DOAJ is raising the quality bar for open access: SPARC blog post

DOAJ’s managing director, Lars Bjørnshauge, has been interviewed by SPARC about DOAJ’s enhanced application form and raising the quality bar in open access publishing. The post, published today, highlights how effectively the new form is providing a much-needed filter against questionable, unethical and non-transparent publishing practices.  Combined with OASPA’s efforts, the form is an important tool for fighting  “the scholarly community’s legitimate concerns over the quality of Open Access journals” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC. “The actions that the DOAJ are taking… provide an important new safeguard, and helps raise the quality bar.”

Of course, we are delighted to hear that our efforts over the past two years are bearing fruit. With financial support from the community, via sponsorships and donations, we have worked hard to implement the new form and its comprehensive administration system that our volunteers use to review the applications. We are also helping publishers improve their practices, helping them understand how their operations can be more “professional, ethical, and transparent”.

DOAJ will not be resting on its laurels quite yet though as there is still much left to do. DOAJ is currently inviting 99% of all the journals indexed in it to reapply. It is anticipated that this process take the rest of this year to complete, progress of course depending on how fast publishers return their reapplications to us. The review work requires a large amount of manpower so we are seeking further financial contributions to help us speed up the process and more volunteers who know Turkish, Indonesian, Farsi, Spanish and Portuguese.

If you or your institutions would like to donate, you can do so here: http://doaj.org/supportDoaj. If you know anyone who might like to volunteer a few hours of their time reviewing applications with us, please show them this post.

Onwards!

Greater visibility to APCs: amount, currency, URL

There has been a lot of focus in research on author processing charges (APCs) and submission charges, particularly in the last 16 months or so and DOAJ data is often used as a basis of that research.  Heather Morrison’s recent article in Publications and Walt Crawford’s research published in Cites and Insights are two very recent examples.

DOAJ wants to raise the visibility of charges information even further to facilitate future research and to make it easier for authors, researchers and funders to make informed decisions on where to publish. As part of our commitment to raising the level of quality of data in DOAJ, we released yesterday a small but important change to the display of charging information. All journals accepted into DOAJ after March 2014, or back into DOAJ after a successful reapplication, will have the following information displayed against them:

  • Does the journal have APCs or Submission charges?
  • If so, how much and what is the currency of those charges?
  • What is the URL where that information is clearly displayed and stated on the journal web site?
  • If there are no charges, what is the URL where that information is clearly displayed and stated on the journal web site?

During our review of applications we request that ‘no charges’ is stated explicitly on the journal’s site and we will ask publishers to add that information if they have not already done so.

You will find the new information on each journal’s table of contents page; that is to say the long, detailed view of all the information and metadata that we hold for a journal accessible by clicking a journal’s title in search results. Two examples would be here where the journal has no charges, or here where the journal has APCs.

There are further improvements in the pipeline: we will move the information above the [more detail] link on these pages; we will add charge information to all records in search results; we will include amount and currency in our downloadable CSV file; and we will point the Publication Charges facet in search to the new data. These changes are scheduled for completion in April.

Applications: a note about Archiving and Preservation

One of the questions in our Application Form asks: ‘What digital archiving policy does the journal use?’ (Question 25). The words “archive” and “archiving” are used frequently in academic publishing and more often than not refer to very different things so I want to add some clarity to what DOAJ is referring to with this question.

It is a sad truth that some online only, open access journals have disappeared offline without any trace, taking published articles with them. When those articles have no permanent article identifiers, nor have they been archived with an archival organisation, then they are potentially lost forever.

Long term deep archiving and digital preservation

Archiving and preservation plays an important role for all journals, particularly if those archives are ‘dark’ archives that have an intention of preserving materials for a very long time. They may have the ability to start serving content when the normal content source stops working. They may apply formal methods of preserving content to ensure minimal or no digital deterioration.

The 3 deep archiving schemes that we list in Question 25—LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, and Portico—are all recognised archiving agencies and are listed as such at The Keepers Registry (KR). More on the KR in a future post. LOCKSS (or Global LOCKSS Network) is essentially like a digital bookshelf where libraries have perpetual access to content to which they are entitled. CLOCKSS is a not-for-profit, dark archive, that preserves digital scholarly materials for the very long term, through a global and geopolitically distributed network of archive nodes. Portico is a company offering comprehensive archiving and preservation techniques.

We also recognise ‘PMC/Europe PMC/PMC Canada’ (PubMed Central) as a valid archiving option. They have a remit to preserve copies of research content that has been funded by public money. Unlike the previous 3 options, they convert the content they receive into their own format, archive copies and distribute copies to their own local repositories.

The final option in Question 25 is ‘a national library’ and we add this option because many (although not all) national libraries have a mandate to receive, via legal deposit, and preserve a copy of anything published in their countries. Although it doesn’t cover all countries, Wikipedia has a good list of such libraries.

What is not a deep archive

So let me quickly cover also what doesn’t count as a valid archiving option:

  • an online hosting platform (e.g. OJS)
  • a 3rd party aggregator (e.g. EBSCO) that you have licensed to reuse or distribute your content
  • a journal’s back issues or older articles made available on its own site (often, confusingly, referred to as the journal’s archives)
  • an institutional repository which often has author preprints and not the final article.

Hopefully this post has add some clarity to our archiving question but, as always, get in touch if you have any questions.

 

Seasons Greetings

We would like to thank all of you for what has turned out to be a wonderful and successful year for DOAJ: we launched our advanced application form and created our network of voluntary Associate Editors and Editors who help us process reapplications and new applications.

The DOAJ Team is particularly grateful this year to all our sponsors, publisher members and members, without whom we would not be able to do our work. We have worked extensively with our technical partners, Cottage Labs, this year to improve the DOAJ platform, the user experience, the quality of the data and the review & application process. Without your financial support this wouldn’t have been possible. Everyone who backs DOAJ financially has directly contributed to this work and the safeguarding of the reputation of high quality, peer-reviewed, open access scholarly publishing.

Seasons Greetings and we wish you a prosperous 2015!

Lars Bjørnshauge
Sonja Brage
Dom Mitchell
Tom Olijhoek
Rikard Zeylon

Update on our reapplication process

I just read a great post in the Digital Commons’ DC Telegraph which has prompted me to write a little update of where we are with the reapplication process that we have been speaking about—that is, the process where all existing journals in DOAJ have to reapply to stay indexed.

As happens with some development projects, the launch of the functionality that will handle all the reapplications had to be moved out from our original estimated date. We’re sorry for the delay. The good news is that we are in testing now and, if all goes to plan, should be ready to release the functionality in December. If testing throws up some serious flaws in our developments then we may have to wait until January 2015. Either way, we are almost there.

As mentioned in the DC Telegraph, and in Nina Rose’s post on L.J. eds., we will be emailing all publishers as soon as we are ready so if you haven’t heard from us yet, that’s OK. We will also be publishing an announcement here, on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn AND every publisher that logs into their account will see a blue ‘sticky note’ across the top of their account letting them know that they have reapplications to make.

Sample sticky note

The sticky note appears in your Publishers’ Area once you have logged in.

As always, get in touch if you have questions.