“Streamlining Deposit: An OJS to Repository Plugin” is the name of the Jisc-funded research and development collaboration between the Centre for Information Science and open access researcher-led publisher Ubiquity Press.
Ernesto‘s office is not like your regular office. Comic books lay happily alongside academic texts, models of superheroes sit alongside student papers. For Ernesto is Editor-in-chief of The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship – an Open Access peer-reviewed journal that runs OJS – the journal management system we’re improving as part of our ‘Streamlining Deposit’ project, funded by JISC’s Research Dataspring.
Ernesto explained new changes to the OJS back-end (the place where article authors, reviewers and editors alike manage submissions). The new changes predominantly address the look and feel of the interface, but not the functionality provided or the underlying Information Architecture. It’s good that there are incremental improvements. But we need more.
I have spent the past 11 years using and researching digital information tools from a user perspective – examining how useful and easy to use they are considered to be by the people who use them. In 11 years, the tools we use to access journals have improved considerably; Google Scholar has done for academic search what Google did for Web search. Digital libraries have become easier to use (albeit often driven by commercial pressures rather than the desire to make the User Experience as pleasant as possible).
But what about the tools we use to manage journal publications? The back-end tools that drive the peer-review and publishing process? They’re still pretty bad! Authors struggle to jump through the necessary hoops to submit their articles properly. Recently, I struggled so much submitting an article using a well-known commercial publisher’s journal submission system that the editor and I had to ‘go manual’ – bypassing the system and doing things by email. Our workarounds didn’t work so well. The poor usability of the system delayed publication by months.
Just as while Websites are now much better designed than a decade ago, but Intranets still lag behind, digital information tools make it easier for us to access journal articles, but difficult for us to publish them in the first place!
We don’t want to neglect the back-end any longer. We want journal management systems to be more useful and easier to use. We want to support academics and practitioners who choose to publish their work by making the submission and, in the case of our OJS project, the depositing of articles easier.
By interviewing authors of OJS articles about their depositing requirements, we are taking the first steps towards this goal. By helping make it easier to deposit articles, we will save authors time and effort. Easier deposit will, we hope, encourage authors to deposit more, more often and to a wider range of repositories. This will serve to make Open Access more ‘open’ and provide more greater access to knowledge. They say ignorance is bliss. But I think more knowledge can only be a good thing.