Editorial Processing - Editorial Assessment and Processing

AMA Manual of Style - Stacy L. Christiansen, Cheryl Iverson 2020

Editorial Processing
Editorial Assessment and Processing

Editorial processing refers to the processing of manuscripts after acceptance in preparation for publication. With the development of electronic document processing, the term manuscript has moved increasingly far from its handwritten origins to refer to a prepublication document, whether it happens to be a hard-copy proof or an electronic file. Manuscript submission, peer review, editing, processing, and tracking are now usually performed electronically. A major technical issue for many publishers is the need to efficiently process content for multiple publication outputs, such as print, web, reprints, and mobile apps. The use of electronic markup languages, such as XML, to provide coding for each content mode facilitates the conversions necessary for such multiple outputs (see 21.1.1, Editing With XML).

6.2.1 Manuscript Editing.

After acceptance for publication, a manuscript undergoes copyediting, often referred to as manuscript editing. Extensive editing for clarity, accuracy, and internal consistency may be necessary for some manuscripts. The manuscript editor coordinates communication among the editor, author, and production staff. Manuscript editors incorporate suggestions made by senior journal editors; correct grammar, spelling, and usage; query ambiguities and inconsistencies; verify mathematical calculations; verify and correct reference citations; and edit to journal style. Tables, boxes, figures, and other elements (such as multimedia and video) are also edited for style (see 4.0, Tables, Figures, and Multimedia), accuracy, and consistency with the text. The manuscript editor sends the edited manuscript, with proposed additions and deletions clearly indicated (see 21.0, Editing, Proofreading, Tagging, and Display), as well as queries, along with a cover letter and the formatted figures and tables, to the author (and in some cases, to a scientific editor or editor in chief) for approval. After the author responds, the manuscript editor incorporates the author’s changes. Any major substantive changes requested by the author (eg, inclusion of additional data or analyses, requests for addition of figures or tables, significant changes to wording) should be discussed with and approved by the editor in chief or the designated decision-making editor.

6.2.2 Composition, Page Makeup, and Digital Content.

Once the modifications from the authors and journal editors have been incorporated into the manuscript file, the document is ready to be composed (ie, made into journal pages) or otherwise prepared for publication. In an electronic composition system, codes must be inserted for each element (eg, title, authors, abstract, headings, references, tables, figures) of an article according to journal style. Use of XML coding (tagging) of all elements and templates allows for automation of the composition of an article, whether for print/PDF, online, or multiple formats. This can be done automatically or for some journals with complicated designs for different article types, an electronic composition operator may need to use a mix of automated processes and manual placement of the text, tables, and art together in the electronic composition system to arrange all elements into pages according to design and typographic specifications. For print publication, the pages can be transmitted electronically to a printer. For online publication, XML-coded files are converted to an appropriate language (eg, HTML) or format (eg, PDF) following style sheets and templates for output to a website, app, or other platform (see also 21.0, Editing, Proofreading, Tagging, and Display).

6.2.3 Proofreading.

In a traditional publishing process, the proofreader checks the manuscript copy word for word against the composed copy, alerting the manuscript editor to any discrepancies (see 21.0, Editing, Proofreading, Tagging, and Display). In some systems the role of the proofreader has changed. The proofreader may look only for formatting issues, such as incorrect line breaks and problems that arose through improper coding (eg, spacing errors or incorrect font) or page makeup (eg, misplaced blocks of text or improper line justification). The manuscript editor, authors, and journal editors may perform the word-for-word reading once done by a proofreader. Revised page proofs can be generated and rechecked as needed. Content for online publication should also be reviewed for errors and missing elements before release.

6.2.4 Advertising.

At the same time as the manuscript editing and composition of articles for publication are proceeding, advertisements are scheduled for specific issues or online publication and possibly for specific positions in an issue (eg, back cover or facing the table of contents). Advertising sales and placement should be administratively separate from all editorial functions to ensure that there is no influence by an advertiser on any editorial decisions. Ideally, the editor in chief should have full and final authority for approving advertisements and enforcing advertising policies. Specific advertising and commercial content should not influence specific editorial decisions and content. For print journal issues, staff members responsible for issue makeup should ensure that there is no inadvertent link between advertisements and articles—for instance, that no advertisement for an antihypertension medication appears next to a research report on hypertension (see 5.12, Advertisements, Advertorials, Sponsorship, Supplements, Reprints, and e-Prints).

Online ads are not restricted by the physical limits of a printed page (see 5.12.6, Advertising and Sponsorship in Online Publications). Online publication has challenged the traditional print-based standards that separate advertising and editorial content. However, the general principles for protecting editorial integrity of print publications apply to advertising in online publications (see 5.12, Advertisements, Advertorials, Sponsorship, Supplements, Reprints, and e-Prints).

6.2.5 Issue Makeup and Review.

For journals that publish formal print issues, the production staff merges the editorial and the advertising content, numbers the pages, and produces a comprehensive list that shows the sequential order of pages with placement of editorial content, advertising content, and other material, such as filler pages. The journal editor or managing editor should determine the content of each issue by considering the balance of types of articles and thematic consistency (eg, there might be several articles on related topics). The made-up issue and table of contents are reviewed by the editorial and production staff, and final changes are incorporated. When final pages have been created, the electronic files can be printed. For print publication, proofs for each page may be prepared and returned to the journal for final review. When all pages have been approved, the issue is printed, bound, and mailed.

For journals that publish online-first releases of groups of articles or publish articles online as they are available, there may still be a need to review the online release package or online “issue.” This review may include traditional review of PDFs of articles to be published online or review of the articles as they will appear online; this review also should include review of the online table of contents for these articles if one is to be released.

6.2.6 Reprints and e-Prints, Postpublication Copies of Articles, and Depositing Articles in an Approved Repository.

Some journals offer authors an option to purchase reprints or e-prints of their articles after publication. Reprints may also be sold to individuals, organizations, or companies interested in disseminating the article (see 5.6.9, Standards for Commercial Reprints and e-Prints).

Journals have different policies for permitting authors to post copies of their published articles in personal or institutional repositories. Many journals or publishers will deposit copies of published articles that report funded research in approved public repositories on behalf of authors for public access after a defined period (eg, 6 or 12 months) or for immediate access (eg, for author-pay open access). These options are based on the journal policies for authors, society members, public access, or open access. Journals should ensure that their policies on postpublication public access or open access are publicly available and transparent.

Principal Authors: Phil Fontanarosa, MD, MBA, Stacy Christiansen, MA, and Annette Flanagin, RN, MA


Thanks to the following for reviewing this chapter and providing comments: Helene Cole, formerly of JAMA; Carissa Gilman, MA, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia; Hope Lafferty, AM, ELS, Hope J. Lafferty Communications, Marfa, Texas; Trevor Lane, MA, DPhil, Edanz Group, Fukuoka, Japan; and Ana Marušić, MD, PhD, Journal of Global Health, and Department of Research in Biomedicine and Health, University of Split School of Medicine, Split, Croatia.


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