Leading scholarly publisher Pensoft has announced a strategic collaboration with R Discovery, the AI-powered research discovery platform by Cactus Communications, a renowned science communications and technology company. This partnership aims to revolutionize the accessibility and discoverability of research articles published by Pensoft, making them more readily available on R Discovery to its over three million researchers across the globe.
R Discovery, acclaimed for its advanced algorithms and an extensive database boasting over 120 million scholarly articles, empowers researchers with intelligent search capabilities and personalized recommendations. Through its innovative Reading Feed feature, R Discovery delivers tailored suggestions in a format reminiscent of social media, identifying articles based on individual research interests. This not only saves time but also keeps researchers updated with the latest and most relevant studies in their field.
One of R Discovery’s standout features is its ability to provide paper summaries, audio readings, and language translation, enabling users to quickly assess a paper’s relevance and enhance their research reading experience significantly.
With over 2.5 million app downloads and upwards of 80 million journal articles featured, the R Discovery database is one of the largest scholarly content repositories.
“At Pensoft, we do realise that Open Science is much more than cost-free access to research outputs. It is also about easier discoverability and reusability, or, in other words, how likely it is for the reader to come across a particular scientific publication and, as a result, cite and build on those findings in his/her own studies. By feeding the content of our journals into R Discovery, we’re further facilitating the discoverability of the research done and shared by the authors who trust us with their work,” said ARPHA’s and Pensoft’s founder and CEO Prof. Lyubomir Penev.
Abhishek Goel, Co-Founder and CEO of Cactus Communications, commented on the collaboration, “We are delighted to work with Pensoft and offer researchers easy access to the publisher’s high-quality research articles on R Discovery. This is a milestone in our quest to support academia in advancing open science that can help researchers improve the world.”
So far, R Discovery has successfully established partnership with over 20 publishers, enhancing the platform’s extensive repository of scholarly content. By joining forces with R Discovery, Pensoft solidifies its dedication to making scholarly publications from its open-access, peer-reviewed journal portfolio easily discoverable and accessible.
Where freshwater rivers meet seas and oceans lies a scientifically intriguing and ecologically important type of ecosystem. As estuarine ecosystems provide various and diverse services to humanity and the planet at large, including food security and natural buffers and filters in the events of storms and water pollution, there has been an increasing need to facilitate and support the exchange of research findings and ideas related to their conservation and sustainable management by means of new-age technology and novel approaches.
This is how a team of renowned and passionate scientists, headed by Dr. Soufiane Haddout (Ibn Tofail University, Morocco), took the decision to launch a brand new open-access, peer-reviewed scholarly, aptly titled Estuarine Management and Technologies. They explain the rationale behind the journal in a new editorial, published to mark the official launch of the journal.
Having already worked closely with the scientific publisher and technology provider Pensoft on the fine touches of the concept of the new academic title, the team opted to use Pensoft’s publishing platform of ARPHA. As a result, the new journal provides a seamless, end-to-end publishing experience, encompassing all stages between manuscript submission and article publication, indexation, dissemination and permanent archiving.
Within the collaboration between the journal’s and Pensoft’s teams, Estuarine Management and Technologies will take advantage of various services offered by the ARPHA platform, including full-text automated export in machine-readable and minable JATS-XML format to over 60 relevant databases for scientific literature and data; semantically enriched and multimedia-friendly publications accessible in HTML; and rich statistics about the outreach and usage of each published article and its elements (e.g. figures and tables), including views, downloads, online mentions, and citations.
The publishing platform’s in-house indexing team will continue their close work with the journal’s editors to ensure that the scholarly outlet retains highest quality and integrity, so that it covers the criteria for indexation at additional key databases that require individual evaluation. In the meantime, ARPHA’s technical and editorial teams will provide technical and customer support to authors, editors and reviewers. The marketing and promotion team of ARPHA will be also joining forces with the journal to boost the visibility and image of the new academic title.
During the launch phase, content accepted for publication following double-blinded peer review will be made public right away for free to both authors and readers, where the journal will be operating under a continuous publication model.
Estuarine Management and Technologies welcomes studies from a wide spectrum of disciplines, including physics, chemistry, geology, biology, and hydrology, with a focus on interdisciplinarity, multifaceted approaches and holistic perspectives.
