The Version of Record: What Is It and Does It Matter?
by Paige Jackson
From a practical point of view, denoting a version of record provides a means for version control. A journal article can go through a number of incarnations—for example, draft for peer review, revised draft, accepted manuscript, first typeset version, published version, and sometimes corrected published version.
Back in the day, we found articles from print journals among library stacks and the published print version was the version of record. With the advent of the Internet, journal articles are now more likely to be read in electronic form than in print.
Last spring, APA joined the ranks of other publishers who have made the switch to the electronic article as the version of record. One rationale for this change is the additional information and functionality that it provides to our readers. When accessing an article electronically, one can link to any correction or retraction notices, comments and replies, and other enhancements such as supplementary data. In addition, having the electronic version be the version of record opens up the possibility of publishing some articles only online.
Digital-object-identifiers (DOIs) have made it easy to identify and locate the version of record. In a number of posts on this blog, we have portrayed the DOI as a wonderful tool that will greatly simplify referencing documents as it becomes more ubiquitous. Some publishers release articles online as they are completed, rather than waiting until articles are assembled into an issue. In this case, an “online first” article is identical to the article published with an issue, with the exception that continuous pagination will be inserted at issue assembly. The DOI leads the reader to the early release of an article when that is available; after the article has been published as part of an issue, the DOI tracks to that later version. Whether to use a URL and if so which URL to use will become moot as more and more documents have DOIs, which lead the reader directly to the latest version of record.