What will you call your journal? Having a unique name will help your journal stand out. After working with your editorial board to brainstorm ideas, you will want to check potential names in Ulrichs serials directory. This can help you avoid having the same or similar name as another journal, which could cause confusion for your audience.
The title should let people know what to expect from the journal, what topic/discipline will be contributing articles, and that it’s a student journal. Some examples are Undergraduate Research Journal for the Humanities, Knots: An Undergraduate Journal of Disability Studies, and Compass.
What types of content would you publish? Traditional academic publishing includes:
However, online journals offer new and innovative ways to showcase scholarship, including videos, sound recordings, art, and interactive documents. The University of Sydney refers to these as Non-Traditional Research Outputs (NTROs), and has a report that offers ways to evaluate them. The James Cook University in Australia includes information and examples of NTROs on their publishing guide.
The Intersectional Apocalypse journal is a prime example of how articles can be a mix of text and visuals. Another example is a recent issue of BC Studies, which has some digital stories mixing text and visuals.
When making selection decisions, consider whose voices aren’t being heard. You may want to include a diverse authorship group, and opinions in your journal.
How will you advertise for content? Where? Some ideas are on social media, school newspaper or radio, and within an academic department or faculty. Submission information should be included on your website. Depending on how often you are publishing the journal, you may want to accept submissions on an ongoing basis.
Will you charge authors for publishing in your journal? Also called article processing fees or publishing fees, these are charged by some open access journals to help cover editorial costs.
How frequently will you publish? Journals are often published annually or biannually; another option is to publish individual articles as they are ready for publication. This is sometimes called a rolling publication schedule.
One of the most important considerations for your journal will be creating a Publication Agreement. These are contracts between the author and the journal, protecting both parties’ rights and responsibilities.
Agreements vary by journal but typically include information on copyright, and author rights. We will discuss these in more detail in the Copyright and Creative Commons section. Check in with your librarian or copyright office for more assistance.
Will you publish a print journal or online only? Maybe have a “print on demand” feature? If you decide to offer “print on demand” include the necessary information (price, how long it takes, shipping, etc.) on your website.
What focus is your journal going to have? Journals can have a single disciplinary focus or be interdisciplinary. If you are interested in starting an interdisciplinary journal, think about the themes you wish to explore and do an environmental scan to see if these may already be covered by other journals
Are you going to limit submissions to your department or school? Or will you accept submissions from any institution? A more open submission policy can mean a wider pool of potential volunteer authors, reviewers, and editors.
Can authors from anywhere in the world submit? You will need to decide if submissions will only be accepted from any institution within a certain geographic region or internationally.
Are you going to limit submissions to a specific student level or be open to all? By this we mean high school, undergraduate, graduate, or trade students. Allowing for any education level to submit invites diverse perspectives and creates unique learning opportunities for editors. You also need to decide whether to accept papers co-written by students and faculty.
The longevity and sustainability of your journal is an important aspect to plan for. As your initial editorial team graduates, consider who will replace them. What will their orientation or training look like? Creating a transition plan will help with the recruitment of a new board, as can working with a faculty advisor who can help during the turnover of the editorial board.
Transition plans should include documentation on how/when the journal was formed, draft versions of call for submissions, and editorial board responsibilities. The documentation should also include decisions about content, scope, audience, and copyright and Creative Commons licenses. The idea is to leave the new board as much information as possible to continue seamlessly publishing the journal.