India leads in Gold Open Access Publishing – fake or genuine?

This is a guest post by Leena Shah, DOAJ Ambassador, India.

CroppedImage_LeenaIt is interesting to note that since the introduction of new criteria for DOAJ listing in March 2014, we have received the highest number of new applications from Open Access journal publishers in India, followed by those in Indonesia, USA, Brazil and Iran. From around 1600 new applications received from India since March 2014 only 4% were accepted, with 78% of the applications rejected for various reasons and approximately 18% still in process.

Looking at the high volume of new applications from OA publishers wanting to be listed in DOAJ, it would seem that the Gold OA publishing model is well accepted and understood in India. But three quarters of the DOAJ applications from India in the last three years have been rejected – often for being questionable, duplicate applications or for not being a journal at all! Two things emerge from this – firstly that there may be many genuine, small-time publishers who lack knowledge of best practices in journal publishing, and secondly the increasing number of unscrupulous publishers in this region exploiting the gold OA model, claiming to be legitimate journals in order to pocket the Article Processing Charge (APC) from the author but providing little or no editorial services in return. With the new criteria for listing in DOAJ implemented in 2014, OA journal publishers are required to furnish APC information, and out of the 74 new applications that have been accepted from India since then and are currently listed in DOAJ, 52 journals do not charge any APC. A complete list of OA journals published in India and currently in DOAJ that do not charge APC is available here.

India also emerges as one of the top three countries behind USA and Indonesia for generating traffic to the DOAJ website (usage statistics based on number of user sessions). With this being the case, why are researchers still publishing in fake journals?

Many articles have been published about the rise of research fraud in the last few years, with researchers and academicians from major academic institutions in India and national institutes publishing in fake/substandard journals for career advancement. Recently this led to a small but important development in scholarly communication. To nudge researchers towards publishing in peer-reviewed and credible journals, the University Grants Commission (UGC) announced in January 2017 an approved list of journals for the Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) and the direct recruitment of teachers and academic staff.  This is a dynamic list of 38,653 legitimate journals across disciplines. This list is to be viewed as an evolving document which will need major revisions to make it comprehensive and available in a format that is easier to analyse and interpret. In March 2017, DOAJ submitted a request to UGC to include Open Access journals that are listed in DOAJ in the approved list.

In other developments across the region, Open Access India, an online community of practice with volunteer members, launched in 2011 to advocate Open Access, Open Data and Open Education in India, submitted a proposal in February 2017 to the Ministry of Human Resource Department (HRD) and Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India, for a National Open Access Policy to mandate Open Access for all public funded research in the country. In February 2017, an Open Access India community initiative, AgriXiv hosted by the Open Science Framework, was launched to provide free, open access archives for preprints related to agriculture and allied sciences.

Other noteworthy OA resources in India include Listing of Open Access Databases (LOADB)  a portal launched in October 2015, which offers a classified and categorized listing of Open Access databases. This was developed by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – Unit for Research and Development of Information Products (URDIP).

Shodhganga is a national digital repository maintained by INFLIBNET Centre that facilitates Open Access to Indian theses and dissertations submitted to Indian universities. At present 307 universities in India have signed a MoU with INFLIBNET Centre.

Finally, some of the national research institutes such as:

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Department of Science & technology (DST) have adopted an Open Access mandate. According to the mandate, researchers funded by these organisations are required to submit the final accepted version (without publisher formatting) of the paper to their institutional repository after verifying the archiving policy of the journal publisher. This Green OA model has its challenges in implementation and building awareness of OA, but for a large country like India where scientific output is high there is room for both Green as well as Gold OA.

References

Arunachalam, S., & Muthu, M. (2011). Open Access to Scholarly Literature in India—A Status Report (with Emphasis on Scientific Literature). Centre for Internet and Society.

Seethapathy, G. S., Kumar, J. S., & Hareesha, A. S. (2016). India’s scientific publication in predatory journals: need for regulating quality of Indian science and education. CURRENT SCIENCE, 111(11), 1759.

Pushkar (2016, June 21). The UGC deserves applause for trying to do something about research fraud. The Wire. Retrieved from https://thewire.in/44343/the-ugc-deserves-applause-for-rrying-to-do-something-about-research-fraud/

 

The DOAJ Ambassadors’ biographies

As promised in my post presenting the 15 Ambassadors , here are their biographies.

Kamel Belhamel, Region: North Africa

kamelKamel holds a PhD from the University of Setif (Algeria) in Chemical Process Engineering. He is now Professor of Chemistry at University of Bejaia,  Director of the Laboratory of Organic Materials and Editor in chief of DOAJ-indexed Algerian Journal of Natural Products (ISSN: 2353-0391). He is the author of several publications and communications in the field of Chemical Process Engineering, Natural Products, Nanoparticles and Metal Alloys. Kamel has long, international experience in the management of Research Projects (Projects DAAD German, French Framework Programme CMEP…) and Coordinator of two Algerian Research projects CNEPRU, PNR …). Kamel is the DOAJ ambassador in region of North Africa.

