Articles page of Bond University journal, Spreadsheets in Education
Articles page of Bond University journal, Spreadsheets in Education

Over the past thirty years, Bond University has developed a thriving journal publishing program. Today, the university has ten faculty-run journals in a variety of subject areas - from legal scholarship to education - and Bond’s library is working to ensure that they can support new publishing initiatives in the future.

Scholarly Publications & Copyright Manager Antoinette Cass has worked with Bond journals for the past eleven years. Since 2008, she’s helped faculty publish their journals online via the library’s institutional repository to make the research openly accessible. When the university decided to adopt a different research management system in 2018, Cass realized that Bond would need a new place to host its ten open access journals.

“The new research management system is also serving as our repository, but it can’t support journals,” Cass explained. “And we have some very vibrant and active journals that we want to take care of.”

So she set out to find a new platform to manage and host Bond’s journals. Cass knew that they needed a low-tech peer review and publishing solution that would be easy to migrate journals to and that would provide modern digital publishing functionality. After comparing different software options, Cass determined that Scholastica was the best solution to meet Bond’s publishing needs.

“I really liked what I learnt about Scholastica. It came through as a very adaptive and well-structured platform that would do everything we needed and more,” said Cass.

A smooth transition to Scholastica

During the transition to Scholastica, Cass worked closely with Bond Publications Officer Doreen Taylor who serves as administrator for seven of the university’s faculty-run law journals. Cass and Taylor said the transition has been smooth for them and for the editors of the journals they work with.

“Migrating all of these journals was a big undertaking but Scholastica has helped us to do the job really efficiently,” said Cass.

Cass and Taylor worked closely with the Scholastica team throughout Bond’s journal migration to onboard editors to the system and to upload all of the journals’ back articles and issues.

“We’ve had a really good team helping us at Scholastica, even uploading all of our backlog content for us. And that was all in the upfront price structure. We thought that was fantastic,” said Cass. “The batch uploading would have taken us a lot more time. It was so good that Scholastica took care of all of the uploading for us.”

For many of Bond’s journals, this is the first time using software to manage all aspects of peer review. Cass and Taylor say they’ve begun to see the benefits of digital journal management, including more centralized communication and easier manuscript tracking.

“The training sessions were great. They were customized for sets of editors at very different journals,” said Cass. “We have law journals and humanities journals that haven’t done peer review online before and they’re excited to use the system. All of the editors have provided good feedback on how easy it is and how nice the journals look. It didn’t take me long at all to do the basic set up and get everybody ready to go.”

For Taylor, the move to Scholastica has also helped automate a lot of the more tedious administrative work she’s had to handle in the past.

“I’ve been a fan of Scholastica from when I first had a look at it. I find it really easy to use, you don’t get lost in all of the different pages and processes like other systems,” said Taylor. “I found that once I got the hang of what I was doing it’s actually a lot of fun to be in there. Prior to our fully online process, mine was a very manual job. I was sending a lot of emails to and on behalf of editors. There was a lot of paperwork for manuscript revisions and back and forth. Now, in the Scholastica system, I’m able to help journals process submissions and communicate updates to editors to keep them on track a lot more efficiently.”

Taylor said she finds the email templates that Scholastica provides for journal decision letters and discussion messages especially helpful. She’s been encouraging the law journal editors to use templates for common communications to save time.

With Scholastica, Cass and Taylor are able to easily access all of Bond’s journals as needed to help editors with tasks like setting up email templates, customizing journal settings, and preparing digital articles and issues. “I can look into each journal as an editor and make updates as needed,” said Cass. “For example, I recently asked one of our editors if I could go into their journal to make a few updates to ensure the articles are DOAJ compliant. I always ask the editors do you mind if I go in and do this or that, and they’re always glad to have the help. And it’s so easy for me to do that in Scholastica.”

In addition to checking on journal accounts, Cass said she’s been using Scholastica’s journal performance analytics to track how editors are doing. Scholastica provides a suite of peer review reports for all journals including high-level stats like the average number of manuscripts assigned to each journal editor, journals’ average time to manuscript decision, and days to decision by editor. “I really like all of those touch points so I can see how everyone is traveling,” said Cass. “Library Services has provided the platform and of course we have a vested interest in making sure all of the journals using it do well.”

Professional digital publishing features to take Bond journals further

Bond University Journal website example, Culture Mandala

In the switch to Scholastica, Bond was able to keep all of the digital publishing functionality its institutional repository offered and to gain much more. All of Bond’s journals are now mobile-friendly and feature site-wide search functionality making it easy for online readers to find journal articles on specific topics. For Cass, Taylor, and the editors they work with, Scholastica’s publishing platform has proven easy to use and has given them the website editing and customization options they needed.

“We really like Scholastica’s website template, the journals all look great and the search functionality is fantastic,” said Cass. “The embedded readership and publishing analytics that Scholastica offers was also very important to us.” Bond uses Scholastica to report on journal readership stats including unique visitor stats for journal websites, website pageviews, and article download counts. They also keep track of journals’ readership distribution by country and how readers are being referred to their journals online.

“Our authors involved with the journals are keen to have publishing analytics. They’re using Scholastica’s publishing analytics in their reports and professional development reviews to show that they have had an impact beyond citations,” said Cass. “It’s important for us to be able to offer download counts and other kinds of alternative impact measures for our open access journals.”

Fostering a fully-digital publishing program

Now that they’ve finished migrating all of Bond’s journals to Scholastica, Cass and Taylor are focused on helping the journals to embrace new digital publishing opportunities both in terms of peer review tracking and content dissemination.

“Particularly in these early months, I’m closely monitoring all of the journals and submissions to each journal to provide support and assistance to the editors, authors, and reviewers and to ensure they are following the correct processing steps along the way,” said Taylor. “I’ve been encouraging those not used to publishing software to really embrace the platform because it is so user-friendly and clear cut. And the Editor Guide is a brilliant resource. I have been sending that to all of our editors to refer to if in doubt.”

Cass is also helping Bond journal editors get acquainted with Scholastica, and she is now turning her attention to supporting journal indexing efforts. “We’ve got Google Scholar indexing, which was a must,” said Cass. “And when I saw that Scholastica integrates with DOAJ that was a big plus.” Cass said she plans to help all Bond journals get added to the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) over the next year. “My aim is to have all of the journals be DOAJ compliant, as we think that is an important next step for the journals, and we’re glad Scholastica can help us with that.”

Bond’s move to Scholastica also marks its transition to online-only journal publishing. “We have two journals that have been here at Bond for a long time - one for 30 years and one for 25 years - and they were both always run manually and published in print. But now with our transition to Scholastica, those journals have elected to stop being manual and paper-based and to be fully online,” said Cass. “They were losing money publishing in print and missing out on a lot of online potential. I think using Scholastica kind of helped encourage them to move online and that’s something that I see as progress.”

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