Open access deposits to Europe PubMed Central – building skills

Blogpost by Kate Beeby and Frank Norman.

Our funders’ open access policies mandate deposit of all primary research articles into Europe PubMed Central (ePMC). We opt for the Gold (immediate Open Access) route when we can, but if the publisher offers no Gold option then we have to deposit the paper into ePMC with a 6-month embargo. In some cases, the publisher makes the deposit for us, in other cases it is down to the author.

At the Crick, the OA team offers to make the deposit on the authors’ behalf. They like this and most group leaders do take us up on this offer. This involves obtaining all relevant files, uploading them onto the ePMC site, and associating the correct grant details with the deposit.

A short while after the deposit has been made, it is necessary to check the accuracy of the marked-up XML version of the article that has been created on ePMC. Until the accuracy has been confirmed by the author or their nominee the article is not released for public view in ePMC. The XML version is checked for accuracy around stylistic details (e.g. italicised words, use of symbols), as well as reference formatting (e.g. in-text links to figures, numerical citations) in comparison to the original files that were deposited.

It is important to note that we are not reviewing the content of the manuscript, nor undertaking some of the other checks involved with proofreading (e.g. text formatting, grammatical errors). The main focus of the deposit check is to ensure that the ePMC-created version matches that of the original submitted document.

This task can be challenging and time-consuming for staff at first. The knowledge of how best to do these checks grows with practice – though we don’t have a high throughput of articles requiring manual deposit, so practice opportunities are limited.

It’s difficult to find relevant training in this niche. There are courses from the Society for Editors and Proofreaders  but these are aimed at people looking to start a career in proofreading/editing in the publishing industry. They are too detailed for what we need. There is a useful ebook about proofreading – it’s free but needs Flash installed. It has some helpful information, particularly about the structure of research articles and what to look out for in figures, tables etc. We also wonder whether the project to define the skills that new Scholarly Comms staff need covers these skills?

It would be interesting to learn how other libraries and institutions manage ePMC deposits where required by funders. Do dedicated staff make these deposits on behalf of researchers? Are researchers required to do this task themselves? Are there any tricks you have developed when checking the ePMC version of articles?

If you are making ePMC deposits on behalf of authors and checking them later, have you developed guidance for new staff undertaking this work?  Have you found any training helpful to build these skills?

Please share your thoughts and ideas below in the comments.


Kate Beeby (@ka_be) is Assistant Information Specialist in the Library & Information Services at the Francis Crick Institute.

Thanks also to Patti Biggs for comments on this post.

Frank Norman, Patti Biggs and Kate Beeby are all part of the Open Access Team at the Crick.

About Frank Norman

I am a librarian in a biomedical research institute. I've been around a few years, long enough to know that exciting new things fall into the same familiar patterns. I'm interested in navigating a path for libraries as we move further from print to electronic resources to open research, and become more embedded in research workflows.
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