Skip to Main Content

Scholarly Journal Publishing

Resources for journal editors whose journals are hosted by the University of Calgary.

Aims & Scope

When considering setting up a new journal, you will want to ensure that the aims and scope of the journal are clear and that it is filling a significant niche that is not already being met by existing publications.  

Consider a number of other publications that are similar to the journal you are proposing: what unique opportunities or features does your proposed journal offer to editors, reviewers, authors, and readers?

  • UlrichsWeb is an international directory of serials.  You can browse by subject to get information about similar journals.
  • Journal Citation Reports allows you to compare information, including impact factor, of journals in the same subject category.

Consider who is likely to contribute to your journal.  How will you raise awareness and solicit contributions to your journal?

Define your expected readership, both in terms of expected numbers and demographics.

The Open Access Journals Toolkit has helpful resources for getting started, including help on setting the journal's scope and focus, choosing a title, and what types of content to accept.

For student journals, PKP has developed a Student Toolkit to assist with specific considerations and needs.

The University of Toronto also hosts a yearly Student Journal Forum where Canadian students involved with journal publishing may present and/or attend. Materials from past forums are available in a Student Journal Forum Collection.

Business Model

There are many business models that can ensure that your journal remains sustainable in the long term.  Depending on the staffing of your journal, you may have costs including a managing editor, copyeditors, layout and production staff, and more.  Unless you can rely solely on volunteer labour, you will probably need some form of revenue to keep your journal sustainable.  

There are two main economic models in scholarly publications: subscription and open access.

Subscription journals:
  • Make their content available only to those with personal or institutional subscriptions, or to those who pay membership fees (if the journal is associated with an association or professional society)
  • May make older content freely available after a set embargo period (a delay of typically 12-24 months).
  • May receive funding through grant programs or other institutional forms of support.
Open Access journals:
  • Are freely available online to anyone with access to the internet.
  • May charge authors an article-processing charge to cover or partially offset the costs of publishing.
  • May receive funding in whole or in part via grant programs or other institutional forms of support.

For more information about business models, particularly for open access journals, see this article about kick-off funding from the Open Access Journals Toolkit.

Editorial Structure & Process

Editorial Board

Your journal will require an Editorial Board to manage the daily operations of the journal, oversee the peer review process, etc.  Some things to consider include:

  • Board structure: PKP School provides an overview of common titles and roles.
  • Responsibilities: The EBLIP Publication manual provides an example of how tasks can be allocated to particular board members.
  • Term lengths: How long will each board member sit? 
  • Recruitment: What kind of recruitment, application, and selection processes will you use to bring in new members? 
  • Succession planning: Will junior positions move into more senior positions over time? What other structures exist so that new members can learn from past members?

Publishing schedule & format

  • Traditionally, journals were published a set number of times per year - for example, an issue every month. With the advent of electronic publishing, some journals have elected to publish journals as they are ready ("rolling issues").
    • This article covers some of the pros and cons to the two publication models.
  • The core of most scholarly journals consists of original research papers.  Other content you may wish to include might be review articles, editorials, interviews, book or product reviews, etc.

Peer review

  • What is your peer review process?  
    • Several approaches, with their respective advantages and disadvantages, are described in this PKP School Unit.
    • You may want to look at the peer review processes in place for existing similar journals.  Peer review practices are often discipline-specific.
  • Will all content be peer reviewed?
    • For some sections of the journal (typically non-research articles), editorial review may be the only assessment taken of a journal.
    • Consider the process for evaluating submitted articles before they move to the peer review process.  Your editorial team will likely provide this initial assessment.
    • You may wish to think about providing checklists or rubrics to guide peer reviewers. Some examples.
    • Consider building processes to resolve sharp disagreements between reviewers.

Guidelines for Authors

A comprehensive and clear set of author guidelines will help ensure that the content submitted to your journal is relevant and properly-structured.  Here is a helpful list of items to include in your guidelines.

Additional Resources