Why do we ask applicants to wait 6 months before they apply again?

When we reject an application, the rejection email contains details about why the application was not successful and usually tells applicants that they must wait 6 months before submitting another application for the same journal to us. Why do we do this?

One reason is that it is an attempt to discourage repeat applications, made in haste, and we get many, many of those. Repeat and duplicate applications clog up the system and take our dedicated volunteers and team away from those applications which need some time spent on them. (In 10 months alone, DOAJ received 221 duplicate applications!)

The other reason is that many of the recommendations that we make in our rejection emails, recommendations made to help journals meet our criteria, take time to implement. Adding words to a website isn’t enough. Changes need to be implemented properly, communicated to stakeholders, tested, and managed. Some changes will require other parties to implement changes too. This all takes time. After the 6 months has passed, we welcome a new application but we ask that the journal website demonstrates very clearly that our recommendations have been put into practice and our editorial team will be very careful to check that all our recommendations have been implemented.

Large Scale Publisher Survey reveals Global Trends in Open Access Publishing

9th January 2019 – A survey of publishers with journals indexed in DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) has revealed surprising trends in the way that content is published; what types of organisations are publishing the content; on how publishing standards are being accepted globally; and geographical trends on the uptake of open access.

The survey was sent out by DOAJ to its 6000+ account holders, that is to say publishers, in the Summer of 2018. Account holders were allowed one response each, regardless of how many journals they have in that account and all accounts have at least 1 journal active in DOAJ. The total number of responses returned was 1065. Answers revealed some interesting facts, especially when compared to answers provided in the last publisher survey carried out in 2013.

All links point to the underlying data.

  • Type of publishing organisation:
    Out of survey respondents, the top 5 most common types of publishing organisation in DOAJ are: University Department or Press, Non-commercial Publisher, Library publisher, Research centre and Society publisher. (It should be noted however that in terms of pure output, the top ten organisations in DOAJ account for just over a third of the 3.6 million articles indexed. Eight of the top ten organisations are commercial publishers.) 
  • Geographical spread:
    The geographical spread between 2013 and 2018 remains relatively unchanged apart from two notable exceptions. Open access in Indonesia has become de rigueur. In 2013, DOAJ received 9 survey responses from Indonesia; in 2018 that jumped to 155, the most responses from any one country in the 2018 Survey. Conversely, responses from India fell from 101 in 2013 to just 11 in 2018. (The number of Indian journals in DOAJ has fallen from 643 in 2013 to 254 in 2018.) The Top 5 countries providing responses in 2018 were Indonesia, Brazil, Spain, Romania and USA; in 2013 it was Brazil, Spain, India, Romania and Italy. 
  • DOIs for articles:
    While the DOI is an internationally recognised publishing technology, for some the financial and technical barrier to use of DOIs is a problem. In 2013, only 35% of respondents used DOIs; in 2018 this has jumped to 73%*. However, when publishers were asked why they did not use DOIs the 5 most common words given in responses are: implementing, cost, funding, financial, paying.
    * see note 
  • Article metadata:
    More publishers are supplying metadata to DOAJ than ever before; even more would if the process was easier and yet, for many article metadata is still a mystery. The number of respondents providing article metadata to DOAJ has increased from 55% in 2013 to 84% in 2018. When asked which format of metadata publishers would like to supply to DOAJ, 46% said they preferred CrossRef, while 8% said JATS. However, 42% of all 2018 respondents said that they didn’t understand what a metadata format was so there is much work to do here! 
  • Benefits of being indexed in DOAJ:

Our respondents said that the top 3 benefits of being indexed in DOAJ in 2018 are:

  1. Certification that our journal(s) are quality publications
  2. Increased readership
  3. Increased scientific impact

In 2013, it was:

  1. Increased visibility of content
  2. Certification of the journals
  3. Prestige

74% of respondents said that submissions had definitely or maybe increased since being indexed in DOAJ while over 70% thought that traffic had increased to their sites.

  • Predatory publishing:
    Predatory publishing really isn’t considered to be a big deal for DOAJ publishing community. 62% of respondents said that they didn’t have to deal with competition from predatory publishers or journals. There was no equivalent question in 2013.
     
  • Research Assessment:
    It’s where you publish that counts.” 86% of respondents said that in their countries researchers are evaluated on where they publish rather than what they publish. There was no equivalent question in 2013.

Building on these findings the DOAJ team will continue to adapt and develop its systems, in accordance with its strategy, to ensure that the DOAJ platform meets user needs, particularly those needs of the global publishing community. After all the platform consists entirely of journal and article metadata, all of which (bar one exception) is provided by the publishers themselves.

Contact
Dom Mitchell
Operations Manager
dom@doaj.org


About DOAJ Directory of Open Access Journals

DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. DOAJ is independent. All funding is via donations, 40% of which comes from sponsors and 60% from members and publisher members. All DOAJ services are free of charge including being indexed in DOAJ. All data is freely available.

