This is a guest post by Andrea Marchitelli, Paola Galimberti and Andrea Bollini, who write about their experience of being DOAJ editors and their published paper: “Helping journals to improve their publishing standards: a data analysis of DOAJ new criteria effects”

After DOAJ implemented new criteria for inclusion of open access journals and invited all journals listed in the directory to reapply, a large number of journals was removed from the database, most for failing to submit an updated application within the deadline. DOAJ volunteers, Paola Galimberti as an  Editor and Andrea Marchitelli as an Associate Editor for Italy, wanted to investigate if their contribution, and the contribution by DOAJ volunteers all over the world, was effective in trying to improve the quality of journals indexed in the directory.

When the idea to write an article about the first results of the reapplication process became more clear, Paola and Andrea decided to involve Andrea Bollini, Chief Technology Innovation Officer at 4SCIENCE and Dominic Mitchell, DOAJ Community Manager, in the analysis of data.

Being active participants in the DOAJ community was really helpful when designing the article structure, because it made it possible to know, from an internal point of view, the steps of the reapplication process and all the checks needed to verify reapplications, where to look for the necessary data, and so on.

The starting point for this investigation was the scepticism about open access journals caused by Beall’s lists, by some retraction and misconduct cases that involved open access journals, and by some articles that suggested open access to be a way of publishing low quality journals under the pressure of the publish or perish system.

The main interest as editor and associate editor for a volunteer group deeply involved in this process was to examine the results of the implementation of the new criteria, and their capability to improve the quality of the directory and the reliability of the indexed information.

A dataset of 12,595 journals included in DOAJ since its very beginning in 2003 until May 15th 2016, was examined and compared to other sources. This operation had an immediate effect. The number of journals deleted from DOAJ during this period was 3,776; the majority of them (2,851 journals) were excluded because publishers failed to complete the reapplication on time; 490 had ceased publication or were otherwise inactive; 375 were excluded for ethical issues; 53 because they were no longer open access or the content was embargoed, the final 7 were removed for other reasons. The top five countries in terms of the percentage of journals removed were: Japan (74% of journals removed); Pakistan (60%); Canada (51%); United States (50%); and Mexico (49%).

Our study has shown that 158 of the removed journals were included in Beall’s lists; 1130 journals indexed in DOAJ were included in Scopus and/or JCR. Our analysis demonstrates that, thanks to the new acceptance criteria, and to the improved screening process performed by volunteer groups under the direction of the new criteria, there was a noticeable quality improvement of the journals indexed in DOAJ.

As members involved in this quality improvement process, the authors would consider the work made by DOAJ staff and volunteers in the different groups as a very effective result.

Full-text article: Marchitelli, Andrea, Paola Galimberti, Andrea Bollini, & Dominic Mitchell. “Helping journals to improve their publishing standards: a data analysis of DOAJ new criteria effects.” [Online], 8.1 (2017): 1-21. Web. 8 Feb. 2017. DOI: 10.4403/

Continued support from Austria to DOAJ

We are happy to announce that Austria is continuing its strong support to DOAJ.

As we informed last year universities, research centers, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (BMWFW) decided to support the work we do, generating more than € 30,000 to DOAJ.

We are extremely grateful for that, especially that the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy is among the contributors, in fact the first ministry supporting DOAJ.

Austria once again showing leadership in Open Access and Open Science!


This is a guest post by Ivonne Lujano, DOAJ Ambassador, Latin America

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A current search in the DOAJ database reveals that there are 916 journals from Latin America and the Caribbean that have been accepted after the implementation of stricter DOAJ criteria in March 2014. This represents approximately 16% of the journals that have gone through an evaluation process led by the DOAJ team. As it is stated in DOAJ policy, the criteria implemented emphasize the transparency of information presented by the journals to their users, which aims to improve quality and visibility of the scientific output published in peer reviewed journals.

Latin America has an extensive  background in open access journals publishing and, consequently, journals assessment policies are well developed. Different criteria for reviewing the quality of journals have been developed in the region by mainly two types of agencies: 1) national systems of evaluation (in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, etc.), with different levels of complexity and implementation according to the purposes of assessment, for instance, to allocate funds to the journals; and 2) regional systems of scientific information, i.e. Latindex, SciELO and Redalyc, which have similar indexing criteria (de Oliveira Amorim et al., 2015). Because of these evaluation systems there has been a significant growth of quality in Latin American journals according to international publishing standards in the last few years.

However, there are still some challenges to push forward the Latin American OA model, specially in two key aspects that are related to the level of openness: transparency on charges for authors and copyright & permission policies.