“One crucial aspect of estuarine management is the sustainable use of resources to balance conservation with human needs. Striking this delicate equilibrium requires a holistic understanding of the intricate web of ecological interactions within estuarine environments. Advanced technologies, such as isotopic techniques, environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis, can provide insights into the biodiversity of estuarine ecosystems with unprecedented precision,”
Amongst the unique features of the new journal are several additional publication types, such as Expert View, Video Paper, Rapid Communication, Mini Review and Estuarine Scientists, where these have been added to traditional publication outputs (e.g. Research Paper, Review Paper, Data Paper) to foster collaboration between researchers and other stakeholders in the field.
The journal is also running an annual Trailblazing Talent in Estuarine Management and Technologies award intended to recognise and encourage young scientists and engineers at the forefront of cutting-edge research in estuarine management and technologies. Nominations and applications are currently open.
Estuarine Management and Technologies also welcomes applications for guest editors in order to further expand the journal and its immediate expert network.
“I am delighted to see the Estuarine Management and Technologies journal already live on the ARPHA platform. We are confident that this particularly important, yet so far quite overlooked area of study will greatly benefit from this highly promising journal,”
says Prof. Lyubomir Penev, CEO and founder of Pensoft and ARPHA.
“I am pleased to announce the launch of the Estuarine Management and Technologies journal on ARPHA, a decision rooted in our commitment to advancing the field. We believe that this strategic partnership will not only enhance the visibility and accessibility of our journal, but will also foster collaboration and innovation within the estuarine management and technologies community. We expect this alliance to be a catalyst for scholarly excellence, providing a robust platform for researchers and practitioners to share insights, address challenges, and propel the field forward. Together with ARPHA, we are confident in the positive impact our journal will have on shaping the future of estuarine management and technologies.”
says Dr. Soufiane Haddout, Editor-in-Chief and founder, Estuarine Management and Technologies.
You can visit the journal website and sign up for its newsletter from the homepage.
2023 was a fantastic year for ARPHA, marked by a series of significant milestones and innovations in our scholarly publishing mission. As we reflect on the past year, we are excited to share the major strides taken by our dedicated in-house team to provide the best customised, end-to-end services for our clients.
Expansion of the ARPHA journal family
ARPHA welcomed new and diverse titles into its fold, demonstrating a commitment to promoting open-access research across many disciplines.
Catering to cutting-edge research in the field of material sciences, this journal launched on ARPHA in March. Atomic Layer Deposition targets scientists specialising in all aspects of Atomic Layer Deposition and related alternating vapour phase technologies.
This integration enhances the understanding of articles’ scientific impact and reuse, offering valuable insights to both readers and authors. With scite.ai, every citation is categorised as Supporting, Contrasting, or Mentioning, based on the context of surrounding sentences within the citing publication.
Enhancements and accolades
Our continuous efforts in tech infrastructure and design services yielded notable achievements and recognitions.
ARPHAPDF layout revamp
Research papers published in ZooKeys demonstrating the former (left) and the current (right) article layout seen in the PDF format.
We introduced a modernised layout for the PDF format of articles, enriching the reading experience. The new format focuses on readability and accessibility, implementing many changes requested by the scientific community.
The Bulgarian Society of Cardiology’s journal’s inclusion in Scopus marked a significant achievement. The journal met several criteria, including: immaculate peer review and editorial processes; a good and consistent yearly publication volume; high-quality and user-friendly website and infrastructure; well-pronounced internationality and inclusivity; and considerable readership and citation rates.
One Ecosystem‘s selection for inclusion in this index was a testament to its quality and integrity. The news means that One Ecosystem might see its very first Journal Impact Factor (JIF) as early as 2024, following the latest revision of the metric’s policies Clarivate announced last July. According to the update, all journals from the Web of Science Core Collection are now featured in the Journal Citation Reports, and thereby eligible for a JIF.
Keeping pace with scholarly publishing trends
Staying at the forefront of scholarly publishing, we continuously adapted to the latest best practices and addressed our clients’ needs.
ARPHA’s advisory role in journal comparison service
Pensoft’s involvement in developing the Journal Comparison Service by cOAlition S reflected our commitment to shaping the future of open-access publishing. The service freely and securely enables libraries, library consortia, and funders to understand if the fees they pay are commensurate with the publication services delivered.
EU’s conclusions on OA scholarly publishing
Our official statement aligned with the EU’s stance, emphasising our support for open-access initiatives. We highlighted the need to promptly address existing issues in the publishing system, so that healthy competition can thrive and contribute to a reality safe from monopolies and corporate capture.
