Proceedings are the written record of the conference; they allow participants as well as those who could not attend to get an overview of the meeting, read individual articles of particular interest and contact authors for further information, if required. They provide a wider recognition and visibility for authors and are important for historical reasons as volumes from a series show the evolution of ideas over time and put important developments into context.
Sometimes the proceedings are published in-house by the host institution or at another astronomical institution. For budgetary reasons, it may be advisable to publish electronic-only proceedings in future (either online or offline, see Format section below). A copy of the book or CD should be given to every participant.
The topics covered in this section are:
The SOC selects the editors of the proceedings. It is important that the editors are familiar with the word processing system chosen for proceedings (or willing to learn under time pressure!) Under no circumstances should inexperienced colleagues embark on such a project alone unless they are sure that experienced persons at their home institution are willing to help whenever problems (in particular technical ones) occur.
At least one of the editors should be a native English speaker who can take care of the (typically many) language problems in manuscripts.
Early on, the editors should agree on using either only English or only American spelling (and be consistent throughout the proceedings -- unlike we have been in this manual!) Alternatively, they may decide to leave the individual 'flavors' of the authors' choice of language. If one spelling is preferred, the authors must be informed about this decision even though probably not all of them will fulfil this request.
Selecting a word processing software may be determined by the publisher and his demands. On the one hand, it may be convenient to just go along with the software demanded by the publisher if the publisher provides macros for this software which ensures the same look and feel across all articles. On the other hand, editors should keep in mind that being forced to work with word processing software the majority of authors have never used before can result in large difficulties and considerable delays. The editors must be prepared to provide technical help for manuscripts.
The same software will also be used by the editors to process the whole book, e.g., establish table of contents, index and page numbers, include photos etc. In the case of LaTeX, this means that they will need extensive knowledge of working under Unix. If the editors are not familiar with the selected software (and operating system), they must either make sure to have in-house help or to be learning at a high pace and under pressure. Authors will submit papers written with a variety of versions of the chosen word processing software. Some systems may be more tolerant regarding articles prepared with older versions. For instance, Word seems to be fairly downward compatible, while processing documents prepared with various versions of LaTeX can be problematic, even more so using Unix LaTeX and PCTeX in parallel.
Sample LaTeX document (exerpt from LISA IV)
Maximum page length
The editors must set an allowed number of pages per article and communicate this information to the authors. Typically, the maximum number will be different for various types of articles; for instance, oral presentations may be granted a maximum of 8 pages, poster papers 4, panel discussions and 'Birds of a Feather' sessions 2. These lengths must be respected by the authors; even one page more here or there can drastically offset the outcome of the estimated total number of printed pages and increase the proceedings costs immensely.
the program booklet
Sample author instructions:
LISA IV author instructions (pre-conference)
LISA IV note to authors of poster papers (pre-conference)
LISA IV general information for authors (sent by e-mail after the meeting)
LISA IV instructions for authors (from conference website)
Authors should submit their contributions electronically, preferably to both editors to avoid loss of any submission. In addition, a printout of the final manuscript should be sent to one editor. This way, the editors know the layout the authors intended (which is particularly important in case the word processing software yields strange layouts due to version incompatibilities).
For manuscript receipt, it has proven to be most efficient if the editors set up a ftp account. The exact address and procedure should be noted on the author instructions web page. Editors must keep track of all received manuscripts and acknowledge them immediately after receipt.
Style and format
Even more important than spelling corrections are changes that may be necessary regarding content, outline, and general structure of manuscripts. Editors may have to modify certain sections of documents to make sure the authors are understood properly by readers. However, they should not re-write whole articles unless absolutely unavoidable. In any case authors have to be notified about all changes made in their manuscripts.
The editors must monitor adherence to style standards (as set by the publisher) to make contributions look similar. In particular, they must be strict regarding acceptance of with regard to accepting the required format of images. Otherwise converting postscript, tiff, jpg, gif etc. into whatever format needed will consume many work hours (if it is manageable at all).
