Journal publishing options with SFU Library

Learn about opportunities for SFU faculty, students, and staff to work with SFU Library Digital Publishing to publish open access journals using Open Journal Systems.

Creating a new open access journal

The Digital Publishing team at SFU Library can help faculty and students who are interested in creating an open access journal. Open access, and knowledge mobilization, are represented in both the SFU and SFU Library strategic visions. 

Anyone with a current SFU affiliation can publish a journal with SFU Library. This includes students (both undergraduate and graduate), faculty, and student groups/associations. 

Getting started with journal publishing at SFU Library

  • Step 1: Review our new journal checklist for considerations and important decisions about your new journal. 
  • Step 2: Review and complete the Journal Hosting Memorandum of Agreement
  • Step 3: Contact us with some details about your journal, based on the checklist from Step 1, and your signed Memorandum of Agreement from Step 2
  • Step 4: A librarian from the Digital Publishing team will contact you with any questions we have before getting started. Once we agree that we are ready to launch the journal, the Digital Publishing librarian will set up the journal in OJS and email you a link to your new journal. At this point you can begin setting up your new journal and website with support from the Digital Publishing librarian.

Getting started with OJS

Simon Fraser University Library uses Open Journal Systems (OJS), open source journal management platform developed by the Public Knowledge Project, to host your open access journal. OJS assists with every stage of the refereed publishing process, from submissions through to online publication and indexing.

A librarian from the Digital Publishing team can meet with you to help you set-up your journal in OJS. 

The following resources may also be useful in becoming familiar with the OJS software:

  • OJS Documentation: A visual guide to learning Open Journal Systems
  • PKP School: Self-paced online courses on setting up a journal in OJS, the OJS editorial workflow, becoming an editor or reviewer, etc.

Creating a course journal

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

The Digital Publishing team has 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 the Instructor Guide for Course Journals and some sample course journals projects for information about getting started!

We are always looking for new opportunities to work with SFU instructors to publish journals as part of our course in any discipline. If you're interested in trying this in your class, please get in touch!

Why publish a journal in your course?

Course journals are an example of Open Pedagogy, in that they engage students as creators of information by involving them in contributing, editing, and publishing content. Course journals 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.

Benefits of using a course journal
  • 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 published issue
  • Reduces the barrier between the classroom and the broader community; allows for public comment after publication.

Stranack, K. (2017, February 8). Using OJS and OMP for Open Pedagogy [Blog post]. Retrieved from

As an assignment, course journals provide an opportunity to develop and/or strengthen skills such as writing, critical thinking, research, editing, and giving and responding to feedback. Depending on the model (see below) students may publish their own work in the journal, where it can be widely read. Students may also work together to decide aspects of the journal such as author rights, Creative Commons licensing, and what type of content will be published.

The electronic nature of the journal means that students can submit work beyond the traditional text based assignment, though supplementary material may be required with items like art, podcasts, videos, music, etc.

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

Librarians 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
Course journal model 1: Students as authors

In this type of course journal, students submit their first drafts in 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 scholarly communications, copyright, fair use, and publishing. 
  2. Students must register themselves as Authors and Reviewers and submit their assignment.
  3. Instructor assigns blind 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.

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

An example is the publication from Dr. Hannah McGregor’s PUB 371 course: The structure of the book publishing industry in Canada



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.

Creating a student journal

Student journals are academic journals run primarily by a student body. They may  publish content produced by faculty, students, or the general public, and they may be run in collaboration with faculty, library staff, associations, or university administration.

Working on a student journal is a great way to build writing and editing skills, while becoming familiar with the scholarly publishing process. 

For student authors, having something published is a way to have your voice heard and represented. Additionally, having an article published in a peer reviewed, open access journal is great on your resume or CV -- especially if you plan on continuing your studies through graduate school.  

Who can start a student journal?

Any group of undergraduate or graduate students at SFU can start a student run journal. These journals can be published within a faculty/discipline (e.g. SFU Educational Review), as interdisciplinary (e.g. Intersectional Apocalypse), or by a student association/group (e.g. Confluence).

Check out some sample student journals published through SFU Digital Publishing.

Student journal toolkit

PKP has created a Student Journal Toolkit with everything you need to know about getting started with publishing a student journal. 

Ready to get started with your student journal? Visit the Student Journal Toolkit, and follow these Steps for setting up your journal at SFU.

Flipping an existing journal to open access

Publishing your journal open access will help you reach a wider audience and will facilitate the spread of knowledge around the world. All journals and monographs published by Digital Publishing at SFU Library are made fully open access. 

If you are currently managing a subscription journal, the Digital Publishing team can work with you to flip your journal to open access and host your content with the Library. Contact us to learn more!

Check out these additional resources on flipping a journal to open access:

Bringing a journal to SFU Library

If you are taking over editorial responsibilities for a journal, and want to talk about the possibility of hosting with SFU Library, our Digital Publishing team is happy to talk about the process. Contact us to get started.