Why rolling publishing?Last Updated: Oct 25, 2016 09:59AM CDT

Reasons to publish rolling articles instead of journal issues 

There are many benefits to publishing journal articles on a rolling basis as opposed to waiting to publish journal issues. As the way that academics approach the research process and indicators of impact continue to change, rolling article publishing is helping many journals to adapt to the digital publishing landscape and meet the needs of modern researchers. 

Here are some reasons to consider publishing your journal’s articles on a rolling basis: 

Academics are looking for articles, not journals

Gone are the days of conducting research by leafing through the pages of print journals. Today scholars are finding source information via online search engines. Consequently, scholars are shifting their research approach from looking for particular journals to using keywords and phrases to find articles relevant to their research. 

Publishing individual articles as soon as they’ve gone through peer review will allow your journal to always be putting forth fresh content, making it more likely for your articles to show up in search results. Additionally, publishing rolling articles can help your journal attract more interest. As researchers get to know your publishing model they will be more likely to frequent your website and to follow any social or promotional channels your journal uses, such as Twitter or email lists, in order to catch new articles. 

Authors need to publish now

By publishing articles on a rolling basis your journal can also help scholars disseminate timely content faster, increasing the likelihood for articles to have an influence beyond academia. Regulatory and research funding bodies, such as the Higher Education Funding Council For England’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) are beginning to require scholars to show that their work is benefiting society by impacting decision making in economic, health, environmental, and social sectors among others. As a result, scholars are beginning to seek out journals that can promise a faster time to article decision and publication.  

In fields in the maths and sciences scholars also have great incentive to be the first to share novel discoveries. Scholars have been posting papers pre-publication to the arXiv since 1991, to make their research available to readers sooner. For academics in fields supported by the arXiv the opportunity to publish their research as soon as it’s ready has wide appeal.  

Research impact indicators are evolving 

While the Impact Factor was historically the leading indicator of research impact, the nature of impact is changing. The introduction of altmetrics, a type of article level metric comprised of mentions of research in nontraditional online outlets such as news media and public policy, is making it possible for scholars to show impacts of their work beyond bibliometrics. Altmetrics are helping scholars track the broader influences of their work and demonstrate proof of impact faster, without having to wait months or even years for citations to accrue.  

Scholars are not the only ones rethinking research impact, so are research assessment bodies. In June 2013, The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) launched the  Alternative Assessment Metrics (Altmetrics) Initiative, which is working to develop greater standardization of altmetrics for use in displaying research impact on the journal, article, and scholar level. Additionally, academic libraries are stepping in to educate scholars and universities about the uses and relevance of altmetrics. This shift towards focusing on article as opposed to journal level metrics is making rolling publication a more viable modern publishing model. 

Rolling publishing is efficient 

In addition to the benefits rolling publishing brings journal authors and readers, it can also be a convenient model for editors. It’s more efficient for editors to prepare and publish individual articles than it is to compile entire journal issues. Publishing articles on a rolling basis breaks up production work, helps avoid a backlog of articles developing, and makes it easier to solicit manuscripts. As a result, rolling publishing is an especially appealing option for journals that choose not to work without a press or publisher. Journals can more easily handle the entire publishing process when they can keep rolling deadlines and publish articles as they’re ready. 
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