Silver Sponsor Digital Science Answers Our Questions on Open Access Publishing and the DOAJ

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Jon Treadway, COO at Digital Science answers our questions.

-Your organisation has been supporting DOAJ for a few years now. Why is it important for Digital Science to support DOAJ?

The DOAJ is a crucial piece of infrastructure in the scholarly publishing industry. At Digital Science, since our inception 7 years ago we have looked to support and work in partnership with industry bodies rather than trying to reinvent or control them. Our relationship with DOAJ is one example of that approach, but one could equally point to our work with ORCID or VIVO.  We’ve also tried to set up broader initiatives that support players such as DOAJ, such as our GRID project or our collaboration on Blockchain for Peer Review.

-What is Digital Science doing to support Open Access development? Do you have any exciting projects underway?

The launch of Dimensions earlier this year was exciting, or at least we hope it was! Among many things, it is a research information system that offers researchers free access, without registration, to citation data. It integrates with the DOAJ, and so allows users to limit results only to those journals included in the database. Increased visibility for the DOAJ means increased visibility for Open Access journals and publishers, which can only be good for its development.

-What are your personal views on the future of Open Access publishing?

Open Access has established its credibility, its viability and its ability to achieve the goal of making research more accessible to millions of researchers. The biggest challenge may be the erroneous belief that Open Access makes it unaffordable for researchers in less wealthy institutions or developing nations to publish, that financial barriers to access are being removed only to be replaced by financial barriers to publication. Open Access is a broad church, with a wide variety of publishing options.

-What do you think that the scholarly community could do to better support the continued development of the Open Access movement in the near future?

This is not a new answer, but the more the community can move away from overly simplistic measures of impact, the more researchers will feel able to choose where to publish based on other factors, like price or quality of service or accessibility. I think that there will to be further shifts in library budgets to allow explore a wider range of models. I also think that there is still a basic culture change that needs to take place in the field.  Many academics (especially in arts and humanities) don’t yet see the value of open access and find it challenging.

-Much has been said recently about whether open access is succeeding or failing, particularly in terms of the original vision laid out by the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002. Do you think that open access has fallen short of this vision, or has it surpassed expectations?

Paradoxically, I think it has fallen short of the vision but has exceeded expectations. Cultural change takes a long time, and even longer time in academia and academic publishing. In that context, the progress of the Open Access movement over the last 15 years has been nothing short of stunning. It is easy to overlook that.

The Long-Term Preservation of Open Access Journals

The long term preservation of open access journals is one of the 7 criteria for the DOAJ Seal because DOAJ believes that it is an extremely important business process which a publisher of academic content should commit to. This couldn’t be more applicable than in the Global South where financial support and rigorous standards around journal publishing aren’t always available and, sadly, journals tend to just disappear from the Internet without warning. This is a huge problem for the academic footprint of the Global South, not to mention the hundreds of authors whose published papers just aren’t online any more and cannot be retrieved or ever cited.

When DOAJ established its criteria for the Seal in 2014, we were conscious that anything with a cost associated with it effectively put up a barrier to those low income or financially unstable journals to getting the Seal. DOAJ is committed to smooth that path as much as possible. In 2013, DOAJ announced a working agreement with CLOCKSS, one of the archives included on our application form, to seek out funding for a joint project which would get as many of DOAJ’s long-tail of single journals archived and preserved as possible. Unfortunately, those plans didn’t come to fruition and since then, the archiving and digital preservation landscape has changed somewhat.

What remains to be done is clear however: we must help ALL journals get into an archiving and digital preservation program and therefore I am delighted to welcome this guest post by Craig Van Dyck, the Executive Director of the CLOCKSS Archive.

Thanks for reading.

Dom, DOAJ Operations Manager

Users of scholarly content rely upon long-term access to that content. Scholarly research is long-lived, and users need to be able to re-access content repeatedly.

One concern about digital scholarly journals is that they could disappear from the web, which would undermine scholars’ ability to access the materials that they need.

In response to this concern, several Preservation services are available. These services work somewhat differently, but they all aim to ensure the long-term availability of scholarly content on behalf of end-users. Prominent services are CLOCKSS and Portico in the US, Scholars Portal and the Public Knowledge Project Preservation Network (PKP PN) in Canada, and CINES in Europe. Publishers are welcome to participate in any or all of these services. And some national libraries also have archival collections.

In today’s environment, it is considered best-practice for a scholarly publisher to include its content in a preservation service. To receive the DOAJ Seal, journals must be included in a preservation system.

