Open-source journal software
March 13, 2005 10:35 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know of a software package, preferably open source, that would be good for managing an on-line academic journal? I would need it to handle both presentation on-line and submissions through a complicated back-end.

One necessary feature would be categories for articles (features/book reviews/articles/notices/etc). Other features I would like would be a feature for user-authenticated discussion of articles and PDF export. The backend would ideally be pretty complicated, taking submissions, allowing an editor to delegate them to a pool of reviewers who would be notified by email when a new submission waits to be reviewed, collecting comments from reviewers, and notifying authors when acceptance/rejection/comments are available.

I figure this is a lot to ask, but it's such an established process that it's gotta be out there somewhere.
posted by ontic to Education (15 answers total)
 
Drupal, EZPublish, or Typo3. They each have their out-of-the-box strength (respectively: categorization & disucssion; workflow management; PDF export) and are adaptable enough to get you the rest of the way there. Drupal has the easiest learning curve. EZPublish is a bear to learn, but insanely flexible once you understand it. Note that Typo3's author has a personal stipulation (despite being in conflict with the intent of the GPL) which may or may not apply to your project.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:24 PM on March 13, 2005


nakedcodemonkey : "EZPublish is a bear to learn, but insanely flexible once you understand it."

Don't you mean Typo3? Since that's the reputation it has (my experience, as well), and EZ prefix would be a mismatch for a hard-to-learn ware.
posted by Gyan at 1:02 AM on March 14, 2005


Obligatory opencms link. Go there, try the systems, pick your favorite.
This guy doesn't seem to like EZPublish.
I've used Typo3, and the learning curve's harsh, but the community (news: news.netfielders.de) is very helpful, and there's a lot of documentation.
posted by signal at 5:14 AM on March 14, 2005


Woops. That's not opencms, but opensourcecms. I have no idea what opencms is.
posted by signal at 5:18 AM on March 14, 2005


I'm also trying to figure this out (at a very general level so far). For me the key question is workflow management, rather than content management per se. Looking at different systems, I realise that there are different models depending on the workflow model you want, based on the amount of revision/interaction you envisage between editors and authors.

In my case, I'm interested in a book/long article model. I'm interested in finding a package that allows management of *multiple* interactions and revisions between editors, and referees, and authors, across different dimensions of the document (e.g. style, argument, etc.). I'm interested in supporting editing as a creative process. For many academic journals, the point of acceptance/rejection is only about half-way through the process of actually publishing, and there remains much work to do to bring a piece up to scratch.

There are however a number publishing models that rely on less revision, and less interaction between editors and authors. In these models, the submitted/accepted content is pretty much the published content. Either it's in, or it's not. Models here include newspapers and magazines (which generate content in-house), and also conference systems, which often require either one or no rounds of revision. Depending on your publication model, you may therefore be better off with a conference-type rather than a journal-type CMS.

FYI here are some delicious links to systems, these are both commercial and open source systems, and YMMV.

And I have a question on ontology that I will post!
posted by carter at 10:20 AM on March 14, 2005


I'm interested in finding a package that allows management of *multiple* interactions and revisions between editors, and referees, and authors, across different dimensions of the document (e.g. style, argument, etc.). I'm interested in supporting editing as a creative process.

Though it may sound counterintuitive at first, have you considered a wiki?

nakedcodemonkey : "EZPublish is a bear to learn, but insanely flexible once you understand it."

Don't you mean Typo3? Since that's the reputation it has (my experience, as well), and EZ prefix would be a mismatch for a hard-to-learn ware.


The EZ prefix is indeed a mismatch. EZPublish definitely requires signficant training for an admin and unfortunately the documentation quality lags behind the project quality which makes the barriers of entry pretty high for a novice. However, once a good admin sets up the content objects, templates, workflows---from a pure user's perspective it can become very "ez" to use.

Typo3 is in the middle. There's a lot of complexity if you want to dive into it, but much of it turns out to be optional once you scrutinize the cluttered UI and technically-oriented documentation closely enough.

A wiki actually sounds like a good fit, though. And darned easy for everyone to learn. "Editing as a creative process" indeed.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:03 AM on March 14, 2005


Response by poster: So I guess there is nothing tailor-made out there, huh? That's no fun. Unfortunately a wiki won't work for my purposes -- I am looking to start a professional, peer-reviewed academic journal.
posted by ontic at 11:53 AM on March 14, 2005


Unfortunately a wiki won't work for my purposes -- I am looking to start a professional, peer-reviewed academic journal.

Perhaps I didn't explain this well: a wiki for the review and editing phases only. Essentially as your "creative backend". Then once the creative phase has concluded with approved final drafts, you can post those to your journal using literally any HTML publishing tool. The published articles would not be editable and can be presented in whatever polished manner you choose.

Take a close look at Drupal. It has excellent support for taxonomy, the collab book feature offers moderation/heirarchy/approvals control, and there's a plugin to support wiki features if you choose to opt for that too.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:30 PM on March 14, 2005


Best answer: I think that the problem is, tailor-made for what? There's no one specific academic journal publishing model, and a lot of the work involved in this kind of activity is different from journal to journal; and so everybody gets to re-invent the wheel at regular intervals. Having said that, have you checked out Open Journal Systems?

What I'm hoping to do is to get all the folks I will be working with in the same room with a big whiteboard and a box of markers, and sketch out absolutely everything that we think that the workflow will need, at a fine level of detail. We (or rather they) will then use that to inform a decision as to whether or not to buy or build, and if to buy, whether to go open source or proprietary, and also what kind of workflow we really need to support.
posted by carter at 1:41 PM on March 14, 2005


This PDF might be useful too, although it's a couple of years old. [Apologies for piecemeal posts, I'm multi-tasking ...]
posted by carter at 2:29 PM on March 14, 2005


Response by poster: Beautiful! Open Journal Systems is almost exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks!

And thanks for the interesting suggestion on using Wikis, nakedcodemonkey. I didn't realize what you were getting at, but that sounds like it may work better than I'd thought as the backend.
posted by ontic at 2:34 PM on March 14, 2005


Heh, I guess I came late here. Ontic, I worked on aspects of something a lot like this for the Journal of Chemical Physics a few summers ago--not so much the submission or display of articles (since it wasn't free and submission was already written) part, but managing referees, a system for submitting articles to referees and making further decisions based on their answers, etc.
posted by kenko at 2:40 PM on March 14, 2005


Response by poster: Anything special that you used, kenko?
posted by ontic at 4:11 PM on March 14, 2005


FWIW, most of your specs are also met by using a zope/plone combination. It has excellent content management features, handles a large variety of formats, and also has robust workflow/permissions to customize your work environment for different users. Community support is good. Here is the site I used to manage which runs zope/plone, which allows for content posting and review with categorization (if you look at the lesson plan repository).
posted by cgk at 8:20 PM on March 14, 2005


If you're still reading--it was all pretty homebrew, the editors wanted it to be in shell so that they could modify it later if they wanted. I guess I don't actualyl have that much advice.
posted by kenko at 7:28 AM on March 15, 2005


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