Introduction and Background

Despite significant advances in most forms of publishing, from blogs to news sites and other user-generated web content, the process of authoring scholarly articles remains an expensive, time-consuming process that can require significant up-front investment and technical expertise. While a number of electronic publishing and workflow management systems exist, those intended for the scientific publishing (SP) community provide at best only rudimentary authoring tools – and in many cases simply provide a repository for document files created in other formats. It is as if the entire revolution in online, web-based content authoring tools has passed by the SP community. And despite the development of advanced document formats such as the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) journal article publishing tag set, virtually no current system allows scientific authors to easily create structured XML documents  using simple web-based tools.

Project Objectives

  1. Develop a simple, robust, easy-to-use authoring system to create and edit scholarly articles
  2. Deliver an editorial review and publishing system that can be used to submit, review, and publish scholarly articles

Project Approach

Modern platforms such as WordPress provide a model for a successful eJournal authoring platform – WordPress is extremely simple to set up and run, with rich, user-friendly web-based editing controls and easily-extended functionality using plugins. The WordPress platform not only provides free and open access to source code, with a diverse and productive ‘ecosystem’ of developers for themes, plugins, and extensions, but also numerous cheap or free hosting opportunities for technical and non-technical users alike.

However, WordPress is missing some key SP requirements:

  • Support for multiple authors, article review workflow, and version comparison
  • Scholarly features such as citations, equations, and controlled document structure (headings, lists of figures/equations/tables)
  • Export to and import from the NLM/PubMed Journal Article DTD and other structured formats
Annotum will build upon the WordPress platform as a foundation, filling in the gaps by providing the following additional features:
  • Rich, web-based authoring and editing:
    • “What you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) authoring with rich toolset (equations, figures, tables, citations and references)
    • coauthoring, comments, version tracking, and revision comparisons
  • Multiple import and export formats
    • Export to PDF and XML formats
    • Import XML and WXR formats for “round-tripping” of content
    • Articles can be cited, exported, imported across systems/sites
  • Simple editorial workflow for authoring and reviewer/editor approval
  • Features specific to scholarly publishing:
    • Equations, figures, tables
    • References including citation search features
    • Auto-generation and registration of CrossRef DOIs

For more information about Annotum, feel free to leave a comment below, or contact us via the discussion list or code repository.


Comments RSS
  1. Jane Wells

    Have you looked at either the EditFlow or Anthologize plugins? Both are aimed at the publishing and academic workflow needs you cite. Both are available in the wordpress.org plugin repository.

    • annotum

      Thanks for your comment. We had not looked at those specific plugins, but on first glance Anthologize is more book-oriented — it doesn’t capture the specific structured XML output that is a focus for our project. EditFlow looks very interesting, but is probably a bit beyond what we are seeking in this first release. It’s nice to have configurable workflow and groups, of course, but it’s also another layer in learning and setting up to get through for new users. One of our notions is that the simplest workflow is the best. Perhaps we’ll rethink this over time but for now we like the very simple, fixed workflow that we’re targeting with Annotum v1.0.

  2. belly12

    I hope that Annotum will not only become a nice out-of-the-box solution to create a WordPress-based journal or science blog, but will also be a big stimulus for the budding community of scholarly WordPress users and developers.

  3. Tim

    Thank you for this template!
    It may need some improvements (e.g more flexibility to create text-aligned in pdf…) but nevertheless, it is very good job. Keep it up!

    • Annotum

      The PDF support is pretty weak, to be honest. I’ve found that printing articles using a PDF-writer program (e.g. Bullzip, Foxit, etc on a PC or Preview on a Mac) provides the best results.

  4. Fred


    Would it be possible to remove the date from only one post (the main page for example)?

    Thank you

    • annotum

      Please submit a ticket via the Help Desk; comments are for commenting on article content. In your submission, please indicate if you mean a Post or an Article, and if you are talking about all posts/articles on the main page or just a single one. Also, please include a sample URL and if possible a screenshot with the exact thing you’d like to remove highlighted.


  5. Erin

    Will annotum be solely for “scientific” articles instead of say English/textual/linguistic/fine arts/political science dissertation type articles? Given the listed lack of SP community, do I correctly assume there is an understanding that there is at least a semi above-par community available for these other types of scholarly work?

  6. Ryan L.

    I have the same question as Fred but I cannot seem to locate the help desk. Any and all appreciation would be greatly appreciated as I am looking to implement on a page of mine asap. Thanks

  7. Rakim

    Can one use this for book and chapter publishing instead of journal articles?
    How can it be done?

    • annotum

      The easiest way to do this would be to create the chapters as individual articles or even posts or pages in WordPress, then use categories to group the chapters into books. Finally, use the custom menu feature to create menu items for each book (category), or provide a list of links to books on a static page.

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