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.