In-class publishing projects

SFU Library Digital Publishing supports instructors and students in creating open access publications that feature student work and involve students in the publishing process.

Our projects use open source software developed by the Public Knowledge Project - Open Journal Systems and Open Monograph Press. We can also support open textbook publishing projects in Pressbooks, hosted by BC Campus.

Librarians provide technical support for publishing platforms and are available to speak to your class about scholarly publishing and writing for publication, as well as topics such as:

  • Open a​​​​ccess and subscription based publishing
  • Intellectual property and author rights
  • Privacy and concerns around openness
  • The different forms of scholarly content
  • Participating in peer review and the different peer review models

Journals: Publishing an open access journal with your class

Course journals are online, open access academic journals published as part of for-credit academic classes.

In Digital Publishing we use Open Journal Systems, open source software for journal publishing, and support instructors and students as they play the roles of journal editor, author, and reviewer. The system allows students to get hands-on experience with setting up a journal site with relevant publishing policies, submitting to an academic journal, reviewing the work of their peers, and revising their own work for publication.

We’ve worked with course instructors in English Literature, Publishing, World Literature, and Gender Sexuality and Women's Studies to showcase student work and involve students in the publishing process using Open Journal Systems.

Check out our models for course journals (students as authors and students as editors) for more ideas, or contact us to discuss how you might use Open Journal Systems for your in-class publishing project.

Course journal model 1: Students as authors

In this type of course journal, students submit their first drafts in the journal using OJS. This work may be a written paper, a multimedia submission such as a podcast, or a work of visual art. Students peer review each other’s work and make revisions to their own submission before it is published and made openly available to anyone who wishes to read and engage with it.

  1. Librarians visit the class to meet with students and talk about scholarly communications, copyright, fair use, and publishing. 
  2. Students register themselves as Authors and Reviewers in the journal and submit their assignment.
  3. Instructor assigns annonymous peer reviewers.
  4. Students review and provide constructive feedback.
  5. Instructor checks feedback, sends it to authors.
  6. Students make revisions, upload revised work.
  7. Instructor checks revisions, provides final assessment, approves the work for publication.
  8. Final versions of submissions are converted to PDF or HTML, and a new journal issue is published.
An example is the publication from Dr. Hannah McGregor’s PUB 371 course: The structure of the book publishing industry in Canada

This model often works best in a writing intensive course or one with a media project. 

Course journal model 2: Students as editors

In this model, students collectively design the journal including the scope and theme. They will also work on policies for the journal such as a peer review method, style and reference guidelines, author rights, and Creative Commons licensing. Students may submit their own coursework to the journal, or they may send out a call for papers to recruit content from community members.

  1. Students design, set-up and manage a journal for their class. 
  2. Students collaborate on decisions around the design, function and scope of the journal.
  3. Students recruit content from community members within and outside their institution, and they may also submit work of their own.
  4. Students peer review the submissions and provide feedback to contributors.
  5. Contributors revise their work and resubmit to the journal.
  6. Students copyedit the submissions, conduct layout editing, upload the final versions (in PDF, HTML, MP3, etc), and publish the journal issue by the end of term.
An example of Model 2 is Intersectional Apocalypse, created for Dr. Ela Przybylo’s GSWS 333-4 course: Intersectional Feminist Journal Praxis

Journals created in this model can be used for model 1 assignments in future sessions, or potentially by other instructors.

Alternatively, the journal can become a student journal after the semester is over.


We are always looking for new opportunities to work with SFU instructors to publish journals as part of our course in any discipline. We can also support a department-wide journal, where multiple subsequent classes each publish an issue of the journal with a dedicated theme or topic.

If you're interested in trying this in your class, please get in touch!

Books: Publishing an open access book with your class

Instructors have the option to work with their class to publish an open access book, such as a collected volume of essays, which is added to the SFU Library Publication Series.

Students learn about copyright, author rights, and open licenses for book publishing, and have the opportunity to showcase their coursework in a way that is discoverable and preserved over the long-term. The Library supplies each book an ISBN and DOI, and adds the book to the Library catalogue and WorldCat for discoverability. 

How is this different from course journal projects?

  • Students do not need to login to the system to submit their work and upload peer review feedback and revisions.
  • All of the editorial work happens outside of the publishing software, and is facilitated by the instructor.
  • Students and / or instructors format the book for publication.
  • The Digital Publishing Librarian helps with adding the book to the SFU Library Publication Series. 

Textbooks: Publishing an open textbook with your class

SFU instructors have access to the BC Campus self-serve instance of Pressbooks for adapting and creating open textbooks. Learn more about support for open textbook publishing at SFU Library.

Students can contribute to an open textbook by writing content or creating instructional videos or other learning materials which showcase their knowledge and contribute to future students’ learning and success. 

Learn more about student contributions to open textbooks in the UBC Open Textbook Publishing Guide: Student Collaborations.


Check out this blog post by Kevin Stranack, former Head of Digital Publishing at SFU Library: Using OJS and OMP for Open Pedagogy
Benefits of in-class publishing projects

In-class publishing projects are an example of Open Pedagogy, in that they engage students as creators of information by involving them in contributing, editing, and publishing content. By providing an opportunity for students to publish the work they complete for their assignments, these projects move away from a "disposable essay" that will be read by the professor and/or TA only. This provides learning opportunities for critical thinking, communication, information literacy, and citation/intellectual property - skills that will help students in other classes and throughout their lives.

  • Eliminates the disposable assignment and provides students’ with a global audience, increasing their motivation to put their best effort into their work
  • Teaches students about the scholarly publishing system and improves their information literacy through hands-on experiential learning 
  • Educates the next generation of scholars about the value of open access, open education, and open source software
  • Has students learn from one another through peer review
  • Provides students with the opportunity to revise their work, learn from their mistakes, and make their final work stronger
  • Highlights the value of the university and student contributions to scholarly conversations by showcasing the final, revised version of student research and creative work
  • Provides an ongoing record of student achievement with each publication
  • Reduces the barrier between the classroom and the broader community; allows for public comment after publication.

Student privacy and open publishing projects

Being asked to contribute to open publishing projects can pose concerns and risks for students. We always recommend that instructors provide several options for students so that they feel safe and comfortable sharing their work. These options might include:

  • Allowing students to publish anonymously or with a pseudonym
  • Giving students the option to hand in a regular assignment for a grade, instead of publishing their work in the class publication
  • Allowing students to withdraw their published work at any time - even years into the future - if they are no longer comfortable sharing it.

For more information about student privacy for in-class publishing projects, see the UBC Open Textbook Publishing Guide: Student Collaborations, or contact the SFU Library Digital Publishing team.