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The Journal of Civic Information: New Partners, New Opportunities

Published onDec 21, 2020
The Journal of Civic Information: New Partners, New Opportunities

Project Abstract

The Journal of Civic Information (JoCI) is an open-access, interdisciplinary journal that publishes double-blind peer-reviewed research related to the field of accessibility of public information. JoCI is published by the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information with support from the LibraryPress@UF.

Project Takeaways

  • When getting started, journals should consider what partnerships might be beneficial for short-term and long-term support.

    • For example, meeting with editors working with similar publications can provide insights to what journal management is really like. Working with discipline-specific organizations and groups can introduce potential authors, readers, and editorial board members. Working with library publishers can provide an opportunity for mission-driven publishing support.

  • Formally assign roles and responsibilities among partners, and be flexible and honest when changes are needed.

    • It’s important to discuss what publishing liaisons can’t do and what they can.

  • With new journals, library publishing liaisons should make extra efforts to be available. Establish a schedule for check-ins, and what needs to be done at each stage.

    • For example, the library publishing liaison can check at the beginning of a new issue to estimate a timeframe and see if there are special considerations (e.g., ancillary content or guest editors). They can check in the middle of issue development to proactively see if there are concerns, and start planning for a potential publication date. They can check before publication to confirm the publication date and plan for post-publication work (e.g., assigning DOIs or promoting the publication on social media).

Project Keywords

Open-access publishing; open-access journal; OJS; library publishing partnerships

Project Link

Project Background

Library Publishing at the University of Florida

Library publishing at the University of Florida (UF) is conducted through the LibraryPress@UF (LP@UF). LP@UF publishes born-digital scholarship, journals, conference proceedings, works in special formats or limited editions, works that amplify the impact of the Libraries’ collections, and community- or partner-driven scholarship and public humanities output. LP@UF is supported by Digital Partnerships and Strategies, a four-person department that includes the Copyright and OER Librarian, Scholarly Publishing and Repository Librarian, LP@UF Designer and Coordinator, and the Senior Director for Library Technology & Digital Strategies (Department Chair). LP@UF’s journal publishing program is managed by the Scholarly Publishing and Repository Librarian.

When it comes to journals, LP@UF publishes 17 journals with 2 in development through Florida Online Journals (Florida OJ). Florida OJ is a statewide installation of Open Journal Systems (OJS), hosted by the Florida Virtual Campus (FLVC) and the Florida Academic Library Services Cooperative (FALSC). Open to members of all Florida colleges and universities working in partnership with an academic library liaison, Florida OJ provides site hosting and basic technical support to journals. More advanced support is coordinated through the library liaison for their respective institutions’ journals. For UF-based journals, support is coordinated through LP@UF by the Scholarly Publishing and Repository Librarian. 

The Scholarly Publishing and Repository Librarian provides assistance with the initial site launch, recommendations for training, basic technical troubleshooting, escalation to the web hosts at FALSC/FLVC for larger technical issues, recommendations for editorial project management, recommendations for journal policies, assistance with archiving/preservation of journal content, and DOI assignment. The LP@UF Designer and Coordinator provides graphic design services, such as the development of a webpage banner or logo, as needed. The Copyright and OER Librarian acts as an advocate for developing policies associated with copyright and authors’ rights, and is also available to discuss specific questions related to copyright with editors as needed. The LP@UF team does not support daily management of journal operations on Florida OJ, web design, membership and subscription records, or editorial work (copyediting, layout services, proofreading).

The Journal of Civic Information

The Journal of Civic Information (JoCI) was launched in Fall 2019. JoCI is a project of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida. Frank LoMonte, Director of the Brechner Center, is the Publisher of JoCI. LoMonte sought out David Cuillier as JoCI’s editor, along with an editorial board of 13 members from across the United States and Brazil. The primary motivation behind a journal devoted to information access was to gather the best thinking from across the information-management disciplines in hopes of providing a resource for advocates and policymakers. It was a no-brainer to make a journal about the accessibility of information an open-access journal, especially as the editorial team wanted to reach the widest possible audience, particularly the practitioners and policymakers who are less likely to have subscriptions to academic journals. 

LoMonte was introduced to the idea of a library-published journals by Ann Christiano and her team at UF’s Center for Public Interest Communications, who manage the Journal of Public Interest Communications (JPIC) on Florida OJ. JPIC was satisfied with the Florida OJ hosting environment and the support they received from the UF Libraries. JoCI was intrigued by the idea of a platform that was flexible and customizable, with local back-end support. They especially liked the idea of working with the UF Libraries because of our shared mission to figure out solutions to get reliable information into the most hands at the lowest cost.

Another beneficial partner to JoCI was the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC). As a startup, JoCI tested a strategy to find potential discipline-specific partnerships to get the word out and generate new research that might not have been done before. Cuillier is NFOIC board president, which encouraged relationships with potential authors that set JoCI up for early success. NFOIC conducts an annual research competition that provided JoCI with a potential pipeline for published projects. A number of the authors from the 2019 competition decided to submit their papers to JoCI, which gave the journal an advantage in acquiring quality work in its early days. This helped establish the journal and secure content for its first issues, a challenging time for many publications. 

JoCI’s final pivotal partnership was with LP@UF. From the beginning, the JoCI editors and the Scholarly Publishing and Repository Librarian were careful to outline respective and joint responsibilities and expectations. For the most part, this was relatively easy. The JoCI team handles all editorial aspects of the journal, currently outside of the Florida OJ system, with plans to use the system’s submission and review functionalities in the future.The Scholarly Publishing and Repository Librarian is the first point of contact for workflow questions and technical issues, and also manages DOI registration with Crossref. In the earliest days of the publishing process, there were some uncertainties to figure out together, such as who would be responsible for applications to various indices and databases. Ultimately, through open conversation about what we didn’t know, what we had experience with, and what we had capacity to take on, we were able to determine a way forward. In the case of getting the journal indexed, we agreed that the editors would investigate and manage applications for subject-specific indices (working with their liaison librarian as needed), while applications to more general databases like the Directory of Open Access Journals would be supported by LP@UF.

What’s Next

Currently, JoCI uses the Florida OJ system for publishing the final issue, reviewing usage statistics, and registering DOIs. As of Fall 2020, JoCI is preparing to publish Volume 2, Issue 2. In the future, the JoCI editorial team is interested in finding new ways to maximize promotion of related scholarship, perhaps by adding functionality to the website that enables JoCI to summarize and link out to other scholarly articles in the field. They are also planning occasional "themed" issues, such as transparency and accessibility of information about policing. 

 Each new journal provides a new opportunity to assess what works and what doesn’t for both the publishing program and their partners. The LP@UF team is excited to continue working with JoCI and others on Florida OJ.

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