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May 26, 2017

Obtaining publication-ready graphics from authors with PACE

Stack of photos isolated from the backgroundIt’s a common workflow issue, but not commonly talked about – image correction.

For publishers of all types, but particularly scholarly journals, obtaining high-quality graphics from authors that are perfectly formatted for publication at first submission is not the standard.

It’s not surprising. Generally speaking, authors are not graphics experts, and manuscript submission guidelines can be detailed and complex.

In a recent webinar, we asked attendees (largely journal publishers, university presses, and trade publishers) if author-supplied images were a challenge in their workflows. Almost 60% answered ‘yes’, with another 39% seeking more efficient options.

Are author-supplied images a challenge in your workflow?

Are author-supplied images a challenge in your workflow?

The typical resolution process today

There are three approaches that most publishers use today to fix graphics – all of which include some kind of expense, time delay, and additional author approvals:

1. Request re-supply from the author

This method doesn’t always result in a good replacement image and can lead to additional revision cycles before a publication-ready file is approved.

If you’ve ever used photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator or open source options like GIMP and Inkscape, you know it requires a certain level of skill and training to utilize them correctly. For untrained users, it can be difficult to manipulate these systems to deliver the exact specifications publishers are looking for.

2. In-house staff revises image

While having in-house staff revise graphics results in a higher-quality output, this strategy still requires additional publisher resources and adds time to the publication schedule.

In instances where the original file is unusable, even for in-house designers (poor resolution, too small, etc.), publishers still have to go back to the author and request a resupply, opening up the challenges addressed in option one above.

3. Vendor revises image

In another poll during our webinar, outsourcing to a vendor partner was the third most-used option for addressing image correction, but tends to have the same challenges as in-house staff revisions. There is an expense, a time delay, and often the need to go back to the author regardless.

How are author-supplied image issues currently
resolved in your workflow?

How are author-supplied image issues currently resolved in your workflow?

New approach for streamlining image-correction: PACE

Apex was inspired to look at a better way to handle images when working on a larger workflow modernization project with Public Library of Science (PLOS) . We noticed how much time and energy author-supplied image correction was taking up in their workflow, and after a thorough analysis came up with PACE (Picture Analysis & Conversion Engine).

The idea was to help authors more easily convert their own images to the proper specifications prior to submitting for publication, eliminating the majority of the image-correction challenges we discussed above.

Working with PLOS, we developed PACE and have seen tremendous adoption from authors, over 30,000 unique users and growing, during the first year of implementation.

And most importantly, image quality issues have dropped significantly.

PACE impact on frequency of image quality issues

PACE impact on frequency of image quality issues

If you’d like to see how PACE works – it’s really quite simple and adaptable – a demo is available in this on-demand webinar: Simplify Image Checking in Your Publishing Workflow.

You can also contact us to learn more.

About Greg Suprock

Greg is Head of Solutions Architecture at Apex. He has over 20 years of experience in XML workflows, content management, web application development, and prepress. Greg excels at collaborative efforts to achieve project and business goals. He has developed XML workflows for the Public Library of Science, HighWire Press, The Library of Congress, and many more.