A couple years ago I started looking for a free content management system I could use to archive and share publications I’ve written in my educational career. Since I’ve used WordPress extensively to publish content online, I was first drawn to “Annotum: an open-source, open-process, open-access scholarly authoring and publishing platform based on WordPress.” I started a website with it (docs.wesfryer.com) but never finished the work of migrating my past articles and research papers to it. The Annotum codebase has not been updated since December 2012, which is not a good sign… but the main reason I decided to abandon it was that it’s not very flexible or user-friendly. Content for your articles must be copied and pasted into different WordPress entries, so the “workflow” of getting your articles loaded into Annotum is very time consuming. In addition, I found out (the hard way) that you can break your site accidentally by activating WordPress themes which are not Annotum compatible. (Fortunately I was able to restore from a backup using BackupBuddy.)

A few nights ago, I asked Alec Couros (via Twitter) what he recommends instead of Annotum. Both Alec and Sean Sharp recommended Open Journal Systems (OJS).

I’ve spent the past few days (of vacation, because YES, I find this sort of thing quite fun and engaging) working pretty intensely to migrate all the articles I published in TCEA’s TechEdge magazine between 1997 and 2007 (46 articles in all) along with the most noteworthy research articles I wrote as a doctoral student at Texas Tech into a personal publication archive running OJS. With 58 articles, research papers and books now entered into my archive, I can report I’m VERY impressed and pleased with OJS. I’ve chosen a very plain and clean site theme, and am especially pleased at the way it’s permitted me to provide three versions of most articles: a PDF, an EPUB, and a text file version along with site-wide searchability. I don’t think the present search features are able to search my articles full-text, but as the included files are indexed by Google I think their searchability and discoverability (by others) will increase.

Open Journal Systems (OJS) is a free, open source platform you can install on a hosted server that supports PHP and mySQL. OJS is used by scholars around the world publishing open access journals, but it can also be used by individual scholars to create personal publication archives. It is important to retain the right to republish academic articles and other publications on your OWN website for free, global distribution. This is the ethic supported by the open access movement and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association specifically. While I do have two commercially available books and have contributed a chapter to one, the vast majority of content I share online (including content on the archive) is freely available.

The OJS documentation wiki section, “Using the Web-based Expedited Submission Process to Add Articles Quickly,” describes the workflow which can be used by a single author, editor and publisher (like me in this example) to quickly post new articles to the site. This entry describes the basics of the workflow I’ve followed the past several days to get these 58 items loaded into my publications archive.

This evening I created an eighteen minute screencast giving some background about my decision process in selecting a platform for a personal publication archive, and demonstrating the steps or “workflow” I followed to add my items to the site. I recorded and edited this screencast using ScreenFlow software.

As I said several times during the screencast, I think scholars and aspiring scholars in the 21st century should maintain personal publication archives to support open access. The ideals of the open access movement in academia challenge some commonly held ideals about restricting access to information and research. Those ideals need to change.

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  • Mark McGuire

    Hi Wesley. Thanks for this post and clear video explanation. I’ll have to investigate this. I agree that “21st century should maintain personal publication archives to support open access”. Using an open licence is important, but it is equally important to ensure that work can be easily found, especially in the context of other, similar work. We can’t assume that others will take care of this for us.

  • JB MacGregor

    Hi Wesley, this is a great writeup! I think this is the first instance we’ve heard of someone using OJS as a personal publication archive, and we’re happy to hear that it worked so well for that. As you mentioned, all content is indexable by Google (and importantly, in a way that Google Scholar understands). Regarding the in-site search, you will find a “pdftotext” parameter in your config.inc.php file that will allow the system to index uploaded PDFs, if your server has the pdftotext application; but that has no effect on the workings of Google/GS either way.

    Thanks again for your kind words, and good luck with OJS!
    James / PKP

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