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.
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.
For news from & about ARPHA and the journals using the platform, you can follow us on Twitter and Linkedin.
Readers at some of the journals published by Pensoft, who have downloaded/printed a publication or ordered a physical copy of a journal issue over the last few weeks, might be in for a surprise concerning the layout of the PDF format of the articles.
Even though it’s been years since online publishing has become the norm in how we are consuming information – including scientific publications – we understand that academia is still very much fond of traditional, often paper-based, article layout format: the one you use when accessing a PDF file or a print copy, rather than directly scrolling down through the HTML version of the article.
Even if today large orders of printed volumes from overseas are the exception, rather than the rule, we know we have readers of ours who regularly print manuscripts at home or savе them on their devices. Trends like this have already led to many journals first abandoning the physical- for digital-first, then transitioning to digital-only publication format.
As we speak, readers are accessing PDF files from much higher-quality desktops, in order to skim through as much content as possible.
In the meantime, authors are relying on greater-quality cameras to document their discoveries, while using advanced computational tools capable of generating and analysing extra layers of precise data. While producing more exhaustive research, however, it is also of key importance that their manuscripts are processed and published as rapidly as possible.
So, let’s run through the updates and give you our reasoning for their added value to readers and authors.
Revised opening page
One of the major changes is the one to the format of the first page. By leaving some blank space on the left, we found a dedicated place for important article metadata, i.e. academic editor, date of manuscript submission / acceptance / publication, citation details and licence. As a result, we “cleaned up” the upper part of the page, so that it can better highlight the authors and their affiliations.
Bottom line: The new layout provides a better structure to the opening page to let readers find key article metadata at a glance.
Expand as much – or as little – as comfortable
As you might know, journals published by Pensoft have been coming in different formats and sizes. Now, we have introduced the standard A4 page size, where the text is laid in a single column that has been slightly indented to the right, as seen above. Whenever a figure or a table is used in a manuscript, however, it is expanded onto the whole width of the page.
Before giving our reasons why, let’s see what were the specific problems that we address.
Case study 1
Some of our signature journals, including ZooKeys, PhytoKeys and MycoKeys, have become quite recognisable with their smaller-than-average B5 format, widely appreciated by people who would often be seen carrying around a copy during a conference or an international flight.
However, in recent times, authors began to embrace good practices in research like open sharing of data and code, which resulted in larger and more complex tables. Similarly, their pocket-sized cameras would capture much higher-resolution photos capable of revealing otherwise minute morphological characters. Smaller page size would also mean that often there would be pages between an in-text reference of a figure or a table and the visual itself.
So, here we faced an obvious question: shall we deprive their readers from all those detailed insights into the published studies?
Yet, the A4 format brought up another issue: the lines were too long for the eye comfort of their readers.
What they did was organise their pages into two-column format. While this sounds like a good and quite obvious decision, the format – best known from print newspapers – is pretty inconvenient when accessed digitally. Since the readers would like to zoom in on the PDF page or simply access the article on mobile, they will need to scroll up and down several times per page.
In addition, the production of a two-column text is technologically more challenging, which results in extra production time.
Bottom line: The new layout allows journals to not sacrifice image quality for text readability and vice versa. As a bonus, authors enjoy faster publication for their papers.
If you have a closer look at the PDF file, you would notice that print-ready papers have also switched to a more simplistic – yet easier to the eye – font. Again, the update corresponds to today’s digital-native user behaviour, where readers often access PDF files from devices of various resolutions and skim through the text, as opposed to studying its content in detail.
In fact, the change is hardly new, since the same font has long been utilised for the webpages (HTML format) of the publications across all journals.
Bottom line: The slightly rounder and simplified font prompts readability, thereby allowing for faster and increased consumption of content.
What’s the catch? How about characters and APCs?
While we have been receiving a lot of positive feedback from editors, authors and readers, there has been a concern that the updates would increase the publication charges, wherever these are estimated based on page numbers.
Having calculated the lines and characters in the new layout format, we would like to assure you that there is no increase in the numbers of characters or words between the former and current layout formats. In fact, due to the additional number of lines fitting in an A4 page as opposed to B5, authors might be even up for a deal.
For news from & about ARPHA and the journals using the platform, you can follow us on Twitter and Linkedin.
Long past are the days where a journal’s role was to merely provide a means to getting a piece of research work out of a drawer and into the wide world. Today, a modern journal with demonstrable online presence and a distinct ‘character’ may as well be seen as a social network in its own right, which brings together a community of frequent readers, authors, reviewers and dedicated editors.
At ARPHA, we believe that this is the time to support and give voice to these very special communities by getting to know each other and sharing and celebrating their achievements. After all, it’s strong and active communities that foster collaboration, recognition and real-life impact.
Revamped journal newsletters
Journal readers subscribe to New Article alertsto stay updated about new research papers as they are published in a trusted scholarly outlet. Yet, having subscribed to notifications from a particular title – or a selection of similar titles – means that those users – typically authors, editors or active researchers in the field – might also be interested in learning about the journal’s latest Scopus CitesCore or Impact Factor; article collections calling for contributions; or new additions to the editorial board. All of these could be extremely useful to consider before submitting a paper, applying for the editorial board or simply updating a “to-read” list.
Thanks to the visually appealing look and clickable section tabs, newsletter subscribers can easily navigate through the email and explore its content at a glance.
