The Library as a mediator for e–publishing
First Monday

The Library as a mediator for e-publishing: A case on how a library can become a significant factor in facilitating digital scholarly communication and open access publishing for less Web-savvy journals by Mikael K. Elbaek and Lars Nondal

Denmark is a small country but with a large and diverse scholarly publishing environment. There are many small journals, mostly in English. A majority of these see the potential in online publishing but do not have the resources and capabilities to do so. Furthermore they have a conservative business model (i.e. finances!) that doesn't encourage an open access publishing strategy. The Copenhagen Business School (CBS) Library provides a low risk environment for small journals related to the business school to make a gradual transition to e–publishing/e–archiving. Whether they at a later stage take the full step towards open access publishing remains to be seen. It is our firm belief that this gradual transition is essential for these smaller journals to eventually arrive online at all.


Case study
Pitfalls and hints when facilitating smaller journals to online publishing





Scholarly publishing and open access in Denmark

Scholarly communication in Denmark is characterised by a strong focus on publishing in international, highly cited and prestigious journals. This focus has strongly been instigated by the Danish government’s agenda of making the Danish economy competitive in the global economy (Danish Government, 2006). The debate in the media has mostly been on the proposed merging of Danish universities and other research institutions (sektorforskningsinstitutioner) in order to become “world top level universities.” There is a strong and growing focus on the international impact of Danish universities (ranking) as well as benchmarking Danish universities against foreign universities. The focus is also on a more practical level benchmarking of research output (quantity and quality of publications), both domestically between Danish universities and between Danish universities and foreign universities of the same type. One of the benchmarking techniques that have been put forward has been citation analysis. It is controversial in some circles — but nevertheless it seems to be accepted by the Ministry as one method for benchmarking. As a result the universities have to follow suit.

In comparison to all this talk about “world class universities” and the issues concerning benchmarking of institutions, the question of open access (OA) publishing has been almost nonexistent. There has been only little debate on the topic of OA, mostly from university library leaders, much less from publishers and researchers. Some library directors have put forward well–known arguments referring to the explosive rise in the cost of scholarly journals, and to the paradox that universities in fact are forced to buy access to their own research output. At the other end of the spectrum are publishers, who have been very sceptical towards OA. Recently there has been some interest in OA from some publishers such as Museum Tusculanum Forlag [1], an academic press connected to the University of Copenhagen. Danish policy–makers have been largely silent in the debate on OA. As a result there has been little public funding of OA experiments in Denmark and, to our knowledge, no journals have been encouraged or forced to turn to OA by the government, university management, research societies, or funding agencies. To our knowledge, only one university in Denmark has signed the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities — Roskilde University in January 2006 [2]. However there are at least some OA activities on a pan–Nordic level. Nordbib organized a policy–making workshop on open access on 23–24 April 2007 in Helsingør, Denmark, with participants from universities, libraries and publishers [3]. Funds have been dedicated for a programme that will first map OA in the Nordic countries and then develop initiatives to support OA content and accessibility – largely aimed at journals within the humanities and social sciences. For this research Nordbib and the Nordic Board for Periodicals in the Humanities and the Social Sciences (NOP–HS) have raised DKK 3,1 million.

Journal publishing in Denmark

Journal publishing in Denmark is distinguished by a large number of small publishers and many journals with limited circulation. According to a recent study, there are 623 journals, of which 163 of these are available in some digital or online form, some as OA [4]. Many of these journals are published by one of the more then 500 research societies in Denmark. According to Burchardt there are some 7,100 people involved in editorial work, either as editors or reviewers. Most of these are volunteers doing the work as “con amour” to their research domain. Of the 623 journals, approximately 70 percent are published in English and most of the remainder in Danish, with only a handful published in other languages such as German and French. These journals cover a very broad range of research domains. Most of the journals are small in terms of circulation and size of submissions. Many of these journals are in the danger of extinction because of falling numbers of subscribers and rising costs of printing and distribution. At the same time, they face a hurdle of moving their content online. Most of the editors and managers of these journals know that it is crucial to have a presence on the Internet as well as appearing in bibliographic and other databases used by universities. Unfortunately these journals lack the funds and digital experience to migrate online.

Working with a number of these journals for several years, trying to persuade and help them to migrate from paper to electronic publishing, we have learned that they generally have very few available resources, both financially and in terms of personnel. They simply don’t have the capacity to go online. Furthermore, they often depend on a business model that rules out any possibility to move quickly to OA. For an existing paper journal, the transition from a situation where a number of subscribers for several years have provided the journal with the necessary income to cover the costs, it simply doesn’t make sense in their minds to suggest to do away with both all the income (subscription fees) and most of the expenses (production and distribution of paper–based issues). They simply cannot imagine a future where the economy is based on government funding, research council funding and/or author charges. Thus there is little interest from these journals to migrate to OA. They want to add some e–publishing to their existing business model, not to change their business model to OA.

