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Open Journal Systems (OJS)

The Public Knowledge Project, Simon Fraser University


Launched: 2002
Record Updated: Apr 19, 2024
Publishing system
Open Journal Systems (OJS) is an open source software application for managing and publishing scholarly journals. PKP also offers paid OJS hosting and publishing services for institutions.


To conduct research on, develop open source software for, and provide services in support of, scholarly publishing that extends access and opportunities for research and scholarship on a global scale.

Key Achievements

OJS is currently used by over 34,000 journals around the world, in over 150 countries, in more than 60 languages, publishing over 6 million articles. OJS is estimated to be used by 60% of the world’s diamond open access journals. It is the chosen platform for several national open access publishing portals.

Technical Attributes

Open Code Repository


Maintenance Status

Actively maintained

Technical Documentation


Open Product Roadmap


Open API


Open Data Statement

In Progress

Content Licensing

Creative Commons licensing is used for all PKP generated content. Users of OJS are free to select their own content licensing.

Standards Employed

OJS, OMP, and OPS are mature applications with several methodologies used in development as code is maintained and modernized on a rolling basis.

Historically the applications are monolithic and use a Model-View-Controller pattern within a custom framework first introduced with OJS 2.0 in 2005. Smarty was used for templating and ADODB is used for database abstraction (primarily supporting PostgreSQL and MySQL).

OJS 3.0 (first released in 2016) began introducing separation between the front end and back end as front-end Javascript and JSON became popular.

Initially the core applications (variously OJS, OHS, OCS, and later OMP and OPS) were independently maintained but forking of common concerns was an early issue, leading to the development of a common library (“pkp-lib”, the PKP Web Application Library). This has been further refined into a simultaneous release process for all current applications.

Beginning with OJS/OMP 3.2 (first released in 2020), the applications adopted VueJS and expanded the capabilities of the API by driving API development from the front end.

Beginning with OJS/OMP 3.3 (first released in 2021), the custom back-end stack is being gradually replaced with Laravel-based tools, including the database abstraction layer, event management, and other key tools. This transformation will continue over several major releases.

This pattern of rolling maintenance allows a modestly sized development team to continue regular stable releases without building technical debt that will lead to a large-scale rewrite of the software.

The team’s long-term technical goals are to

  • Reduce the volume of custom infrastructural code, replacing it with best-of-breed FOSS tools (Laravel; VueJS; etc)
  • Continue unification of the three core applications (OJS, OMP, OPS) around the pkp-lib common library
  • Unify the front end, import/export, and 3rd-party use cases around a common UI, reducing the monolithic aspect of the software
  • Hosting Options & Service Providers

    Hosting Strategy

    Hosting through service provider or third party

    Community Engagement

    Code of Conduct


    Community Engagement


    Contribution Guidelines or Fora


    Organizational Commitment to Community Engagement

    PKP offers a range of resources and initiatives to engage with the broader community. These include a Community Forum, Documentation Hub, PKP School for educational opportunities, various training programs, and collaborative sprints. Public facing development roadmaps and a dedicated community engagement and outreach librarian further PKP's mission as a community-led project.

    PKP operates under the guidance of an advisory committee comprising of member organizations and community contributors. All interest groups and committees are led by community contributors and are open to individuals who meet the minimum skill and experience requirements, and operate with adherence to PKP's Code of Conduct. PKP's community contributors play a vital role by providing in-kind contributions towards the advancement of our initiatives, covering aspects like multilingualism, documentation, software development, and education. Additional information about community engagement is available on the PKP website.

    Engagement with Values Frameworks

    The key to the Public Knowledge Project’s success over the last two decades has been its commitment to writing, maintaining, and releasing free and open source software (FOSS) publishing platforms and workflows – namely Open Journal Systems (OJS), Open Monograph Press (OMP), and Open Preprint Systems (OPS) – that support state-of-the-art open access scholarly publishing.

    Similar to how open access research is research that has been licensed to be freely shared, read, cited and more, without restrictions or fees, FOSS is licensed to be freely shared, installed, and modified. More specifically, PKP employs the General Public License V3 for its FOSS and recommends that those using the software apply a CC BY 4.0 license to their open access publications.

    The congruence in spirit and license that PKP has achieved between FOSS and open access has worked well in assisting the academic community in taking charge of scholarly publishing in the digital era. The resulting software has led to publishers, librarians, and scholars publishing millions of peer-reviewed articles and books around the world. It has also given rise to a new generation of FOSS preprint servers.

    Building FOSS platforms leads to a distributed model of local installations that can develop regional technical capacities on a global scale. It encourages code contributions from among users, especially in the form of FOSS plugins for the platforms. It also facilitates users sharing translations of the software. PKP systems operate in more than 30 languages, while publishing research in 60 languages. In this way, FOSS reflects a spirit of cooperation and collaboration that underlies the spread of a more open science.

    Open source + open access is also giving rise to more equitable forms of scholarly publishing. The best example of this is the OA diamond journal phenomenon, in which neither authors nor readers are charged for open access to the journal’s content. In 2021, the OA Diamond Journals Study led by Arianna Bercerril found that 60 percent of these publishing diamonds are using OJS, while they estimate that there may be as many as 29,000 OA diamond journals. If anything, this may be an undercount, given that in 2021 over 30,000 journals were found to be using OJS, almost entirely on diamond principles.

    All in all, open source + open access enables PKP to bring a refreshing and expanding openness to scholarly communication infrastructure on a global scale.

    User Contribution Pathways

    • Contribute funds
    • Contribute to code
    • Contribute to documentation
    • Contribute to education or training
    • Contribute to working groups or interest groups

    Policies & Governance

    Governance Summary

    Open Preprint Systems is an initiative of the Public Knowledge Project (PKP), a member of the Core Facility Program at Simon Fraser University since 2022 which operates under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President, Research and International (VPRI) of Simon Fraser University. PKP is additionally guided by an Advisory Committee, SFU Community Advisory Committee, Technical Committee, Members Committee, and a Code of Conduct Committee.


    Commitment to Equity & Inclusion

    In Progress

    Privacy Policy


    Web Accessibility Statement


    Open Data Statement

    In Progress

    Governance Activities


    Governance Structure & Processes


    Transparent Pricing and Cost Expectations


    Additional Information

    Organizational History

    PKP was founded in 1998 by John Willinsky, then a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. SFU University Library became the operational home for PKP in 2005. In 2022, PKP became a Core Facility of Simon Fraser University. Complete timeline.

    Organizational Structure

    Business or Ownership Model

    Fiscal sponsorship (academic institution)

    Full-time Staff



    Primary Funding Source

    Program service revenue

    Funding Needs

    With such a massive global community of users, PKP carries a tremendous responsibility to continue to enhance the functionality and user experience of OJS, and increase interoperability with other open infrastructures.