Find instructions about how to update your profile and set up your email alerts in the ARPHA Manual.
‘Post your news’ button
As wholesome communication is a two-way experience, we decided to support journals published on ARPHA in setting up the stage for their users to voice their activities. By adopting the Post your news button, many of the journals introduced a simple form accessible to registered users, where they can update the community about basically everything that’s relevant to the journal and its scope.
Particularly, the feature is useful to introduce new members of the editorial board; seek out collaborators; promote an upcoming scientific event; or celebrate the far-reaching impact and recognition of one’s research work published in the journal. Once approved by a moderator, the news item is featured in the journal’s designated News section on its website’s homepage and its newsletter.
A simple, yet effective way to celebrate the impact of a particular publication is having the journal’s editors pinpoint the paper as an Editor’s choice. While many journals have traditionally been awarding articles and their authors with similar recognitions, it is not often that anyone is aware of those outside of the editorial board and the awardees themselves.
As a practical solution, we introduced customisable badges that can be added next to an article’s title, and allow a journal’s editors to highlight the best contributions.
Originally developed by scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft to cater for the needs of its very own journal portfolio, ARPHA Platform is now available as an independent publishing solution to publishers, societies and institutions seeking a new, technologically-advanced and highly-customisable home for their journals.
Below, we’ve listed the top 15 features at ARPHA that have so far persuaded over 60 open-access scholarly journals from around the globe to choose and keep on using our publishing platform.
With ARPHA, a scholarly journal no longer needs to approach different vendors, in order to manage its publishing processes. The platform provides an authoring tool (optional) and submission interface, while also supporting peer review, production, publishing, hosting, indexing, archiving and contentdissemination.
As a result, all journal users (i.e. editors, reviewers, authors, layout managers and linguistic editors) can work within a single online environment, where they can benefit from:
one-stop entry and unified interface from the start to the end of the publishing process;
reduced manuscript turnaround times;
in-built tools for monitoring and control at all stages of the publishing process;
reduced costs and optimised cost/quality ratio
data security and GDPR compliance.
(2) White-label and (co-)publishing
With ARPHA, a journal is not necessarily associated with the platform’s developer and owner Pensoft. Our white-label solution allows for the journal to be published under its own logo and imprint, including those of its publisher, society or institution.
Alternatively, some journals, especially starting titles, might rather be (co-)published by Pensoft, where they can benefit from better recognition, promotion and development as part of the publisher’s portfolio. For example, a journal’s outputs might be more likely to appear as related content from a relevant Pensoft journal through social media, browsers or newsletters.
On top of its full-featured publishing solution, ARPHA’s team and our partners offer a wide range of software integrations and human-provided services, including editorial management, customer support, and assistance in indexation, journal development, marketing and science communication. Selected on a mix-and-match basis, they can perfectly align with the journal’s existing workflows, future needs and budgetary requirements.
Use case I: Where journals already maintain their own editorial and/or production staff, they can opt to use ARPHA’s software platform in part and keep some of the work (e.g. editorial management and production) in-house. For example, the Plant Sociology journal of the Italian Society for Vegetation Science (SISV) decided to go for ARPHA’s ADVANCED pricing model, while continuing to use their own copy-editing and typesetting services, leaving to ARPHA the building and maintenance of the entire editorial management and publishing platform, along with the highly specialised work on XML tagging and semantically-enhanced publishing. As a result, the journal achieved a quick technological modernisation, while significantly optimising its operational costs, allowing authors to publish with APCs as low as €350 (discounted at €250 for society members).
Use case II: When the European Science Editing (ESE) journal by the European Association for Science Editing (EASE), got in touch with our team about possible partnership, we agreed to provide the platform for free, because of the invaluable role of the Society in improving and maintaining the quality and integrity of scientific publishing in Europe. By then, EASE had already adopted their own approach to typesetting their articles into PDF format, and preferred not to use the HTML format for their content, thus leaving only the XML publishing to ARPHA’s team. However, they remain able to upgrade to full-text HTML and XML publication at any point in the future. At the time of writing, ESE is using ARPHA’s BASIC pricing plan and operates with a Diamond Open Access publishing module.
(4) Flexible pricing plans
In support of transparency in academia, we’ve made sure that the ARPHA’s cost structure is publicly available on the platform’s website. There, potential clients may find a detailed list of the software modules and human-provided services featured in each pricing plan, including opt-in services.
To better illustrate how much it costs to run a journal on ARPHA Platform, we’ve calculated a few exemplary scenarios for a journal’s annual publishing costs, depending on its volume of content:
2 issues 20 articles per year
4 issues 40 articles per year
Starting total prices for one journal published on ARPHA per year by pricing plan (APCs included).
Use case I: Check List is a large international journal popular with scientists from the Global South. It sought an affordable publishing venue for its authors, while providing them with a modernised and technologically-advanced platform. ARPHA elaborated a custom business model for Check List based on PDF-only publishing, but providing distribution of metadata in XML and HTML, thus allowing the Article Processing Charges (APCs) to be reduced to €120-€150 per article.
Use case II: The journal Evolutionary Systematics of the University of Hamburg is published on ARPHA under the conditions of a fixed yearly budget, which does not need to be calculated on the basis of the number of articles published per year. ARPHA customised a business model, based on a fixed number of pages published each year, which allowed for flexibility in publication of articles of different size within the yearly limit, while keeping the costs in accordance with the planned budget.
