First things first, I’m not a web developer, I’m a social worker. In fact I know very little about coding but have some experience working with WordPress here and there.
As an editor’s assistant at a journal of social work I’m in charge of finding a tool to get our journal into the 21st century. Also I’m looking into starting an open access journal with some friends of mine (of course: on a budget, eg. with no budget at all).
To be very clear: I herewith do not wish to criticise/attack PKP per se nor any of its staff who are all doing an amazing job whilst being ‘on a budget’ (which I guess is much much smaller than WordPress). Also I am very thankful that such a project even exists. I have not found anything else like it.
However there are a few things I noticed in the month of testing OJS and hanging around on this forum I’d like to talk about. Please see these remarks as a ‘contribution’ to improve PKP.
In this month of using OJS (3.2.0-1 and 3.2.0-3) I have reported a few issues among which
a) List of countries all over the place instead of alphabetical order
c) In the discussions reviewers could see the author’s name despite being double-blind review
d) Instructions/Descriptions missing from review forms while reviewing
Again: I’m no web developer so the testing was purely ‘as a user’.
That’s quite a few problems there for one month I think (some where already know, some weren’t). In my opinion all of the above could and should have been caught by the developer team before releasing to the public doing what I did: register as a section editor, as an author/submitting an article, as a reviewer and test the whole process. Which is annoying and time consuming yes but all of the above are basic functionalities and should be quite apparent in a normal testing process.
The PKP Team dealt with my reports impeccably they were all solved within 24-48h after reporting. So great job thanks for that! But the versions shouldn’t be released to the public with such basic issues. Maybe you could create a group of users to test before releasing to general public and I’d be glad to do what I can (should we decide to keep using OJS).
The process of updating seems to be really daunting for loads of people (or should I say everyone?). Loads of people still with version 2 but even within OJS 3 people do not tend to update. As is quite visible looking at the forum topics.
For one I think it has to do with my #1 here or to put it into movie words “OJS is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you get” (in 3.2.0-1 description/instructions worked, then 3.2.0-3 they didn’t, so you never know).
Another reason might be the updating process itself. I find it to be quite easy - up to a certain point.
Get config.inc.php, favicon.ico and the public folder, throw them in the updated version, turn installed Off in config.inc.php, visit site, hit upgrade and turn installed On again.
That’s the easy part I can do.
These parts however:
- Synchronize new changes from config.TEMPLATE.inc.php to config.inc.php
- Be sure to review the Configuration Changes section of the release notes in docs/release-notes/README-(version) for all versions between your original version and the new version. You may need to manually add new items to your config.inc.php file.
I already struggle. Am I supposed to open my config.inc.php and config.TEMPLATE.inc.php side by side and go through all 520 lines one by one to see if something has changed and then copy&paste between them? (if you could answer that I’d be glad)
Wouldn’t it be possible to store these settings somewhere else and have changes applied via Settings as an admin so I wouldn’t have to mind about config.inc.php except maybe install on/off?
Last but not least reason I think for people not updating: just like me, they are not web developers and may be a bit scared of something going wrong. There’s one person on the forum asking if anyone knows anyone who could help updating from OJS 2 to OJS 3 and no answer. That sums it up quite well in my opinion. If I’d ever run into I’d probably be stuck, which is why I tend to have a testing installation where I try things first. Couldn’t you offer paid support?
In WordPress all I have to do is hit update and it does it all by itself (different budgets and coding, I know). Maybe there’s a foundation out there that would happily throw in something?
#3 The way people use it
There seem to be few people testing it with different roles like I did. Phrases like “I’m admin, I have no access as a reviewer or as an author myself” which leads to little feedback for PKP.
Information is usually not passed on from end-user to admin to PKP. Information may get from end-user to editor or section editor and get stuck there.
Of course I do understand that it’s extremely complex (made out of 18’000 files with hundreds of lines of coding each) and “on a budget” it’s hard to manage and there’s always room for improvement. I just wanted to share my thoughts as a hopefully helpful feedback.
Thank you for all your hard work and for offering this product,