As we progress into 2024, ARPHA remains dedicated to enhancing the scientific impact and visibility of our journals, leveraging technology and collaborations to serve the ever-evolving needs of the scholarly community. We thank our partners, clients, and contributors for being part of this exciting journey as we look forward to another successful year.
For news from & about ARPHA and the journals using the platform, you can follow us on Twitter and Linkedin.
Pensoft has announced a partnership with Zendy, a leading online platform for free and affordable academic content. This collaboration marks a significant milestone in both companies’ efforts to make scientific research more accessible and widely disseminated.
Zendy has an extensive digital library that provides users with easy access to a wealth of academic materials, including journals, articles, and e-books. Their free online library, Zendy Open, collates quality open-access research and is available worldwide.
Zendy’s website, featuring key information about the platform.
Pensoft’s journals are powered by ARPHA and cover various fields of science, emphasising biodiversity, environmental, and ecological studies. By making content available on Zendy, Pensoft aims to support the academic community’s needs and foster an environment of discovery.
Zendy’s innovative platform, with user-friendly interface and advanced AI-powered features, enhances the research experience by simplifying the discovery and retrieval of relevant academic content. This aligns with Pensoft’s commitment to embracing technological advancements to improve the accessibility and impact of scientific research.
For more information about Zendy, visit their website. Follow Pensoft on X and Facebook to stay up to date with the publisher.
Esteemed entomologist specialising in true flies (order Diptera) and cybertaxonomy, Dr Torsten Dikow was appointed as the new Editor-in-Chief of the leading open-access peer-reviewed journal in systematic zoology and biodiversity ZooKeys.
Today, Dikow is a Research Entomologist and Curator of Diptera and Aquatic Insects at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (Washington, DC, USA), where his research interests encompass the diversity and evolutionary history of the superfamily Asiloidea – or asiloid flies – comprising curious insect groups, such as the assassin flies / robber flies and the mydas flies. Amongst an extensive list of research publications, Dikow’s studies on the diversity, biology, distribution and systematics of asiloid flies include the description of 60 species of assassin flies alone, and the redescription of even more through comprehensive taxonomic revisions.
During his years as a postdoc at the Field Museum (Illinois, USA), Dikow was earnestly involved in the broader activities of the Encyclopedia of Life through its Biodiversity Synthesis Center (BioSynC) and the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL). There, he would personally establish contacts with smaller natural history museums and scientific societies, and encourage them to grant digitisation permissions to the BHL for in-copyright scientific publications. Dikow is a champion of cybertaxonomic tools and making biodiversity data accessible from both natural history collections and publications. He has been named a Biodiversity Open Data Ambassador by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).
“Publishing taxonomic revisions and species descriptions in an open-access, innovative journal to make data digitally accessible is one way we taxonomists can and need to add to the biodiversity knowledge base. ZooKeys has been a journal in support of this goal since day one. I am excited to lend my expertise and enthusiasm to further this goal and continue the development to publish foundational biodiversity research, species discoveries, and much more in the zoological field,”
ZooKeys is a peer-reviewed, open-access, rapidly disseminated journal launched to accelerate research and free information exchange in taxonomy, phylogeny, biogeography and evolution of animals. ZooKeys aims to apply the latest trends and methodologies in publishing and preservation of digital materials to meet the highest possible standards of the cybertaxonomy era.
ZooKeys publishes papers in systematic zoology containing taxonomic/faunistic data on any taxon of any geological age from any part of the world with no limit to manuscript size. To respond to the current trends in linking biodiversity information and synthesising the knowledge through technology advancements, ZooKeys also publishes papers across other taxon-based disciplines, such as ecology, molecular biology, genomics, evolutionary biology, palaeontology, behavioural science, bioinformatics, etc.
As part of this new partnership, 20 journals published by Pensoft – including the publisher’s flagship titles ZooKeys, PhytoKeys, MycoKeys, Biodiversity Data Journal and Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO Journal) amongst others – will now have their content automatically added to ResearchGate upon publication to benefit from enhanced visibility and discoverability through ResearchGate’s innovative Journal Home offering. These journals will all have dedicated profiles and be prominently represented on all associated article pages on ResearchGate, as well as all other relevant touch points throughout the network.
As part of this new partnership, 20 journals published by Pensoft will now have their content automatically added to ResearchGate upon publication to benefit from enhanced visibility and discoverability through ResearchGate’s innovative Journal Home offering.
