This chapter covers activities related to setting up the Journal infrastructure. This is the most extensive area of activity within the overall system described in this guide. Through the activities and sub-activities described here you will put in place the nuts and bolts that will allow you to later publish your Open Access Journal successfully. Setting up an infrastructure for your Journal consists of six sub-areas of activity listed in the insert to the right, with 46 sections included in this chapter.
The volume of activity here suggests that you will need to plan to spend quite a bit of time on setting up the Journal infrastructure, perhaps anywhere from a few months to one year. An advantage of working with an online-only Open Access journal is that you do not need to sell annual subscriptions and therefore there is no need to launch the journal from 1 January. Unless there is a specific reason why you need to meet a launch date (e.g. a key conference, meeting, etc.) you are free to launch whenever your team is ready.
2.1 Set up technical infrastructure
This section of the guide addresses the technical infrastructure you will require in order to assure a smooth operation of your Journal. Once in place, the technical infrastructure provides a mechanism that allows nearly all other day-to-day publishing activities to be carried out. As such, specifications for this infrastructure should be well thought out and based on the workflows and activities you will carry out. Thus, it will be useful to also read through the other sub-sections of this chapter.
2.1.1 Establish a “home”
When you start a new journal you need to decide where you should place the files and software; you need server space and you need an URL so that others can find the Journal on the internet. We refer to these activities collectively with the very non-technical phrase, “establish a home” for your journal. In actuality this refers to establishing a URL, possibly a domain name (Section 22.214.171.124 Choose domain and URL), and finding actual server space or a web host (Section 126.96.36.199 Select hosting).
188.8.131.52 Select hosting
Your publishing software and files (Section 2.1.2 Choose a publishing system) will need to be housed on a server or hosted by a web host. Purchasing a server is costly and it is more likely that you will take advantage of opportunities to use or rent space on existing servers. It might be possible for you to take advantage of space on your institution’s web server. Regional initiatives such as African Journals Online, or the more general Scholarly Exchange provide other alternatives, allowing journal owners to set up and use their platform (based on Open Journals System, OJS), including both hosting (server space) as well as software. Some initiatives are cost-free (primarily in developing regions of the world), while others charge fees. For example at the Scholarly Exchange, Journal set up and first year of operation is free. Thereafter Scholarly Exchange continues the service for a US$ 750 annual fee, with all revenues split 50/50 between the journal and Scholarly Exchange. Simon Fraser University (SFU), the developers behind Open Journals Systems (OJS), also offers hosting for an annual rate, including server maintenance and possible other support. Choosing SFU as a web host for your journal could be a wise choice if you will also require external technical support as SFU is also able to provide such assistance for an hourly rate. An independent alternative can be to involve a web host (see table below).
Whatever server solution you choose, do assure that sufficient back-ups are available. You should also investigate whether the server has enough space to accommodate your needs, not only at the present time but also as your Journal grows in number of articles and files (although text files do not require too much space, image and other types of format files such as audio and video, usual demand extra storage space).
For these activities it is recommended that your Technical support person is involved or manages these aspects on behalf of the publishing team. When choosing a domain name, the editorial team and the Marketer will likely have input.
There are a number of factors that should be taken into consideration when you choose a web host, and we have listed some of these in the table below together with a few useful links.
|What?||To think about|
|URL||Some web hosts are also a registrar of domain names, but even if you choose to purchase a journal specific URL through a separate domain registrar your web host will be able to handle the domain for you through the registrar (see Section 184.108.40.206 Choose domain and URL).|
|Speed||Can the web host provide sufficient speed for your needs? Perhaps the number one reason a visitor leaves your site will be speed. If they cannot get the information they are seeking quickly, they might leave.|
|Software||Depending on the journal management system you intend to use, check that the web host you choose supports the software you need. E.g. see the requirements for Open Journals System.|
|Space||The disk space is the amount of storage assigned to the account by the web hosting provider. Bandwidth is the amount of traffic that the provider allows to be transferred to and from the website. Journals that include a lot of graphics would require more hard drive storage than a predominantly text based journal. Check how much your web host charges for extra space and bandwidth. Make sure you will be able to increase your storage space should you need to. However, disk space and bandwidth generally affect the price you are charged, so the more space you take, the more expensive is the monthly price.|
|Costs||Today there is a wide range of web hosting companies and it is easy to find a good supplier at a low cost.|
|Back-up||Very important! Make sure to ask the web host about their back-up routines. What procedures do they have and how fast can your site be restored in the event this is necessary?|
|Support||Check the ‘uptime guarantee’ the host offers. The uptime is the amount of time the server is up and serving your web pages. Web hosting companies strive for a 99.9% uptime, which means that there would be less than 2 minutes of downtime a day.|
|Move website to another host||Moving your website to another supplier should not be a problem but make sure you have your new site completely ready before you ask your registrar to transfer your domain name to the new host IP address.|
220.127.116.11 Choose domain and URL
A domain name is the address of a web site on the Internet. The domain name is used in URLs to access pages on a web site.