Use case III: At the time of our discussion with the Swiss Entomological Society, the society had been publishing its historical journal Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen in print-only black-and-white ever since the mid-19th century. Having discussed and finalised their publishing solution, the journal was re-launched in November 2017 under the name Alpine Entomology on its own ARPHA-powered website and sporting a full set of the latest technological advancements in scholarly publishing, including semantically enhanced XML, HTML and PDF. Yet, the costs for publishing were still well below the allocated by the society budget, even when we added the yearly printing of 300 full-colour journal copies to be distributed to the members of the society.
(5) Various business & operational models
While we do support Diamond Open Access, we do realise that journals do not always rely on external financial support generous enough to support their survival in the long run. This is why we offer to our clients a range of several business models:
Diamond Open Access – all costs are covered by an institution, society or third party, so that the authors publish for free.
Mixed model – the costs can be covered partially by an institution, society or third party, so that the authors are only charged with a fee as small as a fraction, compared to the average APCs in the industry.
APC-based income model – a society or institution may set their APCs so that they cover the production costs or even add a surplus to support their financial sustainability.
Differentiated groups model – some authors can publish for free (e.g. staff or society members), others can benefit from discounts or waivers (e.g. authors in low-income countries) and a third group may pay full APCs.
Custom-fit models that can be elaborated together by the journal and ARPHA.
Use case: In 2020, the International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS) expanded their journal portfolio by launching Vegetation Classification and Survey. Their aim was to achieve financial sustainability for the journal within three years. Thanks to ARPHA’s integrated elaborate and high-tech accounting and payment modules, we’ve set up their publishing solution to provide a quite complex and highly-automated APCs model, where society members enjoy full waivers in 2020 and 2021, and discounts in the years after. Various discounts and waivers are also applicable for journal editors and authors from different groups of low-income countries, based on the World Bank classification. As a result, the journal is expected to become cost-neutral for the Society or even to bring in a small income for it, while offering APCs that are two to three times lower than those charged by large commercial publishers.
(6) Language flexibility
While it’s become a standard for scholarly articles to be published in English, at ARPHA we do realise that there are still journals – including highly renowned and historic titles – that would rather have their content available in the language of their major audiences. This is why we’ve designed ARPHA to support bilingual solutions at interface, metadata and content levels.
Use case I: The journal Maandblad voor Accountancy en Bedrijfseconomie of the Amsterdam University Press transitioned to open access and XML publishing on ARPHA in 2018. The journal wanted to keep the metadata and website interface exclusively in English, so that it is generally understandable to the international audience, but at the same time, the main content and journal’s news announcements to be published exclusively in Dutch. The result was more than satisfactory for the editors, authors and readers, especially after ARPHA uploaded the journal’s historical content (since 1924) and made it searchable and discoverable at article level on MAB’s new website.
Use case II: The journal Population and Economics, published by the Moscow State University, was established as an international journal publishing exclusively in English, while also offering its content in Russian to the vast community of Russian economists and population geographers. ARPHA created a special solution for formatting and publication of a Russian version of all articles, identical to the primary English text and formatted according to the journal’s design standards. The Russian version is published as PDF under the same DOI as the English version and under English Language metadata only; a special statement is included in the Russian version to be cited with its original English metadata to avoid splitting the citation counts between the two language communities.
(7) Advanced semantic enhancements of content
Arguably the most enjoyed by our journals’ Editors-in-Chief and managers high-tech feature, the advanced semantics publishing module allows tagging and enhancement of content and the development of multiple interactive tools linked to the article’s content. While the module has a vast set of functions elaborated specially for the needs of the Biology, we are ready to develop a similar function for any field on demand.
During the production stage, a manuscript’s content undergoes semantic mark-up, where various text elements are linked to related sections (e.g. in-text citations link to figures, tables or supplementary files) or externally sourced information (e.g. biological taxon names link to occurrences maps or treatments in the literature). Then, the published article allows for readers to visualise additional information right next to the text they are currently reading, so that they can easily contextualise the findings with no need to navigate away from the webpage.
Semantic enhancements currently at use on ARPHA Platform include:
For biological taxa: occurrences, genomics, nomenclature, literature treatments, images
(8) Machine-readable (XML) publications
These days, there are various tools and platforms already in existence to do the search and delivery of research information for us. However, in order to fully use these functionalities, publishers need to first ensure that the content they publish can in fact be found and ‘read’ by thosecomputer algorithms.
To address this issue, in addition to PDF and HTML formats, ARPHA publishes all journal content in XML. Additionally, machine-readability allows for key elements (e.g. images, nomenclature, occurrence records) from within the article’s text to be automatically fetched and deposited at relevant databases.
(9) Automated indexing & archiving
Given today’s information and data deluge, we cannot rely exclusively on our clients’ audiences to keep tabs on each journal at all times. On the contrary, a great part of a journal’s readers access content via various aggregators of information.
Hence, indexing and archiving of published content at various databases is a must if we wish to make sure that scientific results are permanently preserved and efficiently disseminated. Thanks to ARPHA’s fully-automated indexing and archiving module, all journal content is instantaneously distributed on the day of its publication via web services.
