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Guide to Best Practices Section 1

July 2009
Revised September 2010

Statements of Best Practices for Editors of LIS Journals

To fulfill the functions of recruitment, selection, and production of journal articles, editors of LIS journals can be most effective when journals provide up-to-date systems, processes, and policies to support the editorial process. The following series of statements identifies best practices for editors of LIS journals. These statements describe effective practices that are in place for many journals and goals, toward which all journals should work. Authors of manuscripts in the LIS discipline tend to be particularly well informed about publishing practices and to have high expectations of the publishing process. Where best practices are not in place, editors are at a competitive disadvantage in their efforts to obtain works of the highest possible quality.

Section 1: Electronic Formats

  • In today’s scholarly environment, electronic versions of journals are rapidly becoming the standard for access and preservation. Even if the journal only exists in print currently, publishers should archive those print files in a standard digital format and also move forward with plans to move the publication to an online setting, with a clearly defined strategy for acceptable archival preservation of the online format (see also Section 3: Preservation, for additional discussion).

Commentary: Publishing models today continue to offer format options. Print is not necessarily “old school,” but these best practices appropriately focus on electronic formats. Electronic versions add substantial value to readers in terms of facilitated discovery, access, usability, etc. If the print and online formats vary, the publisher and editor need to publicly post information about any differences between formats.

See also Section 3-2 on Digital Journal Preservation.

1–1: Managing Electronic and Print Versions

  • Editors and publishers should each understand and communicate clearly the published content differences, if any, between print and online versions so that authors and subscribers understand these differences. Authors need to know up front how their work will be disseminated and what the schedule will be.

  • Where there are print and electronic versions, policies about which format or e-version is the version of record should be clearly stated. In establishing such, the official version should be clearly designated in some way, like in a publisher statement, notation, and always in a standard place.

  • In considering electronic versions, either for primary access or archival value, the e-version should always include contributors, editors, titles, and other credits that enhance searchability for authors, reviewers, and opinion pieces. If content is rescripted for the online environment, the credits should accurately represent what readers find in the print version.

  • The publisher should ensure that the links stay active, or, if changed, should have a notification process in place so that all subscribers can adjust their records accordingly.

Commentary: See also the ongoing NISO work to develop a journal article version standard included in the section on Standards below.

1–2: Release Schedule

  • Regardless of release practice, publishers should have a stated policy for posting articles online and making them available to subscribers.

Commentary: Several options exist for release of e-formats, and publishers now use both. Early release means prior release of the entire issue or the individual article online before print distribution; prior release means as accepted before the final corrected proof of the article and production of entire issue. Simultaneous release (print and online) seemingly delays access and weakens the reason for e-access.

1–3: Digitization of Back Files

Commentary: Digitized back issues create critical mass and a single access point to attract online readership, enable value-added services, such as citation linking, etc. Many commercial and society publishers have already completed backfile digitization, and services like JSTOR exist specifically to facilitate discovery, access, and use of backfiles of journal literature.

1–4: Display of Editorial Information

Each electronic issue should contain a standard description and standard placement of submission practices, as well as policies on issues such as copyright, permissions, etc., as they appear in any print format.

Instructions to authors statements should, among other things, include:

  • Information on submission and reference style
  • Requirement for abstract content and length
  • Practices regarding provision of keywords for indexing
  • Required elements for author description
  • Handling of proofs and expectations regarding proof checking
  • Procedures for submission of artwork
  • Requirements for or limitations on handling mathematical or other non-Roman scripts
  • Capability of and requirements for producing color images and online materials
  • A description of the peer-review process, including any differences in the treatment of invited submissions and unsolicited manuscripts
  • Any ethical practices and standards of integrity expected of the author
  • If the publisher belongs to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and is represented by the editor, the Code of Conduct (http://publicationethics.org/code-conduct) should be provided to the author

Commentary: Editors should consider policies as to author guidelines, indexes, and other standard features in context of article level, journal level, appearance in first or last issue of a volume, etc. Author guidelines should be provided on the publisher's Web site for the journal. Where a publisher publishes multiple journals, instructions to authors should be easily accessible by title. The editor is responsible for providing this information to potential authors on request (even if it is not on the Web site) and should respond promptly to any questions or concerns. Ideally, front and back matter pertaining to these specifics should appear in each print issue, so readers do not have to retrieve a different (usually first or last) issue for instructive information. A well-constructed Web site can accommodate these matters where print publications require additional pages per issue.

1–5: Embargoes on Alternate Dissemination

  • Embargoed content is a reality of the marketplace, but the shorter the embargo period, up to at least to 6 months, the more readily information can be accessed without unduly harming the publisher's revenue stream.

Commentary: Publishing practices vary with regards to embargo periods when content is hosted by an aggregator. Early projections proposed that online access would curtail subscriptions; thus, delaying full-text access through database providers, unless a local subscription exists, affects aggregators and researchers. Embargoes, as well as wholesale withdrawal of content from aggregators by publishers who establish their own platforms, remain a concern. With sophisticated search engines in place, researchers will seek information elsewhere rather than waiting for a time to pass before accessing a particular article.

1–6: Metadata and Indexing

  • Editors and publishers should have authors supply consistent keywords or words/terms from a controlled vocabulary for each article and incorporate these into the print and electronic versions. These would complement any other controlled vocabularies that may be applied by third parties.

  • Editors should ensure that metadata are created for their publications that support accurate and persistent citation and that metadata include categories that will support future item discovery and identification (e.g., date, volume, issues).

Commentary: This is not a universal practice, but it is a reasonable expectation of authors given the nature of the field. Metadata enhances discovery and elevates indexing amongst thousands of hits. Many authors of LIS works are expert in the creation of metadata, and LIS authors generally are cognizant of the importance and value of extensive and high-quality metadata. Some online submission systems offer a controlled vocabulary to facilitate the assignment of metadata.

Section 2: Authors' Rights Practices

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