This section of the Online Guide to Open Access Journals Publishing is one of the shortest. After many months of working to create a business plan and thereafter of setting up the Journal infrastructure, you are ready to go live and let the world know about it. If your preparations have been thorough, this is an easy task.
Among those who will be involved in the launch of your Journal are the Technical support person (who will work to have the website go live), a Marketer and/or Public Relations Representative to announce the launch, and the editorial team who will support these activities and be prepared to begin processing manuscripts as they are submitted.
3.1 Hold editorial meeting
To take full advantage of the ‘event’ of starting a new Open Access journal, the editorial board members should be aware of and engaged in this publication model. It is very important that the editor(s) encourage the editorial board members since they work as ambassadors for the Journal and, in turn, must encourage potential authors to submit papers (See also Sections 2.3.1 Define editorial team structure and 2.3.2 Recruit editorial board).
Prior to the actual launch of your Journal, the Chief Editor might call the Journal team and possibly some members of the editorial board to an editorial meeting. This can be held in person or via a telephone or web conferencing system and can be formal or informal depending upon the size of the group you will include. The aims of the meeting should be to:
- Review the launch process, timing and roles of different individuals.
- Get the team and editorial board excited about the launch.
- Review what marketing will take place in conjunction with the launch and whether members of the team or editorial board are expected to take part in any activities.
- Review the message you wish to spread about the Journal, the benefits of Open Access, etc.
You can also use the meeting to work with the Editorial board members to:
- Provide input to a press release which will be used to disseminate information on the launch of the Journal to all relevant media both inside academia and outside (see also Section 3.4.1 Issue press release).
- Identify the most appropriate material to be included in the first few papers or first issue, such that content will be of interest to the widest possible audience (see also Section 3.2 Prepare initial content).
- Plan thematic clusters of articles or issues that may draw special attention in certain communities and the press.
- Identify relevant research communities and invite the portals where these communities meet to add a direct link to the Journal (see also Section 18.104.22.168 Select marketing channels).
3.2 Prepare initial content
It is easier to spread information about a new journal and attract readers and initial submissions if visitors to your new Journal find actual content there. For a brand new journal it may be advantageous to publish a few articles along with the initial editorial so as to make the Journal “sticky” from the very start. This means that the Editor(s) will have to commission articles well ahead of launch. The Editorial Board may help the Editor(s) select suitable authors (see Section 2.3.2 Recruit editorial board) or they may themselves provide the articles. The most important initial article is the inaugural editorial, which is normally written by the Chief Editor(s) (see Section 3.2.1 Write initial editorial).
For a journal that is transitioning to Open Access there is no need to recruit papers before launch if the back volumes (archive) are made electronically available and freely accessible at launch of the “new” journal.
In principle all kinds of articles may be commissioned. Review articles, however, are known to attract many readers and receive more citations than regular research articles, and so for that reason and in the short perspective, it may be a good idea to recruit reviews covering the various aspects of the Journal.
It may also be valuable to initially publish a couple of articles of exceptional quality by a renowned researcher or research group. Not only do they attract much attention, they also set the scholarly standards for the Journal.
In the longer perspective, planning a thematic cluster/issue of articles will help fill up the Journal with research focused on a pre-defined aspect of the specialty. Thematic clusters also tend to attract much attention.
You can set up your website in advance of asking these authors for their articles and allow them special access so they can both submit their papers and get a sneak preview of the Journal-to-come.
- Who in your – or the editorial board’s – network will be willing to submit a paper to the Journal?
- Who will define which areas the solicited articles should represent?
- Who will invite the chosen authors?
- Should the authors from whom papers are solicited be paid? How much?
- How long will it take to have 3-5 articles ready for publication at launch? Can you trust the authors and reviewers to meet tight deadlines?
- Plan thematic clusters of articles well ahead of publication date. Make a schedule detailing the various steps of the process, inform all authors, and ask them to stick to the deadlines.
3.2.1 Write initial editorial
The first article published online is always the inaugural editorial, written by the Chief Editor. This goes for brand new journals as well as for journals that have transitioned to Open Access. This editorial – in a more personal and elaborate way – describes the aims and scope of the Journal and the rationale behind its launch. This is the right place, too, to call for papers, and often a presentation of the editorial board is given.
The Open Access aspect is often pointed out, not least when the Journal has transitioned from a subscription based publishing model.
