Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lessons learned from a decade of open access publishing: The Resilience Alliance’s experience

*** preliminary notes ***

Presenter: Michelle Lee - Ecology and Society
Time: July 12 2007 at 1:45 – 2:45pm
Location: SFU Harbour Centre Earl and Jennie Lohn Floor Policy Room – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Michelle Lee, managing editor of Ecology and Society and member of Resilience Alliance, has come to the Public Knowledge Project conference 2007 to present her experience with different journal management softwares.

The focus of this presentation will be around Ecology and Society. Through the hard work of ecology graduate students and professors, this journal came together in 1994. After 3 years of software development, the first issue appeared in 1997. The journal is now at an impact factor of 3.2 and has over 11,000 readers. The goals behind this online communication are:

1. accessibility for everyone
2. quick turn around time to (traditional) publishing
3. financially self-sustainability
4. high impact (not necessarily the impact factor)

In order to achieve the first 3 goals, they required reliable and customizable software, and for a high impact, a dedicated and passionate staff.

In 2004, the journal changed over to OJS v.1.1.5 as they thought it was the best suited for their journal’s workflow (and apparently the price was right too). However, to maintain their goals, a number of customizations were required to meet the needs and expectations of the journal. Ultimately, the costs of the customizations were too great, which lead to Ecology and Society breaking off from OJS as the plug-ins function did not work for them.

They returned to their own software, allowing for these customizations

- document conversion (rtf to HTML, HTML to PDF)
- a complex reminders routine
- logging of all correspondence and events to each manuscript
- creation and organization of special features (draws more readers, and more submissions(also available with newer versions OJS)
- author/special feature invoicing interface (also available with newer versions OJS)

Each of the customizations has its reasons.

Document conversion allows for easier and faster formatting of manuscripts and keeps reviewing processes online as much as possible.

This system handles tables, figures and appedixes slightly differently as they are uploaded separately from the rest of the manuscript. Also, a table of contents is automatically generated to help with the organization.

Automate reminders (106 auto emails, 24 reminders) are used to help manage and prompt users’ activities. All reminders and prompts are customizable, and allows for a better organization of the process. This ensures that each step is completed as reminders will continue until said step is completed.

Log of correspondence and events for manuscript creates a record of all activities relating to one given manuscript.

Creation/organization of special features allows them to track the status of special features and of manuscripts.

Invoicing interface allows for automated and recording of invoices and payments. This way, multiple users are able to track payments and any outstanding payments are sent a reminder.


Ecology and Society has experienced first hand that customizations to the software correlates in achieving their goals. Though they were unable to use OJS for their journal, they have developed their own software that will continue to aid them fulfill their goals.

Is there a possibility to go back to the newer version (v.2) of OJS? It could be possibility.

No comments: