Open Access Publishing in China

This is a guest post by Xin Bi, DOAJ Ambassador, China.

29da926Following rapid development in the economy and huge investment in R&D, China is now widely recognised as one of the leading countries of the world in terms of the number of published journals and scientific articles. In 2015, there were over 10,000 journals in China, of which 4983 (49.76%) were in Science and Technology, according to the “Statistical Data of Chinese Science and Technology Papers 2015”.


Surprisingly, as of 4 June 2017, only 71 open access journals from China have been registered in DOAJ, which is about 0.75% of the total number of DOAJ indexed journals. If we take 10,000 as the estimated total number of journals in China at this moment, then this suggests only 0.71% of journals in China are open access. From these data people would think the open access movement in China is really lagging behind. Is this true? Does this actually means that Chinese scholars or publishers are not willing to share? The answer is no.

Though it is still in progress, my research on open access publishing in China now means that I have collated a list containing information on more than 1200 journals and I am checking many items of journal information against DOAJ criteria. The findings are quite exciting. I have not finished checking each journal, so I just provide my initial findings here.

Nearly no questionable journals found

In my list there are 1222 journals and the number is still increasing. As only state-owned organizations, such as universities, institutes, academic societies, government bodies and hospitals, are licensed to create a journal, among all the journals in my list, there are no questionable journals found. For any individual it is not possible to register a new journal in China. Some journals are registered overseas, with editorial offices in China, but as they only have one ISSN number and they could not be licensed with a CN series publication number from the Chinese authorities, these journals are not recognized in the academic system in China.

Open as free access

It is surprising to see that many Chinese journals are offering free reading and downloading of their current articles on their website. This could be something we call “free access” rather than true open access according to the BOAI definition and DOAJ practice. In my experience working as a DOAJ ambassador in China, making articles freely available in this way would be regarded as “open access” by many publishers and editors. There could possibly be 1,000 or so journals in my list that are applying this free access practice, as a best estimation at this moment. So we are actually quite open to sharing academic articles in China and editors and scholars are contributing to the open access movement.

Published in Chinese

Due to developments in technology, traditional print journals are now able to release their articles in both print and online format. But, although all the journals studied have a website, nearly all are in Chinese only, both for their website and articles and even abstracts. Making articles online for free access would definitely increase the impact of journals and that is one of the major motives for journal editors. So it is easily understandable that these journals were born in Chinese and their presence online is still in Chinese. However this makes the content only accessible for Chinese speakers in the world.

Some with embargo

Another common misunderstanding of open access in China is the accepted practice of imposing an embargo. As the majority of journals in China still operate under a subscription model for their print version, a period of embargo would certainly be beneficial for the journal, as the editorial office might still rely on the subscription fee of print journals to fund the publishing operation. I could not report an accurate percentage of embargoed free access journals but the feeling is that quite a large number of journals do have embargo policies in place.

Business model exploration

It was interesting to find that, though the number is very small among the 1200 journals in my list, some journals did cease to update their website with full text articles while keeping the site updated with news, announcements and even the table of contents or abstracts of the current issue. This may reflect the exploration of business models in recent years, as people embrace the open access idea but at the same time face financial challenges on sustainability. So some journals have changed back to a pure subscription model, using the website as a way to showcase the journal and increase awareness.

A very small number of journals are collaborating with commercial journal database vendors in China. While these journals provide extensive information online about the journal, for example, editorial boards, instructions to authors, current issue and archive article lists and even abstracts, access to the full text is directed to the commercial journal databases which then generally charge for the downloading of articles. Such commercial agreements would be likely to make a journal hesitate before converting to a free or open access model.

No open access statement and copyright statement

If there could be a clear statement of adherence to the BOAI definition of open access and adoption of Creative Common copyright licenses by Chinese journals, then we would be confident to say that we have quite a large number of open access journals in China, and to be able to increase the number of Chinese journals in DOAJ. However, this will require time and effort to communicate with editors to adopt best practices in academic open access publishing. As only state-owned bodies can be licensed to publish a journal, it generally means that the journals are managed by owners who are not publishers, the editorial office is often quite small and it is hard to make the move to a pure OA model. In fact, having  so many free access journals in China is already quite a big step.

New model of creating open access journals in English

Of the 71 Chinese journals already indexed in DOAJ, 25 of them are published by Elsevier and 7 by Springer. This reflects a new model in academic publishing in China where a university, research institute or hospital could create an English-language journal in partnership with a big brand publisher. With platform and technology support from the publisher as well as funding for the publishing operation, these newly established journals can apply standard open access practice from the very beginning, and usually the publisher rather than the editorial office will then apply for inclusion in DOAJ.

