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Before launching your journal and inviting submissions or publishing content, we recommend setting some policies and guidelines to articulate how your journal will function.

Establish key information about your journal

Articulate a rationale for your journal and determine its place in the existing market #

Conduct a market analysis to find competing titles and consider your journal’s unique offering or contribution to the field. What will make authors/editors/reviewers/readers consider your journal given that others exist?

Select your journal title #

Your title should clearly indicate the journal’s purpose and scope, and it’s important to select a unique journal title that cannot be confused with other publications. See the Journal title section of the Journal Policies and Workflows Guide for suggestions on how to ensure you are choosing a unique title.

Select a journal abbreviation and slug #

The journal abbreviation is a single short word or acronym (max 16 characters) that identifies the journal. The slug comes at the end of the URL, after the root provided by your hosting provider e.g. http://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/PATH)

A journal abbreviation is used also in citations (specifically APA and Chicago) and in the generation pattern of DOIs. It will usually appear at the end of your site url and if you use the same domain for multiple journals, the abbreviation will distinguish the url for each journal.

Journal domain #

You can use the default URL or register a custom one for your journal (e.g. my-journal.org). Domain names typically cost $15-$20 USD / year and can be registered with a domain registrar.

Once you’ve purchased your domain, ask your site administrator to map the domain to the server.

Articulate your journal’s aim, scope, and disciplinary focus #

This information is usually added to the About the Journal section in the Journal Settings in OJS and might include information about the overall concept for the journal, the topics / fields that are covered in terms of both breadth and focus, intended audiences, and a history of the journal.

Determine the journal’s target audience #

Define your audience in terms of both readers and authors / contributors. Consider the target demographic and geographic distribution of each group, your target readership numbers, and how contributions will be solicited.

Select languages for the journal site and submissions #

You can configure the journal in multiple languages for the front end and back end, forms, and submission process.

See our Using PKP Software in Multiple Languages Guide for complete details on how multilingualism works in OJS.

We recommend reviewing the considerations for multilingual journals and cautions about changing available submission languages before you get started.

Establish an editorial team or board #

Your journal’s editorial board will consist of individuals who play various roles in the management of the journal, from journal manager to section editor to layout editor. Consider how the editorial team/board will be composed and recruited, different roles in the journal, staff commitment, compensation, etc.

Create a sustainability plan #

Consider how the journal will manage editorial turnover by undergoing succession planning and making a policy for recording documentation. What will happen in the event that the journal ceases publication or goes offline? Make a plan for archiving and preserving journal content in perpetuity, for example by preserving the content in the PKP Preservation Network.

Establish Journal Policies

Content types #

Establish what content will be accepted, e.g. research articles, reviews, opinion pieces, art, etc. You can create sections in OJS with individual policies for each content type. You can also create categories to “tag” content with relevant topics or themes.

Publication medium and formats #

Will the journal publish in print, online, or both? Will the journal publish text files (PDF), HTML, XML, multimedia like images, audio, and video? Consider the implications for each content type, including the work involved (who will be responsible for creating the galley files in each format?) and accessibility of the published content.

Organizing journal sections & categories #

Consider how you want to organize your journal content. You must create sections in OJS to organize submissions and content. You can optionally create categories to cross-file content into a secondary organizational structure. See “Content types,” above.

Submission guidelines #

Include information for authors about the requirements for their submission and anything that would be useful for them to know at the submission stage. This might include required file types for the submission document, the preferred citation format, or any elements that should be present in the submission. You can include criteria for authors, including who can submit (geographical or other restrictions).

You can complete the Author Guidelines field and edit the Submission Preparation Checklist in the Workflow Settings > Submission. Information entered here will appear on the public-facing site on the Submissions page.

Selection criteria for submitted manuscripts #

How will submitted manuscripts be considered? What criteria will the journal use to decide whether a submission moves on to peer review and/or publication? Will reviewers be provided with selection criteria, a review form, and/or instructions? (See Review policies and practices below.)

Open access vs. Subscription Model #

Consider your journal’s access policies for published content and develop a public-facing open access statement or policy including any open licensing that the journal uses for published articles.

See also Budgeting and Financial Models, below.

