OJS 3: Using article numbers instead of page numbers

What’s the best way to enter an article number instead of page numbers for an article, e.g. (number) “a107” instead of (page) 31-45. Use the field “pages” anyhow? However, this might lead to confusion in citation or export formats, so I would prefer a separated field for the article number, but this doesn’t seem to exist in OJS at the moment.

As a solution for OJS 2.x the “public identifier” was mentioned, but that’s not what I want, because if you enter a “Public URL identifier” in the metadata of an article in OJS 3 the URL of the article will be changed.

Yes, neither the pages field nor the public identifier concept is appropriate for the “article number”.

Citations in APA style should not replace the pages reference with the article number, but citations in ACS format should substitute the page numbers.

This should probably be implemented as an optional plugin for journals who would like to add (or replace the pages field with?) article numbering.

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Lots of journals seem to be offering continuous publishing with OJS.

For example, Scielo’s guidelines recommend using a e-location ID.

How are folks currently using OJS to accomplish this –
simply entering the e-location ID in the page number field?


@alexxxmendonca might be able to comment on SciELO’s practice.

Hello @bibliothekswelt, @ctgraham and @fgnievinski,

In SciELO, the substitute for print page numbering is digital page numbering (known as elocation-id) which is not limited only to journals with continuous publishing but also to any journal that publishes in digital format (with print on demand, only and/or a low print un).

Manuscript IDs, even though they are used in online submission systems and many times they might be used to make the elocation-id, do not represent the same data. Therefore:

  1. Manuscript number is related to the submission platform, its use makes sense within that context.
  2. Elocation-id replaces page numbering and is given to be used in citations in anywhere the article is published.

Hopefully that answers the question but feel free to ask more questions =)

Do you have a custom plugin to handle the elocation-id in OJS / OMP?

Hi @ctgraham,

I forgot to mention: we absolutely do not use the Manuscript ID from OJS to create our e-locations. That information stays in OJS.

Therefore no, we don’t use any plugins.

How do you keep the elocation-id in OJS? Is there a new native field in OJS 3.x for this?


We don’t. I don’t know if there is a field for that in OJS 3.x.

But because we don’t publish our articles in OJS, we don’t keep the e-location data within OJS.

Usually the manuscript ID is used to create said e-location but it isn’t something that stays in OJS. Journals take that info from the ID and add it to the XML following SciELO’s DTD.

Thanks for the information, @alexxxmendonca.

AFAIK, the Scielo platform aggregates journals published originally by universities and learned societies, right? Looking at the OJS hosted by those original organizations, it seems that the metadata field for page number is being reused for article number (e-location).

See for example this article: link. Checking the page source code, we find:

<meta name="citation_firstpage" content="e20160406"/>

Indeed, “e20160406” is shown more explicitly at Scielo. (link)
But then the article number (e-location) seems absent in the metadata deposited in Crossref. (link)

I’m concerned with users of Zotero, Mendeley, etc., who retrieve the citation details given a DOI. They might have to manually restore the article number in the automatically generated bibliography.

[Post-edit: the article number is recognized correctly in PubMed (link) so the issue seems restricted to Crossref.]

Thanks for sharing your experience.


Digging a little deeper, I’ve confirmed that Crossref offers a separate “article-number” field. (link) (link 2)

In certain cases it may be deemed in-appropriate to ‘misuse’ the first_page element to provide a value that has meaning in an on-line only publication and does not convey an form of page number. In these circumstances the attribute <item_number item_number_type=“article-number”> will instruct the Crossref system to treat the value of item_number in the same manner as first_page.

[Post-edit: in JATS, the proper field seems to be <article-id pub-id-type="publisher-id"> (link)]

<article-id>: Contains any unique identifier assigned to the article, such as DOI, publisher-id, or PubMed ID.
attributes: pub-id-type — Supported values: “publisher-id”: Publisher’s identifier, such as an “article-id”, “artnum”, “identifier”, “article-number”, “pub-id”, etc.

The final problem is that not all reference management software support article numbers (link). Not to mention the fact that OJS doesn’t offer a separate metadata field for article number, obviously.

So I think the safest strategy is also the simplest one: to populate the metadata field for first page with the article number in OJS.


@fgnievinskiin in that case, that journal specifically is using OJS for publishing purposes only.

They use ScholarOne for manuscript submission.

And they are using their own OJS, not SciELO’s OJS.

Thanks once again, @alexxxmendonca
And sorry for bothering with so many questions.

When SciELO deposits the metadata at Crossref, in which attribute does the e-locator get stored? In the article number or in the page number?

I understand you’re not using OJS, I’m just wondering about the practice among publishers, to guide a possible feature improvement in OJS in the future.


Hi @fgnievinski,

I did some research around here and found out that we do not send the elocation data to CrossRef, possibly on CrossRef’s own request.

We do not send CrossRef page number data either for articles that have traditional page numbers. However, CrossRef later adds that data by themselves. We do not send them, but they add page numbers anyway, by themselves.

The same doesn’t happen for elocation: we do not send that data and CrossRef doesn’t add that later either.

We checked an article from eLife, which uses elocation as well, and the CrossRef metadata didn’t have the elocation in it.

SciELO considers elocation as the substitute for page number so whenever possible, we will always try to send metadata following that rule.

Hope this helps!

Thanks one more time, @alexxxmendonca.

I’ll just dump more information here, to assist future developments in OJS, it’s nothing specific to Scielo.

I’ve checked other big publishers that I’m aware of using article numbers, APS and AGU, and both have article numbers in Crossref:

  • AGU:

    <item_number item_number_type=“article-number”>2018GL080845</item_number>

  • APS:

    <item_number item_number_type=“article-number”>014302</item_number>

eLife seems have adopted the same recently (in 2018), see this issue:


Crossref itself offers the following guidance:

Journal articles and other scholarly works often have an ID such as an article number, eLocator, or e-location ID instead of a page number. In these cases, do not use the <first_page> tag to capture the ID - instead, use the <item_number> tag with the item_number_type attribute value set to “article_number”…

So the strategy of using the first-page field to store article numbers in OJS should be seen as only a temporary measure.

Hope this helps someone facing the same situation. My concern is with losing bibliographic details.



I’ve filed an issue at GitHub:

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