In general, the Chinese government is encouraging sharing, innovative, green and sustainable principles in both economic and social development. The open access publishing model is seen as the trend for the future by editors, scholars, librarians and publishers in China. Due to the different understanding of what is truly an open access journal, there is still work to do in the community in China to move forward to achieve our goals.





Are you publishing in a proper journal?

This is a guest post by Vrushali Dandawate, DOAJ Ambassador, India.



All over the world researchers are spending their time in writing research papers, and everyone wants his or her work to be widely recognised. Most of the time researchers are in a hurry to  publish their research papers, so they may not pay attention to whether they are publishing in a proper journal. Unintentionally many researchers are submitting their research papers to questionable  journals (also known as predatory journals).

1. You may get spam emails or marketing materials from the editor inviting you to publish a paper in their journals.

2. These journals give you a guarantee to publish your paper within a very limited time period.

3. No proper information is given on journal peer review policy.

4. No affiliations are provided for editorial board members, and sometimes editors are listed without their knowledge or permission

5. These journals may not be dedicated to one discipline, but instead publish on a wide range of subjects within one journal.

What is the solution?

As a researcher, academician or librarian you must be able to identify questionable publications.

There are guidelines, tools and services available to help you to avoid publishing with questionable  journals, and to choose a proper journal for your paper.

1 Think Check Submit

This website helps researchers to identify appropriate journals in which to publish their research.

2 Directory of Open Access Journals

DOAJ is a curated index of open access peer reviewed journals that is used by institutions all over the world as a guide to trusted journals where you can safely publish your paper.

3  Open Access Journal Platforms

Developing country authors can also choose to publish their article in journals available in aggregation platforms such as African Journals Online (AJOL), SciELO and Redalyc. Journals are evaluated according to a number of criteria regarding their publishing practices before they can be included in AJOL.

4  AuthorAID

AuthorAID is working to increase the success rate of developing country researchers in achieving publication, and to increase the visibility and influence of research in the developing world. AuthorAID achieves these objectives through networking, resources, training and mentoring. Membership is free, and you can find a mentor through the AuthorAID database or by asking the AuthorAID discussion list about experiences of particular journals.

Find a mentor to publish your research


India leads in Gold Open Access Publishing – fake or genuine?

This is a guest post by Leena Shah, DOAJ Ambassador, India.

CroppedImage_LeenaIt is interesting to note that since the introduction of new criteria for DOAJ listing in March 2014, we have received the highest number of new applications from Open Access journal publishers in India, followed by those in Indonesia, USA, Brazil and Iran. From around 1600 new applications received from India since March 2014 only 4% were accepted, with 78% of the applications rejected for various reasons and approximately 18% still in process.

Looking at the high volume of new applications from OA publishers wanting to be listed in DOAJ, it would seem that the Gold OA publishing model is well accepted and understood in India. But three quarters of the DOAJ applications from India in the last three years have been rejected – often for being questionable, duplicate applications or for not being a journal at all! Two things emerge from this – firstly that there may be many genuine, small-time publishers who lack knowledge of best practices in journal publishing, and secondly the increasing number of unscrupulous publishers in this region exploiting the gold OA model, claiming to be legitimate journals in order to pocket the Article Processing Charge (APC) from the author but providing little or no editorial services in return. With the new criteria for listing in DOAJ implemented in 2014, OA journal publishers are required to furnish APC information, and out of the 74 new applications that have been accepted from India since then and are currently listed in DOAJ, 52 journals do not charge any APC. A complete list of OA journals published in India and currently in DOAJ that do not charge APC is available here.

India also emerges as one of the top three countries behind USA and Indonesia for generating traffic to the DOAJ website (usage statistics based on number of user sessions). With this being the case, why are researchers still publishing in fake journals?

Many articles have been published about the rise of research fraud in the last few years, with researchers and academicians from major academic institutions in India and national institutes publishing in fake/substandard journals for career advancement. Recently this led to a small but important development in scholarly communication. To nudge researchers towards publishing in peer-reviewed and credible journals, the University Grants Commission (UGC) announced in January 2017 an approved list of journals for the Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) and the direct recruitment of teachers and academic staff.  This is a dynamic list of 38,653 legitimate journals across disciplines. This list is to be viewed as an evolving document which will need major revisions to make it comprehensive and available in a format that is easier to analyse and interpret. In March 2017, DOAJ submitted a request to UGC to include Open Access journals that are listed in DOAJ in the approved list.

In other developments across the region, Open Access India, an online community of practice with volunteer members, launched in 2011 to advocate Open Access, Open Data and Open Education in India, submitted a proposal in February 2017 to the Ministry of Human Resource Department (HRD) and Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India, for a National Open Access Policy to mandate Open Access for all public funded research in the country. In February 2017, an Open Access India community initiative, AgriXiv hosted by the Open Science Framework, was launched to provide free, open access archives for preprints related to agriculture and allied sciences.