While some indexers and archivers (e.g. DOAJ, Publons, Zenodo) are integrated with a journal as soon as it completes its transition to the platform, provided the journal’s scope aligns with the one of the database, others (e.g. Scopus, Web of Science) may require for the title to first cover specific criteria. Once again, ARPHA’s team is glad to step in and help with advice on how those requirements can be best addressed, and even submit the necessary application forms on behalf of the journal.
(10) Personal approach in technical support and consultancy
Journals joining ARPHA enjoy a personal, reply-within-a-business-day, approach from a designated team member and benefit from operational training and technical support included in all pricing plans. The platform also offers consultancy and support in journal development, indexing & archiving andmarketing & promotion. All these services are elaborated in fully transparent and flexible plans, so that editorial boards can opt for services they really need, in order to improve the journal’s performance.
Use case I:When the journals Russian Journal of Economics and Population and Economics moved to ARPHA, the editorial boards wanted to make the most of the new platform and its features, with the shortest possible uptake time for their in-house staff. As a result, a two-day training was organised for the editorial teams in their Moscow offices, where they received an induction to the platform’s technical features, insights on how to make the most of its workflows and complementary training in journals’ promotion and PR. This induction has led to the requirements of the Editorial Board for these journals being met and successful adoption of the ARPHA platform.
Use case II: Earlier this year, we organised and held an online meeting for the editorial board at our client journal One Ecosystem, in order to help the journal’s team refine its development strategy and set out its next goals to becoming a go-to publication venue for ecologists. There, we brought together the bright and enthusiastic editorial team and updated them about the latest trends in One Ecosystem’s performance and the ARPHA features and services available at their disposal. Thus, we successfully laid the groundwork for an engaging and fruitful discussion and future actions.
(11) Promotion and science communication services
While talk about the power and value of science communication is growing stronger by the day, at ARPHA, we’ve been putting special efforts in popularising the content our client journals publish amongst the scientific community and the general public for over a decade. To do so, ARPHA’s PR team relies on the company’s and journals’ own social media channels, ARPHA’s and Pensoft’sblogs, specialisedscience and academic news platforms (e.g. Eurekalert, Knowledgespeak), as well as personal contacts with journalists from theworld’s top news media.
Use case II: At ARPHA, we encourage our customers to not only share news about the scientific discoveries their journals publish, but also news about the journal itself. Having transitioned three of Senckenberg Nature Research Society’s flagship journals to ARPHA in a joint co-publishing venture with Pensoft, we announced the news about our collaboration and explained what this brings to the journals’ users across our channels, i.e. Knowledgespeak, Eurekalert, ARPHA’s and Pensoft’s blogs and social media channels.
(12) Multiple real-time usage metrics
To demonstrate and track the real-life visibility, outreach and scholarly impact of each published article, ARPHA-hosted journals accommodate a range of metrics on both article and sub-article level.
Our own statistics provide a quick, real-time report for article total and unique views by format, in addition to a total and unique clicks oneach figure and table. Thanks to our partnership with Altmetric, each paper also displays an instantaneous insight into its mentions on news media, blogs, social media, Wikipedia etc. from across the Internet, while the colourful badge from our collaborators at Dimensions links to the article’s citations in scholarly articles, policy documents, grants, clinical trials and others.
(13) Journal performance statistics and reports
Reporting and monitoring of journal performance is the cornerstone in understanding the highs and lows of a journal and tailoring its future development strategy. So, ARPHA Platform provides various statisticsto Editors-in-Chief and Managing editorsaccessible from their user dashboards within the ARPHA environment.
Hence, they can select a specific time period and visualise detailed data and graphics illustrating trends in how many manuscripts are submitted and published, how long it takes to review, accept and publish articles on average, where the majority of authors are based and many others. In addition, our team emails a report with all key statistics to each journal’s Editor(s)-in-Chief and Managing editors twice a year.
(14) Multi-purpose platform
Apart from journals, ARPHA Platform and its services can also be used for academic books, conference abstracts or full-text papers, preprints and institutional documents. For all these different products, ARPHA can create multifunctional platforms for institutions and societies operating under the customer’s logo and branding.
Use case I: In 2016, we were approached by the Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG): a non-profit scientific and educational association, working towards the development of standards for the exchange of biodiversity data, for the purposes of biodiversity informatics. They wished to find a way to collate and permanently preserve the outcomes of their annual conference, in order to ensure that valuable outputs presented at and inspired by the events remain discoverable and freely accessible well after the conference has concluded. Eventually, ARPHA set up the journal Biodiversity Information Science and Standards (BISS), where conference participants can submit their abstracts prior to the conference rather than emailing them to the conference organisers or uploading them to odd single-use portals. As a result, the abstracts are published similarly to the articles in any ARPHA-hosted journal: in PDF, semantically enhanced HTML and machine-readable XML; with their own DOIs; and featuring references, figures and tables, also stored as data. Apart from conference abstracts, BISS also publishes research posters and presentations, case studies, forum papers, software descriptions and more.
Use case II: The Bulgarian Society of Cardiology transferred its 25-years old journal Bulgarian Cardiologyon ARPHA in 2019. The journal is multilingual and publishes articles in English, Bulgarian and occasionally in other European languages. The new ARPHA-designed website of Bulgarian Cardiology provides a bilingual interface and the possibility to publish both English and Bulgarian language metadata and articles in either of the two languages. Shortly after the journal’s launch, the Society commissioned a new society website following the journal’s corporate design, yet providing a wide variety of other features to present the Society’s activities, publication of various documents, news items and so on. Both websites are available through a platform built on the Society’s domain address bgcardio.org.
