After having spent many months planning the Journal, designing the systems and workflows that will enable you to publish it and eventually launching the Journal, you can now focus on the day-to-day activities that are central to journal publishing. These involve managing editorial matters (Section 4.1 Manage editorial matters and sections there under), carrying out production (Section 4.2 Carry out production and sections there under), distributing articles/the Journal (Section 4.3 Distribute articles/journal), preserving and archiving content (Section 4.4 Preserve and archive) and ensuring that your Journal achieves impact (Section 4.5 Ensure impact and sections there under).
As with other sections of this guide, the main sections of this chapter are listed in the box insert on the upper right hand side of the page to allow you to navigate quickly to sections of interest.
4.1 Manage editorial matters
Much of the everyday work of the Chief Editor and the rest of the editorial team will revolve around managing editorial matters. In this section, the guide provides information on the six most important activities constituting the editorial work of the Journal.
4.1.1 Conduct peer review
The review process is at the heart of scholarly journal publishing. Earlier, you will have set up an infrastructure for conducting peer review (see 2.3.5 Design peer review workflow) and determined peer review policies (See 184.108.40.206 Determine peer review). It is now time to put your plan into concrete action.
As part of the creation of the editorial infrastructure, you will have devised a workflow and assigned the tasks entailed with conducting peer review to specific members of your publishing and/or editorial team. Now follow this planned workflow to ensure a smooth and efficient peer review process. Other tips for keeping authors and reviewers happy during this process include:
- Be strict with reviewers’ deadlines so that authors will not have to wait an unreasonably long time before he/she gets a first response.
- Often, and especially in complicated cases, the responsible editor may synthesize the reviewers’ comments rather than using a standard letter.
- Make sure to thank reviewers for their efforts.
- Don’t overload a specific reviewer. Use editorial board members to find an equivalent, or use source such as PubMed/Medline or BioMedExperts.com.
- The better the match between the content of a manuscript and a reviewer’s own interests, the more interested that person will be in reviewing the paper.
- It is highly suggested that the editor him/herself write rejection letters, explaining why the paper is not up to standard or out of scope. A standard letter may seem rude in this connection.
- Be prepared to support those who are using the peer review system you have chosen as many may be new to it or require assistance to use it properly.
- Over time you will likely want to re-consider your list of reviewers, adding where necessary and perhaps removing individuals who either consistently decline a review opportunity, or who do not deliver promptly.
4.1.2 Keep editorial board involved
As noted earlier, the members of the Journal’s editorial board also form a group of “ambassadors” to continually support the Journal in a variety of ways. It is important that editorial board members maintain a sense of ownership over the Journal among editorial board members. There are several means of retaining the loyalty and commitment of the editorial board:
- Hold regular editorial meetings – real or virtual (e.g. skype conference).
- Send out a newsletter/e-mail at regular intervals to describe the status quo, provide statistics (submissions, number of downloads, etc.), update on latest services, etc.
- Provide members attending a meeting or conference with marketing materials to use at the event.
- Use the members as reviewers and/or arbiters when two reviews are in conflict.
It is generally the Chief Editor who will work with the editorial board to ensure their continued support. However, an Editorial Assistant/Editorial Manager may also play an important role if they are often in contact with members of the board in conjunction with the peer review process. Your Marketer can also make a contribution to keeping the editorial board involved by sharing marketing materials with them, seeking their input on events in the field that offer marketing opportunities, etc. if this is deemed appropriate.
4.1.3 Write editorials
Editorials provide an opportunity for editors to speak to the research community about their thoughts on the Journal generally or upon an issue or cluster of articles in particular. In this way, editorials help set the framework or context within which the published articles should be understood and interpreted. While some journals include editorials for all issues, others publish editorials only occasionally. An editor can also invite a colleague to write a Guest Editorial on a specific subject to generate interest or to lay the groundwork for forthcoming publications or current ones (see ADDITIONAL RESOURCES for a sample guest editorial).
