Elsevier continues its pattern of business acquisitions of companies offering scholarly workflow tools, compared to earlier phases where its focus was more on the expansion of its portfolio of publications. Its most recent move involves acquiring Aries Systems and its platform for managing publication submissions, peer review, and production tracking.
Aries Systems was founded in 1986 by Lyndon S. Holmes and Sandra Holmes. Its original product, Knowledge Finder, was a search engine for MEDLINE and other medical literature. In 2001, Aries created Editorial Manager for managing manuscript submission and peer review. By 2013, over 5,000 journals had adopted Editorial Manager, including many owned by Elsevier, such as those published under its Cell Press subsidiary.
This acquisition is consistent with Elsevier's recent string of acquisitions involving various aspects of scientific workflow and research processes. Earlier examples include Pure (August 2012), Mendeley (April 2013), NewsFlo (January 2015), SSRN (May 2016), Plum Analytics (February 2017 from EBSCO), and bepress (August 2017).
Competitors to Aries Editorial Manager include ScholarOne and Publons from Clarivate Analytics, Atypon from Wiley, and Scholastica. In the current environment, there is no direct alignment between submission management platforms and the corporate ownership of journals. Many non-Elsevier journals rely on Editorial Manager, and Elsevier-owned titles are managed through many other platforms. Whether such alignment emerges in the future will be a notable development.