The DOAJ Team is expanding!

I am very happy to announce that the DOAJ Team has expanded. We welcome to the team Ilaria Flava, based in Rome, Italy, and Clara Armengou, based in Barcelona, Spain.

Ilaria joins us as Managing Editor and will assist with the monitoring of our editorial groups, the processing of applications and communicating final decisions to publishers. Having already volunteered for DOAJ as Associate Editor, Ilaria is familiar with our modus operandi. She assumes responsibility for 7 international teams of volunteers and by adding Ilaria to our team of managing editors, we will increase our throughput.

Clara joins us as Community Manager and will be covering my absence for the next year. Clara, who was open access officer at Cambridge University Press among other things, is currently working as Science Communication Officer at University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. Clara brings with her a vast amount of experience and by adding her to the team, we will continue to serve our online communities and, most importantly, all the publishers who are indexed in DOAJ. Clara will continue to raise awareness of DOAJ and the important issues surrounding open access, as well as support our Ambassadors’ activities across the global south.

You can read more about Ilaria and Clara on our About page.

DOAJ is International!

Adding Clara and Ilaria to our team means that DOAJ now operates from 15 different countries…

Algeria
Burkina Faso
China
Denmark
Egypt
Ethiopia
India
Italy
Mexico
Russia
South Africa
Spain
Sweden
The Netherlands
United Kingdom

… and between us we can speak over 25 languages. Open access knows no barriers and DOAJ strives to represent that as much as possible! How do you feel that we are doing?

Open Access Week 2015 and the DOAJ Volunteer Loyalty Program

What are you doing for Open Access Week 2015 (OAW 2015)? Perhaps you are holding a workshop at your university or giving a presentation in your library? OAW 2015 is the EIGHTH OAW and DOAJ stand firmly behind it.

To honour this year’s OAW, DOAJ is launching a volunteer loyalty program. You may have read about our wonderful volunteers that give a few hours of their time every week to review new journal applications. Our volunteers do fantastic work and are a talented and dedicated bunch. We decided that we should honour the fantastic work that they do with a series of rewards.

We will be awarding a certificate of loyalty and achievement* to volunteers for every 50 applications reviewed and completed. The more applications a volunteer reviews, the more certificates they get. We’re designing the certificate just now but I’ll post an example here as soon as I have one. [UPDATE 15th October: here are the certificates plus the link to the volunteers page!]

Editor's certificate

Sample image of editor’s certificate awarded for a year’s service to DOAJ.

Associate Editor's certificate

Sample image of associate editor’s certificate awarded for 25 applications completed.

We will also be listing all our working volunteers on our site.

We’re exploring the option of awarding Mozilla Open Badges so that a DOAJ volunteer can officially declare their work for DOAJ. we will host an annual virtual volunteer meeting to bring our volunteers together and give them the opportunity to network, exchange ideas or ask questions. Watch this space!

If you are interested in volunteering for us, please get in touch! We are always looking for volunteers to help us process applications.

*Credit to Felipe G. Nievinski, one of our volunteers, for the original idea. Thanks Felipe!

Get involved and volunteer for DOAJ

We are always looking for ‪‎volunteers‬ to help us review the applications for journals wishing to be indexed in ‪‎DOAJ‬. We have well over 100 people, from all over the world, helping us already. It’s a growing and exciting network to be part of and the work being done directly contributes to the quality of peer-review, open access publishing. Are you interested in joining us?

How much work is it?
We ask our volunteers to give us 4 or 5 hours of their time per week but you are left to manage your own schedule.

Who should volunteer?
Anyone who has knowledge and enthusiasm for academic journals, scholarly publishing, ‪‎open access‬, electronic publishing, librarianship, digital preservation. We particularly welcome ‪librarians‬, information studies professionals and students, PhD students, researchers and people affiliated with research institutions. The important thing is that you understand some of the mechanics, principles and politics behind open access and scholarly publishing.

We are always looking for people who have an excellent grasp of English as a first, second or third language.

If you can speak the following languages, with English, we would love to hear from you:

‪‎Arabic (العربية)
Bulgarian‬ (български)
‪Chinese‬ (中文)
‪Czech‬ (česky)
‪Farsi‬ (فارسی)
‪French‬ (français)
German (deutsch)
‪Hungarian‬ (magyar)
‪Indonesian‬ (Indonesia)
‪Macedonian‬ (македонски)
‪Polish‬ (Polski)
‪Portuguese‬ (Português)
Romanian (român)
‪Russian‬ (Русский)
‪Serbo‬-Croatian
‪Slovak‬ (slovenský)
‪Slovenian‬ (slovensko)
‪Spanish‬ (Español)
‪Turkish‬ (Türkçe)

How do I apply?
There’s a bit more detail in the announcement I have just posted so you should read that first. If you have any questions, contact me here or email feedback@doaj.org

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!

Proactive not reactive

Earlier this week, Nature News & Comment published a piece about the DOAJ under the heading ‘Open-access website gets tough‘.

We are happy about the exposure but there are a couple of things to address.

1) Coming to the end of a process started in December 2012

The process of drafting new, tougher criteria started way before the so-called “Science sting” which found problems in the peer review process of many of the questionable open access journals deliberately selected for the study.

