Friday 24 August 2018

Spotlight on JPPS - shortlisted for the 2018 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing

On 13 September, at the ALPSP Conference, we will be announcing the winners of the 2018 ALPSP Awards for Innovation in Publishing, sponsored by MPS Limited.  In this series of posts leading up to the Awards ceremony, we meet our six finalists and get to know a bit more about them.

logo JPPS
In this post, we speak to Sioux Cumming of INASP, and Susan Murray of African Journals Online (AJOL) about Journal Publishing Practices and Standards (JPPS).

Tell us a bit about your companies

INASP is an international development organisation with over 25 years’ experience of working with a global network of partners in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Research and knowledge have a crucial role to play in addressing global challenges. Many of these challenges affect the Global South most acutely, but we believe that these challenges will not be addressed without Southern research and knowledge.

To realise this potential, we strengthen research and knowledge systems by addressing issues of power and supporting individuals and institutions to produce, share and use research. Broadly speaking, we have six areas of work: academic publishing; evidence for policy; gender & equity; higher education & learning; information access; and research communication.

African Journals Online (AJOL) was the first JOL platform and has been managed by a South African non-profit organisation of the same name since 2005. AJOL provides a highly visible online library of African-published, peer-reviewed scholarly journals, allowing global access to the research output of the continent. AJOL also works with journal partners throughout Africa to facilitate their capacity building in publishing best practices, and provides various technical services that many journals might not be able to afford or implement on their own. 

What is the project/product that you submitted for the Awards?

Journal Publishing Practices and Standards (JPPS) was established – and is managed - by AJOL and INASP to provide detailed assessment criteria for the quality of publishing practices of Global South journals.  
Northern journals dominate global research, leading to an underrepresentation of knowledge from the South. Championing Southern journals is essential for redressing imbalance in the dissemination of global research.
JPPS levels give readers assurance that the journals meet an internationally recognised set of criteria. The detailed feedback from the JPPS assessment helps editors identify ways to improve their publishing practices and standards.  

The initiative and its first awards have been widely welcomed by Southern journal editors and have already prompted significant improvements. 

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

image logo JPPS badge

The JPPS assessment process evaluates these journals based on 108 internationally accepted criteria. The result is one of six badges that are displayed on the official JPPS site and on the JOL platforms. These badges give guidance and reassurance to researchers as they are choosing which journals to read, cite and publish in.

image editor at deskBut JPPS goes further than this: the other output of the assessment process is a detailed, customised report for each journal editor highlighting the areas of journal publishing that could be improved. This feedback is supported by the Handbook for Journal Editors, which gives practical guidance on things like how to run editorial processes, communicate with authors, and improve a peer review system. 

Why do you think it demonstrates publishing innovation?

JPPS has several important, unique features. Firstly and crucially, JPPS isn’t just a metric; it’s also a framework to help improve quality. The aim of JPPS is to increase equity in global publishing and to help this by recognising and supporting legitimate journals. The detailed reports from JPPS are intended to not only highlight what is missing but also to help journals to improve.

It was developed in consultation with journal editors in Africa and it recognises the contexts that these editors operate in, and provides support and guidance appropriate to the contexts. However, although the focus is on the Global South, the standards expected in JPPS are global ones; journals awarded JPPS stars will have publishing standards and processes similar to other journals around the world.

What are your plans for the future?

On the technical side, we are working towards an online form (and database) to streamline the assessment process. This would be a tool that new journals could use in applying to join a JOL platform and also that journals already on the platforms could use in their applications for reassessment. 
Extensions to JPPS might also include going beyond the JOLs platforms in partnership with other journal platforms. In addition, we hope to roll out a full online course in journal quality following feedback and refinement from a recent pilot. 

AJOL and INASP have been grateful for funding and encouragement from Sida and DFID over many years to support the development of the JOLs platforms and, more recently, the JPPS initiative. We are pleased to have continued support from Sida for this work over the next year but are also keen to discuss other funding opportunities to extend this work. 

Sioux Cumming (left in photo) has worked on and managed INASP’s Journals Online project since 2003 and has helped establish and maintain eight JOLs platforms. She has also been instrumental in bringing international standards and initiatives such as DOIs, eISSNs, the anti-plagiarism software CrossCheck, article-level metrics and Kudos to the journals. In collaboration with African Journals Online, she helped to develop and is implementing the Journal Publishing Practices and Standards (JPPS) framework to help journals improve their publishing quality.

photo Sioux Cumming and Susan MurraySusan Murray (right in photo) is Executive Director of African Journals OnLine (AJOL). AJOL is a South African based non-profit organization working toward increased visibility and quality of African-published research journals. AJOL hosts the world’s largest online collection of peer-reviewed, African-published scholarly journals and is a sponsoring member of CrossRef. Ms Murray is also a member of the Advisory Committee of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and a member of the Advisory Board for the Public Knowledge Project’s current study on Open Access Publishing Cooperatives. She has an abiding interest in the role that access to research outputs can play in economic development in low income and emerging economies, as well as the practicalities of attaining this.


Twitter: @INASPinfo @AJOLinfo

The ALPSP Annual Conference and Awards 2018 will be held at the Beaumont Estate, Old Windsor, UK from 12-14 September. #alpsp18

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