Thursday 27 August 2015

ALPSP Awards Spotlight on... JSTOR Daily

As the ALPSP Conference approaches (it's just under two weeks away and booking closes today) we are delighted to present the final post in the series that shines a spotlight on the finalists for the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing. Catherine Halley, Editor of JSTOR Daily, tells us what it's all about.

Tell us a bit about your company.

JSTOR is part of ITHAKA. ITHAKA ( is a not-for-profit organization that helps the academic community use digital technologies to preserve the scholarly record and to advance research and teaching in sustainable ways. We provide innovative services that benefit higher education, including Ithaka S+R, JSTOR, and Portico. JSTOR is a digital library of more than 2,000 academic journals, dating back to the first volume ever published, along with thousands of monographs, and other material.

What is the project that you submitted for the Awards?

JSTOR Daily is an online magazine published by JSTOR that offers a fresh way for people to understand and contextualize their world. We make historical peer-reviewed scholarly research and other library content relevant and accessible to a general audience by connecting it to the news and offering open access to the original research and other content housed in the JSTOR library. Our cheeky tagline—“where news meets its scholarly match”—encapsulates our belief that deep, substantive journalism doesn’t have to be boring. In addition to weekly feature articles, the magazine publishes daily blog posts that provide the backstory to complex issues of the day in a variety of subject areas, interviews with and profiles of scholars and their work, and much more.

Our idea of a good story is one that:

  • tells thought-provoking stories that appeal to a general reader
  • draws on scholarly research to provide fresh insight into the news media and current affairs
  • deepens our understanding of our world
  • highlights the amazing content found on JSTOR
  • exposes the work of scholars who are using JSTOR to conduct their research.

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

We’re an extremely small team, a micro team, really. The site has two full-time editors and two part-time contributing editors. The stories are written by freelancer writers who are paid for the content they produce. We sit in the marketing and communications department at JSTOR, and work with a part-time in-house marketing person as well as a designer.

Why do you think it demonstrates publishing innovation?

JSTOR Daily publishes high-quality, carefully researched content that provides an alternative to the listicles and clickbait that seem to dominate mainstream media.

JSTOR is home to some of the most fascinating and well-respected peer-reviewed scholarship, as well as thousands of historical documents. In fact, the sheer volume of information available in the library can be so overwhelming that much of the content remains hidden in the archive. By weaving stories around the research, primary source material, and other content in JSTOR, and relating it to current conversations in the public sphere, JSTOR Daily aspires to expose the breadth of this truly great library to a wider audience, and encourage a general reader, regardless of institutional affiliation, to discover and dive into it. The magazine appeals to the knowledge seeker and lifelong learner in each of us.

While the website publishes editorial content, rather than peer-reviewed scholarship, we hope the magazine stories will transform JSTOR from a passive repository of knowledge to an active participant—in partnership with our readers and authors—in the generation and dissemination of collective human wisdom.

What are you plans for the future?

JSTOR Daily was launched in October 2014 on a shoestring budget with just one editor. In keeping with JSTOR's commitment to testing what software developers call "minimum viable products," the site was built using an out-of-the-box WordPress theme called SimpleMag. While the live site is more technically efficient than innovative, we have long-term plans to add interactive content, data visualizations, and a podcast series in the coming year.

The winner of the ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing, sponsored by Publishing Technology, will be announced at the ALPSP Conference. Book now to secure your place.

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