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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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Email Updates

Following on from part 1 and part 2, this is the third in a series of posts designed to get a new journal off the ground.

Launching the Journal

The key to launching a good journal is getting to the right people. Targeting field leaders (who may also be in your wider editorial board) and asking for specific contributions may be a way to ensure a solid start. Alternatively, draft an open CFP and post it to the places most relevant for your discipline. In my case (English Literature), this was the UPENN list and H-NET.

The problems that you'll face in an opening call are many. You will likely not receive a huge volume of submissions. They will likely not be from established names (not that this should matter as you should have a form of blind review policy). There will also probably be some articles that are weaker than you would like.

Being candid: you have to strike a balance. Do not publish material that is out-of-the-question weak. On the other hand, be charitable enough (as one should in all forms of editorial judgement) to work with authors to improve material where there is potential, or where a subset of the field may find use for it. In short: you need a good quantity of material, but this must not be at the expense of quality.

Make sure your CFP has enough time budgeted in for people to submit. Give a good five months. See also the note in part 1 where I mentioned timings: there's no point having your call close at a time when nobody is around to review them, so plan out your cycle.

Editorial Procedure

Here's a little bit of a guide on how to setup peer review in OJS. I'm not going to replicate their userguide word-for-word, but hopefully it will give a bit of an idea on how to manage submissions and delegate between editors.

Step 1: New submission
Upon receiving a new submission, an email will be sent to the designated contact in OJS. This editors should alert the appropriate member of the team so that this has happened.

One editor will take charge of a specific submission.

Once this has been decided, the submission can be accessed through the following procedure:

a.) Login to the site
b.) From your home screen, go to Editor -> Unassigned
c.) Click on the new submission

Step 2: Blinding
Once on the submission page, it is necessary to check the document before assigning a reader/peer reviewer.

Click on the “Review” tab under the bold text: “#9 Summary” (where #9 is an example representing the submission number)

Click on the link beside the text “Review version”. This will be of the form 9-18-1-RV.DOC. This indicating Submission_Number-Internal_Identifier-Revision_Number-RV(Review).DOC.

Open the file in Microsoft Word. If the file is in Open Document format (ending in .ODT), you'll need to download LibreOffice or OpenOffice for blinding if you are unable to open the file.

In Word, go to Document Properties:

Blind a document in Word

and remove the author's name and any identifying features:

Blinding a document

Also go to “Document Properties -> Advanced Properties:

Blinding a document

and ensure that there's no incriminating evidence there:

Blinding a document

Next, scan the text to make sure the author hasn't identified him- or herself. Common phrases “my recent book”, “copyright ” etc.

Save the document.

Step 3: Re-upload the blinded version
Upload the document, on the “review” pane as above, into the “Upload a revised Review Version” box.

Step 4: Assign yourself as the editor for the piece
On the summary tab, click “Add Self” under “Editors”

Step 5: Select the reviewer

Click the “Select Reviewer” option on the “Review” pane:

On the next page, select the desired reviewer (if the account doesn't exist, create an account for the reviewer) and click “Assign”:

Reviewing

Note when this is done that the “due” date is set to 10 weeks. If needs be, this can be altered by clicking on the date.

Request the review! This is important and the only part that's easy to miss:

Send the reviewer an email

Underneath the reviewer's name it says “REQUEST”. There's a small envelope beneath that. Click it!

This will take you to an email box. Click “Send” and the reviewer will be sent an email.

Sending the reviewer an email

This reviewer is good to go.

To add a second reviewer, simply repeat Step 5 and the second reviewer will be added as “Reviewer B”.

Step 6:
Wait for reviewer to complete their review! You'll get an email when it's done.

As you can see, there's quite a bit too it and OJS has a steep learning curve. That said, once you understand it, you'll feel right at home. Now you have to play the waiting game, though. In the next part, we'll begin to talk about copyediting, proofing and typesetting.

Part 4 >>