Conflict of Interest Statement (2016)

 

Xin Bi, Region: China

xinbiXin holds a PhD degree in Psychology from Soochow University in China and also a Master’s Degree in Information Systems from Liverpool University in UK. He is the University Librarian in Xi’an Jiaotong – Liverpool University in Suzhou and in this capacity he is working with a wide network including librarians, publishers, professionals in China and overseas to better facilitate the scholarly communication and knowledge dissemination. He is one of three DOAJ ambassadors in China. Conflict of Interest Statement (2016)

Conflict of Interest Statement (2016)

 

Vrushali Dandawate, Region: India

vrushaliVrushali is Head Librarian at AISSMS College of Engineering College Pune, Maharashtra, India. She completed her Master’s from the University of Pune and has completed a Library Automation and Networking course from IGNOU Open University. She was selected for “International training program on Management of Electronics Information and Digital Library Lib@Web 2013” that ran from October 2013 – December 2013 at University of Antwerp, Belgium. In 2014, she received a grant from VLIR-OUS to attend “VLIR-UOS workshop ‘Training Information Literacy with Southern Partners’, coordinated by the University College Leuven-Limburg (UCLL). She is winner of ALCTS Online Course Grant for Library Professionals from Developing Countries for course Fundamentals Of Collection Development and Management (FCDM) March 2014. She is one of three DOAJ ambassadors in India.

Conflict of Interest Statement (2016)

Sridhar Gutam, Region: India

sridharSridhar holds a PhD in Plant Physiology from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute and is part of the Agricultural Research Service of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Currently, he is working as Senior Scientist at ICAR Research Complex for the Eastern Region. Apart from his studies related to plant physiology and phenology of horticultural crops, he is passionate for Open Access, Open Data and Open Education. He founded a community of practice, ‘Open Access India’ and is advocating the opening-up of agricultural research information and data. He is one of three DOAJ ambassadors in India.

Conflict of Interest Statement (2016)

Mahmoud Khalifa, Region: Middle East & Persian Gulf

mahmoudMahmoud is the founder & CEO of Cybrarians, the Arabic Portal for Librarianship and Information. He is an Associate at IFLA International Leaders Programme, 2016 and since 2013 is a board member of the Egyptian Library Association. Also in 2013 he was the winner of the Scientific Research Academy’s prize in informatics. He holds a PhD in Information Science from Cairo University. He is an accredited trainer for the IFLA BSLA Program (Building Strong Library Association), as well as a Fellow at Jay Jordan IFLA/OCLC Early Career Development Fellowship Program. He is the editorial manager of Cybrarians Journal, the first electronic Arabic journal on librarianship & Information science. He is the DOAJ ambassador for the region of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.

Conflict of Interest Statement (2016)

Ivonne Lujano, Region: Latin America

ivonneIvonne has a Master’s in Social Sciences with an emphasis in Education at FLACSO-Argentina and holds a B.A. in Education from the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México (UAEMex), where she currently works as lecturer. She is specialized in scientific Open Access publishing processes and has experience in the evaluation of scholarly publishing practices. She has worked with institutions and organizations at a national and regional level in the training of students, teachers and researchers on issues regarding scientific publishing in Open Access. Ivonne is the DOAJ ambassador for the region of Latin America.

Conflict of Interest Statement (2016)

Solomon Mekonnen, Region: East Africa

solomonSolomon is Academic Staff, with rank of Lecturer, at the Addis Ababa University (AAU).  Apart from his role at AAU, he is also a Co-Founder of Code4Ethiopia which advocates for open data. In addition, Solomon coordinates nationally an Open Access Programme for the international network Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL). He is a local organizer in Ethiopia for an international network called Open Knowledge International. Solomon was a project manager for Ethiopian Journals online. He is also a PHD candidate at the University of South Africa. Solomon is the DOAJ ambassador for the region of East Africa.

Conflict of Interest Statement (2016)

Leena Shah, Region: India

leenaLeena Shah holds a Master’s Degree in Information Studies from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore and a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering. After living and working for nearly two decades in Singapore she relocated to Bangalore, India, in May 2016 and is keen on promoting Open Access in this region. She was previously employed as an Earth Sciences Librarian at NTU where she gained experience in teaching and promoting open access, institutional repositories and scholarly communication in general to researchers and students. Leena is one of three DOAJ ambassadors for India.