The URL is the exact address to a specific resource on the Internet, often a web page. URLs consist of three parts: network protocol, host name or address, file or resource location. These (substrings) are separated by special characters as follows:
With respect to finding your Journal on the Internet you can choose to use an existing URL for the web server from which the journal will be reached. However, it might be a good idea to purchase a new domain name; e.g. www.EthicsandGlobalPolitics.net. Purchasing a new domain name will allow you to incorporate the journal name into the URL, which can be useful from a user perspective and with respect to branding; rather than remembering a very long and cumbersome URL (as those based on the web server typically are), readers need only remember the name of the Journal. Purchasing a domain also has the advantage of greater permanency. You can point your domain name to an underlying URL associated with your web server, and if for some reason you move to a new server, the domain can be redirected without incurring any inconveniences or confusion for users. Use the ADDITIONAL RESOURCES lists on this page to find domain name providers and further information on domains.
Every device connected to the Internet is assigned a unique number known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address. IP addresses consist of four numbers separated by periods (also called a ‘dotted-quad’).
The Domain Name System (DNS) automatically converts the names we type in our Web browser address bar to the IP addresses of Web servers hosting those sites. The process is called DNS resolution and it serves as the “phone book” for the Internet by translating human-friendly computer hostnames into IP addresses.
A domain name can be up to 67 characters (and a minimum of three) long, including letters, numbers and hyphens. A short name (or an abbreviation of the Journal name) might be easier to remember and less subject to mistakes for someone searching for the Journal. On the other hand, it might be better to use the Journal’s full name as users might naturally assume this. Moreover, when users Google your Journal name it is likely to come up first in the search results (e.g. www.ethicsandglobalpolitics.net) (see also Section 18.104.22.168.2 Choose title). Each domain name is followed by an extension like .net, .org, .edu, etc. It might be wise to purchase two or several extensions so that someone looking for your Journal can use both .com, .net etc. and still end up at the same website.
Common extensions or suffixes, also called TLD (Top Level Domain) are (beside the national ones):
.com Commercial business
.net Network of organizations
.org Not for profit
.edu Educational institution
If your server host also offers domain names, you can purchase one from the host. If not, you can purchase the domain name through a domain registrar. A domain registrar is a company accredited by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and/or by a national ccTLD (Top Level Domain) authority to register Internet domain names. There are many domain registrars and you can just Google for a list.
Domains can be registered for an annual period of 1-10 years (with a few exceptions) and can be (automatically or manually) renewed for subsequent periods of 1-10 years (again, with a few exceptions). Check with the registrar that the domain is registered to you and that you retain ownership. The cost for domain registration varies but is usually reasonable. There can be additional charges beside the cost for the domain name itself; link forwarding, emails, redirection charges (pointing your domain to an existing site) and release fees (moving the domain from the registration agent), private registration etc.
- What name should you choose for the domain?
- Do you need and can you afford more than one domain – several extensions?
- For how many years do you need to register the domain?
2.1.2 Choose a publishing system
A critical activity in setting up your Journal is choosing a publishing system to handle the peer review process and publishing workflow. Typically you will be choosing between handling these matters manually using excel files to track actions or through a web-based system that automates numerous actions. Your choice will depend on various criteria including the amount of submitted and published material expected, the technical skills of the editorial team, financial resources, etc.
Regardless of what solution you choose, be sure that it enables you to follow a strict workflow and closely track all events in the process. It should also be as simple as possible to use for all involved.
Your system should allow you to manage and track: the submission of manuscripts, the peer review process, and once peer review is finalized, the finalizing of the material through copyediting, layout editing/typesetting and finally actual publication. It is also useful to maintain a database of reviewers, submitting authors, and other key information.
Although a manually updated overview of all transactions may suffice for a low-volume journal, a web-based system is a must for larger journals and even for smaller publications will be time-saving and facilitate the easy generation of reports and statistics. The possibility for authors to submit their manuscripts through an online system also adds an element of professionalism to the overall look and feel of your Journal.