Ethics statement and policies #

Develop an ethics statement and policy, including details on how the journal will handle issues like plagiarism, conflicts of interest, corrections and retractions, etc. Ethics policies can be added to About the Journal or Author Guidelines in OJS.

How will copyright be handled for content in the journal? Will authors retain copyright to their work or be expected to sign copyright over to the journal?

For an open access journal, consider what type of open license will be applied to published work to allow for further reuse and sharing.

Develop a copyright statement describing the journal’s copyright and license policies. See our Sample license wording and instructions on where to add copyright and licensing information in OJS.

Budgeting & financial models #

What costs does the journal anticipate? For example, will journal editors, copy editors, layout editors etc be paid? Will you contract external vendors for editing or formatting, including producing PDF, HTML, or XML versions of articles? Will you pay for marketing and promotional services? Do you have annual hosting fees or other technical and administrative costs?

In addition to determining the journal’s expenses, you should consider the financial model that will work best to support your journal. Does your journal have support from community donations, association fees, or grants? Will the journal have submission and/or publications fees, with or without waivers for low income countries/authors? Ensure any fees are transparent and clearly communicated on your journal site. You can create a custom page for this information or include it in the “About the Journal” text.

See further information on Article Processing Charges (APCs) and Subscription models which explains how to set these up in OJS.

Publication frequency #

Consider how often the journal will publish - how many new issues do you intend to publish each year? Will you have submission deadlines or accept submissions on a rolling basis? If you plan to use a continuous publishing model where new content is published as it is ready (instead of waiting for a scheduled issue), see the instructions in Continuous Publishing and Early View.

Review policies and practices #

What type of review will the journal use? Will you have different review types for various journal sections?

How many people will be reviewing each article? Who will the articles be reviewed by (e.g. independent reviewers, faculty, students, editorial board, etc.)? How will you go about recruiting reviewers?

Create some review guidelines in the Workflow Settings to let reviewers know what is expected of them and how you would like their feedback to be presented. You can also create one or more review forms for reviewers to complete to help focus their feedback. You can assign a specific review form to a section in the section settings, and / or confirm the review form you’d like to use for a submission when you invite a reviewer.

Compliance with target guidelines #

If you want your journal to be compliant with international or national guidelines for publishing, consider implementing their policies from the start. For example, Plan S has a specific list of requirements. Many indexing agencies also have individual requirements (such as DOAJ and Scopus).

Establish Publishing Workflows

Discoverability #

What steps will you take to get your publication noticed in relevant fields? Which databases and indexes will you consider applying to? What marketing and outreach strategies will you employ to promote the journal? See “Get your content indexed,” below.

Accessibility practices #

How will the journal ensure that published articles are accessible for readers with disabilities? See the Creating Accessible Content Guide for information. Consider including:

  • Instructions for authors on how to make their manuscript accessible (include these in the Author Guidelines)
  • Instructions for editors to review and edit manuscripts for accessibility pre-publication (you can keep internal documentation such as this in the Publisher Library and ensure that editors are aware of the need to follow these guidelines)
  • HTML or XML versions of published articles.

Metrics and analytics #

How do you plan to keep track of your journal’s usage and success? You can see view and download statistics in OJS, or generate a more detailed usage statistics report to see stats for the entire journal over a period of time. You might also use tools such as Google Analytics, Altmetrics, or Journal Impact Factor to measure the visibility and citation record of your journal.

Set up your OJS site

Learn OJS functionality #

PKP School offers a series of free, online, self-paced courses for you to learn how to use OJS (registration required):

You can also refer to our Learning OJS 3 guide for a visual, step-by-step guide to setting up and managing your journal. If your journal is hosted by an institution or a paid hosting provider, you may also be able to request webinar training for you and / or your editorial team.

Customise the look and feel of your journal website #

Consider how your journal will be branded, including logos, colours, and font choices. Check our documentation on Branding Your Journal in the Designing Your Journal guide for ideas.

Once you’ve determined the branding and style guide for your journal, the Appearance options in the Website Settings provide many opportunities for you to select a look-and-feel for your site, including selecting a preset journal theme, adding a logo or cover image, and adding a customized journal stylesheet.

If you are a web developer looking to further tailor the look and feel of your journal site with a custom theme, see the PKP Theming Guide.