Your Paper, Your Way
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler" Attributed to Albert Einstein
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Over the past few years, a recurring plea arose from researchers to simplify the process of preparing and submitting papers. With every journal having different technical and formatting requirements and many papers being submitted more than once before publication, authors made it very clear that every hour wasted re-formatting was an hour taken from their research. In fact, nearly one in three researchers named 'preparing manuscripts' when asked what work activities they found most frustrating or time-consuming, in a survey carried out by Elsevier's Research and Academic Relations department in 2012.
With the aim of making the submission process simpler, the Elsevier journal, Free Radical Biology and Medicine launched Your Paper, Your Way (YPYW) in 2011. YPYW is an easier submission process, focusing on the quality of the science in the initial stages of submission and only requiring elements needed for eventual production at the revision stage. When papers are rejected, this easier submission process saves authors time and effort and in addition, may help them achieve faster publication speeds.
YPYW has now been extended to hundreds of Elsevier journals. Every journal that offers YPYW clearly indicates this at the beginning of its Guide for Authors on www.elsevier.com, as follows:
"We now differentiate between the requirements for new and revised submissions. You may choose to submit your manuscript as a single Word or PDF file to be used in the refereeing process. Only when your paper is at the revision stage, will you be requested to put your paper into a 'correct format' for acceptance and provide the items required for the publication of your article."
Your Paper, Your Way requirements
- Authors may submit their manuscript (text, figures and tables) as a single file. This can be a Word or PDF file, in any format or layout, and figures and tables can be placed within the text.
- Figures should be of high enough quality for refereeing.
- There are no strict formatting requirements but all manuscripts must contain the essential elements needed to evaluate a manuscript (Abstract, Keywords, Introduction, Materials & Methods, Results, Conclusions, Artwork and Tables with Captions).
- References can be in any style or format, as long as the style is consistent. Author(s) name(s), journal title/book title, article title (where required), year of publication, volume & issue /book chapter and the pagination must be present. Use of DOI is highly encouraged. The reference style used by the journal will be applied to the accepted article by Elsevier at the proof stage.
- When a paper reaches the revision stage, authors will be requested to deliver any items that are still required for publication, for example editable source files.
Response to YPYW by authors, reviewers and editors
YPYW has been positively received by authors. In an ongoing survey sent by Elsevier's Research and Academic Relations department to authors who had chosen YPYW when submitting their manuscript, of the 3,958 authors surveyed, 70% responded positively when asked, "Did Your Paper, Your Way reduce the amount of time it typically takes to format and submit the manuscript?" Comments received from surveyed authors included:
"..time-consuming formatting work was not undertaken unnecessarily."
"I didn't have to waste time with formatting before being sure about the acceptance."
"It was simpler and faster than (the) traditional one. I think it is a good way to speed the process."
92% of authors surveyed found YPYW easy or extremely easy, compared to 61% of authors who used the traditional process.
To evaluate the impact on reviewers, 870 responses from Elsevier's existing Reviewer Feedback Programme (RFP) were analyzed, of which 346 related to a YPYW submission. There were no significant differences in reviewer satisfaction. Some reviewers have complimented the change because it makes their lives easier to check the figures and tables within the text, rather than at the end of the manuscript as is traditionally required.
"Your Paper, Your Way", Kelvin J A Davies, PhD, DSc, Editor-in-Chief, Free Radical Biology & Medicine (Editors' Update, 23 March 2012)
"Your Paper, Your Way and the reviewing process", Catriona Fennell, Rebecca Barrie (Reviewers' Update, March 2014)