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September 29, 2011

ULS joins forces with open-access software developer

ulsThe University Library System and the Public Knowledge Project (PKP) have entered into a major partnership to further develop scholarly communication software.  PKP, a leading player in the open access publishing movement, provides open source software for journal and conference management and publishing.

Under the agreement, ULS will assist with PKP’s ongoing development and support of its open source software suite: Open Journal Systems (OJS), Open Conference Systems and Open Harvester System, with Open Monograph Press due for release next year.

ULS sponsors a free open-access journal publishing service for partners worldwide using OJS as part of its D-Scribe digital publishing services ( The University also uses PKP’s Open Conference Systems, which facilitates managing conferences and publishing papers and proceedings.

The journal publishing service relies heavily on the PKP platform, ULS director Rush Miller said. “OJS is a platform for publishing a journal that really allows the editors to manage the entire thing online in our server. Submissions are done online, the reviews are done in that environment, each editor works online. And then when you’re done, it’s automatically published online. So this is a tremendous amount of paperwork and office work that is really done in a low-cost environment for the journals. It lowers the cost dramatically and the result becomes an online result,” he said.

The result is better than a print journal because “it’s going to be read much more, plus it will be read around the world,” he said.

The journal publishing service not only provides broader access to scholarly work because it is available online, but it also helps save journals that could be at risk of going out of existence due to declining revenues, Miller said.

“Giving them an online platform that they didn’t have otherwise and doing this at little or no cost to them allows them to consider opening their journal to the world without revenue,” he said.

Science journals, which contain research that often is federally funded, can maintain revenues through author fees, which can be paid with grant funding. However, in other disciplines, such as the humanities, that’s not the case, Miller said.

“That’s where we see our publishing role, in partnership with the University Press, to really help at-risk journals remain viable and stay in business through the open-access model.”

Miller added, “Now [PKP is] developing and close to having a monograph platform. We want that monograph platform very much because it will allow us to work with the University Press and others — societies and associations and so on — in publishing online monographs. The venture that we’ve done with them is in recognition of our reliance on their platform and our desire to see that that platform grows, is viable economically … and continues to be kept current.”

Miller said PKP is seeking partners with good technological infrastructures to test these products, and part of ULS’s partnership will include early testing of platforms and enhancements. The deal also will give ULS a voice in the future development of these products.

“We had a strong reliance on it; now we have a strong stake in it,” he said.

In a prepared release, John Willinsky, a Stanford University faculty member, founding director of PKP and a member of the ULS publications advisory board, stated: “This partnership represents a new phase of international cooperation in developing open-source resources for the scholarly community and for scholarly communication; it represents an important advance in PKP’s growing association with research libraries.”

Earlier this month, PKP launched a major sustainability campaign to ensure the continued development and enhancement of its open- source software suite and to provide better support for the growing PKP user community. Information about this initiative is available at

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 44 Issue 3

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