The Latin American non APC model

One of the main characteristics of the predominant journals publishing model in Latin America is that articles are published without costs to authors. This non APC model is possible because of the public funds that journals receive from national or institutional budgets, resources to be managed by, mostly, scholarly publishers such as university presses. Different stakeholders in the region support the idea of staying as a non-commercial OA model despite some trends of charging different fees to authors and their institutions. Vessuri, Guédon & Cetto (2014) have raised awareness that in a context of competition, commercial publishers are seeing the potential of Latin American journals as an opportunity to make a profit from offering publishing services, which eventually could shift the non-commercial model. According to DOAJ data, only 8% of journals included from Latin America have APCs, which range from $4 up to $1400 US. These journals are edited in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru, and 62.6% of them are managed by associations and societies. Most journals edited by universities and research centres have no charges; however, there are some journals funded by public federal and state-level universities that charge minimal amounts to authors in order to cover some services, for instance, the cost of the DOI assigned for the article published. In any case, DOAJ strongly encourages editors to give transparent information on this topic because is still common to see journals with a lack of details on the charges levied.

Copyright and permissions in Latin American journals

Despite the success of the open access publishing model in Latin America, there are still some important challenges in this region in terms of permissions to use, reuse, adapt and remix the contents. Based on DOAJ data, 89% of indexed Latin American journals have adopted Creative Commons licenses to distribute their articles. Nevertheless, only half of these journals (49.1%) use the CC-BY license, which allows others to use the materials for any lawful purpose with the only requirement being the correct attribution of authorship and source of publication. One third of the Brazilian journals indexed in DOAJ use this license; only 14% of Colombian journals have the same policy. One of the major concerns among editors in Latin America is still commercial use: 45.8% of journals allow readers to use the articles only for non-commercial purposes. The use of the CC-BY-NC license represents 23.9% of Latin American journals listed in DOAJ, followed by 14.9% of journals using the CC-BY-NC-ND license and 6.9% that have adopted the CC-BY-NC-SA license.

The use of the most open license (CC-BY) is still controversial in Latin America because publishers mistrust the terms of this license, which represents a big challenge for open access advocacy. The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) recommends this license as it assures a wider reuse and distribution of content, e.g. the use in education practices. DOAJ accepts journals that use any CC license, but also encourages the adoption of the more unrestricted licenses. In order to achieve the DOAJ Seal for best practice in open access publishing, a journal cannot apply the most restrictive CC licenses for sharing scientific articles, i.e. CC BY-ND or CC BY-NC-ND.   


The Latin American open access publishing model is going through a period full challenges, especially when some governments have serious budgetary difficulties in Science & Technology and Higher Education systems.

In spite of that, there are many advantages of this model. One of them is the level of cohesion of editors that have worked in collaboration for the improvement of quality. Author charges and copyright policies are still important concerns in Latin America, and DOAJ is committed to collaborate with publishers of this region in order to improve best practice, as well as openness for readers and for authors.


De Oliveira Amorim et al. (2015) Evaluation Systems of Scientific Journals in Latin America, in: Alperin, J. and Fischman, G. (eds.) Made in Latin America : open access, scholarly journals, and regional innovations Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires: CLACSO.

Vessuri, H., Guédon, J.C., Cetto, A.M. (2014) Excellence or quality? Impact of the current competition regime on science and scientific publishing in Latin America and its implications for development, Current Sociology, Vol. 62(5) 647 –665, DOI: 10.1177/0011392113512839



In March 2014 DOAJ implemented much more detailed criteria for listing, which enabled DOAJ to provide granular information enabling universities, research funders and governments to check journals for compliance with Open Access policy and mandate requirements. 
This led to a reapplication process that was a necessary step towards ensuring that all journals in DOAJ (of which there were about 10000) met the stricter criteria. The criteria were produced as a response to the increasing demands from various stakeholders about transparency of open access journals and to retain DOAJ’s relevancy and importance for the stakeholders in open access publishing.
During the last 32 months DOAJ has accepted 3,700 journals, rejected 6,500 applications, monitored journals on a daily basis, removed 1,450 journals and delisted 2,850 journals for not re-applying to stay indexed. DOAJ also receives more than 300 new applications per month. 
This large number of reapplications and new applications is taking longer to process than we had envisaged and the team at DOAJ are doing our best to handle them promptly and efficiently. We would like to thank you for your patience in these last months.
Please do not hesitate to contact DOAJ at if you have any questions about your application.
We take this opportunity to thank for all the support we get from academic libraries, library consortia, research funders, publishers and aggregators.
Many thanks and best wishes for the New Year!


This is a guest post by Miguel Navas, member of AccesoAbierto research group and Librarian at the Catalan Government in Barcelona, Spain.

According to Ulrich’s data 1, Spain is in tenth position in scholarly journal production, with  2.5% of the titles worldwide. The United States alone accounts for 21%, and nearly one third of journals are published by countries with fewer contributions than Spain.

However, when talking about Open Access journals, the output is quite different: according to both Ulrich’s and DOAJ2, Spain is currently country number four in the world with 5.5%,  after Brazil, UK and USA. Yet, what is the level of adoption of OA in Spanish journals?

