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.

Quality of DOAJ listed journals

A recently published article on a comparison of blacklists and whitelists draws the conclusion that “In the DOAJ, more criteria relate to transparency of business and publishing practices rather than to the quality of peer review. This indicates a risk of falsely endorsing the legitimacy of a journal based on its transparent nature, while at the same time ignoring journals’ lack of best practices in peer review”  

Perhaps we could have done a better job in explaining how DOAJ assess the quality of journals. When the DOAJ list started in 2003, peer review was one of four criteria used in the evaluation.

After the upgrade in 2014, to include more than 40 criteria, it is certainly true that most of these pertain to the transparency of publishing and business practices.

At the same time however, peer review has remained a key criteria for judging the quality of journals that apply for inclusion in the DOAJ index. So the aspect of quality peer review weighs heavily in the assessment of the quality of journals.

In contrast to what the authors of the article state on peer review procedures DOAJ requires peer review by at least two independent reviewers.
Page 13 ; “Both blacklists and whitelists include criteria stating that a journal needs to have a “rigorous” peer review system in place (see list of criteria in supplementary file 2). Both whitelists do not define “rigorous”, however, Cabell’s whitelist implies that peer review should be anonymous and conducted by at least two reviewers.

As stated in the article, peer review is one of the intermediate verifiable criteria. That means that when a publishers states on the website that they have for instance double blind peer-review our editors usually check the correctness of this by verifying an accompanying description of the peer review process. However in case of any doubt concerning the journal’s quality, a special editorial team will do a more detailed analysis on quality criteria including peer review practices, editorial board competence, content comparison of published articles, plagiarism checking and other factors. It is safe to say that our users will have a hard time finding journals in DOAJ with no or inadequate peer review procedures in place.

Because peer review until now has been the holy grail of scientific quality control, it is understandable that people link the quality of, or even the mere presence of peer review with the quality of a given journal. The relationship is unfortunately not so clear cut as many want to believe. Peer review by good connections, friends of friends, even colleagues is often seen. In addition independent peer review panels of experts come to very different conclusions regarding one and the same scholarly work. Because of this, the entire peer review procedure is in a state of rapid change.  Indexing services like the DOAJ have to be aware of the shortcomings of the current system and therefore avoid overrating peer review as THE criteria to assess quality. We think that good publishing practices other than peer review and good quality editorial boards are at least as important and more easy to verify as details of peer review practices.

I want to end with a short word on blacklists. We note that blacklists are depending for a large part on difficult verifiable criteria and subjective judgment, while DOAJ depends largely (77%) on easily verifiable criteria related to transparency and business practices. Blacklists also tend to give a lasting sting to the reputation of journals. More often than not, there exist inadequate and non-transparent procedures for a journal to be removed from a blacklist after improving a journal. For this reason blacklists are often inaccurate and out of date. This risk is even more prominent for one of the lists in the PeerJ study, Bealls list, which has officially stopped to exist but has been resurrected by some people with very unclear policies regarding updates, inclusion and removal of journals from the revived list. In addition, blacklists can never be inclusive, while whitelists are inclusive (ie. most journals in the whitelist will be of good quality while many blacklisted journals will not be predatory at all).

It will not come as a surprise that we strongly recommend to users to  use whitelists and not blacklists to check the quality of journals. Let it also be clear that we do not believe in any complementary nature between both list types and there is another important difference between the (DOAJ) whitelist and blacklists: in contrast to blacklists, DOAJ is not in the business of stigmatizing publishers, rather we spend substantial resources helping journals to improve.

