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An Update from ASTM Publishing Services

by Robert Dreyfuss

Over the past few years, ASTM International has been engaged in a significant effort to make the publishing of standards and technical papers easier for ASTM members and authors — and this effort is ongoing. We are also making a major commitment to publishing our products more rapidly without losing any of the quality for which ASTM is known. Although technology has provided some tools with which to accomplish this goal, it is our staff, our members, our authors, and our customers who have provided the input leading to new technological developments and improved procedures. The ASTM Publishing Services division knows that the end result is not the process (or the technology) but the ability to get high-quality standards and related technical information into the hands of those people who need the information accurately, quickly and easily.

Below I outline the developments in standards and technical paper publishing that will bring you up to date on our programs. We realize this is not the end of the journey on the Digital Path, but rather a progress report.

Standards

ASTM has created the new position of standards development editor within its Technical Committee Operations division. The standards development editor works with members when they are drafting standards, especially new standards, for ballot. Because of her extensive experience in editing standards and knowledge of the Form and Style for ASTM Standards manual, Kathy Peters (phone: 610/832-9650) is a valuable resource in this position. With Peters’ help, standards have gone to ballot “cleaner” and, because of that, have received fewer negative votes related to formatting issues and can be published more rapidly after approval.

For several years, ASTM has provided templates (see Figure 1) in Microsoft Word, which give members an outline of each type of ASTM standard (test method, specification, etc.) to aid in the writing of new standards. The templates continue to see a slow rise in usage as we publicize them more at Committee Week workshops. If you have reviewed or used the templates and have suggestions for any enhancements that could make them more useful, please contact editor Erin McElrone (phone: 610/832-9689).

In the past couple of years, ASTM has completed the translation of existing standards into Microsoft Word format as an aid to the revision process. If you need a Word version for revision, please contact your staff manager. We have made significant strides (within the capabilities of Word) in accurately capturing all the components of the standard, including tables, figures and equations (see Figure 2).

A major procedural change in Publishing Services during the past year has been our ability to begin the preparation of standards for publication when main committee ballots open as opposed to when they close. This change has allowed ASTM to reduce its publication of standards from 10 to seven weeks from approval date. Often, standards are published in even less time.

As we develop new tools to make members’ standards development and revision tasks easier, we will continue to update our workshops at Committee Weeks, where members are introduced to the latest tools for standards development. In addition to these workshops, editors are available for one-on-one assistance at each Committee Week.

Journal Publishing

ASTM is making significant digital strides on the journal publishing side of the operation as well. All ASTM journal papers are published on the Web before they appear in print, which allows ASTM to provide information to readers more rapidly and with additional features. One of these features is the ability to provide color figures on the Web without having to impose author charges, as needs to be done for print because of the cost of color printing.

A new feature coming in 2004 is the ability to link references from the source article to the actual paper referenced so that the reader may purchase the paper, if it is available from the participating publisher. At the same time, other journals referencing papers appearing in ASTM journals will be able to link to the ASTM Web site to review the abstracts of those articles and to provide the reader the opportunity to purchase the ASTM source articles. ASTM will be linking references for the ASTM journals through the CrossRef program and, additionally, will be linking the references in the Journal of Forensic Sciences to Medline, a service of the National Library of Medicine (Figure 3).

As for tools for authors of technical papers, ASTM provides Word templates and author instructions (Figure 4). ASTM will also soon provide a method for submitting manuscripts through its Web site. This capability will allow authors to submit their manuscript text and figure files easily (Figure 5).

If authors have questions about the journal publishing program, please contact Roberta Storer, director of technical papers (phone: 610/832-9637).

As we enhance the capabilities of our publishing processes, we continue to look for guidance from our members, authors and customers for added capabilities. The Digital Path continues to be a road with no end, just stops along the way. //

Copyright 2004, ASTM International

Robert Dreyfuss is assistant vice president, Publishing Services.