Start an online journal in 9 steps
Useful information for starting an online journal
Building the editorial project and planning the publishing workflow
It is important to start from planning the editorial project of a new online journal, by predicting the phases of launch and publication fairly in advance. After we have defined aims, scope and innovation target for our journal, and after choosing the journal title, we need to draw the business plan and the operational plan. Conditio sine qua non for long-term survival of the journal is the development of a wide and strong network of connections with accredited researchers who will ensure quality and abundance of contributions. A crucial step is the establishment of the working team: defining tasks and requirements from the editorial committee, setting clear editorial policies for the journal (with regard to publication, reviewing and editing criteria, etc.), as well as deciding on the procedures and timeline of the publishing workflow. Some typical figures in the editorial team will include: the director (editor in chief), the deputy directors, the scientific committee, the reviewers, the technical secretariat (content manager, editors, graphic designer, proof readers, etc.)
Registration of the Editor in chief in a special list held by the Journalists' Association
In Italy, for scientific journals the Editor in chief does not necessarily have to be a member of the Journalists' Association (this is a mandatory condition only for newspapers and magazines), provided that he/she is registered in a special list held by the same Association. The Editor in chief must then make a request to the Regional Council of the Ordine dei giornalisti to be included in the special list, using a specific request form. Registration is subject to an initial admission cost, plus an annual fee to be paid in favour of the Journalists' Association.
mandatory / optional step
Journal registration in Tribunal: when it is mandatory (or convenient)?
In Italy, it is mandatory to register the titles of traditional (printed) journals in the local Tribunal (see Law 8 February 1948 no. 47). With regard to electronic journals, the Law no. 62/2001 has been interpreted in different ways. However, with the D.L. 9 April 2003, no. 70, art. 7, comma 3, it is now clear that “La registrazione della testata editoriale telematica è obbligatoria esclusivamente per le attività per le quali i prestatori del servizio intendano avvalersi delle provvidenze previste dalla legge 7 marzo 2001, n. 62”.
This means that online electronic journals, although they are regarded as publishing products, should not always be registered in the Tribunal. Registration becomes mandatory for the e-journal only in some specific cases: when it is published at regular intervals (but this cannot be the only criterion), when public financial support is requested, when the journal is produced for commercial purposes, when professional journalists are employed. Another condition for registration is when a traditional (printed) version of the journal is published along with the electronic version.
We may add that registering the journal can prove a convenient strategy when, given the scientific scope of the journal, its traditional (printed) version made for legal deposit purposes is likely to be used by authors for upgrading their academic carrier or running for academic positions (although the evaluation power rests in the appointed Committees that are in charge of assessing the quality of contributions). In fact, in this case the existence of the printed version leads necessarily to an obligation of registering it in the Tribunal.
As current legislation in Italy is still mainly focused on printed journals, we may observe different orientations in our tribunals with regard to the registration of online journals. For instance, the Tribunal of Salerno has rejected an individual request for registration of an e-journal with the motivation that it was difficult to establish the place of publication, whilst the Tribunal of Rome has accepted the request and registered the electronic journal.
When making the request for registration of the electronic journal in the Tribunal's Registry Office, it is necessary to deposit all the required documentation, to pay the associated costs and taxes, and - finally - to attach all the information regarding the contract with the service provider and the URL of the electronic publication.
if you wish to access the full-text of the legislation framework, see Aspetti giuridici della gestione di una rivista online ad accesso aperto [in italian].
ROC: for whom registration is mandatory?
Registration in the ROC (Registro Operatori Comunicazione) is mandatory only for those subjects belonging to one of the following categories, as defined by the Law: "imprese editrici di giornali quotidiani, periodici o riviste: 1) i soggetti editori di giornali quotidiani o di testate periodiche che pubblicano almeno 13 numeri l’anno ed hanno al contempo alle loro dipendenze non meno di 5 giornalisti a tempo pieno da un anno; 2) gli altri soggetti editori che comunque pubblicano una o più testate giornalistiche diffuse al pubblico con regolare periodicità", "soggetti esercenti l’editoria elettronica e digitale: gli editori, ai quali si applica la medesima ripartizione prevista per i soggetti di cui alla precedente lettera d), che pubblicano con regolare periodicità una o più testate giornalistiche in formato elettronico e digitale. Al fine di poter richiedere l’iscrizione al ROC, dunque, il soggetto dovrà essere editore di una testata dotata di programmata e regolare periodicità e di direttore responsabile ai sensi del disposto della legge 47/48."
Editorial teams in academic journals are typically formed on a voluntary basis (with no employees). They normally are not given any of the provisions stated by the Law 7 March 2001, no. 62.
For all information on the ROC and the related legal framework, we suggest you to visit the ROC official page on the AGCOM (Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni) website, and especially the FAQs.
Requesting the DOI
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) in its simplest definition is "the barcode for intellectual property". This standard, like the barcode for physical objects, allows permanent and unique identification of a digital entity with intellectual property within an information network. Metadata describing the object are associated with the resource according to a predefined scheme. The DOI is immediately active online: through indexing of the journal articles by the search engines, it allows for its permanent retrieval on the Web.
The DOI can be assigned to any content type, including: monographs, book chapters, journal articles and issue, journal titles, digital images, learning objects.
The DOI registry agency in Italy is Medra. For the registration, it is necessary to follow the specific procedure and pay an annual fee. For more information, visit the official website The DOI System.
