 10 Elsevier Science & Technology (S&T) journals were targeted. By mid-March, around 270 journals had signed up to the JPA Online, with 500 journals being added per month. By end May 2007, all Elsevier-owned journals will be using the JPA Online. So far 90% of authors have completed the JPA online and the response time is as quick as five days. Since the JPA Online launch, Elsevier has received over 14,000 forms from authors.

“Previously, the Agreement was sent to the author as a PDF file, which had to be downloaded, scanned, filled in and then scanned again or faxed or posted back to Elsevier – a laborious and time-consuming process that also required massive manual paper files to be stored,” Gainford continues. “The electronic format of the interactive JPA Online has made this process considerably more manageable, efficient and environmentally friendly.”

The electronic format of the interactive JA Online has made the process considerably more manageable efficient and environmentally friendly.

In addition, today authors retain a wider set of rights than ever before after being published in one of Elsevier’s journals.

Authors's rights

When accepting the JPA, Elsevier’s journal published authors’ rights include:

  • Permission to post personal manuscript versions after publication on institutional or personal sites, thus making the work more widely available.
  • Permission to make copies (printed or electronic) for classroom teaching or personal purposes.
  • Permission to present the article at a meeting or conference and distribute copies of the article to attendees.
  • Permission to include the article in part or in full in a thesis or dissertation published by authors.
  • Permission to use the article in part or in full in a compilation of the authors’ works.
  • Permission to use the article to publish other derivative works, including book-length formats.
  • The retention of patent or trademark rights as well as the rights to any processes described in the article.

If the author wishes to use the paper in a way that is not detailed on the JPA then they can request permission via the Global Rights Department and in most cases permission would be granted without a fee.

Copyright for book authors

Elsevier has a different copyright policy for authors of book chapters. “This is mainly because the impetus for writing a book chapter is different, the need to have the article published is not the same,” says Gainsford, “but also because the way in which books are used is different from journal issues and articles and the investment in publishing a book is higher than it is for producing a journal issue.”

Contributors to Elsevier books are sent a Contributor Agreement, which is more detailed than the JPA. Contributors also receive the agreement prior to writing the chapter rather than after, as is the case in journal publishing. In addition to requesting copyright transfer, the Contributor Agreement also provides contributors with a date on which to deliver the article, guidelines for the contribution, for example length of chapter and, if applicable, what compensation they will receive for writing the chapter. Often, this is a complimentary copy of the work but sometimes it could be a one-off fee. The rights retained by contributors to a book are also different. They are permitted to post a summary of the chapter online and to use up to 10% of the chapter in teaching materials.

Editors' Update has produced a brochure which explains all about how Editors, Authors and Researchers can use Elsevier-published articles.

Please send responses to this article to EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

19lisapic

H-index: measuring an author’s impact

With such a vast amount of scientific data at its disposal, Elsevier is constantly searching for new ways to collect, organize and interpret it all. That’s where bibliometrics comes in. Bibliometrics measures the performance of a collection of articles, whether defined by a researcher, a collection of select articles, a journal, an institute, and so on. The results can then be used to identify trends, evaluate a researcher’s performance or provide documentation when processing funding and grant applications.

Read more >


With such a vast amount of scientific data at its disposal, Elsevier is constantly searching for new ways to collect, organize and interpret it all. That's where bibliometrics comes in. Bibliometrics measures the performance of a collection of articles, whether defined by a researcher, a collection of select articles, a journal, an institute, and so on. The results can then be used to identify trends, evaluate a researcher's performance or provide documentation when processing funding and grant applications.

Adopted by Scopus, the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature and Web sources, the h-index is one of the latest additions to Elsevier's range of bibliometric tools. The h-index is a single simple metric that editors can use to evaluate the impact of a particular author over the past decade. The h-index, or highly cited index, was developed in 2005 by the physicist Professor J. Hirsch of the University of California at San Diego as a new way to measure the impact of an author's research articles. Unlike other measurement tools, which tend to examine a specific journal's impact, the h-index looks only at the individual author's work. It rates a scientist’s performance based on the number of citations each of their articles has received over its lifetime.

How does the h-index work?

The h-index is calculated as follows: a scientist has index h if h of their n papers have at least h citations each, and the other (N-h) papers have no more than h citations each. An example of this would be: Professor X has an h-index of 29 if 29 of his 185 papers have at least 29 citations each and the other 154 (185-29) papers have fewer than 29 citations each.

The h-index puts an author's career into context, enabling editors to evaluate authors and groups of authors within a specific subject area. "The h-index is part of the growing body of indices that tries to measure scientific information," says Dr. Lisa Geijtenbeek-Colledge, Publishing Information Manager at Elsevier. "The h-index can be applied to anything, but the original idea was that it would measure the impact of a scientist. It does that by looking at all of the citations that their publications have received in their lifetime and then in effect measures the average of the number of citations that an article published by that scientist has received."

Citation data are collected by indexing databases, and the two major ones are Elsevier's Scopus and Thomson Scientific’s Web of Science. Both tools index articles and record the references given at the end of the articles. These results are then used to measure scientists’ impact upon their field. Of course, this assumes that their impact can be measured by the number of citations their papers receive, which Geijtenbeek-Colledge believes is "fair because citations usually reflect the fact that their peers have read their papers and considered them relevant enough to be referred to in their own work."

A new way of looking at research

While other bibliometric indices already exist, the h-index represents a new direction for these measurements. Most ranking systems to date have only evaluated authors by measuring the impact of the journal in which the scientist has published. While that may be a fair way to assess these authors in some cases, in other cases it may not be very accurate, since it looks only at the average performance of all the articles in the journal in question. According to Geijtenbeek-Colledge, "any individual paper published in that journal could have performed much better or worse than the average of all the papers in that journal. So it's not really fair to say that a scientist's influence in the field is directly related to the impact of the journal he or she’s published in. The h-index looks just at their own papers and the citations their own papers have received. I think it's a much fairer and more accurate measurement of a scientist's influence on their field."

The h-index has proven to be an especially valuable tool for editors, as it provides a simple method of gaining information on a scientist's body of work. Editors will often receive suggestions for a scientist whose work they are unfamiliar with to serve on an editorial board. A quick check of the h-index will give the editors a basic measure of how many papers that scientist has published and whether they are interesting enough to be cited. Some editors also use the h-index as a useful means of comparison when carrying out assessments for grant applications.

The h-index is a simple metric editors can use to evaluate the impact of a particular author over the past decade.

How reliable is the h-index?

One way of measuring how successful the h-index is in evaluating scientists is to see whether its results match the opinions of internationally renowned scientists in a particular field. A study published in Scientometrics (1) in 2005 looked at the h-indices of young post-doctoral researchers who applied for a biomedical fellowship. Those awarded the fellowship had a higher h-index than unsuccessful candidates, indicating that the h-index could be considered a reasonable measure of quality.

Still, like any bibliometric tool, the h-index has advantages and disadvantages. Among its benefits are that it takes into account both the productivity of a scientist and the quality of a scientist's articles and so can distinguish between truly influential scientists and those who just publish numerous papers (as well as the one-hit wonders).

But with these advantages come some drawbacks. One is that the h-index is not affected by several very highly cited papers which are often considered to be the ones that primarily affect a scientist’s influence in a field, thereby sometimes giving a somewhat misleading measure of a particular author's true impact on the field. In addition, the h-index does not decrease with time, so it cannot be used to detect declining research output or retirement. Having said this, the Scopus h-index implementation includes articles published per year and cites received per year to address this shortcoming.

Defining the citation period

Scopus has references for articles from 1996 onwards as this was proven to be sufficient for the majority of current literature research needs. For the h-index, this means that works published prior to 1996 will only have a citation count if they were cited by papers published after 1996. However, for the purposes of grants and funding, most application forms require no more than 10 years worth of information. The Scopus h-index enables users to limit the time for the h-index anywhere between one and 10 years. This may result in a reduction in h-index for authors who were active before 1996, as some of their key papers might not be counted. "We have had some queries from scientists concerned about this cutoff, especially if they've had a long career and some of their early papers are not counted," says Geijtenbeek-Colledge. "We still believe that for the vast majority of cases, the more recent articles are sufficient to make a fair judgment of a scientist's impact and relevance, rather than something they published 20 or 30 years ago."

Ultimately, there can be no one measurement that will satisfy every situation. The h-index was conceived as a complement to the other indicators currently available, not as a replacement for them. And as the ever-growing field of bibliometrics shows, authors and editors are always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to measure scientific research.

References: (1) L. Bohrmann and H.D. Daniel, Does the h-index for ranking of scientists really work? Scientometrics 2005, 65: 391-392.

Useful links:

ArXiv.org http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0508025

To cite this article, please use: Ronnie Godeanu, "Measuring an author’s impact", Elsevier Editors' Update, Issue 19, September 2007.

Please send responses to this article to EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

Michael_Mabe

Reporting back…the Brussels declaration on journal publishing

The Brussels Declaration is a joint statement emphasizing the work of STM publishers to support the research community but within a financially sustainable framework. It highlights publishers’ support for academic freedom, the role they play in disseminating knowledge, their management of the peer review process and the economic realities they face. “It’s a core set of principles stating what we stand for, what we believe in and what we think should be taken into account,” explains Michael Mabe, CEO of STM. With the declaration, STM publishers are “nailing their flag to the mast” as he puts it. They can use it in their discussions with researchers, authors, editors, administrators, journalists, politicians, civil servants and other stakeholders in STM publishing.

Read more >


The Brussels Declaration is a joint statement emphasizing the work of STM publishers to support the research community but within a financially sustainable framework. It highlights publishers’ support for academic freedom, the role they play in disseminating knowledge, their management of the peer review process and the economic realities they face. “It’s a core set of principles stating what we stand for, what we believe in and what we think should be taken into account,” explains Michael Mabe, CEO of STM. With the declaration, STM publishers are “nailing their flag to the mast” as he puts it. They can use it in their discussions with researchers, authors, editors, administrators, journalists, politicians, civil servants and other stakeholders in STM publishing.

Proactive not reactive

As digital technologies have advanced, those who believe publishing is only about the distribution of content have made proposals that would bypass or undermine the important contribution of STM publishers. These include registration of discoveries, peer review, active dissemination and the archival record, all of which scholars have repeatedly emphasized as essential. The principle threat lies with the mandatory deposit of authors’ peer reviewed manuscripts directly into publicly accessible institutional and subject repositories, creating a duplicate free access channel that depends upon the services of the journal for its value (mainly peer review) while simultaneously undermining its ability to recover costs. These proposals – the “nobody-pays model” – lie at the heart of the lobbying of the open access movement with the Budapest and Berlin Declarations. Until recently, these proposals had forced STM publishers into a reactive posture of responding to other people’s views and criticisms about the way they operate. “We thought it was time to make a statement that reflected the publishing community’s position,” says Mabe. “One of the problems with any kind of media debate is that you’re only able to make a few headline points. You’re not really in a position to make a more considered statement.”

The declaration is based on discussions that have been going on at European Union level for some time. Mabe sits on the Scientific subgroup of the EU’s High Level Expert Group on Digital Libraries. One of the ongoing discussions within the subgroup has been the need to reach consensus about STM publishing. “Each party brought to the table a set of principles that they believed was essential to their position,” Mabe continues. “We slowly looked at what we agreed on and areas where we disagreed.” As the subgroup put together these principles, Mabe realized that they would be an ideal starting point for a more public statement by STM publishers and he began discussing the idea with Graham Taylor of the Publishers Association in the UK. “We saw that it would have considerable benefit within the context of the European Commission Conference on Scientific Publishing in the European Research Area in Brussels on February 15 and 16.” Mabe and Taylor were able to get an initial group of publishers to sign up to the Declaration and they formally presented it to EC Research Commissioner Janos Potočnik during the conference.

