DOAJ’s Basic criteria – updated and rewritten in plain English

We are rewriting our website in plain English so that it is easy for our users, especially publishers, to understand what is required for a good quality and complete application.

These are first steps to us:

  1. becoming even more open and transparent;
  2. offering a greatly improved user experience for a new application form
  3. starting a localisation project to offer elements of the website in languages other than English.

Today the basic criteria are mixed with the advanced criteria on a very wordy page and in our application form. It is hard to tell which is which. The advanced criteria are only required for a journal wishing to get the DOAJ Seal.

This leads many to believe that a journal has to have the Seal to be indexed in DOAJ. This is not true.

So here are our basic criteria – rewritten, updated and offered in simple, clear language. These will soon be available on our website as part of our new ‘Guide to applying’.

Let us know what you think.


The type of journal that can apply

Open access journals published in any language may apply.

  • The journal must be actively publishing scholarly research
    • All research subject areas are accepted
    • Should publish at least 5 research articles per year 
  • The primary target audience should be researchers or practitioners

The type of open access

  • DOAJ only accepts open access journals. 
  • We define these as journals where the copyright holder of a scholarly work grants usage rights to others using an open license (Creative Commons or equivalent) allowing for immediate free access to the work and permitting any user to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose.
  • The journal must display an open access statement indicating that it fulfils the DOAJ definition of open access.
  • The full text of all content must be available for free and open access without delay
    • No embargo period
    • Requiring users to register to read content is not accepted
    • A charge for the print version of a journal is permitted

The journal website

  • The journal must have its own dedicated URL and homepage that is accessible from any location
  • The website must be clear and easy to navigate
  • The journal  should adhere to the guidelines described in the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing
  • Each article must be available as an individual, full-text article
    • one unique URL per article
    • HTML or PDF, as a minimum

The following information must be available online, and easily accessible from the journal homepage: 

  • Open access policy
  • Aims and scope
  • Editorial board (including institutional affiliations of all members)
  • Instructions for authors
  • Editorial process (peer review)
  • Licensing terms
  • Copyright terms
  • Author charges
    • If a journal doesn’t have any charges then this must be stated
    • Must include all fees that may be charged to the author, from submission to publication, including:
      • submission fees
      • editorial processing charges
      • article processing charges (APCs)
      • page charges
      • colour charges
  • Contact details
    • The contact details must include a real name and the journal’s dedicated email address
    • The country in the application and on the journal website must be the country where the publisher is registered and carries out its business activities

ISSN

  • A journal must have at least one ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) which is registered and confirmed at issn.org.
  • The ISSN(s) must be displayed on the website.
  • The name of the journal in the application and on the website must match what is shown at issn.org.

Editorial process

  • A journal must have an editor and an editorial board. 
    • The editorial board must be listed on the website.
    • The name and affiliation of all editors and board members must be included.
    • If the journal is run by a student body, it must have an advisory board of which at least two members have a PhD or equivalent.
  • All articles must pass through a quality control system (peer review) before publication.
    • The type and details of the peer review process must be stated clearly on the website.

Licensing

  • The licensing terms for use and re-use of the published content must be clearly stated on the website.
  • DOAJ recommends the use of Creative Commons licenses for this purpose. 
  • If Creative Commons licensing is not used, similar terms and conditions should be applied.
    • Extra care must be taken to state these terms clearly. 

Copyright

  • The copyright terms applied to the published content must be clearly stated and separate from the copyright terms applied to the website.
  • Copyright terms must not contradict the licensing terms or the terms of the open access policy.
    • “All rights reserved” is never appropriate for open access content.

Footnote

Applications that contain information that is inaccurate or wrong, or that have answers missing, are automatically rejected.

Journals that are rejected must wait 6 months from the date of rejection before applying again unless otherwise advised by DOAJ.

UPDATE ON REAPPLICATIONS AND NEW APPLICATIONS

In March 2014 DOAJ implemented much more detailed criteria for listing, which enabled DOAJ to provide granular information enabling universities, research funders and governments to check journals for compliance with Open Access policy and mandate requirements. 
 
