Today we are making available a Technology Preview of the Article Authoring add-in for Word 2007, focused on the community of authors, editors, and publishers of scientific and technical articles.  The goal is to simplify several activities in the publishing workflow, from authoring to publishing and archiving, with this last step including conversion to the XML format from the National Library of Medicine.  The current process of getting an article from the authors to a journal (increasingly electronic only) is a bit complicated and many times lossy, especially in relation to the metadata related to the article, we hope that the add-in will help simplify and improve the process.

At the core of many publishing workflows is the XML format from the National Library of Medicine (the format is also used for long term archiving and preservation of articles – and actually there are four formats (DTDs) defined by the National Library of Medicine).  Beyond the ability to save and open files in the NLM format from Word 2007, the add-in also enables editing of the metadata, which is an important part of the format, directly from within the Word user interface.

Additionally, the add-in provides the editorial staff at the different journals with the ability to define templates, used to assist authors in the writing process, so that, as an end result, articles submitted to journals more closely match the journal requirements in relation to the different sections allowed for the article, their length, and some of the metadata required for publishing.

Editing metadata is also an important aspect of the publishing workflow, the add-in enables authors and journal staff to access and edit metadata (supplementary information that complements the content of the article, and which is very useful for search) within the Word user interface.

Content and Metadata

Beyond the core content of the article provided by the authors, there is useful information that is attached to an article, which is important for search.  The authors are best suited to enter some of this information, such as the author information (contact information, affiliation, biography), as well as some of the basic information about the content, such as keyword, and describing the taxonomy of the article (subjects being covered).  In addition, there is metadata that the editorial staff needs to provide, such as the license for the article, publishing date, and informational about the journal where the article will be published.

This type of information is not accessible through the default user interface in Word, but the add-in extends the UI to enable editing of the metadata.   The metadata entered is then kept with the content as part of the docx file, which should provide greater flexibility to the editorial and publishing staff, as they will be able to, for example, send files back to the authors to review last minute changes or to take updates.

OpenXML as the Enabling Technology

Starting from the OpenXML content simplifies the conversion process from one XML format to another, but beyond this, there are a couple of OpenXML features that make the overall solution come together.  In future postings I will cover these in more detail, but custom schemas and the ability to store additional information in the file (through the Open Packaging Conventions) are key in being able to package the content and metadata in a single file, which can then be opened and edited by any tools as part of the publishing process.

The Technology Preview Build

We are providing this preview build to gather feedback and requirements.  The target audience is the editorial and publishing staff at STM journals, companies that develop publishing tools, and technical staff at Information Repositories, libraries, and archives.  Researchers and scientists that are early adopters can also download the preview to provide feedback on the user experience.  Do not use this build for production purposes, only for evaluation.

We welcome your feedback and, if you run into any issues, please let us know about them as well.  We will be posting updates and answering your questions in this blog.  Also, let us know  if there are specific topics you will like us to do follow up postings on.

We hope that you will find this add-in useful and that it will help simplify your workflow and authoring experience.

The NLM tagsets

The add-in provides support for the Journal Publishing DTD - http://dtd.nlm.nih.gov/publishing/tag-library/2.2/.  For more information on the different formats, check out this overview http://dtd.nlm.nih.gov/.