Open Journal Systems in Denmark

Although the OA movement hasn’t received a lot of attention in Denmark there is a strong focus — especially from the university libraries — on getting digital access to research published in many of the small journals from Danish research societies. The Copenhagen Business School (CBS) Library sees it as a necessary and important faculty service to be able to offer our researchers, and the journals they edit themselves or at least publish in, a platform for e–publishing (or e–archiving) of journals. Historically we, as probably most other institutions did, started with an institutional repository archiving CBS working papers. E–publishing of scientific articles from our “own journals” is a logical next step.

Beside the need to digitize, publish and archive our own institutions’ research publications, libraries have other reasons for moving in this direction. An often–mentioned concern of the editors of small journals is that, without Web presence and digital content, they will not be read at all. The typical university student of today – the future doctorates and researchers – do not put much value in research not accessible online. If this content is not available via search engines or library OPACs, then it simply doesn't exist.

Since 2005 the CBS Library has been providing an e–publishing service of journals based on Open Journal Systems (OJS). This service has inspired other universities and university libraries to establish similar e–publishing services based on OJS. In the autumn of 2006 the second largest university in Denmark started a pilot project offering interested journals on the Aarhus University campus an opportunity to participate in a pilot project for an e–publishing service based on OJS. The pilot project has helped 22 journals to start publishing or archiving using OJS. The largest university in Denmark, the University of Copenhagen, is planning to start a similar project in the autumn of 2007. They will very likely be able to publish a substantial number of journals electronically. The University Library at the University of Copenhagen supports an active blog on OA [5].

Besides these major projects there are also plans for e–publishing services based on OJS at Roskilde and Aalborg Universities.

Ejournals@cbs — A faculty service

This service is based on OJS, with an aim to help journals that are related to CBS. Typically an editor is a researcher in one of the CBS departments. Each journal is configured with their own URL and library staff assist in migrating each journal in OJS. We configure and brand each journal in OJS using CSS. In addition we provide advice on editorial workflow in OJS, such as uploading new articles and issues. Furthermore we maintain the server and handle all necessary software updates and back–ups. This basic service is provided at no cost to the journals. Under special circumstances, such as when there are massive back files to add into OJS, we will consider some sort of cost recovery.

This e–publishing service at the CBS Library,, was established as a spin–off from a government sponsored project in 2004. The aim of the Denmark’s Electronic Research Library (DEFF at project was to make a survey of e–publishing platforms and to do two pilot studies with two different journals migrating to online publishing (Fugl and Elbæk, 2005). The overall project was a success and resulted in the establishment of a CBS faculty service for e–publishing. Today Ejournals@cbs hosts four journals and we have three more journals in the wings.

Working with Ejournals@cbs we have discovered that there are as many different needs as there are journals. We have noticed that some journals and editorial boards need more help than others. We learned that some small journals have a very slow decision–making process. Nevertheless we think that our efforts has proven successful. Our success has only been possible because we have a very pragmatic approach to OA and electronic publishing. The CBS Library encourages journals to publish openly accessible, but it is not an indispensable requirement. And we definitely wouldn’t have reached these results if we had insisted on complete OA as an indispensable requirement for the journals to use our service.



Case study

Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies

The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies (CJAS) is an international peer–reviewed journal focusing on the economic, political and socio–cultural aspects of contemporary Asia [6]. CJAS has been published since 1987 with two issues a year, each issue averaging about 150 pages. The long–time editor of the journal until autumn 2007, Kjeld Erik Brødsgaard, is professor at CBS and Director of the Asia Research Centre that publishes CJAS. He has now been replaced by another CBS researcher, Can Seng Ooi.

The journal is a subscription– and print–based journal that has digitized its back issues from 2002 to the present. Back issues are openly accessible after an embargo of one year. Only subscribers have online access to the latest issues. The editor of the journal has been very concerned about losing subscribers after providing open access to back issues even with the embargo. The model has now been working some two years without a loss of subscribers because of the new access model.

All editorial work at CJAS is very dependent on the work of the editor and the editorial manager. The editor mainly reads new submissions and decides if they are going to be accepted for further review or are rejected immediately. The editorial manager, also a secretary in the Asia Research Centre, completes a number of additional editorial tasks. Most of the editorial work flow is still dependent on manual procedures and “home–made” systems using a mail client and a MS Excel spreadsheet. During the project the editorial manager of CJAS experimented with a system specifically designed for peer–review management and OJS for submission management; these experiments were not beneficial. These experiments failed probably as a result of relatively few submissions and using a system with a relatively steep learning curve, especially for those that are not technologically savvy. None of those involved with CJAS are technologically savvy. Additionally CJAS has no resources to finance servers and Web applications.

