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Model: Jagdesh Kaur Georgiou

Registrations open for journal editor webinar series

Registrations are now open for the remaining webinars in our 2014 series for journal editors.

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Jagdesh Kaur Georgiou | Researcher Relations Manager, Elsevier

This autumn sees the next two live webinars in our 2014 series for journal editors and registrations are now open.

By participating in these webinars, you will hear presentations from our top Elsevier experts and join in-depth discussions on publishing and journal-related subjects. You will also be able to send your questions to the presenters via the registration form or online during the live event.

You can register now for:


Trends in Journal Publishing

Date: 18th September 2014
Amsterdam: 16.00 / London: 15.00 / New York: 10.00 / Beijing: 22.00
Presenters: Anne Kitson (EVP Health and Medical Sciences) & Laura Hassink (SVP Physical Sciences)

The publishing landscape is continuously evolving and we would like to present the latest trends and discuss what they mean for you.


How to make your journal stand out from the crowd

Date: 21st October 2014
Time: Amsterdam: 16.00 / London: 15.00 / New York: 10.00 / Beijing: 22.00
Presenter: Ellen Nichols (Head of Marketing Communications)

This webinar will introduce you to the latest Elsevier tools and innovations which can help to attract authors and readers to your journal.


You can register for one or both webinars and once we have received your registration we will send you a link and a calendar reminder. On the day of the event, you can click on the link to join.

* The archived version of the June webinar in this series, The Peer Review Landscape, is now available to view.



Finding reviewers in EES just got easier…

Improvements to the Find Reviewers tool in EES have simplified the process of searching for potential referees. Find out more…

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Egbert van Wezenbeek | Director Publication Process Development, Elsevier

The Find Reviewers application in the Elsevier Editorial System (EES) was built to help you locate appropriate reviewers.

Since its launch in 2010, editor feedback has been positive but we know that you have been keen to see better integration of the tool with EES.

We are pleased to inform you that following a recent update to EES this is now the case, resulting in a new workflow, details of which are outlined below.


In addition to the improved workflow outlined above, visibility of the Find Reviewers tool on the 'Search for Reviewers' page has been improved by adding a logo and hyperlinking the entire phrase that follows.


More detailed information on how to use the Find Reviewers tool can be found on our support pages and your publisher can also help with any queries you might have.


How you can use social media professionally

Spend even a few moments reviewing research online these days and you’ll struggle to escape the omnipresence of social media. Whether it’s the chirpy blue Twitter bird inviting you to share the article – or even the content of the research itself – social media is a constant presence. Setting up your first account may […]

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Spend even a few moments reviewing research online these days and you’ll struggle to escape the omnipresence of social media. Whether it’s the chirpy blue Twitter bird inviting you to share the article – or even the content of the research itself – social media is a constant presence.

Setting up your first account may seem a daunting task. Even if you have established profiles, understanding how to use them to best effect can be a challenge. Yet, as we explain below, being active on social media brings a number of advantages.



Elsevier’s Marketing Communications & Researcher Engagement department has developed a series of useful guides which can help. Designed for editors, they contain information on all the major social media channels and how they can support you in connecting with your research communities. In this article, you can learn more about the guides and the 160+ subject social media channels already operated by Elsevier.

We also hear from an editor who has proven success in this field. Dr. J. Martin Leland III, MD, is Associate Editor of Technology for Arthroscopy: The Journal of Arthroscopy and Related Surgery and Arthroscopy Techniques and is Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at The University of Chicago Medicine. Not only is he responsible for his journal’s growing success in the social media world ( and, he also frequently lectures on social media for orthopaedic surgeons. Below you can view our video interview with Dr. Leland and read his answers to our social media Q&A.

As an editor, social media can help you to:

  • Reach a wider audience
  • Boost visibility of articles
  • Engage with early career researchers to build a connection with your journal
  • Encourage conversations about your journal and its contents
  • Gauge interest in topics and evaluate new areas of research
  • Instantly share journal news: awards, Impact Factors, special issues

Source: Elsevier’s social media guides for editors

Using social media as an editor – Dr. Leland’s story

In September 2012, Dr. Leland established profile pages for Arthroscopy on Twitter and Facebook. Since then, he has seen the number of followers on Twitter grow to 2,000+ and Facebook Likes now stand at 700+. In the short video below, Dr. Leland talks to Executive Publisher, Jason Miller, about the challenges he has faced and the lessons he has learnt. Dr. Leland also answers our social media Q&A.


Q. You are Associate Editor of Technology on Arthroscopy. What led your journal to create this role?
A. The leaders of our journal knew that with our increasingly digital society, a strong online presence (via an updated and mobile-optimized website as well as a social media platform) was imperative to a successful journal. In addition, in anticipation of a day when journals are no longer printed on paper, they saw having a social media campaign as one way of getting our readership to become more accustomed to accessing our journal online, instead of in print. The editorial board has been incredibly receptive and enjoys having a person dedicated to "all things digital".

Q. Is this the entire focus of your role or are you still involved in decision-making on papers?
A. At first, I was still involved in decision-making and reviewing papers. However, we also have a very active and growing online, video version of Arthroscopy, called Arthroscopy Techniques. As that has grown, we receive more and more videos submitted for peer review and online publication (which are submitted to PubMed Central and listed on PubMed, just like any other peer-reviewed publications). In place of reviewing papers, I now dedicate my non-social media efforts to reviewing and editing videos submitted to Arthroscopy Techniques.

Q. How did you identify which were the most appropriate social media channels for your journal?
A. I tried to identify where our readership would be if they were already active on social media. For Sports Medicine medical professionals (our readership), those who are interested in social media are usually on Twitter and Facebook. Very few are on Google+ or other social media sites. That's why we've focused our efforts on Twitter and Facebook so far - go where your readership is. But, we are always open to moving into new social media channels as the field develops.

Q. Have you been able to measure the results of your activities? What benefits has the journal seen?
A. Using Google Analytics, it is easy to identify how people are directed to your website.  Did they get there via a bookmark on their computer (direct access), by doing a google search for your journal or by coming through a different website?  Since we launched our social media campaign, we have seen an increasing number of readers get to our websites by clicking on links found on Twitter and Facebook.  It has increased monthly and quickly exceeded the number of clicks we receive from the websites of our associated organizations. The more traffic on our website, the more our advertisers are willing to invest in online advertising, in addition to advertising in print.

Q. Do you also use social media outside your journal, e.g. on a professional or personal basis?
A. Yes, I have my own personal, professional-based Facebook and Twitter accounts. They are: and However, as busy as I am with the Arthroscopy accounts, I admit that I don't spend as much time on my own personal accounts.

Q. What advice would you give to editors and authors who want to promote research socially? Are there any tactics you’ve discovered that are likely to increase retweets etc.?
A. As Nike says, "Just Do It!". Get online, create Twitter/Facebook accounts (takes less than 5 minutes to establish accounts) and start posting.  The more you post, the more active your accounts and the more followers you will get. Also, the more you post, the more you will learn (about what works and what doesn't, how to do certain things, etc.). The more you learn, the more successful your accounts will become.

Elsevier’s social media guides for editors

Click to view the interactive infographic

Click to view the interactive infographic

New Elsevier guides launched this week aim to simplify the complex world of social media for editors.

Designed to support both new and more experienced social media users they contain:

  • Information on all the major channels
  • Practical tips on setting up profiles and building connections
  • Advice from fellow editors
  • Clear examples of the impact social media can have

Senior Marketing Communications Manager, Helena Stewart, led the team that created the guides.

Helena Stewart

Helena Stewart

She explained: “Our aim was to create pages that are easy to navigate, simple to use and packed with practical advice. As we know that some fields are more active on particular platforms, we have concentrated on each of the channels in turn. We have also created a handy list of seven things you can do right now to make an impact in your field, for those who just want some quick and simple takeaways."

Stewart leads a group within Elsevier’s Marketing Communications & Researcher Engagement department that is responsible for our 160+ subject channels. She said: “These have been established in recent years and focus on everything from Chemical Engineering to Dermatology. Dr. Leland has been very successful with the social media channels established for Arthroscopy, but we know that many journals struggle to maintain their own profiles. These subject channels offer a great opportunity for journals to participate in social media without the burden of providing constant updates.”

Visit our editor social media guides...

Facebook logo

Facebook logo  Facebook


LinkedIn  LinkedIn

Twitter logo  Twitter

MendeleyLogo_150x150  Mendeley

Google+_logo  Google+

Elsevier social media channels - did you know?

  • We currently have 160+ subject channels; a full list is available on
  • Together, these channels have 796,069 followers (an increase of 376 percent on 2012 figures)
  • Social media was responsible for 679,490 visits to journal homepages, ScienceDirect articles and last year, an increase of 2,800 percent on 2012 figures

Contributor biography


Dr. Leland

J. Martin Leland III, MD, is the Associate Editor of Technology for Arthroscopy: The Journal of Arthroscopy and Related Surgery – the official journal of the Arthroscopy Association of North America, the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery, and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine and the International Society for Hip Arthroscopy. He frequently lectures on social media for orthopaedic surgeons and a variety of sports medicine topics around the United States.

As Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at The University of Chicago Medicine, Dr. Leland is a skilled orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine physician and provides expert care for adults and children with surgical and non-surgical sports injuries. Dr. Leland has served as a team physician for the Chicago Blackhawks and currently takes care of Concordia College and numerous local high schools. He is also an active researcher and is currently working on projects that study how to improve ACL surgery and cartilage regrowth procedures in the knee. He can be found on Twitter: @DrMartinLeland and Facebook: DrMartinLeland.


Mobile-friendly Editors’ Choice website allows you to share ‘Top 5’ articles

No one is more familiar with a journal’s content than the editor – you have often curated each manuscript from arrival to acceptance. On the new Editors’ Choice website, you can now highlight the five most interesting, novel or important papers that have featured in your journal over the past 12 months, alongside an explanation […]

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No one is more familiar with a journal's content than the editor – you have often curated each manuscript from arrival to acceptance.

On the new Editors' Choice website, you can now highlight the five most interesting, novel or important papers that have featured in your journal over the past 12 months, alongside an explanation about why you have recommended them.

The website marks a new direction for Editors' Choice, which began as an app for conference attendees in 2012. Editors whose journals were being exhibited at an upcoming event were invited to choose five articles they wanted to share with the researchers attending. They were also asked to provide a short explanation about why they had chosen those particular papers. Each selection was accompanied by a photo and bio of the editor in question. Conference attendees could download the app to access the information.

The Editors’ Choice website

What's changing?

Because of the app's popularity, the program is now evolving. The information will no longer be delivered via an app but via a mobile website. Also, it won't only be journals exhibited at upcoming events that will be featured; editors of all Elsevier journals will be given the opportunity to showcase five of their journal's articles per year. Not only will the articles be highlighted on the mobile website, they will also appear on the journal homepage on, subject webpages on, and relevant Elsevier social media channels. They will also be promoted at exhibitions relevant for that journal.

The articles will be freely accessible to all readers.

ElsevierConnectLogo_smallThis article first appeared in Elsevier Connect, an online magazine and resource center for the science and health communities with a broad and active social media community. It features daily articles written by experts in the field as well as Elsevier colleagues.

 How Editors' Choice started

Liz Holmes

Liz Holmes

Liz Holmes, Global Project Manager in Elsevier's Marketing Communications and Researcher Engagement department, is behind the project.

Several years ago, as a marketing communications manager, she was responsible for shipping boxes of sample copies of her journals to events. However, her editors wanted the opportunity to highlight particular articles, so she created ring binders containing the relevant article PDFs with the words 'Editors' Choice' printed clearly on the front cover.

"I noticed people were choosing to take the ring binder away with them, even though it was a lot heavier than the sample copies," Holmes said. "Knowing that the articles had been personally chosen by the editor was clearly important to them."

With the publishing industry increasingly favoring digital delivery of information over the traditional print format, she realized there may be an opportunity for 'Editors' Choice' to follow suit.

Holmes said the new set-up will be user friendly while helping editors share important articles.

“The mobile website and the dedicated pods on each journal homepage will make the articles clearly visible to visitors. The website has been crafted to provide an optimal viewing experience – easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling – across a wide range of devices, from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors.

“Equally importantly, authors will be notified that their article has been chosen and they will be encouraged to spread the news through their social media channels.”

What's next?

One of the next steps will be to show the impact that social media promotion by Elsevier – and the article author – has had on the Editors' Choice article.

At the point editors submit their chosen articles, they are asked for their feedback on the process. Of those who have responded so far, nearly 70 percent have said they feel “very positive” about the initiative.

If you have any suggestions for improvements, please email You are also welcome to post a comment below.

Liz Holmes was interviewed by Linda Willems, Editor-in-Chief, Editors' Update


How to promote research in your journals (and why you should)

In this article, Lucy Goodchild discusses a new project within Elsevier’s journal marketing department to identify and share good science, while Sacha Boucherie explains how the Newsroom can help. Goodchild also guides us through the reasons why sharing science will benefit your journal. There are 12,360,691 articles in 2,500 journals on Elsevier’s ScienceDirect as I […]

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In this article, Lucy Goodchild discusses a new project within Elsevier’s journal marketing department to identify and share good science, while Sacha Boucherie explains how the Newsroom can help. Goodchild also guides us through the reasons why sharing science will benefit your journal.


There are 12,360,691 articles in 2,500 journals on Elsevier’s ScienceDirect as I write. How many stories are among them? How many exciting discoveries, fascinating facts and important findings?

Elsevier’s Marketing Communications & Researcher Engagement department is currently piloting a content marketing toolkit of resources for editors and marketing communications managers; the toolkit helps editors to identify potential stories and marketing communications managers to write them. Together we can tell research stories across a variety of communications platforms, from Elsevier Connect to Twitter (and who knows – maybe we’ll be making science comics in the future…).

Get creative: try out the toolkit

It can be very difficult to take a step back from a topic when you’re as deeply involved in it as most researchers are. And that’s exactly where the toolkit comes in – it helps us to step back from the science and see the story.

The story telling process is simple, and the key step – which is the one you can take as an editor – comes first.

Step 1: identify the story
Sounds simple, but this is where the real added value is. As an editor, you see the articles as they come in and, crucially, you know whether the science is new, surprising, or important. By flagging up potential stories, you can help promote the journal.

Step 2: identify the audience
This is where we come in. The marketing communications manager looks at the proposed stories (much like a newspaper editor considers the day’s content) and decides what can go where. One story might be best for an interview with the author on the journal homepage, one could be a catchy message on social media, and another might be a great press release. We use the channel tree to help with this.


Click on image to enlarge

Step 3: create the content
The author is important here and the marketing communications manager contacts them with a set of plain English questions about their research. We then use the relevant template to create the story in the right format for the chosen channel.

Step 4: publish, promote, measure
After approvals, we publish the content and promote it across the relevant Elsevier social media channels – we currently have 160+ which together led to a 2,800% increase in visits to our journal homepages, ScienceDirect and in 2013. We also measure a number of things, to determine how successful the outreach was. We look at the number of views a story has received, likes and shares on social media, comments and engagement, and we also gather qualitative feedback from authors.

Elsevier Editors KLEIN LR

Click on image to enlarge

Eagle Eye: spotting great stories

You can use this checklist to determine whether the article you want to suggest for promotion is newsworthy.

  • Timing - is it new? (i.e. online for 4 weeks or less)
  • Impact - does the research impact many people?
  • Result - is there a clear finding that you can summarize in one sentence?
  • Emotion - does it make you feel happy/sad/surprised/angry?
  • Entertainment - is it an interesting and entertaining story?
  • Location - could the research be interesting to regional media?
  • Celebrity - does the research relate to a celebrity? (this means a recognizable 'star', which could be an elephant or Jupiter or a Prime minister)
  • Novelty - is the research fresh? (It's best if it hasn't been press released or covered in the media)

Have you ticked three boxes or more? This could be a story we can promote - please send it to us! Got questions? Contact your marketing communications manager.

How Elsevier’s Newsroom can help

Once you have accepted for publication a research paper you think is newsworthy, interesting, ground-breaking or highly impactful to society, we can help you promote the paper and, indirectly, your journal. To get that process going, just contact your marketing communications manager who will then contact the Newsroom ( Together we can determine the required next steps.

The list below provides an overview of the main channels and services we have available for promoting research through the media.

Press releases
Used to highlight papers presenting the highest impact research or special issues of journals, press releases are distributed to science media across the world through global newswire services. Depending on the focus of the research highlighted, they may also be sent to a specific group of journalists or to media in a specific region. Typically, a press release will highlight the key findings of the research, an outline of the method and include quotes by the authors and/or editor.

Research alerts
These are a shorter version of a press release – typically 250 words in length. Results do not necessarily need to be ground-breaking; the topic just has to appeal to the general public. They contain the key findings of the research and its implications in lay language; quotes do not need to be included. Similar to a press release, research alerts are distributed globally to science media platforms and to a tailored list of media.

Elsevier’s Research Selection
This e-newsletter allows us to promote a number of different research papers in a single mailing. Each fortnight, it is sent to a global media list covering 1,600+ subscribing science journalists. Research included is fun, topical, or otherwise intriguing, and topics often touch upon aspects of our daily lives such as health, food, diet, sports and sex. Each edition highlights 5-8 research papers which are summarized in a couple of sentences with links to the full article online, enabling journalists to further interpret the results and determine the story angle. Articles included are in-press and have not been available online for more than 6 weeks.

Monitoring for coverage
The Newsroom scans media across the globe for coverage on research published in Elsevier journals. These media clips are included in daily media reports to Elsevier publishers and marketing communications managers. We can particularly focus on selected journals if they have recently made announcements to the media.

@ElsevierNews Twitter account
The official Newsroom Twitter account, @ElsevierNews, currently has 6,800+ followers, and this number is growing steadily. Our follower profiles include bloggers, journalists, academics, faculty, librarians, doctors, Elsevier editors, publishers, and marketing communications managers. All press releases, research alerts and Research Selection editions are tweeted.

Working with journalists directly
At times, science journalists look for an expert to help interpret or comment on particular study findings. On these occasions, we may, through your publisher, seek your expertise. Similarly, you may be approached by members of the media directly, as may the authors publishing in your journals. In all these cases, we appreciate remaining informed about your media activities and are happy to support and advise you.

Opening up articles for promotional access
Over the past months, the Newsroom has increased efforts to promote research papers by opening them up to external audiences (e.g. media and the general public) for a specified period of time. This action may be tied to a press release or research alert, allowing journalists to link to the full article in their stories. On other occasions, this can be done to highlight an article as a “must read” on the journal homepage or through social media channels.

Our support is not limited to the above list and for all specific cases, questions and suggestions we are here to help, brainstorm and advise.

Science communication: why bother?

In his 2008 book The Discovery of Global Warming, Spencer Weart talks about the relationship between scientists and the public in the 1970s, concluding that “most scientists already felt they were doing their jobs by pursuing their research and publishing it.” Although much has changed, marine biologist and filmmaker Randy Olson still thinks there’s room for improvement. In his book Don't Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style, he encourages scientists to “lighten up”, and says science communication should be done through storytelling.

But why? And how will it help your journal?

Enable authors to engage with the public
It’s a competitive environment for researchers today, and funding requirements often include references to public engagement. Authors are more attracted to journals that provide the possibility of engaging with wider audiences on the research they publish. By providing them with opportunities to promote their research and engage the public, we can support their research, their funding applications and, ultimately, their careers.

Improve recognition of the journals
Researchers read newspapers. They search on Google, scan blogs, follow Tweets and watch the news. Reading about research published in a particular journal on a platform they trust can have a very positive effect on their perception of the journal.

There’s also evidence to suggest a  link between exposure, usage and citations when it comes to scientific articles; the more an article is mentioned publically, the higher chance it has to be noticed, therefore read and – potentially – cited. Higher exposure and usage result in improved recognition, which could lead to increased submissions.

In support of science
Science is helpful and useful. It changes the lives of ordinary people on a daily basis. In 1985, The Royal Society published The Public Understanding of Science, on why science communication is important to society. According to the publication, “More than ever, people need some understanding of science, whether they are involved in decision-making at a national or local level, in managing industrial companies, in skilled or semi-skilled employment, in voting as private citizens or in making a wide range of personal decisions.”

The door swings both ways – research can gain big benefits from engaging with the public. Research suggests that active engagement between scientists and the public can greatly increase the scope of projects. According to a recent article in Trends in Ecology & Evolution, “We simply need to be more creative about getting research to the people – instead of expecting them to come to us.”

Note from Ed: Don’t forget, you can also promote journal initiatives via Editors’ Update. While we don’t publish research, we are always keen to feature articles written by editors about topics of interest to your peers, e.g. thoughts on peer review, advice on how you have dealt with a challenge, ideas for journal improvements or simply a topic you feel strongly about. Just email

Author biographies


Lucy Goodchild

Lucy Goodchild
Lucy Goodchild joined Elsevier in November 2012, promoting Elsevier’s immunology and microbiology journals and conferences from the Amsterdam office. She has a background in science writing and press relations through her previous work at the Society for General Microbiology and Imperial College London. Goodchild earned a BSc degree in genetics and microbiology from the University of Leeds and an MSc in the history of science, technology and medicine from Imperial College London.



Sacha Boucherie

Sacha Boucherie
In her role, Sacha Boucherie works closely with Elsevier's journal publishers, editors and authors at one end and with science journalists and reporters at the other end with the aim of spotlighting and promoting interesting, topical research articles. She is based at Elsevier's Amsterdam headquarters and holds a master's degree in social psychology at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands.


