What does it take to run your own journal?

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Ever thought about starting your own academic journal? Zaheer-Ud-Din Babar is the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice and is based at the School of Pharmacy, University of Auckland, New Zealand. Six years ago, he started his journal – then named Southern Med Review. Here he shares his tips for starting and running a journal successfully.

Zaheer Babar

When I started Southern Med Review – a pharmaceutical policy journal – six years ago, I had little idea about editing and publishing. However, we ran it successfully for many years and last year we partnered with BioMed Central to publish it. It is now called Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice.

So based on my experiences of this process, here are a few of my tips on how to run a successful scientific journal:

Ask yourself why you want to do it

Setting up a journal is something which requires sheer determination, passion and time commitment. It’s also very fulfilling though, offering you the chance to improve your knowledge, help others and promote a specific viewpoint in research. If you are an academic or a scientist, check whether the institute you work with, could recognize your role. Most western academic institutes consider it a ‘service to society’.

Choose your name wisely

As with any other business venture, the name of a journal should be meaningful, concise and should depict the scope of the journal.

Choose a niche area

If you have scarce resources, developing a journal with a specific focus will be the easiest place to start. Though there are many non-specific journals which are very successful, they are mostly run in-house by large publishing houses that have far more resources than you are likely to have.

Build an excellent editorial team

This is another key for success. You need people who share your passion and commitment, and are willing to promote a common cause. Your team members could be a mix of experienced and new researchers. Create an environment of learning and always listen to the opinions of your editorial board and advisory team.

Be honest

Be honest about the journal. Highlight its good qualities and at the same time be open to discuss its weaknesses and how to improve them. It’s very challenging to establish a new journal, so embrace criticism in a positive manner.

Be creative

Make sure you are open to ideas and new ways to promote the journal – for example, at conferences, seminars and on social media. If the journal is in a niche area and is of good quality, key opinion leaders will be happy to contribute and can help you to raise awareness.

Quality, quality and quality

The quality of the journal is the single most important thing in its success. A high quality journal will attract high quality submissions and this creates a virtuous circle.

As a new journal, you don’t have to publish every article submitted. However, even if you reject articles, provide timely feedback in a positive manner. The researchers will appreciate it.

Invest your full energy in the first issue

The first issue of the journal is your introduction, so give it one hundred percent effort and ensure the editorial quality, design and layout are as perfect as possible. It will pay off.

Moving to new horizons

Running a small and independent journal comes with benefits and challenges.  However,  if you don’t have a proper support structure in place and if it is not your full time job, after few years you may want to consider a bigger platform for the journal. For us it was BioMed Central and we’ve been happy with this transition.

And finally….

Remember that it’s easier to start a journal than close it down, so make sure you think carefully and plan before starting yours.

Good luck!

Zaheer-Ud-Din Babar, PhD is the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice and is based at the School of Pharmacy, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

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3 Comments

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Anton Hart

Congratulations. Looks very good. But what does it really cost? For example: do you have an office a phone and internet access. Who maintains your own website? Do you have a managing editor, copy editor, proof reader? Who pays them? Who owns the domain name and maintains this website: http://www.joppp.org/? Does that cost anything? Do you support the journal with electronic messaging such as twitter, blogs, email. Is that all done from home? Who pays your salary? Look forward to reading your reply.

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Aiono Alec Ekeroma

I am very proud that another fellow academic from my University successfully launched a journal that has received the recognition of WHO and a big player such as BioMed. This encouragement comes at the right time.

I have been planning the launch of an Open Access journal that will be called ‘The Pacific Journal of Reproductive Health’ from October next year. Besides my academic and clinical role at the University of Auckland, I am the President of the Pacific Society for Reproductive Health (PSRH). I have been on the Executive Board for past 8 years and have seen the need for a journal that will publish research and narratives from our Pacific Island countries.

I started a quarterly Newsletter with an ISSN for the PSRH and has been running successfully for the past two years. The Newsletter will morph into the Journal next year. I have a small team in the PSRH secretariat, which comprises a few volunteers, and am determined to get it established.

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Eslam sabry

Actually I’m so proud of you and of your dedication and I wonder if you don’t mind helping me my case is slightly different actually Iam afourth year medical student and I hope that my college will be a promising one in the field of medicine and surgery we have a plan to start an undergraduate research journal I think it would be something unique and promising but do not know exactly how to start so would you mind giving us some advice ???

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