Roundup of citations of the Lethbridge Journal Incubator

The Journal Incubator is getting on about 5 years, now. In that time, it’s been the subject of a number of mentions in various contexts: from articles by students and faculty associated with the Incubator, to passing notices of our talks or use of our CC-Licensed material.

Here’s a list of 12 references (excluding conference presentations) I’ve recently come up with:

Borchard, Laurie, Michael Biondo, Stephen Kutay, David Morck, and Andrew Philip Weiss. 2015. “Making Journals Accessible Front & Back: Examining Open Journal Systems at CSU Northridge.” OCLC Systems & Services: International Digital Library Perspectives 31 (1): 35–50.

Breure, Leen, Maarten Hoogerwerf, and Georgi Khomeriki. 2013. “CLIO-DAP: Systems Analysis and Design.” 1.2. DANS.

Buckland, Amy. 2015. “Getting the Word out: Students as Content Creators.” In Getting the Word Out Academic Libraries as Scholarly Publishers, edited by Maria Bonn and Mike Furlough, 193–202. Association of College and Research Libraries.

Communication, Office of Scholarly. n.d. “FORCE2015 Observations & Notes | Unlocking Research.” Accessed March 30, 2018.

Cowan, Sandra A. 2013. “Open Access Journal Incubator at University of Lethbridge Library.” In Library Publishing Toolkit, edited by Allison P. Brown, 179–86. Geneseo, NY: IDS Project Press, Milne Library, SUNY Geneseo.

Cowan, Sandra, and Chris Bulock. 2017. “Open Access in the World of Scholarly Journals: Creation and Discovery.” The Serials Librarian 72 (1-4). Routledge: 194–200.

Humble, Linnet. 2012. “Unconverted: Outsourcing Ebook Production at a University Press.” Edited by Rowland Lorimer. MPub, Simon Fraser.

Moore, Samuel. 2015. “Stop Shielding Early-Career Researchers from Open Access – Limiting Wider Involvement Won’t Change a Broken System.” Impact of Social Sciences. August 24, 2015.

O’Donnell, Daniel Paul, Heather Hobma, Sandra Cowan, Gillian Ayers, Jessica Bay, Marinus Swanepoel, Wendy Merkley, Kelaine Devine, Emma Dering, and Inge Genee. 2015. “Aligning Open Access Publication with Research and Teaching Missions of the Public University: The Case of The Lethbridge Journal Incubator (If’if’s And’and’s Were Pots and Pans).” The Journal of Electronic Publishing: JEP 18 (3). Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library.–aligning-open-access-publication-with-research-and-teaching?rgn=main;view=fulltext.

“OA Journal Business Models – Open Access Directory.” n.d. Accessed March 30, 2018.

Saklofske, John, and INKE Research Team. 2016. “Digital Theoria, Poiesis, and Praxis: Activating Humanities Research and Communication Through Open Social Scholarship Platform Design.” Scholarly and Research Communication 7 (2).

Solomon, David J., Mikael Laakso, and Bo-Christer Björk. 2016. “Converting Scholarly Journals to Open Access: A Review of Approaches and Experiences.” Harvard University Library.

The Lethbridge Journal Incubator: Leveraging the Educational Potential of the Scholarly Communication Process

The Lethbridge Journal incubator is an experiment in the sustainability of academic publishing. The incubator attempts to ensure this sustainability by aligning the publishing processes with the research, teaching, and service missions of the University. Instead of drawing resources away from these central missions, academic communication under this model become a resource that materially improves the University’s ability to carry out these core functions. Read more of this post


Time to completion

Two to  six weeks after a positive publication decision.


Managing editor with the assistance of the Academic editors

Action required

  1. Suggest improvements for purposes of style and clarity
  2. Ensure submission conforms to journal style in every detail.

Background and further details

Copy-editing happens after an article has been accepted finally by the editorial team for publication. This means after all substantive, domain-specific revisions requested by the editors and referees have been made and approved by the editors.

Copy-editing has two goals:

  1. Ensure the article is as clear as possible in its argument and language.
  2. Prepare the article typographically and structurally for proofing and final publication.

Both of these processes usually involve the copy-editor proposing changes and the author approving, rejecting, or proposing alternate copy. Generally we accept the author’s approval, rejection, or modification of our copy-edits, unless they

  • change the intellectual nature of the argument or evidence of the article significantly from that the editorial team approved for publication (authorial modifications that change a negative argument into a positive one).
  • significantly violate the journal’s preferred style (e.g. by rejecting author-year citation styles for a journal that requires this format).
  • significantly worsen the clarity or coherence of the article.