Guest Editorial: Nicoline van der Linden, Elsevier Senior Vice President

In this Sharing Research Special Issue, I am delighted to welcome as Guest Editor the Senior Vice President of Elsevier’s Marketing Communications & Researcher Engagement department, Nicoline van der Linden. After gaining an MSc in Medical Biology from the University of Amsterdam and an MBA from the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University, she […]

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In this Sharing Research Special Issue, I am delighted to welcome as Guest Editor the Senior Vice President of Elsevier’s Marketing Communications & Researcher Engagement department, Nicoline van der Linden. After gaining an MSc in Medical Biology from the University of Amsterdam and an MBA from the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University, she began her career as a researcher in Life Sciences. She worked as a molecular biologist in the pharmaceutical industry in Basel before joining Elsevier’s Amsterdam office two decades ago. Since then, she has held various roles in publishing, product development, marketing communications and researcher engagement.

I hope you enjoy this issue. We’ll be back in September with a focus on technology and how it can support you in your role.

Editorial signature






It was author Isaac Asimov who wrote in the 1970s: “It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”

Those words ring just as true in 2014. We see the role of our editors and authors changing – not only in terms of how they must manage their journals or craft their papers, but in their day to day lives as academics. The world is digitizing at a very fast pace; this has greatly influenced how we search for information and has broadened the possibilities for dissemination and visualization of content.


Nicoline van der Linden

The role of publishers is evolving too. While we have long needed to ensure that manuscripts are publishable and protected, in recent years it has become increasingly important that we make them searchable; retrievable; citable; and suitable for archiving on all our platforms – and, to some extent, other platforms – and for this we need the latest technologies.

At Elsevier, we operate an integrated marketing communications policy designed to ensure that messaging and communication strategies are unified across all channels and are focused on the researchers we serve. We combine more traditional media with newer avenues and allow the strengths of one to support the weaknesses of the other.

Increasingly, that integrated marketing communications is being driven by technology and it is an almost irresistible force. Just look at popular author services such as Journal Insights, CiteAlert and Article Usage Reports where automation/IT and promotion go hand in hand. This rising focus on technology will allow our marketing to become more and more targeted as we embrace databases and new electronic delivery systems. We hope this means we will be able to deliver more meaningful information to our research communities. To assist with that process, we have developed an online Customer Preference Center, where recipients can choose which communications they would like to receive.

As well as the journal-specific campaigns – highlighted in the Marketing Overview you receive from your marketing communications manager each year – we also run ‘global’ campaigns, which cater for large numbers of titles. These allow us to deliver consistent, timely information to authors and/or editors, no matter which journal they are associated with. Examples include:

  • Speed campaign: A large-scale mailing to authors showcasing the improvements made to editorial, reviewing and publication times.
  • Impact campaign: For the past few years, we have sent communications to editors and authors containing newly-released Impact Factors (and relative Impact Factors) for each and every journal. In the future, we hope to do the same for other impact measurements.
  • Social media: In our experience, very few journals can carry their own social media channel so we have created portfolio or subject channels. We currently have over 160 of them on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn. In How you can use social media professionally, we describe the rapid growth of our followers and engagement and offer advice to editors wanting to set up their own profiles.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) / Search engine marketing (SEM): We have focused on improving these aspects for all our journal homepages so that content is easier to find.  As a result, over the past three years, the number of Elsevier titles ranking in the top 3 Google results has increased by almost 70 percent.
  • Open access campaigns: These promotional campaigns are focused on ensuring that people are aware that nearly 1,700 of our journals – almost all of them – now accept OA articles.
  • Top 25 downloads: In this author mailing, we announce the 25 most popular articles downloaded from ScienceDirect per subject area.

Each year, we open more than 18,500 articles to the public through promotional access. Via Elsevier funding (e.g. by waiving OA article fees) we open up another 2,440+. Together, that is more than 20,000 articles. The majority of these receive our support because the editor has indicated they are special in some way, or analysis of reader behavior has led us to do so. We also make journal articles openly available to the press. In addition, Elsevier is actively supporting open data. While we have already been leading in linking our articles to open data at various data repositories, we are now investigating how we can open up all supplementary materials on ScienceDirect that contain original research data.

It is worth noting that with the introduction of new tools, techniques and business models, responsibilities are changing. As editors, there is still much you can do to make noteworthy or novel research more visible to our readers, as we explain in How to promote research in your journals (and why you should).

But for authors, it is no longer the case that publishing their article will ensure people read their research. They have an important role to play in raising the profile of their article. This is especially true with the rise in the number of OA articles, which sees some of the promotional responsibilities (and possibilities) for sharing divested to the authors themselves. In New tools help authors boost the visibility and impact of their research, we outline some of the avenues we have available to support them.

Interestingly, this new emphasis on author self-promotion may leverage the already shifting focus from the Impact Factor to other measures such as downloads, social media shares, Snip, Eigenfactor, and H-index. If it does, you can rest assured that Elsevier’s Marketing Communications & Researcher Engagement department will be ready to respond…


Why I dedicated my journal editorial to open access

UK-based editor, Professor Peter Griffiths, on why it’s so important editors understand open access.

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The May issue of International Journal of Nursing Studies (IJNS) features an editorial written by Executive Editor, Professor Peter Griffiths, PhD, BA, RN, outlining the open access options available on his journal. In the article, he highlights the difference between an OA journal and journals offering OA options (also known as the hybrid model). He also touches on IJNS’s liberal self-archiving policies. Here he explains why establishing clarity around these points is so important.


As an active academic researcher in a leading research department, I have views and preferences around publishing and research strategy. While I always do my best to ensure that anything I publish is available OA (whether gold or green), I admit my major concern is whether it is the best journal for my work. However, if I’m wearing my journal editor hat, then my first thought is protecting my journal, my ‘turf’.  Luckily, these two positions rarely clash.

In my academic day job there is currently a huge push towards open access, for example, the next REF* demands it. Broadly speaking, I think that is great, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that many people misunderstand open access - they think the only route is a paid model and that in order for a paper to be OA, it must be published in an OA journal. If we don’t help people understand that is not the case, we will all be in trouble.

For example, some people don’t perceive IJNS to be an OA journal, but we are – we follow a hybrid model which means we not only publish subscription articles, but authors can choose to pay to make their article open access. A lot of people don’t really understand this concept yet.

PeterGriffiths_coverGoing further forward, one of the big challenges, particularly for individual research groups, will be sourcing payment for articles but there are other approaches to OA. Many journals, including my own, are quite generous in the way they enable research to be shared without payment.

I wrote this editorial in an attempt to clarify the territory for colleagues who are operating under these misapprehensions and, if I’m honest, to make it clear that our journal is a good venue in the world of OA!

During the process of writing, there were several things I found very interesting. One was the extent to which we on IJNS have not really been engaged in setting our OA policy. I’m actually pretty comfortable with where our journal is now. What would cause me concern are blanket changes implemented by Elsevier that don’t take into account individual journal’s needs. For example, I would like to keep green open access, i.e. the ability for authors to post the post-print (the accepted manuscript sent to the publisher) version of their paper on their own personal websites immediately, and in institutional repositories after a short embargo period. In our field, it’s the published paper that really counts so green open access doesn’t affect our subscriptions if done in this way, in fact, it makes us very competitive.

It was also an interesting exercise to nail down what our OA policies are - it was surprising how much work we had to put into understanding all the nuances. I did eventually find my way to information where the policies were fairly clearly outlined but it was difficult. If I put myself in the shoes of an author, who already has all sorts of detailed guidelines to follow and information to read, I can imagine tracking down OA policies is a step too far. Is that the fault of the publisher, in this case, Elsevier? Not really. In the world of the internet it is extremely easy to make information available and that often means there is too much information to sort through. I think the only option is to make information available in a broad number of ways until it becomes zeitgeist and begins to shape the way people think. It’s not just the publisher’s responsibility, but a collective recognition that this information should be shared through many, many channels. With this editorial, I wanted to help to tell that story.

If there are other editors out there uncertain how to communicate about open access to their readers, I would certainly recommend writing a small editorial – the process might provoke their own learning on this subject. It’s going to be a huge issue for authors and readers, if not today then tomorrow and if not tomorrow then the day after. I think those who understand OA and inform readers about what is possible will certainly reap the rewards.

* Research Excellence Framework (REF) - the new system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions

Author biography

Professor Peter Griffiths, PhD, BA, RN, is Chair of Health Services Research at University of Southampton in the UK and Executive Editor of International Journal of Nursing Studies - a forum for original research and scholarship about health care delivery, organization, management, workforce, policy and research methods relevant to nursing, midwifery and other health related professions. Before taking up the Chair of Health Services Research, he was, from 2006 to 2010, Director of England's National Nursing Research Unit.


Warning regarding fraudulent call for papers

Information from our Legal department about a fraudulent call for papers sent out in Elsevier’s name.

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Paul Doda | Deputy General Counsel, Elsevier

Some of you may have received an email that appears to have been sent by Elsevier, inviting you to submit scholarly articles via email for publication in our various journals.

The subject line of the message is "Manuscripts Submission" and it is sent from a Gmail email address.

Please be assured that Elsevier is in no way associated with this fraudulent email campaign and we are currently investigating to identify the people responsible. Elsevier does not use free, third-party email providers such as Gmail and Hotmail to solicit submissions from authors. Additionally, almost all our journals only accept submissions via an online submission system, for example Elsevier Editorial System (EES).

If you receive any emails that appear to be a part of this fraudulent solicitation, please do not respond to the message and do not open any attachments it may contain.  If you have any concerns, please contact our Support Team at


Discover the latest re. EES user profile consolidation

Learn what a consolidated EES user profile can mean for ORCID profiles and managing EES accounts.

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Masako Takeda | Publishing Services Manager, EES, Elsevier

Introduced in December 2012, user profile consolidation allows users to link their Elsevier Editorial System (EES) journal accounts so that they can use the same username and password for each account and more easily update their personal information. This also improves the security of personal data on EES as only the individual user is allowed to make changes.  Since user profile consolidation was implemented in EES, over 1 million users have created a consolidated profile, representing nearly 3 million individual EES journal accounts.

There are also added benefits available to researchers who have undergone the consolidation process.

ORCID is a non-profit organization providing researchers with a unique digital identifier (also called an ORCID or Open Researcher and Contributor ID) that links their work, eliminates name ambiguity, and stays with them throughout their career. Elsevier supports this initiative and has integrated the ORCID ID within EES. A user with a consolidated profile can link their ORCID ID to their EES journal accounts. When submitting a paper to a journal via EES, not only the corresponding author but also the co-authors can link their ORCIDs to the submission. This helps editors select the right reviewer candidates and also means that if a submission is accepted and published, all authors’ ORCID publication lists will automatically be updated. To date, over 650,000 researchers have created ORCID IDs and the number is growing

Providing users with a single username and password to access all of their journal accounts was an important step in making EES easier to access. In December 2013, we went one step further when we introduced My EES Hub. If you have consolidated your profile, you can now log into EES and view all pending actions across the journals linked to that profile. My EES Hub features a single landing page from which you can:

  • Switch between the journal accounts linked to your profile without logging in and out of each journal individually.
  • View a list of your pending author, reviewer and editor actions for all your linked journal accounts and go to the relevant journal and folder (for author and reviewer tasks) or directly to the submission (for editor tasks) by clicking on a link.
  • Search for additional Elsevier journals for which you would like to create an account to add to your profile.
  • View a list of any journal accounts registered with the same email address as your consolidated profile that you have yet to add to your profile. You can then log into them and add them to your profile.

To access these services, just log into any journal linked to your profile and click the My EES Hub link that appears at the top of the page (see below).





More information on these benefits is available in our support article: What is My EES Hub?

Further reading

For more information on ORCID integration and the benefits for all EES users, please see ORCID/EES integration offers new benefits to researchers.

A guide to EES User Profile Consolidation is available on our Support Hub.


How small changes can influence reviewer behavior

Discover the lessons learnt during a reviewer experiment on the Journal of Public Economics.

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Raj Chetty, PhD, is the Bloomberg Professor of Economics at Harvard University Department of Economics and Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Public Economics.

Together with two colleagues - Emmanuel Saez, E. Morris Cox Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Equitable Growth at the University of California Berkeley, and László Sándor, a PhD candidate in Economics at Harvard University - Chetty ran an experiment evaluating the effects of cash incentives, social incentives, and nudges on the behavior of referees at the Journal of Public Economics. The interesting, and sometimes surprising, results of their study will be published this summer in the Journal of Economic Perspectives. Here Chetty talks about the rationale behind the trial and lessons learnt.


Since I took on the role of Editor-in-Chief, I have been interested in how we can better serve authors and improve the review times on our journal. And, as an author myself, I would love to see my papers reviewed more quickly.

To design the trial, we began by reading the literature and thought about what might prove effective in motivating reviewers to submit high-quality reports more quickly.  We formulated three interventions.

RU19_Experiment_JournalCoverFirst, naturally, as economists, we thought that paying people might prove an incentive. But psychologists suggest that payment can crowd out “intrinsic motivation” and actually lead to worse performance.  So these contradictory hypotheses seemed very natural to test.

Second, the psychology literature suggests that simple nudges and reminders can affect people’s behavior, so we decided to try changing the deadline by which reports were due.

Third, sociologists have suggested that social incentives – namely, how people are perceived by their peers – may be a key determinant of behavior.

To test these hypotheses, we randomly assigned referees to four groups:

  • Group one was the control and participants had a six-week deadline to submit their reports.
  • Group two was given only four weeks to provide their reports.
  • Group three also had only four weeks and if they met that deadline they received $100.
  • Group four was offered a social incentive, i.e. we informed them that their turnaround times would be publicly posted.

In total, the experiment included 1,500 referees who submitted nearly 2,500 reports from February 2010 to October 2011.

I should mention that all the interventions we tested have been used by other journals, but until now there has never really been a clear examination of which factors work best.  

Key takeaways

First, a change in timeframe is very effective; if you shorten the deadline by two weeks you receive reviews two weeks earlier on average. In fact, we noticed that whatever timeframe you give, most people submit their review just prior to the deadline. Editors might worry that if you ask reviewers to review more quickly, they submit lower-quality reviews.  However, we found no significant changes in the quality of referee reports, as judged, for instance, by the editor’s propensity to follow the advice in the report. 

Second, if a journal has the money available, cash incentives also work very well. The $100 payment reduced review times by about 10 days on average.  Hence, it is clear that the “crowd-out of intrinsic motivation” that psychologists have been concerned about is actually not a serious concern in this context.

Third, the social incentive was less effective but still surprisingly successful in reducing review times, particularly with tenured professors, who were less sensitive to cash and deadlines.  This confirms that people care about how they are perceived and suggests that gentle, personalized reminders from editors could be very effective in improving referee performance.

Overall, my biggest takeaway was that, as editors, we shouldn’t believe that the performance of our journals is something we can’t change.  We can greatly improve the quality of our journals’ review process through simple policy changes and active editorial management. 

Personally, I was surprised by how effective the shorter deadline was. There was no consequence for reviewers who didn’t meet it, yet they were still very receptive. The advantage for journals is that this approach is cost-free. I would probably be less responsive to the cash incentive, so I was also quite surprised by how successful that proved to be. However, if I have to do something anyway and by doing it today I get $100 then perhaps it’s not so surprising it has some effect.

Going forward, we would love to see other journals adopting some of these policies.  And for reviewers, I would suggest that often what is useful to editors, especially if you are going to recommend rejection, is a short, clear - and on time - report, rather than something that is more detailed which takes longer to draft. By focusing on the big picture, you not only save yourself time but better serve editors and the author community too.

Author biography

Chetty's research combines empirical evidence and economic theory to help design more effective government policies. His work on tax policy, unemployment insurance, and education has been widely cited in media outlets and Congressional testimony.

Chetty was recently awarded a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship and the John Bates Clark medal, given by the American Economic Association to the best American economist under age 40. He received his PhD from Harvard in 2003 at the age of 23 and is one of the youngest tenured professors in the university's history.


Establishing new revision times for Elsevier journals

New reviewer and revision deadlines have been established for a number of Elsevier journals. Find out why.

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Arnout Jacobs | Business Development Director, Elsevier

Sometimes, even simple things can make a big difference. An Elsevier project designed to reassess reviewer and revision times is large-scale, involving 1,100 journals. Yet we are focused on one small aspect: optimizing the deadlines we give authors and reviewers.  The idea was born at Cell Press, where we decided to look at what would happen if a journal set its review deadline a few days earlier. Results were encouraging: reviews did indeed come in earlier, and there was no difference in reviewer response rates. 

Recently, via a controlled experiment on the Journal of Public Economics, we also received confirmation from the scientific community that shorter review deadlines can work. You can find out more in the Short Communication How small changes can influence reviewer behavior.

Building on the lessons learnt at Cell Press, we made an inventory of deadlines across all of our titles. Some journals did not mention any. We also found titles where contributions were routinely received well before the stated deadline. And then there were journals that were still using timeframes from the days when manuscripts were physically sent around the world and back, with deadlines extending up to a year! For journals publishing on arctic geology in the 1980s, this may well have been understandable, but with today’s instant communication, a new policy was due.

Whereas speed has always been important, that importance is increasing in today’s publishing environment. In the past, even if an article was ready, it may still have had to wait for backlogs to clear and issues to be complete. Today, we aim to publish articles online as quickly as possible after they are accepted.  So a day saved in peer review, means a day quicker online!

So, how did we set our new deadlines? Our first principle was not to disrupt existing practices. Some fields are slower than others, and usually there is a good reason for this. Other journals are already very fast, and there is little gain in asking contributors to submit within 4 days instead of the existing 5. So we looked at actual reviewing and author revision times, and at stated deadlines, and we used these as a starting point. The biggest gains were to be found in author revision times, where articles can sometimes linger for months. We then came up with proposed new deadlines, and consulted with you as editors. As a result, new reviewer and revision deadlines were implemented at the beginning of the year for around 600 titles.

It’s still early days, so we do not yet know what the results will be. We are keeping a close eye on measurable items, such as response rates, compliance, and submission-to-acceptance times. But qualitative feedback is equally important. Ultimately, we hope that this initiative will speed up the publication process, while keeping all participants satisfied.


Ethics and Responsibilities

Of interest to: Journal editors (key), additionally authors and reviewers

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Of interest to: Journal editors (key), additionally authors and reviewers


Editor in the Spotlight: George Tsokos of Clinical Immunology

Clinical Immunology publishes original research on the molecular and cellular bases of immunological disease. It is the official journal of FOCIS (the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies), the preeminent association for clinical immunologists. George C. Tsokos, MD, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief of Rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, […]

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Clinical Immunology

Clinical Immunology publishes original research on the molecular and cellular bases of immunological disease. It is the official journal of FOCIS (the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies), the preeminent association for clinical immunologists. George C. Tsokos, MD, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief of Rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, has been Editor-in-Chief of the journal since January 2011. Clinical Immunology has an Impact Factor of 3.771 and receives 690 submissions per year – around 20 percent of which are accepted.

Q. What does being a journal editor mean to you and what do you find most rewarding about this role?
A. Clinical Immunology publishes high impact papers in the field of clinical immunology and, in that respect, I feel responsible for choosing and presenting to the community what is important, novel and significant in the field. Working with a top notch cadre of associate editors with whom I orchestrate the reviewing process is highly rewarding. We work with the FOCIS leaders and the FOCIS Publications Committee to make Clinical Immunology the sole home for all important advances in the field.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as Editor-in-Chief of Clinical Immunology? How do you overcome these challenges and what extra support can Elsevier provide?
A. The greatest challenge is to secure qualified reviewers. For each paper we strive to recruit a senior reviewer, who can help to define the overall impact of the paper, as well as junior reviewers to comb the manuscript carefully. Although we do try to use the reviewers suggested by authors as much as we can, there are challenges. Many times the suggested reviewers are very senior people who are too busy to review papers and sometimes authors recommend reviewers from their own country – for a small country that is equivalent to an author recommending reviewers from their own institution. Other times authors recommend reviewers from other countries but their last names reveal the submitting author’s country. I and the associate editors try to go through each submission to determine whether the article fits the scope of the journal and whether the manuscript presents novel, well-documented experiments. In this way we keep the burden on reviewers to a minimum.

Q. In many areas of research, the growth of paper submissions is outpacing the growth of qualified reviewers and resulting in pressure on the peer-review system. What do you think the solution to this problem is and how do you see the peer-review process changing in the future?
A. As already stated, identifying qualified reviewers is difficult. Submissions to Clinical Immunology increased by 10 percent in 2013 making the job of the editors even more difficult. I think the only solution is for editors to make the initial choices and only send for review submitted papers that fit the journal and will be read with interest and excitement by our colleagues. In this way, good reviewers are not inundated with requests to review papers that will not make the cut.

Q. We have observed that researchers are increasingly accessing journal content online at an article level, i.e. the researcher digests content more frequently on an article basis rather than a journal basis. How do you think this affects the visibility of your journal among authors?
A. Indeed, scientists search the web (Google Scholar or PubMed) to find articles that can help them interpret their experiments or plan new ones; clinicians search for solutions to clinical problems or to improve their clinical practice; and teachers search the web to stay up to date. I think Clinical Immunology has benefited from this evolving practice. Numerical/statistical data and personal feedback assure us that we are strong.