Tom Olijhoek – DOAJ Editor in Chief

El DOAJ, independencia y la importancia de la imparcialidad

El DOAJ recibe regularmente preguntas y, a veces, quejas de bibliotecas, consorcios de bibliotecas y otras instituciones académicas sobre el papel que desempeñan en el DOAJ las editoriales académicas tradicionales. Un error común es que el DOAJ es propiedad de estas organizaciones, o está totalmente subvencionado por ellas, y que el DOAJ sólo beneficia a estas organizaciones. Si usted mirara la página de inicio del DOAJ hace dos años, podríamos entender esta suposición: casi todos nuestros patrocinadores eran editoriales y estaban en nuestra página de inicio. Parecía que el DOAJ era propiedad de estas editoriales.

(Evitar esa idea errónea es también la razón por la cual el DOAJ es muy cuidadoso sobre con quién se asocia). Las organizaciones con las que nos asociamos deben compartir los mismos valores que el DOAJ, tener la misma visión y al menos tener la intención de proporcionar servicios a la comunidad. El DOAJ se enorgullece de asociarse con organizaciones como Redalyc, SciELO, ISSN y COPE.

La suposición de que el DOAJ es propiedad de las editoriales o está totalmente subvencionado por ellas es, por supuesto, incorrecta. Las editoriales desempeñan un importante papel financiero en el apoyo de los servicios que el DOAJ proporciona a todas las partes interesadas. Algunas editoriales nos donan un patrocinio anual; algunas de ellas son miembros de DOAJ como editorial. Estas contribuciones permiten al DOAJ proporcionar servicios continuos, y mejoras a estos servicios. En 2017, las contribuciones de las editoriales representaban el 40% de los ingresos, mientras que las contribuciones de las instituciones del sector público representaban el resto (60%). En 2018, los ingresos de las instituciones del sector público representarán el 70%. Todas las contribuciones al DOAJ son voluntarias; todos los servicios proporcionados por el DOAJ, incluyendo la evaluación de revistas, son gratuitos.

El DOAJ es útil para bibliotecarios, para editores, para investigadores, para estudiantes, para propietarios de revistas, para todos. Más del 50% de nuestro consejo asesor proviene de la comunidad de bibliotecas y consorcios. El DOAJ es global y no está atado a fronteras geográficas. Somos una organización virtual que emplea a personas de todo el mundo y que cuenta con nuestros propios embajadores que fomentan las mejores prácticas en sus territorios de origen. El DOAJ es 100% independiente. El DOAJ es 100% imparcial. La compañía holding del DOAJ, IS4OA C.I.C., está registrada de una manera que hace imposible que el DOAJ sea comprado, adquirido o vendido.

La imparcialidad juega un papel importante en el progreso que el DOAJ ha hecho en los últimos 5 años y el equipo del DOAJ trabaja duro para asegurar que la imparcialidad sea lo más importante en todo lo que hacemos. Esta es una de las razones por las que el DOAJ se adhiere y alienta a otros a adherirse a la transparencia y las buenas prácticas; mejores prácticas que se desarrollan, adoptan y reconocen a nivel internacional. También reconocemos que la aplicación de estas normas y el funcionamiento dentro de ellas puede ser un reto, por lo que tenemos que mantener cierta flexibilidad. Un buen ejemplo sería la concesión de licencias.

licensing

Ejemplo de información sobre licencias de una revista capturada en DOAJ.

A veces nos preguntan: ¿por qué el DOAJ acepta las licencias más restrictivas cuando la definción BOAI (definición a la que el DOAJ se adhiere como uno de sus principios) es muy clara sobre lo que significa “abierto”?

Cuando el DOAJ elaboró su formulario de solicitud ampliado en 2013, vimos muy claro que el DOAJ tenía que aceptar las 6 variaciones de las licencias CCBY, con sus distintos grados de apertura para asegurarnos que el mayor número posible de revistas pudieran solicitar el ingreso en el DOAJ. Al usuario típico del DOAJ se le deben presentar opciones y se le debe permitir tomar una decisión informada basada en la información que mostramos sobre las políticas de licencias y derechos de autor de una revista.

Sin embargo, el DOAJ considera el uso de las licencias CC, en particular el uso de las licencias más abiertas, como una de las mejores prácticas y las promueve como uno de los criterios para el Sello DOAJ.