Journal Home provides a unique opportunity for Pensoft to connect its authors with their readers. The new journal profiles on ResearchGate will provide a central location for each journal, enabling researchers to learn more, discover new article content, and understand how, through their network, they are connected to the journal’s community of authors and editors. Authors of these journals additionally benefit from having their articles automatically added to their ResearchGate profile page, giving them access to metrics, including who is reading and citing their research. These rich insights will also enable Pensoft to build a deeper understanding of the communities engaging with its journals.
“Pensoft is delighted to be working with ResearchGate to provide an even greater service to our authors and readers. ResearchGate offers an innovative way for us to grow the reach and visibility of our content, while also giving us a way to better understand and engage our author and reader audiences,”
said Prof Lyubomir Penev, CEO and founder of Pensoft.
“We couldn’t be happier to see Pensoft embark on this new partnership with ResearchGate. Journal Home will not only enable Pensoft authors to build visibility for their work, but provide them and Pensoft with greater insights about the communities engaging with that research. I look forward to seeing this new collaboration develop.”
said Sören Hofmayer, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at ResearchGate.
ResearchGate is the professional network for researchers. Over 25 million researchers use researchgate.net to share and discover research, build their networks, and advance their careers. Based in Berlin, ResearchGate was founded in 2008. Its mission is to connect the world of science and make research open to all.
In the ever-evolving landscape of academic publishing, comprehensive and informative citation metrics can make all the difference. Pensoft, the scholarly publisher and technology provider, and the innovative scite.ai platform, have partnered to provide a novel service that is looking to change the way readers perceive and utilise citation data.
scite.ai has been making waves in the scholarly world with its pioneering approach to citation metrics. At the heart of their offering are two distinctive badges, elegantly displayed on the article’s page to let readers gain deeper insights into how a publication is cited by other indexed works.
Each citation is categorized as Supporting, Contrasting, or Mentioning, based on the context of surrounding sentences within the citing publication. This way, anyone can explore not just how many times a document has been cited but also why.
The feature is already accessible under the Metrics tab of any research paper published by a Pensoft journal. The first scite.ai badge displays the number of citations, breaking them down into Supporting, Contrasting, or Mentioning; the second one offers insights on the sections of an article where the citations were featured.
At Pensoft, we are confident that this new functionality enhances the discoverability and contextual richness of articles published in our journals. The integration also empowers Pensoft’s users to gain deeper insights into their research. Whether you’re a scientist seeking to validate your research or a reader in search of authoritative sources, this new feature promises to enrich your academic journey.
Stay up to date with the latest integrations and features available at journals published by Pensoft by following ARPHA Platform on Twitter and Linkedin.
Earlier this year, in a pilot project, the teams of high-tech startup Knowledge Pixels and open-access scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft released a novel workflow to publicly share and future-proof scientific findings by means of nanopublications.
Nanopublications complement human-created narratives of scientific knowledge with elementary, machine-actionable, simple and straightforward scientific statements that prompt sharing, finding, accessibility, citability and interoperability. By making it easier to trace individual findings back to their origin and/or follow-up updates, it also helps to better understand the provenance of biodiversity data.
These semantic statements expressed in community-agreed terms, openly available through links to controlled vocabularies, ontologies and standards, are not only freely accessible to everyone in both human-readable and machine-actionable formats, but also easy-to-digest for computer algorithms and AI-powered assistants.
Now, the collaborators – also partly supported by the Horizon 2020-funded project BiCIKL (abbreviation for Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library) – have built up on a pilot workflow already launched in the Biodiversity Data Journal – to create a specialised nanopublication solution to address the need for FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) data in the biodiversity science domain.
In their studies, researchers need to use and refer to extensive and diverse biodiversity data at once, e.g. information about groups of organisms and their classification, collections, authors and genetic sequences. However, those would normally be scattered across a vast number of articles or belong to dissociated databases. This is a major and widely recognised issue in biodiversity science, which is currently stagnating progress not only in building up the world’s knowledge about the natural world around us, but also impeding biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration.
Using the newly released nanopublication workflow, biodiversity researchers can now incorporate nanopublications within their manuscripts to future-proof their most important assertions on biological taxa and organisms or statements about associations of taxa or organisms and their environments.
In addition, the authors can also create standalone nanopublications that comment or derive from already existing research journals published in an academic journal or another citable source (e.g. expert database), regardless of the author of the source.
