“In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” — Charles Darwin.
For centuries, we have witnessed how humans thrive on effective collaboration and how it drives innovation. Collaboration improves productivity, facilitates brainstorming, and helps us reach our goals faster. These benefits have necessitated collaboration at the workplace through different platforms.
Collaborative research has gained international momentum over the last 5 decades, and it advances the entire research process by enabling scientists and researchers to work from anywhere, across disciplines and boundaries.
Collaboration in research brings together the power of multiple competencies in finding a solution to an existing problem. Virtual Research Environment (VREs) like video conferencing tools, community networks and open databases for scientific contributions, wikis, and data virtualization tools are available for researchers to collaborate with one another. Among these, document collaboration platforms are one of the most common yet crucial tools used by researchers and scholarly publishers.
A document collaboration platform or collaborative authoring tool allows multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously from anywhere. It maintains version history and enables easy sharing of the document with control over visibility and access.
How do document collaboration tools help in the scientific publishing process?
Today, research is more dynamic than ever before with stakeholders from various geographical boundaries uniting to collaborate on the same mission. With technological advancements, many of the meticulous processes involved in research and scholarly publishing have been vastly simplified by document collaboration tools. check out the publishing success story.
Real-time co-authoring and copy editing
Collaborative writing tools help authors, copy editors, and publishers speed up the processes of creating, editing, and publishing a manuscript by allowing them to concurrently work on the same document.
These tools also provide version history to track changes in the document and provide options to revert to older versions of the content as required.
This significantly reduces the time spent on sending files back-and-forth over emails every time a change is made. The latest changes made by different collaborators are autosaved and reflected in a single file which reduces redundancy in creating and storing different versions of the same document.
Additional features like real-time messaging, co-author tagging, contextual commenting, and email alerts help everyone stay up-to-date with the ongoing changes. Check out some of the partnership and collaborations.
Access from anywhere, any device
Cloud-based document collaboration tools offer the prime benefit of ‘access from anywhere and from any device’. All that is required is an internet connection and a browser and does not require any software installation.
Syncing of files and managing the resources is centralized and it reflects the latest version of the document while maintaining a change history. This means users can always access the files on the go from any device.
Cloud-based collaboration tools also enable quick and easy sharing of large files as it is stored in the cloud server and does not consume the user’s device storage space.
Document collaboration tools have been able to successfully bridge the gaps and address the bottlenecks in the publishing process. They improve productivity and overall efficiency in the workflows between authors, editors, and publishers. This in turn leads to creating, sharing, and publishing critical research with faster turnaround times.
Selective access control for secure data sharing
Most collaborative writing tools allow users to keep their files private or selectively share them with collaborators. The document owner can grant access at a granular level by allowing either view-only, commenting, or edit access to specific users.
Emails containing confidential data or the URL of the resource may be forwarded accidentally to unintended recipients. Unfavorable scenarios like these can be alleviated by using the selective access control feature. This ensures the security of the data being shared among collaborators before final publication.
Support for a variety of typesetting formats and journal templates
A contemporary document collaboration tool developed specifically for scientific research writing or technical documentation can support various typesetting formats.
LaTeX is an advanced typesetting system or language that helps in the creation of manuscripts for scientific writing and publishing. It allows the usage of special characters, equations, and formulae that are predominantly used in mathematics, physics, or computer science research.
Advanced document collaboration tools with LaTeX support enable users to directly create manuscripts in LaTeX. Copy editors can apply any required style guide and journal template before publishing, to comply with the publisher’s business rules as well as the standard industry guidelines.
XML-first workflow for seamless publishing
Over the last few years, publishers have been adopting the XML-first workflow for their publishing processes through exclusive document collaboration tools. Traditional publishing requires the conversion of the author-submitted Word document into a PDF file, which in turn must be converted into any other required formats that support hosting the content online.
An XML-first workflow converts the manuscript into an XML format at the very beginning, and the document remains as a single XML file throughout the process. This allows the creation of a variety of outputs like PDF, HTML, ePub, etc., and improves content accessibility and searchability with metadata. A document collaboration platform with an XML-first workflow reduces the overall time and costs involved in producing content for a variety of platforms.
Easy reference management and citation handling
Citations are a crucial aspect of scholarly writing. Reference managers are tools that are used to include and manage citations within a research manuscript by extracting reference sources from databases like PubMed and Crossref.
These tools can be easily integrated within the collaborative writing platforms, and in some cases, document collaboration tools can act as a standalone solution for the bibliographic needs. Plug-ins and in-built citation management within these tools enable authors to insert citations in any preferred style as they write their manuscripts. This reduces the time and effort spent to include references manually.
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