Q. Academic publishing is increasingly embracing open access. How do you see these open access changes in your country? And how do you see them affecting authors who publish in your journal?
A. My country, USA, started the concept and practice of free access which I think is a great idea. And it is rational to expect tax payers to have access to what they have paid for. A small caveat in this effort is who will pay for this? I do not know if the free-access-journal-upfront-fee is less or more than the one charged by the classic journals. I am happy though that papers that are accepted for publication to Clinical Immunology are uploaded to the central library immediately if the work has been funded by NIH (National Institutes of Health).

Q. Researchers need to demonstrate their research impact and they are increasingly under pressure to publish articles in journals with high Impact Factors. How important is a journal’s Impact Factor to you and do you see any developments in your community regarding other research quality measurements?
A. This is true. Yet, many promotions committees in this country and study sections for NIH and other funding organizations pay attention to the body of work published by a scientist, rather than one or a few articles in high-impact, fashionable journals. With the advancement of open access and the availability of search engines it will eventually be left up to the readers to judge the ’impact‘ of a published article.

Q. As online publishing techniques develop, the traditional format of the online scientific article will change. At Elsevier, we are experimenting with new online content features and functionality. Which improvements/changes would you, as an editor, find most important?
A. Anything that increases access, functionality, cross-referencing, easy use from iPhone, iPad etc. will be welcome. 

Q. Do you use social media or online professional networking in your role as an editor or researcher? Has it helped you and, if so, how?
A. I do not use social media at all but, from what I understand, those channels can help to spread information quickly.

Q. How do you see your journal developing over the next 10 years? Do you see major shifts in the use of journals in the future?
A. Clinical Immunology will keep on publishing only cutting-edge information in the field. We will continue publishing review articles on state-of-the-art issues that can offer critical knowledge to colleagues. We will continue seeking articles that provide a solid body of work presenting novel mechanisms and insights from clinical studies. Members of FOCIS have been increasingly sending their best work to Clinical Immunology and this will gradually place the journal at the top of the list. I believe that 10 years from now, it will be the top journal in the field.

Q. Do you have any tips or tricks to share with your fellow editors about being a journal editor?
A. It is important to go through all submissions and choose articles that fulfil the goals of the journal to guarantee homogeneity in the quality of the published papers. It is important to engage young colleagues as reviewers and offer them slots on the editorial board. 


Be brave, be clear and have fun – three editors share their top tips

Do you agree with the advice outlined below? Perhaps you have some tips you would like to share? You can let us know your thoughts by posting a comment at the bottom of this article. Dr. Brian M Lucey is Professor in Finance at the School of Business, Trinity College Dublin. He is Editor-in-Chief of […]

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Do you agree with the advice outlined below? Perhaps you have some tips you would like to share? You can let us know your thoughts by posting a comment at the bottom of this article.

Dr. Brian M Lucey is Professor in Finance at the School of Business, Trinity College Dublin. He is Editor-in-Chief of two journals – one is a new entry to the space, Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Finance (JBEF), the other is a longer standing one, International Review of Financial Analysis (IRFA).

Kronos the Chronovore from the Doctor Who episode ‘The Time Monster’Being an editor is tremendous fun and also tremendous work. My thoughts below come from that experience as well as that of 20+ years in academia and nearly a decade of being an associate editor and special issue /guest editor on a number of journals.

  • Make time. Editing is a Chronovore*. IRFA is on target for 350-400 submissions this year, and I would imagine that JBEF will get in excess of 75. I make a point to read, at some level, each paper that gets submitted. You don't have to read it in forensic detail, but in sufficient detail that you can appoint a reviewer team that covers the issues, and that when they come back to you, you can be confident that you make an informed decision. Don’t just take the reviewer recommendation on face value – as an editor I think it’s my role to make the call, guided by the reviews. That means usually going back to the paper and seeing where the reviewers have picked up issues and then guiding the author to major and minor problems. That takes time.
Kronos the Chronovore from the Doctor Who episode ‘The Time Monster’

Kronos the Chronovore from the Doctor Who episode ‘The Time Monster’.

  • Have fun. Let’s face it, for most of us in academia we have a set of skills which are (or were before we devolved into tenure) marketable outside. And yet, we get to play with our brains all day. We get to read fresh ideas, challenging ones, to see the emergence of research paradigms and new approaches to old ones. We get invited to be keynotes (yes please…) and to sit on panels where we can provide and be provided with overviews of areas.
  • Be respectful of your position. Editing is not as important as raising your kids right, but in the academy, editors are the gatekeepers. New approaches to how ideas are sharpened are emerging, such as post publication review. But there will, I think, always be a role for the editor. We control the flow of ideas, and that makes us important and possibly even powerful. If you are editing a journal and don't like an approach, a method, a topic, you can do it serious harm by not giving it a voice. Equally, we can promote ideas and approaches we like or value. These suggest to me that we therefore need to be very open and judge a paper on its own merits, not by reference to a prejudged standard or, worse, to an (often unspoken or unknowing) ideological perspective.
  • Be brave. Editing is gatekeeping. If you really think some area needs to be promoted, or some topic is under researched, or some methodology is promising, you have the ability to make changes.
  • Be organized. Editing is a task. A very large part of the role is the simple (hah) management of the paper flow. Electronic systems can help, and a good publisher and journal manager are invaluable but in the end it’s down to the editor. Knowledge of the area is important but in my view, decent organizational skills, a bit of a work ethic and scheduling time for the editorial role makes the whole thing much easier. I typically set aside Friday AM for things editorial.
  • Make use of being an editor. The first thing you will notice after becoming an editor is that you become better known. Most of us are not academic stars – most editors are solid, mid to upper-mid level academics good at doing things on time and more or less on target. Even those of us who are known through, for example, conference organization are less well known than editors. So, people find you and give you opportunities that you wouldn't have otherwise. More important, they give your team opportunities, and for PhDs and Postdocs that's invaluable.
  • Become a hunter. You will be hunting reviewers, hunting papers that were promised, and hunting special issue editors to complete. This is inevitable, so you may as well enjoy it. In hunting you will come to know who is reliable, and that will save you and your team a lot later in your careers as you won’t waste time with those that waste your time.
  • Kronos the Chronovore from the Doctor Who episode ‘The Time Monster’

  • Don't overcommit. Editing is seductive. People will approach with lots of ideas for special issues and conferences and so forth. Be selective and don't overcommit the journal or yourself to 19 special issues and 12 conferences in the next 18 months. You won’t carry it off, and in trying to do so you will damage the journal reputation and your own.
  • Be prepared. Editors are lightning rods. People will complain; reviewers will complain about deadlines (that they won’t meet anyhow), rejected authors will complain about reviewers and want their submission fee back, authors will email you with papers and complain when you don't do a full scale pre-submission review to ensure that the paper is bullet proofed, and even publishing companies have been known to complain about cycle times. Be ready for this, and ensure that you have good processes and responses in place.
  • Be humble. When you make a mistake – and you will – admit it, remedy it if possible, and move on. You will drop the ball, and that's life. I have stressed the need to be organized, to have time to do the tasks, to be prepared. If you do this, the few things that slip through will be salvageable. People will not think badly of you if you admit a mistake and remedy it, so long as these don't become a habit. 

* Note from Ed: Derived from the Greek "chronos" (time) and the Latin "vorare" (to devour), in the television series Doctor Who, Chronovores are greatly feared transcendental beings who feed on time.

Dr. William C Eckelman is Editor-in-Chief of Nuclear Medicine and Biology, the official journal of the Society of Radiopharmaceutical Sciences. The journal publishes original research addressing all aspects of radiopharmaceutical science and Dr. Eckelman has held his current role for 16 years. A former Adjunct Professor, Radiology, at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Dr. Eckelman also held positions at national laboratories and pharmaceutical companies in the US. He is now CSO at Molecular Tracer LLC in Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

      • Focus the Aims and Scope and further define the journal’s goals with supplemental editorials. This makes it clear to potential authors the types of manuscripts you expect to receive and helps to filter out unsuitable papers.
      • Review all submissions for compliance with the Aims and Scope of the journal and, for marginal cases, have an editorial board member confirm your decision before rejecting/accepting for review. This helps to ensure you aren’t wasting reviewers’ valuable time by sending them papers that never had a chance of being published in your journal.
      • Now that accepted manuscripts are immediately published as PDFs, the need for the Editor-in-Chief to promptly forward accepted manuscripts to the publication team is more important than ever.
      • If there are problems with an author's submission or reviewer's access in EES, these problems should immediately be referred to Elsevier’s EES helpdesk. The helpdesk has always been quick to respond when authors approach them. It is best if the editor is not in the loop.

  • For a small journal, it is advisable to keep the organization as flat as reasonable. If you have them, associate editors are often the best people to ask to review an article and you then avoid the need to seek other reviewers.

    For Nuclear Medicine and Biology, using one editorial board member and one new reviewer with experience in the topic to peer review a paper has proved the most effective way to increase the reviewer pool, yet keep the focus on the Aims and Scope of the journal.

  • I would recommend that all revisions should be accompanied by a point by point response, including how and where in the text the manuscript was altered. Since the revisions are returned to the original reviewers, this makes the re-review more efficient (and more rapid).

  • Include a clear policy for resubmission of declined manuscripts in the letter to the author. Failure to do this can lead to a constant flow of emails from authors querying the journal’s policy.

Dr. Jean-Claude Kader is co-Editor-in-Chief, alongside Dr. Kari Taulavuori, of Environmental and Experimental Botany (EEB), a role he has held for seven years. The journal publishes research and review papers, mainly devoted to the mechanisms involved in the responses of plants to the environment. This year will see the publication of Volume 100 of the journal. Dr. Kader is Honorary Research Director of the Laboratory of Plant Cellular and Molecular Physiology at University of Pierre and Marie Curie (Paris 6).EU42_TopTips_KaderCover (1)

      • The homepage of a journal should be clear and well presented. In its Aims and Scope, EEB indicates the main scientific areas covered by the journal. We also include a list of themes that are not covered; this helps to avoid the submission of unsuitable papers and thus saves time for authors and editors.
      • You should be familiar with EES, which is a remarkable tool and sends alert messages at all editorial steps. Speak to your publisher to find out if you are making the best use of it. In case of any problem, you should contact the EES engineers through your journal manager.
      • Check your Empower traffic light email (sent each week) as it allows you to monitor your editorial workload. The email is particularly useful for tracking papers that have been sent back to authors for revision.
      • Check the cover letters of all submitted papers. Sometimes authors submit to the wrong journal by mistake – this is easily seen either in the title of the paper or in the cover letter and you can quickly alert the author in question. Cover letters also inform you of the author’s reasons for choosing your journal.
      • Read carefully the PDF in order to check if the paper fits with the journal’s Aims and Scope. If not, you can reject the paper without sending it to referees. There are multiple examples of desk rejects: papers might be desk rejected because the work is out of scope; not suitable for the journal; too descriptive; or weakly presented. You might decide by yourself or contact a member of the editorial board to confirm your decision.
      • You should be fast when you desk reject a paper and kindly inform the authors that your decision is not mainly based on the quality of their science. You should suggest alternative Elsevier journals that appear more suitable. At EEB, we use the article transfer protocol that allows authors to resubmit their papers to a journal close to EEB, without the need to reformat those papers.
      • Once you have decided which papers should be sent for review you can:
        a. Use Scopus to find referees
        b. Invite referees listed in your database
        c. Contact members of the editorial board of your journal
        However, before following any of these routes, you might use iThenticate to check for plagiarism.*
    • Take into account the advice of at least two referees when making a decision about a paper. Any notice of rejection you send to an author should be kind and constructive and you should clearly indicate if resubmission is allowed. When the decision is taken that a paper requires revision, you should give the authors a maximum of six weeks for major revisions and less for minor/moderate revisions. At EEB, this reduces the overall publication time of our papers.
    • Send the revised papers, accompanied by a detailed list of changes made by the authors, to the referees who examined the first version – they will then be able to recommend whether the paper should finally be accepted. You should ask the authors to proceed to additional revisions if they are needed.
    • As editor, your role is not only to evaluate submitted papers, but to improve your journal. This includes expanding the remit of the journal, if needed, to take into account any emerging, novel scientific areas. After discussion with members of the editorial board and the publisher, you might invite guest editors to build Special Issues that take into account the main scientific goals of your journal. You should therefore make sure those goals are specific and that you attract the best authors in your field.

* Note from Ed: For many journals, new submissions to EES are now automatically run through CrossCheck/iThenticate, with the results available in the editor's 'Action' menu. Your publisher will let you know as soon as this feature is extended to your journal. 


Research Highlights app makes it easy to keep tabs on new research

New app allows researchers to create a personalized feed of articles based on keywords, journals, and authors

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David Allen | End User Marketing, IPD, Elsevier

A new free app, Research Highlights, has been developed to keep researchers up to date with new papers published in their field.

It harnesses the power of Scopus to let researchers track their critical search terms across 20,000+ peer-reviewed journals from hundreds of publishers.

Users can check author-written bulleted highlights and/or the abstract to determine which articles to read in full. Those they select will be sent to their inbox. Content licenses will also be recognized. 

ResearchHighlightsWhile it may be fine to scan article lists and read a few bullets or a short abstract on the small screen of a mobile device, lengthy full-text articles are not easy to consume that way. The Research Highlights app recognizes which parts of the literature search can be comfortably carried out on a mobile device and which parts are more easily performed elsewhere.

We encourage you to try out the app. If you like it, please do tweet about it and recommend it to colleagues and readers.


Talking to the media – who is responsible?

“My first thought is usually whether it is even appropriate for me to respond on behalf of the editor.  The answer here, of course, is that it depends.” Authors, editors, Elsevier…we all love the media when they want to write a positive, straightforward story about a new research finding that promotes a particular journal. As […]

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"My first thought is usually whether it is even appropriate for me to respond on behalf of the editor.  The answer here, of course, is that it depends."

Authors, editors, Elsevier…we all love the media when they want to write a positive, straightforward story about a new research finding that promotes a particular journal.

As an editor, you are probably proud of your role in deciding to publish the article, and welcome any corresponding increase in article submissions, citations and journal reputation that the added attention brings. Those calls from the media are always a pleasure to take and are usually redirected to the article authors who are best placed to answer questions about their research.

But what about when the media focus on something that went wrong? Or an issue that is complicated and not likely to reflect favorably on your journal?  Those calls usually pertain to retractions and publishing ethics, and more often than not they go to editors. They’re not as much fun. Some of those calls come straight to me at Elsevier, and whether or not they’re fun isn’t my concern. My first thought is usually whether it is even appropriate for me to respond on behalf of the editor. The answer here, of course, is that it depends.

Our approach

We begin with the belief that while the publisher is responsible for setting the aims and scope of a particular journal, editors are responsible for the journal’s contents. That means you are accountable for the vast majority of articles that don’t raise any particular questions of impropriety, but it also means you are accountable for the very rare articles that do. So, when a reporter is looking for further information on how a journal handled a particular paper, the journal’s editor is the primary, authoritative source.

We at Elsevier are here, however, to support our editors, and my team is happy to lend that support when it comes to managing media inquiries. There are also situations where we recommend that you pass the media inquiry to us to handle (always in tandem with the publishers). Here are some of the questions we ask when deciding who the appropriate person is to respond.

  • Is it an ongoing investigation? Although we know you would probably provide the same response that we are likely to, i.e. “it would be inappropriate for me to discuss an investigation that hasn’t been concluded”, these inquiries are still best referred to Elsevier.
  • Was Elsevier a key contributor to the decision? Retractions, for example, are usually initiated by the authors, though sometimes by editors without the author’s consent. In either case, Elsevier has a retractions committee that approves each editorial decision to retract. However, when it comes to communicating that decision to the journal’s community of authors, in most cases it is the authoritative voice of the editor they want to hear.
  • Are there any legal implications to responding? Sometimes, in highly charged cases, there could be either the existence, or threat, of legal action. These cases are always best referred to Elsevier so we can assume liability.
  • Does the issue span more than one journal? For example, a wide range of titles were affected by the recent ‘faking’ of reviewer identities in EES, our editorial submission system. In these types of cases, any media inquiries an editor receives should be referred to Elsevier, even if the question is about a paper in that editor’s journal.

Our best advice would be that you should always talk to your publishing contact about the inquiry; together you can decide whether or not Elsevier’s corporate media relations team should be involved. We can work together to make sure Elsevier, you as the editor, the reporters and the journal community at large are best served by receiving the most accurate information from the most appropriate source.

*View Reller’s previous Editors’ Update article, Watching Retraction Watch, to discover what a new breed of journalist means for transparency and public trust in science.

Author biography

Tom Reller

Tom Reller

Tom Reller
Reller (@TomReller) leads a global team of media, social and web communicators. Together, they work to build on Elsevier's reputation by promoting the company's numerous contributions to the health and science communities. Reller directs strategy, execution and problem-solving for external corporate communications, including media relations, issues management and policy communications, and acts as a central communications counsel and resource for Elsevier senior management. Additionally, he develops and nurtures external corporate/institutional relationships that broaden Elsevier's influence and generate good will, including partnerships developed through The Elsevier Foundation.


How CrossCheck can combat the perils of plagiarism

At Elsevier, we receive around a million articles per year for publication in our journals. Unfortunately, a small percentage fails to meet our ethics guidelines and nearly 50 percent of those cases are suspected plagiarism. To help address this obvious pain point for our editors, in 2008 we joined CrossCheckTM, a collaboration between major publishers […]

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At Elsevier, we receive around a million articles per year for publication in our journals. Unfortunately, a small percentage fails to meet our ethics guidelines and nearly 50 percent of those cases are suspected plagiarism.

To help address this obvious pain point for our editors, in 2008 we joined CrossCheckTM, a collaboration between major publishers and CrossRef® to prevent plagiarism, simultaneous submission and multiple publication. That enabled us to incorporate into our editorial workflows iThenticate, the software that powers CrossCheck.

For many journals, this software is now indispensable – more than 4,000 editors at 800 Elsevier journals have iThenticate accounts, and editor usage of the software is up 41 percent on last year.  We expect that the upcoming integration of iThenticate into Elsevier’s Editorial System (EES), which will make it possible to automatically run English-language submissions through the software, will see that usage continue to rise. The integration is currently being piloted and the EES team aims to roll it out to all journals by the beginning of next year.

Features of iThenticate

  • Prevents plagiarism by detecting textual similarities which could indicate misconduct.
  • Compares full-text manuscripts against a database of 38+ million articles from 175,000+ journals, books from 500+ publishers, and 20+ billion webpages.
  • Use can be tailored to meet a journal’s needs: screening at the submission phase, pre-acceptance phase, or on an ad-hoc basis when allegations are raised.

The main function of iThenticate is to identify the textual overlap of a manuscript against CrossCheck’s growing database of published works and internet sources.  Such software can only be as good as the database it uses, and this is a large part of the reason that iThenticate is so successful – CrossCheck’s database is arguably the most complete and up-to-date of its kind available, with major publishers and societies contributing full-text content to it.

Caption: The left pane shows an uploaded document while the right pane highlights sources in the CrossCheck database found to have overlapping text. A quick visual scan of the Similarity Report is usually the first step in analyzing the results. iThenticate currently accepts a wide range of file types, now up to 40MB in size: DOC, DOCX, XML, TXT, PDF, HTML, WPD, RTF.


Professor Claes Wohlin

Prof Claes Wohlin

Editor-in-Chief of Information and Software Technology, Professor Claes Wohlin, has been using iThenticate since 2010. He said: “iThenticate helps in identifying textual similarity, but it is very important that the editor uses a sound judgment on the similarities found. It depends very much on whose text is reused and in which part of the paper. There’s a big difference between similarities in the research methodology descriptions and the actual research findings.”

What’s new in iThenticate

Based on your feedback, recent releases have improved functionality. For example, a common complaint was that short, standard phrases in the field could add noise to the Similarity Reports. Since May 2013, users can now specify the length of individual matches, e.g. must be greater than 10 words, which makes the reports easier to interpret and analyze.  The latest release on 24th September this year lets users exclude the Abstract or Materials and Methods sections.

A new viewing mode, Document Viewer, retains the layout of the original document (including figures and equations), making it more straightforward to spot where the overlap is and navigate through the document efficiently. The results from this mode can also be saved and printed to simplify sharing between editors.

A frequent request from editors was to integrate iThenticate with EES to minimize the time needed to upload the files to the software.  We are pleased to report that by the beginning of next year we expect EES submissions to be automatically run through the software. EES will provide a direct link to the full CrossCheck report for each submission.

It’s encouraging to see that journals adopting a screening policy can observe an increase in desk-reject rates and faster decision times, along with an improvement in the quality of papers sent out for review.  For example, at Journal of Materials Processing Technology, thanks to the huge efforts of a strong and dedicated editorial team, desk rejections for scope, quality and plagiarism are now at 78 percent while editorial times from submission to first decision went from 4.8 weeks in 2009 to 3.5 weeks in 2012.

Prof Richard Aron

Prof Richard Aron

Use of iThenticate can also lead to other, less obvious benefits. Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications Editor-in-Chief, Professor Richard Aron, has found that: “iThenticate helps not only in identifying plagiarism, but also in suggesting possible referees that have been overlooked, or at least not mentioned, in the citations.”

If you don’t have an iThenticate account but would be interested in benefitting from this service, please speak to your publishing contact.

More information on plagiarism detection can be found in PERK (Elsevier’s Publishing Ethics Resource Kit).