This led to a reapplication process that was a necessary step towards ensuring that all journals in DOAJ (of which there were about 10000) met the stricter criteria. The criteria were produced as a response to the increasing demands from various stakeholders about transparency of open access journals and to retain DOAJ’s relevancy and importance for the stakeholders in open access publishing.
 
During the last 32 months DOAJ has accepted 3,700 journals, rejected 6,500 applications, monitored journals on a daily basis, removed 1,450 journals and delisted 2,850 journals for not re-applying to stay indexed. DOAJ also receives more than 300 new applications per month. 
This large number of reapplications and new applications is taking longer to process than we had envisaged and the team at DOAJ are doing our best to handle them promptly and efficiently. We would like to thank you for your patience in these last months.
 
Please do not hesitate to contact DOAJ at feedback@doaj.org if you have any questions about your application.
 
We take this opportunity to thank for all the support we get from academic libraries, library consortia, research funders, publishers and aggregators.
Many thanks and best wishes for the New Year!
 

DOAJ is raising the quality bar for open access: SPARC blog post

DOAJ’s managing director, Lars Bjørnshauge, has been interviewed by SPARC about DOAJ’s enhanced application form and raising the quality bar in open access publishing. The post, published today, highlights how effectively the new form is providing a much-needed filter against questionable, unethical and non-transparent publishing practices.  Combined with OASPA’s efforts, the form is an important tool for fighting  “the scholarly community’s legitimate concerns over the quality of Open Access journals” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC. “The actions that the DOAJ are taking… provide an important new safeguard, and helps raise the quality bar.”

Of course, we are delighted to hear that our efforts over the past two years are bearing fruit. With financial support from the community, via sponsorships and donations, we have worked hard to implement the new form and its comprehensive administration system that our volunteers use to review the applications. We are also helping publishers improve their practices, helping them understand how their operations can be more “professional, ethical, and transparent”.

DOAJ will not be resting on its laurels quite yet though as there is still much left to do. DOAJ is currently inviting 99% of all the journals indexed in it to reapply. It is anticipated that this process take the rest of this year to complete, progress of course depending on how fast publishers return their reapplications to us. The review work requires a large amount of manpower so we are seeking further financial contributions to help us speed up the process and more volunteers who know Turkish, Indonesian, Farsi, Spanish and Portuguese.

If you or your institutions would like to donate, you can do so here: http://doaj.org/supportDoaj. If you know anyone who might like to volunteer a few hours of their time reviewing applications with us, please show them this post.

Onwards!

Applications: a note about Archiving and Preservation

One of the questions in our Application Form asks: ‘What digital archiving policy does the journal use?’ (Question 25). The words “archive” and “archiving” are used frequently in academic publishing and more often than not refer to very different things so I want to add some clarity to what DOAJ is referring to with this question.

It is a sad truth that some online only, open access journals have disappeared offline without any trace, taking published articles with them. When those articles have no permanent article identifiers, nor have they been archived with an archival organisation, then they are potentially lost forever.

Long term deep archiving and digital preservation

Archiving and preservation plays an important role for all journals, particularly if those archives are ‘dark’ archives that have an intention of preserving materials for a very long time. They may have the ability to start serving content when the normal content source stops working. They may apply formal methods of preserving content to ensure minimal or no digital deterioration.

The 3 deep archiving schemes that we list in Question 25—LOCKSS, CLOCKSS, and Portico—are all recognised archiving agencies and are listed as such at The Keepers Registry (KR). More on the KR in a future post. LOCKSS (or Global LOCKSS Network) is essentially like a digital bookshelf where libraries have perpetual access to content to which they are entitled. CLOCKSS is a not-for-profit, dark archive, that preserves digital scholarly materials for the very long term, through a global and geopolitically distributed network of archive nodes. Portico is a company offering comprehensive archiving and preservation techniques.

We also recognise ‘PMC/Europe PMC/PMC Canada’ (PubMed Central) as a valid archiving option. They have a remit to preserve copies of research content that has been funded by public money. Unlike the previous 3 options, they convert the content they receive into their own format, archive copies and distribute copies to their own local repositories.