IS4OA (www.is4oa.org) officially took over the responsibility for DOAJ on 1st January 2013 but it announced on 18th December 2012 that one of the most important things it would do was to ensure the implementation of stronger selection criteria for journals to be included—and to stay included—in the DOAJ. This was primarily to make it easier for authors to find a proper open access journal in which to publish their work. It makes it easier also for research funders, universities and managers of open access publication funds to make an informed decision on which open access journals comply with their policies in terms of licensing, archiving and APCs. In June 2013, after input from the DOAJ Advisory Board, I tweeted that a draft of the new criteria was available for public comment:

The draft received a lot of attention and constructive input from the community and the new application form finally went live in March this year, after a platform migration and a good deal of development.

All new journals wishing to be indexed in DOAJ and all journals indexed currently have to complete the form and then pass a much more rigorous and detailed evaluation. All the information provided by the journals will eventually be publicly available and searchable, further empowering the community to make better decisions re which open access journal to publish in and to help the DOAJ team monitor compliance. At time of writing, 231 journals have been accepted into the DOAJ under these new criteria.

Naturally, this change means much more evaluation is needed per application—multiplying current operations by a factor of 10—so DOAJ put out a call in January 2014 for voluntary editors to assist in the (re)-evaluation of the journals. The call generated 250 applications from researchers, PhDs, professors, librarians and academic publishing professionals from more than 30 countries mastering more than 30 languages. For DOAJ to achieve its vision of being a truly global service, extending coverage around the world, this is an important landmark.

With further development, DOAJ has also implemented a 3-tier evaluation process which will, as far as possible, filter out any questionable journals. This process will take time, especially since 99% of the 9939 journals have to be re-evaluated. We expect the process to be completed late 2015.

2) Even more vital to the community

The DOAJ Team knows for a fact that these efforts are taking DOAJ in the right direction that will ensure it continues to meet the needs of the public. It has already had excellent feedback on the new developments via social media channels, via training sessions held by Redalyc throughout South America and from its sponsors and supporters. It is also known that many university open access publication funds list inclusion in the DOAJ as being one of the criteria for a successful funding request. Furthermore, someone looking for a quality, peer-reviewed, open access journal in their field is more likely to start their search with the DOAJ list of journals, than with any other list; a curated list of reputable journals that uses a 3-tier review process, that harnesses the skills and expertise of the community and that requires 48 pieces of different information from an applicant before a journal can be considered for inclusion.

All the improvements above add up to a dramatic change for the DOAJ and the way it operates. It can only continue this approach if the communities that use and value DOAJ continue to support it. DOAJ has been operating entirely on financial support and is one of the oldest community funded, open access infrastructure services. Along with its sponsors, more than 100 university libraries, 15 library consortia and others already support DOAJ financially but more are needed! Become part of this impressive group of sponsors and supporters by going to http://doaj.org/supportDoaj and donating.

DOAJ Editor and Associate Editor network goes live

Our new network to support our crowdsourcing project has gone live which means that our volunteers of Editors and Associate Editors can now start work! This is an exciting and extremely important step for DOAJ.

Although there are no visible changes to the site itself, behind the scenes we have implemented a whole new piece of functionality to support a large number of people all working on the journals and new applications. Certainly, publishers will start to see the benefits as turnaround times from submission of application to decision decrease. Remember: as well as the ~100 new applications we receive every month, almost 99% of all the journals in DOAJ need to reapply to ensure they meet the new criteria!

We will start with three pilot teams: Chinese, English and Spanish. To help them find their way around the new system, we will create a series of training videos and some written documentation. Links to those documents will be emailed to each volunteer.

As ever, if you have any question or would like to know more, drop me a line.

Crowdsourcing librarian power

DOAJ recently attended, and gave a plenary session at, the 35th conference for the International Association of Scientific and Technological University Libraries. The presentation gave conference delegates an update on progress with the new application form and details of the our network of volunteers: the DOAJ Associate Editors and Editors. I’d like to share a little more of that information with you.

Today ~99% of all the journals currently indexed in DOAJ will have to reapply to remain in the directory. This is necessary because the bar for inclusion has been considerably raised in response to the fast-paced development of open access over the last 11 years. The application form has been extended from 6 to 56 questions, with the the form focussing on 3 main areas:

  1. Quality
  2. Technical quality (publishing practices)
  3. Openness

Reassessing 9770 journals on 50 new points of information is a huge amount of work that needs to be done methodically, effectively and routinely. Crowdsourcing this work is an ideal solution.

We put out a call for volunteers in January 2014. We had an overwhelming response with volunteers offering their help and expertise from all over the world. (Applications are closed for now.) The majority of the volunteers come from the academic library community which is very useful for DOAJ since we want to have groups of volunteers based around language and specialty. We will organise our volunteers into a network of  1 editor looking after a group of associate editors, with each group reporting to the existing DOAJ Managing Editors.

This way of working is completely new to DOAJ and so we will start with a pilot scheme to ensure we do this right and correctly. We have set up 3 pilot groups: Chinese, Spanish and English. We will start the pilot later this month. Our technical partner, Cottage Labs, has built a journal review and approval structure to support the editors in their work.

If you applied to be a DOAJ Associate Editor and have not heard from us please be patient while run the pilot. And of course, thank you for volunteering!