Tips for interpreting iThenticate results

  • Human interpretation is crucial to differentiate between:
    • paragraphs or sentences copied from properly referenced sources;
    • text copied from the author’s previous works (often in the Methods section); and
    • paragraphs or sentences copied from improperly or unreferenced sources.
  • Similarities discovered in the Results/Discussion sections can be more concerning than those found in Intro/Methods.
  • You should become suspicious if you discover:
    • Similar strings of sentences or small paragraphs. One may not be an issue, but several could signify a problem.
    • A couple of paragraphs containing identical material. This may indicate improper reuse and should be carefully checked.
    • As much as a full page of matching material. Proceed with extreme caution!

Ethics cases can be less obvious than they appear so whenever in doubt, check with your publishing contact to make sure you follow due diligence in any accusation of research or publishing malpractice.

The pie chart shows the types of ethics cases reported at Elsevier in 2012, as per figures submitted to STM, the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers.

The pie chart shows the types of ethics cases reported at Elsevier in 2012, as per figures submitted to STM, the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers.


Author biographies

Laura Schmidt

Laura Schmidt

Laura Schmidt
Laura joined Elsevier in 2010 as a Managing Editor for a physics journal. She is currently a publisher for mathematics journals, and frequently works with editors to support and assist them in handling plagiarism and other misconduct cases.  Earlier, she held a postdoctoral research position at the University of Twente in The Netherlands after receiving her PhD in Physics from the University of Chicago in 2008.

Gaia Lupo

Gaia Lupo

Gaia Lupo
Gaia joined Elsevier in 2011 as a Managing Editor after graduating from the University of Perugia in Italy with a PhD in Mathematics. Gaia is currently working as a publisher and is responsible for a portfolio of 16 journals across the areas of manufacturing processes and systems. Her role includes defining and implementing journals’ long-term strategies and being the primary contact for editors seeking advice on publishing and ethics issues.


Making the most of your COPE membership

In 2008, all Elsevier journals were enrolled in the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), so editors would have an alternative information resource when faced with research misconduct cases. In this interview, current COPE Chair, Dr Virginia Barbour, discusses recent changes to the organization and outlines some of the benefits that membership can bring. When a […]

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In 2008, all Elsevier journals were enrolled in the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), so editors would have an alternative information resource when faced with research misconduct cases. In this interview, current COPE Chair, Dr Virginia Barbour, discusses recent changes to the organization and outlines some of the benefits that membership can bring.

When a handful of medical editors set up the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) back in 1997, they hoped that pooling their knowledge would help them tackle the ethics cases they were witnessing on their journals.

Fast forward 16 years and COPE can claim more than 8,700 members spanning a variety of disciplines across the globe.

While the organization has undergone tremendous change – particularly over the past five years – that original goal of editors offering their peers non-judgmental advice remains central to all COPE’s activities, says current Chair, Dr Virginia Barbour.

She explained: “COPE acted as a sort of support group for those early members and that really hasn’t changed. COPE provides the resources so that editors can make their own decisions – we aren’t here to tell them what to do.”

COPE at a glance:

COPE provides advice to editors and publishers on all aspects of publication ethics and, in particular, how to handle cases of research and publication misconduct. It also provides a Forum for its members to discuss individual cases.

COPE does not investigate individual cases but encourages editors to ensure that cases are investigated by the appropriate authorities (usually a research institution or employer).” *

* Taken from the About COPE page on the organization’s website.

Dr Barbour became aware of COPE in 1999, when she was working on The Lancet in the role of Molecular Medicine Editor – The Lancet Editor-in-Chief, Richard Horton, was one of COPE’s founding members.

In 2004, she left to join the Public Library of Science (PLOS) and was invited to join COPE’s Council. Dr Barbour said: “At that time, we were launching PLOS Medicine. Before our first paper was published we encountered some ethics issues so I realized COPE’s help would be important.”

At that stage, COPE still had a fairly relaxed structure, with no formal constitution. In the years that followed, membership expanded, a constitution was established, internal communications evolved, and the Council became more global. A group of officers was appointed (all voluntary) – the Chair, a Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary – and paid staff were added. These have all become crucial to the smooth running of what is now quite a complex organization.

Since taking over the reins as Chair 18 months ago, one of Dr Barbour’s key aims has been to increase that internationalization. She said: “Until recently, London was the location for all our quarterly Forum meetings (where cases submitted to COPE are discussed). One of the first things I did was to hold two Forum meetings by webinar – opening up the opportunity for all COPE members to attend, wherever they are based.  The success of the virtual Forums has been such that we have decided to hold all of our quarterly Forums by webinar.  We will also be holding workshops around the globe where members can meet in person to discuss cases and publication ethics issues.  We feel that it is important to retain that personal contact with our members, as well as opening up our services to more of our global membership.”

Another two important steps have been the introduction of online consultation sessions (still in early testing) and an International Advisory Group.

The online sessions are designed to supplement the quarterly Forums; they will be held on a regular basis, dictated by the needs of members. Dr Barbour said: “Cases can be submitted in the usual way (via the COPE website) and we will post them on a secure section of the site. We will then hold a two-hour session where anyone from the Council can login and comment on them. As with the Forums, a written summary of feedback will be provided to the submitting editor.”

The International Advisory Group, which is in the process of being launched, comprises a worldwide panel of individuals experienced in publication ethics. Dr Barbour explained: “Although our current Council is global and very active, by necessity it can’t cover every area of the world. To remedy that, we have sought people who are interested in helping us think about ethics issues in their country; if an ethics issue arises that is of importance to their region, we will be able to call on their expertise.”

She added: “The kind of internationalization we are discussing can only be achieved with appropriate software and technology so another major focus has been the introduction of those tools.”

Dr Barbour has also steered COPE through a strategic review which involved having a “hard think” about what its principles should be. She said: “COPE’s primary purposes are now much clearer; we exist for the support and education of members and we enable them to solve cases – on their own. That last point is absolutely the thing that members appreciate.

“Another point I would like to make is that we are not a regulatory body – this isn’t the General Medical Council. We do get people writing to us about the behavior of editors. We do have a Code of Conduct and can work with editors to look at how they can better comply with it but we don’t feel it is our role to rule on an editor’s conduct from a regulatory point of view.”

What happens when a case is submitted to COPE

When editors approach COPE for advice on a case, the first step is to direct them to the resources on the COPE website. Dr Barbour said: “Many of the problems they experience we will have encountered before, for example, authorship issues are tremendously common.” The website contains flowcharts to help editors make decisions on many publishing ethics dilemmas, such as ‘What to do if you suspect redundant (duplicate) publication’ and ‘What to do if you suspect a reviewer has appropriated an author’s idea or data’. There is also a database containing details of, and advice given on, the 500+ cases COPE has discussed since its inception in 1997. Work is currently being carried out to increase the effectiveness of the database’s search function. COPE also hopes that an ongoing reclassification exercise will help it understand which areas of research misconduct are becoming more prevalent and require more focus.

Dr Barbour continued: “If an editor feels their case is not so simple, or they need a bit more support, e.g. they are a first-time editor, or are under pressure from someone, then we suggest they bring the case to one of our quarterly Forums, where it can be discussed by up to 60 editors. Another option shortly will be to submit it for an online consultation session.

“Both these avenues can lead to a divergence of members’ views – not in a combative way, but you will find one editor says ‘this has always helped me’ while another favors an alternative approach. Sometimes members will say ‘exactly the same thing happened to me’ and they can explain how they dealt with it. We collate all the feedback received and provide a written (anonymized) summary to the editor who submitted the case. It is up to them to decide on the next steps.”

Dr Barbour has seen firsthand the value that discussing a case at the Forum can bring. She explained: “At one North American Forum, a member mentioned that they were puzzled by the behavior of an author who had fabricated, or inaccurately reported, references on a paper. It sounded odd, but minor. Then another member said ‘that’s weird’ and related a similar story. It turned out that the reference fabrication was just one aspect of a wider case and between them they uncovered misconduct going back years.

“Similarly, last year at two or three Forums we heard about incidents where authors had fabricated reviewers. It was strange, nobody had ever heard of this happening before and then suddenly there were three cases in six months. That was sufficient for us to send a warning to all our members.”

Plans for the next few years include a focus on making COPE more proactive in leading debates on publication ethics. The first steps have already been taken with the introduction of a ‘discussion’ about a topical ethics issue at the start of each Forum. She said: “Our ultimate goal is to be an organization that leads the debate on publishing ethics.”

COPE – how it can help

The automatic COPE membership Elsevier extends to all its journals brings a number of benefits. As an editor you can:

  • Receive advice on individual (anonymized) cases from members of the Council and other COPE members at Forum meetings each quarter.
  • Access advice on a more regular basis via the new online consultation service.
  • Attend the COPE seminars (free for members) where real-life, anonymized cases are debated.
  • Access the recently revamped eLearning course, and invite co-editors to participate.
  • Use the ethics audit tool to see how well your journal matches COPE’s guidelines (log-in required).
  • Use the COPE logo in your journal.
  • Apply for COPE research grants.
  • Stand for election to COPE Council.
  • Receive the new eNewsletter, COPE Digest: Publication Ethics in Practice.
  • Use COPE’s range of sample letters (log in required).

You will also have access to a variety of resources available to members and non-members alike. These include:

Contributor bio*

Dr Virginia Barbour

Dr Virginia Barbour
Virginia Barbour joined The Lancet in 1999, becoming Molecular Medicine Editor in 2001. She joined the Public Library of Science in 2004 and was one of the three founding editors of PLOS Medicine. She was Chief Editor until September 2013 and is now Medicine Editorial Director for PLOS. She initially studied Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, and then Medicine at University College and Middlesex Hospital School of Medicine, London. After training in hematology at the Royal Free Hospital, London, she continued her studies at the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford, before carrying out postdoctoral work in the Division of Experimental Hematology at St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Alongside her role as Chair of COPE, Dr Barbour is a member of the Ethics Committee for the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME). She has participated in discussions on revisions to CONSORT statements, the QUOROM statement and was involved in the first meetings of the EQUATOR initiative.

* Dr Barbour was interviewed for this article by Linda Willems, Editor-in-Chief of Editors’ Update.


The art of detecting data and image manipulation

“… a false statement of fact, made deliberately, is the most serious crime a scientist can commit.” English Chemist and novelist, Charles Percy Snow (1905-1980) Over the years, numerous initiatives have been launched to educate authors about the dangers of manipulating data and images in their journal submissions — in fact, we discuss two of […]

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“… a false statement of fact, made deliberately, is the most serious crime a scientist can commit.” English Chemist and novelist, Charles Percy Snow (1905-1980)

Over the years, numerous initiatives have been launched to educate authors about the dangers of manipulating data and images in their journal submissions — in fact, we discuss two of our own programs in The importance of author education in this Ethics Special.

Biochemical PharmacologyWhile many of these have met with success, there is no doubt this kind of behavior remains more common than we would wish. In this article, we focus on some of the tools and processes developed to detect data and image manipulation. Dr Jacques Piette, Editor of Biochemical Pharmacology, shares his eight-point plan to control submitted Western Blots, while Dr John Dahlberg, of The Office of Research Integrity (ORI), talks about how his organization can help identify manipulation and offers insight into the techniques used by its investigators. Dr Dahlberg has also kindly offered to share with readers a program the ORI uses to identify potentially fabricated numbers — further details of which you will find below.

But most of all, we hope this article proves the starting point of a wider discussion on this topic — we want to hear your views. Please let us know your thoughts on how data and image manipulation can be better managed in your field by posting your comments below.

The International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC) offers the following guidance on graphics editing:

“For clarity, figures may be adjusted to better see the item being discussed as long as such changes do not obscure or eliminate information present in the original image. However any changes (brightness, contrast, color balance, etc.) must be made overall, and mentioned in the figure caption. An original image file must be retained in case it is required by the peer-review process. Do not remove or move anything in an image, or clean up an image.”

Tools to detect fraud at The Office of Research Integrity (ORI)

The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) is responsible for oversight reviews of investigations into allegations of research misconduct that involve research funded — at least in part — by agencies of the US Public Health Service.

John Dahlberg

Dr John Dahlberg

According to John Dahlberg, PhD, Deputy Director of the ORI, an oversight review is essentially a “de novo review of the institutional record” and is carried out by the ORI’s Division of Investigative Oversight (DIO); ten scientists and physician-researchers with a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds.

He said: “The pace at which they are being asked to examine research is increasing dramatically. Over the years, DIO employees have developed a number of computer-aided approaches to examining data and other research records to strengthen the evidence for research misconduct in cases where findings appear warranted.”

Here, Dr Dahlberg guides us through some of those tools and processes, many of which are available to the public, and shares some useful tips from the team.

ORI’s forensic image tools

Forensic droplets: First posted on the ORI website in 2005, droplets are small desktop applications in Adobe Photoshop that automatically process files dragged onto the icon. They are available to download from ORI’s website and allow you to quickly examine the details of a scientific image in Photoshop while reading the publication in the full text (html) form or in the PDF form in an Internet Browser.

The droplets have a variety of uses and can help you to:

  • Find out whether an image’s light or dark areas have been adjusted
  • Evaluate whether two images may have been obtained from a single source
  • Compare two images

Photoshop Actions: ORI also posted a number of Photoshop actions in 2005 and an advanced set of these has been developed for later Photoshop versions. The actions differ from the droplets in that they pause to allow the user to make a choice in how to proceed with the analysis of the image(s).

Other image tools used by the Division of Investigative Oversight (DIO):

Adobe Bridge: This software can generate libraries of images for rapid screening — images can be organized by date or file size, and the large thumbnail size allows careful viewing of each image. This is particularly useful when searching for sequential versions of files that have been modified, where they are likely to be very similar in size and their time-date stamps are closely spaced.

ImageJ: This program is available for a variety of platforms and can be freely downloaded from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website. It is very versatile and the DIO finds it particularly useful for producing quantitative scans of gel bands, for example.

DIO has also discovered research misconduct in PowerPoint images by using the ‘Reset Picture’ tool. On numerous occasions, this has revealed the use of underlying images and, in several cases, those underlying images turned out to have been scanned from unrelated published papers. It is also possible to reset images in some PDF files viewed in Adobe Acrobat.

Examining questionable data

Review of questioned numbers: Research [1-4] has shown that when people are asked to write random numbers, they do a poor job. James Mosimann, a bio-statistician at ORI in the 1990s, recognized that if sets of numbers in respondents’ notebooks purportedly obtained by transcribing them from instruments such as scintillation counters or spectrophotometers were unaccompanied by the original data printouts, then they might have been fabricated. He also reasoned that while the digits on the left side of a number would be expected to be non-uniform (because they conveyed the results of the experiment) those in the right-most positions ought to be uniformly distributed. He developed a program to calculate chi-square values and corresponding probabilities based on the distribution of right-most digits in sets of numbers sufficiently large enough (>50 digits). Columns of numbers saved as a text file can be imported into his program. The DIO requires control data from similar unquestioned experiments carried out in the same laboratory. In quite a number of cases, while right-most digits from control numbers have been shown to be uniformly distributed, this has not been true of the questioned numbers.

Although not publicly available, the ORI has kindly agreed to provide a copy of James Mosimann's program to interested editors along with instructions. It is usable in Windows through version 7, but does not load in Windows 8. If you would like to receive a copy, please contact Dr Dahlberg at

Issues with spreadsheet files: ORI has made findings in several cases involving the discovery of embedded formulae in spreadsheets that calculate backwards; in other words, a formula is used to calculate the raw data value from the final claimed result. The formula in an Excel cell is visible in the formula bar when a cell in highlighted, while all of the formulae in the spreadsheet can be displayed in Excel (Microsoft Office 2007 version) by pressing the “control + ~” keys (control/plus/grave accent) simultaneously. Pressing the same three keys restores the normal view. Even when formulae have been removed from a spreadsheet, the format of the numbers in the columns may be informative. Calculated values usually have long digit strings to the right of a decimal, and data input values often do not — this can be revealed by setting the cell number format to ‘general’.

Converting graphs back to spreadsheet values: ORI has frequently found it necessary to compare published graph data with raw notebook or computer data to determine if it has been reported accurately. Similarly, they can see if the published standard errors or standard deviations — expressed as error bars — are adequately reflective of the raw data. It is also often desirable to compare graphs published in different grant applications or papers that are labeled as coming from different experiments but which appear to have identical values. To accomplish this, DIO has used computer software [5] to convert images to spreadsheet values.

In several cases, ORI has determined that error bars seem improbably small, or of a fixed percentage of the experimental values. Fixed error bars at, say, 5 percent of the height of the histogram bars in the graphs, are not reflective of typical biological experiments, and warrant a review by the institution to determine if the experiment(s) were actually conducted as described.

Forensic review of sequestered digital data: In recent years, DIO has increasingly relied on the forensic examination of sequestered digital data, particularly of hard drives. This is reflective of increasing reliance by the scientific community on storage of data on computers rather than in notebooks. Whenever possible, ORI advises institutions to acquire forensic copies of digital data, which may involve the expertise of IT personnel and special hardware and software. There are multiple advantages to acquiring image copies in comparison to simply copying files onto CDs or other media; for example, time-date stamps are accurately preserved and forensic software can recover erased files as long as they have not been overwritten by a more recently saved file.

Eight tips to prevent Western Blot manipulation 

Dr Jacques Piette

Western Blots — a highly valuable technique to separate proteins by structure or size — is a widely-used method. According to Dr Jacques Piette, Groupe Interdisciplinaire Génoprotéomique Appliquée Research Director at the Université de Liège, Belgium, and Editor of Elsevier’s Biochemical Pharmacology, it is also a method that is sadly misused and vigilance is needed in evaluating these images [6].

Figure 1: An example of a Western Blot suffering overloading or over-exposure problems, and inappropriate gel cutting. The accompanying paper also lacked quantification and statistical analysis around the WB.

Figure 1: An example of a Western Blot suffering overloading or over-exposure problems, and inappropriate gel cutting. The accompanying paper also lacked quantification and statistical analysis around the WB.

Dr Piette has highlighted eight key points to consider:

1. Pay attention to the overall quality of the Western Blot (WB). The bands should be well-marked. Do not accept a WB with fuzzy or smearing bands.

2. Do not accept a WB with over-loaded or over-exposed bands because they are impossible to quantify.

3. Request that the WBs be quantified and statistically analyzed.

4. Do not accept a WB where the samples to compare have been loaded on more than one gel.

5. Do not accept a WB without the proper loading controls:

  • They should not be over-exposed.
  • They should be made using proteins extracted in the same conditions as the analyzed proteins. Example: if a nuclear protein is analyzed, the loading control should be made with a nuclear protein and not with a cytoplasmic protein - quite often the case!

6. Pay attention to the fraudulent use of the same loading controls in several different WBs.

7. Primary and secondary antibodies must be described in the Materials and Methods section. If the antibodies are not of commercial origin, their characterization must be described.

8. If there are doubts about a WB, do not hesitate to ask the authors to provide an image of the full WB.

The Guide for Authors of many journals do not carry any information around submitting Western Blots. Biochemical Pharmacology is one of the few that does. If a journal receives a large number of Western Blots, the editor might consider amending the Guide accordingly. Any editors interested in working together on a common text on Western Blots should contact me, Anthony Newman, at

Author biography

Anthony Newman

Anthony Newman

Anthony Newman
In September 1987, Anthony moved from London to Amsterdam to join Elsevier. He has always been interested in ethics, and was one of the original project team that founded PERK (Publishing Ethics Resource Kit), and brought COPE into Elsevier. Apart from managing a dozen or more journals, he is also a member of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC) Task Force on Ethics, where he recently published a white paper, and he has given workshops on publication ethics at various IFCC-sponsored events worldwide.




[1] Mosimann J E, Wiseman CV and Edelman RE, “Data Fabrication: Can People Generate Random Digits?”, Accountability in Research4:31-55, 1995.

[2] Mosimann J E and Ratnaparkhi M V, “Uniform occurrence of digits for folded and mixture distributions at finite intervals”, Communications in Statistics25(2):481-506, 1996.

[3] Mosimann J E, Dahlberg J E, Davidian N M and Krueger J W, “Terminal digits and the examination of questioned data”, Accountability in Research9:75-92, 2002.

[4] Dahlberg J E and Davidian N M, “Scientific forensics: how the Office of Research Integrity can assist institutional investigations of research misconduct during oversight review”, Sci. Eng. Ethics, 16:713-735, 2010.

[5] There are various programs that can be used, and although ORI cannot endorse any, it has used SigmaScanPro, sold by Systat Software Inc.

[6] Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky, “Can We Trust Western Blots?”, Lab Times, 2-2012, 41


How to handle digital content

Increasingly, researchers are turning to digital tools to find and access content, and are using the web to share and organize research output in new and exciting ways – just consider Mendeley for a moment. Much research material now has a fully digital life-cycle and this new type of content calls for a new publication […]

Read more >

Increasingly, researchers are turning to digital tools to find and access content, and are using the web to share and organize research output in new and exciting ways – just consider Mendeley for a moment.

Much research material now has a fully digital life-cycle and this new type of content calls for a new publication format. At Elsevier we have been working to meet that need via our Article of the Future (AotF) project.

Why do we need to change?

The format of an article hasn’t evolved much over centuries. While the move from print to PDF has changed the way in which articles are delivered, and made content easier to find, the article format has remained, by and large, unchanged. We believe there is a lot of room for improvement.