Many Open Access journals are not published with issues and so the editor will have to find an occasion to justify writing an editorial, e.g. an anniversary or the publication of a thematic cluster of articles (see ADDITIONAL RESOURCES for a sample Editorial Opportunity).
4.1.4 Acquire content
Even after the initial period following launch, the editorial team may need to work actively to generate article submissions. For example, although your Journal might receive enough manuscripts to support the production schedule and budget there may be a lack of papers within one or several of the areas of research the Journal set out to deal with. In such cases the editor(s), assisted by the editorial board members, must proactively commission articles from those areas. This can be done in several ways:
- Ask researchers in your network to submit a review article covering the hitherto neglected research field.
- Ask each one of the editorial board members to be responsible for recruiting a paper dealing with this particular subject.
- Send out a Call for Papers together with your next content alert, requesting submissions in the specific areas you are interested in.
- Send out or mail a Call for Papers to researchers in the specific field.
- Plan for a cluster of papers in the particular research area. Try to get renowned authors to first commit themselves. It is then easier to get others to join the group of authors – being in good company is a plus on one’s CV!
4.1.5 Recruit special content
Thematic issues and supplements normally attract many visitors to the website, in addition to securing some income for the Journal. A collection of articles on the same subject, published simultaneously, always stirs some interest, not least if heavily promoted. There are several ways to recruit these collections of papers:
- Ask a specialist in your network to be Guest Editor and discuss with him/her how to announce the cluster/supplement, or whom to invite to write the articles. This is relevant if a certain subject within the scope of the Journal is underrepresented, or if the inflow of papers is not as expected. New frontiers in … or Towards a research agenda for … are titles that may be used to encompass a collection of articles.
- Smaller meetings, such as regional conferences or satellite meetings at bigger congresses may contain the germ of a cluster or supplement. Contact the organizer well ahead of the meeting and discuss the possibility of publishing the lectures as a collection to be published as a cluster or supplement in the Journal.
- Abstracts from meetings may well be published as a supplement. This gives the authors much more visibility than they would have had from a printed Abstract book nobody would be able to find after the meeting (See ADDITIONAL RESOURCES for a Sample Abstract Book).
The Chief Editor will likely take responsibility for recruiting thematic issues and supplements, though he or she may also involve members of the editorial board or other members of the editorial team.
4.1.6 Work with indexing
Although this section is titled, “work with indexing” it refers to both indexes as well as to coverage in other types of databases. Being included and/or indexed in key databases is extremely important. Inclusion in the best indexing services such as e.g. MEDLINE for medical journals and ERIH for humanities journals signals to authors that this is a journal of high scholarly standards. Inclusion also increases the Journal’s visibility (see also Section 4.5 Ensure impact).
Many indexing organs do not evaluate a journal until it has been published for some time. In addition, if the quality is not up to their standards they will not include the Journal in their database. All indexing and database services have different criteria for acceptance and so applying for inclusion in them is a meticulous and continuous task. It is recommendable to create a short strategy for indexing and database coverage. This might involve applying first to these databases and indexes that are most likely to accept the journal and then applying to other services as the journal gains content and prestige.
If you are in doubt about where your journal ought to be indexed or covered, visit journals in your field and similar fields to build a list of possible arenas. Below we have prepared a short list of some of the most common and important databases and indexes to consider.
Applying for an impact factor can be handled by the Chief Editor or by the Editorial Secretary/Managing Editor with support from the Chief Editor.
Directory of Open Access Journals – DOAJ– for all journals
The DOAJ is hosted by Lund University Library and is probably the most widely-known database for Open Access journal content. Coverage includes all subject areas. Journals should practice some form of quality control and be libre Open Access. Those journals that meet the relevant criteria, receive the SPARC Europe Seal. Currently the DOAJ is also involved in a pilot project to support archiving of the journals included in the directory whereby content is stored at e-Depot of the National Library of the Netherlands (KB). The DOAJ encourages publishers to supply them with article metadata when a journal has been added into the directory.
