Tuesday, 20 December 2011

OJS and file conversion

The creation of an online version of Amicus Curiae, the opening salvo of the SAS-Journals project, was based on organising existing articles in PDF form. It is also the case that new content for upcoming editions of the journal will continue to be uploaded to OJS also as finished PDFs. This works well for Amicus which has long had a print edition of which the creation of PDFs is a by-product.

However there are different ways to approach the publication of online journals; and issues surrounding this were discussed toward the end of the project, notably during the workshop on 20th October. The OJS software already supports the creation of articles 'from scratch' itself, using the XML-galleys plugin. The default output of this is based on NLM's XML schema for publishing journal articles. This approach gives more potential flexibility when it comes to offering different formats for the finished um... article.

OJS seems reasonably agnostic concerning the formats it will allow for submissions, and this makes life easier for authors. However, editors and journal managers may wish to be more rigid in the format in which they wish to present the articles once published (eg. must be PDF!). So what options are there for converting submitted manuscripts from one format to another?

This discussion on the PKP BB gives an insight in to some of the possibilities.

OpenOffice is generally the go-to tool for an open-source solution to document format conversion. It can be run "headless" (ie. without the GUI) and used either to batch process conversions or possibly as part of a plugin for OJS.

The good news for OJS administrators is that lemon8-XML a web-based application that operates separately from the OxS suite was released by PKP in 2009. This uses a headless instantiation of OpenOffice to convert Word or OpenOffice files into NXML.

So we could imagine a workflow like this:

Oo & Doc -> lemon8-XML -> NXML -> XSLT -> PDF & HTML

It is worth noting that there is a significant amount more jiggery-pokery required when going from XML to PDF than to HTML. As far as I am aware there would need to be an intermediary step involving something like FOP.  I'm sure someone has implemented something like this by now... anyone?

Monday, 5 December 2011

On how to run an independent OA journal

I'm very pleased to be able to say that a report on our launch workshop back in October is now available in SAS-Space, along with Steve Whittle and Julian Harris's presentation introducing Amicus Curiae online.
It was a particular pleasure to facilitate one, and then listen to recordings of three other small group discussions on the various issues that face editors of independent OA journals; and these are summarised in the report.

I was particularly interested by the discussion on the use of social media as marketing. We're quite used to Facebook pages and Twitter feeds dedicated to particular publications; and that needs to be part of the work a journal does. However, there was a clear sense that this would not be enough on its own, and that the whole editorial team of a journal, including members of an advisory board (traditionally more detached) would need to bring together the collective weight of all their personal blogging, tweeting and posting to publicise a journal. Looked at this way, a small team of specialists in a field ought to be able to reach their target audience of peers at least as well as a large commercial publisher, especially if they are able to engage with interested specialist librarians.

Another interesting theme that emerged was that the relationship between author and journal would need to change, if that journal were one managed by volunteers without the help of a publisher. Firstly, it would be likely that journals would need to be more robust in requiring authors to conform to house style, and otherwise take back some of the work of copy preparation. Secondly, authors would need to be less reticent about self-promotion. One delegate observed that authors are often reluctant to let their own libraries know about new work, assuming that this was something that librarians and publishers sorted out amongst themselves. Authors would need to be prepared to engage with social media in order to spread the word.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

New issue of Amicus Curiae in SAS Open Journals

I'm delighted to be able to say that issue 86 of Amicus Curiae is now available. This is the first issue that was 'born' within the SAS Open Journals system, and safely deposited from there into the SAS-Space repository. It includes articles from Vernon Bogdanor on the coalition government's constitutional reforms; and on the European Convention on Human Rights, the history of copyright law, fictional courtroom film as a teaching resource, and on recent change to insurance law.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Integrating OJS and SNEEP

A little while ago I blogged about the implementation of SNEEP (Social Networking Extensions for Eprints) in the SAS-Space repository.With thanks to Rory McNicholl, here is a report on the next step. Rory writes:

"The next step was to integrate SNEEP content from SAS-Space into the OJS interface. Thankfully SNEEP has a RESTful API (more than by happy accident than by design), so making requests of it was reasonably straightforward. A proxy script (sneep_proxy.php) that utilised cURL was added to the OJS docroot to deal with any inter-domain AJAX requests. Using the SWORD-deposit condition within the OJS article template the necessary javascript and html was inserted. This allowed OJS to display tags and comments associated with the repository item. See it in action here.