For example, at one time or another many of us will have printed out a plot, then used a ruler to reconstruct the actual data points – an inefficient and inaccurate process. We know that the author has the actual data and may assume that they are willing to share it (since it is presented in a plot) – but it’s the article format that makes that sharing impossible.

Figure 1. Data cursor – an illustrative example

Our answer has been to develop an interactive plot viewer that allows readers to hover over data points and see the actual value of the data as provided by the author (see figure 1). This is still a prototype application, but we are working on deploying such an interactive plot viewer on ScienceDirect.

The Article of the Future is an ongoing project. Our goal is to:

  • Break away from the limitations of the traditional, ink-on-paper article format.
  • Enable researchers to publish their work in all its dimensions, including digital content like data, code, multimedia, etc.
  • Take advantage of what modern web technology has to offer to create an optimal and richer reading experience.

Article of the Future – the inside track

There are three main directions in which we are improving the online article – presentation, content and context. You may have read about some of these in previous articles in Editors’ Update. However, new elements are being rolled out on a regular basis and 2013 has seen a number of innovations introduced. Below we highlight just some of these and outline how you can get involved.


In ScienceDirect, articles now appear across three panes (see figure 2).

Figure 2. The new three-pane view introduced by the Article of the Future.

The left-hand pane is used for browsing and navigation, the center pane is optimized for online readability, and the right-hand pane collects additional content and functionality. What is shown in the right-hand pane will vary per research discipline and even per individual article – influenced, for example, by the content the author has delivered. However, it also includes some generic features, for example the reference browser shown in figure 3. When you click on a reference in the main article, bibliographical information for that reference appears, including an abstract when available. This information is pinned to the right-hand pane, so that it remains in place while you read through the paper in the center pane. This example shows how small changes can make a difference – this is not a technological tour de force, yet it saves readers a lot of scrolling time.

Figure 3. Reference browser in the right-hand pane.


This aspect of the AotF focuses on better support for digital research output such as data, code, or multimedia, but also on better support for domain-specific data formats.

One innovation we have introduced this year is the embedding of 3D visualizations in online research articles - invaluable for understanding complex structures, dynamic simulations, and research discoveries. Without interrupting the flow of reading, users can explore and interact with 3D models by zooming in, panning and rotating. They can also change various display settings, open the viewer in full screen mode and download original data files.

The ultimate goal of this project is to create an online visualization infrastructure for ScienceDirect that can be accessed from any device. We are working to achieve this in partnership with Kitware SAS, our 3D visualization service provider. So far, a 3D molecular viewer and a 3D archaeological viewer are available. An author simply uploads the model as a supplementary file to the Elsevier Editorial System (EES). The 3D model then appears in the right-hand pane of the article on ScienceDirect.

The 3D molecular viewer visualizes molecular structures and supports PDB, PSE, and MOL/MOL2 data formats. It allows the models to be explored using the two most common visualization techniques: ‘ribbons’ and ‘balls-and-sticks’, both shown in figure 4.

Figure 4. Ribbons (left) and balls-and-sticks (right) visualizations of a 3D molecular model.

The 3D archaeological viewer (see figure 5) visualizes models submitted in PLY and OBJ formats. The surface rendering technique is applied to display 3D data (including the texture and material properties support). The viewer was developed to support the new Elsevier journal Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, which is unique in that it focuses on the application of 3D modeling to cultural heritage.

Figure 5. Surface rendering of 3D archaeological models.

The next 3D viewer – a neuroimaging module supporting 3D data in NIfTI format for selected neuroscience journals – is currently under development.

Another big step for the Article of the Future project was taken in May of this year, when Elsevier announced the first Executable Papers on ScienceDirect. These papers were published as part of a Special Issue in the journal Computers & Graphics, and would not have been possible without the full support and ambassadorship of the Editor-in-Chief, Joaquim Jorge, and guest editors Michela Spagnuolo and Remco Veltkamp. What makes Executable Papers unique is that they not only capture the narrative of a traditional scholarly paper, but also the computational methodology underpinning the reported results. This gives the reader additional insights and ensures full reproducibility of key scientific findings – an ideal of scholarly communication but, with the traditional article format, something that is often not realized.

The Special Issue makes use of the Collage Authoring Environment, developed by a Polish team affiliated with CYFRONET and first-prize winner of the Executable Papers Grand Challenge launched by Elsevier in 2011. Using Collage, authors can upload data and computer code and interconnect these elements to construct a ‘computational experiment’ from input to output.

ScienceDirect readers can inspect code and data, and – more importantly – they can also change parameters, upload their own test data, and re-run code to really probe the paper’s computational methodology. Collage also offers reviewers and editors access to the computational experiments that belong with a paper, extremely useful for the peer-review process.

Another recent innovation, which is quite different from the projects discussed above, is AudioSlides. These are five-minute, webcast style presentations (combining slides with voice-over recordings) displayed next to the article on ScienceDirect. What sets these apart is that the presentations are not an integral part of the paper, but rather presentations about the article.

They are created by the author and offer a unique opportunity to provide insights into the paper’s content and explain why it is of interest. This new feature has been rolled out to a wide range of journals, and we do hope that you will encourage authors to make use of it.

As an editor, you can also highlight papers of interest yourself by creating an audio podcast. This might take the form of an interview with the author or it could be you sharing your opinion about the article with potential readers. There is also the option to create a podcast for a complete journal issue, which may be organized as a brief overview of all included articles. The article-related podcasts will appear in the right-hand pane of an article, while issue/volume-related podcasts will appear next to each article in the specific issue/volume.

Other content innovations introduced include:

  • The Interactive (Google) Maps viewer, now available for more than 100 journals working with geospatial data. Authors upload their KML/KMZ files as supplementary material and the viewer upgrades a static map to an interactive one. This is integrated into the article view on ScienceDirect and readers can download underlying data.

Figure 6. The Interactive (Google) Maps viewer turns a static image into a rich, interactive source of information.

Figure 7. MATLAB figure viewer showing a 2D surface that the user can inspect by rotating, zooming in, and panning.

  • An application to visualize MATLAB figure files. MATLAB is a general-purpose mathematical modeling tool widely used in engineering and applied sciences. With MATLAB it is possible to export plots to a MATLAB FIG format, which contains both the visualization and the underlying data. Currently available for 50+ journals.
  • Interactive phylogenetic trees. Displayed in the center pane below the abstract, this application allows the reader to interactively explore phylogenetic trees on ScienceDirect. To support this functionality, authors of relevant articles are invited to submit their tree data in Newick and NexML formats.
  • The Chemical compound viewer, an application that visualizes the chemical structure of key compounds in the article and links to Elsevier’s Reaxys® chemistry database*, where additional information can be accessed.


Figure 8. ScienceDirect banner pointing to two databases – MGI and RGD.

Web technologies allow us to interlink the article with other sources of relevant, trusted scientific information on the web – upgrading the article from a one-way street to a roundabout.

For example, Elsevier has a program to link articles with relevant data sets that reside at a data repository. One way we can do this is by inserting a banner next to an article which is only shown if a database has data sets specifically relevant to the paper. Figure 8 shows a banner pointing to two data repositories: MGI (Mouse Genome Informatics database) and RGD (Rat Genome Database). We currently collaborate with more than 30 data repositories in different domains.

Figure 9. An example of the PubChem Compound Viewer.

Taking data linking one step further, it’s also possible to build visualization tools on top of data links, for example the PubChem Compound Viewer we have developed with the National Center for Biotechnology and Information (NCBI). The application extracts relevant information from the NCBI PubChem Compound database using the PubChem CID code and compound name provided by the author. It generates a short summary, which includes the 2D chemical structure image, molecular weight, molecular formula, IUPAC name and a direct link to the full PubChem record (see figure 9). The PubChem Compound Viewer appears in the right-hand pane of the article on ScienceDirect.

How you can get involved

We are committed to enhancing the online article so that it better meets the needs of researchers in the digital age but your input is invaluable if we are to achieve this. There are a number of ways you can get involved:

  • Do you have an idea for a content innovation to enhance online articles in your discipline? If so, please do let your Publisher know.
  • When you receive a new paper, please take a few moments to think about whether it can benefit from some of these content innovations.  If so, we would encourage you to ask the author for the supplementary data required.
  • Encourage your authors to use AudioSlides to talk about their paper and attract the attention it deserves.
  • Create your own editor podcast to highlight articles that deserve special attention. To find out more, please email Elena Zudilova-Seinstra at

Further reading

* Reaxys®, the Reaxys® and ReactionFlash™ trademarks are owned and protected by Reed Elsevier Properties SA. All rights reserved.

Author biographies

Hylke Koers

Hylke Koers
Hylke is responsible for a range of projects to enhance the online article format. Part of Elsevier’s Article of the Future program, this includes improved online presentation, better support and visualization of digital content, and contextualization of the article by linking with data repositories and other sources of trusted scientific content on the web. Before joining Elsevier in 2010, Hylke received a PhD in Theoretical Astrophysics from the University of Amsterdam and served as a postdoctoral research associate at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He is based in Amsterdam.

Elena Zudilova-Seinstra

Elena Zudilova-Seinstra
Elena has been working on the Article of the Future project since joining Elsevier in 2010 as a Senior User Experience Specialist for the User Centered Design group. She holds a PhD in Computer Science and an MSc degree in Technical Engineering from the St Petersburg State Technical University. Before joining Elsevier, she worked at the University of AmsterdamSARA Computing and Networking Services and Corning Inc.

Elena Zudilova-Seinstra

Create audio podcasts for your journal

We are looking for enthusiastic and technology-oriented editors to participate in a new initiative which allows you to create editorial audio podcasts for your journal.

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Elena Zudilova-Seinstra | Content Innovation Manager, Elsevier

With so much information available, it can be all too easy for a researcher to miss important articles in their field. Our new editorial audio podcasts have been designed to combat this problem and we are now inviting editors to join the pilot. We are keen to hear from editors who already know how to create podcasts, are familiar with existing technologies, or have the interest and time to learn.

These podcasts are a powerful means of highlighting articles that deserve special attention. They might take the form of an interview with the author or it could be you sharing your opinion about the article with potential readers. There is also the option to create a podcast for a complete journal issue, which may be organized as a brief overview of all included articles.

All editorial audio podcasts will be freely available on ScienceDirect. The article-related podcasts will appear in the right hand side panel, next to the article. The issue/volume related podcasts will appear next to each article in the specific issue/volume.

Editor podcast on ScienceDirect

An example of an article-related podcast

An example of an editorial audio podcast can be found in the journal Sport Management Review.

Thanks to the podcast player embedded next to the article, readers are capable to listen to the podcast online or to download it locally and play it later using any MP3 player. To help choose between these two options, the length of the podcast and the MP3 file size are both indicated. It is recommended that each podcast is a maximum of 10 minutes long and has a short text description. The podcast submission and production processes are guided and controlled by the journal managers of participating journals.

If you are interested in creating editorial audio podcasts, we would be delighted to include your journal in our ongoing pilot. Please email me at


Making the most of social media

Social media has become a part of everyday life. In 2010, Facebook overtook Google as the Web’s most visited site and in the US Internet users spend one out of every four online minutes on social networking sites and blogs [1]. If social media is unfamiliar, that first dip of your toe into new waters […]

Read more >

Social media has become a part of everyday life. In 2010, Facebook overtook Google as the Web’s most visited site and in the US Internet users spend one out of every four online minutes on social networking sites and blogs [1].

If social media is unfamiliar, that first dip of your toe into new waters can be daunting. However, Elsevier has a range of subject-specific pages available you can join. And below we have outlined some tips for setting up and maximizing the potential of your own social media profile.

The social media landscape

Broadly, the term social media covers people having a conversation online. Conversations can take place in online forums, online communities, social bookmarking sites, user ratings and also as part of multimedia sharing sites.

Figure 1. Some of the social media options available

91% of mobile Internet use is now for social activities. On average, over the course of 12 months, Internet users will:

  • Share 415 pieces of content on Facebook
  • Spend an average of about 23 minutes a day on Twitter
  • Tweet a total of around 15,795 tweets
  • Upload 196 hours of video on YouTube

Sharing research, accomplishments and ambitions with a wider audience makes you more visible in your field. With greater visibility, you are more likely to be cited, you cultivate a stronger reputation and you promote your research, your journal and your career. Some of the more popular networking sites include:


  • Share photos, status updates and links regarding your research with all of your ‘friends’
  • Keep up with association or organization news and announcements on their official pages


  • Share quick thoughts, statements and announcements with followers using no more than 140 characters
  • Share your current research, publications, and links to new blog posts with others
  • Follow other researchers and increase your own following


  • Showcase your work to your connections by creating a profile (just like in a CV)
  • Post your latest accomplishments, research findings and links to your articles
  • Join research groups that interest you and connect with others

Every second, one new user joins LinkedIn and 81% of users belong to at least one group.

At Elsevier, we have more than 160 social media channels (including The Lancet and Cell Press) covering all subject areas. We use these to promote new research, increase traffic to journal articles, gauge opinions on new journals and special issues and give more than 360,000 followers a chance to interact with us directly.

As an editor, your contribution to these social media communities, by starting or joining in with discussions, may even highlight new hot topics or bring an up-and-coming researcher to your attention. These communities also offer a great opportunity to call for new papers.

We invite you to follow or join Elsevier’s social media channels to keep abreast of the latest research in your area, share your ideas, and ask the questions you want to discuss with your peers and colleagues.

How to set up your own profiles

Signing up for an account is easy, but having a professional and personable profile takes a little foresight and effort to build. While each social platform has different specifications and limitations, here are some steps that will work for all:

  1. Profession: Describe what you do. You're not defined by your job title and you're not confined by your job description.
  2. Type of organization: Using your company name is good, but you can also describe the type of organization.
  3. Expertise and unique strengths: What are your key competencies and skills? What are the qualities that differentiate you from your colleagues?
  4. Keep it real: Always use real names, photos and locations.

There is one further step that can help to define your profile, a step that defines your communication style with social media tools in general:

5. Personality: What should your audience know about you that makes you a real person?

Below is an example of how these principles have been used to build a Twitter profile:

Figure 2. Example of a Twitter profile

When communicating through social media, you are having conversations with the people that read your publications, potential and current authors, colleagues and peers, industry specialists, and more. Just as in any form of communication, some rules apply and these are even more enhanced in the social realm. You should be:

  • Transparent: Be honest, upfront, and open to criticism.
  • Conversational: It’s not about blasting a message. It’s about having a conversation and asking questions, listening, and responding.
  • Active: By participating on a regular basis, your interactions will grow your network organically.
  • Valuable. Don’t post just to post. Think about how your network will use the information you are sending. It’s even better to add context to a link – let them know why you are posting.

With a little practice, interacting in social networks can become as natural as emailing or talking in person. It can even be fun!

Author biographies

Angelina Ward

Angelina Ward
Angelina (@angelinaward) leads social business efforts throughout the organization. These include forming policy, guidelines and centralized resources, and driving corporate-level campaigns. She speaks at industry events on social media topics and has been recognized as one of the Top 50 Women in Technology on Twitter who truly “gets” social media and social business. She is based in Atlanta.

Rachel Guest

Rachel Guest

Rachel Guest
Rachel is based in Elsevier’s Oxford office. She is the social media project lead for Elsevier’s Science, Technology and Medical Journals with responsibility for more than 150 subject social media channels with a following of more than 250,000 individuals. Her role is to ensure that Elsevier’s social media content engages with and meets the needs of researchers.


[1] All statistics quoted in this article have been taken from the following:

The Growth of Mobile Marketing and Tagging, Holly Richmond, Microsoft Tag

100 more social media statistics for 2012, Cara Pring, The Social Skinny

The LinkedIn Profile, Market Research – the latest social media and market research news, Lab42


New email alert delivers faster manuscript turnaround times

An email alert created to help editors identify manuscripts requiring action has led to a reduction in overall decision time of 8%. Launched as a pilot in 2012, results from the project have proved so encouraging we are now making the Empower traffic light email available to all editors. 100 journals took part in the […]

Read more >

An email alert created to help editors identify manuscripts requiring action has led to a reduction in overall decision time of 8%.

Launched as a pilot in 2012, results from the project have proved so encouraging we are now making the Empower traffic light email available to all editors.

100 journals took part in the pilot last year and a further 200 journals recently rolled out Empower. The initial 100 pilot journals saw the average time taken to reach a first decision decrease from around 12 weeks just before the pilot started, to around 11 weeks after six months - a reduction of 8%. This compares with a 2.8% reduction across all Elsevier journals over the same period.

What is Empower?

The Empower traffic light email is an automatically generated report showing you how papers assigned to you are progressing compared to your journal’s median turnaround time. The slower papers are shown in red, while the faster ones are coded green. Papers close to your journal median are indicated in amber. The traffic light email can be sent daily, weekly or monthly.

What our pilot journal editors have to say:

"Gives me an overview of our efficiency in handling submissions."

"Gives a good overview - better than that found in EES."

"Sometimes a manuscript has been delayed too much and I did not realize it. The process is then accelerated."

"The traffic code is simple and intuitive."

"It is a very good new initiative and I would very much welcome this as a permanent tool."

"It significantly helps to detect late reviewers, etc..."

The traffic light email is different from the system notifications you currently receive, in fact it is complementary to these. While the notifications tell you the specific action needed for a paper, the traffic light email compares the progress of your papers to others submitted to your journal. You can think of the traffic light email in terms of a dashboard – it enables you to quickly identify slower papers and to determine by checking their full status info in EES whether there is any action you can take to speed up their progress. Should you find out, over time, that some of the system notifications are no longer needed, you can ask your Journal Manager to turn them off.

Figure 1. Following implementation of the Empower traffic light email, the average time it takes to reach a decision on a paper after the first round of review initially rises. This is an indication that legacy papers have received more visibility and are being dealt with. After that the handling time goes down rapidly and Empower journals start to outperform those not in the pilot. The graph represents aggregate data of around 100 Empower journals (red line). They are compared with another set of journals, which have not yet implemented Empower, (blue line) and have been measured over the same time period in which the Empower pilot was run. Please note there is a group of journals that have been using Empower for more than a year, which is why the red line shows results for up to 12 months. That set of journals shows a greater improvement, possibly due to a combination of Empower and other initiatives introduced to improve turnaround times.

If you are interested, just contact your Publisher and he or she will take this further. More information can also be found at

Sample traffic light email

Dear [editor name]

  • For security reasons please login to your EES Editor Main Menu before accessing the links in this report.
  • The traffic light email shows you the progress of your papers compared to the journal median turnaround times for this particular step. It helps you to quickly see which papers need to be prioritized. Read more.
  • Feedback

Author biographies

Angelique Janssen

Angelique Janssen

Angelique Janssen

Angelique works in the Publishing Services department in Amsterdam. She is responsible for projects that deliver tools and services to both internal and external Elsevier audiences. Since joining Elsevier in 2002, Angelique has worked in various positions, such as Associate Publishing Editor. She has a Master’s degree in Language Didactics from Utrecht University and is certified as a PRINCE2 Practitioner.

Andrés Villavicencio

Andrés Villavicencio
Andrés works in the department that runs the Elsevier Electronic System (EES) in Amsterdam. He manages key EES projects in cooperation with Publishing. He is the EES point of contact for Publishing of Science & Technology as well as Health Sciences in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. Andrés joined Elsevier in 2002, and has experience in both EES and journal production training and journal management roles.


NEW: Marketing your journal

In this webcast on “Marketing your Journal” we provide you with information on Elsevier’s journal marketing strategy, and how our activities help to increase visibility, accessibility and readership for your journal and the articles published within it.

Read more >

In this webcast on “Marketing your Journal” we provide you with information on Elsevier’s journal marketing strategy, and how our activities help to increase visibility, accessibility and readership for your journal and the articles published within it.

Helena Stewart

New online directory helps with tracking events

The newly launched Elsevier GLOBALEVENTSLIST aims to provide a central online directory of conferences, symposia, exhibitions and meetings.

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Helena Stewart | Commercial Solutions Marketing Manager, Elsevier

Scientific and medical events provide an ideal opportunity to disseminate new research and network with peers. However, keeping track of upcoming events can be a challenge, especially with details spread far and wide across the web.

The newly launched Elsevier GLOBALEVENTSLIST aims to provide a central online directory of conferences, symposia, exhibitions and meetings.

Researchers can post information about their upcoming events, free of charge, as well as create personalized alerts.

The website allows visitors to:

  • Quickly locate events around the world
  • Access key information to help prioritize attendance
  • Interact with other delegates and provide feedback on event experiences
  • Plan ahead by adding events of interest to their calendars
  • Stay updated by creating personal event alerts about upcoming events in their area(s) of interest

Alerts can be personalized by:

  • Type of event – conferences, symposia, meetings
  • Subject area – more than 100 scientific disciplines
  • Location – more than 200 areas worldwide

If you sign up to set your alert preferences by 31st March, you could win an Apple iPad.

The website also offers a range of support services to help with the organization and promotion of events.

Hylke Koers

AudioSlides allow authors to promote research findings in their own words

Authors can now create online presentations about their papers that are displayed on SciencDirect. If you would like your journal to offer AudioSlides, read on…

Read more >

Hylke Koers | Content Innovation Manager, Elsevier

New initiative will allow authors to create online presentations about their papers for display alongside their article on ScienceDirect. If you would like to offer this for your journal, read on...

Do you feel that too much research is being published these days? The answer to that question is usually a whole-hearted “yes” – an answer you will surely recognize. But when the same researchers are asked whether they feel they have published too much lately, that “yes” often becomes a “no”.

