2.2.1 Design & construct website
When designing and constructing your website there are two main things to think about: what information do you need to provide and how should you present it?
In determining what information should be provided, you can let yourself be guided by websites for existing journals, though you do need to be careful that you do not simply copy the pages or design of one of these. If you are working with Open Journals Systems (OJS), the pre-set pages provide clues about what information you ought to present. Some standards points are listed here:
- Aims & Scope
- Editor, editorial team and editorial board
- Contact information
- Open Access policy
- Copyright and licensing policy
- Current issue
- Archive (back issues)
- Abstracting and indexing
- Any fees that are charged
- A history of the Journal (particularly because you are not a known publisher)
- Impact Factor and/or other information about prestige
- Instructions to Authors
- Bibliographic information (ISSN, ISSL, etc.)
The most effective websites combine aesthetic design with technical design and marketing savvy. Entire books and courses have been written on this topic and we will not provide exhaustive guidelines here. However, we can suggest some things to consider:
- The Journal name and logo should be readily identifiable on the website.
- The website should be easy-to-navigate; users can easily find what they are looking for.
- The website should be free from unnecessary “clutter”; unnecessary items and features detract attention from the most important information.
- The website should be designed according to the needs of users.
- Think in terms of web optimalization when designing and writing text for the website.
Unless you or someone on your team is skilled in design and programming, you may need to outsource part of this activity to external partners. Outsourcing can be expensive. If your budget is limited, consider outlining the ideal version of your website, but initially launching a simpler version of this. Thereafter you can take incremental steps over time to achieve the ideal look and feel of your website as your budget allows.
Those using Open Journals System (OJS) can take advantage of a standard OJS website template that can be used “as is” or further adapted to individual needs and preferences.
2.2.2 Create cover design/logo
Whether your Journal is electronic only or also in a print edition, we recommend that you create a logo that can be used in marketing materials and on the journal website (though this is not absolutely necessary). Print journals and electronic journals that periodically publish print supplements necessitate the creation of a cover design in addition to the logo.
If your Journal will be online only, a logo that is formatted to this medium will be the most critical element to design prior to launch (if you choose to have one). However, bear in mind that you may wish to use your logo for other purposes, such as in marketing materials. As such, look for a logo design that can either be used in a variety of contexts or which can easily be adapted without losing its recognition value. You may also wish to create a smaller thumbnail logo that is clearly related to your primary logo and which can be used on smaller print items or in other media such as Twitter.
A logo can consist of an image, a free-hand design or the journal name itself. If you would like to incorporate an image within your logo, you can make use of one of three options: 1) engage a designer to create the image, 2) purchase the rights to use an existing image, or 3) use an image that has been placed in the public commons.
Using a designer as well as purchasing the rights to using an existing image, will be more expensive, of course, than using your own creativity or an image from the public commons.
The color, font family and size used in the logo should be defined to ensure a consistent use of the logo over time and in different media. If image and text is used together a vector image might be the best to enable you to change the size and still keep the clarity. We suggest you create your logo in a high resolution for print purpose, even if you only plan to publish online. This way you have the quality you need in case you wish to print marketing material or expose your journal in other media that requires good quality. From the high resolution file you can create low res files which are fine for online use.
Should you require a cover design, consider the template to include the following items:
- Name of journal and logo, if applicable
- ISSN number (see Section 2.5.1 Register ISSN)
- Volume and issue number
- Year (month)
- Web address
- Table of Contents (front or back) Spine text, if applicable (depending on extent).
In addition, a detailed plan for the position of the various items can be very useful, particularly if you decide to consult with an external designer.
2.2.3 Create article layout
Although you might not intend to print the Journal, you might wish to produce a nice layout for articles to follow in both a PDF version and HTML format. The layout should define a number of items, including:
- Number of columns
- Fonts and sizes
- Section headings
- Line spacing
- Table and figure designs
- Copyright statement
- Mandatory elements (e.g. Conflict of interest statement)
- ISSN, DOI and citation
- Logo (if desirable)
- Other special elements such as bio and photo of author
This layout will provide the basis for a stylesheet that must be created in relation to setting up the production infrastructure for the Journal (see Section 2.4.1 Create stylesheet) as well as for the instructions to authors you will provide (see Section 2.2.5 Write instructions to authors).
If you are working with a typesetter, they will probably be happy to share with you stylesheets from journals in the same or a similar field. Adopting a pre-existing style will make your work lighter and, in the case of working with a typesetter, their job easier as well.
Once a layout has been adopted, you should also have the Layout Editor or Typesetter produce a sample, preferably using an actual article if available. At this stage it is good to consult an eventual copyeditor to review the article sample and become familiar with your Journal. The copyeditor should receive both the sample article, instructions to authors and stylesheet, to enable him/her to set up his/her own set of guidelines.
2.2.4 Adopt style
Most journals follow a defined style, often in line with standards in the subject area. If the subject area your Journal belongs to commonly follows a standard style guide, we strongly urge you to adopt this as it makes both your job and that of submitting authors easier.
Among the most known style guides are:
APA – (American Psychological Association) – commonly used for Social Sciences
Chicago Manual of Style – commonly used for Social Sciences (author – date) and Humanities (notes and bibliography)
ICMJE (International committee for Medical Journal Editors; often referred to as “Vancouver” style) – commonly used for Biomedical journals
IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) – commonly used in most technical fields
MLA (Modern Language Association) – based to some degree on the APA style, commonly used in the Arts and Humanities.
Regardless of what style you follow, you must consider the following items:
- spelling (e.g. American English vs. British English, or both)
- citation system
- reference system (for all types of sources)
- writing numerals
- abbreviations and symbols
- labeling figures, tables, etc.
The major purpose of adopting a style and ensuring that all published articles conform to this is to provide consistency in your publications.
The style you adopt must be noted in the instructions to authors (see Section 2.2.5 Write instructions to authors) and will provide a basis for the styleguide you create and follow for production (see Section 2.4.1 Create stylesheet). If you use an external Copyeditor he/she will make sure that the authors adheres to the style and prepare the manuscript for the Layout Editor or Typesetter.
2.2.5 Write instructions to authors
You can save yourself a great deal of work by writing a clear set of instructions to authors. The more submitting authors can do prior to submitting the article, the less work you will need to do later to publish an article that neatly follows the technical and other features of the Journal. Instructions to authors typically include the following elements (though are not limited to these):
- the file format the manuscript text should be submitted in
- the file format figures and tables should be submitted in.
- the reference style the Journal follows (see Section 2.2.4 Adopt style)
- organization of manuscript sections
- length of abstract
- number of keywords
- how to write numbers, abbreviations, etc.
- particular statements and confirmations that need to be included (e.g. statistics, consent, licensing and/or copyright agreement)
- reminder to remove name if blind review is used
The instructions to authors could be written by anyone on the publishing team. However, input will be required from the Layout Editor or Typesetter (depending on your solution) and from the Chief Editor given that the instructions include elements that affect their work.
Consider also creating an author submission checklist that will make it easier for submitting authors to make sure they have complied with the most important points in the instructions to authors. A sample checklist to get you started is provided under ADDITIONAL RESOURCES. Some journals require authors to use a journal template when submitting articles.