(15) New integrations and tools implemented continuously
While at ARPHA we’re doing our best to cater for all our clients and their own users by providing a versatile list of customisable services, we do realise that one’s needs and wants change over time and so do the requirements and expectations of the academic publishing industry.
This is why we regularly develop and implement new features and services, and deliver them to our clients either by default or on an opt-in basis. To further enrich our portfolio of services, we also keep an eye on the latest innovations in scholarly publishing, and seek out partnerships whenever we identify something that might improve our users’ experience.
Check out our earlier blog post to find more about the top features we introduced at ARPHA in 2020:
Dedicated editorial workflow for Special Issues and Topical article collections
Editor and reviewer application form
Journal performance statistics
Journal performance reports
Workload statistics for reviewers and subject editors
Contributor roles for co-authors
Easy update of user expertise
Integration with the research discovery app Researcher
Use case I: While preprints have been gaining traction in recent times, the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly put an enormous pressure on researchers to share their scientific results as early as possible. It was then that we put the development of our own much-anticipated preprint platform on high priority with the aim to provide a fast-track publication of preprints for authors that have selected an ARPHA-hosted journal for their studies. We offered a seamless integration with ARPHA Preprints to all our clients as an opt-in service at no additional charge. The journals that accommodated it, provide to their authors the opportunity to post their manuscripts as preprints upon submission at the click of a button, with no need to reformat their submission files.
Use case II: As we’ve always been taking special care to ensure that content published in ARPHA-hosted journals enjoys as much visibility and accessibility as possible, we couldn’t allow ourselves to stay away from yet another fantastic way to reach further into the readership of our clients. So, last year, we signed up with Researcher, whose research-discovery app allows its users to browse and receive a continuous feed of the latest research publications addressing their topics of interest. Having added the integration to all journals published on ARPHA platform by default, their content reaches more than two millions users on Researcher.
Hence, as a forward-looking, open science-driven journalResearch Ideas and Outcomes (RIO) took it as its own responsibility to encourage scientific project teams, conference organisers and research institutions to bring together unconventional research outputs (e.g. grant proposals, data management plans, project deliverables, policy briefs, conference materials) as well as traditional (e.g. research or review papers, monographs, etc.), including such published elsewhere. To do so, RIO now provides the platform ready to be used as a research knowledge hub, where published outcomes are preserved permanently and easier to share, disseminate, reference and reuse.
Hence, RIO stepped up its game by turning permanent article collections into a one-stop source of diverse research items, where project coordinators, conference organisers or research institutions can not only publish early, interim and conclusive research items as they emerge within a research project, a series of events or the continuous scientific efforts at their lab, but also link relevant publications (i.e. preprints, articles or other documents, published elsewhere) available elsewhere through their metadata. As a result, they will receive a one-stop source under their own branding for every piece of scientific contribution ready to present to funding bodies or prospective collaborators and future research teams.
Apart from bringing contextually linked research outcomes together, thus prompting findability, readership and citability en masse, RIO’s approach to collections ensures further accessibility by not only having RIO-published articles available in traditional PDF, semantically enriched HTML and minable XML format. The open-science journal has now made it possible for users to add to their collections preprints from ARPHA Preprints, as well as author-formatted PDFs (e.g. project deliverables, reports, policy briefs, etc.) and linked metadata to documents published elsewhere. Thanks to the integration of the journal with the general-purpose open-access repository Zenodo, all items in a collection are archived, and additionally indexed, disseminated and cited.
By focusing on article and preprint collections coming out from a research project, institution or conference, RIO provides a quite specific and unique combination of benefits to all actors of the research process: scientists, project coordinators, funders and institutions:
Project, institution or conference branding and promotion.
One-stop point for outputs of a research project, institution or conference.
Free publication of author-formatted project outputs (i.e. grant proposals, deliverables, reports, policy briefs, conference materials and others).
Inclusivity through adding articles, preprints and other documents published elsewhere as easy as entering the DOI number of the document.
Credit and recognition for the Collection and Guest editors, who take care to organise and manage the article collection.
Easier discoverability and usability of topically related studies to benefit both authors and readers.
Increased visibility of related papers in a collection, even when these might otherwise not have much exposure.
Simultaneous citation of multiple articles related to a certain subject.
Citation and referencing of the whole collection as a complete entity.
DOI and citation details for collections and individual articles.
How do project coordinators, funders and institutions benefit from a collection in RIO?
At the time a grant proposal is submitted to a research funder for evaluation, the team behind the proposed project has already put in considerable efforts, resulting in a unique idea with the potential to make a great stride towards the resolution of an outstanding problem in science, if only given the chance. However, too many of these ideas are bound to remain locked away in the archives of those funders, not because they are lacking in scientific value, but due to limited funds.
So, with its launch back in 2015, RIO Journal made it possible to publish and shed light on grant proposals and research ideas in general, similar early research outputs regardless of whether they are eventually funded or not, a novelty in scholarly publishing which earned RIO the SPARC Innovator Award Winner in 2016. To date, the journal has already published 75 grant proposals.