What is this telling us? I take this as an indication that researchers are increasingly struggling to keep up with the literature available but, at the same time, want to make sure that their paper gets the attention it deserves. Recent research by Elsevier [1] shows that scientists, on average, spend 9.3 hours per week browsing, searching and reading the literature on offer; that is a substantial portion of their time and it’s not surprising that useful papers are sometimes missed. With the volume of research output continuing to grow, this problem is only going to increase unless new tools are developed that will make it easier for researchers to find the articles most relevant to them.

We believe we can help. In 2011, Elsevier announced the Article of the Future project - a new, online article format offering better support for digital content, and a better online reading experience with a user-friendly, clean presentation.

Research has also shown that, thanks to the new format, readers are able to more efficiently determine if a paper is relevant for them. The biggest time-save (up to 34%) is in identifying and discarding irrelevant papers, which leaves more time to focus on the ones that matter [2].

We are now adding a new feature to the online article that offers a whole new dimension to this process by giving authors the possibility to explain in their own words what their paper is about: AudioSlides.

AudioSlides are brief, five-minute presentations created by the authors of the article using slides (PDF and PowerPoint) and voice-over recordings. This gives authors the opportunity to explain their paper in their own words in an appealing, easily accessible presentation format. The resulting video is displayed alongside the article on ScienceDirect. Authors can share personal insights into their research, highlight the paper’s salient points and, more importantly, explain why the paper is relevant for other researchers. This helps to make the paper stand out from the crowd and attracts readers that are interested in the subject. In particular, it can help to boost appeal to the younger generation of researchers, who have grown up with YouTube and enjoy using this format for learning.

To help authors create AudioSlides presentations, Elsevier has developed an easy-to-use, web-based tool. Authors can log in at any time to upload slides, and record a voice-over per slide. The tool works with all modern browsers, so only a computer, internet connection, and a microphone are required. Authors can make as many recordings as needed, and add, remove, or delete slides until they are happy with the result. AudioSlides is offered as a complimentary service for authors and the presentations will be made freely available on ScienceDirect.

The AudioSlides project was launched as a pilot mid-2012, and the initial response from both authors and readers has been very positive. Authors who have created a presentation tell us that they spend a few hours on it and are happy to recommend it to their peers. Based on this positive feedback, we will be rolling out the AudioSlides service to more titles throughout 2013. If you are interested in offering AudioSlides to your authors and readers, please reach out to us to nominate your journal for fast-track inclusion.

For more information and examples, please visit

[1] Researcher Insights Index - Reading Behaviour; Research & Academic Relations, Elsevier. More than 50,000 individuals were randomly selected from across 1.2 million authors that published in 2009 (source: Scopus). They were approached to complete the study in Jan 2012. There were 4,225 respondents. Data has not been weighted, responses are representative of the Scopus data by discipline and country. Error margin is ± 1.3%, at 90% confidence levels.

[2] IJsbrand Jan Aalbersberg et al., “Elsevier's Article of the Future enhancing the user experience and integrating data through applications”, UKSG Insights 25 (1), March 2012, DOI: 10.1629/2048-7754.25.1.33


View The Individual and Scholarly Networks seminar

The recent Research Trends and Elsevier Labs virtual seminar, The Individual and Scholarly Networks, is now available to view in archive.

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Sarah Huggett | Publishing Information Manager, Elsevier

Research Trends and the Elsevier Labs recently co-hosted their first virtual seminar: The Individual and Scholarly Networks. The event, held on 22nd January, attracted more than 500 attendees from all over the world, and featured six compelling external speakers. We used a novel format aimed to maximise engagement: in addition to audio and slides, we showed videos of the speakers and Twitter feed.

Materials from the event, including recordings of each session and discussion, presentations, and a Q&A transcript for those questions that we were unable to address live, are now all freely available on the Research Trends website, although unfortunately we were not able to get rid of some of the technical issues affecting audio in the second part of the event. A summary of the event and highlights of the discussion are also available

There were two components to the event. The first part focussed on building networks, and the ways in which relationships are formed and maintained, as well as how they are changing the nature of scholarly relationships. In this session, Professor Jeremy Frey  discussed how varying degrees of openness aid scientific collaboration, while Gregg Gordon presented an overview of the Social Science Research Network. Then, Dr William Gunn talked on building networks through information linking, using Mendeley as an example. The second part was about evaluating network relationships, exploring the related areas of alternative metrics, contributorship and the culture of reference. In this session, Dr Gudmundur Thorisson discussed digital scholarship and the recently launched ORCID initiative, while Kelli Barr questioned the purpose of and objectivity of evaluations. Finally, Dr Heather Piwowar  explored various impact flavours, in particular ImpactStory. Each session was followed by lively discussions amongst the presenters, spurred by questions and comments from our remote audience.

Images from webinar

Angelina Jokovic

Electronic Signing Introduced for Editorial Contracts

Elsevier introduces a new electronic signature system to the editorial contract process. Find out more…

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Angelina Jokovic | Team Leader Publishing Assistants

Electronic signatures are rapidly becoming an integral part of the business world, accelerating contracting processes and making the status of an agreement clear to all parties involved. So this year we took the decision to introduce an electronic signature system to our own editorial contract process - Adobe EchoSign. This automated service specifically manages the business process of getting contracts signed, tracked and filed. As a global company with editorial contracts needing to be signed in multiple countries, Adobe EchoSign offers a useful alternative to the exchange of print documents, which can be time consuming, error prone and non-transparent. Adobe EchoSign has the added benefit of being eco-friendly.

As an Elsevier Editor, when you are negotiating a new agreement with your Publisher, the stage at which the contract is ready for reviewing and signing is when you will receive an email from Adobe EchoSign. A link in this email will take you directly to your contract and, after you have signed, the contract will automatically be sent onto the next signer. Once all required signatures are complete a copy of the contract will be sent to all signees, including a full audit trail. If you don’t wish to sign your contract via Adobe EchoSign you simply need to inform your Publisher and a print contract will be sent in its place.

We see benefits with this new system for all parties involved. Adobe EchoSign

  • Provides an online audit trail that meets compliance, legal and security requirements.
  • Offers protection to both the sender and the signer during the signing process, including key authentication and privacy, and fraud protection.
  • Reduces the turnaround time of contracts.
  • Eliminates office supply costs.
  • Provides greater transparency for all, at all stages of the contract process.

We have also had positive reactions to Adobe EchoSign from our Editors, with one of our first signers, Victor Paquet, Scientific Editor of Applied Ergonomics, informing us that, “the electronic signature process couldn’t have been any easier from my end!”

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at


Are you Looking to Recruit Scientists of the Highest Caliber?

Find out more about and how it can help with your recruitment/job seeking needs.

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Helena Stewart | Commercial Solutions Marketing Manager, Elsevier helps employers and recruiting agencies find the best candidates for a variety of roles, regardless of the specialty or expertise required.

In addition to the broad reach offered by posting your vacancy on our jobs board, we offer targeted recruitment solutions on, accessed by 80% of global scientists. With 16 million unique visitors per month your job advert will be visible to active and qualified researchers in precisely the right discipline and will be seen by passive job seekers.

If you are looking to recruit, our job advertising options include:

  • Basic job posting (free): your vacancy will appear on the job board and be posted to the thousands of job seekers who have signed up
  • Enhanced listing: your vacancy will be contextually advertised next to related published journal articles
  • The ability to add a dedicated email
  • Being a feature employer: profile your organization with your own microsite

You can post your job here

Case study:

Hiring an Immunologist in German speaking countries

Or perhaps you are looking for your next career move?

Register to receive job alertsshare your CV with recruiters and apply for science and research jobs.


Interactive Logo Helps Researchers Decide which Scholarly Content to Trust

“The launch of CrossMark offers a significant benefit to researchers.” Egbert van Wezenbeek, Director Publication Process Development One of the challenges researchers face is a lack of clarity around whether they are consulting the most up-to-date version of an article or research. As an Editor of an Elsevier journal, you work closely with authors and […]

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"The launch of CrossMark offers a significant benefit to researchers." Egbert van Wezenbeek, Director Publication Process Development

One of the challenges researchers face is a lack of clarity around whether they are consulting the most up-to-date version of an article or research.

As an Editor of an Elsevier journal, you work closely with authors and reviewers to ensure that articles have been thoroughly checked prior to publication. However, despite even the most careful scrutiny, corrections, updates and errata, as well as retractions and withdrawals, are sometimes still necessary. The challenge is that many versions of the article may still exist out on the web.

To combat this problem, Elsevier and other Publishers have banded together with CrossRef to create the CrossMark identification service.  By clicking on the CrossMark logos in online PDF or HTML documents, readers can quickly learn the current status of a document.  If the one they have opened is not the most up-to-date, the logo will help them to navigate to the most recent version available.

Often, copies of documents are posted on a variety of sites which can make it more difficult for the Publisher to notify readers when a correction or other change materially affects the interpretation of the work. CrossMark can help with that communication.

How will it work?

Elsevier and other Publishers will display the new logo on journal content that has been assigned a CrossRef DOI. It will only appear on final published versions, not on Articles in Press.

Readers simply need to click on the logo and, if they are connected to the internet, a pop-up box will appear showing the current status of the document. This will work whether the reader is on the Publisher’s website, a third-party site or is viewing a PDF downloaded at an earlier date.

The most common pop-up will be the message that the document is still current. Occasionally, however, readers will discover that the document has updates and a CrossRef DOI will link to the update on the Publisher’s site.

We are aiming to roll this service out to all Elsevier journals. We began piloting it with 40 journals at the end of September and plan to roll it out to 1,250 of our 2,000 journals by the end of the year.  Some journals have unique requirements and Publishers will be reaching out to those journals’ Editors to discuss these in the coming weeks and months.

Egbert van Wezenbeek, Director Publication Process Development, has been responsible for leading the CrossMark project at Elsevier. He commented: “The launch of CrossMark offers a significant benefit to researchers. Not only does it create a standard across scholarly publishing for recognizing changes, it can also highlight important publication record information. This can include publication history, the location of supplementary data, access policies, funding sources, peer-review processes and other useful information.”

Find out more about the Elsevier Policy on CrossMark.

Author Biography

Egbert van Wezenbeek

Egbert van Wezenbeek
Egbert is responsible for the design, development and implementation of improvements to the publication process of journal articles. The aim is to improve the experience of our authors, editors and reviewers in their interaction with us and our systems. We also attempt to adapt and innovate processes so that we are able to add more value to the whole publication process and to the final published articles. Egbert has been working with Elsevier for more than 20 years. Prior to his current role he worked in various positions in Publishing. He has a PhD in Theoretical Chemistry from the Free University Amsterdam.


New ORCID ID Aims to Resolve Authorship Confusion

An innovative new scheme launched this month could signal the end of concerns over author ambiguity. Since October 16, academics, researchers and contributors can register for a unique ID with ORCID (the Open Researcher and Contributors ID repository). These identifiers can be used by editors, funding agencies, publishers and institutions to reliably identify individuals in […]

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An innovative new scheme launched this month could signal the end of concerns over author ambiguity.

Since October 16, academics, researchers and contributors can register for a unique ID with ORCID (the Open Researcher and Contributors ID repository). These identifiers can be used by editors, funding agencies, publishers and institutions to reliably identify individuals in the same way that ISBNs and DOIs identify books and articles.

What does an ORCID look like?

An ORCID is a 16-digit number which will usually be presented in the form of a web address that leads to the researcher's profile, for example

To register, researchers should visit the ORCID website,, where they can create a complete online record of their research and publications. This is made open and freely available via a web page and data feeds. More importantly, once created a researcher’s unique ORCID can be used as a linking identifier throughout the entire chain of the scholarly communication process to allow reliable attribution of research.

ORCID is freely available to individuals and has an easy-to-use application programming interface (API) to encourage integration with existing systems, development of new tools and to inspire novel uses of the repository data. The advantages of the new ORCID are numerous:

  • Editors will have a one-stop shop for reviewing a contributor’s history and can gain an oversight of an author’s work to date, as well as their professional relationships.
  • Researchers will avoid having to enter biographical and bibliographic data in multiple systems.
  • Institutions and funding bodies will benefit from easier, more reliable analysis of scholarly output.
  • Publishers will enjoy a simplified publication workflow and greater opportunities for product and service development.

Why is ORCID necessary?

ORCID hopes that by creating a registry of unique identifiers for individual researchers, the name ambiguity problems that have hindered the development of interoperable scholarly tools and networks will be solved. Even the inclusion of email data with submissions has only recently become common in the US and Europe, and for articles written in Asia we still rarely receive complete email information. We also face challenges around name distribution, particularly in Asia. According to the 1990 US census, there are 1,713 family names that represent 50% of the population (take a bow, anyone called Spangler, family name number 1,713), whereas in Korea there are three: Kim, Park and Lee.

ORCID and Elsevier

Elsevier is a founding sponsor of ORCID and helped to fund the initiative through donations and loans. We have also contributed significant staff time towards its launch.

We expect to integrate ORCIDs into many of our products and services, including Scopus the world’s largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature. Initially researchers will be able to link their Scopus author profiles with their ORCID records, saving them time when setting up their ORCID profiles and allowing Scopus to automatically keep their ORCID bibliography up to date. Next year, we hope to begin incorporating ORCID data into the Scopus author profiling process to increase the accuracy of the Scopus profiles and automatically propagate work that researchers do to clean up their ORCID profiles. ORCID data will be added to our SciVal products, enabling increased interoperability with your own data.

We are also planning to integrate ORCIDs into the manuscript submission process; this will save authors time when going through the submission process, and enable us to automatically update their bibliographies when articles are published.

Who owns ORCID and will it succeed?

ORCID is a not-for-profit organization founded by academic institutions, professional bodies, funding agencies and publishers. It has been launched with the help of donations, sponsorships and grants from across the scholarly communication sector and will sustain itself through membership fees for institutions and organizational members. ORCID has declared a set of principles committing itself to openness, transparency and the protection of scholars’ privacy.

There have been several earlier attempts to create unified ID systems, none of which have enjoyed the universal adoption essential to become established as a standard: they have either been perceived as proprietary (owned by an organization or corporation and not truly open), have emerged from a specific discipline with particular characteristics, or they have not been truly international.

Altmetrics and ORCID

ImpactStory (formerly is one of ORCID’s launch partners. Currently if you want to receive a report of all the times your publications have been shared via Twitter, Mendeley and other social networks, you must upload a list of all your publications. With ORCID, when you visit, you’ll be able to login and automatically import all your publications using your ORCID profile.

To succeed, ORCID has to build upon the community's experience and, to date, the team behind the repository has worked closely with experts in researcher identification systems from across academia and industry. Looking ahead, ORCIDs are compatible with the ISNI (International Standard Name Identifier). By mutual agreement, ORCIDs and ISNIs will not conflict, so future co-operation is possible.

The computer code that runs ORCID has been released under the MIT Open Source License framework, and is available to anyone for re-use and addition. Public data in the repository will be deposited with partners on a regular basis. We hope that the cross-community structure, the open and international nature of the organization, data, interface and code, and the guarantee of permanence will establish ORCID as the standard in scholarly IDs.

Organizations participating in the ORCID Launch Partners Program include:

  • The American Physical Society
  • Aries Systems
  • Avedas
  • Boston University School of Medicine
  • The California Institute of Technology
  • CrossRef
  • Elsevier
  • Faculty of 1000
  • Figshare
  • Hindawi
  • JMIR Publications
  • Nature Publishing Group
  • SafetyLit
  • Symplectic
  • Thomson Reuters Scholar One Manuscripts
  • Thomson Reuters ResearcherID
  • ImpactStory
  • The Wellcome Trust

How will an ORCID help me?

Many organizations have announced tools and applications that interface with the ORCID repository. Participating in the ORCID Launch Partners Program are research institutions, publishers, research funders, data repositories, and third party providers.

Key features of the ORCID Registry

  • Researchers and scholars can register for an ORCID identifier, create ORCID records, and manage their privacy settings.
  • ORCID holds records created by universities on behalf of their researchers and scholars. Researchers and scholars can link their ORCID identifier record data with external systems including Scopus and ResearcherID.
  • ORCID links to a number of author profile and manuscript submission systems, facilitating researchers’ and scholars’ creation of ORCID records. Systems that already offer integrated ORCID Identifiers include the American Physical Society, Aries Systems, Hindawi, Nature Publishing Group, and Scholar One Manuscripts.
  • Researchers and scholars can search and upload publication metadata from CrossRef.

ORCID will also soon have the ability to link to grant application systems and add book and data records.

More than 280 organizations already participate in the ORCID initiative. Academic institutions form the largest group; other participants include publishers, scholarly societies, and corporate, non-profit, government, or other organizations. (Source:

Coming next...

The next year will be an exciting time for ORCID. With a major release already in the pipeline and developer days planned, we expect to see increasing integration across the scholarly community, with ORCID data being used to power CV / resume / grant application forms automatically, and with connections being built to institutional systems and research tools.

We hope that the community will benefit from the work that has been invested in ORCID to date, and that you will join us on

Author Biographies

Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor
Mike has worked at Elsevier for 16 years. He has been a research specialist in the Labs group for the last four years, and has been involved with ORCID (and previous projects) throughout that time. Mike's other research interests include altmetrics, contributorship and author networks. Details of his research work can be found on

Chris Shillum

Chris Shillum
Chris is responsible for the platform and systems which power online products such as ScienceDirect and Scopus. He has worked in various capacities on ScienceDirect since its inception in 1997, and currently represents Elsevier on a number of industry organization boards, including ORCID, CrossRef and the International DOI Foundation. Chris holds a Masters in Electronic Systems Engineering from the University of York in the UK.


Improving the Reporting of Clinical Research – An Editor’s View

Editor Dr David L Schriger muses on what can be done to improve both the quality of science and its reporting.

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Dr David L Schriger| Deputy Editor, Annals of Emergency Medicine

As well as his role as Deputy Editor of the Annals of Emergency Medicine, Dr Schriger is also a member of the CONSORT and EQUATOR initiatives. His research focuses on improving the credibility of medical literature through the detailed presentation of results via figures and tables.

The last 20 years have seen much written about the poor quality of medical literature1. Recent endeavors such as EQUATOR (and its component reporting guidelines) and the Peer Review Congress (which has fostered interest in journal quality) have sparked considerable improvement. However, there is more to be done to improve both the quality of the science and the quality of the reporting of the science. Journals can play an important role in both areas. The first step for journals interested in doing so is to step beyond three common misconceptions.

First, there is a misguided obsession with statistics, a misconception that distracts authors, reviewers, and readers from more fundamental issues2. Classical statistics is concerned with differentiating observations expected by chance alone from those unlikely to be due to chance, thereby suggesting a potentially important association. While random error is a legitimate concern, particularly for small studies with positive results, in clinical research, concerns about random error are dwarfed, or should be dwarfed, by concerns about non-random error which is also known as confounding or bias3.

When problems occur in clinical studies they are typically related to the methodology of the study, not the statistics. In reviewing more than 2,500 papers for Annals of Emergency Medicine and other journals over the past 25 years, I have seldom found a paper for which the main deficiency was the use of the wrong statistic or the miscalculation of a statistic. In contrast, I routinely read studies that are poorly designed or fail to account for the presence of confounding in their analyses or conclusions. I also commonly find studies that devote multiple paragraphs in the Methods and Results sections to statistical concerns but fail to include even a single sentence about non-random error. A skeptic might think that the obsession with statistics is a diversionary smokescreen designed to distract readers from fundamental problems with confounding and bias.

Second, journals often have ill-defined goals for their review process. Review processes can ask several questions including:

a) Is the topic paper appropriate for our audience?

b) Is the reporting of the science complete? Does the paper provide all of the information that a knowledgeable, critical reader needs to reach a conclusion about the work

c) Is the science correct?

A common misconception is that c) is a legitimate goal of peer review. While it is certainly appropriate that the peer-review process filters out abject garbage (papers whose claims are unsubstantiated or ludicrous), caution should be taken to ensure that reviewers are critiquing the research design, analytic methods, and the quality of the reporting of the results, not the conclusion. Otherwise, journals will reject articles that conclude that ulcers are caused by bacteria just because the conclusion is unexpected. Instead, peer review should focus on ensuring that readers have all the information they need to reach their own decisions about the paper's conclusion. From this perspective, peer review's purpose is to bring to readers complete presentations that meet methodological standards and standards for comprehensive reporting. Don't worry whether the authors have found truth, worry about whether they have told a complete story. The scientific process will take care of the rest4.

The third misconception is that article quality is the responsibility of the authors, not the journal. While it is certainly true that better journals tend to get better papers, there is ample evidence that the papers of the highest impact journals have problems with incomplete or suboptimal reporting5-6. Research suggests that these problems are only corrected if the journal identifies them and insists that they be fixed7-8. A journal must take an active role in setting expectations and enforcing them if the reporting of science is to be improved.

At Annals of Emergency Medicine, we recognized these issues and have taken a series of steps to improve our journal. I share with you a number of them so you may consider whether they would be appropriate for your journal.

In 1997, the editors recognized that bias was the greatest threat to the veracity of the work being published and decided that all research papers would be reviewed by one of a small cadre of ‘methodology/statistics’ reviewers in addition to the typical content reviewers. Experience had shown us that the ideal person to perform this function is not a full-time statistician but a clinician-researcher who thoroughly understands methodology and knows enough statistics to know when formal statistical review is needed. This program has proved successful - the quality of reviews has improved as has the quality of the published papers9-11. Starting six years ago, this program was supplemented by a check for the appropriateness and quality of tables and figures in papers about to be offered acceptance or revision12-13.