En 2017 el DOAJ fue el noveno en una lista mundial de plataformas que apoyan el uso de licencias Creative Commons. Creemos que esto es el resultado directo de nuestra preferencia por las licencias CC y la influencia del Sello DOAJ.

Para que una iniciativa como el DOAJ funcione, debe seguir siendo lo más relevante posible en todo el mundo. Debe seguir siendo imparcial e independiente.

 

DOAJ, Independence and the Importance of Impartiality

DOAJ receives regularly questions and, sometimes, complaints from libraries, library consortia and other academic institutions about the role which publishers—by “publishers” I mean the traditional publishing organisations in academic publishing—play in DOAJ. A common misconception is that DOAJ is owned by, or wholly subsidised by these organisations and that DOAJ is only of benefit to these organisations. If you looked at the DOAJ homepage two years ago, you’d be forgiven for making that assumption: nearly all of our sponsors were publishing organisations and they were all on our homepage. It looked like DOAJ was owned by publishers.

(Avoiding that misconception is also why DOAJ is very careful about who it goes into partnership with. The organisations we partner with must share the same values as DOAJ, have the same vision and at least be intent on providing services to the community. DOAJ is proud to call organisations like Redalyc, SciELO, ISSN and COPE partners.)

The assumption that DOAJ is owned by, or wholly subsidised by publishers is of course incorrect. Publishers play an important financial role in supporting the services which DOAJ provides to all stakeholders. Some publishers donate an annual sponsorship to us; some of them are publisher members. These contributions enable DOAJ to provide continuous services, and improvements to these services, for everyone but any direct influence on DOAJ stops there. In 2017 contributions from publishers accounted for 40% of the income, whereas contributions from public sector institutions accounted for the rest (60%). In 2018 income from public sector institutions will account for 70%. All contributions to DOAJ are made voluntarily; all services provided by DOAJ, including the evaluation of journals, are free.

DOAJ is for librarians, for publishers, for researchers, for students, for journal owners, for everyone. More than 50% of our advisory board is from the library and consortia community. DOAJ is global and isn’t tied down to geographic borders. We are a virtual organisation, employing people from all over the world and with our own Ambassadors encouraging best practice in their home territories. DOAJ is 100% independent. DOAJ is 100% impartial. DOAJ’s holding company, IS4OA C.I.C., is registered in a way that makes it impossible for DOAJ to be purchased, acquired or sold.

Impartiality plays a huge role in the progress that DOAJ has made over the last 5 years and the DOAJ Team works hard to ensure that impartiality is foremost in everything we do. This is one of the reasons that DOAJ adheres to, and encourages other to adhere to, transparency, best practice and standards; best practices and standards which are internationally grown, adopted and recognised. We also recognise that applying those standards and operating within them can be challenging so we have to retain a certain amount of flexibility. A good example here would be licensing.

licensing

Example of the licensing information captured by DOAJ about a journal’s policies.

People often ask: why does DOAJ accept some of the more closed licenses when the BOAI definition [that DOAJ follows as a principle] is clear about what open means? When DOAJ put together its extended application form in 2013, it was clear that DOAJ needed to allow 6 variations on the CC BY license, with varying degrees of openness, to ensure that as many titles as possible could apply to be indexed. The typical DOAJ user should be presented with options and they should be allowed to make an informed choice based on the information we display about a journal’s licensing and copyright policies. However, DOAJ considers the use of CC licenses, particularly use of the most open licenses, as Best Practice and we promote that as one of the criteria for the DOAJ Seal.

In 2017 DOAJ was 9th in a worldwide list of platforms supporting the use of Creative Commons licenses. We believe this to be a direct result of our  preference for CC licenses and the influence of the DOAJ Seal.

For an initiative like DOAJ to work, it must remain as relevant as possible around the world. It must remain impartial and it must remain independent.