We thought it was time to make a statement that reflects the publishing community's position.

Broad geographic support

To date some 45 major publishers of all types, commercial, university press and learned society, have endorsed the Declaration along with 12 trade associations. These represent over two thirds of all the journal papers published each year and over half of all the STM journals in existence. They also represent a broad geographic spread that extends across Europe, North America and the Far East. “It’s a very large coverage, indicating the position publishers find themselves in,” Mabe adds. Although most of the major players have signed up, he expects a steady trickle of new signatories as smaller publishers and societies become aware of the Declaration. It is also drawing support from the wider publishing community beyond the STM arena. “It’s surprising how much the general principles apply,” he says. “For instance, I don’t know of any scholarly publisher that doesn’t support academic freedom.”

Although the publishing community has embraced the Declaration, the open access lobby has been typically skeptical. Peter Suber who edits the Open Access Newsletter says that the Declaration “reads a lot like the start of a public relations campaign.” Others say that it underlines the publishing community’s vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Statements like these do not address the key concerns of publishers about the future of the scholarly record. “It would be a wonderful world if everything could be available for free, but regrettably we don’t live in that world.”

Playing with other people’s money

One thing Mabe is adamant about is that STM publishers are neither for or against open access but are strongly pro innovation. STM supports any business model - open access, subscriptions or electronic licensing - as long as it leads to sustainable support for the STM infrastructure that publishers provide. The problem is that some of the alternatives proposed by the open access lobby are unproven in economic terms. “It’s other people’s money you’re playing with,” says Mabe. That means the money of universities, members of learned societies and shareholders. Anyone investing these funds has a duty to do so in an evidence-based way. As STM publishers see it, in pushing one-size-fits-all solutions the open access lobby is asking them to gamble on business models that may prove unsustainable in the long term. “The Brussels Declaration is not about self-interest,” Mabe stresses. “There are much broader issues here to do with the survival of journals, the peer review system those journals support and the health of the STM publishing system worldwide.”

Now that the Declaration has been published, Mabe hopes that it will raise the level of the discussion about STM publishing and stimulate research into the various business models that have been proposed. A study commissioned by the Publishing Research Consortium has already shown that when relatively small proportions of research are freely available online (e.g. via deposit of author final manuscripts in repositories), librarians cancel related journal subscriptions sooner than anyone thought. There will be more investigations like this and Mabe believes the results will further support the evidence-based position taken by STM publishers. In any case, the Brussels Declaration is the start of a more proactive approach by STM publishers to counter misconceptions about how they operate. Mabe concludes, “We need to come up with more pithy and accurate ways of describing our work so that more people understand the unique added value that publishers bring.”

Please send responses to this article to EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

Developments in supporting editors

A new, enhanced user web-help system was launched on March 27th for all journals on Elsevier’s Editorial System (EES).

This self-help site allows Editors, Reviewers and Authors to find answers to EES queries themselves, without the need to contact Customer Support. Prior to launching this new self-help feature, we worked with a group of Editors who provided extremely valuable feedback on the prototype and tested the system prior to going live. The self-help project team is collating information to also address non-EES related questions.

Read more >


New EES Self-Help Options
Improving the Review Process

New EES Self-Help Options

A new, enhanced user web-help system was launched on March 27th for all journals on Elsevier’s Editorial System (EES).

This self-help site allows Editors, Reviewers and Authors to find answers to EES queries themselves, without the need to contact Customer Support. Prior to launching this new self-help feature, we worked with a group of Editors who provided extremely valuable feedback on the prototype and tested the system prior to going live. The self-help project team is collating information to also address non-EES related questions.

Customers can search for answers, browse through Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) or use onlineinteractive tutorials. All Editor functions in EES are now available via these interactive tutorials; these are proving to be a very helpful learning tool for new Editors or Editors needing some assistance in EES.

The self-help feature is accessible through each EES site by clicking on the ‘Help’ or ‘Contact Us’ links at the top of each page. The feature is also accessible via Elsevier.com.

Feedback and comments on the self-help featureshould be directed to customerfeedback@elsevier.com

Since the introduction of EES, the complete editorial process (submission to decision) has been reduced by an average of 9 weeks.

Improving the Review Process

A new campaign launched recently for S&T Editors aims to improve the review process. Editors of health science journals can also benefit from tapping into our resources to help find, support and keep good Reviewers.

1. We can support you in meeting Reviewers’ needs

We regularly survey Reviewers to get a better understanding of their motivations. Findings from our Reviewer Feedback Program suggest that Reviewers value feedback, recognition, relevant manuscripts and more information on Reviewer policy.

  • 90% of Reviewers would like to be able to see the final decision and other Reviewers’ comments. Your publishing contact can ensure that this functionality is switched on in EES for your journal.
  • Training tutorial: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eesv4overview
  • Recognition & Rewards
    • Reviewers receive 30-day access to Scopus as a reward and to help facilitate their review.
    • Later this year, Reviewers will have access to full text of referenced articles through ScienceDirect via EES. This means that Reviewers will be able to click on the references listed in the manuscript and will be brought to the full text article.
    • If you wish, your publishing contact can help arrange an annual listing of Reviewers in the journal and certificates for Reviewers, both of which are small but powerful ways of acknowledging Reviewers. Atemplate of the certificate can be viewed here.
  • Reviewers tell us that they appreciate information about the review policy of a journal. Your publishing contact can work with you to create or update a policy for your journal. Our template reviewer policy can be used as a starting point.
  • To help ensure that Reviewers receive relevant papers, your publishing contact can advise you about cleaning your EES database of Reviewers and assigning keywords.

Read more on the Reviewer Feedback Program findings and for Reviewer comments.

2. We can support you in improving the speed and quality of reviews

Since the introduction of EES, overall review times have been reduced, in some cases by more than 50%, and the complete editorial process from submission to decision has been reduced by an average of 9 weeks.

In EES you can:

  • Set up reminders for Reviewers and customize Reviewer letters to include deadlines, guidelines and information about where they can get help, e.g. Scopus; and
  • Specify Reviewer questions, which are customizable by manuscript type, and develop a manuscript rating scale, to help ensure consistent and thorough review.

3. We can support you in finding relevant Reviewers

We appreciate that finding Reviewers can be challenging. Here are some of the ways we can help:

  • Via the Scopus search bar in your EES assignments page, you can search Scopus to identify potential Reviewers, link to their published work and citation histories, see who their co-authors were and set up citation alerts to keep up to date with who is citing which research.

Training tutorial: www.elsevier.com/locate/eesscopus

  • Later this year, we will link the submitted manuscript to the full text of the articles it references
  • With just one click in EES, you can automatically search the Internet for article-title related topics via Scirus, and be brought to a list of the author’s published articles in Scopus.

Training tutorial: www.elsevier.com/locate/eesbiblio

  • Your publishing contact can help you create a Reviewer classifications list for your journal, from which Reviewers indicate their areas of expertise and use this to search for matches with the manuscript classifications.
  • Within EES, you can build a database of relevant Reviewers by assigning classifications and adding keywords or notes to the people notes field, search for Reviewers matching the manuscript's keywords or classifications, automatically un-invite Reviewers when they don't respond in sufficient time, and set up automatic alternate Reviewer invitation

4. We can support you by providing a submission, peer review and editorial system that is easy to use

From our Feedback Programs, we know that Editors and Authors are more satisfied with EES than online editorial systems offered by other publishers, and 85% of Reviewers are happy with EES as a Reviewer platform.

To make sure that EES users get the best possible support:

  • You can at any time request EES refresher training, which can be tailored to your specific need
  • We recently launched an enhanced EES user self-help site, which can be accessed through the “Help” link on your journal’s EES page or at: http://epsupport.elsevier.com
  • We are continually developing our suite of online training tutorials
  • We have a 24/7 support team www.elsevier.com/locate/reviewing/support

To continually improve and upgrade EES:

  • We are developing EES to become your complete editorial and peer review management workbench – EES now includes access to Scopus, automatic science-specific Internet searches via Scirus and will shortly directly link through to the full text articles on ScienceDirect
  • We are currently upgrading to EES version 5.0. The additional features and functions include enabling authors to suggest relevant Reviewers, and the inclusion of line numbers in PDFs.

Forum results…submissions from developing countries

Submissions from developing countries
In the last issue of Editors’ Forum we asked how you deal with submissions from developing countries (e.g. Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mozambique)?

Read more >


Submissions from developing countries

In the last issue of Editors’ Forum we asked how you deal with submissions from developing countries (e.g. Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mozambique)?

We asked you to choose from three statements:

a) I treat them like any other paper I receive. If they do not meet the standards of my journal, I reject them.

b) I take into consideration the fact that they are from developing countries and do my utmost to get them published. This can include giving the author feedback on language, style and content.

c) If I see potential, I will contact the publisher and recommend the author be sponsored for e.g. language editing before considering the paper further.

The forum discussion generated over 180 responses, indicating that this issue is important to many editors.

The majority of respondents (54%) indicated that their sole or preferred approach to papers from developing countries was to treat them the same as all the other papers they receive, that is, option (a). In some cases this was due to time pressure or an overload of submissions, but in many cases this was an ideological choice: “there can be no such a thing as ‘Third World’ science”; an obligation to maintain standards for subscribers or a feeling that it “is not my responsibility to develop science in developing countries”.   However, many editors who chose this option indicated that they (and their reviewers) often went the extra mile to provide comprehensive feedback to these authors even if they rejected their papers.

Those who chose (b) (19%) often reasoned from the point of view of editorial responsibility: “as editor you have to serve too”, “[we] also have an educational role”; and future-directedness: “people from these countries are an important part of the future scientific infrastructures of the planet”; a number of you reported that you found this route personally rewarding.

There were also voices who spoke out against this option: “it amounts to [a] kind of ‘social engineering’ of the peer review process,” remarked one respondent; but for a number of editors this question of inclusion lies at the very heart of one of the things they are trying to achieve with their journal or is central to the field being comprehensively represented: “it’s not just about having good data, or good ideas, it’s about participating in particular communities of discourse and writing”, “[our journal] focuses on developing countries and one of our objectives is to promote readership and authorship in [these] countries.”

Option (c) was selected by thirteen percent of respondents and many more of you expressed in principle enthusiasm for this route and/or requested further information. Currently, there is not a formal scheme in place for such sponsorship but since so much interest was expressed we are exploring how such a program might work. We will keep you informed as to any developments within Elsevier regarding such a program. In parallel to this the Elsevier Foundation is exploring how it can help to contribute to and support the advancement of science and medicine in these countries more broadly by supporting third party organizations that help scientists develop skills and knowledge. Any input or recommendations on this matter would be appreciated.

Combination responses were also common, the most frequent was (a) and (b): “editor[s] feel…the need to uphold principles according to (a). On the other hand it’s against [their] grain to brush off a scientist who has worked hard, often under very unfavorable conditions…and, later on [can] enrich the journal with somewhat different views and subjects.”

A number of editors pointed out the need for a diversity of publications with differing policies and impact factors so that papers from these countries can get published, albeit not necessarily in the highest impact journals.

Please send responses to this article toEditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

17Jonathan_Wood

The face of science

Elsevier editor Jonathan Wood was recently named ‘The New Face of Science’, as winner of the United Kingdom’s FameLab competition. We talk to this 31-year-old biologist, editor and now science celebrity about popularizing science.

Read more >


Elsevier editor Jonathan Wood was recently named ‘The New Face of Science’, as winner of the United Kingdom’s FameLab competition. We talk to this 31-year-old biologist, editor and now science celebrity about popularizing science.

