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D-Lib Magazine
October 2005

Volume 11 Number 10

ISSN 1082-9873

Lund Virtual Medical Journal Makes Self-Archiving Attractive and Easy for Authors


Yvonne Hultman Özek, Senior Librarian
Faculty of Medicine
Lund University
Lund, Sweden

Red Line

This article is the revised version of an invited presentation, delivered at the "Joint Workshop on Electronic Publishing", organised by the invitation of Network of Excellence on Digital Libraries (DELOS), Samordning av Svenska Högskolans Elektroniska Publicering (SVEP) and Swedish Resource Centre for Scientific Communication (ScieCom), in Lund, Sweden, 14-15 April, 2005, <>.


This article highlights the importance of communication and collaboration with units outside the library to make self-archiving attractive to authors. The monthly electronic publication, Lund Virtual Medical Journal (LVMJ), published by the Department of Strategic Communication of the Faculty of Medicine at Lund University, started as a response to the need to increase the visibility of ongoing research by the Lund University faculty, and with the aim of showing all published faculty-authored articles. At the time the journal was launched, Lund University Libraries Head Office had set up their institutional repository for the university, LU:research. This article describes features of LVMJ and the synergistic relationship between LU:research and LVMJ. It also discusses some of the challenges in producing LVMJ and future plans for the journal.


The main objective of the Lund Virtual Medical Journal (LVMJ) is to increase the visibility and distribution of Lund University (LU) Faculty of Medicine peer-reviewed and published research results and to increase the number of full text articles authored by medical faculty that can be made freely available in the journal. The increased visibility of the research at the LU Faculty of Medicine is important for the researchers as well as for other institutions outside the university. In order to present a good product with credibility, collaboration between professions is a necessity. These professionals include researchers, librarians, administrators, web designers and technological experts.


In 2001, the information committee (InfoKom) at the LU Faculty of Medicine was given the assignment of finding a solution for what had been a persistent problem: the inability easily to view LU Faculty of Medicine researchers' published works. At that time, the information unit of the Faculty of Medicine had not yet been established, and the Medical Faculty Board stated that it was urgent to collect the published articles authored by researchers of the LU Faculty of Medicine and to make the information readily accessible on the web.

At the same time, the Lund University Libraries Head Office had set up LU:research, the university's institutional repository (based on Eprints), where researchers could register and self-archive their publications. However, at that time the terms "self-archiving" and "post-prints" (a copy of a fully peer-reviewed article) were little known, and introducing the concept of self-archiving "in one go" seemed counter productive. Introducing a routine for increasing the visibility and free accessibility of published articles (when legal) elicited a more positive response. There was consensus in the InfoKom that initiating a regular serial publication that would provide visibility for research at the LU Faculty of Medicine was an attractive idea, and as a result of the committee's discussions, the Lund Virtual Medical Journal (LVMJ) was developed to serve that purpose.

The LU:research repository has been used in the background to support LVMJ and holds the technological infrastructure for the journal – the interface was designed and is maintained by the LU Faculty of Medicines' Department for Strategic Communication. Medical Faculty members had expressed their desire for something beyond presentation of bibliographic lists and LVMJ would help to serve that purpose. To help ensure success of the new journal, the Dean appointed an editorial board to come up with ways to increase attention to the introduction of LVMJ.

The LVMJ editorial group consists of four members: a managing editor and editors for basic science, clinical science and health sciences. In addition, a free-lance journalist works on assignment with the editorial group. The work of the editorial board adds value to the faculty produced research publications and makes the journal interesting.

Features of LVMJ

Article of the month

Each month, the editors of LVMJ highlight an article of high scientific interest published by the LU medical faculty. In addition, on a regular basis a popularised version of the selected article is published in both English and Swedish. This increases interest in LVMJ among the researchers at the LU Faculty of Medicine as well as the interest of their colleagues at other LU faculties and as other institutions outside LU.

The "article of the month" is chosen according to the LVMJ selection criteria [1] and is the primary feature of the monthly journal. The scientific and journalistic content of the featured articles has proven to be of high interest to the internal and external research community. It has increased attention and interest in LVMJ, and the publication of editorial comment on the "article of the month" is seen providing an informal "internal peer-review function". The author's research findings receive special attention as a result. Furthermore, if the "article of the month" has been evaluated in F1000 Biology [2], a link to the commentary text in the F1000 database is added.


