William Coleman helps shed some light on the publishing business for Scientific Reports and Naturejobs.
Scientific Reports is a rapidly growing online open access journal that publishes research from all areas of the natural and clinical sciences. As one of over twenty manuscript assistants at the journal, one of my main tasks is to quality check author submissions in our online manuscript tracking system before they’re sent to our editorial board and, potentially, to peer review.
As part of each quality check I look over the formatting of a submission against our in-house guidelines and make sure adequate authorship, ethical, financial and copyright declarations are included. If an article fails to meet these requirements I get in touch with the corresponding author and let them know the changes that need to be made so we can process their submission. Our aim is to ensure that an article meets the necessary standards to be presented to editorial board members and referees, so they can provide rapid and thorough feedback to authors.
Another high priority is responding to various author queries. A large proportion of these are in response to quality checks, but I also assist authors in completing publication agreements like licence forms, if their article is accepted.
A third key feature of my working day is attending meetings to make sure we’re providing the best service we can. Every week, I either attend a catch-up with my manager to discuss my role, or join my fellow manuscript assistants in a group meeting, where the whole team discusses any changes to the position and evaluates what the team is achieving.
I like to think of us manuscript assistants as cogs in the journal machinery, driving a larger publishing gear – reminiscent of the Scientific Reports logo itself. Under the guidance of Scientific Reports’ editorial management, we work closely with a similarly sized group of publishing assistants who facilitate the process of peer review after we quality check articles. We also bookend the publication process and communicate with associate production editors, smoothing the transition from an article’s acceptance through to production.
A principal source of enjoyment in the job comes from interacting with the authors themselves. Authors expect great service from us, especially as a Nature Research journal, and we oblige. I’m continually buoyed by the kindness and loyalty our authors continue to show us, and as an ever expanding team our goal is to repay them with rapid turnarounds and continued good support throughout the process.
The expansion of the manuscript team – which has more than doubled since I joined last August – is another exciting aspect of the role. We’ve worked hard to build a strong sense of team spirit, and the team tends to keep in close contact with one another. Most importantly, our milestones are celebrated as if we’re a gang of treasure hunters unearthing a bounty.
A final, exhilarating aspect of working as a manuscript assistant at Scientific Reports is watching how an article can progress from an initial submission to a finished product in such a short space of time. Press releases, ranging in from monkeys to Mars, add extra gloss to this and reinforce the fact that the work we undertake is in the public interest.
I applied for a job with Scientific Reports almost 10 months ago on the recommendation of a friend (who had previously worked here and enjoyed it), after I decided that I wanted to be involved in science without continuing in academia. I’ve found this to be a perfect entry-level step into scientific publishing, with ample opportunity to progress. I’ve watched colleagues progress to senior positions at both the journal and across the company and I hope to do the same.
William Coleman received a BSc in Biochemistry from Royal Holloway, University of London in 2014. After finishing university he took a role in healthcare at CL MediCall Aid in Doncaster. He moved back to London in 2015 to pursue a career in publishing, where he took up his current role at Scientific Reports.