The FameLab competition - dubbed the science world’s equivalent of Pop Idol - is the brainchild of the organizers of the biggest science festival in the United Kingdom, the Cheltenham Science Festival. Festival patron and Nobel Laureate, Sir Paul Nurse, explains that the competition aims to “move public communication more to the center of the scientific agenda.” He continues, “Science plays a vital role in our society; it provides better health, a better environment, [and] a better quality of life. But this is only possible if the public continues to have confidence in the scientific enterprise. There's a lot at stake here. This initiative is not just for the benefit of the public. FameLab will help make the more introspective members of the scientific community aware of the importance of public dialogue.”

Science stars

FameLab has been created to encourage scientists to inspire and excite public imagination with a vision of science in the 21st century. A search was undertaken for scientists who could impress the judges and a live audience with an entertaining and original three-minute oral presentation that was scientifically accurate but also engaging to a non-scientific audience. Hundreds of aspiring science stars from across the United Kingdom and Ireland were whittled down over a period of months in regional heats to just 10 finalists who battled it out in front of a live audience in one of the highlights of the festival. The winner was crowned ‘The New Face of Science.’

No mad scientist

So who is ‘The New Face of Science?’ Jonathan Wood is a soft-spoken Scotsman - a very different character from the mad scientist popular in yesteryear. He has a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Leeds, UK, where he “tried to work out how some molecules fitted together in a virus;” and before that, Wood gained a physics degree from Cambridge. He is currently the editor of Materials Today and Nano Today, both published by Elsevier.

For those not familiar with these publications, Materials Today is an international magazine read by over 13,000 (mostly senior) material science researchers. “We try to cover the most exciting emerging fields in material science,” Wood says. “That might be a semiconductor system that will make computers faster or new medical implants that bond with the body better, or polymers that make cheaper and more attractive mobile phones.” Nano Today publishes a valuable perspective on the world of nanoscale science. Each issue takes an in-depth and critical look at what’s hot in nano research, what the top people are doing and the key applications on which to focus. Intriguingly, Wood feels that his experience as an editor gave him an advantage in the FameLab competition.

Editor’s advantage

“I think being an editor helped me to win,” he says. “Being an editor requires you to look through mountains of research that come across your desk and work out which data is the most interesting and original, and decide what has a single angle that makes a compelling story or a feature. From there, you begin to think about the language that’s used and how to communicate the research in the best way. You get lots of practice at delivering attention-grabbing content in an accessible way.” Other writers and editors will agree that the golden rule of both written and verbal communication is to think about your audience. While many of the other finalists presented interesting science, Wood’s humorous storytelling and his ability to describe science without using a single scientific term, won the competition.

Spider silk milk

What was the topic of his winning presentation? Wood wowed the judging panel with a tale that described how Spiderman’s alter ego, Peter Parker, might have constructed his webs - not by farming spiders – but by genetically modifying goats to produce spider silk in their milk giving fibers that have the tensile strength of steel. He was describing a real-life experiment conducted by a Canadian company to produce ‘BioSteel.’

Wood says it took a lot of time to develop a good topic that would be a winner. “I actually do my best thinking in the shower, kind of like Archimedes in the bath, I guess,” he jokes. “I had to come up with numerous topics, as you weren’t allowed to give the same talk for the individual heats and the final.” In the heats, Wood told stories that were also based on science inspired by nature: how Speedo has manufactured swimwear out of man-made shark skin; and how face creams use nanotechnology.

Being an editor helped me to win. You get lots of practice delivering attention-grabbing content in an accessible way

Prize reputation

The judges, including Kathy Sykes (TV presenter and Collier Chair in Public Engagement in Science and Engineering, University of Bristol) and Roger Highfield (science editor of the Daily Telegraph), commented that his mix of cutting-edge research, enthusiasm and storytelling impressed them. As the winner, Wood won more than just a reputation as the new David Attenborough; he also won £2000 (approximately $3900), plus the chance to work with Channel 4 and the British Council. Since winning, he has been enlisted as a speaker and panel expert for various conferences and has been in discussions about potential television appearances.

Science in society

As the newest ambassador for science in the public realm, Wood is focused on the need for scientific knowledge to be distributed more widely than just within the scientific community. According to Wood, “There’s a broad realization among scientists, the media and the general public, that science and technology are changing our lives ever faster. And there are plenty of instances when science connects with society. For example, nuclear power and stem cell research are issues that need to be debated in society in order to find the right way forward. This is where good science communication comes in.”

He goes on to say, “In the past, I don’t think the media has done a particularly good job of communicating science. It seems that the only science stories to make headlines are scare stories, or the ‘and finally’ quirky variety. Furthermore, many scientists don’t get involved in talking to the media – there are a number of reasons for that – it’s not that they don’t want to, but many feel they don’t have the skills, or that it means ‘dumbing down’ their work, which they don’t want to do.”

When recently asked by Channel 4 “is there enough science on TV and radio?” Wood responded by saying, “Science seems to present a difficult problem for the media. For example, why is it possible to broadcast history programs with high-level content presented by David Starkey or Simon Schama, but when faced with science, the content is stripped down to meaningless platitudes and illustrated with computer animations and sci-fi music?” He’s adamant, though, that it can be done well, and points to Adam Hart Davis for a model of enthusiasm and how to perform experiments.

Top tips

What makes a good scientific communicator? “Enthusiasm and passion,” specifies Wood. “You have to find a way of connecting with your audience. People do that in different ways. Some with props, others, humor. Mostly it requires variety and a good use of language. It’s not easy to communicate without using scientific terms and you’ve often got to find an analogy to get your point across,” he says.

Wood encourages all scientists to get out and talk to the public – not necessarily the media, if they are not comfortable with that. “There’s so much value and enjoyment to be had. I’ve learnt a lot from the feedback and questions that people ask. Their responses may challenge you, but they also get you thinking.”

Entertainment matters

When questioned if his recent win has affected his role as editor, he replies, “It has definitely affected my writing. Even though readers of the magazine are high-level scientists, I’m trying to use less terminology and assume less knowledge , but not in an insulting way , because it makes the magazine easier to read, fresher and more immediate.” Reading between the lines, it seems that cutting-edge science research is always interesting, but communicating science should also be entertaining.

17Leo_Egghe

Behind the scenes…launching a new journal

One of the foremost experts in the field of informetrics, Prof. Dr. Leo Egghe recently launched Elsevier’s Journal of Informetrics. It is the first published journal focusing specifically on the dynamic and expanding field of data analysis in information science.

Read more >


One of the foremost experts in the field of informetrics, Prof. Dr. Leo Egghe recently launched Elsevier's Journal of Informetrics. It is the first published journal focusing specifically on the dynamic and expanding field of data analysis in information science.

Prof. Dr. Egghe graduated from the University of Antwerp with a PhD in Mathematics in 1978. After teaching mathematics at the University of Hasselt from 1974 to1979, he became the university's chief librarian. In the mid-1980s, Egghe received a second PhD, this time in Information Sciences from City University in London. He decided to combine his two areas of expertise by conducting research into applied mathematics as it pertains to library and information science, which guided him to the field of informetrics.

Now the chief librarian at Belgium's Hasselt University, Prof. Dr. Egghe also teaches two courses at the University of Antwerp in informetrics and information retrieval. His research has resulted in several published books, the most recent being Power Laws in the Information Production Process: Lotkaian Informetrics, published in 2005 by Elsevier in Oxford. He also founded the first international conference on informetrics in 1987 at the University of Hasselt. The conference now occurs every two years all over the world and has recently been held in China and Sweden. The next, scheduled for Spain, has already attracted nearly 200 papers from prospective attendees.

A rapidly growing field

The term "informetrics" was coined by a German professor named Nacke in the late 1970s. At the time, the field studied only information that existed in paper form, most of which was contained in libraries. While it still does that, informetrics has seen explosive growth in the past decade due to the advent of networks such as the Internet and local intranets.

Informetricians examine data in all its forms, measuring the distribution of information and the links between different data sets. According to Egghe, informetrics is a field comprising all quantitative studies related to information science. These include bibliometrics (i.e. bibliographies and libraries), scientometrics (i.e. science policy, citation analysis and research evaluation) and webometrics (i.e. metrics of the Internet or other social networks such as citation or collaboration networks).

Establishing a need for a new journal

In 1989, Egghe submitted his first proposal to Elsevier for a journal on informetrics. Unfortunately, his proposal was not accepted at that time. "It is very difficult for a publisher to start a new journal. It costs a lot of money and it may not be clear whether the new journal is needed," Egghe explains. "In 1989, the Internet was still in its infancy and the field was relatively small, with just a few people involved in informetrics research. Furthermore, Elsevier accepts just one out of 20 proposals for new journals."

Egghe continued with his research, writing books and publishing around 200 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. While writing his most recent book, he was in contact with members of the social sciences department at Elsevier. He decided that the time was right to reopen the discussion on a journal of informetrics. He renewed his proposal in 2002, and it was studied very closely by Elsevier over the ensuing three years. Eventually, Elsevier in Oxford decided that there was a need for a new journal and approval was given in April 2006.

Egghe feels that this proposal succeeded the second time round simply because of the right timing and the fact that there was a gap in the market. With the dawn of the information age, the field had now matured to a point where there was a need for the journal, and no journals on the subject of informetrics had yet been established. Egghe was able to support his proposal with numerous reports that proved the field was growing very rapidly. He provided hard statistics and references to articles that supported his argument.

He was also helped by his experience in guest editing two issues of Elsevier's Information Processing and Management. This journal focuses on information retrieval, but Egghe created special issues in 2005 and 2006 on the topic of informetrics. As a guest editor, he attracted contributions from many experts in his field.

It is a challenging process. With no existing samples to view, the potential audience has a difficult time grasping the publication's profile.

The publication of these issues served as a test run for Elsevier to see how research in the field of informetrics was being used by the scientific community. Since the issues were also published electronically, Elsevier was able to count the number of times the articles were downloaded. Elsevier recorded more downloads for these special issue articles than for the journal's regular articles, proving that there was an audience of readers hungry for information on the subject. The success of the special issues also proved that there was a niche market of informetrics researchers who would be eager to contribute to a journal in this active and lively field.

Laying the groundwork

Egghe's efforts as a guest editor provided the foundation for his future work on the new journal. In setting up The Journal of Informetrics, one of Egghe's first steps was to launch several calls for papers. These electronic announcements were sent to informetrics discussion groups comprising hundreds of informetricians. In the announcements, Egghe explained the focus and scope of the journal, inviting experts in the field to contribute. "It is a challenging process," Egghe says, "With no existing samples to view, the potential audience has a difficult time grasping the publication's profile."

Fortunately for Egghe, his name was already quite well known in the informetrics community and he was able to compile an impressive editorial board consisting of over 30 of the leading figures in the field. The support from the community, including those active in journals published by other companies, was key to getting the journal off the ground.

The journal is launched

The first print issue of The Journal of Informetrics was published on January 12, 2007. The electronic version can be found on Elsevier's ScienceDirect. The journal will be published quarterly, with around 10 articles per issue. But Egghe expects the journal to grow in line with the rapid growth of informetrics itself. Based on the early acceptance of and enthusiasm for the journal in the scientific community, Egghe believes that his optimism is warranted.

The journal has a very broad scope and will consider a wide array of topics for articles. "All quantitative aspects of information science belong to the scope of the Journal of Informetrics," Egghe says. "The papers must be of a high quality, and feature mathematical models explaining regularities in information sciences, or contain very good experimental data sets."

Several authors will be drawn from the editorial board, but Egghe considers every informetrician to be a potential author for the journal. The journal already has a database full of article referees as well. For each article published, there are two referees who judge the quality of the article.