There is a caveat: this rather simple integration with SNEEP only uses the publicly accessible content and functions. The private notes that users can add in SAS-Space are not displayed. Neither is it yet possible for users to add tags and comments in OJS directly. 

Further integration of SNEEP and OJS would require more work on the sharing of authentication. Single sign-on for SNEEPish authentication was one of the matters explored in the JJISC-funded PICT project. However in this case we wanted the user-generated content to be the same between the OJS and Repository pages; a different relationship to the one set up by PICT. In this particular case, the fact that both SAS-Space and SAS Open Journals use the University of London LDAP authentication server may mean that there is scope for overcoming SNEEP user-identification-from-a-far, with further work, with different funding.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Making OJS and EPrints play nicely

Our main tasks at ULCC during the SAS Open Journals project were

- to set-up the instance of PKP's OJS software
- to enable SWORD deposits to the SAS-Space repository
- to configure OJS such that digital objects were referenced from the repository where possible.

The first two steps were straightforward enough. We installed OJS-2.3.4 which has a generic SWORD plugin. However in order to retain as much metadata richness as possible during the SWORD transfer we opted to use EPXML to describe the object rather than METS. Although the generic SWORD plugin only deposited using METS, we were comfortable in forgoing using the METS standard since there was only to be a single deposit point (SAS-Space) and deposits would be managed solely by OJS administrators.

The changes made to OJS mentioned below and in "Integrating OJS and SNEEP"  can be obtained at the project site:


in the form of a patch and some additions to OJS-2.3.4


A form field (formatNS) was added to the deposit point template plugins/generic/sword/depositPointForm.tpl. This allowed the administrator to specify the schema used to describe the item metadata. Values for this can be "http://eprints.org/ep2/data/2.0/" or the default "http://www.loc.gov/METS/".  Changes were made to plugins/generic/sword/SwordImportExportPlugin.inc.php to handle this new form field and  to classes/sword/OJSSwordDeposit.inc.php to make a decision on the sort of XML file to be included in the SWORD deposit package based on the new parameter. The file lib/pkp/lib/swordapp/packager_epxml_swap.php was added and this handled the construction on the EPXML file.

Another issue we faced using the generic SWORD plug-in was that it did not appear to store information on deposit items within the OJS system. This was essential in order to allow objects to be referenced by OJS from the repository. To achieve this we cannibalised an old version of the SWORD OJS plugin and added classes/sword/SwordDepositDAO.inc.php which allowed us to keep a record of deposited items within OJS.

With this record in the OJS system we could add a getSwordDeposit function to classes/article/ArticleGalley.inc.php which would check to see if a SWORD deposit was available and that the address recorded for the file resolved, before redirecting requests to the repository.

And then, finally, some changes to the article template, and the first three tasks were complete.

There is however a caveat: the embedded plugin PDF viewer, invisibly redirecting to a third party (ie SAS-Space) seemed to fall foul of some browser's security regimes. If the security was based on the domain, then we were on safe ground as the redirect was from the journal domain (journals.sas.ac.uk) to the repository (sas-space.sas.ac.uk). However Internet Explorer (at least, as installed on SAS desktop machines) did not seem to like the redirect within the embedded viewer. For this we implemented a fall back to the local OJS copy.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

SAS Open Journals launched !

Just on my way home now from an excellent launch event for SAS Open Journals , which can now be found at its permanent home. Particular thanks are due to Steve Whittle and Julian Harris, my colleagues who have helped see Amicus Curiae through its transition onto the SAS-OJ system, to be our first journal. I am also very grateful to Damien Short for his presentation on the questions that face the editor of a prospective new journal.
As it is Open Access Week next week, I shall be writing a report on the event, to be made available next week. The participants in the workshop broke into four groups to discuss issues of common concern, including staffing and workflow, marketing and publicity, business models and the transition from print to web. Lots of very interesting issues were raised, for which I’m very grateful to all those who were involved; and I hope that an account of those discussions will be useful for a wider audience.Watch this space !