Other noteworthy OA resources in India include Listing of Open Access Databases (LOADB)  a portal launched in October 2015, which offers a classified and categorized listing of Open Access databases. This was developed by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – Unit for Research and Development of Information Products (URDIP).

Shodhganga is a national digital repository maintained by INFLIBNET Centre that facilitates Open Access to Indian theses and dissertations submitted to Indian universities. At present 307 universities in India have signed a MoU with INFLIBNET Centre.

Finally, some of the national research institutes such as:

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Department of Science & technology (DST) have adopted an Open Access mandate. According to the mandate, researchers funded by these organisations are required to submit the final accepted version (without publisher formatting) of the paper to their institutional repository after verifying the archiving policy of the journal publisher. This Green OA model has its challenges in implementation and building awareness of OA, but for a large country like India where scientific output is high there is room for both Green as well as Gold OA.


Arunachalam, S., & Muthu, M. (2011). Open Access to Scholarly Literature in India—A Status Report (with Emphasis on Scientific Literature). Centre for Internet and Society.

Seethapathy, G. S., Kumar, J. S., & Hareesha, A. S. (2016). India’s scientific publication in predatory journals: need for regulating quality of Indian science and education. CURRENT SCIENCE, 111(11), 1759.

Pushkar (2016, June 21). The UGC deserves applause for trying to do something about research fraud. The Wire. Retrieved from



This is a guest post by Ivonne Lujano, DOAJ Ambassador, Latin America

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A current search in the DOAJ database reveals that there are 916 journals from Latin America and the Caribbean that have been accepted after the implementation of stricter DOAJ criteria in March 2014. This represents approximately 16% of the journals that have gone through an evaluation process led by the DOAJ team. As it is stated in DOAJ policy, the criteria implemented emphasize the transparency of information presented by the journals to their users, which aims to improve quality and visibility of the scientific output published in peer reviewed journals.

Latin America has an extensive  background in open access journals publishing and, consequently, journals assessment policies are well developed. Different criteria for reviewing the quality of journals have been developed in the region by mainly two types of agencies: 1) national systems of evaluation (in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, etc.), with different levels of complexity and implementation according to the purposes of assessment, for instance, to allocate funds to the journals; and 2) regional systems of scientific information, i.e. Latindex, SciELO and Redalyc, which have similar indexing criteria (de Oliveira Amorim et al., 2015). Because of these evaluation systems there has been a significant growth of quality in Latin American journals according to international publishing standards in the last few years.

However, there are still some challenges to push forward the Latin American OA model, specially in two key aspects that are related to the level of openness: transparency on charges for authors and copyright & permission policies.

The Latin American non APC model

One of the main characteristics of the predominant journals publishing model in Latin America is that articles are published without costs to authors. This non APC model is possible because of the public funds that journals receive from national or institutional budgets, resources to be managed by, mostly, scholarly publishers such as university presses. Different stakeholders in the region support the idea of staying as a non-commercial OA model despite some trends of charging different fees to authors and their institutions. Vessuri, Guédon & Cetto (2014) have raised awareness that in a context of competition, commercial publishers are seeing the potential of Latin American journals as an opportunity to make a profit from offering publishing services, which eventually could shift the non-commercial model. According to DOAJ data, only 8% of journals included from Latin America have APCs, which range from $4 up to $1400 US. These journals are edited in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru, and 62.6% of them are managed by associations and societies. Most journals edited by universities and research centres have no charges; however, there are some journals funded by public federal and state-level universities that charge minimal amounts to authors in order to cover some services, for instance, the cost of the DOI assigned for the article published. In any case, DOAJ strongly encourages editors to give transparent information on this topic because is still common to see journals with a lack of details on the charges levied.

Copyright and permissions in Latin American journals

Despite the success of the open access publishing model in Latin America, there are still some important challenges in this region in terms of permissions to use, reuse, adapt and remix the contents. Based on DOAJ data, 89% of indexed Latin American journals have adopted Creative Commons licenses to distribute their articles. Nevertheless, only half of these journals (49.1%) use the CC-BY license, which allows others to use the materials for any lawful purpose with the only requirement being the correct attribution of authorship and source of publication. One third of the Brazilian journals indexed in DOAJ use this license; only 14% of Colombian journals have the same policy. One of the major concerns among editors in Latin America is still commercial use: 45.8% of journals allow readers to use the articles only for non-commercial purposes. The use of the CC-BY-NC license represents 23.9% of Latin American journals listed in DOAJ, followed by 14.9% of journals using the CC-BY-NC-ND license and 6.9% that have adopted the CC-BY-NC-SA license.