It is easy to browse LVMJ. Researchers have expressed their appreciation that the journal makes it possible to go directly to a departmental listing of authors and their articles. This provides a good view of all the department's published material, down to the level of individual research groups. An average of 75 published articles are listed this way every month, and approximately half of these are suitable to be self-archived. Increasing the number of self-archived full text articles involves extra work – not so much for the author but for the library staff, as will be described in the section on self-archiving in this article.

The Lund University Libraries organization: a short description

Lund University Libraries is a decentralized library organization. The Lund University Libraries Head Office is the coordinator for library policies and technical infrastructure for all the LU faculty libraries. The faculty libraries give service in their respective subject areas, are financed by faculties and institutions and are managed by their boards. Thus, the management of the Medical Faculty Library is organized directly under the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. It is expected that the Medical Faculty Library takes on the work of self-archiving; one of the main assignments for the Medical Faculty Library is "to provide support for the researchers in scientific publishing and communication". The Medical Faculty Library's knowledge and skills are utilised for the self-archiving process.

Work flow: PubMed, LU:research and LVMJ

As stated earlier, the researchers do not have to do the day-to-day work of filling LU:research and LVMJ. That work is done by the two LU library units, the Medical Faculty Library and Lund University Libraries Head Office. The Head Office undertakes their part of this work upon assignment from the Medical Faculty Library.

Records began to be added to the LU:research repository in 2002, and currently there are approximately 3,500 records in LVMJ. Of these, since early 2004 approximately 300 articles have been freely available in full text. For articles not available in full text, LVMJ links to the article abstracts that are maintained in PubMed.

To obtain new records for LVMJ, on the last day of each month an extensive search in PubMed is conducted. The search is defined to "address of affiliation", Lund University or Malmo or Lunds universitet. The results, usually numbering approximately 100 records, are transferred into LU:research. Authors not identified as members of the Faculty of Medicine will be removed from LVMJ.

Intensive work on these records starts immediately, e.g., adding subject terms, correcting the address of affiliation for the records, and making other changes. The deadline for completing this work is the middle of the same month. Thereafter, a "list of the month" is presented to the LVMJ editorial group.

This "list of the month" is the starting place for the editors to select the "article of the month" according to LVMJ criteria [1]. Collaboration among the journalist, the editorial group members and the Department for Strategic Communication is essential for maintaining the quality of the LVMJ.

The LVMJ editorial comment about the selected article is published on the last day of the month. The staff at the Medical Faculty Library then begins identifying those articles that can be self-archived.

The next section of this article demonstrates how self-archiving can be made easy for the authors, using LVMJ as an incentive.


The visibility provided by LVMJ to authors and their research is an incentive that makes the journal and its development interesting for the research community at the LU Faculty of Medicine as well as at other LU faculties. The managing editor's tasks are to collaborate with the faculty library and the Central Library Administration Office to self-archive as many post-print articles as possible.

"To self-archive is to deposit a digital document you have written in a publicly accessible website" [3]. The digital document is a post-print, a copy of a fully peer-reviewed article [4]. While this statement indicates that the authors should do the work themselves, one cannot assume that setting up an Institutional Repository (IR), ensures that researchers will rush to the library to learn how to deposit post-prints of their articles. Rather, from the faculty librarians' experience of working closely with researchers as authors in teaching situations, in information meetings and in-house seminars, the teams of librarians and the LVMJ editorial group have learned that the process of self-archiving should be made as easy and painless for the researcher as possible, which is one of many keys to a cultural change in the "traditional" publishing environment. Thus, self-archiving can be done in many ways. Further, to be successful, it is of great value to understand the organizational culture of which you are part, and this understanding has to be extended to the sphere outside the library culture as well.

We have assumed that the LU Faculty of Medicine researchers do not want to do the practical, routine work of self-archiving, but we have also noticed that there is a great interest in the LVMJ product with the post-prints presented in a context that is recognised by the researchers. Here LVMJ has a strategically important function: to inform the researchers about the concept of self-archiving.

We are convinced that the routine work of self-archiving at LU should not be part of the researcher's work. This statement is supported in an article by N. Fried Foster and S. Gibbons [5], who conducted extensive fieldwork in order to identify the most important values of work for researchers. They found that "Faculty members think in terms of reading, researching, writing and disseminating". Researchers do not seem be interested in the details of terminology and technology, they "just want it to work". Therefore, a support service for self-archiving must go beyond solely presenting the technology and functions of an IR. We also know that researchers want their work to be seen, acknowledged and cited. Self-archiving can be essential to achieve this desire. It is persuasive to present the self-archiving in the LVMJ context and explain to authors that when their articles are freely available, this in turn can increase the possibility of their articles being cited.

