As a publisher who supports DOAJ, either as a member or as a sponsor, you are part of a growing global network of publishers who have unequivocally stated a firm commitment to support open access through DOAJ’s work. On behalf of the entire DOAJ Team and supporters of open access the world over, I would like to thank you for your continued support. Your contributions are always spent directly on improving DOAJ’s infrastructure; maintaining high levels of recency and accuracy of the DOAJ metadata; and increasing the awareness of issues surrounding open access. The team at DOAJ ensures that all of this happens in a way that keeps DOAJ relevant around the globe, and not just in the Global North.
This report briefly covers our main achievements in 2017, as well as developments for the year ahead. If you have any questions on its content, or would like to know more, then drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
With very best wishes for the new year ahead,
What We Achieved in 2017
2017 saw the end of the Reapplications project and the extension of our Ambassador program. We made improvements to our workflow to reduce our turnaround times on new applications and we launched our education and outreach program. Finally, we carried out a series of small projects to internationalise DOAJ as much as possible.
The reapplication project and updates to journals
All publishers were asked to submit new applications for all of the journals which were already included in DOAJ. 6359 reapplications were sent to us. Of those, 4031 were accepted as meeting the high standards required to be indexed in the Directory. This also means that, for the first time since launch in 2003, more than 99% of all the journal information in DOAJ is less than two years old. For those journals which didn’t make the grade, DOAJ offered feedback on how to improve the journal’s practices and, unless otherwise stated, those journals may send in new applications 6 months after the last decision from us, provided that they can show that they have implemented the changes recommended to them.
Also, our predictions at the start of the project came true and we never heard from 2860 journals; they all failed to resubmit reapplications to us. After repeated reminders, these journals were removed from the Directory which meant that, in total, the reapplication project resulted in a 40% cull of titles from DOAJ.
One of the inherent problems with the reapplications project, which we identified at the start, was that DOAJ relies heavily on journal representatives (publishers, journal owners, editors) to keep the information in the Directory up to date, including cotact details. Currently, a journal representative must contact the DOAJ Team with any updates to the journal information which are then verified and applied on behalf of the publisher. This means that, more often than not, journal information is never updated. To combat this, DOAJ reviews journal information regularly but to make this whole process easier, we will be launching a new system which will enable journal representatives to update information themselves. Submitted updates will be reviewed by the DOAJ Team before being published immediately to the site.
Extension of the Ambassador program, education and outreach
The Ambassador program, launched in 2016 and financed by the IDRC, was a huge success, so much so that we received further funding to extend the program into 2017. The DOAJ Ambassadors were able to continue their excellent work in their home territories. It also meant that, in those countries where we suffered a heavy loss of titles after the Reapplication Project, DOAJ was able to target efforts and encourage new applications from many of the local open access journals. This most recently happened in Korea, Japan and Indonesia and further countries are planned for 2018. We extended the Editor-in-Chief’s role to concentrate specifically on Education and Outreach and in 2018, we will be launching a series of training videos, specifically aimed at improving the quality of applications sent to us. More on that below.
Improved workflow and reduced turnaround times
Something that we hear a lot at DOAJ is that our turnaround times for processing new applications are too long. In 2017, this was certainly due to the number of reapplications which we had to process but, unfortunately, we have always had lengthy processing times. In the hope that this will encourage more applications from titles not yet in DOAJ, we took steps to correct this and reduce the time to first decision.
Never before has DOAJ been in a position where it has had so many people working for it and processing applications for us. We created a new role, Senior Managing Editor, whose is specifically tasked with monitoring throughput; we expanded our Triage role which, essentially, removes all of the rubbish applications from the queues, allowing the editorial team to focus on those applications which matter; we identified and pooled our most dedicated volunteers to give greater processing power; we have started a system whereby applications can be allocated directly to a reviewer rather than sitting in a holding pattern awaiting assignment; we re-focused our editorial team and allocated resource to those countries submitting the most applications to us; we introduced a reporting system which allows us to track applications and alerts us when the workflow slows for whatever reason.
All of these changes combined will see a greater throughput of new applications in 2018.
Internationalisation of DOAJ
Despite our aim to be as global as possible, much of what we write is in English, or is generated from our offices across Europe. DOAJ aims to be as global as possible and be as relevant as possible to all parts of the world. In 2017, we extended the range of our translated materials, hoping to encourage more interaction and participation from all around the world. We also invited guest blog posts from our Ambassadors, a series which focussed on how open access works and some of the issues facing open access in different parts of the world.
Coming Down The Pipe in 2018
Our three focus areas for 2018 are:
- Scalability and stability
- Education and outreach
We have partnered with agents working in Europe who are approaching institutions on our behalf to secure more funding. DOAJ is also one of the beneficiaries of the SCOSS pilot which launched late 2017 with an aim to establishing a sustainable funding model for DOAJ and SHERPA/RoMEO. As our operations grow, we require more funding and so we need to fund DOAJ in a more sustainable way than the hand-to-mouth model we survive on currently.
Also, more attention is being paid, both by potential funders as well as the community, to what DOAJ is, how we are set up and how we operate. People are looking to us for more transparency and structure in our business model and our processes, and as a community-driven organisation, our supporters are expecting to have more of an influence in DOAJ’s direction. We will be formalising a new governance model in early 2018 to meet these demands.
Scalability and stability
With our technical partners, Cottage Labs, we are about to start a huge infrastructure project which will completely rebuild the underlying platform, making it more stable and easier to develop in the future. Traffic to DOAJ has more than doubled over the last 3 years and we must ensure that the platform remains fit for purpose for the next 5 years at least, particularly as traffic will increase even more as we add new metadata and new ways to connect to the site to harvest it.
Over the latter half of 2017, we saw spikes in usage from crawlers, usage through our API and had to throttle some of these to make sure that users on the site were able to use the site normally. We want to expand and stabilise the platform so that we can accommodate all traffic sources without any adverse effects.
Education and outreach
As mentioned above, DOAJ will be launching a series of training videos, to encourage better quality applications. We are currently putting together the first one which will be an introduction to DOAJ. We will then publish a series of videos, aimed at editors, publishers and researchers, to help simplify some of the more obscure aspects of open access publishing. One such area will be copyright retention versus [Creative Commons] licensing.
Our Editor-in-Chief will continue to target areas of the world from which we receive few or low quality applications. DOAJ will firm up its presence in the open access arena both as an educator and an influencer. We also hope to increase the number of Social Science and Humanities journals in DOAJ.