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Thinking about the future of the journal article at #ACSDenver

Martin Tanke from Elsevier spoke at this session “Beyond the Journal: Innovation in 21st Century Publishing" at the 242nd American Chemical Society National Meeting in Denver today.

Through their “Article of the Future" project, they learned about many features that scientists would like to see.  Elsevier sees a future of scientific journal and article publishing with more embedded multimedia and linked data.  For example, the article should display figures and images on the side of the article, so that the reader can continue to read the article, while keeping the graphics in view.  The article should link out to other sources of information about the chemical compounds mentioned in the article.  The article could also embed data from sources, such as PANGAEA, from an NCBI Genome viewer, the Protein Data Bank, or crystallographic data.  The reader should also be able to adjust the data in a chart to change the scale from base 10 to logarithmic.

There are three design principles and three article aspects.  The article needs to have better readability, discoverability, and extensibility.  The information within the article needs to have a positive presentation, high quality content as well as context.  

He then demonstrates some of these advanced features using an article from the journal, Carbon

84% of scientists would like to see the source data linked from the article.  The supplemental data could come from InChI, Google, Reaxys, or wherever it might reside.

He noted that the article has been improved with a richer experience, API and application developments, and more linked data, but there are many improvements yet to be made.  These improvements have been made at a great investment of time and cost.  However, there are still many aspects of a scientific article that could be improved.  It is difficult to work with a journal platform that will work well across all of science, not just in chemistry.  The articles also need to have better underlying metadata.  The data from third party suppliers should be cleaner, and the platform needs better authoring tools.  Elsevier is working toward a balance of manual and automated approaches.  In other words, they know that human indexing and coding of articles can take more time and be more costly, but the quality of that work can be much better than using computerized methods.  

At the end of the session, he noted that most scientists still just print out PDF documents and articles to read and then file them away for future reference, but he did not indicate the source of this assertion. This may have been true 5-10 years ago, but it might not be the case now.  More and more scientists are able to read articles on a screen, and then file them away in their computers for later reference.

Filed under chemistry publishing articles journals

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