In order to publish the proceedings as soon as possible after the meeting took place, authors must adhere to the deadlines set and communicated to them by the editors. Unfortunately, there will always be authors who do not submit their contributions in time. It is one of the editors' most annoying tasks to harass these late submissions. In case an author still doesn't submit the manuscripts after a short grace period, editors should exclude this paper from publication. Speed of publication is more important than 100% completeness.
LISA IV Reminder (sent by e-mail)
Compiling the book
The final manuscripts files are arranged by the editors in the proper order and processed so that accompanying material like contents table, page number, author index etc. are created automatically (if possible). Even if the publisher provides a software package to create the final book, it may be incomplete. In the past, one publisher's package contained style files and macros, but the file that actually gathered all individual manuscripts in the desired orde was not included. (It was kindly provided by an experienced colleague who had developed this tool during preparation of a previous proceedings volume.)
When the book is complete, all files (or camera-ready printouts) are sent to the publisher (often electronically) by the agreed-upon deadline. They should be accompanied by a list of recipients (conference participants) for distribution of the printed volume. Once the galley proofs are ready, editors have to review and, if necessary, correct them before the final printing.
Creating electronic proceedings
According to experience from LISA III and IV, "electronic proceedings" means an unrestrictedly available web version. The easiest solution will be if the publisher provides it at no (or reasonable) additional costs. Usually this is not the case, and the print editors or the SOC have to find one or more volunteers to convert te book (using the underlying files) into web format. (Note that permission to establish e-LISA proceedings is part of the publisher selection process.) These volunteers can, but need not be the editors of the print edition.
Typical file formats for web proceedings are currently HTML and/or PDF. HTML documents can be read with any web browser.and are therefore easier to access. PDF documents require the Adobe Acrobat Reader software which sometimes leads to version incompatibilities and browser plug-in problems. It is more suitable for printing though.
The (print) proceedings consist of one or several files that can include text, graphics, images, tables, photos, and other items. Converting these files into web-suitable format will not be done with one keystroke. On the contrary! In order to convert the files received from the print editors into web-suitable format, it may be necessary to work on various platforms. For instance, converting the original LISA IV LaTeX manuscripts into PDF files turned out to be much more complicated than expected. First, files had to be processed using a Unix workstation, then a PC and finally an Apple Macintosh computer.
When authors mention web addresses in their manuscripts, these should become active links in the proceedings. They must be checked carefully to be sure that they are working at least by the time the proceedings are published. (It will be impossible to maintain them over time.). Don't artificially introduce more links than those mentioned explicitly by the authors. One exception from this rule are internal references, i.e. quotations of other articles published in the same proceedings.
The layout of the proceedings can mimic the print version or be designed specifically for the web. The final product should be tested with various web browsers and, if possible, various versions thereof, in order to make sure that it can be viewed by (almost) everybody.
Examples of electronic versions:
LISA V proceeding (at publisher's site)
Sometimes proceedings are published “in-house” by an astronomical institution instead of by a commercial or society publisher (e.g., LISA I and IV). It may be much cheaper to publish this way, and the publishing institution may be able to distribute the final proceedings widely to other astronomical institutions.
Should the proceedings be published in print and/or electronic format? Up to now, LISA editors decided in favor of print volumes for all LISA proceedings, with the permission to post an electronic version (established by volunteers) at the conference website. If the publisher is in charge of both formats, they must be willing for an unrestricted electronic version to be posted on the web.
Because of budget restrictions, electronic-only proceedings, either online or offline on CDs, may be considered in future. While offline proceedings do not sound extremely tempting at first, they would diminish the production costs immensely and yet make the proceedings available also to those colleagues with unstable or only occasional access to internet resources.
See also: New ideas
During and after the editing of the LISA V proceedings, Eva Isaksson (Helsinki Observatory, Finland) has compiled a very useful month-by-month summary of the editorial process.