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.” JLIS.it [Online], 8.1 (2017): 1-21. Web. 8 Feb. 2017. DOI: 10.4403/jlis.it-12052.