Many times, I have experienced situations where people try to draw
lines between authors, editors, and system administrators. True, they
do have very different roles. But they should understand each other
beyond awareness of their role differences. Technically speaking,
system administrators do not care whether an author makes spelling
mistakes or not. Editors do care about spelling and grammar errors,
but they do not know much about server infrastructure.
If we really want to be productive, then we have to go beyond
polarized communication. Working together, authors, editors, and
technical people can create articles with clarity, cohesion,
concision, and precision. The more they understand the basics of
communication, the faster and smoother the process of creating a
quality document is.
I came across a very interesting book that will be helpful to authors
and editors, and will make life easier for system administrators too.
Roy Jensen, M.Sc., Ph.D., is a chemistry instructor and author of
Communicating Science and Exploring Chemistry. It is Communicating
Science that I recommend to authors here so they can acquire skills
that will help them to convey messages efficiently. His book is an
introductory communication guide that provides learners with a
foundation for writing, reviewing, and presenting technical
information to academic and public audiences.
His site, Rogue Publishing, contains useful information on these and
The secretary of one association that is publisher of four journals asked me to install open Journal Systems and to train their staff member to upload articles.
I have installed OJS on their local machine since they were not clear about hosting they would like to use. I met their staff member and showed how to enter data in the forms for metadata, how to create journal, sections, users and other details.
He looked quite confident and confirmed my instructions using phrases: I will do that easily. I will manage that somehow.
After a couple of days their secretary called me and said that the Open Journal System messed up all information entered.
I was confused with what they said and I came to inspect what was going on. I noticed that some titles are written in capital letters, some are not, there is very noticeable inconsistency in typographical presentation of all information, numerous spelling mistakes, missing commas, periods.
Some references had number only associated to one reference, order was not good.
I was sure that this was not technical issue. The system cannot mess up entered information in that way.
Their staff member was looking at wrongly completed forms and he did not react much. When I asked details about entered data I realized that he entered them in that way.
I was more and more sure that he is person with dyslexia and that he was not aware on textual inconsistencies, fields in forms that are not completed, inaccurate years of journals etc.
I reported the secretary of that association on my opinion and that there is no magic software that will easily correct all mistakes in titles, subtitles, references, abstracts, numbering of references.
My suggestion was that their staff member is person with dyslexia. They expressed that they have had already some difficult misunderstandings with that person.
A couple of weeks later they said that their board is not against him. Well, it should not be against him, but it is questionable that being “for him” assumes that he can do work that is extremely hard.
From my point of view, that person should undergo medical examination and if the board decided to keep him involved in on-line publishing that is fine, but he must have personal assistant or to do some other work that is less difficult for him.
Persons with dyslexia should not be excluded, but we have to create relationship that is based on informed and scientifically supported decision making process that will make sure that there is no discrimination against that person and too great expectations.
Many people with dyslexia are never diagnosed and consequently not supported properly. When we notice that there is person in our working environment that does often spell-check errors or have had great difficulty reading texts. That person can be quite intelligent. Some important guidelines and explanations about dyslexia can be helpful to develop strategies that will not hurt a colleague with dyslexia. Even more, we can come up with solutions that can be very supportive for that person.
There are people who have had similar issues and they made a lot of effort to find solutions. Good resource about typefaces for dyslexia is worth reading. Some others developed special fonts that can help person with dyslexia to read better. Dr. Robert Hillier’s site offers useful information about his efforts confronting such issues.
Editors and administrators of the Open journal Systems can add information related to dyslexia in the information block for librarians, authors and readers. Sharing of good practice cases can multiply success in treating that phenomena.
During one weekend training program on using web platforms one young teacher approached me and said: Thank you that you helped me yesterday to learn a lot. When I came back home I said to my husband that he can be proud to have so smart since I know to set up journals on line. I was happy that I became skilled after your training. But, he was upset and he said: It is better that you cook lunch instead of setting up journals. Women are for cooking not programming.
I was shocked when I heard that story. In my work with numerous institutions I experienced many times situations in which some prejudices were so dominantly present. Some are based on gender, background education or other basis for wrong conclusions. Well, those prejudices were not openly expressed but it was obvious in different situations what is their predominantly situational and organizational articulation. I will list just a few prejudices:
- Men are better in technology than women
- Scholars in exact/natural sciences are better in technologies than those who work in art and humanities
- All young students are better in technology than older scholars
- Learning of procedures of OA reviewing, editing and publishing is for system administrators
- Free software is marketing method for asking for money later on
- Scholars from developed countries are better than those from developing countries
- Being professor means that you do not need to learn about web platform and Open Access, since you are intellectual already
I could list more, but all of that means that there is still long way in front of us.
I have witnessed many times that students, researches, scholars do understand some scientific concepts but for various reasons behave differently or even contrary. Some their beliefs or psychological traits are overwhelming.
That is sometimes a big issue in work of editorial boards, communication with system administrator(s), addressing authors and reviewers.
I believe that system administrators should not be focused only on technical troubleshooting. They should use their knowledge and inform editorial boards how to use technology to foster the development of efficient ways to communicate science. In my experience, that was not always easy since many people think that if there is information available people will necessarily change.
That did not work always, I am pretty sure. That issue is more complex than we by inertia think. That complexity is difficult, but also an opportunity. We are accustomed to challenges. Aren’t we? Many people including the scientists are sometimes overwhelmed by various biases.
Some work on that and related topics may be found in publications written by Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky, Garry Klein.
We have to find a way how to overcome those biases and to find ways how to communicate science effectively. The National Academies Press published one very interesting public with title: Communicating Science Effectively: A Research Agenda that you can find quite interesting and providing a larger space to address that issue.
Huh, being administrator and work with scientists is not just as easy and simple as it looks like. But, it is potentially more rewarding.
Information and communication technologies are very complex and it is not easy for everyone to master all aspects of on line publishing. That is true. Isn’t it!
Surely, there is some sort of division of labor requested too. But, lessons drawn from experience show that only intensive, open and productive communication and collaboration between administrator and editorial board will produce good result. The both work on a common task. There is no search engine optimization or graphically appealing theme that should do work instead of academic rigor. in addition, if there is academic rigor and hard work and dedication of editorial board, the journal will not be visible if the system is often down. Even, much beyond that polarization of (a lack of ) success only mutual understanding of technology, editorial needs, plans, ambitions is something that creates ground for success.
Editorial boards usually do not pay attention what information should user write in the user profile. There might be different reasons why editorial boards do not pay attention to that very important part.
Actually, some authors really appreciate your journal and they would like to identify themselves with your journal.
Someone may ask: Well, math, chemistry, physics etc. do not have anything to do with someone’s culture.
Although we may argue about that and present a huge amount of information about interrelatedness of science and culture it is good to point that in some cultures middle name, suffix, gender or other personal details may be very important part of someone’s identity.
Do we want to ignore that even if price of that will be that the user (reader, reviewer, author, librarian etc.) might feel neglected, not respected, discouraged or hurt?
When I train users to use the Open Journal Systems I explain them that such fields are very important and that editorial board that takes care about their users should in manuals and other information blocks encourage users to create their profiles in a way that does not push their culture in the backyard. If someone’s name contains name of mother, grandmother or father and grandfather that should be put inside whatever it is personal cultural belief of member of editorial board. If author asks editor to take into consideration religious holidays during which author will not be available that should be taken into consideration and the field Comments for Editor should be understood as completed in a legitimate way.
Your users are not genderless, depersonalized entities without culture regardless of scientific research they could be interested in. Encourage them to be open and free to express all cultural characteristics and to contribute where possible to make your journal appreciated to people from different cultures.