When the author’s rejection or modification of a proposed copy edit fall into one of these three categories, the journal’s editorial team should be contacts.

How to copy edit

Individual copy-editors will work in different ways. You will need to find your own way of working.

If you do not already have a preferred way of working, the following may represent a useful start:

  1. Read the article through once, focussing on content, argument, and clarity: where do you find things difficult to follow? Can you think of better ways of saying the same thing? Are there structural issues you might be able to improve? Do you see obvious formatting errors or problems? Typos? Keep notes, but try to avoid rewriting or commenting heavily on the text at this point.
  2. Turn on “record changes” (or similar”) in your work processor of choice and go through the article again, correcting typos and formatting errors, making queries about things you don’t understand and attempting to improve syntax, word choice, and organisation wherever you can.
  3. When you are copy-editing, you job is not to substitute your own voice for that of the author, but to instead help the author write the very best paper they can. You are being helpful if you are being concrete, but you should always be aware that you may not have understood things correctly and your way of doing things may not be best or to the author’s taste. When making queries about passages you don’t understand or find unclear, for example, try to be concrete about what you think the author means by proposing specific language (e.g. “I don’t understand this passage. When you write “the text you don’t understand” Do you mean “some text that could be dropped in exactly if your correction is accepted”?”) That being said, don’t be too bashful: if you think you can improve something, make a suggestion to the author by typing it in: the author can reject things he or she doesn’t like.
  4. If you are proposing major changes or a lot of substantive changes, you may want to pass the submission on to the author for answers, suggestions, and approvals; in this case, you will probably need a second round as you refine the author’s suggestions and to make more typographical queries and suggestions.
  5. Once there are no real substantive edits remaining, read through the submission extremely carefully with an idea to finalising the typographic and style details:
    1. Check that the work cited list is formatted and punctuated consistently and in conformance to your journals stylesheet. Pay particular attention to punctuation (especially the use of periods and commas), capitalisation (especially sentence vs. title case), and the use of italics vs. roman slants.
    2. Check that the headings throughout the list are consistently capitalised and in accordance with the journal style. Again, pay attention to consistency of capitalisation and punctuation (final period? No final punctuation?)
    3. Check that book titles, foreign languages, URLs, code snippets, quotations are presented/encoded consistently throughout the submission.
    4. Check that quotation marks and apostrophes are used consistently throughout the submission. Pay especial attention to “smart” vs. “dumb” quotation marks and apostrophes (i.e. check that you are consistent in your use either of “inverted comma” type quotation marks and apostrophes or “straight” quotation marks and apostrophes. Also check that you are consistent in your use of single vs. double quotation marks. Quotation marks usually alternate with depth: double quotation marks are used to begin; quotations within quotations are single quoted; quotations within quotations within quotations are single; and so on. Also be careful that the same quotation pattern is used for quotations, “scare quotes,” and all other circumstances.
    5. Formatting: make sure all paragraphs are formatted the same way, that there are no extra lines or double spaces.
  6. Remember especially that when this process is over, you should understand everything in the submission and you should have no queries for the author remaining. If you have any doubt about anything in the submission, you should not be afraid to ask now.

Publication Decision

Time to completion

Next editorial meeting after completion of review process.


Academic editors

Action required

  1. Deciding whether or not submission is to be accepted, rejected, provisionally accepted pending revision, or invited to resubmit after significant revision
  2. Deciding on what revisions (if any will be required)
  3. Deciding on comments to be sent to author.

Background and further details

This is the defining operation of a journal. Every editorial team come up with their own sense of what is acceptable, how rejections and requests for revision are to be handled, and so on.

Review Process

Time to completion

Six to eight weeks after positive review decision.


Managing editor with the assistance of the Academic editors

Action required

  1. Ask for nomination of Academic editorial team member to oversee article’s review
  2. Ask for a list of 4 potential reviewers (to be supplemented as required) from this nominee
  3. Prepare article for review (e.g. by anonymising if required)
  4. Contact proposed referees until 2 have agreed to review
  5. Distribute paper, set deadlines, and send reminders and followups
  6. Summarise reviewers comments and recommendations, emailing them to editors
  7. Alert Academic editors when review process is completed.

Background and further details

This is the core of the editorial process and the distinguishing feature of academic publication. It is also the place at which many journals have the greatest trouble staying on schedule. For this reason a managing editor who stays on top of things at this point can make a major difference in a journal’s success.

