DOAJ to assist Research4Life with ensuring the inclusion of quality open access publishers

Research4Life and DOAJ  announce a working partnership that will help to ensure that the users of Research4Life will have access to the largest possible array of open access journals from publishers following a quality standard. The partnership will also help reinforce the importance of peer reviewed open access material. The partnership reinforces the work that both organisations are already doing, and creates useful new synergies.

Research4Life is the collective name for the four programmes – HINARI, AGORA, OARE and ARDI – that provides low- and middle-income countries with free or low cost access to academic and professional peer-reviewed content online. For some time now the content team at Reasearch4Life, coordinated by Kimberly Parker of the World Health Organization, has seen an increasing amount of requests from open access publishers, particularly in the developing world, wanting to have their content included in the Research4Life programme portals which reach 8000 institutions spread over 100 low- and middle-income countries. The Research4Life team performs some basic checks on what content is included into its database and they are already sifting these applications to establish legitimate journals –  work which has synergy with what DOAJ is doing in this area. Kimberly said: “We were already using DOAJ listings as a touchstone in assessing conformance with publishing standards; however, we hadn’t formalized the approach nor included in our replies to any publishers we turned away that they should review the DOAJ application requirements and work to fulfil them.”

The DOAJ Team is expert in assessing and identifying quality, genuine open access journals and has been reviewing applications from publishers for over 11 years, developing extensive criteria aimed at promoting best practice and transparency in academic publishing. Those criteria form the basis of the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing, a joint statement first published in 2013 and now widely used as a benchmark for quality, peer reviewed publishing.

The partnership between Research4Life and DOAJ will be an exchange of information and services.

  • From 1st December 2015, Research4Life will only include open access journals that are indexed in DOAJ. Journals requesting to be included in the Research4Life programmes must be indexed in DOAJ first.  Over the coming year, the legacy open access journals in the Research4Life database will also be reviewed to confirm they are indexed by DOAJ.
  • Research4Life and DOAJ will collaborate on communicating with publishers not indexed in DOAJ referring them to the DOAJ application form.
  • Research4Life will include the DOAJ Best Practice statement in its Authorship Skills training module aimed at authors from the developing world.

Lars Bjørnshauge, Managing Director of DOAJ, said: “I am happy that DOAJ can partner with Research4Life in dealing with the problem of questionable publishers. We know that researchers from developing countries, under the pressure of the ‘publish or perish’ syndrome, are strongly encouraged to publish in “international journals” but this tradition, along with the selection bias of publishers based in Western Europe and North America, make it difficult for researchers from the developing world to be published in journals published in/out of Western Europe and North America. This has opened up a market for questionable and unethical publishers. Despite that the content provided by our two organizations is, to a large extent, based on different access and business models, I find it of utmost importance that all involved do everything possible to prevent researchers being caught and exploited by publishers, who are basically only providing invoices to the author, but no quality control and dissemination services”.

‘Indexed in DOAJ’ versus ‘the DOAJ Seal’

I need to clarify what being indexed in DOAJ means and how the Seal is related to that, and how the reapplication process works.

There is a common misunderstanding that only journals that get the Seal are “indexed in DOAJ”, that only Seal journals are quality, peer reviewed open access journals. This is incorrect. ALL journals in DOAJ have been approved as quality, peer reviewed open access journals. The whole DOAJ list is the white list!

  1. What ‘Indexed in DOAJ’ means
    Being indexed in DOAJ means that a journal has passed up to 4 stages of independent and objective, manual review. It means that the journal has been investigated by our Editorial team who have researched whether or not the journal/publisher does what they claim to do on the journal site and in their (re)application to us. During the investigation, the DOAJ editors go through the pages on a journal’s site to make sure that all the information presented to a user is easy to find, clearly and accurately presented and easy to understand. The editorial board is investigated, and sometimes members of the board are contacted and their institutional connections verified, their work on the board is confirmed and which other boards that member sits on. Being indexed in DOAJ means that the journal adheres to high levels of quality of its publishing services and services to authors and users, including: peer review, licensing terms, a strong open access statement, a fully functional editorial board and more. Being indexed in DOAJ means that the journal is a good open access journal, a trusted open access journal.
  2. The reapplication process
    DOAJ upgraded its requirements for journals to get into DOAJ. The upgrade, which covered all new applications, was made live in March 2014. This meant that there were about 9000 journals already in DOAJ—accepted into DOAJ between 2003 and 2013—that had been accepted under less stringent requirements. We require that every one of them upgrades their information with us. To make it easier for users to see which journals have been accepted under the new criteria we added a green tick next to them. Journals without a tick next to them still have to be reviewed against the new criteria. Note however that even journals that have no tick against them have been manually reviewed and accepted into DOAJ as being reputable.If a journal is in DOAJ, it is on the whitelist.
  3. The DOAJ Seal
    The DOAJ Seal, think of it like this: journals that have the Seal are journals that adhere to outstanding best practice; journals that don’t have the Seal are good, trusted journals adhering to best practice. The Seal has been allocated to a handful of journals accepted into DOAJ since 2014. Journals that are awarded the Seal have answered ‘Yes’ to 7 questions that DOAJ has chosen specifically as indicators of an extra high and clear commitment to open access best practices, of extra high levels of commitment to publishing technologies, and the most ‘open’ form of open access. Importantly, the journals that DO NOT have the Seal still adhere to high levels of quality required for indexing in the DOAJ, especially those journals that have a green tick. No Seal DOES NOT mean low quality, non peer reviewed, questionable, ‘dodgy’, ‘scammy’.