DOAJ’s mission is to increase the visibility, accessibility, reputation, usage and impact of quality, peer-reviewed, open access scholarly research journals globally, regardless of discipline, geography or language. DOAJ will work with editors, publishers and journal owners to help them understand the value of best practice publishing and standards and apply those to their own operations. DOAJ is committed to being 100% independent and maintaining all of its services and metadata as free to use or reuse for everyone.

DOAJ Progress Report for 2018

A very Happy New Year to all our readers. We wish you all the best for 2019. It’s going to be an exciting year for DOAJ and for open access. Much of the work which you can read about below will come to fruition in 2019 , as well as new opportunities presenting themselves.

With a revised set of Principles of Transparency and Best Practice and a new mission,  DOAJ started 2018 by publishing its strategy to show the community where DOAJ is focussing its efforts: a) funding and sustainability; b) functionality, stability and scalability; c) education and outreach. 

Financially, DOAJ has seen the benefits of the SCOSS initiative, with more than 60% of all monies being donated from the public sector:

Income 2017 and 2018 per category in £ (GBPs)  
 2017 2018
Libraries89,00026%282,86746%
Library Consortia86,00026%146,59024%
Research Funders31,0009%45,9008%
Smaller Publishers8,0002%4,4711%
Sponsors123,00036%129,55521%
     
Total337,000 609,383 

Below are details of the major projects that we have undertaken in 2018. The terms in brackets correspond to the three arms of the strategy. If you have any questions about them, or would like to know more, please get in touch: dom@doaj.org.The full details of DOAJ finances are always posted on the IS4OA website.

1. Faster evaluation of journals (funding and sustainability)

We have made excellent progress in this area and this will be of real interest to many of our stakeholders, particularly the publishers. For the first time since before 2013, we do not have a backlog of applications waiting to be triaged*. Here are the changes we made which led to this excellent result:

From mid-December 2017 to mid-December 2018, Triage rejected without review over 2000 poorly completed applications, removing them from the system so that they wouldn’t end up with the editorial teams.

  • We carried out a full editorial workflow review to identify bottlenecks and areas where we could become more efficient. The goal was to make the customer experience smoother and more uniform, and cut down turnaround times.   
  • We have created a monthly report which identifies applications which are stuck (we haven’t received a response from the journal contact), or which are reaching an age of 6 months. This has helped to focus activities on those applications which need it the most.
  • *We expanded our “Triage process” to include many more preliminary checks and have re-organised how Triage assigns applications to editors for review. (The purpose of Triage is to filter out all poor quality, incorrect or incomplete applications so that they do not clog up the editorial queues.) This has resulted in faster turnaround times, since fewer low quality applications are making their way through Triage.
  • We introduced a ‘Quick Reject’ email feature which allows journals rejected at Triage to get an instant notification that their application has failed Triage. The automated email contains the reason for rejection. Prior to this feature some applicants were having to wait before getting an answer that their application had fallen at the first hurdle.
  • We made it easier for quality applications to be allocated directly to a reviewer, rather than sitting in a holding pattern waiting to be processed. We did this by creating a method of grouping applications and enabling Triage to allocate all of them in the same way.
  • We have reduced the amount of people that an account holder comes into contact with. This improves transparency and also cuts down turnaround times.
  • We have strengthened API capabilities so that any account holder can send us applications in bulk automatically via the API. The same goes for uploading or correcting article metadata and updating journal metadata.

The primary goal of these changes is to free up resource, resource which is better focussed on reviewing and processing the “good” applications. This project has been incredibly effective and we are very happy with the results here.

2. Improved monitoring of journal compliance and systemic weeding campaign (funding and sustainability)

The introduction of an update function allowed us to make systematic journal entry reviews more focussed and more effective. These are undertaken as each update is submitted. Further reviews are taken across our larger multi-journal accounts where, as far as possible, we have tried to establish common metadata entries across all journals belonging to the same publishing entity.

As well as manual reviewing, we have undertaken 2 major automated reviews of our data: one for broken URLs and one for erroneous ISSNs. Both revealed problematic entries in the database which we were then able to target and either correct or remove. This was a new approach for us and one which is easily repeatable at any point in the future.

The result of this work is that we can categorically state that the metadata is purer and cleaner than it has ever been before, both at journal and article level. The metadata is now more correct and up-to-date than it has ever been. For example, an automated review of URLs in the database recently revealed that 121 journals in the database had broken URLs. That’s just 1% of all journals in DOAJ.

3. Enable greater collaboration with organisations to enrich metadata (education and outreach)

Much of the ability to enrich metadata must come after the refactoring work (see point 7 below) is complete. However, this hasn’t stopped us making a little progress in this area. We had already met with Altmetric in February 2017 to discuss the integration of alternative metrics into DOAJ. A sticking point then which limited the usefulness of such a feature is that a large amount (maybe almost 50%) of the article metadata had no DOI. We are working to improve this figure.

In 2018, DOAJ renewed its partnerships with Research4Life, ISSN ROAD, OCLC and Think.Check.Submit. DOAJ entered into new partnerships with Digital Science, Library Publishing Coalition, Creative Commons, Science Afrique and C4DISC. We are also working closely with the OJS team since so many of the journals in DOAJ use the OJs software.