The use of the most open license (CC-BY) is still controversial in Latin America because publishers mistrust the terms of this license, which represents a big challenge for open access advocacy. The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) recommends this license as it assures a wider reuse and distribution of content, e.g. the use in education practices. DOAJ accepts journals that use any CC license, but also encourages the adoption of the more unrestricted licenses. In order to achieve the DOAJ Seal for best practice in open access publishing, a journal cannot apply the most restrictive CC licenses for sharing scientific articles, i.e. CC BY-ND or CC BY-NC-ND.   


The Latin American open access publishing model is going through a period full challenges, especially when some governments have serious budgetary difficulties in Science & Technology and Higher Education systems.

In spite of that, there are many advantages of this model. One of them is the level of cohesion of editors that have worked in collaboration for the improvement of quality. Author charges and copyright policies are still important concerns in Latin America, and DOAJ is committed to collaborate with publishers of this region in order to improve best practice, as well as openness for readers and for authors.


De Oliveira Amorim et al. (2015) Evaluation Systems of Scientific Journals in Latin America, in: Alperin, J. and Fischman, G. (eds.) Made in Latin America : open access, scholarly journals, and regional innovations Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires: CLACSO.

Vessuri, H., Guédon, J.C., Cetto, A.M. (2014) Excellence or quality? Impact of the current competition regime on science and scientific publishing in Latin America and its implications for development, Current Sociology, Vol. 62(5) 647 –665, DOI: 10.1177/0011392113512839


Open Access Journals Strategy in Algeria

This is a guest post by Kamel Belhamel, DOAJ Ambassador, North Africa

algeriaThe importance of Open Access (OA) was recently recognised by Algerian scientists, libraries and publishers. Until recently, Algerian researchers preferred to publish their papers in European journals with an impact factor, in order to achieve certain personal goals (e.g. better career opportunities and advancement, CV fortification, etc.), however the Western system of scholarly publishing often stigmatizes developing country research as local rather than international.

One of the most important OA journal promoters in Algeria at this time is DGRSDT (National Council of Scientific Research and Technology of Algeria). Since 2015, the DGRSDT has organised workshops and supports Algerian editors in the implementation of open science. Many of those editors don’t have the experience of ensuring the quality and the transparency of the editorial process. Out of 359 Algerian scientific journals listed by the DGRSDT, only 7 are indexed in the DOAJ (or 1.95 %). Most of the scientific journals, supported via institutional memberships, don’t have a website and are only published on paper. So there is a need to develop a method for determining the quality of these journals and to help Algerian scientific journals to become more visible on the internet, thereby making them accessible and discoverable for the international community.

In response to the important need of access to scholarly content by the Algerian research community, the DGRSDT has started a project with the goal of collecting and publishing all information about Algerian editors and their scientific journals, thereby ensuring that research publications and research data will be publicly available on the internet. This project seeks to achieve, a) development of training programmes with editors, b) promotion of the exchange of ideas and experience among Algerian editors, c) establish global collaborative efforts by co-operating with international editors and organizations in the advancement of open access. Furthermore, following a recent meeting with myself, the DGRSDT has published a recommendation that all Algerian journals become familiar with the DOAJ criteria and apply for indexing in DOAJ. This is an important step toward the visibility of Algerian journals at an international level.

Since printed journals are costly and have very low visibility, one of the initiatives that is especially interesting is the launch a portal of Algerian scientific journals by the Research Centre on Scientific and Technical Information (CERIST). This portal, named Webreview, is open to anyone wishing to publish journal content online, either open or closed access, allows the development of scientific research in Algeria and will increase its visibility. Although DGRSDT is aware of the importance of OA repositories, they are still too small and there remains something to be done at both institutional and national level.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has already decided that PhD students can defend their theses by publishing their papers in Algerian OA journals indexed in Scopus, Web of Science, DOAJ, etc. This positive initiative will surely increase the number of Algerian OA journals and will generate considerable added value to science.

Policy updates: open access statement and user registration

Open Access Statement

Until recently, DOAJ has insisted that journals state very clearly on their web site a full and detailed open access statement, preferably one that follows closely the Budapest Open Access Initiative definition.

From 8th September, DOAJ will accept a short open access statement—even as short as ‘This journal is open access.’—but ONLY in combination with a Creative Commons licensing statement, or equivalent licensing statement, on the same page and, preferably, in the same paragraph. As always, this statement must be on the journal web site and not held on a different site. If the licensing statement is not on the same page as the open access statement then the extended open access statement complying with BOAI definition will be required.

User Registration

From August 2016, DOAJ no longer accepts journals that require users to register to view the full text. This change was put into effect immediately. As DOAJ reviews journals that are already in DOAJ, as part of their regular update work, they will remove those journals that require registration and notify the publishers.

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