“With the nanopublication format, authors make sure that key scientific statements – the ones underpinning their research work – are efficiently communicated in a machine-actionable and FAIR manner. Thus, their contributions to science become future-proof for a reality driven by AI technology,”
explains Prof. Lyubomir Penev, founder and CEO at Pensoft.
“Biodiversity is the ideal field for this pilot exploring the next steps in scientific publishing. Biodiversity and its neighbouring fields have produced a remarkable number of high-quality resources, such as controlled vocabularies and databases, which we can now build upon. Moreover, many Biodiversity researchers have shown to be very open to such new methods and are enthusiastic about working together to build a more powerful ecosystem for scientific knowledge sharing, and we share their enthusiasm,”
says Tobias Kuhn, CTO and co-founder of Knowledge Pixels.
In our opinion, it is of utmost importance to promptly address the existing issues in the publishing system, where healthy competition can thrive and contribute to a reality safe from potential mono-/oligopolies and corporate capture.
We firmly believe that only an industry that leaves room for variously-scaled pioneers and startups is capable of leading a long-awaited shift to a high-quality, transparent, open and equitable scholarly publishing landscape aligning with the principles of FAIRness.
Yet, we shall acknowledge that the industry has so far failed to eradicate the most fundamental flaw of the past. In the beginning, the main aim of the Open Access (OA) movement was removing the barrier to access to publicly funded scientific knowledge and scrapping costly subscription fees.
Recently, however, the industry’s biggest players merely replaced it with a barrier to publication by introducing costly Article Processing Charges (APCs) and “big deals” signed between top commercial publishers and academic institutions or national library consortia.
As a result, small and middle-sized open-access publishers, which have, ironically, been the ones to lead the change and transition to OA by default and oppose the large commercial publishers’ agenda, were effectively pushed out of the scene. Further, we are currently witnessing a situation where OA funds are mostly going to the ones who used to oppose OA.
So, we strongly supportmeasures that ensure an inclusive and FAIR competition, which could in turn prompt quality, sustainability and reasonable pricing in scholarly publishing. In our opinion, an environment like this would actually foster equality and equity amongst all publishers, either small, large,non-profit, commercial, institutionalor society-based.
One of the main points of the conclusions is a recommendation for a general use of the Diamond OA model, where no charges apply to either researchers or readers. While we fully support the Diamond OA model, we wish to stress on the fact that considerable concerns about the sustainability of existing Diamond OA models remain.
On the one hand, there are OA agreements (also known as read-and-publish, publish-and-read, transformative agreements etc.), typically signed between top publishers and top research institutions/consortia. This OA model is often mistakenly referred to as “Diamond OA”, since authors affiliated with those institutions are not concerned with providing the APC payment – either by paying themselves or applying for funding. Instead, the APCs are paid centrally. Most often, however, journals published by those publishers are still directly charging authors who are not members of the signed institutions with, in our opinion, excessive APCs. Even if those APCs are covered by a signed institution, these are still considerable funds that are being navigated away from actual research work.
On the other hand, there are independent researchers, in addition to smaller or underfunded institutions, typically – yet far from exclusively – located in the developing world, who are effectively being discriminated against.
In conclusion, this type of contracts are shutting away smaller actors from across academia just like they used to be under the subscription-based model. Hereby, we wish to express our full agreement with the Council of the European Union’s conclusion, that “it is essential to avoid situations where researchers are limited in their choice of publication channels due to financial capacities rather than quality criteria”.
There are also several alternative OA models designed to lessen the burden of publication costs for both individual researchers, libraries and journal owners. However, each comes with its own drawbacks. Here – we believe – is where the freedom of choice is perhaps most needed, in order to keep researchers’ and publishers’ best interests at heart.
One of those alternatives is open-source publishing platforms, which – by design – are well-positioned to deliver actual Diamond OA for journals, while maintaining independence from commercial publishers. However, the operational model of this type of publishing and hosting platforms would most often only provide a basic infrastructure for editors to publish and preserve content. As a result, the model might require extra staff and know-how, while remaining prone to human errors. Additionally, a basic technological infrastructure could impede the FAIRness of the published output, which demands advanced and automated workflows to appropriately format, tag semantically and export scientific outputs promptly after publication.