Below are three procedures we follow to self-archive researchers' post-prints in LU:research and LVMJ:

  1. First we download the article from the publisher's website using the SHERPA [6] guide, which lists those publishers that allow self-archiving of article post-prints.
  2. Second, we request the final peer reviewed manuscript version by sending a letter to the author to ask for this version. This letter of request clearly explains the legal issues involved and states the advantages of depositing the article in LU:research and LVMJ. Sending the letter immediately after the article has been published is an advantage for practical reasons. From experience we know that the author does not keep this version readily available from his or her own files after journal publication because the author has little interest in keeping the final accepted manuscript once the accepted article has become available on the publisher's site. As is usually requested by the publisher, a link directly to the publisher's website is added to the article in LU:research and LVMJ. Another challenge we have encountered is that there are pictures and graphs that can be difficult to make identical in the archived version with the pictures and graphs in the publisher's version of the article. We have learned that researchers are concerned that all the article data be identical with the published version, because if it isn't, there is a risk that pictures in the archived manuscript can be interpreted differently than those in the publisher's version. When faced with ambiguous situations, we do not make the manuscript freely available.
  3. Last but not least, we contact the publisher of the selected the "article of the month" to request permission to make that article freely available in LVMJ. One of the aims of LVMJ is to increase open access to the selected "articles of the month", an incentive that is highly welcomed among the researchers. When the "article of the month" is selected and the publisher is not listed in SHERPA, we send a letter of request for permission to publish the post-print. The responses from publishers vary; in general half of the publishers allow us to make the article freely available.

In summary, the responses to the offer that we deposit the authors' final manuscripts in LU:research and LVMJ have been positive among the researchers.

Self-archiving challenges

Our work with self-archiving started in the spring of 2004, and as previously mentioned, 300 articles have been self-archived so far. This might not seem like a great number, but if we look at the months separately, approximately 50% of the articles listed are self-archived and available in full text via LVMJ. Our aim is to fill LU:research and LVMJ with post-print articles retrospectively as well.

Many publishers and journals are referred to as "green" because they have given the authors whose work they publish permission to self-archive their post-prints [9]. This is a positive trend for increasing content in LU:research and LVMJ and thereby contributes to open access. Recently, however, some publishers have changed their policies and will allow only the final accepted manuscript version for self-archiving. This has created labour intensive work for the library staff, but we anticipate that this problem can be dealt with by implementing new policies for authors from the faculty of medicine.

Other self-archiving challenges include the following:

  • Can we be sure that it is the final version of the manuscript we have received? Are pictures and graphs in the self-archived version of the same quality as those of the publishers' versions?
  • Do librarians have the skills to handle pictures and graphs in such a way that the material will be in the right context of the article and interpreted correctly? Can librarians meet the new technological challenges of archiving dynamic research articles [7]?
  • How can we deal with the risk of "information overload" when dealing with authors? We find it time-consuming when the author does not understand what we mean – mainly because they do not understand terms like "self-archiving".
  • How can we communicate to authors the difference between the publisher's copy and their own final peer-reviewed manuscript version? From the author's perspective it is the same content and therefore the same version, which is an understandable statement.

Future work

We want to build upon the success of the LVMJ and LU:research, and have discussed various future enhancements to those services.

Writing guidelines for the authors of the Faculty of Medicine might be advantageous. For example, the author would be guided to send the article or final manuscript to the library as soon as published if this is permitted by the publisher. Thus, the article would be distributed and disseminated at an earlier stage than it is today.

Another point to consider in future development is that the science community would like to see links with access to the raw data [7] supporting the research reported in the article. The interpretation of raw data will become more important [8] as time goes on. Today we present a PDF version of the full text article. Improved technology for the institutional repository and direct access to the raw data [8] are highly desirable. Further, R. Gentleman has pointed out in his article [7] that there are new requirements that electronic articles be presented in a more dynamic manner. All the ingredients should be made available to the reader. This is a challenge not just for publishers, but making electronic articles more dynamic also depends on the capabilities of the technology used by the IR, as well as the technological knowledge held by the professionals working with the IR. Examples of this technology can be found in PubMed Central's NIH Public Access manuscripts, well described by P. Suber [10].

When an "article of the month" has been evaluated in Faculty of 1000 Biology [2], at present we provide a link from LVMJ to the F1000 Biology evaluation in conjunction with the LVMJ editorial comment. We intend to increase the "added value" of links to F1000 Biology (and the forthcoming F1000 Medicine) in the monthly listings as well.

