Many people asked me how to start open access publishing. My answer was often like this: Let’s go! Do it!
Indeed, I still think the same. But, I would add to that answer: The preparation is more than 70% of work.
Huh! What does that mean?, someone may ask.
Since I have been many times involved in fixing issues caused by bad or missing preparation I will list below important questions that you should take into consideration before you start. Well, that preparation will be more than start! Time that you spend in preparatory activities is not lost if preparation is well done. The points that I am listing below will help you to do that properly.
Do we have sufficient information on web platform that we will use for publishing?
Note: Web platforms for publishing are not “sites” with static pages. If you need site with a plenty of information maybe you should consider creating a separate site.
Should we use OJS, E-Prints or some other? Are they made for the same purpose?
Note: You should list the standard specifications that your platform should comply with and check what is the main purpose of what you want to do. It is better to ask several people than use something that you do not need and later on do a huge work twice.
Do we have good quality information with one or more hosting companies/IT department of our institution?
Note: You should take into consideration that web applications developed for storage of a large number of files use a lot of space out of public_html folder and that some hosting companies/IT departments are not willing/prepared to create account for you that will store out of public_html 20GB of data and just 100MB within public_html. Prepare list of questions to hosting company/IT department and carefully read their replies to your questions before making any decision on hosting your web platform for OA.
What kind of control panel hosting company/IT department will prepare for you? Are you skilled and trained to use them? Do they give you sufficient control?
Note: Some control panels are not sufficiently known and many people do have difficulties using them. For example, I found that many admins did have difficulty setting up Sentora to give sufficient permissions for storing data outside of public_html safely. Or, hosting companies do not give you right to modify that part of your account. That could be troublesome and you may need additional skills to handle that safely.
How many articles we plan to publish on line? Do we have thousands of articles or just we want to start with issues we published last year? Note: You have to bear in mind that many systems make two or more copies of your files/articles in the system during review process. Consequently, 530MB of data that you have got will take much more space on the server.
Are those articles scanned or we have them as recently produced .pdf files or in some other format? Are the scans of good quality? Can we read math, chemical or other scientific symbols? Are there articles with announcements and advertisements in the middle of text? Do we have articles that are continued on some other pages? Are their pieces put together? Do we have available software to handle those files?
Do we want to enable our riders to pay subscription on line? Do we want to let authors to pay publication fee on line? Do we have communication with our partner bank and clear instructions how to do that? Are there any costs for that? Is that defined in our legislation? Can we provide invoice to authors that need to document their expenses to supporting agency?
Do we have people who are trained or willing to be trained to set up properly web application that we will use and to upload files and complete all necessary forms for metadata, about authors and contributors? What time they will need to do that?
Note: Lessons drawn from experience often say that it is needed more time than we think at the beginning since it is very important to do the job properly. If metadata, authors names and affiliations etc. are not done properly the readers can be confused and misinformed which is contrary of what we want to do.
Are we able to pay those who will enter all data and upload files? Are they really able to volunteer and do a huge work properly? Did we check our printed issues in the last couple of years to determine what information should be entered in web application? What are the names of sections? Who are the section editors? Can we contact them? Do we want to write a list of instructions that will be given to those who will enter data? Do we have a person who will supervise and check accuracy of entered data? Can we expect some legal actions if some data is not entered properly?
Note: It is normal that journal in their history change names, editorial policies, copyright policy, topics, supporters etc. Sometimes journals do have different names for the same topic/section in journal. I have found several times that there is section Errata, Erratum, Corrigenda which actually describe the same thing or that publisher was changed. Is there decision how to enter data in those cases? Do we have consensus on that?
Do we want to have some other applications on account on server? What kind/version of infrastructure they require? Can we make that to work easily? Do their requirements create conflicts with our open access publishing application?