For the editor–in–chief of the CJAS the printed version is the essence of the journal. A lot of effort was put into the design and layout of the journal. It is a showcase of Asia Research Centre; for example copies of the journal are given away at conferences as promotional tools for the Centre. The largest expenses for the journal involve layout and printing. Indirectly the University financially supports the work of the editorial manager and the editor–in–chief as their work is considered as a part of their normal tasks at the institution. The editor–in–chief understands the necessity of an online presence but open access as such is not a specific issue of concern. The main concern of the editor–in–chief is to retain subscribers who ultimately finance the costs of the journal. Therefore OA is not an issue for the journal.

Even though CJAS isn’t ready for OA, the CBS Library — and Ejournals@cbs — see an advantage in migrating to OJS. The CBS Library sees it as win–win situation where CJAS becomes available online and more visible and the Library gains online access to very useful content. AlthoughCJAS isn’t using all of the features of OJS, OJS offers a platform that makes it easy for the editorial manager to archive articles of new issues and controlling embargo and access to the latest issues. OJS is useful not only to openly accessible journals but also provides functionalities to those journals requiring embargos and other forms of control.

Foucault Studies

Foucault Studies has been published since 2004. The aim of the journal is to provide a forum for the discussion of Michel Foucault [7]. The journal is published twice a year. From the start Foucault Studies has been an online, openly accessible journal.

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) hosted Foucault Studies from its start but since the beginning of 2007 CBS professor Sverre Raffnsøe became the editor–in–chief. Since the platform used at QUT was developed internally, the new editor–in–chief opted for Ejournals@cbs as a resource for a new platform utilizing OJS.

The editorial board of the journal is international and widely distributed geographically. Thus the Web–based editorial management system of OJS provides a useful platform. The introduction of OJS to the editorial board has nevertheless caused some concern as the editorial workflow in OJS is much more automated than former QUT publishing platform. In the QUT platform much of the communication between reviewers and contributors was based direct contact via e–mail. Using many of the e–mail templates in OJS led some members of the editorial board to fear losing personal contact with potential contributors. Even though the editorial board was informed that OJS’ templates could be altered and made more personal they were sceptical about utilizing OJS’ submission management completely. Nonetheless the editor–in–chief was willing to utilize as many facilities in OJS as much as possible.

The new editor–in–chief brought new resources to the journal through financing from the Danish government as well as secretarial assistance. The staff of the journal are not technologically savvy in the sense that they can operate Web servers and manage complex software. So they need a platform like Ejournals@cbs. Being born online means that the journal does not have a back file needing to converted into digital form. Open access has been a primary issue for the journal from the beginning, as it aims to make Foucault Studies avalable to anyone.

Two kinds of journals

Although there are many different needs for online publishing, we found that in our case study there are two general types of journals interesting in a library–based e–publishing service. Both journals are small, with limited resources. Each journal is distinct in their needs and maturity.

CJAS could be considered as an example of a print journal ready to continue for some time in the future in a print state. As a result there is a need for subscribers to defray the printing costs of the journal. Being a rather small journal it may not be realistic to ask contributors to pay some of the costs of publication. Indeed, the introduction of such fees may have a detrimental effect on submissions, already a problem for the journal. Yet at the same time the journal is interested in creating an online presence but lacks the resources to do so. Journals like CJAS can be helped by an e–publishing service like Ejournals@cbs. Nevertheless these sorts of journals should understand that access is a primary issue for librarians. Every effort will be made in this sort of situation to understand the needs of the journal while trying to make some content available online openly.

Foucault Studies is an example of the second type of journal, born online and openly accessible. Being the “new kid on the block” the journal is concerned about acquiring sufficient quality submissions, so a publishing model where contributors financially support the journal is not possible. Being born online means that the journal has reduced some its expenses, giving the journal more freedom to experiment. These kinds of journals are supported by research councils and volunteers, and much less need of assistance from an e–publishing service. Often the editors of the born online journals are more technologically savvy and less conservative compared to editors of established older, print–based journals. Essentially the editor of a journal born online merely needs a platform for online publishing.

In Denmark there are many smaller scholarly print–based journals which are not ready for open access. We believe that there is a great potential for a service like Ejournals@cbs that does not discriminate against those journals not ready for open access. There is a great opportunity to help these journals migrate online given their valuable archival content.