Similarly, large funders and national consortia have put their own admirable efforts to step up and provide another option for authors of research and their institutions. Here, available funds are allocated to in-house Diamond OA publishing platforms that have originally been designed according to the policies and requirements of the respective funding programme or state. However, this type of support – while covering a large group of authors (e.g. based in a certain country, funded under a particular programme, and/or working in a specific research field) – still leaves many behind, including multinational or transdisciplinary teams. Additionally, due to the focus on ‘mass supply’, most of these OA publishing platforms have so far been unable to match their target user base with the appropriate scale of services and support.
What we have devised and developed at Pensoft with the aim to contribute to the pool of available choices is an OA publishing model, whose aim is to balance cost affordability, functionality, reliability, transparency and long-term sustainability.
To do so, we work with journal owners, institutions and societies to create their own business and operational model for their journals that matches two key demands of the community: (1) free to read and free to publish OA model, and, (2) services and infrastructure suited for Diamond OA at a much lower cost, compared to those offered by major commercial publishers.
In our opinion, independent small publishers differentiate from both large commercial publishers and publicly funded providers by relying to a greater extent on innovative technology and close employee collaboration.
As a result, they are capable of delivering significantly more customisable solutions – including complete packages of automated and human-provided services – and, ultimately, achieving considerably lower-cost publishing solutions. Likewise, they might be better suited to provide much more flexible business models, so that libraries and journal owners can easily support (subsets of or all) authors to the best of their capabilities.
While we realise that there is no faultless way to high-quality, transparent, open and equitable scholarly publishing, we are firm supporters of an environment, where healthy competition prompts the continuous invention and evolution of tools and workflows.
Our own motivation to invest in scholarly publishing technology and its continuous refinement and advancement, coupled with a number of in-house and manually provided services, which is reflected in our APC policies, aligns with the Council’s statement that “scientific practices for ensuring reproducibility, transparency, sharing, rigour and collaboration are important means of achieving a publishing system responsive to the challenges of democratic, modern and digitalised societies.”
Our thinking is that – much like in any other industry – what drives innovation and revolutionary technologies is competition. To remain healthy and even self-policing, however, this competition needs to embrace transparency, equity and inclusivity.
Last, but not least, researchers need to have the freedom to choose from plenty of options when deciding where and how to publish their work!
We understand that it might be tempting for managing editors at society and institutional journals to opt to stick to what has proved to be working again and again over the decades. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, right?
Yet, here comes the elephant in the room: science is all about staying ahead of your time and constantly evolving.
Even though there are scientists who easily fall in love with the ink-scented charm of a century-old journal, there are many more who have long turned those down in favour of commercial journals that have never seen the pins of a commercial printing press.
The reasons could be anything from the topic of their manuscripts missing from the otherwise extensive Scope and focus list, to an annoying submission portal that simply fails to deliver their cover letter to the right inbox.
Don’t get us wrong: we do hold dear so many publication titles that have been around throughout our lives and before us. This is exactly why we felt like sharing a list of the most common mistakes – in our experience – that may distance today’s active and prolific scientists from smaller society and institutional journals.
Not following the trends in scholarly publishing
Given the high-tech and interconnected society that we are living in, it comes as no surprise that the past few decades have seen as many shifts and turns in how researchers produce, share and reuse their scientific outputs as the previous several generations put together.
From digital-first journals to Open Access by default; from PDF files to HTML articles enriched with relevant hyperlinked content and machine-interpretable publications; from seamlessly integrated preprints platforms to ‘alternative’ scientific publications from across the research process. The room for innovation in the academic publishing world seems as infinite as never before.
On the other hand, endless possibilities call for new requirements, policies and standards, which in turn should be updated, revised and replaced in no less timely manner.
In a bid to bring down barriers to scientific knowledge, we have observed all key stakeholders – including major funders of research – demanding mandatory immediate open access to published research. Initiatives, such as the Plan S by cOAlition S and their call for publishers to communicate their APC policies publicly, for example, are making sure that scholarly publishing is as transparent as possible.
Similarly, the OA Switchboard: a community-driven initiative with the mission to serve as a central information exchange hub between stakeholders about open access publications, makes it easier for both authors of research and journal owners to efficiently report to funders about how their resources are spent.
Today, amongst the key talking points you can find research integrity, including a wide range of internal practices and policies meant to prove the authenticity and trustworthiness of scholarly publishers and – by association – their journals and content. Another thing we will be hearing about more and more often is AI tools and assistants.
Failure to abide by the latest good practices and principles could mean that a journal appears abandoned, predatory or – in the case of legacy journals – possibly hijacked.