One of the assignments for the Faculty of Medicines' Department of Strategic Communication is to inform the general public about the ongoing research and activities of the faculty. We intend to negotiate with Läkartidningen, (published by the Swedish Medical Association) to get permission to self-archive articles, published in Swedish, by faculty authors.

We also plan to conduct a survey on the use of LVMJ within the LU Faculty of Medicine in order to understand how researchers use LVMJ functions and how they perceive the research information presented in the journal.

Final remarks and conclusion

In the workflows, from registering bibliographic information to self-archiving the post-print in LU:research and LVMJ, we feel the research article author should not have to be involved more than necessary. We have observed that this approach serves to increase the author's interest in self-archiving. A medium-sized faculty library, integrated in the faculty organization, has facilitated collaboration between professions in the development of LVMJ. We strongly believe that, with an increased knowledge of the faculty organization and an understanding of the researchers' priorities in the working environment, it is possible to create incentives for self-archiving that must, in the first place, stem from the researchers' interests. The professional librarian can in turn, with her/his knowledge and high competence [11], and by collaborating outside of the library organization, be able to meet researchers' needs and make self-archiving attractive to them. Thus, we believe LVMJ can serve as a good example of a "faculty-centred approach" [5] where self-archiving is presented as one of many functions and benefits seen from the researcher's perspective.

LVMJ is only one of many efforts to increase open access to research information, and perhaps just one of many small transitional stages to the self-archiving initiative introduced by Stevan Harnad some years ago [12]. Nevertheless, we have found that our success in filling LU:research is closely related to the initiative to launch LVMJ as a monthly publication with editorial content that highlights and disseminates the current research activities of the LU Faculty of Medicine. Finally, because the professional librarian offers a service with credibility and makes the self-archiving process easy and "painless", we believe this will in turn increase the researchers' interest in depositing their post-prints in LU:research and LVMJ at an earlier stage than it is today.


I am grateful to Dr. Hindrik Mulder, chair of former InfoKom, who gave me encouragement and support to launch the Lund Virtual Medical Journal. Many thanks to Ingegerd Rabow, Jörgen Eriksson and Tomas Lundén, Lund University Libraries Head Office, for exchange of ideas and constructive discussions on the self-archiving process for LU:research / LVMJ.


Lund University, Sweden: a presentation, <>.

Lund University Libraries – Organization, <>.

Faculty of Medicine, Lund University, <>.

Lund Virtual Medical Journal, <>.

LU:research, <>.

Läkartidningen, <>.


1. Lund Virtual Medical Journal: Selection Criteria. 2002 [cited 2005 29th of July]; Available from: <>.

2. Faculty of 1000 Biology Reports. 1999 [cited 2005 29th of July]; Available from: <>.

3. ECS Research Self-Archiving Policy. [Web page] [cited 2005 2005-04-04]; Available from <>.

4. Swan, A. and S. Brown, Open access self-archiving: An Author study. 2005, Key Perspectives Ltd: Cornwall. p. 97. Available at <>.

5. Foster Fried, N. and S. Gibbons, Understanding Faculty to Improve Content Recruitment for Institutional Repositories. D-Lib Magazine, 2005. 11(1). Available at <doi:10.1045/january2005-foster>.

6. Hubbard, B., SHERPA and Institutional Repositories. Serials, 2003. 16(3 November): p. 243-247.

7. Gentleman, R., Reproducible Research: A Bioinformatics Case Study. Stat Appl Genet Mol Biol, 2005. 4: p. article 2.

8. Poynder, R., Essential for Science. Interview with Vitek Tracz. InformationToday, 2005. 22(1).

9. Harnad, S., Fast-Forward on the Green Road to Open Access: The Case Against Mixing Up Green and Gold. Ariadne, 2005 (42). Available at &llt;>.

10. Suber, P., First fruits of the NIH public-access policy. SPARC Open Access Newsletter, 2005(August 2).

11. Antelman, K., Do Open-Access Articles Have a Greater Research Impact? College & Research Libraries News, 2004. 65(5): p. 372-382.

12. Harnad, S., The self-archiving initiative. Nature, 2001. 410(6832): p. 1024-5. <>.

13. Guédon, J.-C., The "Green" and "Gold" Roads to Open Access: The case for Mixing and Matching. Serials Review, 2004. 30(4): p. 315-328.

Copyright © 2005 Yvonne Hultman Özek

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