16 Feb 2013

Is it a blog? Is it a journal? The Journal of Creative Library Practice

The Journal of Creative Library Practice (@creativelibprac) is a new open access journal which was launched earlier this week. However, at first glance it looks more like a blog, it uses Wordpress CMS, and the author guidelines even state that articles will be published as a "blog post". Content will be published as soon as it is ready, rather than being held back for the rest of the issue. The relaxed referencing requirements are also welcome (and it would do some other publications good to take note). Whilst articles will be peer-reviewed, the journal's review policy will be similar to that of PLOS ONE, where the "peer review process does not judge the importance of the work, rather focuses on whether the work is done to high scientific and ethical standards and is appropriately described, and that the data support the conclusions".

So a journal that looks like a blog, or a blog that looks like a journal? Either way, what we see is a blurring of the lines between both platforms that poses some interesting questions. From the reader's perspective, I am not sure how well longer articles will work as blog posts. Whilst web pages can be converted to pdfs and ebook formats now using web apps (there are also tools like Readability which can help), this is an added burden for the user compared with simply downloading a ready made pdf. I would perhaps encourage the editors to also offer a pdf option alongside each post. I wonder if, and how, the posts are being archived as well. That said, packaging the journal in a more blog-like format will likely open it up to a new audience who do not typically engage with scholarly publications, and may even encourage them to undertake and publish their own research in a less threatening and more inclusive venue where they have a higher chance of being published. Ultimately though it is an example of a new slant on traditional dissemination - and something we may see a lot more of in the future.


  1. Thanks for the suggestions. When discussing the things we wanted to see in a new journal, we decided to deliberately blur the blog/journal distinction in at least a couple of ways.

    First, we wanted to ensure that the publications go public as fast as possible. (In fact, I believe one of the sparks that set off our conversation was noticing an 18-month delay for an accepted paper at, I believe, C&RL. They made a huge step forward when posting accepted papers immediately, and then took the even more monumental step of making the publication Gold OA. Even so, there is a delay for the final version - understandable, given the significant investment in editorial work that is appropriate for that journal, but we wanted to try something different. Breaking apart the idea of issues and the usual formal apparatus of having mulitple PDF articles released at once seemed one way to do that.

    Second, we want to welcome multiple forms of discourse from librarians of all kinds. Some of our articles will have the look of blog posts because blog posts started out as a more immediate platform for what in traditional publications take the form of feature articles, essays, and opinion pieces. In teaching students where information comes from these days - even in helping them decide how to cite sources - I notice this distinction between article, op/ed, and blog post is blurring even for flagship traditional publications. Perhaps in a few years this won't seem so odd.

    Finally, I sympathize with the readability of printed text, and PDF is the common format for that kind of print. We decided to stick with a publishing platform that does not reproduce the look of a printed publication. Other OA journals have not done that, and it will be interesting to see what the readership prefers as time goes on. We expect many authors are likely to self-archive their work - particularly if it is extensive peer-reviewed research - and that may well take the form of a PDF. In fact, our first article is available at the author's institutional repository in that format and a link is provided at the end of his article.

    The preservation issue is a good question to raise, and we will be discussing it.

  2. Many thanks for taking the time to comment Barbara. I do think the speed of publication is a significant plus for the format as you say, and I imagine that in a few years time there will be a lot more venues following a similarly fluid/flexible publishing approach as JCLP.

    I also understand that formally making PDFs available defeats the purpose to a point, and as I said such tools are available if people (like myself!) prefer that format for whatever reason. As a blogger myself I love the idea of anything that positions scholarly work in a more innovative, less informal, and potentially more collaborative space. Looking forward to reading the content as it comes on stream!

  3. We highly recommend that authors license their articles CC-BY, and this will allow the authors, the editors (us), and others to archive the articles in repositories. We do plan to archive all of the articles in a repository for save keeping.

    We do see it as a new creative slant on publication. Hopefully, it will catch on in LIS land.

    Concerning long term preservation, I might guess that the HTML code used within blog software might be easier to preserve than PDF documents. Will PDF documents be readable in 100 years? I would guess it might be easier to figure out what HTML looked like than the code of a PDF document in the future.

  4. Thanks for the comment Joseph - some excellent points there. I was looking at pdfs from a readability/portability point of view rather than in an archival sense - I fully agree XML is likely to have far more longevity.
    Good luck with the journal - a really interesting idea and one to watch.