The Manuscript Exchange Common Approach (MECA) is now a National Information Standards Organization (NISO) approved recommended practice. Review the approved documentation.
In 2016, representatives from Aries Systems, Clarivate, eJournalPress, HighWire Press and PLOS came together having identified inefficiencies in the way in which manuscripts were transferred between the submission systems offered by each of the companies. These companies, who had traditionally been competing against one another, realized that to help meet the changing needs of researchers and for the greater good of the industry they would need to work together in order to identify a common approach to the transfer of manuscripts.
In addition to the technical issues that had been recognized there were also inefficiencies in editorial workflows which could be addressed. 85% of authors resubmit rejected papers to a different journal1. In peer review, papers are often rejected but reviews are not typically shared between journals2. Reviewers are irritated at the amount of time wasted in having to repeat reviews, 15 million hours of researcher time is wasted each year in reviewing and re-reviewing unpublished papers. In 2015, 20% of biomedical researchers performed between 69% and 94% of reviews3. Peer review is evolving4 and will need scalable infrastructure in place in order to evolve in an efficient manner.
The initial MECA group sought to agree on a methodology to package up files and metadata in order to transfer that package from one submission system to any of the others. The goal was to have a common process and method to exchange manuscripts in any direction without having unique requirements from system to system.
MECA approached NISO, and in May 2018 MECA became a NISO Working Group5 with the goal of defining a recommended practice to define a common approach with wide adoption throughout the publishing ecosystem. Along with the original MECA members, the group was expanded to include the following representatives from across scholarly publishing: the American Chemical Society, the American Physical Society, Cold Spring Harbor, eLife Sciences, Green Fifteen Publishing Consultancy, IEEE, Jisc, the National Library of Medicine, Springer Nature, and Taylor & Frances. The working group spent several months revisiting and revising the original specification, building on the work that had already been done.
Approved as NISO Recommended Practice in June 2020, ultimately the MECA Recommended Practice has seen the successful collaboration with stakeholders from various areas of the publishing ecosystem which provides a framework for manuscript exchange with low barriers to entry.
As with the initial recommendations, the Working Group recognizes that there is still work to do and as such many of the participants have committed to work together to evolve the recommended practice. A NISO Standing Committee has been formed and includes the following participants: the American Chemical Society, the American Diabetes Association, Apex, Aries Systems, California Digital Library, Clarivate, Cold Spring Harbor, eLife Sciences, Green Fifteen, HighWire, IEEE, the National Library of Medicine, Overleaf, Public Knowledge Project, Public Library of Science, River Valley, Scholastica, and Taylor & Francis.
The NISO MECA Standing Committee meets monthly and will take up the following activities: promotion and education of the current Recommended Practice; evolution of the specification to include updated protocols and technology; non-English language support; integration with efforts by JATS4R, STM Review Taxonomy and DocMaps initiatives; and support of additional use cases.
1 Inside Higher Ed. (n.d.). Retrieved August 5, 2019, from https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2017/03/28/academics-shouldnt-focus-only-prestigious-journals-essay
2 Scholar. (n.d.). Retrieved August 6, 2019, from https://www.aje.com/arc/peer-review-process-15-million-hours-lost-time/
3 Kovanis, M., Porcher, R., Ravaud, P., & Trinquart, L. (2016, November 10). The Global Burden of Journal Peer Review in the Biomedical Literature: Strong Imbalance in the Collective Enterprise. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5104353/
MECA in the News
Resources & Past Presentations
MECA at JATSCON 2019