Migrating a Journal to Digital Commons

Category : Content Management


This guide will help journal editors and repository administrators plan and execute a journal migration to Digital Commons from Open Journal Systems (OJS), Sciendo, or another platform. We recommend you read this document completely before starting your migration, as it will be helpful to know the full process before you begin. This guide is not meant to replace conversations with your Digital Commons Consultant. Your Consultant will work with your team throughout the process to ensure a smooth migration.

Click the image to view or download an overview of the steps in this guide.

In some cases, we can offer migration support for a fee if you do not wish to perform the migration yourself. Please contact your Consultant for more information at dc-support@cs.bepress.com or by phone at 510-665-1200 option 2.

Planning Phase

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Below are questions to help you assess your overall goals, labor division, and source material to properly plan the migration. Please discuss these questions and your answers with your Consultant, so they know how to best assist your team and set you up for success.

Assess Goals 

Below are a few questions to help you assess your overall goals for the migration, along with notes and recommendations for best practices.

  1. What are your deadlines to complete the migration of the journal homepage, as well as the journal content?
    Typical journal setup takes around 4-6 weeks but can be expedited if needed. The Digital Commons journal must be live before the articles can be migrated. If you are migrating multiple journals, share your deadlines for each journal with your DC Consultant.
  1. What content needs to be uploaded first?
    Once your journal is live, do you plan to first populate the journal with back content, or will you first focus on adding not yet published manuscripts for an upcoming issue and upload back content later?
Assess Labor Division

Below are questions to help you assess who will be responsible for various tasks.

  1. Who will be responsible for communicating with Digital Commons?
    A central point person should be responsible for coordinating communication with your DC Consultant at dc-support@cs.bepress.com or 510-665-1200 option 2, though we are happy to coordinate with multiple team members as the need arises.
  1. Who will be responsible for exporting, cleaning up, and uploading the journal articles?
    We recommend you use Excel Batch Upload to add back content. If you are planning to use XML Batch Upload, someone on your staff must be proficient in XML conversion.
  1. Who will be responsible for filling out the journal information pages?
    You can format the About This Journal, Aims and Scope, Editorial Board, Policies, Formatting Guidelines, and Publication Ethics pages with HTML, or you can send the text to your DC Consultant for support. If you wish to manage these pages yourself, someone on your team should be familiar with HTML.
  1. Who will be responsible for informing stakeholders about the migration?
    Consider who will coordinate the marketing and messaging to the following stakeholders:

    • Those who interact with the journal, such as editorial board, reviewers, and authors. Ensure those responsible for recruiting authors are aware of the move and where new submissions should be directed.
    • Library of Congress or other ISSN-granting institution. Editors in the US should notify issn@loc.govof the change with an email listing the title, ISSN, and new URL.
    • Abstracting and indexing services, and metadata harvesters.
    • External sites and institutions currently linking to the journal on their website. You can find out more about who may be linking to your current instance by entering the journal’s title in a search engine.
    • Current subscribers or society members.
    • Readers subscribed to your mailing list or social media.
    • Your Digital Object Identifier (DOI) registering organization (such as Crossref).
  1. If you will be arranging redirects from OJS (or other platform) to DC, who will be responsible for this?
    For search engine optimization, we recommend you setup HTTP 301 permanent redirects for all URLs for at least 12 months after the transfer. The redirects should take users directly to the new page.
Assess Source Material

The below questions are meant to provide a starting point for assessing your journal’s metadata and full-text files for export.

  1. Obtain export of previous journal content that includes metadata and links to full-text documents
    Please consult your current platform for export options. We recommend obtaining an Excel export to use Excel Batch Upload in Digital Commons, although XML is also supported. Whether you use Excel or XML, plan to share the export with your Consultant early so they can provide relevant formatting information and begin preparing your custom metadata fields.
  1. Assess full-text files
    Digital Commons can accommodate either direct download links from a publicly accessible server, or direct file upload from your computer using our Batch Upload File Manager tool. If the files are under access control, Batch Upload File Manager is recommended. 
  1. Gather additional journal information to be brought over
    Note elements you want to include in your Digital Commons journal such as Introductory Text, About This Journal, Aims & Scope, Policies, Formatting Guidelines, and Publication Ethics Statements. Your DC Consultant will be able to help you add these elements to the journal once your design is implemented on the demonstration site.

Design and Build

Design and Training

The setup form and design preferences you provide to your Consultant will help our team create a professional journal design. Once the design of your new Digital Commons journal is finalized and your demonstration site is ready, your DC Consultant will provide a training on how to batch upload content and a separate training on how to manage in-progress submissions. See our guides on Managing and Publishing Journals or Journal Video Tutorials for additional guidance on these processes.

During the training, your DC Consultant will ask if you have a list of reviewers. If so, they will send you a special spreadsheet to complete to jumpstart your Master List of Reviewers.

Please share if the journal will be open access, subscription controlled, or a combination with your Consultant so this information can be included in the training as well.

