The PKP development team actively pursues software interoperability with different applications, frameworks and platforms where appropriate. Interoperability is ideally facilitated via open, widely used and time-tested APIs, standards and protocols. A number of interoperability standards common to the library and scholarly publishing worlds have enjoyed a long history of support within PKP, and support for new standards is added regularly (and in many cases in the form of contributed plugins from the larger community).
Various information interchange mechanisms enjoy broad support across the PKP applications. All three applications support the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), which provides machine access to published article (or book, or presentation) metadata for the use of indexing systems. Another source of interoperability comes from following XML standards, particularly journal publishing standards such as the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Journal Publishing Tag Set, have proven crucial to PKP’s efforts to provide open, structured access to published scholarly content. XML is particularly well-suited to sharing data and metadata online between applications, as it is human- and machine-readable.
Other discrete interoperability projects are currently underway. PKP is partnering with the Dataverse Network initiative at Harvard to develop a set of plugins that will provide deposit and display functionality between OJS and Dataverse repositories.Footnote 6 At the same time, the project is also working with the Public Library of Science (PLoS) to provide AltmetricsFootnote 7 for PKP applications, and with ORCID to provide author disambiguation services.Footnote 8 These services are usually implemented as plugins, and allow different levels of access to data and metadata for different online services and platforms, typically with very little needed in terms of additional setup. Most importantly however, the service standards and protocols are open, understood, and widely accepted throughout the scholarly and academic library communities, ensuring a broad level of support and interoperability for PKP applications.
PKP promotes access to scholarly content in a number of ways. Interoperability via open standards and services, discussed above, is of key importance to accessibility: providing multiple access methods to content will of course increase exposure. In this fashion, journals may have their content harvested by OAI-capable metadata harvesters, can provide article DOI information to CrossRef, can deposit into PubMed’s MEDLINE indexing service.Footnote 9 All PKP applications are search-engine-friendly, and include special HTML “meta” tags that are used by Google Scholar to identify and present content properly. In addition, the application’s HTML is written to specific standards, and special care is taken to ensure general accessibility across a wide variety of browsers and operating system.
Open Source Software
PKP software applications have always been released as open source software, under the General Public License.Footnote 10
The software is free in two ways: It is free to download and use; and the source code is freely available to download, view, and modify. There are a number of reasons why PKP publishes these applications as open source software.
Firstly, our mandate to improve the access to and quality of scholarly research has been helped immensely by providing the software free of charge: Researchers from all over the world can download and use our software; in a very real sense, journals from Indonesia and Sri Lanka can operate on the same field (or quality of platform) as journals from the United States and Germany.
Secondly, our software has benefitted immeasurably from source code contributions from many, many members of the scholarly community. Almost all translations of the software have been contributed as code; bugs have been identified and in many cases fixed by community members; and new features (many in plugin format) have been contributed as well. Simply put, we would not have been able to attain the quality and breadth of our software without following an open source software community model.
Thirdly, while Open Access to scholarly research and open source software models are not necessarily explicitly interlinked, they do share some of the same philosophical underpinnings: Open Access to material; community collaboration; etc. Following an open Source licensing model makes as much sense as promoting an Open Access approach to scholarly research and to Open Science, more generally (cf. Willinsky 2005).
PKP is a community project in many ways. The Project provides direct developer access to anyone, via the PKP support forums and wiki. Anyone can register on the forum and interact directly with the PKP development team for technical support or development inquiries. The support forum also exists as an active venue for questions and conversations from editors, with questions ranging from accessibility, indexing and DOIs to how typical review and editorial workflows typically work.
This community engagement is international. PKP seeks to cooperate with different community partners around the world (including translators, developers, and supportive institutions in Europe, Africa, Latin America, China, and elsewhere). PKP has worked with INASP and other organizations in delivering scholarly publishing workshops in many parts of the world. It was worked with INASP to build portals such as African Journals Online and Asia Journals Online, which have created an online presence in Google Scholar and elsewhere for hundreds of title.Footnote 11 In addition, many independent user and training groups have popped up throughout the world, operating without direct PKP support—for example, one partner in Spain has developed an entire OJS training program and support forum, while another, with IBICT in Brasilia has been offering workshops across the country for years.Footnote 12 That these community initiatives are blossoming internationally, and largely without direct support from PKP, is a welcome marker of success, and an indication of the broad acceptance of PKP software as a scholarly publishing standard internationally.
A key goal of PKP is to promote Open Access to scholarly research. As such it is part of growing Open Access movement. Open Access was initially, at the turn of the century, a radical challenge to the old print model, but it is now increasingly embraced not just by small independent scholar-publishers, where it got its start, but by the largest of scholarly publishing corporations, just as it is being supported by government legislation requiring Open Access for funded research, with every sign that Open Access may well become the norm for publishing research (cf. Laakso and Björk 2012; Björk and Peatau 2012). With the development of mega-journals, such as PLoS One publishing tens of thousands of Open Access articles a year, and increasing use of “article processing fees” to guarantee that Open Access can be a source of revenue, the momentum and incentive is transforming the industry (cf. Frank 2012). While PKP continues to largely serve smaller Open Access journals operated by scholar-publishers, efforts are underway to adapt its approach to make the mega-journal model among the options that it offers to the academic community.
One of the challenges for sustaining, enhancing, and increasing Open Access is lack of professional publishing experience among many in the growing community. A new initiative of PKP is the development of tuition-free, open, online training courses in the use of PKP software and online publishing and management skills.Footnote 13 Working in conjunction with partners such as the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) and the Publishing Studies Department at Kwame Nkrumah University Of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana, this new education program will help build local capacity for online publishing and sustainable Open Access.Footnote 14
The fundamental purpose of the Public Knowledge Project is to enhance the quality of scholarly communication and global knowledge sharing. By providing free and open source tools for professional monograph, journal, and conference management, PKP has enabled scholars from around the world to launch their own online publications with little or no money, and to build scholarly communities around their areas of interest, and to share the results of their research with all (cf. Willinsky and Mendis 2007).
Discussions of the developing world and Open Access often revolve around making research from the leading publications from the developed world more widely available. Programs such as HINARI, AGORA, and OARE have made significant gains in this area.Footnote 15 While this is no doubt important, it is equally important for researchers in the developed world (and elsewhere) to hear the voices from the South. In the past, a leading publisher may have rejected the knowledge generated by a Ghanaian researcher because the significance of her work was not understood or valued. She could instead publish it in a local print-based research publication, but it would have a very limited readership, with physical copies not making it far beyond her country’s borders. With the increasing availability of the Internet in Africa, although still a challenge, and the existence of free and open source tools for professional publishing, she has new options. Locally produced online journals, with a global community of editors, authors, and reviewers are increasingly available as a forum for her work, and where a suitable local option doesn’t exist, she can now choose to collaborate with colleagues to start her own online journal.