According to Egghe, the journal will have high, exacting standards. "The quality of scholarship is improving all the time and the degree of 'hardness' in the field is increasing," he says. For this reason, a high rejectance rate of around 50 percent is planned for submitted articles, thereby maintaining the journal's quality. "We want this journal to be the leading journal in the field of informetrics," Egghe says. "That can only be realized if we apply professional standards of paper acceptance and rejection."

Egghe is proud to be editor-in-chief of the only journal that currently bears the name "informetrics" in its title. "On an international level, this is the only informetrics journal in the world."

17Youngsuk_Chi

Supporting the scientific community

Elsevier has collaborated with the United Nations Environment Program, Yale University and other leading scientific publishers to give the developing world increased access to environmental research. This is part of Elsevier’s ongoing commitment to close the scientific gap between industrialized and developing nations, and to support the scientific community throughout the world.

Read more >


Elsevier has collaborated with the United Nations Environment Program, Yale University and other leading scientific publishers to give the developing world increased access to environmental research. This is part of Elsevier’s ongoing commitment to close the scientific gap between industrialized and developing nations, and to support the scientific community throughout the world.

Through Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE), Elsevier makes 1,200 key environmental science journals available to some 70 developing nations. Universities, colleges, libraries, research institutes, government offices and non-governmental organizations in eligible countries now have free online access to a wide range of environment-related disciplines. These include climate change, ecology, environmental chemistry, environmental engineering, environmental toxicology and pollution.

Acting as a single community

“It’s an example of how science can act as a single community,” says Youngsuk Chi, Elsevier Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Academic and Customer Relations. OARE is coordinated by the United Nations Environment Program and several other public and private partners. “Yale University is providing operational support for OARE, the Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is providing the money, and over 200 publishers, scientific societies and associations are supplying the content,” he explains. “Thanks to the commitment of these players, we’re allowing countries without the financial means to be full subscribers to have the same benefits.”

Eligibility for OARE is based on annual gross national product (GNP). Countries whose GNP per capita is less than US$1,000 were given free access to OARE when it was launched on October 30 last year. These so-called Band 1 countries include Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Zimbabwe. By 2008, the OARE Board plans to introduce Band 2, which will provide low cost access to countries whose GNP per capita is between US$1,000 and US$3,000. Countries in this category include Cuba, Iraq, Kosovo, the West Bank and Gaza. These eligibility criteria are based on World Bank figures available in 2006. Of course, a country’s GNP can change from year to year, so its eligibility is regularly reviewed.

Solving real problems
OARE is the latest in a series of philanthropic online initiatives that Elsevier is involved in. Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI), launched in 2002, gives developing countries free or low cost access to major biomedical journals. The project was pioneered by the World Health Organization and uses the same eligibility criteria as OARE. HINARI was quickly followed by Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA) in 2003. Set up by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, AGORA offers the same developing countries reduced cost access to leading scientific journals in agriculture and related fields.

After successfully giving developing countries improved access to health and agricultural research, environmental sciences were the obvious field to offer next. “You can imagine the environmental issues affecting the development of these nations,” says Chi. “Everything from water problems to environmentally inflicted diseases.” OARE gives poorer nations an opportunity to develop their environmental capabilities and use science to solve real problems. “On the one hand, we want these countries to develop economically so that they can afford scientific research. But in the meantime they need to have access to scientists who have already done the research so they can discover the next step.”

Based upon the reception and growth of the HINARI program, OARE publishers have agreed to continue the project until 2015, but Chi believes it will be extended. “You can’t have an open-ended program,” he adds, “There has to be a point where we evaluate the project and decide how to proceed.” If the success of HINARI, AGORA and OARE are anything to go by, they are likely to continue for a long time. All three programs are actively used by thousands of institutions in developing countries.

What we want is for people to benefit from the discoveries and achievements of other without having to start from scratch.

Three million downloads in three years
Not surprisingly students, researchers and policymakers are delighted to have access to these vast new resources. For HINARI alone, over 3 million Elsevier articles were downloaded in the first three years. “If you were to take HINARI and AGORA together, they would be Elsevier’s fifth largest customer,” says Chi. “So you can imagine how important these programs are to the eligible countries.” Usage of the programs is likely to increase as they become better known in the target regions. To that end, Elsevier is now providing libraries with technical assistance and training so they can make the best possible use of these online assets.

Now that these three programs are running successfully, Elsevier is looking at becoming involved in similar projects that level the information playing field. “There are many good programs out there,” confirms Chi. “We constantly get proposals from people that would like our participation. We look at these carefully and are developing programs of our own.”

Enriching and developing communities
Elsevier’s philanthropic initiatives go beyond providing electronic access to developing countries. The Elsevier Foundation, created in 2002, aims to enrich and develop the communities where Elsevier has a presence. With an annual budget of US$1 million, the foundation gives grants, products, materials and services to non-profit organizations with a tax-exempt status. One of its main focuses is child literacy and education. As a result, the foundation donates computer equipment to schools and children’s reading programs, and also makes contributions to child welfare projects. In addition, the organization also gives grants to the scientific, technical and medical community in order to fund innovative projects for information dissemination. Editors and staff can suggest worthwhile institutions and projects to the foundation.

Through all these initiatives Elsevier makes its resources and the work of its authors, editors and reviewers available in countries and communities where they are needed. As a result, they have the enormous potential to improve the quality of science, health and human life. “Science is about building on top of one another,” says Chi. “What we want is for people to benefit from the discoveries and achievements of others without having to start from scratch.”

Question Time…Nobel prize and other awards

In this new addition to Editors’ Update, we ask four editors for their views on a relevant topic. This issue, we focus on the recently awarded Nobel Prize, as well as other prestigious prizes across the sciences.

Read more >


In this new addition to Editors’ Update, we ask four editors for their views on a relevant topic. This issue, we focus on the recently awarded Nobel Prize, as well as other prestigious prizes across the sciences.

The Nobel Prize has been awarded every year since 1901 for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. Originally founded by Alfred Nobel, a Swedish scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, author and pacifist, the prize consists of a medal, diploma and cash sum of more than US$ 1 million per full award.

Of the total 768 individuals who have received the prize, the youngest so far is 25-year-old Lawrence Bragg, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics with his father in 1915. The oldest Laureate is Raymond Davis Jr., who was nearly 88 years old when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002.

The prizes are traditionally presented in Stockholm on 10 December – the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. You can find a full list of the 2006 winners on the Nobel Prize website, but we are proud to say that the following 2006 winners have published with Elsevier:

John C. Mather and George F. Smoot – Nobel Prize in Physics

Andre Z. Fire and Craig C. Mello – Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Edmund S. Phelps – The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel

Roger D. Kornberg – Nobel Prize in Chemistry

In recognition of their accomplishments, we are pleased to make available free of charge the full text of the 102 articles to which these extraordinary scholars have contributed.

The Nobel Prize undoubtedly draws much attention and respect, but how do other fields of scientific research recognize their high achievers? We asked four editors to comment on the following questions:

1) How is the Nobel Prize viewed in your field?

2) The Nobel Prize is one thing, but is there a prize in your field that is very prestigious, and why?

Stanley Brodsky, Professor

Theoretical Physics, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford University

1)1) The Nobel Prize is indeed the highest honor one can receive in high-energy physics. It encourages governmental support of fundamental science. One sees this, for example, in Japan, where the entire population is aware of Japanese contributions to neutrino physics and other fields and is very proud of the physicists who have won this prestigious award.

2) Another prestigious prize in my field is the Wolf Prize. Founded by Dr. Ricardo Wolf, a German-born inventor and former Cuban ambassador to Israel, this prize has been awarded annually since 1978. You can find a list of previous physics winners on Wikipedia.

The American Physical Society also gives out more than 40 different awards and prizes in recognition of outstanding achievements in research, education and public service. One of these is the annual Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics for outstanding publications in the field of mathematical physics. Another is the J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics, which recognizes and encourages outstanding achievement in particle theory. I was very honored to have been selected as the recipient of this prize for 2007.

William John Koros, Professor

Roberto C. Goizueta Chair in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Membranes, Georgia Institute of Technology

1) ) The Nobel Prize is considered by the membrane community to be the most prestigious recognition of accomplishment in chemistry and physics. Perhaps the closest to a synthetic membrane Nobel Prize winner would be R. A. Zsigmondy, who received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1925. Zsigmondy refined the ideas of Sir Thomas Graham, a 19th century pioneer in membranes, by noting that transformation between ‘crystalloid’ and ‘colloid’ states could be induced. His work laid the foundation for modern synthetic membrane science and technology.

The practical nature of our field places it at the periphery of chemistry and physics and within the realm of engineering and technology. Therefore, while our field greatly respects Nobel Prize winners, we are not in awe of them. Rather, we seek to apply the knowledge that they and other ‘non-Nobel’ scientists acquire to advance the field of ‘membranology’.

2) To many, I think the Alan S. Michaels Award for Innovation in Membrane Science and Technology might be considered the most prestigious award in the synthetic membrane field. This award consists of a US$ 10,000 prize awarded by the North American Membrane Society to individuals who have made breakthrough contributions to the membrane field. It is a truly international award named in honor of Alan Michaels, one of the great innovators and pioneers in membrane science and technology. Michaels’ work led to breakthroughs that helped redefine the membrane field. It has only been awarded twice to date, but in both cases, it has gone to individuals who are tremendously respected for their innovations and contributions to our field.

Joanna Kargul, PhD

Managing Editor of The International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology

1) The Nobel Prizes in my research fields (Chemistry and Physiology or Medicine) are regarded as the most prestigious awards given to those who have contributed the most to unraveling the mechanisms of the fundamental biochemical and cellular processes, or have made technological advances that affect the whole research community. My colleagues and I wait with great anticipation for the announcement of each year's winners.

I am privileged to know and collaborate with one such outstanding scientist, John Walker (Cambridge), who, in 1997, shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the elucidation of the enzymatic mechanism of ATP synthase (the enzyme producing the cellular energy storage compound ATP). Such scientific interaction is a dream come true for me, and it is tremendously inspiring to be involved in tackling scientific problems, the solutions for which can benefit others.

2) The European Molecular Biology Organization Gold Medal is awarded annually to a young European researcher for his or her outstanding contribution to molecular life sciences. It is widely regarded as the most prestigious award of its kind in Europe. It opens doors to significant research funding and brings recognition to up-and-coming European scientists.

The Fellowship of the Royal Society of London (the United Kingdom’s national academy of sciences) is another extremely prestigious award. It is looked upon as the key to the most elite scientific club in the United Kingdom.

Bruce J. Hillman, MD

Theodore E. Keats Professor of Radiology at the University of Virginia and
Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of the American College of Radiology

1) Although there have been relatively few prizes awarded to the developers of advances in medical imaging, I believe most radiologists consider the Nobel Prize to be the epitome of recognition for scientific achievement. The first prize in Physics (1901) was awarded to Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, whose discovery of the X-ray is generally considered the founding event of the specialty. Marie Curie won two Nobel Prizes (Physics, 1903, shared with Paul Curie and Henri Becquerel, and Chemistry, 1911) for her work in radioactivity.

More recent prizes celebrate the development of both computed tomography (CT) (Cormack and Houndsfield, 1979) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (Lauterbur and Mansfield, 2003) – both in the category of Physiology or Medicine. Dr. Hans Ringertz, a radiologist at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, chaired the Medicine or Physiology Prize Committee in 2003.

2) There is no award in radiology that could be considered a ‘Nobel Prize’ for the specialty, although The Radiological Society of North America annually recognizes a Researcher of the Year.