Nomination of Academic editor and reviewers

As soon as a positive review decision is made by the academic editors, the managing editor should ask for a nominee to over see the submission’s progress through the workflow. It is often useful if the managing editor is able to help determine this person, either by pointing to disciplinary affinities or discussing the relative workload of the editorial team members. The academic editor will be the person responsible for proposing potential referees and reviewing referees’ comments and making a recommendation for or against publication at the end of the review process.

Once an academic editor as been assigned, the managing editor should ask them for names of potential reviewers. Generally you should begin with 2x as many names as required opinions (so for a journal that requires the opinions of 2 referees, ask for 4).

Although it is always nice to have names and email addresses, insisting that the academic editor supply you with both often results in delay, as it usually requires the editor to look the person up. Since this is something you can do as well, it is enough to ask for the name and, if known, institutional affiliation: usually this is enough to find the person; if you can’t, you can always choose the next name on the list or go back to the academic editor for more details.

Preparing the article for review

Sometimes, some minor changes will need to happen before an article can go out for review. Depending on the journal’s policy, this may mean ensuring that the article is anonymous (i.e. that there are no identifying self-references) or converting to a standard format (e.g. Word 2003, Open Office, PDF, etc.)

Because the article has not been reviewed yet and this is not a publication format, you should spend no more time on this than is absolutely necessary to ensure that your work hasn’t harmed the article in some way–e.g. that your anonymisation hasn’t broken sense or that your file conversion hasn’t resulting in formatting problems, lost images, or the like.

 Contact the referees

Once the article is ready to go to referee, you should contact the people on the list provided to you by the academic editor responsible for the article.

Take the referees in turn starting at the top of the list (i.e. begin with the first two names and only move on to the third if you get no response to repeated attempts at contact or the proposed referee says they can’t or won’t do it.

In your email indicate the journal you work for, your position, the editor who recommended the person as a reviewer, and the title of the article (with an abstract if available or a very brief summary). Indicate the turnaround time for a review (usually 4 weeks after they agree to review it). As for a response. {{sample email}}

If the proposed referee agrees to review the article, send them the file with an email thanking them, establishing the actual deadline, and inviting them to contact you as soon as possible if they discover a conflict of interest or other problem or if they find themselves unable to complete the review on time for any other reason.

One week before the deadline, send a reminder attaching a copy of the article once again and inviting them to contact you if they anticipate any problems meeting this deadline. On the deadline, do the same again. And once again, a week later, if not review has been submitted. After two weeks, ask the editor or the incubator management what to do next.

If the proposed referee refuses to review the article, thank them, email the academic editor to let them know, and move on to the next name on the list.

If the proposed referee does not respond to your invitation within a week, forward the original message again after 7 days, asking them if they had received your initial request {{sample email}}; if there is still no answer after two weeks, treat the lack of response as a refusal, alerting the academic editor and moving to the next name on the list.

If you cannot get the required number of referees from the initial list, write to the editor assigned to oversee this article through the review process for an additional set of names. In general, you should always have 2x as many names as vacancies for reviewers.

Summarise and pass on referees comments as they come in

As soon as a referee’s comments come in, read them through, characterise the nature of the comments, and summarise the referee’s recommendation (usually reject, revise and resubmit, accept pending successful revision, accepts with (minor or no) revision.

Your characterisation should be very broad: e.g. “The referee seemed quite positive and recommended accepting with revision”; “The referee recommended rejection but said there was lots of promise”; “the referee recommended acceptance and had a lot of quite detailed suggestions for improvement.” The goal is to give the academic editor a “heads up” rather than do his or her job. {{sample email}}

Do this with each referee. After the last required referee has responded, inform the editor of this fact, summarising the readers’ recommendations (e.g. “the second referee has responded. She seemed quite positive and recommended acceptance. This means that both referees recommended acceptance”). {{sample email}}

Review decision

Time to completion

Next editorial meeting after the pre-review recommendation.


Academic editor/Editorial team

Action required

  1. Decide whether article is ready for review
  2. (If yes) Assign a member of the Academic editorial team to oversee the article’s progress through the review process
  3. Provide an initial list of potential referees.

Background and further details

On the basis of the managing editors recommendation (and personal reading of the article if required), the academic editor(s) must decide whether a submission is ready to be sent out to review.

This decision should be largely mechanical. Articles that are obviously off topic or full of typos or badly formatted bibliography tend to do badly with referees and can also reflect poorly on the journal. In such cases, the submission should be rejected by the academic editors.