Consider including some of all of the following items:
- Rationale behind launch
- Aim of the Journal
- Scope of the Journal
- Kinds of articles wanted
- Why Open Access
- Description of peer review process
- Presentation of editorial board
- Mention of electronic manuscript handling
- Mention of choice of publisher, if any
- Call for papers
- Future plans
3.3 Go live with website
Typically you will have developed your Journal website using a temporary URL. At the appointed time, you will indicate that you are ready and ‘activate’ the official URL.
If not hosting through the registrar of the domain name you will now need to contact your registrar and administer your domain name server (DNS) settings – to point the official URL to the space on the new web server/host and enable web forwarding if applicable.
Note that it may take up to 48 hours for your new website to ‘go live’.
Those publishing teams using OJS will simply click on the button ‘Enable this journal to appear publicly on the site’ and ensure that web forwarding has been enabled if applicable. Remember to remove any ‘Stop Search Engine’ meta tags.
3.4 Market launch
The actual launch of the Journal, particularly if quality articles have been published at this time, is an excellent opportunity for intense marketing activities.
To avoid repetitive information in the guide, the sections below are short and are provided as a reminder of what should take place at the time of launch. For a more thorough discussion of marketing, we direct readers to Section 4.5.1 Market the Journal.
3.4.1 Issue press release
A press release is an excellent tool for getting the message out that a new journal exists in your field. Many university press offices are happy to assist in both writing and disseminating such a press release. If left on your own to the task, you can identify numerous websites with tips and formulas for writing press releases by Googling “how to write a press release”. Some general tips are:
- The headline/title of your press release should generate immediate interest, be as brief as possible and capture the essence of the text in the press release itself.
- Begin the body of the text with the date and city from which the release is being made.
- The first sentence in the body of the actual text should grab attention immediately.
- The first paragraph should summarize the message, while a second paragraph may provide more facts and information to clarify and strengthen the message.
- Include a short paragraph about the Journal (in place of information about a company or institution), including the web address.
- Include contact information should recipients wish more information. This should be the name, telephone number and email address of your press contact.
- Write numerous drafts of your press release before settling on the final version.
A press release should not come off as an advertisement. It must contain information that is newsworthy. A launch itself can be newsworthy, particularly if it is the first Open Access journal in the field, or the first from the university, etc. The publication of a particularly sensational, controversial or scientifically important article at the time of launch could provide a focal point for a press release, while the fact that this is a recently launched journal can be mentioned in the main text or in the paragraph that provides information about your publication.
To disseminate your press release, you should make a list of recipients and be sure to discern whether they require that your document be in a specific format. Consider both general newswires (often free) and specific publications that are relevant for your audience. Search also for journalists who have covered similar subject matter earlier. When writing to individual journalists it is useful to mention their earlier work and how the press release you are sending links to it. You university press office might be willing to assist you in disseminating your press release. At the very least, provide them with a copy such that this can be posted on an institutional website, if available.
3.4.2 Create initial marketing plan
What is unique at the time of launching the Journal is:
- Few people will have heard about the Journal.
- You do not have any registered users of the Journal to market to.
- You will have limited content to market, but should make the most of what you have.
If the launch of the Journal has been timed to coincide with a major conference or meeting, this can provide an opportunity for advertising on a website or in a program, or to distribute information in large quantities by hand or as an insert in delegate bags.
Other useful marketing channels at this stage are:
- Emails sent to established and relevant contacts with material that can be forwarded.
- Posting to a listserv.
- Tweeting to relevant communities.
- Posting discussion items in social networking arenas such as LinkedIn.
- Submitting articles online.
- Blogging the launch, or send press release to bloggers.
Creating a marketing plan can be handled by an individual within the editorial team who has been tasked with acting as the Marketer or by an external partner that provides marketing and/or consultancy services.
3.4.3 Begin marketing activities
You only launch your Journal once. To take advantage of the opportunity the launch represents, your Marketer will need to move as quickly as possible to enact the activities in the marketing plan.
All members of the publishing team should prioritize marketing for a short period of time. Few manuscripts (if any) will be under review or being submitted at this time, allowing editors to also work to spread the word about the new Journal. Generating interest and submissions is critical at this stage to get the Journal up and running.
At this early stage, you will be highly dependent upon others (e.g. editorial board) to support marketing efforts by spreading information through word-of-mouth and by forwarding electronic information to their own networks.