In this post, we will focus on CLOCKSS, with some reference to PKP PN, because those two services both use the LOCKSS technology, which is arguably at the high-end of the spectrum of preservation solutions.

LOCKSS Technology

LOCKSS stands for Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe. The technology was invented at the Stanford University Library about 20 years ago. It relies upon multiple copies of the digital content being hosted at geographically distributed nodes. The software (which is open source) includes a unique polling-and-repair mechanism. The multiple nodes are constantly exchanging information about the content that they hold. If one node reports a difference vs. the other nodes, that one node is out-voted by the other nodes, and the variant node’s piece of content is replaced by the correct content from one of the other nodes. In this way, the archive is “dark”, meaning that end-users do not access the content, but the technology ensures that the data is in good repair.

The CLOCKSS Archive

  • The C in CLOCKSS stands for Controlled. This is because CLOCKSS uses twelve servers located at blue-chip libraries around the world, all with first-rate infrastructure and security. CLOCKSS is a free-standing 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization, using the LOCKSS technology and working with the LOCKSS technical and operational teams at Stanford, to preserve scholarly content for the long-term. CLOCKSS is certified as a Trusted Digital Repository. In its Trustworthy Repositories Audit & Certification report by the Council for Research Libraries, CLOCKSS received the only perfect score for technology.
  • CLOCKSS includes many Open Access publishers. For example, 24 publishers using the open source OJS publishing system are preserved in CLOCKSS. In total, CLOCKSS is preserving over 20,000 journal titles, with over 30 million journal articles and 75,000 books, growing rapidly each year.
  • One unique aspect of CLOCKSS is that when content is “triggered” for access, CLOCKSS makes the content freely available to all, under a Creative Commons license, which is a sign of the commitment to the concept of Open Access. A “trigger” occurs if a journal has disappeared, or will soon disappear, from the web. To date CLOCKSS has triggered 53 journals.
  • CLOCKSS can access publishers’ journals in two different ways: by harvesting the content from the publishing platform; or by the publisher providing the content to CLOCKSS by FTP.
  • Another unique aspect of CLOCKSS is the governance structure. The Board of Directors is comprised half by libraries and half by publishers. The scholarly community itself is thus responsible for the policies and practices of CLOCKSS.
  • Publishers sign an Agreement with CLOCKSS, which governs rights and responsibilities. There is a small annual cost for participating in CLOCKSS. CLOCKSS is financially sustainable, which is an important element for a long-term preservation archive. 350 libraries around the world, as well as 250 publishers, contribute to CLOCKSS’s sustainability.

Public Knowledge Project Preservation Network (PKP PN)

  • The Public Knowledge Project is a multi-university initiative developing (free) open source software and conducting research to improve the quality and reach of scholarly publishing. PKP is based at Simon Fraser University in Canada, which is where the Open Journal Systems (OJS) software was originally developed.
  • The PKP Preservation Network is an additional capability that enables easy long-term preservation of journals using OJS version 2.4.8 or higher. PKP PN uses the LOCKSS preservation software.
  • There are currently 800 journals preserving their content in PKP PN.
  • There are no fees for participating in the PKP PN. A journal manager must agree to Terms of Use.


It is strongly recommended that scholarly journals and books should be preserved for the long-term in a preservation system. Content that is not preserved is at-risk of being lost. And publishers who do not contribute their content to a preservation system are at-risk of not being considered a serious publisher. The value of long-term preservation is well worth a small cost.

Craig Van Dyck
Executive Director, CLOCKSS Archive

The 10 Principles of Plan S

The welcome announcement last week from Marc Schiltz‘s Science Europe about cOAlition S and the publication of The 10 Principles of Plan S was well received at DOAJ Headquarters. The key principle of Plan S is:

“After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.”

The document continues to outline important factors surrounding the desired model of open access and this model sometimes follows closely DOAJ’s preferred model for open access:

  1. Authors will retain copyright.
  2. Content will be published under an open license which fulfils the requirements defined by the Berlin Declaration.
  3. All scientists should be able to publish Open Access even if they have limited means.
  4. Publications fees should be standardised or capped.
  5. The hybrid model of publishing is not compliant with the principles.

DOAJ is pleased to see these principles so in line with the DOAJ criteria.

Lars Bjørnshauge, DOAJ Founder and Managing Director, said: ‘While we should remember that these principles only cover Europe and focus on science and that they may not be applicable on all continents or to the humanities, they will hopefully have a positive impact. Their announcement is timely and they are a welcome move in the right direction. DOAJ is proud to support their implementation.’