Guest Post Progress report

Supporting the inclusion of J-STAGE journals in DOAJ

This is a guest post by our colleagues at J-STAGE, Japan. We are working with them to encourage the open access journals on their platform to submit applications to be indexed. Along the lines of previous projects with groups in Finland, Canada, and Denmark, journal workshops are held to help editors understand our Basic Criteria and ensure that their websites are “DOAJ-ready”.

We lost many Japanese journals during our Reapplication project (2015-2017) so it is a real pleasure to see J-STAGE journals back in the index.

The number of journals published in Japan that are included in DOAJ has increased consistently in recent years, expanding from 33 in April 2020 to 64 journals in February 2022. Many of these journals have benefited from a program of advice and support provided by J-STAGE before and during their application to DOAJ.

J-STAGE is an electronic journal platform operated by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). J-STAGE supports the publication of science and technology periodicals from academic societies and research institutions with the aim of rapidly disseminating science and technology (as well as humanities and social sciences) information from Japan, enhancing the international dissemination of information, and promoting open access (OA). At present, more than 3,400 journals, conference proceedings, and other publications from more than 1,800 publishers (academic societies and research institutions) in Japan are rapidly made available to readers around the world on J-STAGE at no or low cost.

Since 2017, JST has provided a Journal Consulting service, in which consultants specialized in scholarly publishing provide support for journal development, with the aim of improving the quality of journals and enhancing their international standing. From 2017 to 2019, consulting services were provided to several journals per year based on their individual circumstances (e.g., support for journals to move to OA, modernize their publishing policies, internationalize their editorial boards, or increase the number of submissions).  

In 2020, the main goal of the Journal Consulting service was to help the participating journals apply successfully to DOAJ, an internationally recognized list of high-quality, peer-reviewed OA journals. This outcome sits well within J-STAGE’s policy goal of supporting the transition of journals to OA.

JST engaged INLEXIO, an Australian publishing consultancy to provide advisory services. INLEXIO conducted assessments of participating journals using a proprietary system that includes a questionnaire, analyses, and evaluations to identify issues that needed to be addressed in order for journals to comply with the DOAJ application criteria. The work has clearly shown that many Japanese journals can benefit from improving their foundations, such as updating Instructions to Authors, providing explicit usage rights for users, and enhancing their websites. For English-language journals, INLEXIO guided editors and journal executives through a development process using documents, reports, direct communication, and webinars. For Japanese-language journals, JST guided the editors using INLEXIO’s system.

JST then made applications on behalf of the journals that were judged to meet the requirements of DOAJ by the end of the Journal Consulting project. During the application process, JST was able to contact the DOAJ team as necessary to resolve uncertainties around the application criteria and form. As of February 2022, 18 J-STAGE journals have been listed in DOAJ via the Journal Consulting process.

J-STAGE defines “open access” as “free access to articles via an internet connection, with no barriers for anyone to access them and with explicit license information on the use and reuse conditions”. However, in Japan, and also for J-STAGE journals, “open access” has often been confused with “free access”; that is, providing free access either with barriers to access or without explicit licensing conditions. Therefore, J-STAGE also hosts an annual series of four journal development seminars on scholarly publishing to share information gained through journal consulting and DOAJ applications. The seminars provide knowledge and expertise to the editors and executives of many journals that are not able to participate in the Journal Consulting process. Specifically, the seminars have provided overviews of the history and importance of OA, Creative Commons (CC) licenses, and aspects of DOAJ application. They aim to raise the level of knowledge and foster a heightened awareness of the advantages of transitioning to OA and being included in DOAJ.

The Journal Consulting project in 2021 saw the journal development process maturing, whereby different project ‘modules’ were offered to journals depending on their position in the journal development pathway. Modules included Full Transition to OA, Research Data Policy Assessment, Journal Impact Factor (JIF) Compliance, PMC Compliance, Editorial Board Internationalization, and Increasing Submissions. Successful completion of these modules helped journals to meet the requirements for inclusion in DOAJ.

We look forward to continuing to work successfully with DOAJ to increase the number of journals published in Japan that are listed in this valuable resource.

J-STAGE Website:

Open access related materials (Japanese page only):

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