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Journal Publishing Guide

General Resources

Before starting a new journal with the University of Alberta Library, we ask each journal to submit a proposal. The proposal is a collaborative exercise and is meant to help us evaluate if the journal is ready for publication and identify if they are a good fit with our publishing program. We encourage each journal to contact us while preparing their proposal for a meeting and we can discuss our publishing program and answer any questions. 

These resources will give you a good overall idea of most of the major decisions points and tasks when starting up a new journal. We recommend reviewing at least one of them before starting your proposal.

  • Hybrid Publishing Lab’s Starter's Guide outlines all the steps to starting an open-access journal in a visual manner. They’ve also developed a useful PDF worksheet with questions and prompts that you can fill out to guide you. 

  • The Public Knowledge Project (PKP) has a free 14-module video-based course “Becoming an Editor” that walks you through the major tasks required of an editor for a scholarly journal and how to analyze and solve common problems that may arise. This is also a good resource if you are a new editor for an existing journal.

  • The Open Access Journal Starter kit is a 20+ page PDF that will walk you through all the steps of starting a new journal and provides easy to read background information on open access publishing more generally. 

New journal checklist

The new journal checklist is based on the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing and brings together resources to help you fill out your new journal proposal. You can download this list from Google Drive here.

  • Title: Check that your proposed journal name and acronym are unique and won’t be confused with another journal. Search journal directories like the ISSN portalUlrichsWeb Global Serials Directory, and Google titles you are considering. 

  • Publication frequency: Do you want to publish 1 or 2 issues a year? Have you considered having a rolling publication schedule with an ‘issue’ only being bundled at the end? 

  • Mission, aim and scope: This section should communicate your purpose as a publication and define your intended reader. A good scope statement should outline what type of submissions and formats are accepted, and the criteria of who can submit to the journal. Not sure what to include in here? Columbia University Libraries has an excellent editorial workbook that walks you through how to write them. 

  • About the journal: In this section include information on the ownership and management structure of the journal, including the editorial board and editorial team. It’s best practice to list the full names and affiliations of anyone involved in the journal. As you grow it’s also recommended that you include a history of the journal section that includes former editorial team/board members and Former title(s) and ISSN(s) (if applicable). 

  • Submission guidelines: Submission guidelines ensure that the articles and other materials submitted by authors are appropriate to your publication. They will help authors to match your publication’s style conventions and submit files and supplementary media in preferred formats. 

  • Section policies: If you plan on having different types of content (like editorials, evidence reviews, book reviews) consider writing section policies that let an author know what the scope of the section is, who the section editor is, word limit and if the section will be indexed. 

  • Peer-review policy and guidelinesThe process by which articles will be evaluated is an important part of establishing a new journal. Your journal should communicate publically what method of peer review is used and the procedure. This helps set expectations with authors and peer reviewers while helping authors evaluate if your journal is the right fit for their research. This guide provides information on the different types of review and examples of peer review policies and guidelines you can adapt. 

  • Copyright and licensingEach journal’s editorial team is responsible for ensuring that copyright-related policies and practices are both lawful and clearly communicated to journal managers, authors, and readers. This includes a publication agreement with authors and which creative commons license you choose for your journal. In this copyright and licensing guide we include background information on these pieces alongside some examples. 

Your Editorial Team

One of the most important parts of starting a new journal is getting together your editorial team. Your team's structure will depend on many factors such as:

  • Types of submissions (e.g. original research articles, opinion pieces, book/article reviews) and the number you expect to receive
  • Skills Required (e.g. social media, copyediting, subject-specific expertise)
  • Reporting Structure

You will want to consider what each position will do if the role should have a term length and how you plan on recruiting for the position. 

Resources to help you build your Editorial Team 

Student Journal Advisors  

For new student journals, you are required to have at least one Faculty, staff or librarian advisor as a member of your team. The advisor role is meant to ensure there is both support and continuity for student journals, but the actual level of day-to-day involvement is something you will determine yourselves. Typical activities could include being available for questions, giving guidance and resources when needed, and potentially attending some editorial meetings. We typically ask that the journal advisor sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) but this is optional. If you'd prefer that someone from the journal (like the managing editor) sign the agreement, we just need to make sure that a new MOU is signed each time there is a change over in the editorial team. Note that to be indexed by DOAJ, a student journal will need 2 PhD level advisors.