Then, imagine what a contribution to science it would make to bring together the whole continuum of knowledge and scientific work all the way from the grant proposal to data and software management plans, workshop reports, policy briefs and all interim and final deliverables produced within the span of the project!
On the other hand, funders are increasingly evaluating a prospective project’s impact based on its communication strategy. So, why not publish a grant proposal at the time of the submission of your proposal, in order to prove to the funding body that your project is serious about optimising its outreach to both the public and academia? Furthermore, by having an academic journal host any subsequent project deliverable, as a coordinator, you can rest assured that the communication activities of your project remain consistent and efficient.
In an excellent example of a project collection, the EU-funded ICEDIG (Innovation and Consolidation for Large Scale Digitisation of Natural Heritage), led by several major natural history institutions, including the Natural History Museum of London, Naturalis Biodiversity Center (the Netherlands), the French National Museum of Natural History and Helsinki University, brought together policy briefs, project reports, research articles and review papers, in order to provide a fantastic overview of their own research continuum. As a result, future researchers and various stakeholders can easily piece together the key components within the project, in order to learn from, recreate or even build on the experience of ICEDIG.
Similarly, conference organisers can make use of their own branded collections to overcome the ephemerality of presented research by collating virtually all valuable conference outputs, including abstracts, posters, presentations, datasets and full-text conference talks. For further convenience, a collection can be divided into subcollections, in order to organise the contribution by type or symposium. What particularly appeals to conference participants is the ARPHA Writing Tool, an intuitive collaborative online environment, which practically guides the user through each step: authoring, submission and pre-submission review, within a set of pre-designed, yet flexible templates available for each type of a conference output, thus sparing them the hassle to familiarise themselves with specific and perplexing formatting requirements
For institutions, RIO offers the opportunity to continuously provide evidence of the scholarly impact of their organisation. To better serve the needs of different labs or research teams, an institution can easily organise their outputs into various subcollections, and also customise their own article types, as well as the available usage tracking systems. Furthermore, by making use of the available pre-paid plans, institutions can support their researchers by covering fully or partially the publication charges at a discounted rate.
Find more information regarding the submission and review process, policies and pricing, visit RIO Journal’s website.
Given scientific conferences present academics with the fantastic opportunity to meet up and discuss their latest work, as well as share their vision for the future of their field, it’s no wonder that, historically, the majority of ground-breaking science can easily be traced back to a particular event.
This said, don’t you think that we need to do everything within our powers toensure the visibility, dissemination and long-term accessibility of research presented and linked to these wonderful drivers of scientific progress that conferences are? Similarly to the care conference organisers take to make sure the event runs smoothly and the attendants are happy with the programme and enjoy themselves, the organisational committee should also be thinking how to preserve all those promising pieces of research well after the event is over.
Here at Pensoft, an open-access scholarly publisher, founded by scientists, we’ve been contemplating for a while now how to encourage and support the community to efficiently open up the valuable outputs to researchers and readers well beyond the publication of abstracts in an abstract book of the conference.
As a result, we came up with several simple, yet efficient publishing solutions for scientific conferences to collect and contextualise various research outputseither presented at or resulting from the event.
Bear in mind that with any solution, all publications enjoy the benefits seen in conventional research papers, such as:
Crossref registration and individual DOI to ensure preservation;
Publication in PDF, semantically enhanced HTML and data-minable XML formats to improve readability, accessibility and findability;
Indexing and archiving at multiple, industry leading databases to increase visibility;
PR and social media promotion to boost outreach to various audiences.
Collections of conference abstracts, posters and presentations
Conference (video) abstracts, posters and presentations are easily the first to fall victims of the ephemerality of an event, yet these are too often the stepping stones to major scientific discoveries. This is why a few years back we launched ARPHA Conference Abstracts (ACA), where conference organisers can open their own collection and provide the participants with submission, review and publication of their abstracts ahead of the conference.
Furthermore, these abstracts can be handled editorially in sub-collections, e.g. the convenors of symposia or working groups within a conference will take care of the abstracts submitted to them, thus spreading the editorial workload across larger teams of editors and organisers.
Not only will conference organisers spare themselves the worries about providing a special platform for abstracts submissions, but this will also facilitate presenting authors, who will be able to easily point to their contribution before, during or after their presentations. On the contrary, the abstracts are assigned with DOIs, published in human-readable PDF and HTML and machine-actionable JATS XML, permanently preserved on ARPHA and Zenodo, and easy to find, access and cite, just like a conventional research paper, providing authors with full credit for their work early on.
Further, with ACA, the conference abstracts can be enhanced into what we call “extended abstracts”, meaning they can also include data, images, videos and multimedia. After the conferences, we can add video recordings of the presentations or graphic files of posters, so that these are visualised on the page of each abstract.
About the time we launched ACA, we also created ARPHA Proceedings, in order to also find a place for full-text conference papers. Similarly, the platform supports dedicated collections, where conference attendants are invited to submit and publish dynamically articles under the imprint of the event.
Conference papers in ARPHA Proceedings can also include data, figures and citations, and can also be updated with video recordings, posters and presentations following the conference.
Article topical collections and special issues resulting from conferences
Naturally, papers resulting from a particular conference are contextually linked, so a one-stop place to discover topical studies sharing one and the same topic would be greatly appreciated by readers and future researchers. In turn, this would lead to better viewership and citability of the papers in the collection.