Elsevier Editorial System (EES) Update

During October/November 2006, we rolled out the latest version (version 4.0) of EES. You will have noticed a number of new features and functions, including the ability to send ad hoc e-mails, to switch roles without logging out and to notify reviewers of decisions.

Read more >


Upgrade Information
Ad hoc e-mails
EES Links to Scopus
Did you know?
Enhanced Help
Customer Support

Upgrade Information

During October/November 2006, we rolled out the latest version (version 4.0) of EES. You will have noticed a number of new features and functions, including the ability to send ad hoc e-mails, to switch roles without logging out and to notify reviewers of decisions.

For an overview of the new features you can view our interactive tutorial at http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eesv4overview .

This latest upgrade also included improvements to the ‘Change Details’ page and the manuscript details window. With the next EES release (Version 5.0) due later this spring, Editors can look forward to having a newly re-vamped editor interface.

Ad hoc e-mails

I want to send an e-mail through EES

I want to resend an e-mail that was sent through EES

I want to generate a list of outstanding manuscripts and send reminders to Editors

EES Links to Scopus

Scopus, the largest abstract and citation database, is now available through EES for reviewers as well as editors. Reviewers are entitled to 30 days access to Scopus which they can activate at any time, once they’ve accepted the invitation to review. To date, we have received positive feedback on this, and understand that Scopus is proving to be a very welcome and useful resource for reviewers.

As editors, this interface has been available to you since early 2006, allowing you unlimited access to Scopus - from the Scopus search bar on your ‘invite a reviewer’ screen in EES, or via www.scopus.com/editors using your EES login details. You can use Scopus to help you find reviewers and authors, check out citations of your journal or individual papers, and of course, to supplement your own research. Updated daily, this abstract and citation database offers you access to 28 million abstracts and 245 million references from over 15,000 peer-reviewed titles.

• For a demonstration of how you can use Scopus to search for reviewers please visit http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eesscopus

• To guide you on how Scopus can add value to your workflow (e.g. to find reviewers or to trace citations of an article), a dedicated page was released at External link http://info.scopus.com/scopees. In total, nine tutorials are available to show you, step-by-step, how you and your reviewers can best use the database.

• More information about Scopus

Did you know?

Artwork quality check tool

One of the nice features of EES is that authors and receiving editors/editorial office staff have access to the findings of an artwork quality check tool, both for new submissions and revised submissions. Editors who are assigned manuscripts also have access to the results, if they search for a particular manuscript or if they edit a manuscript and rebuild the PDF. The tool assesses quality and gives three verdicts, pass, pass with warning or fail (however, results are advisory only and authors can proceed with the submission regardless of the outcome).

Read more about the artwork quality check tool.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism has become an increasing concern for many Editors. But did you know that during the online submission process, before they can approve their system-generated PDF file, authors are required to read and agree to, an ethics statement? This short statement includes reference to original work, single submission, etc. It is hoped that this will prove a timely reminder to authors to abide by the code of ethical conduct.

For comprehensive guidelines for Editors please refer to:
Legal Guide for Editors concerning ethics issues, November 2006

Enhanced Help

As part of our continuous efforts to provide the highest standard of support to all our EES customers, we are introducing a new enhanced User Help platform within EES.  Our upgraded Help link includes an 'FAQ' section, interactive and PDF tutorials, a fully searchable EES knowledgebase, an online contact form for Customer Support and our Customer Feedback mailbox. The new Help section can be accessed by clicking on the ‘Help’ link on the top navigation bar on the welcome page of your EES site. This upgrade will not result in any aesthetic changes to your EES page, as the linking will be seamless. This new self help functionality should be available early in March.

Click here for a sneak preview.

Customer Support

In an effort to meet your needs and provide world class support, we have merged the following groups, to form Elsevier Customer Support:

1. Electronic Submission, Implementation & Support (ESIS): responsible for rolling out the Elsevier Editorial System (EES) to editors

2. Author Support: supporting authors for all non-electronic queries

3. E-Submission/Editor/Reviewer Support: supporting authors, editors and reviewers for e-submission queries

We now have a group of support agents cross-trained to handle all query types, providing world class 24/7 support. We have also appointed Project Managers to look at some of the key areas in improving our services: customer relations & feedback, quality control & documentation, reporting & analysis.

Contact us by e-mail or by telephone:

For the Americas: +1 888 834 7287 (toll-free for US & Canadian customers)

For Asia & Pacific: +81 3 5561 5032

For Europe & rest of the world: +353 61 709 190

17Joep_Verheggen

ScienceDirect – new and improved

The last time Editors Update focused on ScienceDirect was in 2002. “Four years is a long time, especially in electronic publishing, and an awful lot has happened to ScienceDirect in that time,” says Joep Verheggen, Director of ScienceDirect. “To give you an impression, in 2002, 80 million articles were downloaded from ScienceDirect, while during 2006, there were more than 300 million downloads. The number of visitors to the website has also doubled between 2004 and 2006.”

Read more >


The last time Editors Update focused on ScienceDirect was in 2002. “Four years is a long time, especially in electronic publishing, and an awful lot has happened to ScienceDirect in that time,” says Joep Verheggen, Director of ScienceDirect. “To give you an impression, in 2002, 80 million articles were downloaded from ScienceDirect, while during 2006, there were more than 300 million downloads. The number of visitors to the website has also doubled between 2004 and 2006.”

Easy access

Access to reliable sources of information has traditionally been cited as a key issue within the scientific community. “Before the advent of the Web, the publishing industry had been stable for a very long time,” Verheggen continues. “Researchers had to visit libraries and wade through mountains of information to find what they were looking for. One of the biggest advances in recent years was our US$ 40 million project to digitize Elsevier’s entire back catalogue of journals - right back to the first ever issue of The Lancet, from 1823 - and offer this as the Backfiles Collection on ScienceDirect.”

The transition from publishing in print to a combination of print and electronic publishing, or electronic publishing alone, has been relatively quick and successful, making access to scientific information easier than ever. Elsevier took the lead in this respect, although other publishers are now following the same course. In November 2006, for example, the one-billionth article was downloaded from ScienceDirect, which now has almost eight million articles available online. One the advantages of ScienceDirect for editors and reviewers is that it provides an overview of papers published in specific fields, which helps them in their crucial role as the gatekeepers of scientific review material.

Latest upgrades

Each year, at least two new software releases are introduced on the ScienceDirect website, but 2006 was a special year. “We took a more fundamental approach in 2006 and focused on the navigational path and overall design of ScienceDirect,” Verheggen explains. “We took a step back and asked ‘what do people really want from ScienceDirect?’. We talked to end users and came up with various concepts and prototypes. The result of all this is a dramatically simplified navigational scheme that makes it far easier to go directly to the desired article and to personalize settings and alerts. We changed the whole layout of the home page to make it more intuitive, dynamic and simple, and we made similar upgrades to the journal home pages. Overall, we looked at the number of clicks needed to perform key tasks, which we have reduced by up to 80% in some cases. This improves the productivity and efficiency of the website, and we’ve also added some extra personalization features, such as Favorites, bookmarks and a memory of recent actions.”

Perhaps the most useful new feature from an Elsevier editor’s perspective is the enhancement of the ‘quick search’ function. “This allows editors and users, for whom ScienceDirect is primarily designed, to find all sources for a particular author or article quickly and easily,” Verheggen adds.

Added value

More than any other, the scientific community has embraced the concept of accessing information online. “ScienceDirect’s aim is to get information to users quicker, so they can spend more time analyzing it, rather than searching for it,” says Verheggen.

So far, customer feedback on the improvements has been very positive. “We showed the new design and features to the press at a fairly early stage and they were very impressed,” Verheggen continues. “They agreed that we’d achieved what we set out to do and the latest reports from the market place have also been very positive. The message we’re getting is that we’ve made some great improvements to the site.”

Investing in the future

The World Wide Web is increasingly becoming an arena for social groups and networking, which are being accommodated in an extension to the Web, known as the Web 2.0. “At ScienceDirect, we’re also interested in these developments,” says Verheggen. “We have set up our own program, called ScienceDirect 2.0, which is a cooperation between Elsevier’s product development and marketing teams and the publishing organization. We’re also looking at further opportunities in relation to the so-called ‘semantic Web’. So far, we have come up with eight concepts, which we are discussing with development partners, customers and users. We’re asking them which concepts are the most important to them and identifying a priority list for a ScienceDirect 2.0 innovation program. We’re currently building prototypes and developing a business case, and we aim to develop a number of concepts as part of this program during 2007 and 2008.”

We took a step back and asked 'what do people really want from ScienceDirect?'

While work is being conducted on the website redesign and ScienceDirect 2.0, Verheggen and his team have also been looking at the underlying infrastructure that supports ScienceDirect. “In January 2007, we will replace the current search engine with a new one, which brings ScienceDirect’s search capabilities in line with the most modern search engines,” says Verheggen. “FAST ESPTM is a product name, but it is really fast and is already used on the Scirus and Scopus websites. It provides more flexibility and greater speed, as well as new types of functionality.”

The redesign of ScienceDirect, the switch to the FAST search engine and the beginning of ScienceDirect 2.0 development are all additional activities to the standard annual software releases. “This means that we’re continuing to invest significantly in ScienceDirect, to the tune of multi-million dollars, in fact,” says Verheggen. “In addition, we’re working on an Access & Entitlement project, which should be completed by the end of 2007 or the beginning of 2008. This will provide customers with greater options and control over the content they wish to access, along with a better customer service experience for our users.”

Intercompatibility

Elsevier’s three main web-based scientific resources are ScienceDirect, Scirus and Scopus. “ScienceDirect is a full-text journal-based platform; Scopus is a web-based abstract and citation database with sophisticated search, retrieval and analysis features; while Scirus is Elsevier’s free scientific Web search engine,” Verheggen explains. “Scirus and Scopus index the full-text articles included on ScienceDirect’s database (and many other e-journal platforms), and make the abstracts of these articles available to users. With the appropriate entitlement, however, users can easily make the link to ScienceDirect to gain access to the full article.”

In the pipeline

Maintaining ScienceDirect’s reputation as a cutting-edge resource requires upgrading its architecture and technology at regular intervals. “In addition to all of the above improvements, we’re also working on improving the quality of images included in electronic versions of papers,” Verheggen explains. “In print, you can produce excellent images and we’re trying to bring ScienceDirect’s electronic images up to the same standard.”

“We’re also trying to increase the speed of publication to make titles accessible as quickly as possible. To this end, we’re making early versions of papers from a selected group of titles available after they’ve been peer reviewed, but before they’ve been through the technical editing process – the so-called Author Manuscript. During 2007 we will also launch the e-books program, which is a large extension of the current books program on ScienceDirect. From May onwards we will load an additional 3500-4000 book titles on to the ScienceDirect backlist and frontlist. Finally, we’ve also introduced an Ambassador Program, which enables Elsevier editors to gain access to article and book titles that they might not otherwise be able to access.”

Forum Results

In issue 16, we looked at how a journal can offer a targeted promotional platform for conferences, while conferences, in their turn, can provide material for the journal. This raises the issue of whether papers presented at conferences are suitable for publication. The topic of the forum therefore focused on the impact that the publication of conference papers has on the quality of the journal in which is appears. Editors could choose from the following options:

Read more >


In issue 16, we looked at how a journal can offer a targeted promotional platform for conferences, while conferences, in their turn, can provide material for the journal. This raises the issue of whether papers presented at conferences are suitable for publication. The topic of the forum therefore focused on the impact that the publication of conference papers has on the quality of the journal in which is appears. Editors could choose from the following options:

A) Journals gain access to up-and-coming authors and valuable new research results.

