Innovation in Publishing

40+ ways to add value to your journal article

We highlight just some of the options available to enhance the presentation of your research and explain how you can locate them using our new search and browse tool

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With features such as AudioSlides, Interactive Plots and 3D models, Elsevier’s content innovation portfolio offers a range of options when it comes to enriching the content of your article.

The content innovations relevant for your field are designed to communicate your research more effectively, increase the value of your article and engage readers.

Hylke Koers, PhD, heads the department responsible for these initiatives and like the majority of his team, has a researcher background; a valuable asset when evaluating new developments. He explains: “We understand that you want to present the research that you’ve worked on so hard in an optimal way, and we help you do that.”

The content innovation portfolio has been developed to ensure you can publish your work in all its dimensions, including digital content like data, code, multimedia, etc. It takes advantage of modern web technology to deliver an interactive reading experience that goes far beyond the traditional paper or PDF. And for most content innovations, you can choose to add them at any point of the publication process, right until the last revision round.

Did you know?

The content innovation program builds upon the Elsevier Article of the Future (AoF) project, which has been focusing on improving the online article presentation and supporting new types of digital content as well as contextual information. At AoF’s core is the reading experience and the 3-pane view introduced on ScienceDirect, allowing for content-based and contextual enrichments within the article.  Since 2011, the content innovation program has rapidly expanded to include 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.

In 2014, more than 10 percent of articles published in an Elsevier journal carried a content innovation.

Catering for domain-specific needs

Interactive Plots ViewerDr. Koers and his team know that content enrichment requirements vary per discipline, and so they have developed more than 40 options tailored to meet the existing practices and needs of various research fields. One prime example is the Interactive Plots Viewer (iPlots). Dr. Koers explains: “At one time or another many of us will have printed out a PDF containing 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. Our answer has been to develop the Interactive Plots Viewer – readers can hover over data points to see the actual value of the data as provided by the author, or download the full data set for re-use or reproduce some of the reported results.”

And, as with other content innovations, the process of implementing iPlots remains a simple one for authors - you need only upload a supplementary .csv file when you submit your article or revision.

Identifying the content innovations available for your article

With the content innovation portfolio continuing to grow, the team has developed a new search and browse tool on, which provides an overview of content innovations per journal and discipline. To find out more about a particular content innovation, just click on the name and a box containing a brief description will appear (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The new content innovation search and browse tool.

The tool also contains useful links to relevant journal information.

Content innovations offered by individual journals can now also be found on their homepages (Figure 2).

Figure 2: The content innovations each journal offers are highlighted on its homepage. 

Moving beyond the PDF: A spotlight on some key content innovations

AudioSlides imageThe most widely-available content innovation is AudioSlides, 5-minute, webcast-style presentations in which you can present your research. Once your paper has been accepted by a participating journal, you will receive a personal invitation to access the AudioSlides tool, where you can easily upload slides and record a voice over. The resulting presentations will be hosted next to your article on ScienceDirect.

AudioSlides are fully open access and as an author you can also embed them in other websites. “AudioSlides are a great way to showcase your work and attract interest,” comments Dr. Koers. “As an author, you can embed them on your research website or post them on YouTube. Our data shows that authors who embed their AudioSlides presentation on a popular website are likely to see increased readership for their article.”

The reader also gets a quick grasp about the paper that cannot be explained in a short written abstract.” Tilbe Göksun, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Koç University, Istanbul, on creating her AudioSlides.

Figure 3: An example of an Interactive Map, created by Daniel Pastor Galan.The Interactive Map Viewer is another widely available feature, which enables authors to include geographic annotations on interactive maps (Figure 3). These maps, which appear on ScienceDirect, are based on KML (Keyhole Markup Language) files. This annotation could be a simple landmark pointer with a textual note, but also a visual overlay with actual research data. To see how your Google Maps KML/KMZ files will appear on ScienceDirect, you can use an online validation tool before submitting it with your article.

In my research, I work a lot with geospatial data that I manage with geographical information tools. Uploading the KML files with my manuscript is less work than having to create images for all the data that I wish to present with my paper.” Daniel Pastor Galan, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at Utrecht University on the Interactive Map Viewer.

Virtual MicroscopeThe Virtual Microscope is the proud recipient of the 2015 Prose Award for best new eProduct/App. Authors of selected Elsevier journals are invited to complement conventional (low-res) microscopic images in their papers with high resolution equivalents for use with the Virtual Microscope. Once publications containing the high resolution images are online, users are then able to view these using a standard browser and can zoom, pan and rotate the images.

For the first time we can support our publications with high resolution whole slide scansthis is a game changer." Mark Lingen, DDS, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology,on the Virtual Microscope.

Other content innovations allow you to:

  • Add interactive viewers to display your data
  • Add 3D models for the reader to explore while reading
  • Use multimedia features to engage the reader
  • Add contextual information to your work
  • Link to data repositories within your article

Visit our content innovation homepage or new search and browse tool for a full list of options.

Where next?

There are many more content innovations in the pipeline, including a computer code viewer, and work is already underway on the next raft of developments. Dr. Koers says: “We will continue to work with researchers to understand how we can enable them to express their work in the best way possible, and use that to keep advancing the format of the scholarly article beyond the PDF.”


Author biography

Kitty van HensbergenKitty van Hensbergen is a Project Manager in the Marketing Communications & Researcher Engagement department and is responsible for global projects.  She has an MSc degree in economics and business, specializing in marketing, from Erasmus University Rotterdam. She is based in Amsterdam.

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