HighWire co-founder leads industry initiative on manuscript exchange

(5 June 2018, Los Gatos, CA) Members of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) have approved the ‘Manuscript Exchange Common Approach’ (MECA) – a major new academic publishing initiative co-led by HighWire Founding Director John Sack. The project will see the industry’s leading technology providers work together on a more standardized approach to the transfer of manuscripts between and among manuscript systems, such as those in use at publishers and preprint servers.

The outdated, time-intensive way authors currently submit and re-submit manuscripts to different publishers is quietly a major productivity killer for researchers globally. It is estimated that a staggering 15 million hours of researcher time is consumed each year, simply repeating reviews. But the problem, described by one expert as ‘publishing’s nasty secret’, could be solved if journals and publishers were able to transfer manuscripts between publications using different submission-tracking systems.

Goals and collaboration

  • The MECA project will work towards a number of key goals, in order to address the issue:
  • Vocabulary: providing a standard nomenclature
  • Packaging: a simple, flexible, standard way to assemble files
  • Tagging: being able to pass submission information from system to system
  • Peer review: being able to pass review information from system to system
  • Transfer: enabling the transfer of information from system to system
  • Identity: a unique, consistent identity across systems
  • Transmission: a simple, consistent way to send the information across systems

John Sack, Founding Director at HighWire, has co-led the initiative alongside other leading technology providers. He explains: “While much of the recent industry conversation has focused on opening up easier access to existing knowledge, we still have work to do on streamlining how that insight is published in the first place. Too much time is wasted on the manuscript transfer and submission processes – so it’s great to be working alongside other systems providers on a solution that will benefit everyone in the industry.”

MECA in action

Momentum has gathered pace since the project was first presented by John at the 2017 SSP Annual Meeting, with the first use case for the project now live.

In addition to HighWire and eJP, MECA’s leading participants are Aries, Clarivate, and PLOS. The collaboration between HighWire and eJournalPress enables MECA for a new life sciences journal so that manuscripts and reviews could flow to – and from – other journals in a standardized way. The implementation entered into production earlier this year, and is now completed – meaning that manuscripts and reviews now flow smoothly via MECA, with the only author intervention being to agree to the transfer.

This first, fully-operational implementation will now serve as the base for documentation and elaboration through the NISO review and approval process.

You can find out more about HighWire’s manuscript submission and tracking service, BenchPress, here.

Or for more detail on HighWire’s work on the MECA initiative, you can contact the HighWire leadership team here or visit: http://www.manuscriptexchange.org

The announcement is here.