Whether or not the author is invited to resubmit is up to the editors: if the problem is largely one of style or typographical errors, it may make sense to invite resubmission (experience shows authors are generally pleased to have been spared the embarrassment of having a badly proofed submission sent out for review). Likewise, an off topic paper that has aspects that could be interesting to the journal may also be invited to resubmit.

In general, however, editors should not devote too much time to reading or commenting on papers at this point. The review decision is primarily one of mechanics and subject matter rather than an intellectual vetting. Articles that are on topic and mechanically sound should probably be sent out for review, even if the editors have some concerns about their argument or evidence. Articles that are off topic or mechanically unsound should be rejected/invited to resubmit with only the briefest of notes indicating the rationale: save your energy for articles that have passed review.

Pre-review process

Time to completion

Maximum 7 days from acknowledgement of receipt.


Managing editor

Action required

Review article to check that it is broadly appropriate for the journal and mechanically ready for review.

This involves:

  1. Reviewing the abstract (if any) and contents for broad relevance to the journal’s subject area and approach
  2. Reviewing the article as a whole for completeness, lack of typographical errors, and broad adherence to the journal’s preferred submission style.
  3. Writing to the editor/editorial team with a quick summary of the article’s content and your opinion as to whether it is broadly on topic and mechanically ready for review. If there is an abstract, and this is a suitable summary, you can include that. If there is no abstract or the abstract does not not adequately represent the content of the submission, summarise the article in no more than two or three sentences (e.g. “This article is about the use of gaming and the techniques of gaming in libraries and art galleries”; “this article is about the participation of Canadian settlers, as opposed to professional British soldiers, in combat in the war of 1812. it argues that ‘Canadians’ played a relatively insignificant part”). Make sure to say specifically whether or not the article has a lot of typos, and (broadly speaking) whether it conforms to the journal’s expectations for format and style (especially bibliographic style, since this is often the most expensive to fix). {{Link to sample emails}}.

The final responsibility for determining suitability for review is the editors’. Because this is primarily a mechanical decision (manuscripts that are off topic or full of typos rarely do well and can usually be sent back to the authors), your recommendation and evidence will be extremely helpful to them, however.

Although your comments will be helpful to the editors, you should not spend too much time on them: if the article appears to be unsuitable, your effort is wasted; if it appears to be suitable, the appropriate time for detailed comment comes after the referees have reviewed the piece. A quick read, impressionistic response, and brief statement of your opinion is all that is necessary at this point.

Background and further details

Each Journal in the incubator has a different submission procedure. Typical procedures include

  • Authors must submit via an on-line form (e.g. in OJS run journals)
  • Authors submit by emailing a member of the editorial team directly
  • Authors submit by emailing a catchall address for the journal (e.g. or

Acknowledging receipt in a timely manner and introducing yourself is very important in establishing your (and the journal’s) professionalism. Editorial processes can be very opaque to outsiders, and anything that can reduce this makes subsequent steps easier.

If you are upfront with people about processes and deadlines (and stick to them), you’ll find that things go much easier later in the process.

Receipt Process

Time to completion

Maximum 7 days from submission.


Managing editor

Action required

Email to author (cc’d to editor in chief)

  • Thanking author for submission
  • Introducing yourself as the journal’s managing editor (and your term of office)
  • Outlining the review process and broad timelines

{{Link to sample email}}

Background and further details

Each Journal in the incubator has a different submission procedure. Typical procedures include

  • Authors must submit via an on-line form (e.g. in OJS run journals)
  • Authors submit by emailing a member of the editorial team directly
  • Authors submit by emailing a catchall address for the journal (e.g. or

Acknowledging receipt in a timely manner and introducing yourself is very important in establishing your (and the journal’s) professionalism. Editorial processes can be very opaque to outsiders, and anything that can reduce this makes subsequent steps easier.

If you are upfront with people about processes and deadlines (and stick to them), you’ll find that things go much easier later in the process.

The incubator workflow

This is an outline (seen from the point of view of the scientific editor of a journal) of our standard workflow.

This is the workflow used for all journals in the incubator.

Our standard workflow. Each journal in the incubator adapts the workflow to match their specific needs and existing processes. Sections in red are the responsibility of the scientific editors; sections in green the responsibility of the incubator.

Welcome to the Lethbridge Journal Incubator website

This is the new webspace for the Lethbridge Journal Incubator. We use it to provide space to the journals in our collection, post manuals and tips, and to host our calendar.

Please feel free to get in touch with us!