I. Do we need to analyze the existing market in Library science journals? Andrea and Anita have both raised this question. The reasons for doing so fall into two categories: 1) Determining need—are quality articles going unpublished for lack of an outlet; does the world need another library journal? And 2) Identifying the competition as a way to help us define the scope of our proposed journal.
My view: I’m not inclined to spend a great deal of time on this task (at least at the beginning) for the following reasons. One of the reasons the journal was proposed at all was as an experiment in alternative open-access publication. The rhetoric in the Library community (I’m thinking of Dan Greenstein among others right now) is that academics need to develop new models of scholarly publishing as sustainable alternatives to typical journal publishing. I think this notion is problematic, but that, if anyone can pull it off, it ought to be librarians. As a group, academic librarians should be uniquely well-informed about the publishing crisis; especially supportive of innovative alternatives; and less reluctant to publish in non-traditional venues. Ideally the journal would attract authors who would otherwise seek to publish in established, but expensive titles (of which librarianship has a surfeit). Assessing the size of the pool of publishable articles isn’t that relevant in this scenario.
I think the greatest benefit of this analysis would be in helping us define the scope of the new journal. In this regard, my preference would be to describe our ideal journal first and then see how it might be adapted to have the greatest chance of success in the market.
What are your thoughts?
II. How do we imagine this journal.
Even if we decide to analyze the market as our one of our first steps, I think we need to be clear about what we are looking for. What follows are some of the questions/topics I think we need to answer. It is my hope that you will add to this list, both now and later as we learn more. As you will see, some of these questions are broadly conceptual, others focus on mechanical details. Obviously I’ve thought more about some parts of this than others. The questions/topics also fall into two main categories. The journal itself, and its organizational structure.
What is its scope? Should it be open to all aspects of librarianship and information science; or just topics relevant to academic libraries; or should it be even more focused than that?
What do we call it?
What kinds of pieces will it contain? Peer-reviewed articles only? Book reviews? Review Essays? Opinion pieces? Technology reviews? Letters? Advertising?
How do we define an issue? Should we just say 3+ articles makes an issue? Should we encourage theme issues? I know of one journal which invites applications from guest editors who then build an issue around a particular theme of their choice. This might be an interesting model to consider.
What kind of publication schedule should we set? Quarterly, twice a year? Is the publication of discrete issues even necessary in an electronic environment. What if we post articles as ready and simply bundle each batch of 3-4 articles as an issue? (I’m not recommending this, but we should consider the possibility.)
What are the steps in producing an issue of a journal from the receipt of an article to its publication. How long from start to finish?
How can we get the journal indexed in relevant A&I bibliographies?
Should we offer a TOC notification service to interested readers?
We will need to design a “look”.
What staff positions does the journal need?
Which of them (if any) should receive compensation (e.g. salary, release time)?
Does the journal need an editorial/advisory board?
Does LAUC need a Publications Committee?
Where does decision-making authority lie?
How long should an editor serve? Indefinitely or for a fixed, renewable term? 3 years? 5 years?
Must the editor be a LAUC member?
What are our expectations for institutional support from the library where an editor works? From LAUC? Could LAUC fund a graduate assistant and/or release time for the editor? Should we expect that a host library will offer this level of support if it agrees to host the journal? Should we expect that the journal seek grant support?
What other funding/support options can we explore (e.g. grants, institutional partners)?
III First Steps:
I am arranging for space on the web where I can post drafts and working documents..
Interview journal editors and publishers. (Of course we have to decide what we need to ask first.)
Market analysis (Again, we have to decide what we need to know first)
Investigate e-scholarship. We need to learn exactly what support they offer journals, what their technology can and cannot do; what they would expect of LAUC.
Make what preliminary decisions we can about the journal.
Begin to rough out a work-flow chart for the journal.