B) Quality is at stake, as papers from conferences are not perceived to be as high quality as submitted papers.

C) Conference proceedings are published in addition to regular issues, and the correct balance of the two strengthens the reputation of the journal.

The overwhelming response (nearly 120 editors took the time to comment) indicates your strong views on the matter. Opinions were mixed, however, with many participants opting for a combination of the above or making additional suggestions.

The minority of respondents chose option A, arguing that any lack of quality is far outweighed by the access conference papers provide to new authors and research. “I try to spot potential new editorial board members,” said one respondent.

Many more of you believed that publishing conference proceedings is risky and can jeopardize a journal’s quality and reputation. As one participant put it, “Papers presented and published at a conference do not go through the scrutiny that regular journal articles get. One often finds incomplete information in conference papers, which reduces the value of the results.”

With options A and B at opposite ends of the scale, the results indicated that C was an acceptable compromise for the majority of you. It was generally agreed that authors who know their conference proceedings will be published take care to maintain the quality required by a journal and often submit their piece for peer review first. One participant believed that “a good, well-edited conference proceeding can definitely strengthen the image of a journal.”

Overall, most of you saw the value of conference papers, but were reluctant to see them published unless quality could be guaranteed. Most of you agreed that publishing conference proceedings in addition to, but separate from, regular issues of the journal is the ideal compromise.

E_Pentz

Digital barcodes for online articles

As T.S. Eliot once said, “Hell is the place where nothing connects.” Citations are fundamental in scientific publishing for the very reason that they connect research findings and support the evolution of ideas. With so many STM publishers now offering online access to articles it has been crucial to develop a standard way to identify […]

Read more >


As T.S. Eliot once said, “Hell is the place where nothing connects.” Citations are fundamental in scientific publishing for the very reason that they connect research findings and support the evolution of ideas. With so many STM publishers now offering online access to articles it has been crucial to develop a standard way to identify online sources and persistently link to them, especially as their ownership (and location) changes over time. The Digital Object Identifier (DOI) naming system has been created to do exactly this.

The DOI can be thought of as a bar code for digital information. It consists of a unique alphanumeric character string that is assigned to a document by the publisher upon the initial electronic publication. The DOI will never change. Therefore, as ScienceDirect, which has been using DOIs for some time now, points out, it is ideal for citing a document, particularly “Articles in Press” because they have not yet received their full bibliographic information.

What’s in a name?

DOI names can provide persistent links to metadata and, where appropriate, to the identified object itself. For those interested in the technical side of DOIs, see the International DOI Foundation website. This Foundation, which is a not-for profit, membership-based organisation, was created in 1998 to support the needs of the intellectual property community in the digital world.

A DOI differs from a URL because it identifies the digital material as an object, not simply the place where the object is located. It’s also important to note that a DOI name isn't the “same sort of thing” as an ISBN. The DOI system can take an identification string (such as an ISBN) and potentially Internet-enable it.

Backbone for publications

In 2000, many of the world's leading publishers came together to build a DOI-based article-linking scheme known as CrossRef. Technically, CrossRef is the official DOI registration agency for the scholarly publication community. “In essence, it’s the citation-linking backbone for online publications,” says Ed Pentz, CrossRef Executive Director. “It’s an independent, non-profit entity that aims to make reference linking throughout online scholarly literature efficient and reliable.”

Elsevier was one of the founding publishers of this group that now includes over 1,600 publishers and links 14,000 journals. Commercial, non-profit publishers and open access publishers are all members of CrossRef, as are publishers from the EU, US, Asia and Australia.

The perfect cite

As www.crossref.org states, “CrossRef allows the user to move from one article to another at the citation level, regardless of journal or publisher. Without full-text citation linking, the user who discovers a desired resource while reading usually has to switch to a different search interface to locate and ultimately access that resource. With CrossRef, it only takes a click or two to get to the full text. The costs of the CrossRef system are borne by publishers—hence it’s free to researchers—because publishers recognize the necessity of adding links from references to full text.”

Up till now Pentz says the DOI has been working in the background. “We’d like to see the DOI become the public identifier for the article,” he explains. “This means educating people about the value of DOIs.”

So what is the value of the DOI? From an editor’s point of view, the primary attraction of including the DOI in references during the review process is that it can greatly improve the quality of the references because it enables verification of the accuracy of citations. Reviewers will be able to see the source material with their own eyes and may find, for example, that the page number has been incorrectly cited.

Including DOIs facilitates a faster, more efficient and probably more enjoyable review process.

Secondly, including DOIs facilitates a faster, more efficient, and probably more enjoyable review process as it eliminates the possibility of broken links. If an author has used a URL to cite content, in time, this reference will become unreliable and the link breaks. A DOI link is guaranteed to never break.

“One other thing editors should remember is that CrossRef DOIs make content more visible. By using CrossRef DOIs you are linking with over 14,000 journals, and they are linking with you,” says Pentz.

Impacting on the impact factor

We all know editors like to know the impact factor of their journal in order to rate its success. Are DOI numbers recognised by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) system? “The ISI is using DOIs,” explains Pentz. “They get the CrossRef DOI and they use this to link from their record to the publisher’s full text in many cases. However, the DOI isn’t yet used as part of their citation matching service. So if an article is published online ahead of print and someone cites that (by referencing the journal name and DOI but not page or volume number) then that citation will get counted for that journal but it won’t necessarily be on that author’s ‘Cited By’ list.” He continues, “We’re working closely with the ISI and they have plans to pick up DOIs as part of the citation matching process.”

Quick reference

The publisher currently assigns DOIs during the production phase. Pentz reports that over 21 million DOIs have been assigned. More and more authors are including DOIs in their references. A simple and free tool and www.crossref.org/guestquery makes it easy for authors to look up the DOI. “It’s a ‘simple text query’, explains Pentz, “where you can just cut and paste the reference from a word document or PDF and it will look up the DOI.”

One basic principle is that DOIs should be used in existing reference formats in addition to other bibliographic data (that is, DOIs should not be used to replace traditional bibliographic citation elements). CrossRef has developed some clear guidelines for including DOIs in a variety of citation formats, which have been written especially for editors, style guide producers, scholars and publishers.

Coming soon

DOI names are not limited to the scholarly publishing industry, as the DOI scheme is actually a system for identifying any intellectual property in the digital realm—including, for example, audio, images and software. Within scholarly publishing, DOIs have been assigned to research articles, books and conference proceedings. “We’re also planning on assigning DOIs to records and databases, technical reports and working papers, theses and dissertations. And we’re examining components of articles—assigning DOIs to individual images, figures and graphics, that would enable people to cite specific images and in the future could enable better permission systems for images and the like,” Pentz says.

In the CrossRef system, each DOI is associated with a set of metadata. “We’re working with Google and Microsoft to enable them to use our metadata to better index scientific content on the web. We’re basically taking advantage of the unprecedented level of cooperation between publishers to develop technical standards. As things continue to develop on the Internet, CrossRef will become a forum for discussing future opportunities.”

A_Turner

Behind the scenes: scientific conferences

Anthony Turner has had a long and illustrious career in the field of biosensors. He entered his twenty’s with a Bachelors degree in Applied Biology and has, since then, been awarded a Master’s in Biochemistry, a Doctorate in Microbiology and a Higher Doctorate in Biosensors. He was the Principal of Cranfield University at Silsoe, United Kingdom from 1999 to 2006, before returning to full-time research in February of this year, when a special position was created for him as Distinguished Professor of Biotechnology.

Read more >


Anthony Turner has had a long and illustrious career in the field of biosensors. He entered his twenty’s with a Bachelors degree in Applied Biology and has, since then, been awarded a Master’s in Biochemistry, a Doctorate in Microbiology and a Higher Doctorate in Biosensors. He was the Principal of Cranfield University at Silsoe, United Kingdom from 1999 to 2006, before returning to full-time research in February of this year, when a special position was created for him as Distinguished Professor of Biotechnology.

Turner’s research covers two principle areas. In the first, highly stable biosensors and sensing systems, his particular interest is in developing sensing systems that are small enough to be implanted in the body, or suitable for home or field use by non-specialists. Just one example of the practical application of Turner’s research is the compact home kit he helped to invent and develop in the 1980’s. This easy-to-use, pen-shaped kit was the forerunner of devices that have enabled millions of diabetes sufferers to accurately measure their glucose levels. The second part of his research concentrates on the design and synthesis of semi-synthetic and synthetic ligands and catalysts for medical and environmental diagnostics, medical materials and drug delivery.

Turner has over 580 publications and patents to his name, and has won a number of prestigious scientific awards. In addition to his research, he is also Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics , and the founder and Chair of the World Congress on Biosensors.

Establishing a journal

Biosensors and Bioelectronics was first established in 1985, with Turner at the helm. Over the last two decades, the journal has grown to become one of the leading international journals devoted to the research, design, development and application of biosensors and bioelectronics. Turner attributes the journals growth and success to a number of factors: “We got in early, when there was a gap in the field that needed to be filled,” he says, “and we produced a journal that people wanted to read. The biosensors industry has also grown considerably since the journal was launched, from around USD 5 million in 1985 to USD 6.9 billion last year. When we first started out, we expected to publish around 30 papers a year; that’s now risen to 250 a year. Despite our growth, however, we haven’t let our standards slip; we still have a 50% rejection rate for papers.”

To give an indication of how far the journal has come, in 2005, Biosensors & Bioelectronics’ impact factor was 3.5. The journal is also ranked 6th in the Institute for Scientific Information’s analytical chemistry category and 1st in the electrochemistry category.

While it's possible to have a successful journal without a conference, I believe the conferences have helped us get where we are today.

Setting up a commercial conference

In 1989, Elsevier’s conference organizer, Penny Moon, approached Turner to ask if he would be interested in organizing a conference promoting his field and his journal. Turner initially rejected the idea, until Moon asked him which conference all those working in the biosensor field went to. “That made me realize that there wasn’t one,” says Turner. “There were several small conferences, but that meant that all the good papers were split between different events, and it was difficult to decide which one to go to. As a result, Penny and I decided to create the conference that those in the biosensor field would want to attend, and we’ve been working together ever since.”

The first ever World Congress for Biosensors was held in Singapore in 1990. In the 16 years since then, it has become one of the most successful Elsevier conferences. “When we started out, I came up with a series of concepts for what I considered to be the ideal conference -one I would want to attend myself - and they still form the backbone of the conferences today,” Turner explains. “These include excellent and relevant science, international appeal, which is why the first conference was held in Singapore, an attractive, accessible location and good facilities that will attract both academics and government organizations.”

Turner has chaired the conferences since the beginning and, although he highly enjoys the ‘job’ in its own right, he says that this continuity could also be a factor in the conferences’ success. “I’ve seen several conferences fail because members of the organizing committees have moved on, taking their ideas with them,” he says.

Thinking ahead

So what is involved in putting a conference together and how can one ensure its success? “As this is a commercial conference, one of the fundamental aims is, of course, to break even financially. The other aim is to create a conference that continues to draw delegates. We are lucky to have built up a large and loyal following, but in order to grow, we also need to attract new delegates,” explains Turner. “I’ve always said that the year the numbers go down, I’ll resign. Thankfully that hasn’t happened yet!”

It’s also important to have good speakers. “It’s impossible to book a Nobel Prize winner less than 18 months in advance,” Turner continues, “so we always work at least two years ahead. Our most recent conference, attended by 600 delegates, was held in Toronto in May, and we already announced then the details of our 2008 conference in Beijing. In addition, the Australian government has recognized the prestige of our event and is lobbying us to bring the 2014 conference to Melbourne or Sydney.”