Conflict of Interest Statement (2016)

Cenyu Shen, Region: China

cenyuCenyu has a Master degree in Computer Science from University of Helsinki and she is currently a PhD candidate in Information Systems Science at Hanken School of Economics in Finland. She has spent several years on Open Access research with a particular focus on studying questionable and non-English language OA publishers or journals. Her latest research interest expands to the identification and development of infrastructure services and support practices to promote open access movement in Chinese region. Cenyu is one of three DOAJ ambassadors for China.

Conflict of Interest Statement (2016)

 

Ina Smith, Region: Southern Africa

inaIna holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Pretoria (South Africa) in Computer-Integrated Education, a Higher Education Teaching Diploma, and two degrees (BBibl and BBibl Honors) in Library and Information Science. She is Planning Manager at the Academy of Science of South Africa, and has vast experience of Open Access in general, scholarly research activities, repositories, and Open Access journal management and publishing. Ina is the DOAJ ambassador in the region of Southern Africa.

Conflict of Interest Statement (2016)

Pascal Soubeiga, Region: West Africa

pascalPascal is from Burkina Faso, West Africa. He has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the library school of University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar, Senegal, and is preparing a dissertation for a Master’s degree in communication. He has worked for the past 11 years as a librarian for the World Health Organization in Burkina Faso, as well as teaching in three library and information colleges there. He has solid experience in information retrieval, user training, and institutional repositories. Pascal is the DOAJ ambassador  for West Africa.

Conflict of Interest Statement (2016)

Yanhong Zhai, Region: China

yanhongYanhong holds a Master’s degree in Botany from Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences. From August 2012 to April 2015, she worked for MDPI (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, an Open Access publisher), managing the journal Environments and supporting International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. In the past year, she worked at Elsevier, managing special issues for journals in the field of multimedia and computer science. She is one of three DOAJ ambassadors in China.

Conflict of Interest Statement (2016)

The biographies of our fantastic team of volunteer Ambassadors for Russia will be posted here shortly.

Presenting the DOAJ Ambassadors

Further to our announcement of the start of our IDRC-funded project focussing on the improvement of open access journals in the global south, I am delighted to present to you the list of 15 DOAJ Ambassadors. These Ambassadors will be working on behalf of DOAJ until April 2017 and will be operating in 11 regions or sub-regions across the globe. DOAJ is very lucky to have such a great list of names: people who have a wide-ranging set of skills and will bring huge amounts of experience to the DOAJ organisation.

After two members of DOAJ were invited recently to present at the NEICON/ASEP conference in Russia, we are very lucky to be able to extend the program’s work to the Russian Federation.  Three volunteers, led by Olga Kirillova, have also joined the list of DOAJ Ambassadors, extending the work of the program outlined to IDRC but on a self-funded basis. This is a hugely beneficial development for open access and DOAJ.

The final list of DOAJ Ambassadors are:

Region Name Based in
Southern Africa Ina Smith South Africa
East Africa Solomon Mekonnen Ethiopia
West Africa Pascal Soubeiga Burkina Faso
North Africa Kamel Belhamel Algeria
China Yanhong Zhai China
China Cenyu Shen Finland
China Xin Bi China
Middle East & Persian Gulf Mahmoud Khalifa Egypt
East India Sridhar Gutam India
West India Vrushali Dandawate India
South India Leena Shah India
Latin America Ivonne Lujano Mexico
Russian Federation Olga Kirillova Russia
Russian Federation (West) Maxim Mitrofanov Russia
Russian Federation (East) Natalia Popova Russia

Welcome to all of you!

The biographies for the DOAJ Ambassadors are posted here.

The majority of the Ambassadors will be converging on the island of Crete, in the beautiful village of Vamos, for an intensive 4-day training retreat starting next week. The outcome of that meeting will be an initial 2-month action plan for each Ambassador to implement as soon as s/he is back on home turf. That plan will then inform the actions for the rest of the year. It is really exciting that developments will start to take shape so soon after the retreat.

Each region will present its own challenges to the Ambassadors and to DOAJ but there will be exciting milestones to reach. For example, can DOAJ gain an online presence in China via the huge social media networks there? Will we see an increase in quality journal applications from India, a country sadly linked to questionable publishing practices and author spamming? Will we see an increase in the number of applications from East and West Africa, two regions of the continent that are sadly under-represented in DOAJ today? In Latin America, where a relatively large number of journals are already indexed in DOAJ, will we be able to increase the number of journals from the smaller countries like Bolivia, Ecuador or Guatemala?

In all of the regions, language can be a barrier. Almost all of the DOAJ site is in English and we haven’t yet found a good-enough piece of software that will translate the most important parts of the site for us. We will be addressing that as part of the IDRC project but having our Ambassadors on the ground will be hugely influential in increasing awareness of the site and our criteria.

DOAJ will be reporting on the progress of our Ambassador program regularly and I hope to be able to share some exciting statistics with you soon.