Site Text and Sidebar Links

The demonstration site is a good place to adjust the sidebar links and information pages. We recommend utilizing the standard pages (About This Journal, Aims and Scope, Editorial Board, Policies, Formatting Guidelines, and Publication Ethics), as you can edit them at any time. If you need more than the standard sidebar links and pages, please inform your Consultant.

Metadata Mapping

The demonstration site is a good place to finalize what metadata you will be migrating over from your previous journal platform. Expect some clean-up of metadata, as there may be metadata formatting and internal fields that differ between the platforms. Many fields may migrate directly to our default metadata fields, which you can find on our website at DC Journal Default Metadata. We can add custom fields to accommodate any additional metadata not covered by our default fields. Please provide your DC Consultant with a list of metadata fields you intend to import. If you are migrating multiple journals, it is best to standardize the metadata across journals to ensure a smoother and easier upload process.

If you are preparing an XML export, now is a good time to provide your DC Consultant with a sample record from your XML Export. We can provide a sample XML file demonstrating one of your records following our Digital Commons schema.

Once you have your metadata ready for import to Digital Commons, your Consultant will want to perform a small-scale test using one of our demonstration sites to catch potential syntax issues. We strongly recommend that someone who is familiar with the collection also perform spot-checks of the metadata itself to ensure its integrity.

We do not recommend that you upload all the journal content to the demo site, as it will not transfer when the site is live.

Do you need to map to OAI for harvesting? Please share whether any metadata fields in your new journal should be mapped to the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) Dublin Core elements for third parties, such as abstracting and indexing services that need to harvest content from the journal. See more on metadata in Digital Commons in our guide, Metadata Options in Digital Commons.

Launching Your Journal

Once training, practice, and adjustments on the demo site are complete, please contact your Consultant to approve launching your journal. Launching the journal involves creating a “live” site which will be visible to others, and it can take 3-5 business days to complete. If you have any additional adjustments to the site text and sidebar links, these may be implemented on the live site at any time.

Changes to the journal level configurations, site text, sidebar links, and design will transfer to the live site on launch. No volumes, issues, articles (metadata or full-text) will transfer to the live site. Journals can launch without any custom text, and if you are on a tight deadline, it may be more practical to launch before these elements are in place.

Add Content

Adding Previously Published Issues

Discuss with your Consultant the best workflow for uploading previously published issues. If you will be accepting and reviewing new submissions immediately after launch, work out a schedule for uploading back issues, so the settings needed for batch upload do not interfere with your peer review workflow.

If batch uploading articles, you will upload articles using one Excel spreadsheet or one XML file per issue of the journal.

Below are some additional tips on uploading previously published issues to your journal:

  • Ensure access to PDF files:
    • If using Batch Upload File Manager for full text upload, ensure the file names for all PDFs contain the first 3-4 words of the title, and do not contain any special characters.
    • If using direct download links from an external server to import, please keep in mind some platforms like OJS embed the PDF on an HTML page, and the article link is often something like http://www.socialiststudies.com/index.php/sss/article/view/81/77. This is not a direct link to download the PDF and will not work in Excel or XML batch import. Editors may need to modify the word “view” in each URL to “viewFile” (or “download” in some cases). 
  • Create and configure Volumes and Issues before uploading: Create the volume and issue you will be uploading your content to on the Configuration page before doing the batch upload. View our video tutorial on how to create and configure volumes and issues. You can then make changes to your issue configurations, such as adding Cover Art images and Issue Dates.
  • Assess completed imports for metadata quality and accuracy: You may need to make additional batch revisions to correct any issues with the metadata.
  • Watch our tutorial video on Batch Uploading Back Content in a Digital Commons Journal: This video is specific to using Batch Upload Excel in a journal.
  • Reference our written documentation as neededBatch Upload, Export, and Revise is a guide on how to use Batch Upload Excel, as well as how to use Batch Revise Excel.
  • Some content cannot be batch uploaded: If you need to add supplemental files with any submissions, these will need to be added via revisions to individual articles after the batch upload of articles is complete.
Manually Uploading In-Progress Content

If you have any submissions in your previous journal that are not yet published, you can upload them to your Digital Commons journal in order to work with them there instead. Before doing this, please share with your DC Consultant how many articles are in progress.

Watch our tutorial video on Manually Uploading Back Content in a Digital Commons Journal.

Manage Your Digital Commons Journal

Having thoroughly prepared for the project, you and your Consultant have successfully seen your migration project to completion, and the data is now part of your Digital Commons site.

Your journal can accept new submissions and you can manage everything from your new journal home. Remember to shut down your old journal instance and announce the new site to readers, editorial board, reviewers, other stakeholders, and third parties. It is best that the site is now only on Digital Commons for clarity, as well as search engine optimization.

The Consulting Services team will remain available to assist you with advice, training, and support. Congratulations on your journal launch and migration completion!

If you have any questions about your migration, please contact your Consultant at dc-support@cs.bepress.com or by phone at 510-665-1200 option 2.