Years of cooperation with the team at Elsevier have also helped to turn the organization of the conferences into a well-oiled machine. “Elsevier and I have built up an excellent working relationship,” Turner says. “Elsevier handles the administrative side of the conferences, while I and my program committee put the ‘heart’ into them in terms of content.” The selection procedure for content is rigorous. Around 800 abstracts are submitted for possible inclusion in each conference, and every one is reviewed by three people: Turner and two members of the program committee. “Of these 800, only around 100 will be selected for oral presentations, and we maintain a 20% rejection rate, even for posters,” he says.

Leveraging off each other

There is a strong link between the Biosensors and Biotechnology journal and the World Congress on Biosensors: the journal offers a targeted promotional platform for the conferences, and the conferences provide material for two to three special issues of the journal. “While I think it is possible to have a successful journal without a conference, I do believe the conferences have helped us get where we are today,” says Turner, “and the two undoubtedly benefit from each other.” Having said that, one must not overlook the social opportunities the conferences provide. They bring together biosensor professionals from around the world in a forum where they can share ideas, network and meet old acquaintances face-to-face.

As an experienced conference hand, Turner’s advice for anyone considering setting up their own conference is: “Don’t underestimate the amount of effort involved, and try to partner with someone with experience, such as Elsevier. If you’re willing to put in the hard work, however, it can be a very rewarding experience.”

Please send responses to this article to EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

P_Moon

The growth of commercial conferences

Elsevier commercial conferences were originally set up as an extra resource for Elsevier journals. The first ever conference the small team organized was the CompSec (Computer Security) conference, a three-day event attended by 70 delegates. Now, the team organizes between 25 and 30 conferences a year for Science and Technology (S&T) and Health Sciences, and is building on this number year on year.

Read more >


Elsevier commercial conferences were originally set up as an extra resource for Elsevier journals. The first ever conference the small team organized was the CompSec (Computer Security) conference, a three-day event attended by 70 delegates. Now, the team organizes between 25 and 30 conferences a year for Science and Technology (S&T) and Health Sciences, and is building on this number year on year.

“There are great benefits of a conference for both editors and their journals,” says Penny Moon, who first joined the Elsevier conference team in 1987, and was recently promoted to the position of Director, Global Conferences. “First and foremost they are a way for editors to get exposure for their journals; but also to gather a significant number of papers for a special issue. This special issue can then contribute to the journal’s bottom line.”

Some journals and Societies already have successful and long-running conferences, while others need a helping hand to get them kick-started. This was the case for the Biosensors and Bioelectronics journal.  Moon and her team helped to initiate and grow the journal’s World Congress on Biosensors into one of the leading conferences in its field. Other successful conferences that Moon has played a key role in are the Pangborn Sensory Symposium, a food science conference (the last one attracted 750 delegates), and the very topical Grove Fuel Cell Symposium in London (800 delegates).

The complete package

Moon explains her approach: “I don’t normally contact editors to ask if they would like to organize a conference for their journal - it is more effective and less obtrusive to speak directly to the journal publisher. I think there are still a lot of people out there who have regular contact with Elsevier and don’t know that we not only publish journals, but we also have the facilities to organize conferences to promote those journals as well; we can offer a full package that a lot of our competitors can’t.”

A new S&T sales division was recently set up to develop even further the commercial side of Elsevier’s conferences. The objective has always been to at least break even financially, but the sales division is now looking at introducing sponsorship opportunities and exhibitions that run alongside the conferences. These will add to the breadth of information available at the conferences, but also potentially increase their profitability.

We manage all the logistics of a conference, which frees up the scientific committee to read and select abstracts.

“We manage all the logistics of a conference, which frees up the scientific committee to read and select abstracts – an often massive task - and outline the conference program,” says Moon. “I can’t overemphasize the importance of the committee for the success of a conference; but there is a lot to do to bring an event together, so one of our jobs is chasing the committee to make sure that things are done on time!” Most of the conferences Moon is currently involved with relate to journals based in Oxford, London and Amsterdam, but as she is keen to point out, “A lot of our work is done electronically so it doesn’t actually matter where the journal is based.” Moon also wants to emphasize the global reach of her department. “A conference can be organized anywhere, and in fact we have run events from Hawaii to Australia and many countries in between. We relish the challenge of organizing conferences all over the world.”

If you would like to find out more about organizing a conference and how Elsevier can help, please contact Penny Moon at p.moon@elsevier.com. A printed leaflet is also available from her on request, or you candownload the pdf file on this website.

Please send responses to this article to EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

J_Clark

The agile way to develop e-products

Agile is an Elsevier-developed process that is being applied to the development of e-products with great success. At the heart of the process is User Centered Design (UCD), which, as the name suggests, places users at the center of the development process.

“The Agile process starts with an idea for a new e-product, but instead of focusing on the product itself and its functionality, our first step is to understand as fully as possible its intended users,” explains Jonathan Clark, EVP, Technology, Health Sciences. “Agile can be applied to the development of any e-product, but within Health Sciences, we start by asking potential users (e.g. pathologists or radiologists) questions like What do you do?, Where do you work?, How do you work? and What do you need?”

Read more >


Agile is an Elsevier-developed process that is being applied to the development of e-products with great success. At the heart of the process is User Centered Design (UCD), which, as the name suggests, places users at the center of the development process.

“The Agile process starts with an idea for a new e-product, but instead of focusing on the product itself and its functionality, our first step is to understand as fully as possible its intended users,” explains Jonathan Clark, EVP, Technology, Health Sciences. “Agile can be applied to the development of any e-product, but within Health Sciences, we start by asking potential users (e.g. pathologists or radiologists) questions like What do you do?, Where do you work?, How do you work? and What do you need?”

Methodology

The Agile process has four stages: understanding users; describing users and what the product should do for them; prioritization of features; and iterations, during each of which working software is delivered.

The first step usually involves a UCD expert observing and listening to prospective users. “UCD experts often have a background in psychology and are very skilled at understanding and analyzing user needs,” Clark continues. “Once we have gathered this information, we invent three to four profiles of fictitious users, representing various actual users, such as students, residents and consultants, for example. We try to make the profiles as detailed as possible and the actual users often wonder how on earth we know so much about them.”

“Once we have a basic idea about the product required, we gather together a development team, including a project manager, product manager, UCD expert, software developers, iteration manager, quality assurance (QA) specialist and an analyst. Together with user representatives, we hold a kick-off brainstorming session, during which we present and refine the user profiles. This leads to the story stage of the development process, in which we formulate clear, concise descriptions of who the product is for, along with a description of the product, what it will do for that person and how it will benefit him or her. These are known as high-level stories.”

The third stage of the process is prioritization, which is used to decide which features to include in the product. Priority is given to those features that provide the greatest user value or which decrease the technical risks.

“The final stage is iteration, which are the periods of time in which we deliver working software. We use a period of one week for each iteration and the maximum iteration period that we would still term Agile is three weeks. Each high-level story includes several product requirements, which can be broken down into low-level stories. We analyze what’s required for each low-level story and, at the end of each iteration, deliver a piece of software that meets those requirements. We gradually work through all of the low-level stories until all of the high-level story requirements are met. This is a very satisfying process, since we start with numerous low-level stories literally stuck to the wall and gradually pull them down as we iterate through them.”

“We test the software as we work through each iteration and the beauty of the Agile process is that it starts and ends with the user: we start by understanding users and end with users’ acceptance of the product. And since users are involved at all stages, there’s no over-engineering of the product to include features they don’t need.”

Applications

So far, the Agile process has been or is being used to develop several Elsevier products, including PathConsult for pathologists, RadiologyConsult (a decision support reference product for radiologists) and MD Consult (an image search facility). The average Agile project lasts around six months and involves between one and two million dollars in investment, including hardware, software and personnel costs. “Within the publishing industry, we’re very much early adopters of the process, which to date has been mainly used in the financial services sector,” Clark continues. “Most of the new Health Science e-products we’re developing make use of the Agile process.”

The beauty of the Agile process is that it starts and ends with the user.

Making the difference

The key to the Agile process, which sets it apart from traditional development methods, is short iterations. “Agile has its roots in process engineering, where it was used to help with decision making and problem solving,” Clark explains. “It stems from the realization that big decisions, no matter how long you have to make them, are much harder to make than a series of smaller decisions. By using the Agile process and focusing on smaller decisions on a weekly basis, the big decisions effectively take care of themselves.”

“UCD also makes a big difference, because if you start out believing that you understand users, without actually observing and listening to them, you end up going down rat holes, which leads to bad development. Good product development begins and ends with the user. If the user doesn’t get it, you go back and do it again. Agile allows this continual user feedback without sacrificing development speed.”Another characteristic unique to the Agile process is that the whole team sits and works together in the same room for the duration of the project. This makes communication lines as short as possible, leading to improved collaboration. “Everyone becomes inspired, enthused and excited about the collaboration involved and the results it produces,” Clark resumes. “A radiologist who recently attended a kick-off session for RadiologyConsult, for example, wrote to us to say: ‘I was really impressed with your organization; I must admit that I've never witnessed such a large group of professionals brainstorming together in this sort of free-association, creative way’.”

Competition

Health Sciences is a very competitive field and there are lots of companies competing to bring new e-products on to the market. “You have to be ahead of the game and this is what drives the Agile process,” Clark concludes. “If we can be quicker and better at understanding and delivering products, we can gain an edge over the competition. Lots of people have good ideas for products, but executing and realizing those ideas is the difficult part. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Agile makes it easy, but it does make e-product development easier and more focused. And you end up with products that are ideally suited for their purpose.”

PathConsult – Agile in action

A prime example of the Agile process was the development of the PathConsult online diagnosis tool for pathologists. PathConsult draws on a database of more than 500 images and diagnoses, which can be viewed alongside each other, enabling differential diagnoses.

The starting point and main source of images for PathConsult was the book Rosai and Ackerman's Surgical Pathology. An Indian pathologist, Dr. Varma, suggested putting the diagnostic images online to make them easier to refer to. “We turned this idea on its head and asked ‘what does a pathologist need?’,” Clark explains. In answering this question and following the Agile process, the team ended up reinventing the book as a compelling Web product that meets user requirements in ways that the book couldn’t.

“For example, PathConsult allows pathologists to view tissue images from different parts of the book alongside each other on-screen. This enables them to make comparative (differential) diagnoses much more easily. Through UCD, we learnt which images are most used by pathologists, because they relate to conditions that are difficult to diagnose. We placed these images on PathConsult, along with images from various other sources.”

Please send responses to this article to EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

rosietaylor

Reporting back…science editing across borders

Rosie Taylor has been an assistant editor at The Lancet for around a year. She is a registered dietician and completed a Master’s in Science Communication prior to joining the journal. She attended the three-day European Association of Science Editors (EASE) conference held between 15-18 June in Krakow, Poland and reports back on the event’s proceedings for Editors’ Update.

Read more >


Rosie Taylor has been an assistant editor at The Lancet for around a year. She is a registered dietician and completed a Master’s in Science Communication prior to joining the journal. She attended the three-day European Association of Science Editors (EASE) conference held between 15-18 June in Krakow, Poland and reports back on the event’s proceedings for Editors’ Update.

Cultural differences

The theme of the conference was the culture of science editing, and six plenary sessions explored cultural differences between Eastern Europe and the West and how these impact the access to scientific data, the writing, editing and translating processes, and electronic publishing.

“The issue of editing was, of course, one I could very much relate to,” says Taylor. “Most of the content that we receive and publish at the Lancet has been written by non-native English speakers. My job, therefore, is not just about editing the content of an article but also ensuring that the English is clear. We have to ensure that we convey the author’s intended meaning and avoid changing the words so much that the original expression is lost.”

