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Chapter 1: Introduction

Open Journal Systems (OJS) is an open source solution to managing and publishing scholarly journals online. OJS is a highly flexible editor-operated journal management and publishing system that can be downloaded for free and installed on a local Web server.

It has been designed to reduce the time and energy devoted to the clerical and managerial tasks associated with editing a journal, while improving the record-keeping and efficiency of editorial processes. It seeks to improve the scholarly and public quality of journal publishing through a number of innovations, including enhancing the reader experience, making journal policies more transparent, and improving indexing.

This book covers OJS version 3.1, released in October 2017, and features significant enhancements over the previous versions of the software. We hope you find it helpful for your publishing projects.

Background #

OJS is a journal/web site management/publishing system. OJS covers all aspects of online journal publishing, from establishing a journal website to operational tasks such as the author’s submission process, peer review, editing, publication, archiving, and indexing of the journal. OJS also helps to manage the people aspects of organizing a journal, including keeping track of the work of editors, reviewers, and authors, notifying readers, and assisting with the correspondence.

OJS is flexible and scalable. A single installation of OJS can support the operation of one or many journals. Each journal has its own unique URL as well as its own look and feel. OJS can enable a single editor to manage all aspects of a journal and the journal’s website, or OJS will support an international team of editors with diverse responsibilities for a journal’s multiple sections.

OJS supports the principle of extending access. This system is intended not only to assist with journal publishing, but to demonstrate how the costs of journal publishing can be reduced to the point where providing readers with “open access” to the contents of the journal becomes a viable option. The case for open access is spelled out over a wide series of articles stemming from this project which are freely available under Research > Publications on the Public Knowledge Project website.

The origins of OJS. The system was first released in 2001 as a research and development initiative at the University of British Columbia, with the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Max Bell Foundation, the Pacific Press Endowment, and the MacArthur Foundation. Its continuing development is currently overseen by the Simon Fraser University Library. For more information, see the Public Knowledge Project website.

OJS Features #

OJS includes the following features:

  1. OJS is installed locally and controlled locally
  2. Editors configure requirements, sections, review process, etc.
  3. Online submission, double-blind review, and management of all content
  4. Comprehensive indexing of content
  5. Responsive, themable reader interface
  6. Email notification for readers
  7. Support for article-processing charges, subscriptions, and online payments
  8. Complete context-sensitive online Help support
  9. Multilingual support

What’s New in OJS 3 #

OJS 3 is significantly different than its predecessor, OJS 2. It includes enhancements and new features developed from community feedback, extensive usability testing, and new software design capabilities.

Reader Interface #

By default, Open Journal Systems is installed with a very simple, functional user interface. This includes a top header, navigation bar, navigation blocks to the right, and a main content block in the middle of the page.

The following image is a screenshot of an OJS Demonstration Journal Table of Contents.

Table of Contents for a sample OJS journal.

You can see from the screenshot that the user functions now exist from your profile menu at the top right of the screen. This takes the managerial content in OJS 3.x away from general user view. Side bar information is clearly broken out, as well as your top navigation bar with collapsible menus for the “About” functions. Like OJS 2, each article has a linked title for viewing object metadata and abstracts, and galleys are now clearly labeled below the titles with clearer logos.

Editorial Interface #

AKA “The Dashboard”

OJS 3.x now has a separate interface once you log into the editorial system. This not only makes it easier to customize the reader interface, but also provides OJS users of different journals a consistent experience.

The main OJS dashboard

The editorial interface is known as your dashboard and consists of the following elements:

  1. Top Navigation Bar: To the left, you will find the name of the journal you are currently working with (e.g., Journal of Public Knowledge). If you are enrolled in more than one journal on this OJS installation, you can use this to switch between journals. Next to that are your Tasks (items needing immediate attention). To the right, you can switch languages if the journal is multilingual, view the reader interface, or click on your username to view your profile or logout.
  2. Left Menu Panel: These are the major sections of the dashboard, including the submissions, issue management, subscription management (if you are running a journal using subscriptions), settings, user and role management, and tools. Users with fewer permissions (e.g., Authors, Reviewers, Copyeditors, etc.) will see fewer links here.
  3. Blue Navigation Bar: These menu choices are specific to the different sections of the editorial workflow. Metadata, Editorial History, and Submission Library are all part of the submission record visible below.
  4. Main Panel: In the main panel you will see the current work area. In the image above, you are looking at a submission record in the Production stage.
  5. Main Panel Sub-Menus: Within the Main Panel, you will often see tabs that allow you to view different information about the content being worked on. In this example, the submission record is broken into four sections (Submission, Review, Copyediting, Production). Notice the Help tab to the right, which provides context-sensitive help for the page you are currently viewing.
  6. Right Panel: From here, you can see the action buttons, such as Schedule for Publication. Different pages have different action buttons. Below the action buttons is the Participants table, which lists everyone (except Reviewers) involved in the submission.

Community Contributions #

The OJS team encourages contributions from the developer community. If you are interested in getting involved in making OJS even better, we welcome your participation.

Excellent examples of community contributions include the vast array of languages that OJS is available in; and third-party plugins posted to the community forum and the archived forum page.

We also welcome software testing and bug reporting contributions.

Support #

A community forum and issue reporting system for technical issues can be accessed via the PKP web site.

For questions about a particular journal site, such as submission requirements, contact that journal directly, using the contact information listed on the journal’s About page.