I hope that this helps. DOAJ spends all of its time improving information on reliability, trustworthiness and accuracy. DOAJ also spends a lot of time ensuring that questionable journals do NOT get into the directory. DOAJ is already doing that work for you so that you can be exactly sure what levels of service you can expect when you choose a journal to submit to, to recommend to faculty, to read research in.

As ever, if you have any questions, leave a comment or get in touch!

Reblog: Top 10 publishers in DOAJ (by number of titles) 2014 to 2015

We’re a big fan of the work of the Sustaining Knowledge Commons team. The post below, published yesterday, takes a look at the change in the Top 10 list of publishers indexed in DOAJ from 2014 to 2015.

Source: Top 10 publishers in DOAJ (by number of titles) 2014 to 2015

In her post, Heather says: “The percentage of journals in DOAJ published by the top 10 publishers has increased slightly, from 14% to 16%.” I think there are 3 main reasons why:

1) We have seen a renewed interest in DOAJ from large publishers since we relaunched in 2013 and increased our visibility and transparency (expanded our communications and activities, launched the updated application form and started the Reapplications project).

2) We are now processing applications faster than ever before and part of that is due to the streamlining of the process for ‘bulk’ applications from multi-journal publishers, increasing our capacity but leaving us more time for the smaller publishers.

3) These publishers have launched more open access titles.

We are in regular discussion with 8 out of the 10 publishers listed in the blog, mostly as they update their information with us (Medknow to Wolters Kulwer Medknow) and submit their reapplications.

DOAJ adds two new members of staff to its team

On the back of my last blog post, I am delighted to announce two new members joining the DOAJ team: Judith Barnsby and Alejandra Manco Vega who both join us as Publication Specialists.

The employment of Judith and Alejandra is to a large extent a direct result of the substantial funding that has been facilitated by Austria’s FWF, BMWFW and several Austrian universities and research centres. This means that DOAJ has even more resource and this is specifically dedicated to reviewing reapplications. The benefits will be felt immediately: Alejandra will focus on Spanish and Portuguese reapplications, Judith on reapplications from multi-journal publishers.

Judith, based in the UK, comes to us armed with a great deal of publishing experience and is an expert in publishing technologies and standards, having previously been with HighWire, and is on the board for CLOCKSS. Alejandra, originally from Peru but now based in Sweden, comes with librarianship and language skills. They bring the total number of dedicated DOAJ Team members to seven, on top of the 100 or so volunteers who donate their time to us every week.

On behalf of the entire DOAJ Team, I welcome warmly Judith and Alejandra. We are delighted to have you with us!

Austria: a concerted and coordinated national effort to lead by example

It is Open Access Week 2015 and what better way to mark than by publishing some extremely good news!

DOAJ is extremely grateful for the support that it now receives from Austria! These are truly outstanding commitments from Austrian universities and research centres, from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy and from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). This is the first time that DOAJ has received support from a Ministry and a research funder and it demonstrates, in a very concrete way, a determination to support Open Access that goes far beyond signing Open Access declarations and issuing open access policies that, far too often, are too soft. To be blunt: it is really good to see influential organisations putting their resources and power where their mouths are. DOAJ hopes that the Austrian example will inspire others to do the same! Read the FWF press release published today: see section ‘Successful fund raising campaign for the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) by Universities Austria (UNIKO) and by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)‘ in the middle of that page. The original announcement is here (in German).

The FWF and Austria have stepped up to the mark and are taking a leadership role in actually paving the way for the entire Open Agenda. It is encouraging to see Austria taking a very distinct role, and at a national level, in supporting sustainability for freely available infrastructure services for open access.

DOAJ knows that research funders, universities (open access publication funds), libraries and researchers look to it to identify good open access journals. DOAJ works hard to continuously provide more and better services to meet these needs and serve stakeholders. DOAJ has a lot to do with the re-evaluation of ~9000 journals to ensure that they comply with its tighter criteria for inclusion. The outstanding support from Austria enables DOAJ to recruit more staff with publishing experience to build up the team of professionals already working to ensure the quality and reliability of DOAJ.

The other fight

As well as DOAJ’s fight against questionable publishing practices, journals and publishers, the other fight is against the traditional desire to  read research or publish research in ‘prestigious’ journals.

From Twitter:
First bird: “for urban geog – this looks like a good place to start
Second bird: “cheers… Didn’t return a single journal I recognised though – none of the prestigious/high impact ones”

How can you tackle this? Wanting recognition for what you have done, or wanting to read the works of others from a prestigious (read: reputable) source isn’t strange. It is human nature. Thankfully we have built in filters to recognise and zoom in on quality. However, the thought that publishing in an open access journal doesn’t and can’t carry any prestige is a misconception. And there are other forces at play too…

In an independent capacity, Lars recently gave a presentation for a NISO virtual seminar where he issued his rallying call on what he thinks should be done. Have a look and let me know what you think. I’d be interested in your thoughts.

(You can follow DOAJ on Twitter here.)