Charlotte Alldis helps shed some light on the publishing business for Scientific Reports and Naturejobs.
I’ve worked as an assistant production editor for Scientific Reports for almost a year now, and one thing I should mention is that Scientific Reports is an unusual journal. We’re completely open access (which means anyone can access and re-use the research we publish), and we publish loads of research in a rapid timeframe. Ensuring papers are published within the shortest possible time following acceptance is the key driver and focus of the work I complete on a daily basis in the production team.
My first task of the day is to check my emails and answer queries that have been sent in from authors about their paper, as well as emails from other Scientific Reports staff. Then it’s a quick coffee before starting my webchecks. This is the final check before a paper is published, where we check for any discrepancies between the HTML (web) and PDF versions of the article. Any problem found at this stage needs to be addressed quickly to make sure publication is on time.
After this I turn my attention to reviewing authors’ proof corrections. I believe that this is one of the more important aspects of my role because I am ensuring that no scientific content has been changed and that no errors have been introduced. The proof checking stage is a crucial aspect of the job because it is the last opportunity for authors to check that no errors are present, and it allows them to check for any mistakes that may have slipped through the net before the article is published. We work with excellent typesetters, who implement these proof corrections quickly into the final PDF and then build the HTML version for online publication.
For the remainder of my afternoon I will export papers to our typesetting team. This is the process of taking the accepted manuscript files from the editorial team, and sending them over to the typesetters who compile the files into a proof PDF. For each manuscript, I review the figure images and article file, ensuring that the images are of high enough quality to go into the PDF. I also check that the file has all the essential criteria for publication, such as affiliation details and a reference list, so that the manuscript can be easily compiled into the Scientific Reports’ PDF format.
The production team is the final step in the process of publishing an article online. Before us, the article would have already gone through two other teams: the manuscript and publishing teams. These teams play a vital role in ensuring that any accepted manuscript comes without issues that could prevent publication. It’s a complex process and involves authors, editorial board members, reviewers, and internal staff; however, Scientific Reports prides itself on being one of the quickest and most efficient journals available to researchers.
I love my job because I learn something new every day. Scientific Reports publishes research from across the natural and clinical sciences, often far beyond the scope of my chemistry background. For example, we published a paper recently on genetically modified, tearless onions; and another paper where the authors had been able to create a carbon battery anode from pollen. This is new research that, without my job, I may never have been aware of.
I hope that this piece has shed some light on the job of a production editor, and what it’s really like working for Scientific Reports. For me, this role has been the perfect way to balance my genuine interest in science and use my chemistry degree, without being in a research lab. I was never perfect at practical chemistry, and I’m fortunate to have a job which provides me with access to all the latest research. Not all chemists wear lab coats, after all.
Charlotte Alldis graduated with a 1st honours degree in chemistry from the University of Sussex, and has always been passionate about the promotion of the chemical sciences. Whilst studying for her degree she wrote science articles for the university newspaper, The Badger.