These two programs have improved the journal and have slowly trained the author community about the journal's standards (which are stated in detailed Instructions for Authors initially composed in 200314-15). Over time, the methodology/statistical reviewers have had an easier time because papers come in with many of our requirements already met. In summary, our experience leads me to offer the following guidance to journals trying to improve their quality:

1) The main problem is study methodology, not statistics. Put your efforts into carefully critiquing each paper's methodology. Do not assume that regular reviewers will do this well. Identify reviewers who are capable of doing this job and use them. With more and more physicians getting clinical epidemiology training in public health and other graduate programs, finding such reviewers is getting easier. If you want them to do lots of reviews, compensate them.

2) The second problem is the quality of reporting. Get familiar with and the reporting guidelines for different types of research (CONSORT, STAR-D, PRISMA, STROBE...). Recognize, however, that these guidelines may be insufficiently detailed regarding specific nuances of your field and are not as strong on the presentation of results as they are on the presentation of methods. Augment them as needed.

3) Discourage papers that hide behind a torrent of statistics and models instead of showing readers the actual data. Editors and reviewers should ask "are methods and results presented in sufficient detail that learned readers can decide whether they agree or disagree with the conclusion"? Focus on whether the paper is fully reported rather than whether the science is correct or not.

By refocusing peer review on the paper's methodology - as opposed to its statistics - and on the quality of the reporting of the science, editors can improve the quality of research articles in their journals.


1 DG Altman. The scandal of poor medical research.  BMJ 1994;308:283–284

2 Schriger DL. Problems with current methods of data analysis and reporting, and suggestions for moving beyond incorrect ritual. Eur J Emerg Med. 2002;9:203-7.

3 Goodman, S.N. Toward evidence-based medical statistics. 1: The p-value fallacy.  1999 Ann. Int. Med;130:995–1004.

4 Ziman JM. Reliable Knowledge: An Exploration of the Grounds for Belief in Science. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1978.

5 Glasziou P, Meats E, Heneghan C, Shepperd S. What is missing from descriptions of treatment in trials and reviews? BMJ 2008; 336:1472–1474.

6 Hopewell S, Dutton S, Yu LM, Chan AW, Altman DG. The quality of reports of randomised trials in 2000 and 2006: comparative study of articles indexed in PubMed. BMJ 2010; 340:c723.

7 Plint AC, Moher D, Morrison A, Schulz K, Altman DG, Hill C, Gaboury I. Does the CONSORT checklist improve the quality of reports of randomised controlled trials? A systematic review. Medical Journal of Australia 2006; 185:263267.

8 Goodman SN, Berlin J, Fletcher SW, Fletcher RH.  Manuscript quality before and after peer review and editing at Annals of Internal Medicine. Ann Intern Med. 1994;121:11-21.

9 Schriger DL, Cooper RJ, Wears RL, Waeckerle JF. The effect of dedicated methodology and statistical review on published manuscript quality. Ann Emerg Med. 2002;40:334-337.

10 Goodman SN, Altman DG, George SL. Statistical reviewing policies of medical journals: caveat lector? J Gen Intern Med. 1998;13(11):753-6

11 Day FC, Schriger DL, Todd C, Wears RL. The use of dedicated methodology and statistical reviewers for peer review: A content analysis of comments to authors made by methodology and regular reviewers. Ann Emerg Med. 2002;40:329-33.

12 Cooper RJ, Schriger DL, Tashman D.  An evaluation of the graphical literacy of the Annals of Emergency Medicine.  Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2001;37(1):13-19.

13 Cooper RJ, Schriger DL, Close RJ. Graphical literacy: The quality of graphs in a large-circulation journal. Ann Emerg Med. 2002;40:317-22.

14 Cooper RJ, Wears RL, Schriger DL. Reporting research results: recommendations for improving communication. Ann Emerg Med. 2003 Apr;41(4):561-4.

15 Schriger DL.  Suggestions for improving the reporting of clinical research: the role of narrative. Ann Emerg Med. 2005;45:437-43.


Planned 2012 Innovations Promise Easier-to-Use EES

As many of you know, Elsevier is currently building Evise, our next generation online submission and peer-review system.  The rollout of Evise is planned to begin in the second half of 2013 and to prepare for a smooth transition, 2012 will see the introduction of new features to our current system, EES. These include something […]

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As many of you know, Elsevier is currently building Evise, our next generation online submission and peer-review system.  The rollout of Evise is planned to begin in the second half of 2013 and to prepare for a smooth transition, 2012 will see the introduction of new features to our current system, EES.

These include something we know you have been keen to see – a single username and password across all EES journal sites.

Single login across EES journal sites

Researchers have multiple roles in publishing: many authors are also reviewers; many Editors are also authors and reviewers. And researchers can perform these roles for multiple journals. We know that EES does not recognize that sufficiently so, later this year, we will begin the task of consolidating all user accounts.

How to consolidate your account

Once the change has been rolled out, when you log into EES you will receive a prompt to consolidate your accounts. EES looks for matching associated email addresses when deciding which accounts to group together. If you have used different email addresses per EES site, you can indicate this during consolidation. Once you have selected the accounts to consolidate, you will receive a confirmation email. This is sent to ensure that only the account owner can give approval.

During consolidation, you will also be asked to choose a security question and answer. You will need these to reset your password if you forget it.

You will have 30 days to consolidate your accounts. After this period, you will only be able to use EES if you have consolidated your accounts.

Figure 1. The consolidation notification screen.

Logging in to EES after consolidation

After you have followed the consolidation procedure, you will be able to use the same username and password to access each EES journal site you use. Your primary email address in EES will be your username. You will continue to log into each EES journal site separately.
If you have multiple roles for a single journal, you will need to log off and log in again if you want to switch your user role.

Roll out timing

The new user consolidation functionality will be piloted in July and August 2012, with roll out activity ramping up from September 2012 onwards. We will keep you informed of our progress by email.

Online support consolidation

We are also working on consolidating the online support available for EES. This is currently spread across the Elsevier website but going forward generic information on EES will be available on, while EES support information will be presented in EES. That means that if you click on Help in EES, a pop-up window will open up in which you will be able to quickly access the right support content. The content will be presented per role and per phase in the editorial process to make it easier for you. The search function will also be available in the window.


Figure 2. The new help window.

Future improvements

Elsevier has a number of user feedback programs and the results of these, along with the questions end users ask Elsevier customer support, are just some of the sources we call on when determining which improvements we should introduce. You can also provide feedback via

Author Biography

Edward O'Breen

Edward O'Breen
Edward has worked on the development and launch of new products and services since 1997. Prior to joining Elsevier in 2011, he worked for telecom operators, utilities and publishers. He has a MSc degree in Business Administration from the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Hop Wechsler

New Permissions Helpdesk is now Live!

Elsevier has created a Permissions Helpdesk to support editors, authors, freelancers, and support staff with the permission seeking process. Learn more…

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Hop Wechsler | Permissions Helpdesk Manager, Elsevier

Permissions - what material can be re-used where, by whom, in what format, and under what circumstances - is an area of publishing that has become more complex if not confusing in recent years.

Elsevier regularly re-uses content owned by third parties including publishers, authors, illustrators, and institutions. The legal risks involved with not obtaining permission, or not obtaining the proper permission for the full extent of rights required, can be substantial, especially in an electronic environment where the re-use of copyrighted material can easily be tracked.

Elsevier is dedicated to protecting our intellectual property, which includes copyright, as the foundation of our business. If we fail to follow the necessary procedures to acknowledge other publishers’ and authors’ rights, Elsevier’s integrity as a defender of our own rights will be threatened. Similarly, failing to obtain the full extent of rights that we need can jeopardize the integrity of our products in other ways, for example by forcing us to ‘black out’ the online version of images for which we were only able to obtain permission for the print version, thereby detracting from the professional appearance and usability of the online product.

With these concerns in mind, Elsevier has created a Permissions Helpdesk to support editors, authors, freelancers, and support staff with the permission seeking process. Based in our Philadelphia office and staffed by Hop Wechsler and Laura Stingelin, the Helpdesk will respond in a timely and constructive manner to fundamental and frequently asked questions such as: What rights do I need to request from another publisher? What can I do if my permission request is denied? How can I obtain contact information for an out-of-print title? Do I need permission to re-use my own work?

Since its launch in April this year, the Permissions Helpdesk has:

  • Referred requestors to third party publishers, to Rightslink®, and to our own permissions granting team in Oxford to obtain permission;
  • offered recommendations on stock image (e.g. Clip Art, Fotolia) and open-source software license terms;
  • advised as to whether adapted or redrawn figures require permission;
  • explained that in certain cases no formal permission is needed to re-use limited content from other STM signatory publishers; and
  • reviewed permission letters from other publishers to determine whether all required rights were granted to Elsevier.

Please encourage your fellow editors, authors, and support staff to contact the Permissions Helpdesk at +1-800-523-4069 x 3808 or with any permissions questions. Questions about the permissions process may be unavoidable, but confusion about the permissions process need not be. We look forward to hearing from you!


Are you Eligible for Elsevier’s Ambassador Program?

Find out more about Elsevier’s Ambassador Program which offers complimentary access to the SciVerse platform.

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Elizabeth Zwaaf | Marketing Communication Specialist, Community Engagement Team, Elsevier

Elsevier’s Ambassador Program ensures that all receiving editors of a journal are granted complimentary access to the SciVerse Platform – the repository of ScienceDirect and Scopus.

At Elsevier, we immensely value the dedicated work of receiving Editors who between them have helped to publish more than 12 million journal articles. And to acknowledge this, Elsevier has committed itself to providing them with complimentary access to some 2,500 journals and 14,000 electronic book titles published on ScienceDirect.

Editor-in-Chief of the journal International Immunopharmacology, Professor James E Talmadge, comments: “The complimentary access to ScienceDirect and Scopus is very powerful at an academic center that does not have full access to Elsevier publications.”1

Sir Gordon Duff, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal Cytokine, adds: "This makes checking references and source materials much easier and quicker.”2

In exchange for activating a unique code given to them by the journal’s Publisher, an Editor will receive an automated user login to enable them to access the SciVerse Platform from any computer, tablet or smart phone using the single-user-login functionality.

Eligible Editors are also able to utilise the features of Scopus for free, the world’s largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature, and qualify web-sources.

Professor Talmadge adds: “Scopus is particularly useful in the identification of reviewers, as well as potential ethical concerns.”

Whilst still logged into SciVerse, an Editor can perform and save advanced searches across ScienceDirect and Scopus content via the SciVerse Hub as well as other web content and refer to it for future use and also take advantage of using the SciVerse Applications, a marketplace and developer network.

If you need any further information on the Ambassador Program, please contact your publisher.

For all login issues, password reminders etc, please send an email to:

Please visit the SciVerse InfoSite for online tutorials and newsletters or to read up on the latest developments.

1 Professor James E Talmadge is the Director Laboratory of Transplantation Immunology, Department of Pathology and Microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

2 Sir Gordon W Duff is a Florey Professor of Molecular Medicine, University of Sheffield.

Jean Claude KADER

The Merits of Virtual Special Issues

Jean-Claude Kader, Editor-in-Chief of Environmental and Experimental Botany (EEB), suggests that building virtual special issues can be an exciting way for editors to highlight the strengths of a journal.

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Jean-Claude Kader, PhD | Honorary Research Director of the (CNRS) Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique | Editor-in-Chief, Environmental and Experimental Botany

Environmental and Experimental Botany (EEB) publishes research papers and reviews on the responses of plants to their environment. I have been Editor-in-Chief since 2004 and, in 2010, Dr Kari Taulavuori (University of Oulu, Finland) joined me as the second Editor-in-Chief, specializing in the ecophysiology of northern plants under global change.

Launching virtual special issues
In 2011, we agreed on an editorial policy to annually publish thematic special issues covering hot topics within the scope of EEB. In addition to these, we decided to launch a series of virtual special issues; special issues brought together around a theme using content already published on SciVerse ScienceDirect. Once a theme has been selected, we use ScienceDirect and Scopus to make a search based on keywords. We focus our search on papers published in recent years and select papers which are highly cited and which provide novel advances in their domains.

Once compiled, the virtual special issues are hosted on our EEB journal homepage on, with the articles linking directly to the full-text articles on ScienceDirect. Marketing campaigns are then carried out promoting the virtual special issues to authors. The aim in launching this series was to emphasize particular topics where papers published in EEB had been highly cited. And through promoting these papers, we wished not only to increase downloads and citations to the papers included, but to encourage authors to submit more papers in these areas.

Choosing the themes
In agreement with Kari and with Ursula Culligan (our Publisher) I decided upon four themes for the virtual special issues; salt tolerance in plants; temperature; light quality and intensity; and water dynamics.  These themes were some of the key topics covered by papers published in regular issues and had not been covered by special issues published in the Journal.  These four virtual special issues are hosted on our EEB journal homepage.

Response to the campaigns
We have had positive responses to the four email campaigns which can be gauged from the high opening rates of the emails, the increase in downloads on ScienceDirect for the articles included, and the positive responses from individual authors who have contacted us. The graph below, prepared by Helena Stewart (Senior Marketing Manager), shows the ScienceDirect full-text downloads per month for the articles included in each of the four virtual special issues. The numbers in black show the actual number of full-text downloads the articles received the month each virtual special issue was promoted. For each of the virtual special issues we can see a clear surge in usage.

Positive aspects
My experience is that virtual special issues have been a useful tool in highlighting content to our authors. The varying interest in the different virtual special issues has also indicated to us the topics our readers are particularly interested in. We plan to continue with the series and, in the long term, we are hoping that they will lead to an increase in citations for the papers involved and will encourage authors to submit papers in these areas to our Journal.

In conclusion, I think that building a virtual special issue is an exciting way for an Editor to highlight the strengths of a Journal and I welcome any comments you may have.


Finding and Retaining Reviewers

Discover new ways to identify and retain the best reviewers in your field; how to motivate them to do a good job and encourage them to repeat review for you.

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Discover new ways to identify and retain the best reviewers in your field; how to motivate them to do a good job and encourage them to repeat review for you.


Your Role as an Editor

An introduction to your support teams within Elsevier. Meet the editorial and publishing staff who will help make your job easier and learn more about a number of additional resources at your disposal.

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An introduction to your support teams within Elsevier. Meet the editorial and publishing staff who will help make your job easier and learn more about a number of additional resources at your disposal.


How to be a Successful Editor in the 21st Century

An examination of the roles and responsibilities of editors covering topics such as establishing the direction and scope of your journal, managing peer review and engaging with the community.

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An examination of the roles and responsibilities of editors covering topics such as establishing the direction and scope of your journal, managing peer review and engaging with the community.


The Impact Factor and other Bibliometric Indicators

Love it or loathe it the journal Impact Factor remains a widely-used benchmark by authors to decide which journal to submit to. Whilst we recognize the Impact Factor at Elsevier, we also nurture the idea of using other indicators of journal performance.

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Love it or loathe it the journal Impact Factor remains a widely-used benchmark by authors to decide which journal to submit to. Whilst we recognize the Impact Factor at Elsevier, we also nurture the idea of using other indicators of journal performance.


Peer Review and the Role of the Editor

Editors today are confronted with a number of challenges to the peer-review process, for example finding reviewers. That means new and different approaches are required, Frank H Arthur writes.

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Frank H Arthur | USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Center for Grain and Animal Health Research | Regional Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Stored Products Research

I have been a Regional Editor of the Journal of Stored Products Research since November of 2006, and continue to serve as a reviewer for other scientific journals. Editors today are being confronted with a number of challenges to the peer review process, including obtaining the peer reviews necessary to evaluate scientific studies for journal publication. New and different approaches are necessary to cultivate and maintain a solid base of reviewers.

First, editors must become more active in pre-screening manuscripts before they are sent out for review. As a reviewer, I regularly receive manuscripts that are severely deficient in English grammar and construction, along with the stated or implicit assumption that it is also my responsibility to re-write these manuscripts in addition to evaluating the scientific content. This expectation places an unfair burden on reviewers and editors, who are usually serving on a volunteer basis. Related issues include being sent manuscripts that are obviously lacking in scientific quality for that journal, out of scope, or in a completely different format from what is specified.  Receiving these types of manuscripts increases frustration on the part of reviewers, and editors can, and should, simply return those manuscripts to the authors and let them address the deficiencies. The authors are ultimately responsible for the quality of the manuscript.      

Second, editors should focus on obtaining reviews from scientists who are actively publishing in their journal. Every month I receive several automatic ‘invitation to review” emails from journals where I have not published in the past, nor am I likely to do so in the future, including various new online journals. Many scientists will decline those invitations unless there is overwhelming interest in the topic of the paper. I also receive numerous requests for reviews from journals where I have published only sporadically as a submitting or lead author, and often not at all for the past several years. Regular contributors have a more vested interest in the journal but, at the same time, editors must not continually ask the same people to review because “they cannot find anyone else”. Efforts must be made to broaden the review base and increase participation in the review process.

Third, assuming reviews are being solicited from regular contributors to a journal, editors should first make personal contact with reviewers instead of just generating an “invitation to review” email. However, if the reviewer declines a review because of their current workload, the editor should go to someone else, rather than asking the reviewer for a suggested alternative. In my experience, many scientists will not do a review if they know a colleague has declined because he or she was “too busy”, because they are busy as well. I do not suggest colleagues when I decline a review unless that person is more appropriate because of their expertise, and I generally let them know that I have, or will, recommend them as a reviewer.         

Within many biological disciplines, the number of professional scientists is declining, pressure to obtain outside funding is increasing, and research scientists are being required to perform administrative functions as well. The steps discussed above are just a few ways editors can facilitate the peer review process to ease the burden on journal reviewers.

New Measures Aim to Ease Editor Workload

New Measures Aim to Ease Editor Workload

“The automatic reminders are prompting reviewers to respond as well as get overdue reviews done.” Editor, Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling We know that journal editors have witnessed a substantial increase in their workloads over the past few years, largely due to the rise in submissions. However, with authors now actively seeking journals promising […]

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"The automatic reminders are prompting reviewers to respond as well as get overdue reviews done." Editor, Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling

We know that journal editors have witnessed a substantial increase in their workloads over the past few years, largely due to the rise in submissions.

However, with authors now actively seeking journals promising a quick turnaround of papers, offering a fast publication process has never been more vital.

With help from journal managers, publishers within Elsevier have launched a program of initiatives providing our editors with the tools and best practices to help them achieve that goal.

These initiatives are based on the wealth of knowledge and experience of our extensive network of editors. We believe that they can be of use to you and your colleagues, as well as to authors and reviewers.

If you would like to explore any of the initiatives in more detail, please do not hesitate to give your publisher a call.

1. Moving traffic

It is clear from the feedback we have received that many of you spend a large proportion of your time on administrative activities, such as checking the status of papers. In response, we have developed a regular 'traffic light' email and best practice that focus on five key steps in the Elsevier Editorial System (EES) editorial process. According to our data, these steps cause the largest variation in publishing times between journals. They are:

  • Initiate review (invite reviewer and agree to review)
  • Under review
  • First decision
  • Author revision
  • Revision to decision

The traffic light email

Traffic light email

Figure 1: The email codes manuscripts green, amber or red, with red indicating that the manuscript requires urgent attention. The email is a powerful means to help editors prioritize their work.

A best practice document is available to help editors get the most out of the traffic light email. It outlines the tips and tricks of editors of Elsevier journals that EES has identified as having the fastest turnaround times for these steps.

We expect this document could be of particular interest to new editors, but its contents may also inspire more experienced editors to revisit their procedures.

Results so far

While it is still early days, the first positive results have been reported. For example, the editors of the Journal of Molecular Structure have managed to reduce the editorial time for the ‘revision to decision’ step by 47%. Comments from editors using the traffic light email make it clear that it helps them to swiftly identify which actions are needed first.

2. Article-Based Publishing

Traditionally, academic articles have been published in journals, issue by issue. With the onset of digital publishing, articles have become available sooner as articles-in-press, however, there is still an average wait of 15 weeks before they are assigned an issue and receive a full and final citation (still preferred by authors in place of the DOI number, according to our observations).

To address this, we have introduced Article-Based Publishing, a contemporary publication model assigning final citation data on an article by article basis.

“Article-Based Publishing is a key part of Elsevier’s efforts to find new ways to speed up and enhance the publication process,” explains Martin Tanke, Managing Director of Science & Technology Journals for Elsevier.

Article-Based Publishing, what does it mean?

  • Articles immediately receive a page number and are published one by one in an Issue in Progress.
  • If multiple volumes are available for a journal, multiple Issues in Progress can be opened and filled with articles simultaneously. Final articles will appear online sooner which allows for faster citations (see figure 2).
  • Article-Based Publishing has already resulted in reductions in publication times of up to seven weeks for final articles.
  • This change in process reflects the industry shift from print to electronic publishing.
SciVerse ScienceDirect view

Figure 2: Article-Based Publishing - what you see in SciVerse ScienceDirect

Since its introduction, more than 280 journals have implemented Article-Based Publishing, and another two sets of 50 journals were due to join the program in November and December this year. Professor René Janssen, Editor of Organic Electronics, comments: “Article-Based Publishing is a major step forward which I really like. Now the article is in its final form just a few weeks after acceptance and this will give the journal an important advantage compared to others. I am sure that our authors will like it too. As far as I am aware, Organic Electronics is now one of the very few journals with rapid publication of full papers.”