The final option in Question 25 is ‘a national library’ and we add this option because many (although not all) national libraries have a mandate to receive, via legal deposit, and preserve a copy of anything published in their countries. Although it doesn’t cover all countries, Wikipedia has a good list of such libraries.

What is not a deep archive

So let me quickly cover also what doesn’t count as a valid archiving option:

  • an online hosting platform (e.g. OJS)
  • a 3rd party aggregator (e.g. EBSCO) that you have licensed to reuse or distribute your content
  • a journal’s back issues or older articles made available on its own site (often, confusingly, referred to as the journal’s archives)
  • an institutional repository which often has author preprints and not the final article.

Hopefully this post has add some clarity to our archiving question but, as always, get in touch if you have any questions.

 

A progress report from DOAJ

Since we opened our new application form on 19th March 2014, 187 new journals have been accepted into the DOAJ. All 187 journals meet the new and extended DOAJ criteria, as required by the new application form. 13 applications have been rejected outright and a further 127 applications are pending further information or clarification from the publisher. In the same period, the number of journals removed from DOAJ, because they failed to meet DOAJ criteria, is 9. This is on top of the 92 journals that were removed in the first quarter of 2014.

Even though the DOAJ application form grew from 6 to 56 questions, the simple fact that we now request more information from a publisher upfront means that our editorial team is able to assess a journal’s honesty, transparency and value more effectively than before. With the Associate Editors and Editors coming on board, we will be well prepared for the existing ~9700 journals already in DOAJ when they begin the reapplication process.

We currently estimate that the reapplication process will begin in earnest in the 3rd quarter of this year.  We will email every publisher to let them know when they may reapply. By the end of 2014, we hope to have a large number of journals reapplied and re-accepted into DOAJ.

[Updated 18th August 2014]

Some minor edits to the Application form

Thanks to feedback from the community, we’ve been able to make some small changes and clarifications to the Application form.

We haven’t changed anything that affects the information required by the form but we have changed some of the Help texts and, hopefully, made the task of filling out the form slightly simpler.

The following changes that we made are of particular note:

  • Questions 4 & 5: changed ‘ISSN’ and ‘EISSN’ to “ISSN (print version)” and “ISSN (online version)” and …
  • … changed the help text to: ‘Only provide the print ISSN if your journal has one, otherwise leave this field blank. Write the ISSN with the hyphen “-” e.g. 1234-4321.’
  • Question 19: changed the question text to: ‘How many research and review articles did the journal publish in the last calendar year?’
  • Question 34: changed the Help text from ‘The journal must have either an editor or an editorial board with at least 5 clearly identifiable members, affiliation information and email addresses.’ to ‘The journal must have either an editor or an editorial board with at least 5 clearly identifiable members and affiliation information. We will ask for email addresses as part of our checks.’

Why do we ask for email addresses?

Asking journals to display email addresses on a web site can be a sensitive issue. We are fully aware of the implications of posting email addresses, privacy and spamming. So, even though it is possible to write email addresses in a non-crawlable way, thereby protecting the owner from unsolicited mail, we will no longer require publishers to display email addresses on the site unless they are already doing so. We will instead look for the information on the site or ask for URLs for five editorial board members. And don’t worry: no e-mail addresses that we receive will ever be displayed on DOAJ and we never reuse these email addresses for our own use. The data is safe with us.

You may wonder why we ask for email addresses in the first place? As we carry out our assessment on a journal’s quality, one of the key pieces of information that we look for is that the journal has a clearly identifiable editorial board as per the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing joint statement that we published with WAME, COPE and OASPA. Verifying email addresses for editorial board members gives us one extra piece of evidence that the members come from the Institution that the journal says they come from and allows us to contact them to confirm that they have accepted to be on the editorial board.

What do we mean by ‘research’ and ‘review’ articles?

For those smaller journals, publishing perhaps only a handful of articles a year, we will carefully look at the types of articles they are publishing to make sure that the journal content is high quality original research. For those journals publishing case reports, you may count them as original research articles if they focus on more than 3 cases in the analytical activity.

When providing the number of articles published, you may round down to the nearest 10.