Manuscript Exchange Common Approach (MECA) is a recently developed platform of academic publishing. National Information Standards Organization (NISO) is a platform that consists of members that have constructed a framework for best-practices associated with the development of manuscript and transfer of knowledge across all systems.
With this project, the leading technology providers of the industry would work on a highly standardized approach that is used for transferring manuscripts between several systems. Publishers and preprint servers were used extensively in this research study. Authors have extensively retyped and reformatted manuscripts before submitting to various publishers; they have found this strategy to be counterproductive in nature.
Authors are not the only people who have lost out in this business model. Many reviewers have also been adversely impacted through the changing dynamics of this business model. A book may be scrutinized with repeated reviews. Approximately 15 million hours of time was consumed by researchers every year.
In the framework constructed by MECA, the nasty secret of publishing industry was solved under one condition: journals and publishers were able to transfer manuscripts to different publications. These manuscripts were using various modes of submission-tracking systems. They do not have to develop new programs that were used in every exchange system.
Several conversations were held in recent industrial meetings. Researchers had to tackle with several hurdles in order to access the existing base of knowledge. “Friction in the workflow” is a talk given by APE in a recently published article; however, a lot needs to be done into revolutionizing the process of article publication. A lot of effort in terms of time and money has been wasted into knowing how the transfer and submission processes of manuscripts can be handled effectively.
HighWire is a highly sophisticated tool used to function as a collaborative platform for following agencies: eJournalPress, Clarivate, Aries, PLOS, and NISO. Everyone in this industry would benefit from this platform. Several tools and capabilities would be used to minimize the barrier of technology. Submissions and editorial material were transferred through 15 journals by developing a working transfer system. We used three publishers and two different systems for managing manuscripts. A MECA-support timetable was provided to each of the collaborators.
Moving forward, all future integrations/manuscript transfers would be used through MECA. An early partnership was formed in this project, and a new NISO working group would be constituted through this medium.
The main goal of MECA would be to facilitate how manuscripts can be exchanged and the metadata of peer review can be used by publishers and platforms. Our main goal was to align the content with values that are neutral to publishers. The emerging standards would be integrated with the platform ScholarOne Manuscripts.
A proof of service must be created to enter into the operation. In practical terms, we should use the group’s principle to understand what can be done currently. We would rather not go into discussing options that are completely unfeasible for several years.
A neutral forum of MECA has to be developed, discussed, and implemented with the help of NISO. It would be crucial to ensure that this collaboration is developed in a sophisticated manner; a large number of stakeholders would participate in this collaboration.
We need to take into consideration all voices in order to refine the standards set by MECA and to understand how it is relevant to every industry. A whole set of challenges have to be overcome to develop collaborations across industry.
The collaborative platform MECA can be used to further overcome various challenges. However, this effort would be programmed through different stakeholders and interested parties. It is challenging to develop an agreement associated with a set of standards.
A fully-operational framework of MECA is waiting to be in production. Consequently, documentation and elaboration would be developed through a base associated with the review and approval of NISO. Many different scenarios must be considered to oblige with several different parties of the ecosystem. The objectives of MECA are as follows:
- Manuscripts and reviews must be transferred across journals.
- Papers must be transferred across preprint servers and journals.
- Papers must be exported from submission/publishing systems into other services, such as repositories, compositors, etc.
In this study, the work of MECA was standardized on seven areas: vocabulary, packaging, tagging, peer review, transfer, identity, and transmission. The processes associated with editorial practices were always highlighted with several points of friction. Technology would be eliminated as a limitation with MECA. Additional editorial matters would be addressed among publishers and researchers. Manuscript formatting, triage “unmasking”, and review portability were considered as friction points.
Formatting of manuscript
For different journals, standards were introduced to define formatting processes. The original identity of journals could be retained by defining specific formats for specific journals. To improve the efficiency of editors, reviewers, and production staff, many manuscripts would have to be handled efficiently.
The same information would be hunted in different formats and places. In some journals, the term “format-neutral submission” was addressed to solve this problem. Initial submissions could be provided in any given format. This format would have to adhere with the standards provided by a specific journal only on a specific condition: the article must be accepted for publication.