3. No need to remind yourself to remind reviewers

As an editor, you can probably identify with the time-consuming task of reminding reviewers of deadlines, and chasing late reviews. Did you know that EES can do this for you? In an effort to reduce your workload, EES provides an Automated Reviewer Reminders tool.

Editors who have already implemented the reminders report that the tool has helped them to reduce reviewing times, which our studies indicate is an important factor for authors when deciding which journal to submit to. An editor on Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling says: “Aside from the traffic light and best practice, what has helped me are the constant reminders to individuals who have not responded to the review invitation request as well as past due reviews. The automatic reminders are prompting reviewers to respond as well as get overdue reviews done.”

4. Making the best use of your reviewers: rejecting without peer review

While it is important to give all authors a fair chance, we do recognise that not all submitted papers are suitable for peer review. Such papers should be rejected upfront by the editor.

There are four main benefits to these so-called ‘desk rejects’:

  • For Editors: There is no time and effort wasted on finding reviewers for, and reminding them about, papers that are highly likely to be rejected anyway.
  • For Reviewers: They receive only those papers that are worth spending their limited time on.
  • For Authors: They are informed of the reject decision at the earliest possible stage, allowing them to submit elsewhere.
  • For the journal: It is likely that the Impact Factor, the most visible label of the journal’s reputation, will improve with only the best quality papers making it through the process.

We have gathered together best practice tips and tricks from editors whose journals have a well-established process in place for this initial screening of papers. Your publisher will be able to provide you with a copy of this document.

5. Language editing

Because more and more papers are submitted by authors whose native language is not English, editors spend an increasing amount of their time on language editing. This leaves them less time for the actual management of the review process.

However, it is Elsevier’s policy that the author is responsible for language editing and that this should happen prior to submission. Our advice to editors is that they should refer authors to a language-editing agency, or to a colleague who is a native English speaker. Elsevier also offers language editing services directly to the author via the Author Webshop. Other services available include SPI and Asia Science Editing. In exceptional cases, the journal may pay for the language editing. Your publisher can give you more information.

Author Biographies

Angelique Janssen

Angelique Janssen

Angelique Janssen
Angelique works in the Strategy and Journal Services department in Amsterdam. She is responsible for projects that deliver tools and services to both internal and external Elsevier audiences. Since joining Elsevier in 2002, Angelique has worked in various positions, such as Associate Publishing Editor. She has a Master’s degree in Language Didactics from Utrecht University and is certified as a PRINCE2 Practitioner.

Andrea Hoogenkamp-O'Brien

Andrea Hoogenkamp-O'Brien

Andrea Hoogenkamp-O'Brien
Andrea joined Elsevier in 2009 and works in the Strategy and Journal Services department in Amsterdam, where she is part of a team responsible for developing new initiatives to improve services for authors, editors and reviewers. She joined Elsevier from FEMS in Delft where she had worked as the Editorial Coordinator, responsible for managing the publications unit, which publishes five FEMS Microbiology journals. Prior to that, Andrea held the position of Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Amsterdam.


A Discussion on How to Improve Journal Performance

Of interest to: Journal editors (key), additionally authors and reviewers Archive views to date: 310+ Average feedback: 4.4 out of 5

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Of interest to: Journal editors (key), additionally authors and reviewers
Archive views to date: 310+
Average feedback: 4.4 out of 5

flags montage 168 x 168

The Inside Track: Elsevier Employees Share their Thoughts

No-one is better placed to offer advice about Asia than those who live and work there. Below, Elsevier employees in China, Taiwan and India talk about research developments in their countries and share tips for editors wanting to build closer links with Asia. Q. What is your role within Elsevier and how long have you worked for the company? […]

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No-one is better placed to offer advice about Asia than those who live and work there.

Below, Elsevier employees in China, Taiwan and India talk about research developments in their countries and share tips for editors wanting to build closer links with Asia.

Ella ChenQ. What is your role within Elsevier and how long have you worked for the company?
A. I have worked in Elsevier for four years. Currently I’m a Journal Publisher.

Q. Do you manage any journals?
A. Yes, a portfolio of 11 journals in Physical & Theoretical Chemistry, e.g. Electrochimica Acta, Journal of Chemical Thermodynamics, Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A, B & C, etc…

Q. What is the general view of Elsevier in China?
A. From my personal experience, people within the scientific research community do know Elsevier and respect it. They associate Elsevier with top quality and feel honored to publish in (some of) our journals. But of course, I can’t speak for all.

Q. Have you encountered any cultural differences working in an international environment?
A. Researchers in Asia (e.g. China and Japan) sometimes progress on to a political career. Inevitably they then have no time to devote to research, which is a pity for us because they could have been good candidates for journal editors, editorial board members or authors.

Q. Do you have any tips for editors who would like to attract papers/editors from China?
A. Promote the journal, know the market (what are the strong subject areas, who is leading the projects), and build connections. Of course, that is our job as publishers too.

Q. What are your thoughts about the scientific progress made in China in the last five years? What do the developments mean for the country?
From an overarching point of view, the number of researchers has now reached 1.4 million, just second to the US. Other figures have also seen a big increase, e.g. the number of papers, expense on R&D. Investment in Science & Technology in the past 10 years has increased by a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 24%. The Chinese government has also developed a few national programs to attract high level researchers back to China.

Q. What are some of the biggest scientific changes you think we will see in your country in the coming five years?
A. I think it’s foreseeable that there will be further growth in research output and improvement in paper quality.

Q. Are there any other observations you would like to make?
A. The rating system in Chinese institutions puts too much emphasis on the Impact Factor – that’s already widely known and discussed. In the meantime, some universities require research students to publish papers to graduate. The incentive for professors and researchers to do real science is therefore eliminated. And problems like plagiarism are still an issue.

Sabine YuQ. What is your role within Elsevier and how long have you worked for the company?
I joined Harcourt in 2000 handling the local publishing (translation & reprint) business for HS books in Taiwan and China. I entered journal publishing in 2003 as a coordinator between the Singapore and Taiwan offices a year after Elsevier acquired Harcourt. We only had three Taiwan journals and four Hong Kong journals then. I’ve learnt a lot about this business and the society clients; it’s what I’m truly fond of. I took full responsibility for this area in 2005 (acquisitions, profits and loss, marketing, customer service, etc…). We continue to sign up more new journals year after year and now have 22 journals in Taiwan and five in Hong Kong.

Q. Do you manage any journals?
Our team handles a total of 27 journals in Taiwan and Hong Kong. They include Kaohsiung Journal of Medical Sciences (KJMS), Journal of the Chinese Medical Association (JCMA) and Asian Journal of Surgery (ASJSUR).

Q. What is the general view of Elsevier in Taiwan?
A. Most societies and doctors/professionals know about Elsevier. We’re a prestigious international publisher. Many of them have submitted to Elsevier journals themselves or have had experience reviewing articles for Elsevier journals.

Q. Have you encountered any cultural differences working in an international environment?
A. I like the working culture and environment in international companies which allow one to work independently and at the same time in a big team.

Q. Do you have any tips for editors who would like to attract papers/editors from Taiwan?
A. Since we’re not a native English-speaking country, authors in Taiwan would like to know more about how to publish in international journals and especially in the high IF journals. They need to be connected to the global resources and channels.

Q. And any tips for Asian researchers/editors who want to work for Elsevier?
A. I think a lot of them are interested in working with, or for, Elsevier. First, they need to be informed of such opportunities. Second, they should know clearly what they are expected to do and what resources they have to accomplish their tasks.

Q. What are your thoughts about the scientific progress made in Taiwan in the last five years? What do the developments mean for the country?
A. From the scholar’s perspective: “The biggest progress is the governmental investment in the scientific development. The Government has granted 1.7 billion (USD) in five years to encourage the enhancement of scientific researches and advancement of the technologies. The salaries of scholars have improved too. This has allowed Taiwan to be more competitive in the scientific development. As far as the publication quantity, it’s been quite stable for the past few years. As the non-native English speaking country, the quality of the papers is also improving. We’ve seen more papers got published in prestigious international journals like Nature & Science.” Prof. Huang, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Formosan Medical Association (JFMA).

The number of journals in Taiwan has also grown beyond expectation and last year we contracted four new ones. Many existing local journals have also decided to publish with Elsevier. The mindset of Taiwan medical societies has changed; they would like to contribute to the international health science community. The internationalization of Taiwan journals helps to bring attention to the research and scientific works done in Taiwan. Our society partners all rely heavily on Elsevier’s global resources and channels to promote their journals to the world.

Q. What are some of the biggest scientific changes you think we will see in your country in the coming five years?
A. The governmental scientific investment will continue. This has stimulated the private sector and we expect investment from the “biopharma” industry to increase. This will certainly help to enhance the R&D environment in Taiwan.

Q. Are there any other observations you would like to make?
A. As Asia rises, the researchers and scientists in our regions hope to play a more active role in the international community. The Editors’ Conferences are a good opportunity for them to do that. Those who attended the Hong Kong event last year all had a wonderful experience with Elsevier. Thanks to Gerrit Bos, Managing Director Health Science APAC, all our journals are now in the Production Tracking System (PTS) for journal workflow and benefit from the full scope of our publishing services. My purpose is to connect our editors to our global resources, so that they can truly benefit from Elsevier’s brand name, which will also ensure Elsevier’s leading position in the Taiwan market.

Elsevier is the only international journal publisher who has local publishing support in Asia and that is one of the reasons we have had no competition in Taiwan until now. To sum up, our strength in the Taiwan market is really “pay locally and publish internationally”.

I’m also looking forward to EVISE, the new online submission Elsevier Editorial System (EES), which takes into consideration the needs of Asian journal editors.

Sheenam Aggarwal

Q. What is your role within Elsevier and how long have you worked for the company?
A. I work as a Product Manager for the Elsevier India Journals Program. I have been associated with the company for two years now.

Q. Do you manage any journals?
Elsevier India has built up a journal portfolio over the last couple of years and my role includes, but is not limited to, setting up the journal production workflow for both online and print so as to ensure a seamless production process, timely delivery and quality output. The journals I have established include Indian Journal of Rheumatology and Medical Journal Armed Forces India.

Q. What is the general view of Elsevier in India?
People, especially students pursuing medicine as a career and specialists, are very well aware of Elsevier and look up to it for providing them with world class content. They recognize Elsevier as a high class brand that publishes breakthrough content written by some of the best people in the world.

Q. Have you encountered any cultural differences working in an international environment?
I have been interacting regularly with our international colleagues, specifically in the APAC region. From what I have gathered, markets and societies in countries like Australia and Taiwan etc… are mature, have established publishing programs and follow a very structured approach and standard workflow. In the Indian market, since the societies are fairly new, they are bit reluctant to follow a standardized approach. We have been trying to convince them to follow workflows such as the Elsevier Production Tracking System (PTS) and are hopeful that our publishing program will soon be on a par with international standards.

Q. Do you have any tips for editors who would like to attract papers/editors from your country?
Yes I do.

  • People in India place a lot of emphasis on writing quality articles and contributing to the scientific community and are extremely inclined towards submitting their work to highly regarded and valued journals – especially those that are indexed.
  • The acceptance of a paper to an indexed journal with a high Impact Factor is highly credible for the author and gives him/ her global visibility and reach beyond their own country.
  • Participation in society conferences in India is one of the best ways to attract Indian manuscripts, as these conferences guarantee the attendance of the majority of the people in that particular field.

Q. And any tips for Asian researchers/editors who want to work for Elsevier?
Asian researchers / editors who work for Elsevier will have the unique privilege of being part of the Elsevier family. Almost all our systems are automated and we use user-friendly online interfaces. Elsevier has a very transparent system in which the researchers / editors are well informed at every stage of the manuscript lifecycle. They also get access to the world’s largest scientific repository – ScienceDirect – and get an opportunity to have their work cited in Scopus and Embase etc… Elsevier believes in improving their systems and services continually by capturing the customers’ feedback via, for example, the author and editor feedback programs.

Q. What are your thoughts about the scientific progress made in India in the last five years? What do the developments mean for the country?
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Over the years the Indian government has invested a lot of money in R&D and creation of infrastructure, as well as institutional capacity and instrument and laboratory facilities. The institutional participation in research has almost doubled. Indian authors’ contributions to quality journals have improved, resulting in an increase in their average impact per paper. Also, the average citations received per paper have improved marginally over time. There has been a substantial rise in publication output in emerging areas, such as biotechnology, drugs and pharmaceuticals, material sciences, and medical sciences, to name but a few. The number of peer-reviewed international journals reporting India’s research output has increased consistently. More and more scientists are publishing in medium & high impact journals, there has been a strengthening of current arrangements for international collaboration and institutes have set up open access archives to make their research more widely accessible. All these developments highlight India’s potential to become a significant contributor to the growth of science.

Q. What are some of the biggest scientific changes you think we will see in your country in the coming five years?
I believe that India has the potential to deliver and sustain much higher publication growth. The Indian government is setting up more and more premier institutions along the lines of the Indian Institute of Technology & All India Institute of Medical Sciences. With this increasing emphasis on research, there will be a phenomenal increase in the amount of contributions and publication of research findings. India will probably catch up with other leading countries in the world by encouraging greater institutional participation. I think we will also:

  • make sophisticated laboratory and instrument facilities more widely available;
  • increase investment in R&D;
  • improve the research environment by introducing goal-oriented research; and
  • increase scientific cooperation with developed and developing countries.

I also feel that more research programs will be initiated to attract bright young talent into the field of science.

Q. Are there any other observations you would like to make?
Communication with the Indian authors should be more sensitive and culturally compatible.


Rethink the Way You Publish – Benefits of Participating in the Genetics Editorial Community

Of interest to: Authors (key), additionally journal editors and reviewers Archive views to date: 160+ Average feedback: 4.3 out of 5

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Of interest to: Authors (key), additionally journal editors and reviewers
Archive views to date: 160+
Average feedback: 4.3 out of 5


Meeting the Challenge of a Global Academic Community

“While everyone has the possibility to submit a paper and become an author, editors are selected by their networks…” — David Clark, Senior Vice President, Physical Sciences There is no doubt the number of papers submitted by Asia-based authors is increasing, and increasing fast. But what are the possible consequences of this influx, not only […]

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"While everyone has the possibility to submit a paper and become an author, editors are selected by their networks..." — David Clark, Senior Vice President, Physical Sciences

There is no doubt the number of papers submitted by Asia-based authors is increasing, and increasing fast.

But what are the possible consequences of this influx, not only for editors, but for journals and the scientific community at large?

Philippe Terheggen, Elsevier Senior Vice President of Physical Sciences II, is confident this sea-change bodes well for the future of publishing.

He explains: “The birth of new internet technologies and the growth in these countries are two of the biggest trends in science and scientific publishing; they have transformed the landscape. Global collaboration with Asian scientists is rife and academics are regularly travelling. We are witnessing the emergence of one single academic community and that is fantastic.”

According to Terheggen, Elsevier has an obligation to ensure these prospective authors can fully participate in the publishing process. An obligation it shares with the authors’ parent institutions.

He acknowledges: “Yes, that brings challenges. Right now the rejection rate needs to be high and there are language problems that require editors and reviewers to spend too long on their evaluations. However, the papers that are published are often highly-cited and the overall quality is good. We know reviewers are doing some fantastic filtering and are choosing the right articles.”

He adds: “The danger is that poor language and presentation could be a recipe for under-publishing with good quality research lost. However, I see this as a temporary problem because the English language skills of the younger researchers are often really strong and improving fast.”

The importance of training

Concerns have been raised that the rate of duplicate submissions is higher in some Asian countries than those of more established scientific communities. Terheggen responds: “All countries have authors who show that sort of behavior. It’s probably more apparent in Asia because of the relatively large numbers of eager, early-career researchers who are not familiar with international codes of conduct. Don’t forget, a professor in China may have 100 PhD students, while in Germany that figure could be as low as 10. That makes it more challenging for the Chinese professor to get important messages across.

“But even if eagerness is to blame, duplicate submissions are highly undesirable as they double the workload for peer reviewers.

CrossCheck logo“We try to explain that to prospective authors and the initiative CrossCheck is also proving useful.  It makes it relatively simple to pick up researchers who engage in plagiarism or multiple submissions.”

He adds: “Sometimes the duplicate submission is deliberate, just a couple of items are changed before the second submission. That is the worst form of ‘salami slicing’ but it’s not typical.”

Terheggen says Elsevier is continuing to build its presence in Asia, both in publishing and support roles.

“Nothing can replace that on-the-spot contact. We are therefore investing in the relocation of senior publishers to our Beijing office for periods of one month or six weeks. While our China-based professional expertise is growing, the visiting publishers gain deeper Asian knowledge. That two-way learning curve is also created by extended stays of Asian staff in Europe and the US.”

Disciplines witnessing an Asian boom

Asia’s expansion has closely followed a pattern established in other emerging countries. Subject areas such as chemistry, material sciences and engineering typically experience the first growth. This is usually followed by life sciences, social sciences and some of the inter-disciplinary sciences.

How Elsevier can help

David Clark, Elsevier Senior Vice President of Physical Sciences, agrees that Elsevier has an important support role to play in Asia.

“We have seen a significant increase in the number of submissions from emerging countries and a larger universe of authors brings its own set of problems. We know the new authors are not necessarily up to date with the ‘dos and don’ts’ of publishing so it is up to us to help them.”

Clark has some practical tips for editors swamped by papers from Asia.

“Talk to your publisher. Ask them how other journals are coping and about the services we have in place to help.

“For example, we run author workshops*, which are often visited by hundreds of early career researchers. These can be hosted by an editor and publisher, or by an editor alone and there is material available for use.

“It is not the editor’s job to rewrite a paper and there is a danger errors can creep in during the process. We encourage authors to ask a native English speaker to read their article prior to submission so they can make the corrections themselves. We certainly don’t feel that editors should be spending time on papers that they struggle to understand or follow – it is the author's job to get that right.”

Closing the gap

According to Clark, while the spread of countries represented on the editorial boards of Elsevier journals is ‘reasonable’, countries such as India and China are under-represented in comparison with their share of published articles. For example, the percentage of Elsevier editors from China is 3.3% while nearly 13% of published articles originate there.

% share of Elsevier S&T articles

Figure 1 - percentage share of Elsevier S&T articles by country. Source: Elsevier Operations Reporting, 2010.

Clark admits: “Some countries are also significantly over-represented, for example, 40% of our editors come from the US while only 18% of published articles originate there.

“This discrepancy can partly be explained by market shifts that are not reflected yet in editor representation, e.g. China has gained more article share in Elsevier journals at the cost of the US, UK, Japan, and Germany.

“Culture and politics also play an important role. While everyone has the possibility to submit a paper and become an author, editors are selected by their networks and people tend to turn to those they know.

“Levels of appropriate expertise can also be a stumbling block.

“I know some editors worry communication will prove problematic. This concern stems from a time when we dealt with paper but new communication technologies make international boards easier to run.

“Sometimes it is simply a case of hesitating to make changes to the current board.”

He adds: “This gap needs to be addressed, not for reasons of political correctness, but because of the practical advantages. It eases the burden on traditional academic communities and it offers access to good new people coming up through the system. Just look at the high standard of work already coming out of some institutes in China.

“However, the quality of a journal rests with the people editing it. We know that means that in some fields there will not be board members from emerging countries, while in other fields they might comprise half the editorial board.

“Many journals have already appointed editors in Asia and there are clear benefits for doing so. For example, the editors we do have from China do seem to accept, on average, better-cited papers than those from other countries. That suggests they do a good job and my own experience supports that.”

Practical steps

Clark has advice for editors keen to attract an Asia-based editor onboard.

“As I’ve mentioned, there can be concern about changing the current board. Remember, board members aren’t permanent and your publisher can announce member changes on your behalf.

“And if you want to identify potential Asian editorial board members we can help with that too. Using Scopus we can identify the best authors to approach. We can also give suggestions based on our experience with Asia-based guest editors. Our network can help...publishers can help, so please use us.”

* Asian countries are not the only venues to play host to our growing workshop programs. Learn more about recent successful events held in Brazil.

Seeking the solutions – Elsevier-supported initiatives that can help

Elsevier Language Editing Services
We will ensure that your manuscript is free of grammatical and spelling errors within four business days.

Elsevier Author Workshops
Training authors and research students in emerging academic communities to write world class papers. Modules on ethical and copyright issues are included.

Elsevier Reviewer Workshops and Mentorship Program
Together with the editorial community, journal publishers at Elsevier have created a number of programs to develop and nurture the pool of future reviewers.

Cross-publisher initiative with CrossRef to screen published and submitted content for originality.

Author Biographies

Philippe Terheggen

Philippe Terheggen

Philippe Terheggen
Originally a medical scientist and author, Philippe has an international background in book and journal publishing, marketing, production, and product innovation. In an earlier role, he was responsible for implementing the online article submission system to Elsevier journals. His current role is focused on chemistry and chemical engineering, engineering, energy and renewable resources, environmental sciences, agricultural and water management, as well as oil & gas and geological sciences.

David Clark
David Clark

David Clark
David oversees our program in physics, mathematics, computer science and materials which includes both some of the newest and longest-standing Elsevier journal titles. Previously he was a publishing director for physics and mathematics, publishing director for economics and a publisher for economics and for geography. David was educated at Oxford and London Universities.

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