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Operating a Student Academic Journal

A guide for student editors of academic journals


Technology, Software and Platforms

What You Will Need

An Email Address

Having an email address specific to your journal will create an easy way for people to get in contact with your journal, even as your editorial board may change. An official email address will also add a greater degree of professionalism to you journal.

A Website

Unless you are publishing in print, you journal's website is the primary place where readers will access it. It also provides a place for readers, authors to find information about your journal. Publishing platforms like OJS include an outward-facing website for your journal, but many other options also exist. 

A Storage Location

You will need a place to store the documents and data connected to your journal. The service you use must be secure to protect the data of yourselves and the authors who publish with you. 

A Place To Archive The Journal

It's important for you as editors and for authors publishing in your journal that the publications are available in the long term. There are a few options for doing this, discussed in more detail below.

Your Website

A website provides a face for your journal: a place for readers, reviewers and others to access your journal, find information about it and contact the editors. If you decide to use Open Journal Systems, you will be given a pre-made homepage that can be customized for your needs and hosted through the UBC Library.  If you are using another publishing platform, there are other options for setting up you website. Wordpress allows you to create a blog for free, but for the ability to create your own domain and the full range of customization options you will need to pay a fee. Wordpress is highly customizable, but will require some knowledge of HTML to get the most out of. Other options exist that require little technical knowledge, such as Squarespace, but these are usually less customizable and more expensive.


When considering how to make the works you publish accessible in the future, there are a few things to consider:

  • Will the work be accessible if your journal is no longer active?

If your journal is published online in a for that requires it to be supported through maintenance or hosting fees, its publications may become inaccessible if your journals ceases to be active. 

  • How will the work be accessed?
  • What evidence of the works publication will exist?

Publishing in a peer-reviewed journal is a valuable sign of accomplishment for an academic. It will make your journal more appealing if authors know that they will have clear evidence of having published in your journal in the future. 


cIRcle is an open access digital repository at UBC for research done by members of its community. It provides a stable and permanent place to store research, and works to make its contents visible and findable. For more information on cIRcle, see the website.

Publishing Format


If you believe your audience will read your journal online for the most part, HTML may be a good choice for publication. HTML allows a high degree of customization, including how your page will display on different devices.


PDFs are a less flexible but more stable format. Documents for word processors and other office software can easily be converted to PDFs, and once created, can be accessed by many different programs. Unlike HTML documents, they cannot be made to change layout based on the device. 


EPUB is a file format used for ebooks. This means it it optomized to be viewed on a mobile device. The text size can be adjusted, and the document will arrange itself to fit your screen. Most eReaders support EPUB files, and other mobile devices have apps available that can read EPUBs.


ISSUU is not a format like the others listed here. It is a web service for distributing serial publications. Your journal's issues are uploaded to the site as PDFs and shared through it. The documents can be embedded and viewed through a website. ISSUU also has options for incuding advertisements and charging for your journal. ISSUU has a free service, but many of the features are only available with a paid subscription.

Other Considerations


In addition to the standard security concerns that any website has, your journal also has a responsibility to keep confidential the works of authors who submit to your journal.This includes the articles and any data attaches to them. This information must be accessible by the peer reviewer and editors while also being secure from others. Consider the need for security when designing your workflow: Who will have access to unpublished work and data? Is this information stored securely? Does your policy specify who it should and shouldn't be shared with?


An important element of choosing the platforms and tools you use is how they will make your journal harder or easier to access. Making your journal easy to share and readable on multiple devices will make it more likely to be read. There are also other steps which can be taken to increase discoverability, which we discuss this in greater detail here.

Backing Up Data

In addition to archiving articles, it is also worth backing up important information for your own purposes. This applies to articles and issues, but also policy documents, author agreements and other administrative documents, and even correspondences. In addition to keeping a digital backup, you may also wish to keep a physical copy of documents. If you do so, make sure that they are stored in a secure location. In either case, keep a record of what is being stored where so that future editors have access to the documents they need.