By Brandon Locke The Library Publishing Workflows project is gearing up for a whole set of major releases — starting next week with the full workflow documentation for all twelve of our partner libraries. This week, we have a couple of teasers to whet your appetite and get you thinking about publishing workflows! For those of you who like to start with the nitty gritty, we are sharing our workflow framework. And for those of you who want to skip right to the big questions (Why do we publish? How do our workflows reflect our values?), we have a fantastic recorded panel discussion.
Our goal in this project is to document a variety of journal publishing workflows. The “right” workflow for one library won’t necessarily fit the needs of another, but all current and prospective library publishers could benefit from seeing how different programs are staffing and carrying out the publishing process. The differences in workflows between our partners occur for many different reasons, including the mission and goals of the library publishing program, staffing and budget, preferences of editors, and historical contingencies of the library and publishing programs.
That said, in the course of our data collection and analysis, the project team has developed a framework for the kinds of work that go into library journal publication. The workflow activities our partners undertake fall roughly into five high-level phases—Submission, Review, Production, Publication, Post-Publication. This framework is both less detailed and more comprehensive than any individual publishing workflow, but it has helped us to understand the broader context and compare different workflows. We hope that this framework will be useful to you both in thinking about your own workflow, and in contextualizing the partner workflows we will release next week.
Note: We have listed each activity only once in the framework, though one of the ways that workflows differ is the order in which activities occur, so something like the licensing agreement could take place as part of a variety of different phases.
Post-Publication: Communications and marketing (notifying authors, social media, etc), preservation, indexing
Recorded panel: Our workflows, our values
In this 38 minute-long recorded panel discussion, representatives of six of our partner libraries—Jennifer Beamer (Claremont Colleges Library), Paige Mann (Armacost Library (University of Redlands)), Justin Gonder (California Digital Library), Michelle Wilson (Columbia University Libraries), Sonya Betz (University of Alberta Library), and Vanessa Gabler (The University Library System at the University of Pittsburgh)—grapple with the big questions raised by creating and documenting publishing workflows, including: “What role do library publishers play in ensuring high quality fact-based scholarly publishing,” “What role do they play in social justice and increasing access to means of production,” and “What is the role of library publishing in the Open Access movement and scholarly communications models?”
Keep an eye out next week for the release of the full workflow documentation for each partner library, and then watch this space over the next few months for more workflows-related content and tools!
In May, Brandon Locke (Educopia Institute), Jennifer Beamer (Claremont Colleges Library), Sonya Betz (University of Alberta Library), and Joshua Neds-Fox (Wayne State University Libraries) discussed the lessons they’ve learned from the LPWorkflows project so far, and how the process of documentation has impacted their program’s approach at the Library Publishing Forum. The recording of their panel, Working through the Pain: How Library Publishers are Learning from Workflow Documentation is now available!
In celebration of Documentation Month, I wanted to share a brief workflow diagram tool evaluation that I created early in the LPW project. There are an overwhelming number of tools and platforms for creating workflow diagrams, and I relied on a number of lists and reviews to find some candidates that could potentially work.
While there is a lot to like about the open source diagrams.net, we ultimately decided to use Lucidchart for our project for a few reasons. Lucidchart, along with many of the other freemium and premium tools, has slightly better aesthetics, more templates, and more built-in features to add non-diagram components. Educopia also had a subscription to Lucidchart and experience with the platform on OSSArcFlow, which made it compelling for us to use, while its freemium model also means that libraries can use our templates and shape libraries to create up to three of their own diagrams.
By Brandon Locke Editor’s note: This is a guest post in our Library Publishing Pain Points series, featuring reflections from our Library Publishing Workflows partners on the challenges they face in implementing, running, and sustaining their library publishing workflows.
Unsurprisingly, the steps in journal workflows that require staff time and attention were the most common pain points mentioned. These manual processes make it difficult to scale up publishing programs or maintain regular publishing schedules. Publishers who typeset and layout articles in-house unanimously identified that work as a pain point. Typesetting and layout are often tedious (especially when working with equations or other types of special formatting), difficult to get correct, and not supported by platforms, requiring library staff to export, use a different piece of software, and re-upload. Several partners also identified quality control and the correction of partially automated processes as time-consuming pain points. Quality control issues occurred at all stages of the workflow, including correcting batch upload spreadsheets, DOI assignments, format conversions, and preservation.
Our partners brought up an array of pain points regarding staffing, including inadequate number of staff, training of new personnel, and difficulties replacing or maintaining production when people leave. Staffing is, of course, closely related to the first issue of time-consuming manual work, because a larger number of employees allow for more of that work to be done effectively. Fewer dedicated staff also mean that publishers are less able to provide customized support to journals, including (but not limited to) software development. Most of the library workers we interviewed had library duties outside of publishing, meaning that it could be challenging to balance their work, particularly when publishing work may come in large batches. Several programs also mentioned that much of the work and institutional knowledge relied heavily on only one or two people, so the impact of that employee leaving, especially unexpectedly, could have a catastrophic impact on the program.
Lack of control over publishing process
Library publishing is a necessarily collaborative process that relies heavily on journal editors, authors, vendors, publishing platform(s), and library personnel. Many of our partners reported pain points that stemmed from the inability of the library to control the process, workflow, and timeline of the journals they are publishing. Our partners reported many workflow differences between the journals they publish, often depending on the journal’s field, policies, and editor preferences. These issues are especially prevalent in library publishing, as many of their journals that have been established elsewhere and come with preexisting norms and processes. High levels of journal autonomy mean that it can be difficult for library publishers to institute changes to workflows, or normalize processes across their different journals. In addition to this, many of our partners noted that because articles often come in large batches (sometimes as issues, or sometimes because the academic calendar impacts editors’ available time), it can be difficult to handle such irregular workloads.
