Volunteering for DOAJ as an Associate Editor

This is a guest post by our Associate Editor Sofia Fagiolo.

Sofia Fagiolo is a librarian with experience in cataloging and archives and a keen interest in scholarly
communication and open access. Recently, she has worked at the Campus Bio-Medico University of
Rome. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Archival and Library Science and a Master’s degree in History.

At the end of this month, it will be a year since I joined DOAJ as an Associate Editor. Currently, I am working with DOAJ’s Portuguese Group, which primarily evaluates journal applications from Brazil and Portugal (and other countries where Portuguese is spoken). My main responsibilities are to review applications to ensure that they meet the DOAJ’s minimum requirements for inclusion and to check the journals that are already indexed to ensure they continue to meet these criteria. I would like to share some reflections about my experience and the benefits I gained in terms of professional growth, hoping that this would be useful for those who are considering volunteering for DOAJ.

I became interested in Open Access during my graduate studies as I attended some conferences in Library and Information Science dealing with this topic. Since then, I began to get a growing interest in issues related to the Open Access movement and its impact on scholarly communication and I started reading articles and books about this, especially Peter Suber’s writings. I wanted somehow to contribute to Open Access and one day the opportunity presented itself as I learned that DOAJ was recruiting new Associate Editors. This was exactly what I wanted, so I did not hesitate and I sent my application as early as possible. 

Nowadays, I am proud to be a part of the DOAJ community. Volunteering at DOAJ is a unique opportunity to support and promote the Open Access movement. Moreover, it can offer many professional benefits. You will work closely with a great team and have continuous interactions with publishers on an international scale. Your network will expand to include colleagues who support Open Access around the globe and this can lead to professional opportunities and increase your knowledge. You will also gain invaluable insights into the world of scholarly communication. For example, I gained the opportunity to become familiar with publishing practices and issues relating to scholarly publishing, and I also learned more about copyright and author’s rights, repository policies, open access resources, and the review process. As a librarian with some experience in academic libraries, this was very helpful for me. In recent years the need for academic librarians with an extensive knowledge and expertise in scholarly communication has grown dramatically. 

Another beneficial component is the improvement of communication and organizational skills. My role as an Associate Editor requires a few hours of voluntary work each week, but this includes frequent contacts with editors, publishers, journal owners, and DOAJ Managing Editors. For me, this is an opportunity to improve my language skills, as I have regular correspondence in English, Spanish, and sometimes in Portuguese. Furthermore, one of my tasks is to give advice and assistance to the publishers in order to improve the quality of their journals around specific issues such as peer-review, licensing policies and publication fees, so efficient communication is a fundamental skill for this work. 

Working with the Portuguese editorial team gives me an insider view of the Brazilian scholarly publishing landscape. In fact, the majority of applications are coming from Brazil (confirming the country’s global leadership in open access) and I have the chance to explore a great variety of journals from this country, covering a broad range of disciplines. Exposure to current research in such great diversity of fields is a very stimulating aspect of my work, and often I find interesting articles that arouse my curiosity and I save them on my PC for later reading. 

In conclusion, I find my first year as Associate Editor at DOAJ a very gratifying experience. Networking opportunities, professional development, and a deeper understanding of the various aspects of scholarly communication are the major accomplishments for me. I am very happy to contribute to the important work of the Open Access movement in providing access to research around the globe. Seeing the journals I have reviewed in DOAJ is very rewarding for me and every time I finish reviewing an application, I think to myself: “What will be the next journal?”.

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