With our user-friendly, dedicated workflow for special issues and permanent topical article collections, we’ve made it easy for guest editors across our journals to pitch and manage article collections, in order to bring together valuable and related studies. Using such a collection under the theme of your conference in a suitable journal, you can invite your conference’s participants or, better yet, all scientists working within the field, to submit their work in a nice package of topical science. We’d be happy to assist you with the identification of the most suitable journal for your conference, authors and goals.
Bringing together traditional and non-conventional research outputs, (e.g. research ideas, grant proposals, conference materials or workshop reports) with RIO Journal’s article collections
Undoubtedly, valuable research outcomes come in many shapes and sizes well beyond research papers, conference abstracts, posters and proceedings. We are firm supporters that every research item, even early and interim outputs, could be of value to the scientist next in line within a particular study.
This is why we launched the award-winning journal Research Ideas and Outcomes(RIO), where your collections can include both conventional and non-traditional research outputs, such as research ideas, posters, workshop reports, forum papers, policy briefs, software and data management plans to name a few. Furthermore, in RIO,you can even link articles or preprints published elsewhere to your collection via their metadata. Similarly to other Pensoft journals, in RIO, you will have the full control to whom you are opening your collection for submissions, allowing you to either limit it to the outcomes coming from your conference or welcome submissions from other researchers as well.
A permanent topical collection in RIO Journal may include a diverse range of both traditional and unconventional research outputs, as well as links to publications from outside the journal (see What can I publish on the journal’s website).
As another year is drawing to a close, it’s time for us to evaluate what we’ve achieved to better our services, or, as we’d rather refer to those, our mutual collaboration with our client journals and publishers, as well as their users: editors, reviewers, authors and readers alike.
Without a doubt, 2020 has been an extraordinary year that posed plenty of challenges at both personal and professional level to everyone, everywhere in the world. Having said that, at ARPHA, we’re proud that our perseverance and dedication to never let down those who have put their trust in us have pulled us through, while ensuring that we close the year with a positive outlook.
In 2020, we saw the move of a total of 14 international scientific journals to ARPHA Platform of diverse origin, background and scientific fields:
Some of them opted to use our white-label publishing solution, while others decided to sign up with Pensoft as a (co-)publisher. Browse the complete list of ARPHA-hosted journals on our website.
Naturally, we understand that each journal has its own needs and wants, in addition to its own short- and long-term plans and goals. This is why it is from day one that we assume responsibility to work closely together to ensure a personal, customer-centric approach at all times. One way to do this is by having our various services flexible and available as opt-in, mix-and-match features, so that journals can customise their own publishing solution.
Furthermore, based on our clients’ feedback, in addition to our in-house observations and know-how, we don’t cease to introduce new opportunities for journals to upgrade their functionality to the benefit of their own teams and users.
Below you will find an overview of the top new features and services ARPHA introduced in 2020:
Dedicated editorial workflow for Special Issues and Topical article collections
Editor and reviewer application form
Journal performance statistics
Journal performance reports
Workload statistics for reviewers and subject editors
Contributor roles for co-authors
Easy update of user expertise
Integration with the research discovery app Researcher
In October, we officially launched ARPHA’s preprint platform, aptly named ARPHA Preprints. Frankly speaking, we’ve been planning for our own preprint platform for quite a while now, as we were determined to ensure the feature is ultimately convenient and beneficial to our journals and their authors. Undeniably, 2020 proved the perfect timing to see this idea ripe, as we’ve been witnessing a significant rise in preprints use and demand.
So, what’s it in ARPHA Preprints that stands out?
Available to all ARPHA Platform-hosted journals as an opt-in and free of charge service, ARPHA Preprints provides authors with the opportunity to post a preprint at the mere ‘cost’ of several clicks while submitting their article manuscript.
By doing so, their pre-review manuscripts appear on ARPHA Preprints in a matter of one to a few days’ time, subject to a quick screening performed at the journal’s editorial office, in order to verify the submission conforms with the journal’s scope and standards, and does not contain any unethical content or plagiarism. If the associated paper is published in the journal, a link between the article and preprint is provided to prompt the citation of the paper rather than the preprint. On the occasion that the article is rejected at the ARPHA-hosted journal, where it has been submitted, the preprint is disassociated from the journal.
Dedicated editorial workflow for Special Issues and Topical article collections
Following a series of meetings with the editorial boards of our client journals, where we discussed the next steps in their plans in terms of journal development, we came up with the decision that we need a dedicated workflow to facilitate guest editors, who wish to propose a special issue or a topical article collection. Naturally, this workflow had to work just as convenient for the journal’s managing editors and everyone further down the line. Similarly to the ARPHA Preprints integration, we made this feature available to all ARPHA-hosted journals as an opt-in, free of charge service.
Firstly, we provided a clear information note on the key specifics, advantages and requirements for each article collection type. These are now available on the websites of all participating journals, in addition to an easy to spot proposal form, located on the journal’s homepage, in order to ensure that guest editors won’t be dissuaded by any technicalities.
Manuscript handling workflow at special issues / article collections in ARPHA-hosted journals
Secondly, by implementing direct proposal forms delivered straight to the Editors-in-Chief’s inboxes and easily visible on the journal website, as well as our distinguished highly automated manuscript handling workflow, we ended up with a smooth process that avoids potential delays, misunderstandings and annoying issues for everyone.
