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Your Paper, Your Way - the origins

July 23, 2014

By Catriona Fennell

Over 400 Elsevier journals now offer a simplified submission process where all the journal-specific formatting takes place after acceptance

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, you made it very clear that every hour wasted re-formatting was an hour taken from your research. In response to this frustration, Sir Kelvin Davies, PhD, DSc, Editor-in-Chief of Free Radical Biology & Medicine(opens in new tab/window) introduced the Your Paper, Your Way initiative in mid-2011, as described in his video editorial(opens in new tab/window).

Kelvin-Davies

Kelvin-Davies

Your Paper, Your Way simplifies submission requirements so that authors can focus on what really matters: the science. Journal-specific  formatting such as reference style is no longer needed and you can upload your entire manuscript as a single PDF or MS Word file. Of course, the submission still needs to be structured and complete enough to allow editors and reviewers to assess the science. All ethical standards also need to be met  just as before. For further details, please visit: https://www.elsevier.com/yourpaperyourway

Following the lead of Free Radical Biology & Medicine, Elsevier proceeded to test the new process across different scientific fields and in journals with varying editorial workflows. Having now done so with 439 journals of all shapes and sizes, we are excited to share the results.

What authors say

The authors of 51.5% of submissions chose to submit via the Your Paper, Your Way route. We expect this figure to increase further as more authors become aware of the service. Authors commented: "We chose to spend time on content instead of the 'correct format'." "It was simpler and faster than (the)  traditional one. I think it is a good way to speed the process." "…time consuming formatting work was not undertaken unnecessarily." "I didn't have to waste time with formatting before being sure about the acceptance." To find out if your journal of interest already offers the service, check out  its Guide for Authors on www.elsevier.com.

  • 76% of authors surveyed believed that YPYW reduces the amount of time typically taken to format and submit their paper

  • 92% of authors surveyed found YPYW easy or extremely easy, compared to 61% of authors who used the traditional process.

And editors...

After some months of experience with the new service, we asked editors to share their thoughts. Based on 84 responses, 80% of editors surveyed found that Your Paper, Your Way manuscripts require less or the same amount of time as traditional submissions, with comments such as: "Great feature and very  helpful for authors." "Highly recommend to do this."

But what about the reviewers?

Given that the peer-review process largely depends on the goodwill of reviewers, it is of course vital that the simplified requirements don't hamper their role in way. To evaluate the impact on reviewers, 870 responses from Elsevier's existing Reviewer Feedback Programme (RFP) were analyzed, of which  346 related to a Your Paper, Your Way submission. There were no significant differences in reviewer satisfaction based on responses to the questions: "The review format and structure for review submission was helpful"; "I am very satisfied overall with my experience of reviewing"; "I could read the manuscript  and figures clearly with no technical problems".

What's next for Your Paper, Your Way?

Already offered by 439 Elsevier journals across all disciplines, we will continue to expand this service to more journals over the course of 2014. And of course, we are always interested in hearing from authors(opens in new tab/window) on further ways to make the publication process as painless as possible!

Contributor

Catriona Fennell

CF

Catriona Fennell