4. Strengthen coverage and diversity in terms of language and geography, including an extended Ambassador programme and translated materials (education and outreach)

This is another area in which we have made excellent progress. We have undertaken the following initiatives:

  • Acquisitions: a common criticism of DOAJ is that it doesn’t include every open access journal. We have done work to identify groups of quality, peer-reviewed open access journals and are in the middle of assessing each journal and contacting them. We hope to entice new journals to DOAJ, or journals which didn’t remain in the database after the Reapplication project.

    One thing that has become clear very quickly is that a common reason for these journals to not be in DOAJ is that they simply do not meet our criteria. Another reason is that some non-English journals do not want to be in an English-based  website. See the Translation item below.

  • Video tutorials: we have published the first in a series of video tutorials. The videos are tailor-made, addressing areas and themes where we receive the most questions or feedback from users, including account holders. We have collected together ideas for at least 10 more tutorials.
  • Cognitive justice: DOAJ adopted the theme of cognitive justice into its strategy. We have attended several events dedicated to this topic. We commissioned a guest post on our blog, we have addressed the issue at a workshop and we have worked the theories of cognitive justice into our materials and modus operandi. We are also a founding partner in setting up a network for the promotion of French language journals and platforms called LIRAJ.  
  • Workshops in Indonesia and Korea: 3 countries were identified as target areas after our Reapplications project completed: Indonesia, Korea and Japan. DOAJ has held workshops in Indonesia and Korea to encourage quality applications from these countries. We have recruited and trained volunteers as Associate Editors and Ambassadors in both countries. We are deferring activities in Japan until 2019 to allow for the work in Indonesia and Korea to bed in.
  • Translated content to increase accessibility to DOAJ: in a coordinated effort with OASPA, WAME and COPE, DOAJ has led an exercise to translate the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Open Access Publishing. To date, we have received translations in 16 languages which will be published on the 4 partner websites. Nine languages are currently live and the first two translations, Spanish and Portuguese, were published to coincide with the 20 Year Anniversary of Scielo. We have also installed Google Translate on the DOAJ website as a first step to help localising some of the web site content. As with all automated translation tools, we know that it is far from perfect so we will begin working on further manual website translations in 2019.
  • Questionable publishing: after a coordinated campaign from several countries’ national newspapers to portray the problem of questionable publishing in an exaggerated light, DOAJ has been instrumental in putting the problem into the correct perspective with blog posts and courses. We have more work to do in this area!
5. Governance (funding and sustainability)

The development and implementation of a governance structure is almost complete. In December, DOAJ published its new governance model which was created with input from the existing advisory board. The new governance structure enables all of those organisations who fund DOAJ to nominate individuals from their organisation to sit on the DOAJ board. DOAJ will be announcing the details of nominations and elections later this month.

6. Account holder survey  (funding and sustainability)

We sent out a survey to the community of 6000+ DOAJ account holders asking for their opinions on what we should be developing next, benefits of being indexed in DOAJ, technologies that they employ etc. We had 1065 responses with a response rate of 25% which is excellent for an online survey. The results from the survey and some deeper analysis will be published later this month.

7. Refactoring Project (functionality, stability and scalability)

Last but certainly not least, we have undertaken a huge amount of work to stabilise the foundation that the DOAJ database sits on. It’s tecchy to a level which certainly won’t appeal to everyone but it is unarguably the most important piece of work that we have done this year and, it turns out, already puts us in an excellent position for whatever 2019 and 2020 will throw at us.

DOAJ receives more than 75,500 hits per day to the site. The API received 130,804,030 hits in the first 6 months of 2018 alone. The database holds 4.3 million pieces of article metadata

In 2014, when DOAJ was relaunched on its current platform, the database was receiving about 22,000 hits per day. Today, we are seeing figures upwards of 75,500 per day (averaging 1.2 million hits per month), plus an increase in traffic from referrals (75% of all DOAJ traffic comes via referrals), plus huge amounts of activity via our API (2018: 266,255,000 hits; 2017 total: 187,212,674). In 2014, the database held about 2 million pieces of article metadata; today it is about 4.3 million. The need for a holistic, strategic approach was very real to ensure that there would be no surprises along what is turning out to be a 3-year project.

In December 2017, DOAJ and its technical partner, Cottage Labs, finalised the list of tasks. To date, we have completed 20 of the 40 original tasks, although the remaining 20 tasks are bigger and meatier chunks of work which will take us well into 2019 and beyond. If you’d like details, let me know.

Some other things that we have done to ensure that we have a stable and scalable back-end:

  • Upgrades required to protect DOAJ from the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities.
  • Machine snapshots, security updates, and resize operations across 4 servers
  • Increased our number of developer days at our technical partner to 20 days per month which was seen as a necessary increase if DOAJ was to achieve everything that it sets out to do in its strategy document.
  • Made data at DOAJ secure, following the recommendations laid out by the GDPR which came into effect in May.
  • Limited unintended access to the query endpoint.
  • Greater integration into Google Analytics.