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PLoS Comput Biol. 2019 Jun 24;15(6):e1007128. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1007128. eCollection 2019 Jun.

Open collaborative writing with Manubot.

Author information

1
Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America.
2
Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California, United States of America.
3
Department of Bioinformatics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, United States of America.
4
Bioinformatics Core Facility, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, United States of America.
5
Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.
6
Morgridge Institute for Research, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.

Abstract

Open, collaborative research is a powerful paradigm that can immensely strengthen the scientific process by integrating broad and diverse expertise. However, traditional research and multi-author writing processes break down at scale. We present new software named Manubot, available at https://manubot.org, to address the challenges of open scholarly writing. Manubot adopts the contribution workflow used by many large-scale open source software projects to enable collaborative authoring of scholarly manuscripts. With Manubot, manuscripts are written in Markdown and stored in a Git repository to precisely track changes over time. By hosting manuscript repositories publicly, such as on GitHub, multiple authors can simultaneously propose and review changes. A cloud service automatically evaluates proposed changes to catch errors. Publication with Manubot is continuous: When a manuscript's source changes, the rendered outputs are rebuilt and republished to a web page. Manubot automates bibliographic tasks by implementing citation by identifier, where users cite persistent identifiers (e.g. DOIs, PubMed IDs, ISBNs, URLs), whose metadata is then retrieved and converted to a user-specified style. Manubot modernizes publishing to align with the ideals of open science by making it transparent, reproducible, immediate, versioned, collaborative, and free of charge.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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