While it is tough to stay up to date with the latest trends, subscription to the newsletters and communication channels of the likes of OASPA (have you checked their Open Access journals toolkit yet?), cOAlition S and ISMTE are definitely a good place to start from.
Not revisiting journal websites content- and technology-wise
As they learn and research trends in the scholarly publishing world, journal managers need to be ready to carefully consider and apply those novelties that are either mandatory, advisable or useful for their own case.
Additionally, they need to work closely with the editorial and customer support teams to stay alert for any repeated complaints and requests coming from their authors and other journal users.
Today, for example, most online traffic happens on mobile devices, rather than desktop computers. So, is a journal’s website and its article layout (including PDFs) mobile-friendly? On the other hand, has the journal’s website been optimised enough to run smoothly even when working under the pressure of dozens of tabs open in the same browser?
Another area that needs continuous monitoring concerns journal policies and user guidelines. Are those up-to-date? Are they clear, easily accessible and efficiently communicated on the journal website?
From an academic perspective, is the journal’s scope and focus – as described on the website – explicitly mentioning today’s ‘hot’ and emerging areas of research in the field? Keep in mind that these topics do not only make a journal’s About section look attractive to the website visitor. These are the research topics where its potential authors are most likely investing their efforts in and where the funders of research spend their resources, as we speak.
An outdated technological infrastructure might create an impression of a dodgy publication title. Failure to find key information – including a journal’s Open Access policy or an exhaustive list of the research topics considered for publication – could be why potential authors turn down a journal upon their first website visit.
Not making the most of journal indexing
To have a journal indexed in as many major and relevant to its scientific field is not only a matter of prestige.
Most importantly, making a journal’s content accessible from multiple sources – each frequented by its own users – naturally increases the likelihood that researchers will discover and later use and cite it in their own works.
Additionally, being able to access the journal from trusted and diligently maintained databases – such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) – is a reassurance for potential authors and readers that the journal is indeed authentic.
Relatively recent platforms like Altmetric and Dimensions were launched to track ‘alternative’ attention and usage of published research, including mentions on social media, news media and official documents – all of which fall outside the category of academic publications, but, nonetheless have their own remarkable societal impact.
The good news is that many indexers – including Altmetric and Dimensions – are integrated on a publisher-/platform-level, which means that journal managers and owners do not need to do anything to make their content more accessible and transparent, as long as their title is part of a professional scholarly publisher’s or a publishing platform’s portfolio.
However, there are databases like Scopus and Web of Science that demand from journals to submit their own applications. Usually, such application processes demand a considerable amount of manual input and efforts before the necessary steps are completed and the application – approved.
Often, these processes take several years to complete, since journals may fail to cover the eligibility criteria for acceptance. In fact it is not rare for a journal to never qualify. Note that most major indexes impose embargo on journals that have been refused acceptance, so that they may take time to resolve their issues before reapplying a few years later.
Failure to get a journal indexed by key scientific databases negatively impacts the discoverability and citability of its content. Further, it may also harm the reputation and even legitimacy of the title within academia.
Not catering for authors’ financial struggles
Funding scarcity and inequalities are a major concern within academia and the scientific world, but even more so in particular branches of science. Moreover, the issue cascades through all actors involved, including funders of research, research institutions, scientists, librarians, scholarly publishers and journal owners.
Unfortunately, it is way too common to have researchers turn away from their favourite journals – including those they have themselves committed to by becoming active editors or reviewers – due to inability to cover even a very reasonable article processing charge.
No less unfortunate is the scenario where a privately working or underfunded scientist opts for a paywalled publication in a subscription or a hybrid journal that has essentially traded the public good for thousands of euro at a time.
On the other hand, scholarly publishing does incur various costs on the journal’s and the publisher’s sides as well, since the publishing and all related activities (e.g. production, indexation, dissemination and advertisement) – necessary for a journal and its content to retain quality, sustainability and relevance in the modern day – all demand a lot of technological resources, manual input and expertise.
A seemingly easy solution adopted by many large institutions is to sign up agreements with a few of the major publishing houses and (a selection of) their top titles. However, such practices only deepen the great divide, while killing off smaller journals that simply cannot handle their own annual costs.
The ideal is to have enough resources provided by the institution or society behind the journal to run their journal(s) under a Diamond Open Access model, where both publishing and accessing publications are free to all by default.
However, most institutions are themselves under substantial financial pressure, and need to work on a tight budget. Further, it is often impossible to estimate the publication volume of a journal within a time frame as short as the next calendar year.
