Review History

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  • The initial submission of this article was received on October 9th, 2016 and was peer-reviewed by 3 reviewers and the Academic Editor.
  • The Academic Editor made their initial decision on December 21st, 2016.
  • The first revision was submitted on July 10th, 2017 and was reviewed by 3 reviewers and the Academic Editor.
  • The article was Accepted by the Academic Editor on August 7th, 2017.

Version 0.2 (accepted)

· Aug 7, 2017 · Academic Editor


Three reviewers have evaluated the revised version of the manuscript, and they all agree that the revised version is a significant improvement over the original one and fully addresses their voiced concerns. I am therefore pleased to recommend acceptance for the revised version of the manuscript. I would kindly ask the Authors to consider the minor revisions indicated by Reviewer 1 when preparing the final version of the paper.


Basic reporting

I am very pleased that the authors took their time to correct the numerous spelling and grammar errors that I have mentioned in my previous review. However, some still exist and must be addressed:
In the abstract, findings, "be" is repeated twice.
In the introduction, 1st paragraph, remove the 2nd could

There are sufficient and relevant literature references to provide a solid backround to the reader. Also the use of tables and figures is appropriate with all relevant raw data provided. However, I encourage the authors to label the code extracts provided throughout the paper as listings with a listing number and in-text references to these listings.

The results provided are of high quality, since the authors used their tools to produce the paper (eat their own dog food). Suffice to say, the first version of the manuscript suffered from missing titles due to this process, which have been corrected in this manuscript by fixing the error in the toolchain.

Experimental design

The article is definitely within the scope of the journal (computer science) and is a highly original research, aiming to streamline the publication of research. The authors clearly define their aims and proceed to fulfil them in a well-performed research experiment, especially in producing the manuscript using their own toolchain.

Validity of the findings

The validity of the experimental design is exposed though the source code they provide together with the raw data and the final product being the manuscript itself. The results stand on their own.

Additional comments

The reviewers comments on the first manuscript were addressed in a proper manner, you took your time and made your work a well-presented article that I expect to gain nottice from the academic publishing world.

A job well done.


Basic reporting

The authors have addressed all the comments from the reviewers in the spirit in which they were intended. The result is an excellent paper reporting an important idea.

Experimental design

No comment

Validity of the findings

No comment


Basic reporting

The paper have clear language, significantly improved since first review. The dataset is augmented with extra material, and referenced properly from Figshare with

Argumentation is well-structured and founded, although a couple of citations or examples are missing, e.g. claim that HTML allow ambiguous structures, or the novel (and unnecessary) use of RDF/XML in a script tag.

See for my detailed review per section of this version.

Experimental design

The paper describes well the motivation and design of the RASH framework, while also giving an extensive and up to date review of comparative technologies and approaches. The paper explains also challenges and peculiarities encountered in its implementation.

RASH is a well-designed subset of HTML that emphasizes document structure and semantic annotations. I think it could also be argued that unlike "any HTML5" this design also improves longevity for articles **published** in RASH HTML.

My only slight concerns is the extension of WAI-ARIA roles (e.g. "doc-endnotes"), which I could not find any citations for being allowed (or not) within HTML5; as well as the novel use of RDF/XML in a HTML script tag.

Validity of the findings

The survey part provides valuable insight into the uptake potential of RASH-like technology - although this should be taken with a grain of salt as the relative low number of survey participants means the data is (as the authors point out) NOT statistically significant. The paper do however provide a good *qualitative* analysis of the findings, which warrants their inclusion.

The authors provide well-reasoned conclusions. While my previous review identified some speculative language, this have now been improved.

Additional comments

I am Stian Soiland-Reyes and believe in open reviews.

This review is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

The authors present the RASH framework, a subset of XHTML for academic publishing, along with software tools for its validation and conversion. The paper review the state of art in academic HTML publishing, motivate and detail the design of the framework, and evaluate its uptake and future challenges.

While personally I would have welcomed a more visionary/revolutionary approach for changing academic publishing for the Web, the authors take a more conservative approach with emphasis on pragmatic tooling to support existing authoring workflows (e.g. support LaTex and MS Word). From this, RASH can provide a valuable stepping stone for more structured and accessible Web publication workflows for academic publishing.

I think this is a solid article that presents an important contribution to the further development of web-based scholarly communication.

I Recommend this article as "Accept" - although I have left some annotations in (Click "<" and "Show Annotations") that I hope the authors will consider (along with this review) if a revision nevertheless take place.

Version 0.1 (original submission)

· Dec 21, 2016 · Academic Editor

Minor Revisions

Reviewer 3 points out that a few claims appear unfounded, probably due to the way they are phrased. The Authors are encouraged to improve the language and presentation of their results to remove any ambiguity about the claims they make and evidence that supports such claims.

Reviewer 1 extensively reported many typos and grammar errors and suggested minor improvements to the text. The Authors are invited to review those observations and incorporate them, according to their judgement, in a resubmitted version of the manuscript.