Read more about ARPHA’s approach to article collections and special issues on our blog.
Editor and reviewer application form
Similarly, after receiving valuable feedback from our client’s editorial board members, we figured that we could provide an easier application for subject editors at ARPHA-hosted journals.
At the request of a journal’s managing editor, we are ready to add a convenient Become an Editor button on the homepage of the journal that takes the applicant to an exhaustive, yet simple to fill-in form. Upon submission, the application is delivered straight to the Editor-in-Chief’s inbox providing him/her with all necessary information to make a decision and reply to the applicant.
By opting to add the feature, journals can make a simple, yet efficient step towards expanding the journal’s editorial team, thus optimising and expediting the editorial process, and naturally improving user satisfaction and journal performance.
Journal performance statistics
As we’re talking about journal development and striving for progress and success, the logical question is: how do we know what needs to be improved, revised or built upon? As always in science, the answer is: we need data and insight.
While we have had plenty of statistics available to Editors-in-Chief and managing editors for years already, we recently introduced several extra ones to provide further insight into the journal’s performance and how the numbers fare against those of previous months, quartiles or years.
So far, the Editors-in-Chief and managing editors have had access to:
manuscript submissions at any moment and their status;
publications and submissions for any period of interest;
publications by article type for a period of choice;
international representation based on lead author’s country for a period of choice;
article views for a period of choice.
In 2020, we added statistics about turnaround times, so that the editors are aware of the average time submitted manuscripts spend at different stages (e.g. peer review or editorial decision). Also, they now have access to a record of all online mentions from across the Internet, including traditional and new media, blogs, Wikipedia, policy documents and many others, thanks to our partners at Altmetric.
Journal performance reports
Even though we already made all those data concerning a journal’s real-time performance readily available for Editors-in-Chief and managing editors, we knew we could do more. As open-research proponents, we are well aware that openness and free access is not quite the same as findability. So, we set up bi-annual reports to be delivered to the inboxes of Editors-in-Chief and managing editors as a convenient and regular reminder of the current progress of the journal compared to the last period.
In those reports, we point to the most recent statistics, concerning:
current submissions and their status;
submissions, publications and rejections;
average review invitations, declines and review rounds;
authors by country;
online article mentions;
Journal Impact Factor and CiteScore trends.
Furthermore, for journals using ARPHA’s Standard and Premium reporting services, we have prepared an extended report for the end of the calendar year, where they will find even more insights into the citability, outreach, readership and scholarly impact of their journals and their content. For Premium customers, the report will also feature a review and recommendations provided by ARPHA’s journal development team.
Workload for reviewers and subject editors
We know that prolonged peer review time presents a frustrating stumbling block for many otherwise renowned for their high standards and academic rigour journals. Striving to further optimise this process at ARPHA-hosted journals, we developed workload statistics and record of past activity for reviewers and subject editors, visible to the editor at the stage of assignment. Thus, the editor is able to give priority to users who aren’t busy with editorial/review assignments at the moment, and/or those who have a good record of past activity at the journal and/or similar journals on ARPHA Platform.
Similarly, to further encourage diligence and speed in peer review at ARPHA-hosted journals, we offer our clients an optional feature where subject editors can evaluate submitted reviews using a 5-star rating system. As a result, the next subject editors will be able to see the average score of a reviewer before they assign him/her for the manuscript they’re handling.
Contributor roles for co-authors
Determined to always give credit where credit is due, while promoting transparency in academia and scholarship, we enabled submitting authors to assign each co-author with a role, depending on his/her primary contribution to the preparation of the manuscript. Thus, once published, a paper will clearly indicate the author who has, for example, conceptualised the study, developed the utilised software or written the original draft.
The options available in the drop-down menu follow CRediT (Contributor Roles Taxonomy): a high-level taxonomy, which includes 14 roles typically assumed by contributors to scholarly output.
Easy update of user expertise
As everything is (hopefully!) moving quickly in academia, we figured it’s time to take extra care after ensuring the users profiles in our systems are as relevant as possible. This is important, because ARPHA uses the expertise listed in a user’s profile to suggest reviewers and subject editors for each manuscript. So, in order to facilitate our editors and, ultimately, further expedite the peer review process at ARPHA-hosted journals, we’ve scheduled a few reminders throughout the year to prompt users to have a look at their profiles and update them, if necessary.
Integration with the research discovery app Researcher
Well aware of the fact that Open Science is way more than cost-free access to scientific and publicly funded knowledge, we understand that in the digital reality of today, the question is much more about findability and discoverability, i.e. the probability that you stumble across a particular research paper while browsing. This is why we’re continuously integrating our platform and the journals hosted on ARPHA with additional research discovery platforms used by scientists around the world to inform themselves about the latest findings in their fields of interest.
So, we recently collaborated with Researcher: an innovative mobile and web application, currently used by 1.8 million people globally, which allows you to set up your own social media-style feed of research papers by following your favourite academic journals or research topics. Now, all articles published in Pensoft’s journals – as well as participating journals using ARPHA’s white-label publishing solution – are continuously fetched by the app and delivered to their right audiences.
Read more about our integration with Researcher on our blog.
We are always looking forward to hearing from our clients about what they like or dislike in ARPHA, as well as their recommendations on what we could do better! You are welcome to contact us with your feedback and questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org.