Past R&D Initiatives

PKP Sustainability Study

Laura and John Arnold Foundation, 2017 – 2018
John Willinsky, Brian Owen, Juan Pablo Alperin, James MacGregor, Alec Smecher, Kevin Stranack

This six-month planning grant will enable PKP to commence a comprehensive review of its open source publishing software and related services to ensure they continue to address the evolving needs and interests of the international scholarly publishing and open access communities.  Closely intertwined with this is the critical requirement to determine how PKP’s current financial models can be strengthened to ensure that PKP can continue to support these communities well into the future.

Project web site:

Open Access Publishing Cooperative Feasibility Study

MacArthur Foundation, 2015 – 2017
John Willinsky, Kamran Naim, Smith Esseh, and Kevin Stranack

The Open Access Publishing Cooperative Feasibility Study, in collaboration with the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and other important stakeholders, will explore the feasibility of establishing publishing cooperatives that bring together libraries, journals, scholarly societies, presses, and others as a financially sustainable open access model for peer-reviewed scholarly publishing.

Over two years, the study will: (a) gathering financial data from journals and libraries to establish current investment levels in professional quality publishing; (b) consulting with stakeholders – research libraries, scholarly journals, scholarly societies, presses, funding agencies, and others – about perceived gains and risks of a co-op approach to open access funding, governance, and structure; and (c) develop and assess open source co-op publishing infrastructures for running pilot studies to evaluate impact on scholarly and public quality of this approach to open access publishing.

If the results of the first three stages show sufficient promise, the Open Access Publishing Cooperative Study plans to hold a culminating “constitutional assembly” for stakeholders in scholarly publishing. The assembly will apply what has been learned in the study to forge the principles and structures by which such cooperatives might constitute a means of bringing about sustainable and global open access to research and scholarship.


Smarter Scholarly Texts for Cross-Platform Publishing, Text-mining, and Indexing

MediaX, 2013 – 2014
MediaX, 2015 – 2016
.CA Community Investment Program, 2015 – 2016
Alex Garnett and Juan Pablo Alperin

This initiative is developing an open source XML software system that largely automates the parsing, tagging, conversion and rendering (in HTML, PDF, ePub, etc.) of content. It will not only improve the affordability of scholarly publications, it will improve the rendering of these texts in a more readable form across multiple formats; it will add to the text-mining, indexing, and rights-management capacities in working with these texts. This will enable journals, as well as small businesses providing journal support services, to establish a much more widely standard for scholarly publishing, enabling the rise of new apps and other means for taking advantage of this markup standard in teaching, research, and public use.


Integrating OMP and OJS through PKP Web Library

Public Knowledge Project, 2013-15
Alec Smecher, Bruno Beghelli, Jason Nugent

PKP maintains related but separate applications implementing workflows for conference papers, journal articles, and scholarly monographs. In refining these workflows we have thoroughly characterized the common areas of overlap. In the interests of elegantly addressing the common scholarly mechanisms underlying these workflows, and as a matter of expediency in ensuring our applications share a single, nimble implementation of each of these mechanisms, we are working to extend the capabilities of our existing PKP Web Application Library to include higher-level constructs like peer reviews, audits, and record-keeping, in addition to the web application concerns it has previously addressed. It is our hope that in the future each application will become more like a specialized configuration of a common scholarly toolkit rather than an entirely different piece of software, allowing the publisher to mix and match attributes of different types of publication rather than maintaining a separate silo for each.


PKP Education Project

USAid, 2013 – 2014
Kevin Stranack, Smith Esseh, Joe Haigh, and Max Alexander

The PKP Education Project launched on April 1st, 2013. Work is being done on developing a MOOC like course structures: for example on Editorial Skills (in general) and OJS for Editors, and more. The PKP School platform on WordPress currently has a course teaching the use of OJS for journal managers. We intend to provide training and support that can be accessed when needed, in both ‘just in time’, as well as ‘just in case’ scenarios.


Helping Journals to Upgrade Data Publication for Reusable Research

Sloan, 2012-14
Gary King (Harvard University) Alex Garnett, James MacGregor

The task is to build a Dataverse network plugin for Open Journal Systems (OJS) and Open Monograph Press (OMP), while having journals demonstrate the publication of data sets leading to replication studies.

California Digital Library: User Interface/Experience review of the Open Journal Systems (OJS) 3.0 alpha

California Digital Library, 2013
Rachael Hu, Gregory Shapiro

The California Digital Library became one of the Public Knowledge Project’s first formal development partners in 2012.  As a major part of this commitment, CDL undertook a comprehensive user interface/experience review of the Open Journal Systems (OJS) 3.0 alpha in 2013.

The review concentrated on five major workflow areas:

  • Journal setup
  • Article submission
  • Article review
  • User account setup and role assignment
  • Publication of an article and issue

PKP will use the CDL report to guide the ongoing UI/UX refinement of the first, and subsequent, production releases of the OJS 3.X software line.

The full report can be found here.

National Logo

Synergies: The Canadian Information Network for Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities

Canadian Foundation for Innovation, 2008-2010
Rick Kopak, Rowland Lorimer, John Maxwell, Ray Siemens, Richard Smith, John Willinsky

The Synergies initiative created a national network for the production, storage, and access to digitized knowledge, including peer-reviewed journal articles, datasets, theses, conference proceedings, and scholarly books produced in Canada. OJS played a major support role in Synergies, being used by four of the five principal Synergies partners.