We saw an abundance of social issues in these pain points conversations. Communicating with staff members and editors, managing the expectations of editors and authors, and training staff and editors were all significant factors in mitigating pain points. While I had expected a mix of social, technical, and financial pain points to arise, our conversations made clear how closely those three aspects are tied together. This is not an area where much can be automated, so the technology only works as well as the people who maintain it, oversee its use, and fill in for its inadequacy. Library workers are only able to perform this step to the extent that libraries are adequately staffed and time is carved out for them to do the hands-on work and communicate with the other stakeholders.
One of the key goals of Library Publishing Workflows is capturing a diversity of workflows from different types of institutions with different goals and methods. We want to introduce each of the libraries and their project representatives, who will be working with us over the next two years to document, analyze, and share the publishing workflow(s) they are employing.
University of Alberta Library
Based in Edmonton, Canada, the University of Alberta Library supports open, sustainable, and responsible models for ensuring a healthy and robust scholarly communications ecosystem. We hope that our participation in this project will enable us to contribute meaningfully to a shared understanding of common workflows, best practices, and documentation to help libraries demonstrate viable models for community owned, scholar-driven academic publishing.
Sonya Betz, Head of Library Publishing and Digital Production Services, has been working with the UofA’s open publishing program since 2015.
Robert W. Woodruff Library (Atlanta University Center)
Established in 1982, the Atlanta University Center (AUC) Robert W. Woodruff Library serves the nation’s largest consortium of historically black colleges and universities, which includes Clark Atlanta University, the Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse College, and Spelman College. AUC Woodruff Library is involved in this project to capture and refine our current workflow(s) and learn how we can improve our library publishing services as we grow and adopt new publishing platforms.
The main library representative for this project is Josh Hogan, Assistant Head of Digital Services, who is heavily involved with assisting current journal editors and staff as well as reaching out to potential new journals in the AUC community.
Our project advisory board bring diverse expertise and experience in library publishing, scholarly communication, and library infrastructure. The advisors will provide advice and feedback at all phases of the project. We are excited to introduce our awesome advisors!
Cheryl is Director of the Digital Publishing Collaborative at Wayne State University Libraries, where she is building a digital publishing pedagogy based on open-access and multimedia-driven work. She is the Project Director for Vega, an open-source academic publishing platform, and serves as the executive director of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. Since 2006, Ball has been lead editor of the peer-reviewed, open-access journal Kairos: Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, which exclusively publishes scholarly multimedia, from which she founded KairosCamp, a series of institutes to teach scholars, editors, and publishers how to produce and publish digital (humanities) projects.
Cheryl brings extensive experience in diverse publishing roles and initiatives to support this project. She will draw upon her experience in these areas to assist project partners to develop research strategies relevant to library publishers and bring these much-needed insights to the library publishing ecosystem.
Rachel is Executive Director, Research Library Partnership, OCLC, overseeing OCLC’s work and engagement with the Research Library Partnership, a venue for research libraries to undertake significant, innovative, collective action to benefit libraries, scholars and researchers everywhere.
Rachel has nearly 20 years of broad-based library experience, including senior positions at the Digital Public Library of America, the Digital Library Federation at the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the University of Richmond.
At a time when commercial publishers are seeking control of the entire research lifecycle, this scaffolding for open publishing is increasingly important and potentially transformative.
This proposed work comes at a strategic moment for OCLC, as we investigate ways to best leverage our collections infrastructure to support libraries’ investment in open content. It is a great opportunity to be involved in this project as an advisory board member project.”
Kari is the Institute Archivist and Program Head, Digital Archives at the MIT Libraries, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Kari works to collect, make accessible and preserve for the future the Research output, Faculty papers, and Administrative records that document MIT’s engagement with the world and it’s academic and research missions. Kari previously served as the BitCurator Consortium President and member of the Executive Committee, and on the ArchivesSpace Technical Advisory Committee, and she serves on the SAA Research Forum Program Committee. She teaches on the Digital Preservation Management Workshops series and researches how creating durable documents and information forms can lead to a more complete historical record.
As a project advisor, Kari’s extensive experience in developing archives and library workflows and infrastructure will help inform the cohort creation and development of the project. She was also a partner participant in Educopia Institute’s OSSArcFlow Project, and brings valuable insights from that process.
We will be regularly publishing blog updates as this project advances—we are leading off this series with an introduction to the project team!
Melanie Schlosser (Scholarly Communications Program Leader, Educopia Institute and Community Facilitator, Library Publishing Coalition) is the lead Principal Investigator for the project.
Brandon Locke (Project Manager, Library Publishing Workflows, Educopia Institute) will oversee much of the day to day work of the project, including coordinating between partner institutions and the project team, conducting research and documenting workflows, logistics and planning for the LPW in-person meeting, and preparing and presenting research outcomes from the project.
Dr. Katherine Skinner (Executive Director, Educopia Institute) is a co-principal investigator. She will ensure the project and its deliverables adhere to open access and community frameworks, and that they are both built and sustained by a range of committed partners.
Hannah Ballard (Communications Manager, Educopia Institute) will oversee the project’s communications strategy and presence. Hannah will help share project stories and deliverables via a series of digital campaigns that will correspond with major moments and milestones in the project’s two-year timeframe.