Pitfalls and hints when facilitating smaller journals to online publishing

There is a need to support journals ready to migrate online. Smaller print–based scholarly journals lack the expertise and financial resources to migrate online (Elbæk and Fugl, 2006). Usually the editors of these journals are conservative in regards to publishing and scholarly communication. These editors see the potential in online publishing but are adverse to risk, especially anything economic. Digital publishing is often seen as a supplement to a printed version of a given journal. At the same time these journals, with their limited circulation, do not attract the interests of commercial publishers. The only stakeholder with a direct interest in making content digital is the library. Often the editors of these journals are not aware of the possibilities that their libraries might be able to offer to them. Therefore it is crucial for the provider of an e–publishing service to be proactive in contacting the editors of these sorts of journals and educating them about the possibilities.

Although we have presented two general types of journals in this article it is important to emphasize that all journals are different. When you provide an e–publishing service like Ejournals@cbs it is easy to get the idea that your service is so superior that no editor would refuse it. You need to keep an open mind and listen to the needs of the editors, editorial boards and others involved in the journals. Otherwise you might provide a solution that is inappropriate to the needs of the journal. For example using an advanced system for e–publishing like OJS you have a built–in solution for online peer review and submission management. But if a journal has less then 50 submissions a year and the editorial staff is not comfortable with the system (even if you regard OJS as easy–to–use) then it might be worth considering that the learning curve is too steep.

For a migration from print to online publishing to succeed, it is important to maintain momentum in the project consistently and at the same time continue to be patient. The importance of listening and understanding to the needs of the editors early in the process cannot be underestimated. It is vital that the editors of the journal understand the significance of migrating the journal online.

Many editors are interested in first migrating archival content, that is back issues, to digital form. Some editors do not understand the cost and time necessary for moving content online. It is important that they are provided with the all of the details, in terms of a timeline and expenses, so that they can understand both the significance and magnitude of such a migration.

It is equally important not to make open access an issue. Instead it is important to provide the correct solution to each journal, recognizing their unique audiences, editorial interests, and scholarly pursuits. Essentially the short–term goals are making more scholarship accessible and helping Danish journals survive. New business and publishing models for many of these journals are long–term goals.




We found that different journals require different models. At the CBS Library we have identified two main types of journals. One type of journal is the “new kid on the block” — born online, ready for open access. the second type of journal is more mature and established — in print but ready to go online, ready to develop some sort of hybrid where print continues with some limited online access, resistant to open access.

Based on our experience, when working with editors of smaller journals, you should:

  • Be proactive – some of the journals might not know that they can be helped;
  • Don’t start waving an open access flag too high;
  • Don’t try to change a given journal’s business model immediately;
  • Don’t underestimate the affection of some editors for print;
  • Be pragmatic – the important issue is making more scholarship accessible;
  • Start by making archival content, that is back issues, available online; and,
  • Listen to and understand the needs of all of the editors.

It is important not to push open access as the only option. Instead it is important to impress on editors the possibilities with OJS. It ultimately means making more content available online and for journals and their editors OJS provides opportunities to migrate online with few risks. End of article



1. Museum Tusculanum Forlag, at, accessed 31 August 2007.

2. Danish signatories to the Berlin Declaration include Roskilde Universitetscenter, Det Kongelige Bibliotek, and Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche. See the Berlin Declaration Signatories at accessed 31 August 2007.

3. For further details on the worlshop, see, accessed 18 October 2007.

4. Burchardt, 2007, p. 32.

5. The Copenhagen University Library Blog on OA can be found at, accessed 31 August 2007.

6. CJAS can be found at, accessed 25 August 2007.

7. Foucault Studies can be found at, accessed 25 August 2007.



Jørgen Burchardt, 2007. Viden giver velstand: Hvidbog om dansk forskningsformidling. Odense: Syddansk Universitetsforlag, at, accessed 25 August 2007.

Danish Government, 2006. “Progress, Innovation and Cohesion: Strategy for Denmark in the Global Economy,” at accessed 31 August 2007.

Mikael K. Elbæk and Liv D. Fugl, 2006. “Online publicering for små videnskabelige tidsskrifter – hvad skal der til?“ DF–Revy, volume 29, number 2, pp. 14–17.

Liv D. Fugl and Mikael K. Elbæk, 2005. “Omlægning til e-publicering: et systemreview og en analyse af to tidsskrifters overvejelser ved omlægning til e-publicering,” at accessed 31 August 2007.



Contents Index

Copyright ©2007, First Monday.

Copyright ©2007, Mikael K. Elbæk and Lars Nondal.

The Library as a mediator for e–publishing: A case on how a library can become a significant factor in facilitating digital scholarly communication and open access publishing for less Web–savvy journals by Mikael K. Elbæk and Lars Nondal
First Monday, Volume 12 Number 10 - 1 October 2007

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