Search for “jats” and you will find two very distinct concepts:


14th Murrays Jat Lancers (Risaldar Major) by AC Lovett (1862-1919).jpg

This post doesn’t discuss the Jats, a race of people, interesting as they are. This post covers information tagging, specifically a specialized list of xml elements for journal articles.

Problem and need

Interoperability has continually posed a greater hurdle for scholarly publishers over the past few years. With multiple organizations publishing journal articles on an open source basis and offering free content for casual readers, scientific and technical journals have banded together to abide by a set of standards to streamline shared documents.

As more scientific, medical, technical, and engineering writings are pushed out the door of major publishers, the need to structure this data in a robust and interoperable manner greatly increases. Scholarly publishers, universities, and multiple institutions within the scientific community require access to simple tools in order to convert format to format.

The Journal Archiving and Interchange Tag Suite (JATS) provides a comprehensive list of xml elements and attributes in order for each of the published articles to swap easily into multiple data repositories and archives. Tag sets defined by JATS provide information spanning entity identification for authors, editors, and reviewers, as well as the institutions with whom the authors are affiliated. Regardless of the source for which the content was published, the tag suite would allow publishers and archives to capture the semantic components of each document without requiring additional formatting or processing issues.



JATS logo


In 2003, the National Library of Medicine introduced the NLM DTD v1.0 set of standardized XML elements used to mark up scientific and medical journal articles.

Prior to 2000, articles were published in either  SGML, TeX, LaTeX, PDF , or other proprietary formats. The varied and individually rigid nature of the formats, along with the issues of lacking metadata and structure, caused woes of conversion, sharing, loading, findability and retention. Since then, major revisions have been implemented in order to satisfy needs to mark up header, metadata, full-text, formulas, and references. The JATS schema evolved from the NLM DTD v3.0 standard. An NLM 3.1 version was slated to be in production, but was superseded by the joined efforts of the publishers and new features added to the JATS 1.0 DTD instead.

After the adoption of JATS, journal publishers from all sectors from for-profit to open access began creating repositories for JATS. Several institutions within the scientific community sharing open access journals utilized open access repositories including PubMed Central and SciELO.

Discussions of additional JATS applications have evolved since 2012. Frameworks have been established to encompass additional keyword descriptors from multiple sources and flagging them within the full-body of the articles and to assign a relevance-based frequency count to these keywords within the metadata fields. Further enhancements of JATS could span to defining additional roles for content creators aside from simply distinguishing between authors, editors, and reviewers. The Contributor Roles Taxonomy (CRediT), developed by CASRAI, aims to add additional role-types to the JATS standard to expose data curators, software-used, methodologies, supervisors, and funding sources along with authors, reviewers, and editors.

The growth potential for JATS is immense. Projects to assign unique identifiers for individual contributors, such as ORCID, have begun to develop within the past few years. Since authors may write or appear within multiple journal articles, news articles, or conference proceedings, archives and repositories must accurately assign individuals to each one of their contributed papers. However, since authors share names, locations, and backgrounds, the importance for using a single identifier code to disambiguate authors is entirely more relevant now than previous years.


Content requires structure. Content regarding emerging scientific fields of study, new medical advancements, and solutions for engineering and design woes requires immense amount of discoverability and ease of access. While converting older articles into newer formats may be a hassle for time and resources, publishers must account for changes made to their content within the next decade. Reformatting content into an interchangeable and interoperable format is the only method for success in sharing, hosting, and providing content to end users.


NISO JATS DTD v1.0 is the formal technical specification of the US-based NISO Z39.96 2012-08-22. Discussions have begun for another revision of the specification NISO JATS v1.1.

JATS-CON is the central conference for those implementing JATS or for those who wish to know more about the standard.


Jack Bruce, Senior Taxonomist
Access Innovations