Canadian Experience August 2017

Early this year I was invited to present a paper at the annual PKP Conference in Canada. Being an OA advocate and huge PKP OJS supporter, I could not wait for the time to come. It was great catching up with all on new OJS developments during the past week, and Canada for sure made an incredible impression on me.

PKP OJS is a community funded initiative, also through erudit which is a huge funder in Canada, focusing on research communication initiatives. The PKP Team indicated that PKP software and especially OJS, is one of the flagship projects of which the country is very proud. The people working on PKP are from all over, and not centrally based, although Brian Owen and Kevin Stranack are at Simon Fraser University, which is the home for this software.

OJS 3 offers new functionalities, and OJS 3.2 soon to be released. It will among others allow for versioning. Impactstory has partnered with PKP so that altmetrics on article level can also be monitored. This is a very exciting development. It will also be much easier to edit themes in the new versions, and the developers have been thinking of a WordPress on top of OJS, which would be great.

Great work is being done in terms of the PKP Open Typesetting Stack tool, used to convert PDF to XML. In future the PKP tool will be using Texture, allowing for a WYSIWYG editor, making XML documents very neat and HTML completely obsolete. While at the sprint Nadine Wubbeling (ASSAf Colleague) was contacted and she responded with a few bugs in the parsing tool. It was forwarded to the PKP developers who indicated that they will have a look at it. Two other questions I had from a technical viewpoint was also successfully attended to.

Some of you previously asked about a more user-friendly email alert when a new issue/notification goes out from the system. One can use a third party system such as MailChimp, but the developers recommend customizing the html in the email Notifications template, so that it looks more exciting, and for the system to keep track and centrally archive all communication. You are welcome to ask this list if you need help.

It was interesting to learn that Canada also still has journals available in print only.

The African Open Science Platform initiative will definitely assist in learning more about scholarly publishing initiatives in Africa, and help spreading the word in terms of the use of ORCID ID, digital preservation, and more. Many links between AOSP and Open Access as we know and understand it.

Norges Arktiske Universitet has made great progress with using Dataverse along OJS. See . See the OJS installation at They also use DSpace for their institutional repository:

One of the remarks on Twitter following the presentation in which I indicated not all of Africa was well connected to the Internet and that data is very expensive in some parts of Africa, was that lack of access to the Internet can become the new “paywall”. Although research might be available as open access, it doesn’t make sense if one does not have access to the Internet to use it. I fully agree with the mention on Twitter.

The audience found the way we utilize Google Scholar to monitor article citations very clever and innovative, and also of interest was the approach to encourage universities and societies to have their own federated OJS installation, and publish their own journals, since all the expertise are at the institutions anyway: editor, reviewers, authors, IT.

The presentations and recordings will all be added to the PKP Conference page soon.

Open Source Software Philosophy
A personal note on the use of Open Source Software: We need to understand the Open Source Software philosophy better. It belongs to all, and all who use it should assist with improving the software, and take equal responsibility. Since it is used to build skills and empower people, there is not a well-paid service provider from which we can demand to fix things. We also need to understand that nothing is perfect – not even commercial software for which we pay lots of money. It is expected from the user community to help find solutions, and not to pass on the responsibility every time we run into a problem. It is up to whoever publish journals to choose what they want to use to publish, and if it is OJS, then be part of a community of great people who allows things to evolve organically, are good to one another, don’t find fault constantly, and who does things for a bigger cause. OJS is not dependent on us, and it is our choice to use it/not use it, and in the spirit of OS. To them all journals are equally important, and SA journals are not more important than others, regardless of how high profile the journal might be. Bugs are resolved based on funding available, and the purpose for which the funding was made available.

Please make use of the community help tools to solve bugs and to ask questions. Unfortunately the PKP OJS team is very small, and although stunning and extremely helpful people, and  very polite, they have quite a lot of work and cannot attend to all individual requests always. See

Africa OJS Mailing list
To make communication with one another easier, I was thinking to invite you to join a Google Group (mailing list) for OJS users. Completely optional, and for all to use, to ask, exchange info about OJS, and more. No other objective than to make communication easier. And it will belong to all equally, evolving organically. J I love the PKP approach of allowing all to evolve organically, without trying to control things too much.

All in all it was such a great experience, and it was great sharing all the SA initiatives with others from all over the world. Proud of all the work all have been doing and continue doing ….



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