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How To Promote an Open Access Journal

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3-D archaeology and the first Americans, Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington, December 13, 2016 | © Courtesy of Toshio Suzuki, Bureau of Land Management /Flickr.

With an ever increasing number of scientific articles published on a daily basis, alongside a growing number of publishing outlets, it has become increasingly difficult to attract attention to Open Access journal newcomers.

A Blog Article by Kamil Mizera and Witold Kieńć.

Promoting journals across and beyond the scholarly world, such as among scientists, prospective authors, journalists and wider public, is a key to a successful launch of a journal. Content is king, many might say – but having the contents reach the scientists poses a challenge in the increasingly scattered scientific publishing landscape. If you want the contents of your journal to be discovered in a  timely and targeted fashion, here are some useful tips to achieve that.


Networking proves to be the most successful tool in encouraging prospective authors to publishing in a chosen journal. Trite as it sounds, it should enjoy the status of a number one priority when it comes to promoting a scientific journal. Editors of the journal should network in their communities to attract new authors and to endorse publishing in Open Access in general, as there are still numerous misconceptions and bias attached to this model and scientists tend to approach open access journals very carefully. The term ‘predatory’ coined by Geoffrey Beall  used in conjunction with Open Access refers to the low-quality offering  of the publishers who use dodgy practices that have nothing to do with an ethos of academic research and education standards. Unfortunately, these predatory open access publications shed a negative light on all open access journals. In the academic environment, heavy marketing can spark a backlash, hence the recommendation towards journal needs to be spontaneous and unsolicited. On the other hand, only people within the academic community will have a natural access to prospective authors. The world of academia is still very hermetic so good word from within will outperform the most elaborate and intricate marketing practices

Email Marketing

Direct Marketing is essential in reaching the scientists with the message about Call for Papers. This activity, albeit necessary  – needs good preparation and costs time and effort. Building a database of researchers, relevant to the journal is a laborious task. Besides, direct marketing can be interpreted as SPAM, even, if the message you post is a non-commercial one. I recommend to create permission-based databases – for the authors to sign up to receive emails from the publisher. Calls for Papers should not be the only emails you send to scientists. Remember to inform scientists, when their work has been cited in the journal. Informing scientists about important journal achievements and milestones is also plausible. But don’t exhaust your contacts! Changes in Advisory Board or marginal gains in Impact Factors or changes in the journal aim and scope remain to be communicated on the journal homepage rather than through mailers.

Abstracting and Indexing

This services are the backbone of marketing for all scientific journals. Make sure to carefully evaluate the journals and to  employ your best efforts  to successfully and timely index the journals in appropriate A&I services. Decision is made usually in several weeks to several months after the application (in some cases several days). Here is an overview of the two most important ones:

Thomson Reuters:

After the publication of first issue of a new journal, you should perform internal evaluation of the journal based on Thomson Reuters (TR) criteria to assess its chances for a successful application as well as to determine the aspects that may still need improving in order to increase its chances for a positive evaluation. Don’t get too hasty: A journal that is rejected for any reason (including timeliness) cannot be reevaluated for 3 years (2 years in case of new titles in volume 1 through 3).


Medline/PubMed is the abstracting database that needs separate attention. A journal has to be accessible for more than 6 months and has to have published more than 20 articles to be submitted to Medline. Before the application, like in Thomson Reuter’s case you should perform internal evaluation of the journal based on Medline criteria to assess its chances for a successful application as well as to determine the aspects that may still need improving in order to increase its chances for a positive evaluation. Do not expect the decision to arrive shortly. It may take anything up to two years until your journal receives a decision it has been accepted or rejected. Journals rejected by Medline or not submitted to Medline can be introduced to PubMed through PubMed Central, PubMed’s full-text repository.

Online Visibility or Article-Level Publicity

This tool is about disseminating significant research published in a journal that would enable to educate public of these research findings in a direct and timely manner. Thoughtful selection of newsworthy articles needs to be an integral part of this process: let the Journal Editors (Editor-in-Chief) have their pick of the most mediagenic papers. Original research articles are the most suitable for these purposes. Scientists judge articles by their news value. Once you have developed a news release (including a media friendly heading, SEO rich content and appropriate quotes from other scientists), you should always make sure to obtain the relevant press release approval and sign off. Distributing the news – use your own media contacts, but do not underrate scientific press centers, where you should additionally place the news to increase its reach and pick-up chances. Remember to upload the material to appropriate science press rooms (;; also report the release to specialized topical websites and use our own Social Media channels to generate buzz about the title. Publicity generates greater traffic to the article published in your journal and can significantly enhance the prestige of your publication. Research shows that there is strong correlation between publicized articles and increased number of full-text downloads. Media coverage of research articles brings about more referrals to the journals homepage and more citations for the article (comparing to non-publicized articles in the same issue). This kind of publicity is targeted and reader-oriented. The media coverage for a given article depends on the subject of the article. With this service, it should be your aim to translate high-class specialized research findings published in your journal into a news article, easily digestible not only by scientists but also by mainstream journalists. This is a kind of proactive marketing – but this service is not about spin – it is about authentic voice, organic publicity and widest possible news distribution.

Conferences and Event Marketing

When launching an open access journal – it is the prospective authors that you concentrate your marketing efforts on. Conferences offer an opportunity to meet the authors and to market your journal in a very targeted way. Make sure you probe attendees about input to your journal. As mentioned before – networking will be the most useful tactic when it comes to promoting an Open Access journal.

Edited by Pablo Markin

Featured Image Credits: Printing the past: 3-D archaeology and the first Americans, Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington, December 13, 2016 | © Courtesy of Toshio Suzuki, Bureau of Land Management/Flickr.

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  1. A lot of useful tips in that article.Conference marketing is very time-consuming and have little impact on possible authors. Also it is unreasonable for a new OA journal to aim for Thomson Reuters indexing durint the first years.

    1. This is a good question. I will research this topic and produce a next blog article that explores possible solutions for the improvement of abstracting and indexing of open access journals.
      Pablo Markin, Blogger,

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