Digital Journals project is helping York journals publish online

The York Digital Journals project is wasting no time in helping York’s scholarly print journals make the transition to online publications just as the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) is looking to modify its funding formula to better accommodate electronic journals.

The York Digital Journals project helped 14 journals become digital publications in the last year, some of which are open access. Open access means anyone can read the journal’s articles for free without becoming a subscriber.

SSHRC is encouraging scholarly journals to make their publications available electronically and is in the process of adjusting its funding model to accommodate open-access journals.

Right: InTensions, a journal available through
the York Digital Journals Web site

“Open access is something we’re trying to build into all of our programs. We’re looking at this as a transition period for journals,” said Lorraine Anderson, SSHRC team leader of research and dissemination grants. “There are journals doing all kinds of things, but we’d like to offer assistance to journals becoming digital. Our goal is to try and simplify the funding formula.”

SSHRC grants cover a portion of the journal’s operating costs for production and distribution.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty because SSHRC is changing its funding models,” said Andrea Kosavic, digital services librarian at York’s Scott Library. “Grant holders fear that changes in funding models may affect their ability to secure future funding. This may greatly affect journals that are barely making ends meet as it is.”

Left: The CAML Review on the York Digital Journals Web site

SSHRC funding criteria that look at the number of subscribers to the journal and a minimum threshold of readers will still be required even with the modified funding formula, said Anderson.

How that will work for non-subscriber based open-access journals, however, is still unclear.

“We’re happy that SSHRC wants to increase access to journals and we’re working with the York community to help them transition from a print to electronic format,” said Scott’s Kosavic. “If you want to align yourself with where SSHRC is going and you don’t have the technical infrastructure or expertise, we can help you.”

Some of the journals that have made the transition to a digital format, include TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, Left History and Canadian Jewish Studies/Études juives canadiennes.

The York Digital Journals project is not just for existing journals. It is also able to help new journals to start up as digital publications.

“We’re committed to providing a reliable and stable platform that will increase the visibility and potential impact of York research by exposing it to a wider audience,” said Kosavic.

The advantage of becoming an electronic journal through York Digital Journals is that more people can access the articles quickly and efficiently, and since York is a Synergies partner, York Digital Journals content will be available through the Synergies portal which will expose York research to a larger international audience.

Right: Canadian Woman Studies journal           

Synergies is a consortium of 21 Canadian universities, including York, working to bring Canadian social sciences and humanities research and journals to the Internet through one portal. It is currently in phase one of development – gathering data – and the portal is expected to be implemented in another three or four years. One of the advantages of having research available online is that it can become a multimedia experience, not limited to simply text and pictures.

SSHRC is an arm’s-length federal agency that promotes and supports university-based research and training in the social sciences and humanities. It was created in 1977 and is governed by a 22-member council which reports to parliament through the minister of industry.

For more information, check out the York Digital Journals Open Journals System Resource Site.

By Sandra McLean, York communications officer.