ASSAf Scholarly Publishing Programme: March 2017 Communique

Dear Journal Editors

During this coming year, ASSAF SPU will – in addition to existing activities – more and more focus on Open Science/Open Data, as part of the African Open Science Platform (AOSP). We welcome scholarly journals to also start thinking about preserving and making data in support of research articles, available. Two of our team members will be presenting on AOSP, and as follows:

From 13 to 17 March 2017, ASSAf will be represented at a workshop presented by the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) (Barcelona, Spain). This workshop is fully funded by the IDRC, and it is an excellent opportunity to network with DOAJ Ambassadors from all over the world. We will give feedback in our next newsletter.

ASSAf has also been invited to present the case for Open Access scholarly publishing in the Global South, during the Sixth International PKP Scholarly Publishing Conference which will be held from August 2 – 4, 2017 in Montreal, Canada. We are honoured, and looking very much forward to display progress made in SA. Our attendance will be fully funded by the conference organisers.

Please complete the DOAJ Survey?

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) has kindly asked that you please evaluate any support provided to you, with regards to DOAJ. Even if it was just in terms of receiving updates/news on DOAJ. This a kind request to please allow 3 minutes of your time, and quickly complete the online form at

Many thanks colleagues! We appreciate it!

South African Journal of Science (SAJS)

The SAJS was re-accepted to the Directory of Open Access Journals in 2016. The journal also received the DOAJ Seal, this seal is a mark of certification for open access journals, awarded by DOAJ to journals that achieve a high level of openness, adhere to Best Practice and high publishing standards. Visit the SAJS page on DOAJ here:

The SAJS article; Earliest hominin cancer: 1.7-million-year-old osteosarcoma from Swartkrans Cave, South Africa was included in the 2016 Almetric Top 100 list. This list comprises of the most-discussed journal articles of 2016 (according to their Altmetric score). This article is the only article to be included from South Africa. See the page for this article here: 

Capacity Building in Scholarly Publishing

For sustainability, we all need to make sure that we have some contingency planning in place as far as our journals are concerned. One way is to continue to get new people involved in managing, reviewing and editing. The PKP School offers some excellent tutorials with helpful links, which is openly accessible for all to benefit from – maybe for young researchers or postgraduates with an interest in getting involved, who can be mentored? Also helpful if you have been newly appointed in a position.

National Scholarly Book Publishers’ Forum

The NSBPF have devised a document on Best Practice for Peer Review of Scholarly Books which provides guidelines for scholarly publishers.

Peer-review of scholarly journals

Reviews have been completed of journals in the Humanities II: Visual and Performing Arts group, Communications and Information Science group, and Engineering and Architecture group. The three panels will meet shortly to discuss the journal reviews and to finalise their consensus decisions.

Unfortunately we have had to put a hold on setting up the Peer Review Panels for the following discipline groups: Education; Maths and Science; Politics, History and Philosophy. For inquiries, please contact:


In line with the guidelines provided by the SciELO Network:

  • all the articles in the SciELO SA collection now have Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs); and
  • all the journals have adopted Creative Commons (CC-BY) licences.

The bi-annual assessment of the SciELO SA collection by the SciELO Network will take place mid-March. The purpose of the assessment is to check that the collection adheres to all their stringent criteria, including checking whether all the journals are current / publishing according to the publication frequency they indicate on their web pages.

Some journals that have struggled with their currency have moved from full-issue publishing to rolling pass / pre-print publishing, i.e. publishing articles online when ready for publication.

Two SciELO SA Winners in ScienceOpen competition!

Congratulations to the two South African winners in the ScienceOpen competition, which now qualifies for promotional pages and more on the ScienceOpen web page! Once the pages have been created, we will share with you. The two journals are:

It is great that we often get to share and showcase South African (incl. African) research output with the rest of the world, contributing to the global knowledgebase.