Scopus – for all journals
Scopus, an Elsevier product, is both an abstract database and an indexing service, covering nearly 18 000 peer-reviewed journals, including many Open Access journals. Once you have published a fair amount of material – perhaps 15 articles – your Journal can be recommended for coverage by clicking on “recommend this publication” on the information page about Scopus. Your institutional librarian can likely share information about this database as well, as this is a service that many libraries subscribe to. Scopus tracks citations, so once included you can also use information from this database to generate an unofficial impact factor (see Section 4.5.3 Track impact).
Ulrich’s – for all journals
Ulrichsweb.com is the authoritative source of bibliographic and publisher information on more than 300,000 periodicals of all types — academic and scholarly journals, Open Access publications, peer-reviewed titles, popular magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and more from around the world. It is the most comprehensive source of print and electronic serials data available.
Titles in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) are included.
To include your Journal, go to http://www.ulrichsweb.com/ulrichsweb/areyou.asp
Google scholar– for all journals
Google Scholar is a freely-accessible web search engine that indexes the full text of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines. You can find page policy and technical information for scholarly publishers and societies at http://scholar.google.com/intl/en/scholar/publishers.html
Open J-gate – for all journals
Open J-Gate currently aggregates metadata from 4000+ OA journals published in English and provides seamless access to the full-text on publisher websites. It covers both peer-reviewed as well as professional journals including trade and Industry journals. For contact, see http://www.openj-gate.com/Footer/Contact.aspx
PubMed Central/PubMed – for biomedical journals
From the website: “PubMed Central is the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature.”
PubMed Central should not be confused with MEDLINE. While PMC is an archive, albeit one that applies inclusion criteria, MEDLINE is an indexing serve that only admits journals that meet its quality criteria and which are then ranked and indexed.
Philosopher’s Index – for all journals with philosophical content
The Philosopher’s Index includes more than 622 regularly indexed current journals from more than 40 countries and is updated quarterly. For contact, see http://www.philinfo.org/#contact
CSA Sociological abstracts – for journals with sociological content
CSA Sociological Abstracts abstracts and indexes the international literature in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences.
PsychInfo – for journals with psychological content
PsycINFO provides systematic coverage of the psychological literature from the 1800s to the present. If you want to seek coverage for your Journal, see http://www.apa.org/pubs/databases/psycinfo/publishers/index.aspx
ERIH- European Reference Index in the Humanities – for Humanities journals
At present, ERIH is a reference index of the top journals in 15 areas of the Humanities across Europe aiming to identify, and gain more visibility for top-quality European Humanities research published in academic journals in, potentially, all European languages. It is a fully peer-reviewed, Europe-wide process, in which 15 expert panels sift and aggregate input received from funding agencies, subject associations and specialist research centers across the continent.
Whatever your personal thoughts on the impact factor may be, you should apply for indexing with ISI Thomson, which calculates and assigns impact factors, if your Journal is in a field that emphasizes this type of impact. Before applying, ISI Thomson requires that you are publishing regular content and for this reason you probably do not want to apply until at least the second year of publication. It is also important to have good quality published papers at the time of publication as this will be evaluated. Journals can be recommended for inclusion online. Should your Journal be rejected for inclusion, there is a waiting period of two years before you can apply again. Full information about ISI Thomson’s Web of Knowledge acceptance criteria can be found here: http://isiwebofknowledge.com/benefits/essays/journalselection/
Once accepted for inclusion, your Journal will receive an impact factor first after a three year waiting period, as the impact factor is based on the number of citations of the two previous years.
4.2 Carry out production
As noted in Section 2.4 Set up production infrastructure, production activities are probably the area of publishing that is least familiar to scholar publishers. Though the Chief Editor for a small journal could carry out production alone, and there are certainly examples of this, you will likely want to consider engaging someone to act as a Production Editor to manage production. This type of work involves an eye to detail, yet, because the Production Editor must be in close contact with authors during the proofing process, social skills – in addition to technical skills – are also a must.
