The recent announcement of Elsevier’s acquisition of bepress has generated considerable discussion in the library community, especially by those responsible for providing institutional repository and scholarly publishing services at their institutions. It has also resulted in many questions about Open Journal Systems (OJS) as an alternative option for library publishing programs.
For bepress users looking to work with an open source, community-based, and non-commercial initiative, OJS provides an editorial management and publishing platform to an international community of over 10,000 journals. If you’re interested in migrating an existing bepress journal to OJS or starting a new journal with OJS, there are some important issues to consider:
1. Data Migration
The Public Knowledge Project (PKP) is currently developing an OJS data migration plugin that will enable users to import bepress article metadata and associated files for published issues. The plugin will enable bepress users to migrate a journal’s published content to OJS and resume editorial and publishing activities on the new platform.
2. Software Version
The latest release of OJS (version 3.0) is recommended for fully open access journals. OJS 3.x is a comprehensive revision and update of OJS 2.x, based on over two years of community usability testing, and is the basis for all future features and innovations. Both the internal workflow interface and reader interface have been significantly improved and will require some training for new users and editorial teams working with OJS 2.x. The PKP School will be making available free OJS 3.x courses and training videos in September 2017 .
Please note that OJS 3.0.2 does not include support for subscription access or delayed open access publishing. Subscription management, delayed open access, and online payments will be included in the OJS 3.1 release scheduled for Fall 2017.
3. Technical Requirements
Like other popular web platforms (e.g. WordPress, Drupal), OJS 3.x is a freely available, open-source LAMP application (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP). OJS 3.x will also run on PostgreSQL and on non-Linux servers. Because the OJS community includes institutions with limited budgets and basic server infrastructure, the OJS development team has always ensured that OJS runs well on older hardware. You should not need to invest in expensive server infrastructure in order to run OJS. Hosted options are also available for running OJS (please see below).
4. Staffing Requirements
While open source software is free, getting it up and running and maintaining it is not. If you choose to download and run OJS yourself, you will need your server administrator to do the installation and ensure the server settings are accurately and securely established. Accounting for time for an annual upgrade is also recommended.
OJS includes free themes that allow editors to customize the journal’s look-and-feel. Existing journal logos as well as banner and footer images may also be uploaded to OJS to establish the journal’s identity. A journal stylesheet may also be used to customize theme elements and control all aspects of the journal’s look-and-feel. For advanced theming, journals can work directly with a graphic designer to customize the reader interface and modify page templates in OJS. In addition to currently available themes in OJS 3.x, PKP will be releasing additional free new themes in Fall 2017.
Configuring and operating OJS 3.x via a web interface is similar to bepress and other online platforms. PKP provides extensive documentation on all aspects of operating and using OJS 3.x. All users also have access to PKP’s free online support forum where the community shares information, asks questions, and obtains assistance from each other and the PKP development team who maintain an active role in the forum.
As an open source initiative, we welcome your active participation in the OJS community. Depending on your interest, time, and available resources, this participation can take many forms: participating on the user forum; reporting bugs; or contributing code for the benefit of the entire community. There are also opportunities to participate in interest groups, annual conferences, and community code sprints. While participation is by no means a requirement, open source projects are only as strong as their community and we welcome participation at all levels.
5. Hosted Options
If you do not have the necessary staff, technology, or desire to run OJS locally, paid hosted options are also available. Many academic libraries rely on PKP Publishing Services (PKP|PS) to provide OJS hosting and related technical support for their scholarly publishing services. PKP|PS provides a number of hosting options based on budget requirements and service levels: https://pkpservices.sfu.ca/content/journal-hosting
Other options include university-based OJS hosting (e.g., Univ. of Alberta, Univ. of Pittsburgh), participating in consortial or regional OJS installations (e.g., Scholars Portal, SciELO, AJOL), as well as publishing with established OJS publishers (e.g., Cappelen Damm Akademisk).
Not sure what a possible transition to OJS might entail for your institution? Please feel free to contact us with your questions. You might also want use the Library Publishing Directory to look up other libraries already using OJS and ask about their experiences.
In addition to OJS, PKP also makes available Open Monograph Press (OMP) and Open Conference Systems (OCS), free to use, open-source web platforms that can play an important role in your local scholarly publishing initiatives.
We hope you’ll consider joining our growing international community of practice dedicated to advancing and improving public access to knowledge.