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What Is a Journal Management System?

A journal management system is designed to help companies to effectively and efficiently run a journal. It is a suite of tools that addresses many different parts of the publishing process. From peer review, to layout, to editing, to finances, they can help almost any publisher.

To better understand how a management system can help, looking at the different task groups is important.

What are task groups?

There are many different names for this, but here we use “task group” to refer to the broader stages of the publication process. JAMS has helpfully divided these categories up as follows:

  1. Submission
  2. Peer Review
  3. Operational Tasks
  4. Team Management
  5. Economics of Publishing
  6. Marketing

There are many different ways that these can be broken up, but here we’ll go over why we’ve broken the groups up in the way that we did.

Submission

The journal submission stage is one of the most critical parts of the entire publication process. This is where you decide if a manuscript is worth publishing in your journal or not. You need to establish firm guidelines here to determine what is and is not acceptable for your journal. Roughly speaking, there is a progression to the submission process that (in a very simple way) looks like this:

Manuscript Submitted — Manuscript Evaluated by Staff — Manuscript Evaluated by Editorial Board — Manuscript Accepted

Once a manuscript has been submitted by authors for review, it is up to the staff of the journal to determine if the manuscript is worth pursuing. Some of the basic elements that your staff might look at are whether or not the submitted manuscript falls within the scope of the journal and if the article meets minimum expectations of quality. What does “falls within the scope of the journal” mean? Simply, that authors have not submitted work that you are not reasonably able to review and publish. If you are running a chemistry journal, you shouldn’t publish work in the field of economics. There are some gray areas that exist, usually within sub-disciplines, but that is why evaluating submissions with the help of an editorial board is crucial. This will help your staff to determine if the submission works in the broader context of your journal.

How does a journal management system help during submission?

A journal management system can help to organize these basic processes. You can create custom emails, and send automated replies to authors, as well as requests to review a submission to editorial board members though such a system. While a journal management system cannot determine whether or not a manuscript is acceptable, it can save you a great deal of time in the review stage. It can also be set up so that reminding editorial board members of pending reviews is done at the click of a button. If a paper is accepted, the journal management system can send this information (and further steps) to the authors. If a manuscript is rejected, further guidance can be sent. Spending less time reviewing spreadsheets and keeping track of calendars means that more time can be spent on important parts of publication.

A journal management system and a clear set of submission guidelines can save time and money.

Peer Review

Without a doubt, one of the most important things to remember, every manuscript submitted by authors needs a rigorous and thorough peer review. A proper review process will help to establish your journal’s reputation. Because there are so many journals, it can be challenging for authors to decide which to submit to. However, if you establish strong review guidelines, and always make sure that reviews are done, this can greatly impact the way your journal is perceived. Peer review is very important for authors, it helps them to improve their work. It can also help you to determine if work is novel and important (and whether or not there are plagiarism concerns). Without a doubt, a good peer review process is critical to your success.

Submission systems and peer review

Keeping track of the peer review system can be a major issue. It is almost impossible to keep track of databases with thousands, if not tens of thousands, of potential peer reviewers. A journal management system can automate the invitation process, sort your reviewers by areas of expertise, and remind you of deadlines. Using a system like this will help to make sure you don’t miss deadlines or forget details. Remember to stick to your deadlines, but be respectful of peer reviewers’ time.

Operational Tasks

With a manuscript accepted, what’s next? The core of the publication stage.

When a peer-reviewed manuscript is accepted it needs to be prepared. All the different elements of publication are found in this category. Layout work and English editing are examples of editorial tasks that need to be done. Your team needs to put in a lot of work to make sure that manuscripts are ready to be published. Empower your team with a journal management system, and they can easily coordinate with other teams. Sending a manuscript to layout can be as easy as a click of a button. The system will also notify you when the layout work is completed. Assigning your editing projects to either contractors or an in-house team can also be done with a journal management system.

These teams all have different roles to fulfill in your journal. Make sure that these teams understand the expected standards you want for your journal. They also need a clear understanding of how to manage your team. Learn more about team management to help your team succeed.

Team Management

Admittedly, this is not something that a journal management system can directly help with. But it can simplify the processes that those teams need to take care of.

Team management is about two major things, how you treat your staff and also what you expect them to do. Make sure you effectively integrate a journal management system into the publication pipeline. For this, you need to have clear guidance for your teams. Your layout team should be well trained and know how long a project should take them. On the other hand, the editing team needs to know the standards you expect. They’ll also need to know what style you’re using. So, make sure that your teams are well versed in how to handle minor problems. If there are major issues, who do they talk to?

Training your teams to use a journal management system

It might be tempting to want to have your staff know every element of a journal management system, but it’s not always necessary. Some team members will need to know this. Others will only need to know how to use a portion of the system. There are some cases, for example with your editing team, that will barely need to know anything about it. Understanding what elements of a management system your team will need to know is important.

Economics of Publishing

Journals need to generate profit. You need to pay employees, rent, and hosting for your site. While some journals rely on income from a variety of sources, they all do need income. No journal can run forever without money.

The economics of publishing is a large topic. It includes everything from how to process payments from different countries to different ways for a journal to generate income. Journal management systems are often used routinely to save money. Being an integral part of the entire publication process allows work to be done more quickly and effectively, and less money is wasted on small tasks. If you’re curious about different ways for your journal to generate income, we have some ideas for you.

Payments and a journal management system

Many companies use their journal management systems to help them manage outstanding invoices and payments. Like many other management systems, JAMS seamlessly integrates an invoicing system to help keep track of article processing charges. Not only do they help with invoicing, they can help keep track of things like coupons and vouchers. If you use vouchers to help attract potential authors, these systems will also help you to manage them.

Marketing and your journal management system

Proper marketing is also important for your journal. You need to make sure people know about it. How do you market your journal though?

Journal management systems don’t do marketing—but they can be used as tools sometimes. Even though marketing is not one of JAMS’ services, we’re still here to help you with ideas and tips. We want to see your journal succeed. But, to be successful, you need to know how to use the tools available to you. Whether it’s social media or indexing, these will empower your journal and prime you for success.

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