While carrying out production tasks, there are some things you might bear in mind to make the work as easy as possible. We suggest some key considerations below.
- Decide up front how flexible you will be with authors. If the proofing process is complete, yet they return with a request to make additional changes, will you make these changes?
- Will you provide language editing? If so, to what degree? (minor editing vs. major editing) Do include this information in your instructions to authors.
- Many scholars find that one of the absolutely most time-consuming activities is layout editing. Involving a typesetter, though this incurs a cost to the Journal, can save you a great deal of time and ensures a polished look. Consider the best solution for you.
4.3 Distribute articles/journal
The process diagram shown in 4.2 Carry out production indicates that one of the final steps a manuscript and journal are subjected to is distribution to third parties. For a journal that is online and Open Access, using a creative commons license or similar, the third parties to whom the Journal will be distributed will largely consist of indexing services or databases. For example, if the Journal is covered by PubMed Central, this will necessitate that files are transferred to the database in accordance with their requirements. Having said this, most indexing services, archives and other services will harvest data without you needing to do anything specific to enable this.
Ensuring distribution and maintaining an overview over distribution needs can be handled by the Production Editor. If you have engaged a Typesetter, this partner can also transfer files to a third party on your behalf, although you will need to provide instructions and act as a contact point for the third party.
4.4 Preserve and archive journal/articles
In Section 2.1.1 Set up archiving and preservation you will have considered different possibilities and selected the solutions that you believe are best for your Journal. Once these have been selected and you have signed agreements with agencies like Portico, CLOCKSS, etc., a member of your team should maintain an overview over archiving and preservation and review your solutions occasionally. This can be handled by the Technical support person or the Production Editor.
In addition to the standard preservation solutions you have chosen to ensure that your Journal will be available for perpetuity, some authors may require assistance in depositing their articles with institutional or other repositories/archives. Some journals provide such support as an author service. If you have adopted a Creative Commons License (CCL) that allows re-use (see Section 220.127.116.11 Adopt licensing/copyright policy), this will enable authors to easily deposit their final versions of their articles, avoiding concerns over citations to multiple versions of the same paper. Using a Creative Commons License will also make it easier for librarians to archive materials on behalf of their researchers because their re-use rights will be clearly identifiable, making your job easier in turn, as you will not need to field queries on permissions to re-use materials.
4.5 Ensure impact
Journals and the articles in them are published in order to create impact. Impact can take a number of forms including citations to articles, applications in clinical and practical work and as a contribution to shifting paradigms or approaches within fields. Hence, ensuring that you create impact with your Journal is an important activity that should be consciously considered and planned for.
To ensure impact for your Journal three primary activities should be carried out: marketing the Journal (Section 4.5.1 Market the Journal), creating multiple entry points to your Journal, such as databases or aggregators, that help distribute your Journal to a broad audience in a digital world and make it visible and easy to find (Section 4.5.2 Create multiple entry points) and tracking impact to benchmark the success of your Journal (Section 4.5.3 Track impact).
As you will see in the sub-sections below, many of the outputs of these three activities provide inputs that fuel future activities in this area. For example, as you market the Journal, expected outputs should be recognition of the Journal, increased submissions, and a loyal readership. Once you track these items (Track impact) and establish good statistics (an output of Track impact) these become inputs for devising future marketing goals and marketing activities.
Most of the primary and sub-activities described in this chapter will be carried out by a designated marketer or member of your team who will carry out marketing-related activities. You may also choose to outsource marketing to a third party or some smaller pieces of marketing (e.g. design of an advertisement to be used in a conference program). Regardless of who will take on this role, a marketer does not work in isolation from the rest of the team. Activities related to ensuring impact should be coordinated with members of the editorial team (who can discuss the content you will market and create impact for) as well as with the production team who may need to distribute articles/the Journal to forums you create relationships with (e.g. aggregators such as EBSCO host), or keep you abreast of publication schedules so you can take advantage of marketing opportunities. Hence, the marketing executive will receive input from other team members.
