Journal incubator

The Lethbridge Journal Incubator is a pilot project hosted by the University of Lethbridge Library under the direction of Daniel Paul O’Donnell and supported by the University of Lethbridge School of Graduate Study.

The goal of the incubator is to address the issue of the sustainability of scholarly communication in an open access, digital age by aligning it with the educational and research missions of the University.In this way, the production of scholarly communication, which is often understood as a cost centre that draws resources away from a host university’s core missions, is itself transformed into a sustainable, high-impact resource that applies largely existing funding in ways that significantly increase the research and teaching capacity of the institution.

The basic premise of the incubator is that the skills and experiences involved in contemporary scholarly journal production are both generalisable across disciplines and of significant value to graduate students whether they pursue post-graduate careers within or without the academy.

Through their work in the incubator, students will acquire training, managerial

experience, and networking opportunities that are both of immediate use to them

in their research domains and easily transferred to other aspects of their

academic or professional careers. These skills are, moreover, highly

sought-after by public and private sector employers, especially when combined

with the higher-level analytic skills acquired in the course of their graduate

studies.

How it Works

The incubator works by training graduate students in technical and managerial

aspects of journal production. On the one hand, academic journals are highly

specialised publications that require high-level, research-domain-specific

skills and knowledge from their authors, editors, and readers. On the other

hand, however, the actual process by which journals are produced is relatively

standard and requires very little research-domain knowledge.

Figure 1: The incubator breaks down the publication process into high-

and low-specialisation tasks

The incubator breaks down the publication process into high- and low-specialisation tasks

Under the supervision of academics, professional librarians, and a professional

office manager, students are introduced to the core elements of the workflow

that underlies the production of all academic journals and trained in detail

both in one or more technical aspects of journal production (copy-editing,

preparation of proofs, document-encoding, the use of standard

journal-production software), and, more broadly, in the duties of an academic

journal managing editor (supervising the progress of articles through the

workflow from receipt to publication, corresponding with authors and referees,

keeping minutes of editorial meetings, and the like). Students then assume

managerial responsibility for one or two titles from their broad area of domain

expertise while also working as production assistants specialising in one or

more technical aspects of journal production across all titles, regardless of

discipline, in the incubator as a whole.

Benefits for students

This mix of duties allows students to acquire first hand experience with the

norms and practices involved in the production and dissemination of

contemporary research in their broad area of research expertise and

professional training in and supervised experience with cutting-edge digital

technology and processes that are both highly sought after and easily

generalisable.

Figure 2: Students acquire domain-specific experience (vertical axis) and generalisable management and technical skills (horizontal

axis)

Students acquire domain-specific experience (vertical axis) and generalisable management and technical skills (horizontal axis)

By acting as managing editor for one or two individual titles (vertical

axis), students meet and work closely with editors and research-active

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