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Colombia, conflict and the rule of law | Doyle | Amicus Curiae

Part of ensuring the success of a new online journal is making sure that the scholarly content is put in the way of users, rather than expecting them to come and find it. I'm very pleased therefore to be testing out the new AddThis bar in SAS Open Journals, which allows users to post details of an article quickly and easily to Twitter, Facebook or in this case Blogger, so their followers and friends hear of it: and here's the link to my test article. Colombia, conflict and the rule of law | Doyle | Amicus Curiae

Monday, 17 October 2011

Journal publishing with Eprints: another way

I've been very interested to read about the approach that one of our sister JISC projects at Huddersfield has been taking; Graham Stone documents it on the Huddersfield Open Access Publishing blog.

Whereas SAS Open Journals involves interaction between the Open Journals System and the native SAS-Space Eprints, HOAP instead segments the native Eprints for each journal, thus allowing bespoke browsing and landing pages for each journal, and a tweaked deposit process. It seems like a useful model to be using; and there's room for different approaches.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Open Access journal publishing: a workshop

Bookings for this event are now closed.

Who is it for ?

The day will be of interest to editors of existing print journals considering a move to web publication, or a print-and-web solution.
It is also for prospective editors of new journals looking to start out online.

It will be free of charge, and a sandwich lunch will be provided.

Where and when ?
When: Thursday October 20th 2011
Where: Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU
[nearest tube - Russell Square]

Draft programme

12.10 Arrivals and lunch

13.00 Where to start ? Issues for the prospective new journal (Dr Damien Short, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London)

13.20 Moving from print to web: the journal Amicus Curiae (Steve Whittle & Julian Harris, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London)

13.40 Introducing SAS Open Journals (Dr Peter Webster, School of Advanced Study)

14.10 Break

14.15 Group sessions discussing issues of common concern

15.00 Report back and summing up

15.20 Departures

Friday, 26 August 2011

Social networking extensions for SAS-Space

Thanks to our good friends at ULCC, we have now added the SNEEP suite of social networking extensions to SAS-Space, which can be found at the foot of each item’s page. See it in action here.

Users can now do three new things:

Comments. Once users have created a user account for themselves (easily done), they can then make comments on items in the repository. These are publicly visible, along with the comments of others, and shown as in a forum thread.

Tag. Alongside formal Keywords (from authors and SAS-Space staff), users can add tags of particular relevance for them, and view those of others.

All of these tags together form a ‘folksonomy’, a user-generated way of describing the content, and which can be used as another way of browsing for similar material. A click on a tag reveals a list of other items with the same tag.

Notes. Alongside the public Comments and Tags, users can make notes for their own use, which are private to them.

This is an important part of the Open Journals project, as the next step is to see how we might go about integrating this socially generated material in SAS-Space with the journal interface in OJS.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Making the move from print to web

One of the outputs of this project is a case study, documenting the sorts of issues that are likely to recur when journal editors are thinking about making the transition from print to web. This week I am listening to and reflecting on my recording of an excellent meeting with the Amicus Curiae team; the first of two meetings, part of the preparation for that case study.

Discussion was frank and free, and, not surprisingly, took in the central issue of what the relationship should be between the printed edition, which goes to subscribers, and the later electronic edition, which will be free. How long should the gap be, and how central is the journal to the package that subscribers receive ?

We also discussed some very interesting issues about the relationship of print and web editions in relation to the content itself: might articles in the online edition be longer, and/or be supported by appendices ? What about online-only content ?

All these issues will be addressed in the case study document, which should be available in early September.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Conference: Open access publishing in the arts and humanities

This conference on July 15th, organised at the School of Advanced Study in association with SAS-Space, afforded an opportunity to present the SAS Open Journal project, in a session that also featured several other approaches to OA: a discipline-specific repository, a repository for teaching resources, and a new campus-based OA publishing venture.

It also prompted some useful discussions over coffee, not least with other journal editors looking to compare notes on using the OJS system.