4.5.1 Market Journal
The aim of this sub-chapter is not to teach you how to become a marketing executive, but to point out some key tasks that you should be able to carry out either alone or with some support. Should you wish to learn more about the art of marketing and creating marketing campaigns, a number of useful books and tools exist that are written with entrepreneurs in mind and which you might find useful (see ADDITIONAL RESOURCES).
Marketing refers to concrete activities in which you engage and which help make others aware of your Journal and the benefits of reading or contributing to it. Through marketing, your Journal and individual articles become more visible and familiar to a greater number of people.
At the very least, whether or not you aim to generate a profit from publishing your Journal, you will need to ensure that potential contributors and readers are familiar with your publication in order for it to be successful. To quote a worn-out phrase, “If a tree falls in the woods but no one hears it, did it really fall?”. Your journal may contain articles written by the highest ranking researchers in your field, but if no one knows about them, these articles will go uncited and with time others will refuse to publish in it.
In addition to the Journal’s general success, marketing is important because authors expect wide dissemination of their work, particularly with Open Access. As such, marketing your Journal is an important service you provide your authors.
In a subscription-based publishing scenario, marketing activities are heavily focused on libraries because revenues are generated when these institutions purchase subscriptions. However, in the Open Access context, marketing activities are almost exclusively directed towards researchers as potential authors and readers. Some marketing activity may be focused on bringing attention to individual articles in your Journal as well (e.g. press releases).
In some cases it is also of interest to market a journal to attract readers outside of academia. One of the inherent values of Open Access publishing is that it facilitates dissemination to practitioners, politicians, industry and the general public, all of whom may have an interest in direct access to research results.
Choosing an effective message
An effective message should speak to the needs and preferences of your target group. In the case of a journal, you market to gain readers as well as to encourage submissions. Of course, members of these groups largely overlap. Björk and Holmström (2006) have identified eight main factors behind authors’ choices in publishing outlets. These are:
- CV value of the publication (prestige)
- Impact on scientists and practitioners (readership)
- Quality of the review process (performance)
- Publication delay (performance)
- Submission rejection rate (performance)
- Service level of journal (infrastructure)
- Technical features of the journal (infrastructure)
- Author charges (infrastructure)
These factors provide clues regarding what information will appeal to your Journal’s potential audience. The impact statistics that you gather and track (see Section 4.5.3 Track impact) can be used as input to help you formulate your message and choose what you wish to emphasize as you communicate the Journal’s strengths to a wider audience. For example, although a very recent publication may not have achieved a prestigious standing within a field, the publishing and editorial teams may have established an appealing infrastructure or be able to demonstrate performance capabilities (e.g. short period of time from submission to first decision) that lend a competitive advantage if marketed appropriately.
18.104.22.168 Set marketing goals
On a general level, your marketing goal is first and foremost to attract readers and submissions. Second, marketing should help you build a loyal readership and group of contributing authors because, as nearly any basic marketing text will note, the efforts and money spent on attracting new ‘customers’ far outweigh the costs of keeping your existing ‘customers’ .
In addition to these basic rules for marketing your Journal, we encourage you to also define more specific goals with your marketing. After all, one of the advantages of being a small publisher is that you are in a position to engage in highly tailored marketing activities and need not follow a cookie-cutter approach that many large publishing houses must adopt. To do so, think carefully about your ideal vision of your readership base and journal content. There is no need for modesty here! Highly ambitious goals can be broken down into successive steps and sub-goals that will ultimately deliver the success you envision.
Some examples of marketing goals might be:
If some of the most interesting breaking research in your field is emerging from China and you publish few if any manuscripts from this country, your goal might be: Increase readership/submissions from China by 5% over the next 18 months.
If your weblog (e.g. Google Analytics) indicates that your readership is spread geographically across North and South America, Asia, Europe and Africa, yet the total number of visits and countries is lower than you expect: Increase traffic from 33 countries to 75 countries over the next 6 months, and website visits from current level to 10 000 per month during the same period.