Basic reporting

The overall command of English needs improvement:
Line 24 a set tools -> a set of tools
30 conferences and journals -> conferences, and journals
33 -> technical -> technically
44 about it validation -> about validation
58 Nonetheless HTML -> Nonetheless, HTML
58 as output -> as an output
62 trasferred -> transferred
81 annotations), handling all -> annotations), handing over all
96 paper is in fact to -> paper is, in fact, to
Lines 103 to 109 Section numbers are missing, probably due to RASH conversion error
107 introduction of the -> introduction to the
109 paper sketching -> paper via sketching
112 papers have resulted -> papers has resulted
113 following subsections we -> following subsections, we
114 them in two -> them into two
123 that has proposed -> that proposed
Between 138 and 139 Table 1. A comparison among existing HTML-oritented formats for scholarly papers according to seven distinct categories. -> Table 1. A comparison among existing HTML-oriented formats for scholarly papers according to seven distinct categories.
144 In services made available by the company would enable also the conversion from Microsoft Word document into such ScholarlyHTML format. -> The company also provides services that enable the conversion from Microsoft Word document into ScholarlyHTML format.
147 developing a HTML -> developing an HTML
153 proposals which is -> proposals, which is
154 is Web applications (still under-development) -> is a web application (still under development)
156 which annotations -> which are annotations
165 as primary -> as a primary
167 we limit to a -> we impose a limited
171 writing papers, and -> writing papers and
175 for her scholarly -> for the scholarly
186 paper to others -> paper with others
197 Leaving the authors of using their own HTML format could be also counterproductive -> Allowing the authors to use their own HTML format could be counterproductive
200 camera ready -> camera-ready
203 camera ready -> camera-ready
208 such Web-first -> such a Web-first
218 theory, we developed ->theory we developed
219 section we -> section, we
224 guideline for fostering -> guidelines in fostering
226 that then has been already applied -> that has since been applied
236 plausible exemplar within -> plausible example within
256 allow to increase the reusability -> allow increased reusability
259 of document -> of the document
260 tools, can make hypothesis -> tools, can make a hypothesis
261 study global properties of sets of -> study the global properties of a set of
264 is enough expressive to -> is expressive enough to
276 Any RASH documents begins as -> All RASH documents begin as
280 standards, and -> standards and
288 subsection we -> subsection, we
288 about pattern-usage in -> about usage pattern in
292 be enough expressive for -> be expressive enough for
294 Missing Section number
299 Missing Section number
301 Missing Section number
303 prohibit to contain additional -> prohibit it from containing additional
336 used as default -> used by default
421 guarantee a proper -> guarantee proper
442 consideration, since -> consideration since
442 possible so as to -> possible to
455 adds other two -> adds another two
546 such environment -> such an environment
550 section we -> section, we
574 that these kinds of -> that this kind of
580 the more suitable -> the most suitable
585 crucial step to -> crucial steps to
590 perform conversions from -> perform conversion from
594 converted in the -> converted to the
604 a chanche to have fruitful feedbacks, comments and -> a chance to have fruitful feedback, comments, and
605 of the research papers, project proposals and deliverables, documentation, and two Ph.D. thesis we -> of research papers, project proposals and deliverables, documentation, and two Ph.D. theses we
611 workshops and -> workshops, and
617 a HTML -> an HTML
622 the reviews and -> the reviewers, and
626 whenever it will be possible -> whenever it is possible,
628 Framework has concerned -> Framework concerns
650 represents logical -> represents a logical
651 As sections -> Sections
659 detect sententes and -> detect sentences and
661 task SPAR -> task, SPAR
663 support english only -> support English only
665 with open -> with an open
671 that provides a sample -> that provide a sample
756 text-editors -> text editors
761 companies and -> companies, and
766 publishing it -> publishing, it
769 markups, the -> markup, the
774 camera ready -> camera-ready
777 and USA -> and the USA
783 Section number missing
785 participated to our -> participated in our
792 and United -> and the United
793 demos and 1 position papers -> demos, and 1 position paper
798 participated to the -> participated in the
807 a HTML -> an HTML
815 with a different -> with different
818 assessed strengths -> assessed the strengths
831 details to the -> details from the
844 as limit in -> as a limit in
851 a HTML -> an HTML
854 access to the -> access the
856 of them however added -> of them, however, added
858 writing research -> writing a research
876 ability of converting -> ability to convert
881 figures and captions. However, most of authors -> figures, and captions. However, most of the authors
903 person background -> person's background
904 and and -> and
912 find unfeasible -> find it unfeasible
928 appear in -> appears in
949 conferences and -> conferences, and
951 technical savvy -> technically savvy
960 find hard -> find it hard
964 As far it concerns the analisys of RDF annotations in RASH documents -> As far as the analysis of the RDF annotations in RASH documents is concerned
965 adopt few -> adopt a few
972 statement in -> statements in
995 as additional -> as an additional

Experimental design

The experimental design is sound and appropriate for a journal article dealing with the subject.

Validity of the findings

The findings appear to be in line with the experimental results.