A good solution in cases of limited budgets, is for a journal to work up its own model, where the available institutional resources either go for only a part of the APCs (but still enough to substantially help the authors!); a particular subset of authors (e.g. researchers affiliated with the institution); or, alternatively, finding options to navigate funds from already fully funded authors away to their less privileged peers. In the best-case scenario, any custom operational plan would remain flexible in case of a major change in circumstances.
On top of more or less standard waivers and discounts available to, for example, authors from developing countries (according to the World Bank) and retired scientists, we highly recommend journals to provide additional waivers for additional groups of underprivileged authors, such as unemployed, early career researchers or otherwise marginalised groups (e.g. political immigrants). A good practice we often recommend to client journals is to pledge loyalty to their journal users by regularly providing APC waivers as a recognition for their continuous contributions.
Not engaging with the editors
Apart from its name appearing in the most trustworthy databases, a journal catches the eye of new authors thanks to its ambassadors. In a world more or less run by popular influencers, it comes as no surprise that a high-profile scientist who takes a stand either for or against a particular publication title can easily tip the scales for a hesitant colleague.
Now, think about all editors at a journal. Given they have already agreed to commit their time and work to it, they must be already fond of it, don’t they? Then, there are all those experts affiliated with the institution or society behind the journal. Even if not necessarily involved in the editorial work, they must also be fans and friends of the journal by association.
Caption: Editor-in-Chief Prof Dr Benjamin Burkhard and Deputy Editor-in-Chief Prof Davide Geneletti wearing One Ecosystem-branded T-shirts at the Ecosystem Services Partnership World Conference (Hannover, 2019).
So, here you have a whole community ready and happy to advocate for the journal if given the chance and a simple reminder that a few words of theirs would go a long way. Further, all of them have their own professional fellowship, which often includes dozens of budding early-career researchers who are looking up to them as mentors.
That said, way too often we see good legacy journals that are simply not reaping the benefits of the community they have already created. We cannot stress it enough how crucial it is to regularly invoke that sense of community among journal editors.
At the end of the day, a journal’s management team is in the best position to act as a link between the journal and its editors, as well as the publisher and its marketing team, who should be able to assist any communication efforts with the right platforms, tools and resources.
If a journal is not efficiently tapping into its immediate network of advocates and ambassadors, it does not only miss out on a great opportunity to extend its network of loyal readers and authors. Indeed, it may be even risking losing its ground within its very own affiliates. If it was a good publication source, it would have been supported by at least its in-house team, wouldn’t it?
Not having a varied communication strategy
Speaking of awareness – or the lack of it, thereof – we are also sad to see many society and institutional journals overlooking the communication of scientific content to their journal’s immediate audiences, as well as the public at large.
On one hand, there is the issue of other experts duplicating others’ efforts by simply not being aware of their colleagues’ work, since they have not run into that particular study at the time of writing. On the other, there’s the layperson that is way too often falling into the ‘fake news’ trap, all because the relevant science has failed to make it to the appropriate news media channels.
Given the overwhelming volume of scholarly as well as popular science information, it is the primary source of the content that needs to take measures to efficiently communicate it to the interested audiences.
After all, simply having research findings ingested by academic databases is rarely enough to reach scientists in the field who are not actively working at this time, thus not spending enough time querying those aggregates. Similarly, one cannot rely on a layperson to fully comprehend scientific jargon, even if they wish to double-check a random science-y claim on the Internet with its original source.
Alternatively, when scientists stumble across attractive findings while scrolling down on social media in their free time, they might be more likely to think of the same paper next time they are working on their own studies.
Meanwhile, laypeople might be less likely to blindly trust information about the latest medical breakthrough coming from a stranger on the Internet if they had already read about the research behind the story in several trusted news media outlets, who have verified their news stories.
Failure to actively and efficiently communicate content published in the journal using various platforms (e.g. journal newsletters, dedicated social media accounts, press announcements, scientific conferences) and the appropriate for their audiences language might pave the way for large-scale misinformation, in addition to decreased discoverability and citability of published content, and journals at large.
ARPHA Platform was designed to provide a highly flexible, customisable and accessible end-to-end publishing solution specially targeted at smaller journals run by scientific institutions and societies. In ARPHA, client journals and their journal managers will find a complete set of highly automated and manually provided services meant to assist societies and institutions in the production, but also in the management and further development of their journals. We invite you to explore our wide range of services on the ARPHA website.