Thread: Promising Practices

The ‘Nancy style’ — a toolkit for managing limited-circulation literature and learning about the entire editorial process

Paola De Castro and Sandra Salinetti – Rome, Italy

Inexperienced authors, editors and translators have much in common with authors of the so-called grey literature (GL) – i.e. documents that are formally but not commercially published. All of them are not generally aware of editorial concerns in document writing and publishing. However, the GL in fact represents the production of many individuals and organizations that are not supported by an editorial office or other professionals in the field. Producers of GL, therefore, have to learn how to manage the entire editorial process leading to the production of an editorially correct document and must become aware of all the ‘risks’ associated with that.

The ‘Nancy Style’ – the informal name given to the Guidelines for the production of scientific and technical reports: how to write and distribute grey literature – was created in 2006 to help GL authors and producers in their mutual task of writing and distributing accurate, clear and easily accessible documents. It was initially produced in English after the 7th International Conference on Grey Literature (2005) in Nancy, France, and then translated into four languages (Italian, French, German and Spanish), thus proving the quality of the document and the interest in the topic. This tool is useful for introducing the main issues of the editorial workflow. It covers basic ethical considerations (responsibilities, conflicts of interest, peer review, security concerns, etc.); the main publishing and editorial issues (copyright, electronic publishing, institutional repositories, etc.); elements of document structure; and principles of revision editing.

Practical examples will be given to show the importance of document structure and to stress the different levels of revision editing. The correct handling of these elements is the first step to achieving publications of higher levels. We will also argue that the ‘Nancy style’ document is useful to tutors, because knowledge of editorial workflow and standards helps writing scientists understand ways to improve their manuscript outputs.

Paola de Castro, head of the Publishing Unit, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, the National Institute of Health in Rome. She is also a member of the editorial boards of the publications edited by the Institute (Annali dell’Istituto Superiore di Sanità, a quarterly peer-reviewed science journal, Notiziario dell’Istituto Superiore di Sanità, a monthly newsletter on current research and other activities, and various series of technical reports). Paola also serves on the board of European Science Editing, the journal of the European Association of Science Editors and has published many articles on information transfer process and research evaluation. She delivers courses on scientific writing for Italian National Health Service operators and for the Master in Scientific Communication of the University of Naples. She organizes exhibitions on public health issues addressed to both specialized staff and the general public, including students. Thus she is involved in the promotion of science culture in schools. Projects for the preservation of the historical heritage of scientific institutions (including scientific instruments no longer used for research purposes, unpublished documents, pictures, oral memories) also hold her interest. A list of publications is available from:

Sandra Salinetti works with the production of documents produced by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in Rome, assisting authors in the preparation and editing of books and papers, reviewing the texts to assure they comply with national and international standards and to make them available through the Internet. She participates in a training project on scientific writing to improve authors’ skills in the production of scientific documents, with special reference to the presentation of technical reports.