More than 80 Global South journals awarded JPPS starred status

First JPPS assessments highlight excellence in Southern journal publishing practices

In September 2017, African Journals Online and INASP announced a new initiative for assessing the quality of journal publishing processes and standards of the 900+ journals on the Journals Online platforms.

We’ve previously talked about how Journal Publishing Practices and Standards (JPPS) can help redress imbalances in global scholarly publishing and guide researchers about places to publish and read research papers. (See, for example, here and here, and in a new Learning, Reflections and Innovations article.) We’ve also talked about how, crucially, JPPS can guide journal editors who are often running these journals in their spare time from their academic careers to navigate the complex landscape of modern-day scholarly publishing.

At the time of the launch, this initiative was widely welcomed by the scholarly publishing sector worldwide and particularly by the journal editors that INASP and AJOL work with in Asia, Central America and Africa. But, of course, the value of this only really emerges once JPPS badges have been awarded to journals, once the editors know how their processes are perceived and once they know what they need to do to develop their journals further. The value of JPPS for researchers looking to read or publish in journals only emerges once the badges are displayed for anyone to see.

This is now possible. Earlier this month, the JPPS site began to display the JPPS badges for over 300 journals from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Encouraging numbers of starred journals

We are delighted with the first round of JPPS badges. Of the journal assessments made public so far, 52 have achieved one-star status and 31 journals are already two-star titles.

This is no small achievement. Even before the JPPS process, journals joining the JOLs platforms had to pass certain basic checks before they could be included on the sites. The 108 detailed criteria used in the JPPS assessments take these checks much further and are aligned with well-known journal checklists used the world over. Getting a one-star badge means, for example, clear and detailed information about the journal displayed online; an ISSN registered and displayed; clear copyright information; clear instructions to authors; timely publication; complete bibliographic information for each article; and a proven publishing track record of more than two years. Getting a two-star badge means many additional requirements such as a clearly displayed editorial policy; clear, public details of the peer review process; good language and copyediting; and a professional looking cover.

More important than INASP’s response to the first round of badges has been the reaction of the journal editors themselves, which have been overwhelmingly positive. Editors have welcomed the assessments and reports and many have already developed plans to improve their journal processes and receive higher rankings.

Some of these changes required are simple. For example, the JPPS criteria are very strict about prompt uploading of content. This can be a challenge for a journal run by volunteers who are also busy with their research and teaching commitments. In response to the JPPS assessments, several journals that were behind  in adding their latest issues were prompted to catch up, resulting in their JPPS ranking changing from ‘inactive’ to one-star or two-star status depending on the other criteria met.

We are very delighted to get a two-star ranking. We will definitely work on the suggestions made by you to get even higher rankings.

Your evaluation report will certainly help us to enhance the quality of our journal. We will address all issues raised during the assessment and take necessary measures to resolve the problems.

Thank you for the mail conveying of our award. I personally share my joy with you. I firmly believe that this award has increased our responsibility and hope to go forward.

Maturing publishing systems

JPPS builds on 20 years of work on the JOLs project and, in the case of the five JOLs in Asia and Central America, on the past five years of the SRKS programme as we have worked together with local partners to hand these JOLs over to Southern management. In the response to JPPS we see important signs of how much the publishing systems have matured in the JOL countries.

In Bangladesh, for example, a parallel and complementary dialogue and roadmap for improving journal quality have emerged in the country. In Sri Lanka, the National Science Foundation (NSF), which manages Sri Lanka Journals Online (SLJOL), has just made grants available for journals to improve their publishing quality. In addition, the active engagement of NSF in supporting SLJOL journals to meet JPPS criteria has been a significant factor in the relatively high proportion of starred journals on SLJOL.

Such enthusiasm for, and local ownership of, the JPPS initiative is vital as we seek to ensure that the JPPS remains relevant for the journals themselves, the international publishing landscape and researchers – and ultimately that it helps improve the perception and reach of important research from the Global South.

Sioux Cumming
Sioux Cumming is a Programme Specialist at INASP.

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