Monitoring the usage and impact of your journal

Editors are usually interested in some usage statistics in order to report to the Editorial Board, and also to the Society or other funding agency. In the case of subscription journals, it is worthwhile to follow up with the publisher on how many libraries/individuals have access to the journal. When budgets are cut, it will automatically also impact on the number of users (in the case of subscription journals).

In an OA environment, a variety of tools are available to monitor usage and impact. See for example how some of our journals monitor usage and impact. The category for Indexing/Listing for each, also contains links to the SciELO statistics. All SciELO SA journals at have a set of SciELO generated statistics. For inquiries, please contact

Since all SciELO SA journals are also indexed by ScienceOpen, as part of the agreement between SciELO Brazil and ScienceOpen, editors and more can now also track alternative metrics for individual articles. To search for a specific journal, click here. Please see a list of South African journals available through ScienceOpen, for which alternative metrics are generated. An example of what the metrics look like on article level (see the table at the top):

DOAJ also recently entered into an agreement with ScienceOpen, strengthening support for Open Access even further. Through collaborating we can achieve so much more in increasing the visibility of all research output. Read here.

Keeping your online journal safe

The publishing environment is a competitive environment, and it is crucial for us all to keep our digital identities, our research, and our journals, safe. We can do that by properly managing it. A few tips we would like to share with you (you are also most welcome to share with us, if you know of any):

  1. Make sure that connections to your journal web page is always encrypted. Register a security certificate with a trusted Internet service provider, and renew the security certificate annually. You will know that your journal web page is encrypted if you can add a https: to the URL, and it still resolves. Journals on the ASSAf Open Journal Systems server is for example encrypted. When accessing the page, type in Encryption is especially important when users are required to login with a username and password, to perform certain actions on the system.
  2. Confirm with your IT division that all is backed up to a server. Usually a back-up is made on the site, and then one or two additional back-ups are made to an unknown site/s.
  3. Have a digital preservation policy in place. All SciELO SA (incl. ASSAf OJS) journals are digitally preserved via Portico, in a dark archive. This means the content cannot be accessed via the Internet. Portico servers are spread over different continents, should disaster strike one of the continents.
  4. Assign Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to individual articles, and ORCIDs to individual researchers. This to verify that the articles are published in a trusted way, and that the individuals associated with the journal are real.
  5. Know who the users of the journal are, inspect the names registered on the journal system, and remove/block suspicious names.
  6. Only allow the submission of MSWord or PDF files or known file formats (e.g. OpenOffice) in the case of an article. If the file submitted looks suspicious, please verify with your IT or check it against an up-to-date anti-virus programme, before opening it.
  7. Regularly search your own name (incl. photos), but also the name of the journal, on the web. Confirm that it is used in the context intended to be used. Also on social media.
  8. Move your mouse over any link, and see what displays in the area above the browser task bar. Especially in the case of linked text. See for example when one moves the mouse cursor over the following, the web address or URL or email address that displays. Confirm that it looks correct and that it can be trusted.

The following displays in the area above the browser task bar when hovering the mouse over the linked text for ASSAf, which is correct and a trusted ASSAf email address:

  1. Learn to read and interpret hyperlinks/web addresses/URLs. See How do I know if I can trust a website?
  2. Depending on which browser you use to access the Internet, you can increase the security (e.g. Chrome, Firefox). The same applies to your operating system (e.g. Linux, Windows, Apple).
  3. Do not share usernames and passwords, use unique usernames and passwords, and regularly change it. See Creating a strong password.
  4. And many more ….

If you suspect suspicious behavior, please keep record of all, don’t open anything, make screen captures, and report it – either to your IT, or Google, or other relevant owner/authority.

Thank you for attending the information sessions on OJS!

Thank you to all who managed to attend the PKP Open Journal Systems information sessions, hosted by ASSAf during February! We are looking forward to more opportunities to engage with you on various aspects of quality Open Access scholarly journal publishing.

Kind regards

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