Additional comments

Please use a spelling checker on any document you are considering for submission to a journal or conference as a basic requirement. Then ask a friend or colleague that has a better command of the English Language (the best solution is a teacher of English) to check the document for grammar mistakes. Otherwise, you risk the acceptance of such a good scholarly work!

Also, if you are transforming the content from one type of document to another, check if the conversion introduced mistakes of its own. Missing section numbers in this manuscript fall into this category.


Basic reporting

This is a well-written paper tackling two of the most important issues facing scholarly communication today: first the enormous amounts of time, effort and money spent re-formatting articles to meet the requirements of different publishing pipelines; and second, the growing need to be able to unambiguously identify and cite objects other than publications in published works.

The article's structure is coherent, and the prose reads well. The balance of background, theoretical and experimental content is appropriate.

Something bad has happened to the section references within the article -- they are all missing and of course will need to be re-instated, and there are numerous cases (too many to list individually) where opening typographer's quotes are the wrong round (this will no-doubt just get fixed later in the process).

A few optional suggestions to improve the text:

63: "Scholarly HTML3 defines a set of descriptive rules to use a reduced amount of HTML"; perhaps a "defined subset" instead of a "reduced amount"?

67: "customized version of HTML"; I'm on the fence about this, but 'customized' slightly suggests a deviation from HTML (i.e. something that wouldn't parse), whereas RASH appears to be a defined subset.

82: "This is a well-established principle in scientific publishing: clear separation of concerns"; I'm not sure this is a well-established principle in scientific publishing even if it should be -- it strikes me that many of the problems we face today come from the fact that concerns haven't been adequately separated, and that authoring, archival and presentation of articles have been muddled up a bit.

218: The comma after 'patterns theory' shouldn't be there, and I think 'patterns theory' could do with a citation or explanation. It's a fairly well understood concept, but given that understanding it is core to the paper, it's probably worthwhile elaborating further.

742: suggest "rests on its adoption by authors and workshops" instead of 'good number'

754: "worth anticipating" -- does this mean 'worth noting' perhaps?

At the risk of sounding like a plea to cite my own work,

S. Pettifer, P.McDermott, J. Marsh, D. Thorne, A.Villéger, and T. K. Attwood. Ceci n'est pas un hamburger: modelling and representing the scholarly article. Learned Publishing, Jul 2011.

does consider some of the 'separation of concerns' issues discussed here (albeit from the point of view of storage and presentation, not so much from authoring); it may be worth including a reference to this paper.

Experimental design

The authors have made a respectable attempt to evaluate RASH, and while the numbers involved in the evaluation are relatively small, I think they are perfectly acceptable for this kind of work. This is primarily a description of a novel technology that has been developed to meet a real-world need, built using sound engineering principles and theory; at this stage it would be wrong to over analyse the 'experimental' component of the work.

Validity of the findings

No Comments


Basic reporting

Detailed comments (including grammar suggestions) are available as annotations on the RASH version of the article:
(Expand on the right, see inline comments)

The language of the article is OK, but I'm afraid it needs some work several places to improve clarity, e.g. by rephrasing or simplification.

Some of the data (the CSV files) has been shared on Figshare and cited as such, but I am missing the raw data of the extracted RDF annotations as well as the scripts used for extraction.

The HTML file of the article in RASH format has for some reason not been submitted as an additional file (only cited by URL) -- perhaps this was not supported by PeerJ's submission system?

The RASH framework and associated software is referenced by GitHub URLs, but without using versioning. For archival purposes and future availability I would appreciate a Zenodo or Figshare archive of a tagged/version of the software, cited using DOI.

Experimental design

No Comments.

The article describes well the rationale and methodology.

Validity of the findings

The survey data is robust, but perhaps of a bit small sample size to be statistically sound. This is however helped by the fact that the survey was run over two consequent years.

The paper makes several unfounded claims using words like "guarantees" - I believe this is more of an English language/grammar issue than actual claims. See detailed comments on

Additional comments

This article presents RASH, an HTML-based format for authoring, exchanging and publishing academic articles, arguing that this allows a "Web-first" approach to authoring with a focus on content; but with facilities for semantic annotations. The associated RASH software allows conversion to more traditional article styles (for PDF), as well as conversion from a traditional word processor to RASH HTML.

While the authors argue that we should aim for a "Web first" publishing model with no conversion to traditional PDFs, as championed by the perhaps more visionary movement, here it is proposed that RASH gives a pragmatic approach that requires smaller adaptation to existing co-authoring and publishing workflows.

The authors has performed a kind of usability survey for RASH users at two consequent workshop, which gives validity to the claims of its purpose, but also (as recognized by the authors) highlights the current gap in tooling and skills to produce the underlying HTML and RDF annotations.

I think RASH can be seen as an important element of modernizing academic publishing; and while it can be argued that a restricted HTML template like RASH can limit academic authors from publishing articles augmented with state of the art web technology (for instance for interactive data rendering), this model is also a stepping-stone with a stronger focus on portability and longevity that lowers the barriers to get existing publishers on board.

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