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New tools in the armory: Artificial intelligence is poised to shape the future of scholarly publishing

By Habeeb Ibrahim Abdul Razack | Oct. 18, 2021  | None  | Research skills Resources

In recent years, researchers have witnessed dramatic changes in the science communications landscape. Here, I briefly explain how these changes positively impact the lives of an author or a science writer by putting myself in their shoes.

The role of artificial intelligence (AI) has gained importance in every aspect of scholarly publishing. As a consequence, for example, if I need to write a manuscript for a medical journal on any specific treatment for COVID-19, I now have the option to choose literature search tools (e.g., COVIDScholar, CLARA, etc) to find recent and evolving evidence on this emerging condition. COVIDScholar, being a powerful natural language processing-based search engine, covers almost all COVID-19 related studies by collecting data from leading databases like PubMed and several preprint servers.

Similarly, if I need to comprehend the highest level of evidence on the treatment efficacy, I may use machine-learning (ML) based study filtering tools (e.g., RobotSearch) to filter out only randomized controlled trials (RCTs) from a pool of collected studies. I may then use ML-based data extraction tools (e.g., RobotReviewer) to extract the vital PICO (Participants, Interventions, Comparator, Outcomes) information and understand the risk of bias from selected RCTs. These tools significantly help me to synthesize the evidence for my manuscript. 

Post this extensive literature search, to draft the manuscript, I may use manuscript writing tools (e.g., SciNote Manuscript Writer) to extract data from the selected reference articles and add appropriate citations to my working Microsoft Word file. After preparing the first draft, I may run a spelling and grammar check using any of the powerful proofreading tools (e.g., Grammarly, ProWritingAid, PerfectIt., etc).

Once the draft is completed, I will ensure the originality by checking the similarity by using ML-supported plagiarism checking tools (e.g., CopyLeaks, Paper Rater, Turnitin). Once I am satisfied with the content, I may check the full manuscript for consistency and submission readiness by using consistency and compliance checking tools (e.g., Trinka, PerfectIt, etc). I cannot go further without identifying an appropriate journal for my manuscript.

So, at this juncture, I prefer a journal selector tool (e.g., Manuscript Matcher, Journal / Author Name Estimator, Open Journal Matcher, etc) powered by intelligent algorithms to select a suitable one from the ocean of available journals. I would then take the help of automation features within the reference management tools (EndNote, Zotero, Mendeley, etc) to change the citation and bibliography to suit the target journal. This is how I develop a manuscript by taking advantage of innovations in scholarly publishing.

However, the use of AI solutions does not end at the author level. When I submit the manuscript to the journal, the professionals at the editorial office use sophisticated AI tools to manage various obligations such as technical checks (e.g., UNSILO Evaluate, Penelope), editorial workflow (e.g., Pubstract), peer review (e.g., AIRA), quality assessment (AuthorONE, Paperpal Preflight, StatReviewer), publication production (e.g., SmartEdit), and research dissemination (e.g., UNSILO Recommend).

AI takes charge of many overburdened and repetitive tasks in the scholarly publishing industry. There are plenty of AI-based product choices currently available in the scholarly market. It is high time we encourage human-machine collaboration to enhance effective and smart research communications.

More insights:
You may read our recent article in Science Editing to know more AI solutions available for use in different publishing steps of a journal manuscript. The article lists and summarizes in detail the implication of these tools in various scholarly publishing functions.

Habeeb Ibrahim Abdul Razack, Sam T. Mathew, Fathinul Fikri Ahmad Saad, Saleh A. Alqahtani. Artificial intelligence-assisted tools for redefining the communication landscape of the scholarly world. Sci Ed. 2021;8(2):134-144. Published online July 27, 2021. Full text available here (DOI: 10.6087/kcse.244).


Habeeb Ibrahim (habi2ibu@gmail.com) is a medical communications consultant and researcher. He is currently affiliated with King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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