Once all the contributions are in, there will be a report on the conference, taking in reactions and impressions of delegates of several different points of view. The programme is on the SAS-Space blog .

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Populating OJS from EPrints

Now that a full complement of Amicus Curiae articles has been loaded into the SAS-Space repository, I have been looking at ways to populate the OJS database automatically using the metadata available in the repository.

We are fortunate, as ever, that EPrints provides a wide range of export formats for individual item records and for sets of records. On the Amicus Curiae Collection page, we can see that EPrints gives us the option to export the metadata for the whole collection as a bibliographic citation (plain text or HTML), in formats for reference management software (Reference Manager, BibTex, EndNote) and in several other bibliographic data formats, including Dublin Core and METS.

However, I've chosen to base our process on the EP3 XML format of EPrints, which I've worked with before (when we migrated SAS-Space from DSpace to EPrints). It is the native EPrints export/import format, and arguably contains the most faithful serialisation of item metadata in the repository.

I've now created an XSLT stylesheet that transforms the EP3 XML for the Amicus Curiae collection into the "native.dtd" XML format which is the native import/export format for OJS. The biggest challenge in XSLT was grouping the journal articles by issue number, as required by the OJS native format, but once I'd found a way to do that, the rest is just fiddling about, as it so often is with metadata mapping.

Once the EP3 XML is transformed to OJS format, then, with a Journal already defined in OJS, we can use the OJS import function to import a complete set of issues, each containing its full complement of articles. It's also possible to include a cover image for each issue (if one is available), and the article in PDF form can either be embedded in the XML using Base64 encoding, or linked-to using a URL. Since our articles are already online in the SAS-Space repository, I used the URL option. (It seems that this imports the object into OJS filestore: we will investigate whether it's possible to prevent this, and have the online journal simply link straight to the item in SAS-Space.)

At the moment the XSLT stylesheet is working for our purposes, but offers the intriguing prospect that it could be enhanced to work over any result set in an EPrints repository, and made available as an EPrints Export Plug-in. This way, anyone wanting to quickly assemble, or reassemble, an online journal in OJS, can do so from articles deposited in a repository.

This could be an attractive scenario for anyone trying to retrospectively assemble an online journal from scans of a printed journal: once the materials are deposited in the repository (with sufficient metadata, of course, and, ideally, OCRed), then the data needed to implement a fully working journal in OJS is only a click away.

Existing OJS journal managers might even choose to manage their deposit and review workflow using the repository, and export to OJS when ready. This project gives us an interesting opportunity to compare the two approaches to item submission workflow, and I hope we'll be able to report back on that later.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Preparing the content

The first task that presents itself is preparing the existing back issues of Amicus Curiae that reside in SAS-Space for ingest into the new OJS system.
The first thing that has presented itself is some wrinkles in the metadata; wrinkles that are easy to miss in a repository setting, but on which OJS will rely to order the journal by volume and issue, and so ruthlessly expose.
The second issue has been 'missing' items; articles that whatever reason were not deposited in SAS-Space at the time, but which create very obvious gaps when presented in the new way - so a happy by-product of preparing for OJS has been cleaner data and a good few new articles for the repository.
We should have finished this particular job by the end of June.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

SAS Open Journals

I'm delighted to be able to announce that the JISC have very generously funded the School of Advanced Study to create an overlay journal interface for the School's repository SAS-Space.

We'll be creating an overlay journal system based on SAS-Space, with Amicus Curiae as the initial example, using the open source Open Journal Systems. This system will then be made available, at minimal cost, to both other existing and new journals produced within the School, and to publications by cognate learned societies. Such a system will greatly increase open access publishing capacity in the humanities and social sciences, and further fulfil the School’s remit from HEFCE for research promotion and facilitation.

Amicus Curiae is the journal of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies/Society for Advanced Legal Studies. Some of the past issues of Amicus are already available in SAS-Space; but this project will complete the transition of the journal to electronic format, and provide it with a dedicated browsing interface.

The project will run from May 2011 to October, and is managed by Dr Peter Webster, SAS-Space Manager. (Peter.Webster@sas.ac.uk)

An example of OJS in action is the International Journal of Digital Curation.