According to Ulrich’s, 34% of active scholarly journals published in Spain are OA, but this proportion is higher when consulting Dulcinea3, the most comprehensive, up-to-date and accurate source for Spanish journals. A current search shows that 76% of the journals are freely available online, 10.2% operate under an embargo, and only 1.5% are hybrid. The remaining 12.3% of  journals are restricted to subscribers.

Nevertheless, free access does not necessarily imply Open Access. Thus, that 76% should be correlated with re-use rights in order to get the exact amount of OA journals.



A recent study5 has revealed that most of the Spanish journals indexed in Web of Science or Scopus are Open Access (56.9%). The extent of OA adoption varied by subject area; it represented 68% of the Social Sciences and Humanities titles, and 55% of Science, Technology and Medicine journals. It also depended on the publisher type; OA models were adopted by 81% of the journals published by universities and research centers, 71% of the titles published by associations and societies, and only 30% of journals belonging to commercial publishers. APC-funded OA journals, both full OA and hybrid, were very few.

Open Access in Spain is driven by the online presses of academic institutions, based mostly in OJS platforms at both individual and collective level. The Spanish Center for Advanced Studies (CSIC), Complutense University of Madrid, University of Barcelona and Catalan Open Access Journals (RACO) are good examples of that.

There are 507 Spanish journals indexed in DOAJ6, while the current total number of Spanish free-access journals is 1,3547 . This fact suggests that only about one third (37.4%) of the free-access Spanish journals appear in DOAJ as OA titles. Opposedly,  196 of the 253 Spanish OA journals indexed either in Wos or Scopus are included in DOAJ as well, showing a much higher rate for this specific group (77.5%).  Thus, there is a lot of work to do in order to index Spanish OA journals in DOAJ, especially those not being covered in WoS or Scopus.

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We are very happy to announce that our DOAJ Ambassador Kamel Belhamel was interviewed this month by Science Open as part of the very successful Open Science series of interviews.

Jon Tennant, from Science Open, chats with Prof Belhamel about his thoughts regarding open access, his role at DOAJ, and the state of scholarly communication in North Africa.

“I am very proud to join DOAJ team. It’s exciting and motivating to be a part of this not-for-profit organisation. DOAJ gives me the opportunity to work in a pleasant multicultural environment and to meet very nice friends from different parts of the world. Every member of the team collaborates and this synergy carries us further and faster than I could have imagined.”

Please read the full interview here.



Open Access Journals Strategy in Algeria

This is a guest post by Kamel Belhamel, DOAJ Ambassador, North Africa

algeriaThe importance of Open Access (OA) was recently recognised by Algerian scientists, libraries and publishers. Until recently, Algerian researchers preferred to publish their papers in European journals with an impact factor, in order to achieve certain personal goals (e.g. better career opportunities and advancement, CV fortification, etc.), however the Western system of scholarly publishing often stigmatizes developing country research as local rather than international.

One of the most important OA journal promoters in Algeria at this time is DGRSDT (National Council of Scientific Research and Technology of Algeria). Since 2015, the DGRSDT has organised workshops and supports Algerian editors in the implementation of open science. Many of those editors don’t have the experience of ensuring the quality and the transparency of the editorial process. Out of 359 Algerian scientific journals listed by the DGRSDT, only 7 are indexed in the DOAJ (or 1.95 %). Most of the scientific journals, supported via institutional memberships, don’t have a website and are only published on paper. So there is a need to develop a method for determining the quality of these journals and to help Algerian scientific journals to become more visible on the internet, thereby making them accessible and discoverable for the international community.

In response to the important need of access to scholarly content by the Algerian research community, the DGRSDT has started a project with the goal of collecting and publishing all information about Algerian editors and their scientific journals, thereby ensuring that research publications and research data will be publicly available on the internet. This project seeks to achieve, a) development of training programmes with editors, b) promotion of the exchange of ideas and experience among Algerian editors, c) establish global collaborative efforts by co-operating with international editors and organizations in the advancement of open access. Furthermore, following a recent meeting with myself, the DGRSDT has published a recommendation that all Algerian journals become familiar with the DOAJ criteria and apply for indexing in DOAJ. This is an important step toward the visibility of Algerian journals at an international level.

Since printed journals are costly and have very low visibility, one of the initiatives that is especially interesting is the launch a portal of Algerian scientific journals by the Research Centre on Scientific and Technical Information (CERIST). This portal, named Webreview, is open to anyone wishing to publish journal content online, either open or closed access, allows the development of scientific research in Algeria and will increase its visibility. Although DGRSDT is aware of the importance of OA repositories, they are still too small and there remains something to be done at both institutional and national level.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has already decided that PhD students can defend their theses by publishing their papers in Algerian OA journals indexed in Scopus, Web of Science, DOAJ, etc. This positive initiative will surely increase the number of Algerian OA journals and will generate considerable added value to science.