Using an open source software for managemente of the electronic journal
For the management and administration of an electronic journal, we suggest use of the software OJS (Open Journal System) that you can download free of charge for installation on your local web server. OJS allows to display the electronic journal through a web interface. Thanks to its interoperability with OAI-PMH, the software ensures a wide dissemination of online contents and a high ranking of results in the main search engines.
OJS offers full management and maintainance services for the e-journal website: the publishing workflow, the editorial process, the accreditation and role for each authorized user, as well as the peer-reviewing process and the submission of papers by potential authors.
To know the main functions: OJS in an hour
To download the software: OJS download
For more information: OJS documentation
Requesting the ISSN number
ISSN (International Standard Serials Number) is a standardized international number for unique and permanent identification of serials. The ISSN is assigned also to electronic journals. In Italy, the Agency in charge of the assignement is the Centro Nazionale ISSN. Requests for a new ISSN number must therefore be addressed to the ISSN National Centre, following the specific online procedure. In the requests concerning electronic journals, information on the URL and e-mail address must be included.
Requesting the ISBN numbers in the case of monographic issues
ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a standardized international number for unique and permanent identification of books issued by individual publishers. An ISBN may also be assigned to monographic issues of an e-journal. Requesting an ISBN code is not for free. Request procedures and all other relevant information can be found on the ISBN website.
Promotion of the e-journal through indexing and reference services
Indexing an e-journal is important mainly for two reasons: to ensure a wider dissemination of contents, and to broaden the impact and prestige of the e-journal (quality journals are normally indexed by more databases).
Here follows a list of the main directories where you can suggest your e-journal to be included for indexing purposes.
DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals
DOAJ is the most popular directory of scientific open access journals. It indexes more than 10,000 journals (of which over 6,000 are searchable at Article level). Journals indexed by DOAJ get a wide recognition in the international environment of scientific communication. Indexing criteria are currently being reviewed. For more information, see the "Information for publishers".
Google Scholar is the Google tool for searching online academic publications. As it began to index scientific literature during the 1970s, Google Scholar enables users to to search and retrieve a wide range of scholarly documents (articles from academic journals, essays, peer-reviewed publications, theses, books, preprints, abstracts, technical reports, databases of still unpublished works from universities and other academic institutions. Google Scholar offers searching by citation and access to the full-text, whenever it is available.
If you wish to add an article to Google Scholar, fill in the online form.
For more information, see: Google Scholar. Publisher Support.
ACNP: Catalogo italiano dei periodici
ACNP is a union catalogue started in Italy during the Seventies by the ISRDS-CNR. It comprises the bibliographic descriptions of serial publications owned by Italian libraries, including online journals, in all academic disciplines. Libraries participating in ACNP can add their journal coverage and copy locations to the catalogue, and also suggest the inclusion of new open access resources.
What is Ulrichsweb?
Ulrichsweb is an easy to search source of detailed information on more than 300,000 periodicals (also called serials) of all types: academic and scholarly journals, e-journals, peer-reviewed titles, popular magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and more.
What does it include?
Ulrichsweb covers more than 900 subject areas. Ulrich's records provide data points such as ISSN, publisher, language, subject, abstracting & indexing coverage, full-text database coverage, tables of contents, and reviews written by librarians.
What are the linking options?
If your organization has enabled linking options, you can also use Ulrichsweb to explore your library's catalog or other locations where your library subscribes to serials resources.
Ulrichsweb is a bibliographic database of journals issued worlwide, including newspapers, bulletins and newsletters, serial publications issued at more or less regular intervals, proceedings. For each title, an individual record is given, comprising all the main bibliographic and other descriptive elements: title, ISSN, issue date, subscription cost, reference to the electronic version (when existing). Information on all changes in the title or publisher, useful to get a picture of the journal's publishing history, is also available. Among other information elements, the disciplinary area / subject, the Dewey Decimal Classification code and any citation by the most important directories are given. Many titles are linked with JCR - the Journal of Citation Reports by IsiWeb for calculation of the journal's IP (Impact Factor). Access to Ulrichsweb - as it is a subscribed resource - is reserved to UniPA users.
All the information for those who want to make a request for the inclusion of their e-journal in Ulrichsweb is available here: Are you a serials publisher?
An authoritative bibliographic (citational) database offering access to a vast amount of daily updated interdisciplinary resources: abstracts, bibliographic citations, indexes. With Scopus it is possible to obtain the H-Index, to analyse citations for the authors and their papers (through the Citation Tracker), make searches and analyse the authors' profile in the different discipline areas. The Scopus collection includes open access and other electronic resources. La collezione comprende anche riviste Open Access e titoli elettronici. Access to Scopus - as it is a subscribed resource - is reserved to UniPA users.
All the information for those who want to know how their journal can be indexed in Scopus is here: Suggest a title to be indexed.
WEB OF SCIENCE
A bibliographic (citational) database produced by the ISI (Institute of Scientific Information), it lists authoritative journals with an high Impact Factor, giving information on all citations received by the articles included in each of the journal's issues. The database is organized into different discipline areas, that can be searched indipendently: Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Science Citation Index, Arts and Humanities Citation Index. WOS is an important and decisive tool for evaluation, as it is based on citation analysis and therefore allows authors to calculate their citation index and H-index. Access to WOS - as it is a subscribed resource - is reserved to UniPA users.
For more information on how to make a request to ISI for your journal to be indexed in WOS, see: Journal submission process