|Image credit: kate_harbison CC BY-SA|
Historically, the primary role of libraries has been the collection and preservation of content created by others. Today, many libraries are also emphasizing the facilitation of local content creation. The University Libraries of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro have a multi-faceted strategy for promoting this new direction.
We support publication of open access articles through an Open Access fund for authors. We fund the production of open access classroom materials through grants for Open Educational Resources (OER). We disseminate the university’s scholarly output through NC DOCKS, a locally-developed institutional repository hosted at UNCG and shared with seven other UNC system universities. We provide technology and expertise for the creation of multimedia projects and for 3D printing in our Digital Media Commons. We fund research grants and prizes for students who create content using materials held in our Special Collections and University Archives. We provide Digital Partners grants for faculty who need assistance in creating online databases and websites, as well as other “new media.” And, as we explore further in this post, we host locally-produced open access journals.
In 2010, in response to faculty requests for assistance in the creation and hosting of open access journals, we adopted Open Journal Systems (OJS). Created by the Public Knowledge Project, OJS is an open source publishing and journal management platform that strives to make open access publishing “a viable option for more journals.” OJS expands our role in establishing ties throughout the university and promoting scholarly discourse on campus and beyond.
Now we host ten active journals in OJS, with several others in development. These journals cross the academic spectrum, with content areas including archives, service learning, and mathematics and statistics. This endeavor has been successful in meeting campus journal-hosting needs, while also supporting our initiatives to further scholarly communications and open access on campus, but this project is not without challenges and growing pains. Even “free” software is not without costs in relation to time and expertise. And where do library roles begin and end when it comes to supporting hosted open access journals?
At UNCG, the University Libraries host the OJS software and support its use. We provide:
- Long-term archiving of journal content
- A professionally-run server environment
- An up-to-date, secure version of the OJS software
- User training and support for use of the software
- A moderate degree of customization for individual journals
Our hosted journals share one OJS software implementation, meaning that most top-level customizations done by our technical team will affect all journals. So while training and technical support can often be provided on an individualized basis, advanced web customizations generally cannot. We feel that this support model allows us to meet 95% of the needs of our journals. To address the remaining 5% of requests, we would likely need to hire an additional OJS support position. And even with the current support model, if the number of hosted journals continues to increase, the support team will eventually require additional resources.
With library personnel managing the software and training users, journal personnel can focus on recruitment, review, editing, and presentation of content for their publications. Management teams for individual journals are generally comprised of scholars from across the field–not just faculty on our campus. These teams are generally made up of experts in their content areas, but these personnel are not always fully aware of other skill sets they will need–especially those relating to design and technology.
|Image credit: By Nikita-kun-i [Public domain or GPL], via Wikimedia Commons|
Potential users should also be aware of the learning curve associated with the OJS software. OJS is a powerful but intricate online system, and some users have expressed frustration with its complexity. Journal managers who do not wish to learn to use the system sometimes hire graduate students to manage the online platform, but this staffing model can cause difficulties when students graduate, unless sustainability planning is handled well in advance.
At UNCG, we promote sustainability planning for journals, and require that each journal maintain a primary on-campus contact person. If the primary journal manager or initiator leaves the university, he or she must designate a new on-campus contact in order to maintain the journal’s continuity in the UNCG OJS system. If no new sponsor steps forward, then we can either transfer the entire journal to a new home at another institution, or cease to add new content and maintain the extant journal volumes as a backfile. It is possible for journals to move from one OJS instance to another, and the University Libraries have facilitated the transfer of journals in the past. Once a journal leaves our hosted system, we no longer provide support and training services.
This OJS staffing and support model meets current needs at UNCG, but our model will not be the right fit for all institutions, nor for all journals. Providers of OJS hosting have the latitude to consider their own expertise and available resources before determining the level of support that they will offer to end users. At UNCG, OJS helps strengthen relationships between the University Libraries and its constituencies, including campus faculty and scholarly communities, while also facilitating the creation of open access scholarship on campus and beyond.
This post is based on a presentation given by the author titled Help, we started a journal! : adventures in supporting open access publishing using Open Journal Systems [slides]
Autor: Anna R. Craft