If the Aims & Scope for your Journal lists five specific sub-areas within your field that are of interest to the Journal, yet you are only receiving manuscripts on four of these five, your goal could be: Attract at least 5 submissions on the subject of X during this calendar year.
Note that the marketing goals above contain not only a goal but also a timeline within which the goals should be achieved, i.e. markers (quantifiable or qualifiable) that will allow one to measure success.
The advantages of specifying your goals are that you will be better equipped to: a) identify appropriate marketing channels to achieve that goal (and also quickly recognize what is not appropriate) and b) evaluate the effectiveness of marketing activities once they are carried out.
22.214.171.124 Select marketing channels
There is a growing array of marketing channels available today, from traditional activities publishers have engaged in (e.g. conference participation) to emerging electronic opportunities (e.g. Twitter).
Your choice of marketing activities or channels will largely be determined by three main criteria:
- Is the activity/channel appropriate to your marketing goals?
- How well will the activity/channel reach the intended audience?
- Do your resources (time, money or talent) allow you to take advantage of the activity/channel?
To assist you in considering marketing channels, a table titled Marketing Channels for Open Access journals is available under ADDITIONAL RESOURCES. The table provides an overview of the most common marketing channels used today, why they might be useful, when they are appropriate, the limitations of the channel, and how to take advantage of the channel.
- Word of mouth
- Permission marketing
- Conference exhibition
- Mailing lists
- Other conference marketing
- Search engine optimalization
- Rss feeds
- Google AdWords
- Exchange ads
- Press releases
- Submit articles online
- Web-based social networking
A few words about SPAM
SPAMHAUS (mwww.spamhaus.org), which tracks spammers and offers spam services, defines SPAM as “Unsolicited Bulk Email (UBE)” and further specifies that “Unsolicited means that the Recipient has not granted verifiable permission for the message to be sent. Bulk means that the message is sent as part of a larger collection of messages, all having substantively identical content.”
According to SPAMHAUS, a message is SPAM if it meets two conditions – it is both Unsolicited AND Bulk. This definition reflects what many people perceive as SPAM, namely it is generally not related necessarily to content but more to the format in which the information is sent.
Some attempts have been made to implement legislation, and it is therefore important to be certain that you do not break any laws if you send bulk email. However, what may be as important as complying legally, is how your audience perceives the direct marketing materials they receive from you.
It should be noted that UBE is banned by all Internet service providers and many of the companies that offer bulk email services (e.g. Constant Contact) also ban span and conduct regular audits with their customers to assure that their services are not being abused.
The best way to avoid unintentional spamming is to use what is called permission marketing. To engage in permission marketing, create a method by which readers and contributors can sign-up to receive information from you. A button to click on and sign-up for e-alerts when content is available is a good means. If you are using an online system, it might include a registration system that you can use as a basis for permission marketing. Once individuals have voluntarily signed up to receive information on your Journal, you have permission to send them information within the limitations you have described for them at the time of signing up.
126.96.36.199 Create a marketing plan
A marketing plan will help you bring together your goals with preferred marketing activities and channels. Generally a plan should include your overall goal and how these will be met (i.e. which activities/channels). It can also be useful to include a budget and a timetable for marketing activities in your plan.
Unique events like a world conference held only ever fourth year or the publication of a highly controversial article in your Journal can offer unique marketing opportunities. Marketing activities often go hand-in-hand with editorial decisions. For example, a special issue on a topical subject within the Journal’s scope can offer an excellent opportunity to market the Journal generally by capitalizing on this ‘event’.
Be as detailed as possible in your plan but leave room for flexibility. For example, if you plan to market the Journal at conferences, try to identify which conferences and with what type of action (e.g. bag inserts, exhibition booth, etc.). However, be prepared for spontaneous marketing, and perhaps even reserve some financial resources for this. Spontaneous marketing may be necessary if you discover, for example, an unexpected meeting that would be a good venue for marketing. Unplanned activities might also be necessary if you suddenly notice a significant drop in visitors or submissions. It is best to react to such events sooner rather than later to stop negative trends.
