Changes at the Open Journal of Astrophysics


Regular readers of this blog – both of them – will have noticed that I haven’t posted any new publications from the Open Journal of Astrophysics for a couple of weeks. The reason for this is that we are switching to a new system of publishing that automatically integrates the Scholastica platform with Crossref, the system that (among many other things) keeps track of citations to published articles.

Up to now, I have had to prepare manually an XML file containing the metadata for each paper for upload, then send it to a colleague to register with Crossref. There are two problems with this. One is that transcribing the information from each overlay is prone to errors (made by me), especially if there is a long author list. The other problem is that it is rather slow and inefficient, which wasn’t such a problem when we were only publishing a few papers, but now that we are handling much more it is taking up too much time.

The obvious solution is to cut out the middle man (i.e. me) and register everything with Crossref directly from our platform. That will ensure that what goes to Crossref will be exactly the same as on our website and it will go there much faster. Another advantage is that if there is an error on the platform, such as a spelling mistake in an author name, correcting it there will automatically update the metadata on Crossref. You have no idea how much time and frustration this will save. Up to now we have to raise a ticket with Crossref for their staff to make the change, which can take a while to complete.

Scholastica offers a way to do this integration, but it doesn’t work with our existing Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs), which have the format 10.21105/astro.1234.56789, because it doesn’t allow us to include the “astro” which we need it to do because we share the prefix (10.21105) with another journal, the Journal of Open Source Software and we need to keep the two separate; they use 10.21105/joss at the start of their DOIs. After much to-ing and fro-ing we were unable to persuade Scholastica to change their policy, so to use their integration we have been forced to change prefix. Fortunately, Maynooth University (which runs Maynooth Academic Publishing, the official publisher of OJAp) is registered to mint its own DOIs so we can switch to a new prefix (10.33232) and avoid potential problems with the old one.

This change seems straightforward but it requires Crossref to switch the “ownership” of the journal and give us permission to add new papers with the same journal title “The Open Journal of Astrophysics” from what is effect a new publisher. This is a straightforward process, but has been a bit slower than expected because of the Easter break. I expect it to be completed in a week or so, at the latest.

It is important to stress that this change only affects the DOIs and registration of new papers. Existing papers are not affected at all: they continue with the old DOIs. The DOI is meant to be a persistent identifier so this is as it should be. The name of our website domain ( remains unchanged too. In other words, nothing visible to authors will change except for the format of the DOIs and the fact we go from acceptance to publication even faster.

If al this seems rather boring, that’s because it is. But please bear with us while we complete this change. It’s definitely going to be worth it in the long run, for me if nobody else!

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