Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Conference, OJS

Yesterday (24 Oct.) I attended a brilliant one-day conference about Modern Platforms for the Publication of Journals. Before all the important ideas I came across there sink into oblivion, let me jot them down. I am doing this in the hope that I may use these ideas later on, and that you will find them beneficial, too. As memories fade into darkness soon, and I had no pen or pencil with me yesterday, I used twitter for sharing and keeping the best ideas, and I will use my tweets as helping hands in the act of recollection.

First and foremost the conference focused on the journals managed by the publishing house of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, which publishing house is owned by Kluwer. Now, Kluwer is a profit oriented Dutch enterprise, so let me share with you my dissatisfaction with the fact that the Hungarian Academy of Sciences as a publisher does not have financial and scientific freedom but is dependent on a private organization. Anyways, this is what life is, let us move on towards more productive ideas. Or no, let me play on a bitter note, the presentation was about what value a publisher adds to the process of publishing, and I am quite convinced that the work flow presented is needed and is necessary. On the other hand, however, during the QA session the answer to the question about payment for the authors and peer reviewers was just shocking: 1-3-month access to the journal free of charge. Please!


The conference implicitly and the speakers explicitly were meditating about the Open Journal Systems (OJS from now on), which is an open access and open source platform for the management of submissions to and publication of a journal. The wikipedia article on OJS is rather informative. All the speakers agreed on its usefulness from different angles. Some speakers shared their experience as far as impressions were concerned: both authors and reviewers found OJS as something that added value and significance to the journal, maybe the journal itself seemed more professional. Others mentioned that the management of submissions is awesome, it is very difficult to make mistakes, submissions do not disappear, every step of the editorial process can be tracked. Another speaker (Andrea Horváth) claimed that since they had started using the OJS the number of submissions doubled, tripled. The downside of OJS is the learning curve, which is steep and occasionally the editors needed some help when facing the then seemingly irresolvable problems.

Another advantage of OJS is its flexibility and compatibility with other applications, services. It is rather beneficial that OJS can seamlessly work with DOI (Erika Bilicsi). A Digital Object Identifier (aka DOI) is necessary for the sake of relating each paper of the journal to an, say, ID card, i.e. in the cyberspace with a DOI that will provide an “everlasting” identity to the digital object. Metadata, such as a URL, are linked to the object, and while the metadata may change, though should be updated, the DOI does not. For more details visit the DOI webpage and the relevant Wikipedia article.

Another speaker (László Peregovits) argued that an ORCID is very important, too, and it works nicely with OJS, too. If the DOI is used to identify a digital object, such as a journal article, the ORCID is the identifier of the researcher, author. The ORCID can be used when submitting an article, is useful to link academic activity to a researcher. This helps visibility for the author and visibility for the products of research like research articles. If you are interested in more details about ORCID check out the ORCID Wikipedia entry. Furthermore the same speaker claimed that they only allow authors with an ORCID to submit manuscripts. The creation of an account at orcid.org, and thus obtaining an ORCID is not a big issue, it took me 2 minutes, surely adding publications etc. is the more laborious part. This seems to be a worthy project, so I’ll sooner or later provide my data there as well.

During the conference I also found that the people at HAS Library are really nice and helpful. This is rather reassuring on two accounts. First, because I am a member of the editorial board of a new journal, which is run on OJS. I can tell that the learning curve is steep and one needs help occasionally. Secondly, because if I happen to try to convince PPCU to use this fantastic platform for our digital journals, then it is good to know that there are helpful people out there who can and are willing to help.

All in all, the conference was absolutely inspiring. I learned a lot including the significance of DOI, ORCID, OJS and some trends in terms of journals, platforms and publication. I hope I may make use of this knowledge in the near future especially in ways that foster Open Access publications, after all this is Open Access Week.

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