- Does the marketing opportunity fit with your specific marketing goals?
- Where is your potential audience?
- What is your budget?
- What are your Journal’s unique selling points in relation to alternative journals and publishing outlets?
- Do you wish to attract readers outside of academia?
- What message will appeal to your key audience(s)?
- Have you created a message that “sells” yet is appropriate to the academic community?
- Are you avoiding marketing tactics that can be perceived as SPAM?
188.8.131.52 Create a marketing report
It can be useful to write a short marketing report for each year or, alternatively, to write a general report on the journal’s status that year. In your report, provide a short overview of what activities you have engaged in contra your plan for marketing and developing the Journal. Note also what results you have observed that can be linked to your efforts. It is also a good idea to review key indicators such as the Journal impact factor (if it has one), citations as noted by Google Scholar or other sources, number of articles published and type, possibly the geographic spread of authors and readers, time from submission to first decision, time from decision to actual publication, etc.
This marketing report, or annual Journal report, provides documentation both for you as you grow the Journal and for future editorial and publishing teams. It can also be sent to editorial board members to keep them engaged with the Journal and your work.
4.5.2 Create multiple entry points
In addition to marketing activities that should generate traffic to your Journal in conjunction with marketing events, you should also work to establish more permanent entry points to your Journal. Open Access journals potentially offer the widest possible dissemination. To achieve this, your Journal must be available from as many sources as possible; thus the need to create multiple entry points.
Visitors can arrive at your site via a generic search (e.g. Google), directly or from a long tail of other sources. It is likely that only a minority of your visitors will come from individuals who know your URL and go directly there. The majority will have stumbled upon your content by searching for information elsewhere.
Readers are directed to download the table Possible entry points to Open Access journals found under ADDITIONAL RESOURCES. This table includes an extensive list of entry points, what they are, why they are useful, examples, key considerations, and how to take advantage of them. Be advised that new entry points are emerging all the time and that this list will need to be updated from time to time. Some of the common entry points covered are:
- Search engines
- Metadata harvesters
- Library collections
4.5.3 Track Impact
For many years the worth of a manuscript, and by extension the researcher and the research institution where the work was conducted, has been judged on the basis of the impact factor of the Journal within which it is published. The impact factor is a bibliometric parameter that is currently administered by ISI Thomson through its Web of Science. The service tracks citations and ranks journals based on impact factor and other factors against other indexed journals within the same field.
Although debates and research have called into question the reliability and validity of the Impact Factor, the fact remains that it is regarded as a key bibliometric arbiter for evaluating quality in most academic fields and in most countries in Europe and North America. As such you should work consciously to include your Journal in ISI Thomson’s Web of Science, at least until other arbiters have gained equal importance.
As noted in Section 4.1.6 Work with indexing, a new journal will not have an impact factor for at least the first three to four years. This is because ISI Thomson generally tracks the Journal for a period of time after an application has been made in order judge whether it warrants coverage. Once accepted into ISI Web of Science a journal will receive an Impact Factor after three years due to the way in which the bibliometric calculation is based on citations to the Journal during years 1 and 2, in year 3.
One limitation to ISI Thomson is that it only captures citations to journal articles that are made in other journals listed in the index. Hence there are likely other citations that go undetected.
Reference to a journal’s solid impact factor and ranking in ISI can be used as a selling point to attract authors. Prior to the Journal being accepted in ISI Thomson, you can at least note to others that the Journal is included in the index, signaling to potential authors that the Journal will indeed have an impact factor in time.
Alternative means of measuring impact
The impact factor poses a challenge to many Open Access journals because they are new. You can find yourself caught up in a catch 22, whereby authors prefer to publish in journals with an impact factor (and preferably a high one), yet without good manuscripts to publish, the Journal cannot apply for an impact factor. During this interim period, it can be useful to use alternative sources to extract information that indicate what level of impact factor can be expected once the Journal is indexed.
