1 report, 6 authors? Easy!

In 2016, the CERN E-Publishing Service will be testing three co-authoring platforms to decide which is the most suitable for CERN. Whatever type of documents you co-write – scientific papers, internal reports or proceedings – a co-authoring tool will simplify the process. To make such a service available at CERN, the E-Publishing team needs your help.


At CERN, the E-Publishing Service is responsible for copy-editing scientific texts such as CERN reports, scientific papers, school or conference proceedings, etc., and provides support to CERN people regarding the style and layout of their publications. As part of its efforts to simplify the lives of CERN authors, the E-Publishing Service has decided to evaluate the benefits of a new service: a co-authoring platform.

If you write on LaTeX or Word-like software, use a messaging application for comments and a calendar for deadlines, and then distribute the file by e-mail (as many times as necessary) – then a co-authoring platform would be a great tool for you. Any document shared on the co-authoring platform becomes visible to all the related collaborators and everyone can comment on it, add or delete information, make corrections, etc. – and the system always keeps a record of who did what and when. Of course, the entire modification history remains available, and you can go back to any of the previous versions at any time. Furthermore, as the platform is a browser-based tool, no installation is needed and the documents are accessible everywhere.

“People at CERN contacted us suggesting we incorporate such a platform into the CERN E-Publishing interface,” explains Valeria Brancolini, member of the E-Publishing team. “Actually, a lot of scientists at CERN already use public co-authoring platforms, but we are convinced that such a tool integrated into the CERN environment could be of great use to all departments.”

So the E-Publishing team selected three popular co-authoring platforms – Authorea, DoDoc and Overleaf – to be tested and evaluated by the CERN authors themselves. “The idea is to identify the platform that best responds to the needs of CERN people, whatever their department or the types of documents they produce,” adds Sebastian Witowski, also a member of the team. “And to define the needs of CERN people, we need CERN people.” That’s where you come into play!

The E-Publishing team is looking for volunteers to test the three platforms (to volunteer, subscribe here): “First, we will interview the participants to learn about their writing needs and habits,” says Nikos Kasioumis, the third member of the E-Publishing team. “Then, at the beginning of next year, they will be asked to follow a precise test scenario on each of the three platforms to evaluate the tools. Of course, they are absolutely welcome to work on their own projects on these platforms! Also, CERN authors will be able to export documents using common CERN templates and other physics journals’ templates. We will be available to provide assistance throughout the whole process.”                                   

If you are afraid that your confidential file or scientific work-in-progress may be lost or made public, don’t be. The CERN co-authoring service will be exclusively internal – in other words, all the documents uploaded onto the platform will be stored on CERN servers. “While we are now testing the co-authoring service to evaluate the potential demand, we are pretty sure that, once they’ve tried it, CERN authors won’t be able to do without it,” concludes Nikos Kasioumis.

If you are interested in helping the E-Publishing team with the evaluation of the platforms, subscribe here. If you want to learn more on the subject, contact the E-Publishing team at e-publishing@cern.ch.

by Anaïs Schaeffer