Wednesday, 3 September 2014

ALPSP Awards spotlight on... JournalGuide, a free online tool that helps researchers find the best journal for their paper

Keith Collier, VP of Business Development
With only a few days left before the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing are announced at the conference, this is the penultimate post in our series profiling the finalists.

Keith Collier, Vice President of Business Development at Research Square, answers a few questions about JournalGuide.

1. Tell us a bit about your company

KC: Research Square is focused on helping researchers to share their discoveries. In addition to JournalGuide, our family of brands also includes American Journal Experts (AJE) and Rubriq. The company started with AJE, which since 2004 has provided editing, translation, figures and formatting services to our company based in Durham, NC. Our team includes a combination of PhD researchers, software developers, and publishing industry veterans.

2. What is the project that you submitted for the Awards?

KC: JournalGuide, a free online tool that helps researchers find the best journal for their paper. As an independent third-party, JournalGuide combines data from publishers, industry indices, and the authors themselves to create a rich, unbiased source of information. By bringing all of these sources together in a standardized format, we can provide a trusted place for authors and journals to connect.

3. Tell us more about how it works and the team behind it.

KC: At the core of JournalGuide is data: a complex combination of information from multiple existing databases, information sent directly from publishers and journals, and information entered by individuals (journal editors and the authors themselves). On top of our data is an advanced search algorithm that takes the title and abstract of a paper and finds the most relevant journal matches.  In addition to the search algorithm, we also provide a number of features that allow authors to sort and filter those results. Researchers can easily compare the journal data critical to their decision, including speed to publication, Open Access policies, and citation metrics.

The concept was originally developed within our independent peer review service, Rubriq. As part of the service, we provide customized journal recommendations for each manuscript. We created an internal tool to help our team become more efficient. As the tool evolved, we saw an opportunity to share it with other researchers. Most of the development of JournalGuide came from a partnership of our software developer team and the published PhD researchers who run our Rubriq service.

Sample search results

4. Why do you think it demonstrates publishing innovation?

KC: JournalGuide is not the first or only web tool for finding journals. However, the elements that make it significant and innovative come from its scope and independence.  By not limiting the scope to any particular area of study, publisher, or index, we can make a more valuable tool, standardize data sets for new uses, and support critical cross-discipline connections. By not limiting participation to any single player, we can provide an objective resource that can engage all parts of the scholarly publishing community.

The combination of these two elements puts us in a unique position to create and support new data standards that can be truly industry-wide. By providing a central hub to aggregate, standardize, and provide access to all available data about journals, JournalGuide can enable future innovations and new data insights. It also allows us to tackle broad-ranging issues, such as defining and verifying legitimate vs. predatory journals.  This new “Verified” designation will be going live around the same time as the ALPSP conference.

5. What are your plans for the future?

KC: We are continuing to build on our core concept of a platform for centralized authoritative data. In addition to continuing to expand our data sources, we have plans to expand our own metrics such as a “Verified” journal designation. Our approach for this new metric was a source of some internal debate (see our post on “Whitelist vs. Blacklist” here) but we feel confident in our new system launching in September. This new status designation in our database will help authors avoid predatory journals.

Another key project for us is the development of consistent and standardized open access terminology across areas of study. Mandates on research accessibility increase the importance of Open Access, Article Publication Charges, embargo periods, licensing, and restrictions on which version(s) of a paper can or must be archived when selecting a journal.  We are working with funders, universities, and libraries to understand this new environment and to help aggregate, standardize, and categorize data so that authors can most effectively use it to ensure compliance.

Keith Collier is Vice President of Business Development at Research Square, the home of JournalGuide, Rubriq and AJE.

The winners will be announced at the ALPSP International Conference Wednesday 10 - Friday 12 September, Park Inn Heathrow, London. Follow the conversation via #alpsp14 and #alpspawards on Twitter.

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