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Introduction and Background: Better Practices in Journal Metadata

This guide explains how to create accurate journal title, journal issue, and journal article metadata in Open Journal Systems (OJS) and how to avoid and correct common errors. It was created by the Coalition Publica Metadata Working Group for Coalition Publica members, but these better practices are relevant for all publishers who use OJS.

Metadata is information that describes a digital object, such as a journal article or issue. It is an essential aspect of academic publishing that is used to organize, search for, and retrieve journals and articles. Article metadata disseminates to Google and Google Scholar, and the Microsoft Academic Graph. Metadata from registered Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) in Crossref and Datacite are leveraged by publishers, persistent identifier systems (ORCID, ROR, ScopusID, etc.), citation management software (Zotero), grant application platforms, UnPaywall, the Open Access Button, and many others.

Ensuring good metadata from the start will save you time and is an investment in discoverability, access, dissemination, preservation, and, arguably, research impact. Poor metadata can result in your content not being harvested, indexed, or discovered by researchers, and will take considerable effort to correct. Once your material is published, any indexing or harvesting services may start pulling your metadata before you have time to make changes. (Google Scholar, for example, initially indexes publications relatively quickly. However, it can take months for changes to be reflected.) There is a common saying in this space: “garbage in, garbage out.” The downstream effect of poor metadata is low discoverability and potentially inaccurate or unreliable information.

Coalition Publica and the Metadata Working Group #

Coalition Publica is a strategic partnership between the Public Knowledge Project (PKP) and the Érudit Consortium. It is a manifestation of a new way of approaching library-based publishing in Canada. It is also a culmination of over a decade’s worth of collaboration between the two organizations. The intent—to leverage library-supported publishing at academic institutions across Canada and disseminate that content widely— is laudable.

Coalition Publica established the Metadata Working Group in the winter of 2019 with the following objectives:

  1. Provide guidance and advice on best practices for metadata quality in library-hosted scholarly journals to ensure increased discoverability, especially for Coalition Publica’s dissemination service
  2. Develop procedures and documentation to guide editors and librarians assisting journals in their creation of high-quality metadata
  3. Provide recommendations to Coalition Publica’s Operations Team towards improving metadata within PKP’s and Érudit’s platforms and encouraging the production of better metadata production.

This document is the result of objectives one and two above. It provides documentation and advice to hosting providers, journal managers, and journal editors on properly configuring instances of the Open Journal Systems (OJS) software, at the journal, issue, and article level, to deliver quality metadata to Érudit (or any other organizations with OAI access to your content).

Contributors #

Issued by the Coalition Publica Metadata Working Group:

  • Lise Brin - Canadian Association of Research Libraries
  • Haiyun Cao - York University
  • Jessica Clark - Coalition Publica
  • Bart Kawula - Scholars Portal
  • Inba Kehoe - University of Victoria
  • Pierre Lasou - Université Laval
  • Tomasz Mrozewski - York University
  • Mike Nason (Chair) - University of New Brunswick
  • Mathieu Pigeon - Érudit
  • Brianne Selman - University of Winnipeg
  • Sarah Severson - University of Alberta

Adapted and published by the Public Knowledge Project’s Documentation Interest Group.

Copyright: Simon Fraser University holds the copyright for work produced by the Public Knowledge Project and has placed its documentation under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International