Professor Ana Marusic from the Croatian Medical Journal discussed the role of editor as educator. “She told us that authors from Eastern European countries who submit papers to journals are not necessarily experienced writers, or have not been taught the basics of scientific reporting and manuscript preparation,” explains Taylor. “She discussed how important it is that editors working with authors from these countries know the four layers of a manuscript themselves, namely the study quality, the narrative, the scientific reporting style and the language, in order to pass this knowledge on to the authors and help them to write papers that are of a consistent and internationally-recognized quality.”

To share and to protect

While Eastern Europe has opened up a great deal in the last few years, and the international exchange of science literature has become much freer, it does not necessarily follow that the significant amount of research results and archive materials in the region are now readily available to everyone.

For smaller journals, open access can increase exposure, which might help to improve the impact factor and thus attract better papers.

Two speakers addressed this topic of openness, one in the context of open access to scientific literature - the flip side of which is the control and protection of intellectual property - and the other to open peer review. “While there is still much discussion about the pros and cons of open access, my impression was that the majority of conference attendees were in favor of it,” says Taylor. “For smaller journals particularly, open access can increase exposure, which might help to improve the impact factor and thus attract better papers. Delayed open access was also discussed as a compromise. This is when an article is published as normal, but after a period of six to twelve months is made ‘open.’

“Open peer review is another interesting option, although I don’t know if I would say it is better than the traditional anonymous review process. It raised questions in my mind such as: How open is open peer review? Is there any control over who the reviewer is? If so, does this make the comments more or less valid? Nature, a weekly science journal, is trialing open peer review at the moment, alongside anonymous peer review, and I would be interested to find out how the two compare and what conclusions are drawn.”

Access to information

E-publishing and the Internet were discussed in the context of increased access to scientific information, both for scientists themselves and for interested members of the public, and the speed at which information can be located and disseminated. Taylor regards the Internet as an essential part of her everyday life. “Having access to online versions of journals, reports and even our own archives makes it so much easier for me to cross check things such as references,” she says. “We do have some hard copies of journals in the office but, generally speaking, it is not time-efficient for me to go to a library or trawl through physical archives for one reference. In addition, the Internet enables us to publish issues of high importance early, giving readers immediate access to the information via our website, and eliminating the need to wait for a subsequent issue of the paper journal to be published.”

Systematic reviews

The final plenary session of the conference addressed communicating science to society. Mike Clarke, Director of the Cochrane Centre in the United Kingdom, looked at both the benefits and drawbacks for those in the health arena of the wealth of articles and research that is available to them every year. With so much to read, how does one keep abreast of the latest developments? Which pieces of research are relevant when planning a study or using a new treatment? And what about research that is published in a language other than English, or has not been published at all?

“The Cochrane Collaboration, an international non-profit organization, aims to answer some of these questions by producing quarterly systematic reviews that identify, assess and summarize relevant research,” says Taylor. “The reviews are a digest, if you will, of the evidence-based research that has emerged in the previous few months. They are a resource for those in the health care industry, and more specifically for those working in emergency situations, who need rapid access to concise information – think of those in the field after the 2003 tsunami.”

Food for thought

“I estimate that there were about 60 or 70 people at the conference,” says Taylor, “so the group was small enough to allow discussions to develop after the speakers had presented their papers. The topics were covered well, and all offered food for thought, even if they were not directly relevant to my particular job.”

Please send responses to this article to EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com

Your Views on Search Engines

In the July issue of Editors’ Update, our Forum question covered the use of search engines for conducting research. The same issue also included an article that looked at the perception established academics have of young academics being risk-takers and acting in new ways, particularly in relation to the Internet. The article highlighted the fact that this perception was not correct, as the pressure to publish and be recognized as serious scholars actually makes young academics even more conformist and risk-averse than their established colleagues.

Read more >


In the July issue of Editors’ Update, our Forum question covered the use of search engines for conducting research. The same issue also included an article that looked at the perception established academics have of young academics being risk-takers and acting in new ways, particularly in relation to the Internet. The article highlighted the fact that this perception was not correct, as the pressure to publish and be recognized as serious scholars actually makes young academics even more conformist and risk-averse than their established colleagues.

The many responses we received to the July Forum question indicate your strength of feeling towards research. Although we don’t ask respondents to give us their ages, based on the conclusions drawn in the Young Academics article, the results that emerged from the Forum question were unexpected.

We asked you to select one of the following options:

When it comes to conducting research, I believe that:

A) Search engines are the best tools available because they deliver rapid results.

B) Search engines are useful, but I’m worried they result in complacency and inhibit in-depth research, particularly among young academics.

C) Search engines are not an alternative to library resources, which are much more comprehensive.

Only four of you selected option C, while 14 of you took a broader view and pointed out that a combination of A and C offers the most comprehensive results.

Sixteen of you selected option B. This indicates that many of you do use search engines, but that there are genuine concerns that not all of them deliver accurate or quality results. As one respondent put it, “separating the wheat from the chaff…becomes a real challenge.” Another respondent, who also selected B, said that search engines do not tend to go back very far. This deprives students of the “joy of reading some of the older literature,” making a trip to the library stacks still very worthwhile.

The highest number of you, 17, chose option A. One respondent was categorically against C, saying it was the least useful because “even at premier institutions, the library houses only a fraction of the content needed, and time delays are significant.” He did agree, however, that search engines can restrict in-depth research because of their short historical reach.

Overall, it was agreed that search engines will increasingly be the first choice when looking for information and that their speed and accessibility are definite benefits; but many also recommended that students and young academics be taught, as a matter of course, to critically evaluate the information search engines deliver and at the same time “enjoy reading a real book.”

Scirus: success within five years

Launched in April 2001, Scirus – Elsevier’s free scientific Web search engine – was developed as a direct result of the realization that scientific researchers were increasingly relying on information found on the web as part of the research process. “Obviously, only a small proportion of the total information on the web is relevant to […]

Read more >


Launched in April 2001, Scirus - Elsevier’s free scientific Web search engine - was developed as a direct result of the realization that scientific researchers were increasingly relying on information found on the web as part of the research process. “Obviously, only a small proportion of the total information on the web is relevant to scientific researchers and Scirus was designed to filter out all of the non-relevant material, thereby facilitating access to pertinent scientific information by our user group,” explains Sharon Mombru, Head of Scirus.

“At Elsevier, we understand science and we also understand our users, of which there are around a million spread throughout the world. They are mainly academics and researchers, although Scirus is freely available to anyone and is also used by corporations and the general public. We get feedback on the product every day, the vast majority of which is positive, I’m happy to say. It ranges from suggesting other URLs to include, which we always check first, to suggestions for additional features, such as the ability to export results to reference management tools, to simple messages of thanks for making information more easily accessible.”

Serving the scientific community

“The vast majority of our users rely on web research to produce their own papers and theses,” Mombru continues. “No-one knows how big the web really is or how much information it contains, but we do know that it is a vast repository of information that is growing every day. This makes it increasingly difficult for scientific researchers to find relevant information, since most search engines don’t comprehensively index scientific content.”

Scirus searches for scientific information in the broadest sense, including technical, medical, and social science sources. It uses a dictionary with over 1.6 million scientific terms, unique pattern recognition tools, and linguistic analysis to classify the content type and recognize the scientific relevance of each document. This enables Scirus to pinpoint scientific information quickly and accurately. It also delivers information in an ordered, structured way, ranking the most relevant results highest, and allows users to run fielded searches (e.g. authors only), making searches even more efficient.

Scirus indexes over 250 million web pages and has been growing consistently since its launch. “Scirus only searches through scientifically relevant sources, which are split into three categories,” Mombru explains. “The first and largest category - more than 80% - is general scientific, which includes university, government, scientists’ and scientific corporations’ websites. The second category is journal sources, including both free and subscription sites, such as BioMed Central, the Institute of Physics and ScienceDirect. The final category is preferred web: collections of information that are scientifically relevant, such as patent office content, theses and dissertations, NASA technical reports and institutional repositories, such as Caltech’s CODA.”

Spreading the word

“Scirus has received quite a lot of press coverage in the general media, as well as in academic publications,” says Mombru. “We also promote the product at scientific conferences, through other Elsevier platforms, such as ScienceDirect, and through traditional marketing campaigns. Elsevier’s general marketing channels also play a role, but a lot of Scirus’ publicity is generated through word of mouth.”

As a result, Scirus is well positioned as the scientific search engine and most users seem to see it that way. It is certainly the most comprehensive scientific search engine on the web, even though other search engines have recently begun to focus their attention on scientific areas. Some scientists use several different search engines in their research, for example, but most agree that Scirus outperforms the competition.

“Scirus is a unique and very specialized product. In the scientific field, no other search engine covers the breadth of content that we do,” Mombru continues. “Some focus on the web alone, while others focus on journals, but we include both. The technology behind Scirus is also very specialized and science oriented. The way Scirus classifies and categorizes material - by authors, names, dates, key words, and so on - enables fielded searches to be conducted, thereby offering science-specific functionality. The ability to export the results also sets it apart from the competition. Consequently, Scirus won Search Engine Watch awards during its first two years of operation and has since gone on to win Web Awards for Best Directory or Search Engine in 2004 and 2005.”

Exploring new avenues

Within the past year, Scirus has developed a partnership program with universities. Through these free partnerships, Scirus comprehensively indexes institutional repository content in order to increase its visibility on the Web. In return, Elsevier offers the use of Scirus to index and power the search capability of the universities’ institutional repository sites.

“Elsevier takes Scirus very seriously and has invested significantly in it,” Mombru resumes. “Scirus was not developed with the objective of making direct returns on the investment, but instead to add value to and support other Elsevier platforms, such as Scopus, and we feel that this justifies the investment from an Elsevier perspective. We don’t have a very active advertising program, for example, but we are currently piloting different forms of advertising. We’re not aiming to be advertising driven, however, and we’re very selective about the ads that are placed on Scirus. They have to be relevant and useful to our users. Scirus is primarily about giving something back to the scientific community, by enabling academics and researchers to do their work more easily and efficiently.”

Scirus will continue to be developed and improved over the coming years, both in terms of its content and functionality. “As far as functionality is concerned, we produce two new software releases each year, during the summer and winter,” says Mombru. “We have some very exciting plans in the pipeline, stretching as far ahead as summer 2007. Even though we know what’s coming up, new features take time to develop and test, and we prefer to announce the specific details at the time of their launch.”

“In terms of content, the institutional and university repositories that we added last year were a new type of information for academics and researchers to access and we are continually looking for other types of information to include. We are looking at increasing the number of patent offices whose content we are indexing, adding new book content, and continually expanding the range and quantity of information that Scirus can offer to its users.”

Scirus and the Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is one of the world’s most respected sources of accurate and comprehensive word definitions, with around 500,000 included in its database. The OED’s nine science editors aim to cover the entire history of the use of scientific words, including their earliest usage and how that usage has changed over the years.

Scirus has become an invaluable tool in helping the OED’s science editors carry out their daily work. Not only is Scirus viewed as a reliable fact checker, but it also enables the OED’s science editors to pinpoint accurate scientific data throughout the Web.

Scirus’ intuitive interface and advanced search features enable the OED’s researchers to track and understand the earliest and most complete usage of scientific words. They use Scirus to establish a word’s meaning, to see how it is used in context, and as a source of scientifically relevant quotations.

A full case study of Scirus’ partnership with OED can be viewed at: http://info.scirus.com/news/inthenews/archive_pr/2006/1_june_06.htm

Or for more general information on Scirus, go to: http://www.scirus.com/srsapp/newsroom/

Please send responses to this article to EditorsUpdate@elsevier.com