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Collaborating for Successful

Open Access Journal Publishing:


Webinar Q&A
Following a successful discussion on TU Dublin’s publishing success,
the Digital Commons™ team have compiled an easy-to-digest
Q&A document, covering a breadth of tips and tricks of how to
make your institution’s journal publishing a global success.

What software specifically are you using, What’s the timeline for publishing an
and are there any costs involved? open access journal? How much
Yvonne Desmond: We use Digital Commons software. It’s an preparation is required?
annual subscription that depends on the size of your institution.
Yvonne Desmond: To set up the journal itself doesn’t actually
With that comes unlimited storage, and we have the support of
take that long. If you have the idea, if you know the team that
the help-desk and tech support, which I would pay for just for
are involved in it, it only takes a couple of weeks. To get the site
the support we’ve gotten.
designed, we have to get a banner, pick colors and all that, and
We have the main repository for our material, and we have the then it goes to Digital Commons, comes back within less
journal publishing module which comes free with the software. than a week usually. We in the library would then look at it.
When I was trying to persuade our senior leadership to provide
But the actual physical site can be ready quite quickly. The time
this money at the time, I was saying, think about it, it’s
is actually for the editor to get their editorial board in place.
worldwide publicity and really good value for the money.
We demand that we have email addresses for the board and
When it came to the designation for university status, they were so on, so the board is very obviously visible. We apply a DOI
really impressed that 85% of our research was available open to every article. It takes a little bit longer to get an ISSN, but,
access, and that we were demonstrating this kind of publishing start-to-finish for your first issue can be as quick or as long as
activity. So while you might say it’s expensive, I think the rewards you want it to be.
and the value, both real and intangible, are well worth it. And
Dr Kevin Griffin: The types of things you want to think about are
after the first year, I’ve never had to fight for the money for it.
the aims and objectives of your journal, what types of articles are
Dr Kevin Griffin: As a journal editor, one of things that matters you going to accept, what type of layout do you want, guidelines
to me is that this is a professionally managed archive. When we for authors and that type of thing. And that is as specific or as
upload a journal issue, we know it’s there and it’s safe and it’s broad as the editors want.
discoverable. If you Google ‘religious tourism’ the journal pops
If you’re going for Scopus or a high ranking, you have to think
up very quickly.
about that carefully. I would spend weeks looking at other
There are all sorts of flexible audio and video features as well. journals online and hard copies, examining the procedures,
I’m waiting on a video article, in which they’ve done a review. the expected standards. How do you maintain those?
We’re toying with the idea of having a streamed paper,
We also have a reviewers’ template. If I tick a box to say I want
properly reviewed.
Kevin Griffin to review a paper, automatically in the email that’s
Digital Commons: Feel free to reach out to us or our sales team sent there’s a link to the downloadable review form.
at info@bepress.com to learn more!
Without that, you get a review that says, “Oh this is a lovely Since we publish about religion and it’s a sensitive subject, I try
paper, go ahead and publish it.” If you send a template with its to find a reviewer who’ll be aware of the many intricacies of a
tick boxes, with categories such as “Is the literature good? Is the particular faith or a particular point of view. So I manage that
method clear? What are the aim and objectives?” and so on, you process, sending it out to reviewers.
get much better reviews.
Here’s where it can get tricky: When you send a paper out to
Yvonne Desmond: With our 13 journals, there’s no copy editing a reviewer, they wait before they accept the review, then they
because we can’t afford it. My feeling has always been that wait again until they submit their review. If they don’t meet that
presentation has to be good, but it’s the content that really deadline, they get a reminder, then another reminder, and so
matters. I was a bit nervous about that at first, thinking the on. It might get two months into the review process, and you
journals would look awful, but they don’t. can keep politely reminding them or you can start from scratch
with a different reviewer. So I have a few reviewers and an
Ideally we would like to provide copy editing, but we just can’t. editorial board, who if that happens, will step in to the rescue.
But the point is that the costs can be kept to almost zero for an
individual journal to partner with the library. Once the review process is done, we give feedback, so it’s either
fully accepted, accepted with minor changes requested, or has to
Dr Kevin Griffin: The current issue on the website is the be improved before we can consider it. The article is rereviewed
result of a conference, and the papers I was given by them again, ideally by the same reviewers, before it’s finally accepted
were absolutely beautifully edited, so it was just a case of or rejected. The author then gets the chance to clean it up,
formatting. Some journals go for a very simple format. I use then we format, proofread, and publish it.
two columns, and footnotes drive me crazy, so it’s a simple
process. Within a couple of days you could produce an issue, One recommendation, having seen a broad range of academic
if you have the materials. output: I speak native English, and I’m a good language editor.
I would recommend anyone who’s thinking of beginning
a journal to have a native speaker in the language you’re
Could you elaborate on your management publishing in, or have access to someone who is. One of the
things I’m most nervous about is handing things over to
of the journal publishing process? other people because I’m quite particular.
Dr Kevin Griffin: An author finds our website, they register on
With Digital Commons, one interesting thing is you have the
the website and upload their paper. As the manager editor,
option of publishing as you go – so when a paper is ready, you
then, I see it coming in. I get an email saying a paper has been
publish it – or publishing in issues. We’ve published entire
uploaded. I then screen them and try to align them with
issues at one time because I don’t want to spend my time
appropriate reviewers, either from a subject point of view, or
publishing single articles every couple of days. I’m inclined
a methodological point of view: if it’s a very statistical paper, I
to it as a body of work, do the whole lot in one go.
have certain reviewers who I know will relish that sort of thing.
Another good thing about digital publishing: if I were doing a on their current website, and can still benefit greatly by
print journal with a paid subscription, I’d have to produce 10 partnering with the library to provide a permanent home
papers per issue three times a year. You don’t do more or less for those documents.
than that, because that’s what the subscription is for. We’ve
produced issues with six papers, we’ve produced issues with 14
or 18 papers. Because we’re online, we don’t have to limit the Has it been a challenge getting
length, don’t have to use the metrics of a standard journal.
submissions or is it relatively easy? How do
Yvonne Desmond: You can set up standardized letters at the
start, so your review letter will automatically be written for
commercial publishers affect your success?
you, as will the acceptance letters. And you can set up a list of Dr Kevin Griffin: Personally, because we proof-tested the idea
reviewers, so it’s just a matter of picking a name off a list. So the previously, we already knew there was going to be a core set of
system is really automated in that regard, which is useful when papers available, and a conference is where we get 40-50% of
you’re time-poor. our authors. They may not submit the paper they presented at
the conference, but they’ll contribute.
Dr Kevin Griffin: If you’re dealing with a more broad
spectrum of academics, you can also put in keywords that The other half of authors are unknown to us or they come to us
describe reviewers’ specialisms, such as specific qualitative by contributing to special issues of the journal. We have two of
or quantitative analysis, discourse analysis, and so on. those promised for later this year.