Two alternatives for measuring citations are Scopus and Google Scholar. Scopus is an abstract and citation database that provides data to SCImago, a portal that tracks citations and ranks journals according to the SCImago Journal Rank (SJR). The database covers Life Sciences, Health Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences. Scopus is also Open Access-friendly; at the time this guide was written (2009), Scopus included more than 1200 Open Access journals in its database. Once your Journal is accepted in Scopus, you can also add the Scopus banner to your website.
Google Scholar provides a measure of citations and is structured to capture citations to different versions of the same manuscript (e.g. citations to archived copies in addition to the publisher’s final version). Google Scholar also captures citations from sources other than journals, including books and reports, which is why some research has indicated that for some fields, such as Humanities, it might provide a better tool than ISI Thomson.
Some users of this guide might be familiar with Bio Med Central’s “unofficial impact factor”. This is calculated using the same formula as that used by ISI, but using data from alternative tracking services, primarily Scopus.
Other forms of impact
Fortunately the electronic publishing era is also impacting upon how impact can be measured and what impact might mean in various fields. Two trends are of interest in this respect. First, usage is becoming as interesting as citations. Second, bibliometrics are moving towards measuring impact at the article level rather than at the level of the Journal.
In 2009 the Public Library of Science (PloS) introduced a set of article level metrics for measuring impact including a number of alternative factors that contribute to impact. These provide a possible list of items that your own Journal could track. Indeed, all of PloS’s developments are open source and can be adopted by other publishers.
Some examples of alternative factors that indicate impact:
- Usage data
- Page views
- Social networking links
- Press coverage
- User ratings
- Page Ranks
- Blog coverage
- Number of registered users/readers
Any and all of this information can be interesting to the authors publishing in your Journal and potentially to those evaluating them. Any statistics and information you can provide to support the claim that your Journal is an important source of information to the community it aims to serve can help support your marketing efforts. Most publishers flag high impact factors, broad dissemination (e.g. Read by researchers in 125 countries in 2008) and rankings (e.g. Ranked 3rd in Microbiology by ISI Thomson), among other things.
Usage statistics can also inform how you set your marketing goals. They indicate whether you are reaching your target audience and to what extent. At the same time, tracking statistics will allow you to benchmark your progress towards achieving your marketing goals.
- Use caution when presenting user statistics. Usage statistics can only provide an indication of usage level; they cannot provide an exact measurement of it. On the one hand, robots roam the internet and download material randomly, giving an article or your Journal hits that are not genuine and thus exaggerating your user statistics. On the other hand, if you publish articles under a Creative Commons License, articles will likely have been posted other places on the internet from which downloads are made that you are unable to track, leading to user statistics that underestimate usage.
- If you are ambitious about cleaning your usage statistics, consider joining the Standardized Usage Statistics Harvesting Initiative, SUSHI and Counter .
- Alerting readers to the “most accessed” or “most recently published” articles is a common practice today and seems to be appreciated by publishing authors and readers.
- Using Google Analytics or a similar weblog can help support your efforts to collate and analyze usage information. Weblogs are records produced by the server hosting your Journal or a service like Google Analytics that track the number of times your Journal is visited as well as other information such as what browsers are being used, countries and cities that are accessing the Journal, etc. It is also useful if the weblog you use allows you to manipulate the time period for which you would like to view statistics. Again, use caution when interpreting actual usage and dissemination as the weblog will also capture visits by robots.
4.6 Track journal statistics
In addition to the usage statistics that are discussed in Section 4.5.3 Track impact, a set of performance statistics are generally tracked for journals. These include:
- Rejection rate
- Time from submission to first decision
- Time from submission to publication (if accepted)
- Time from acceptance to publication
Authors often ask for this information prior to submitting and you can choose to list this information on your website or supply it upon request. In the latter case, an Editorial Assistant/Managing Editor should be able to answer such queries along with other queries to the editorial office (see Section 5.4 Field queries).
Many publishing systems and platforms track statistics automatically and allow you to easily generate reports.