An overview of commercial alternatives can be found at SPARC Resources (see also ADDITIONAL RESOURCES).There are a few open source e-publishing systems (or journal management systems) available for handling the publishing process from submission and peer review to publication (including distribution to archiving/repositories etc). Under ADDITIONAL RESOURCES, you will find a useful table called Publishing Systems: an overview, covering the most common systems and some of the features these systems offer. Do note that although you might be tempted to Google ‘management systems’ to identify alternatives, a closer look at those that are listed reveals that many have been discontinued or are poorly maintained. Before moving forward with a lesser known system, do speak to others who have used the system to help you make an informed decision.
When selecting a manuscript system there are many and varied considerations; please find some of them listed below. Other good overviews can be found in the PLoS white paper (pp. 6-7) or in the Guide to Developing OA Journals by D. Solomon (Chapter 4).
An alternative to installing and setting up your own e-publishing platform could be to join a cooperative (regional or not), i.e. a ‘host’ that provides space on a web-based publishing platform with various services in addition, backup usually included. Examples are included under ADDITIONAL RESOURCES. See also Section 22.214.171.124 Select hosting.
- How long has the system been in use? Many systems have been developed but quite a few ‘disappear’ shortly thereafter. Check the overall activity on the site and who is behind the enterprise.
- What is the latest version and are more upgrades scheduled?
- What skills to you need to run the system?
- Who stores the data?
- Does the system have different roles with different access for different users?
- Does the system provide statistics and reports? For editors? For authors?
- What features does the system have?
- Does the system allow for different review processes; double blind, single blind etc?
- Does the system allow authors to follow the entire publication flow?
- Is there a manual available?
- What backup functions does the system have?
- Does the system generate automated emails?
- Are there any support available, forums etc?
- Are the costs in proportion to what you get out of the system?
2.1.3 Set up archiving and preservation
It is important to assure that the content of your Journal is archived safely and is accessible to future generations. This means that the data and files you generate shall be protected against unforeseen disasters that could lead to their destruction and that it should be possible to migrate files to new standard formats as these emerge.
Although archiving is largely the responsibility of libraries and other institutions, publishers share in this responsibility by ensuring that their files are transferred responsibly or made available to appropriate agencies or institutions. As a scholar publisher you can facilitate archiving and preservation by creating a plan for your Journal and following this.
Although it is difficult to say what the minimum requirements for archiving are, a general rule-of-thumb is that the more archives that preserve your content, the better. General archives as well as subject-based and institutional archives exist. In some cases laws concerning publications emanating from your country may necessitate formal archiving with a national library archive or similar. To assist you in deciding which archives to consider for your Journal, a table covering the most common ones can be found under ADDITIONAL RESOURCES; see Archives: an overview.
- Can editors and the journal comply with the criteria and requirements of the archiving agency? (e.g. PubMed Central requires files to be supplied in XML format based on the NLM DTD)
- Can the journal afford the costs?
- What archive is most important for your journal?
Archives also provide an opportunity to increase the number of entry points to your journal. See Section 4.5.2 Create multiple entry points for more information on this topic. For more information on file formats, see Section 2.4.3 Define file formats.
2.1.4 Ensure back up
A backup is a copy of a file created in case the original data is lost or damaged. You have a responsibility to assure that the content of your journal is protected from disaster through a regular backup. Unfortunately a number of unexpected yet possibly disastrous events can take place including: hardware malfunctions, software corruption, damaged directory structures, deleted files by mistake, files corrupted by viruses, new program installation that makes applications or files unusable, etc, etc.
Backups of your files should be made daily and preferably copied to two separate locations. If you use a journal management system (see Section 2.1.2 Choose a publishing system) and use an external host you should check that these providers offer sufficient backup and recovery routines.
Should you wish to backup your entire system or would like to have regular backups automatically performed, you can use backup software that will do so. Many programs are available for both Mac and Windows that provide automatic backups and system restore capabilities.
Should you wish to read more detailed information about backups, we suggest reading
David Solomon (2008), Developing Open Access Journals: A Practical Guide. Available through Amazon.com or through Chandos Publishing (A short abridged version is also available); and Kevin Stranack (2006), Getting Found, Staying Found, Increasing Impact. pp 29-31.
- Are there backup procedures in place?
- What is backed up? Everything, folders, files etc?
- How often is it backed up? Daily?
- For how long are the backup copies kept?
- Are there copies at several locations?
- If necessary, is there a cost to recover files?
- If necessary, how long will it take to recover files?