Yvonne Desmond: Not everyone has such a firm foundation,


If you have an established journal and but our journals do tend to be very niche, so it goes back to that
academic network you have of people who are interested in your
website, do you recommend having it topic. We’ve seen that having such a network is really important.
hosting on Digital Commons as well, With regard to competing with commercial publishers, there
in order to expand reach – or would has been a huge emphasis on the impact factor for journals
over time that never actually goes away, but with the shift
that require a move away from the to open access overall, it has been more about impact and
existing website? altmetrics, which lets open access journals stand out. You’re
always up against that competition, but if you make sure the
Digital Commons: Best practices for discoverability on the open journal is niche enough and has a big enough network, it can
web suggest having only one website, to avoid confusing search be sustainable.
engines regarding which website is your ‘real’ website. However,
some journals don’t have an archiving solution
It’s good to have a first issue, but do you have enough for What are the procedures for subscribing to
three issues? If so, that’s probably a journal more likely to
have success. the journals?
If you can get your institution to recognize this kind of work, Digital Commons: Most journals hosted on Digital Commons
these new metrics will certainly contribute and it becomes much are completely open access. The institution pays for the software,
easier. We had a mandate for open access from 2008, which but the journal editors, authors, and readers do not need to pay
hasn’t really been enforced. We’ve now come out with a new to use the service. Some journals – such as those published as
mandate for data and publications which will be enforced. part of a society – do choose to charge a subscription for access
to their journals. Those subscriptions are managed separately
from the Digital Commons software.
Does the system support exporting
published articles according to the How did you track your readership?
indexing database XML format – for Digital Commons: Digital Commons includes a Readership
example, DOAJ XML and PubMed XML? Dashboard that tracks downloads for the whole site, or per
collection – such as an individual journals. You can read more
Digital Commons: Digital Commons repositories conform here: bepress.com/impact-analytics/
to OAI-PMH and can be harvested accordingly, such as by a
research portal.

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Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. May 2019