SILVER SPONSOR COPERNICUS PUBLICATIONS ANSWERS OUR QUESTIONS ON DOAJ AND OPEN ACCESS

Dr Xenia van Edig, Business Development, answers our questions.

-Your organisation has been supporting DOAJ for a few years now. Why is it important for Digital Science to support DOAJ?

As an information hub for all those interested in high-quality peer-reviewed open-access journals, the DOAJ is an extremely important platform. It is independent and committed to high-quality and peer-reviewed open access in all fields of STEM and HSS. With the re-vetting of all its content in 2016 and with the introduction of the DOAJ seal, its mission to increase the visibility, accessibility, reputation, usage, and impact of open-access journals has become even more evident. For us as an exclusively open-access publisher, it is therefore only logical that we support DOAJ.

What benefits does being indexed in DOAJ bring to your journals?

Indexing in DOAJ increases the visibility of our journals and demonstrates that our journals adhere to best practices in open-access publishing. Furthermore, many libraries and institutions understandably only provide financial support for article processing charges (APCs) for journals which are indexed in DOAJ and therefore receive an external quality seal.

-Do you think that the DOAJ has been and/or still is important for the development of Open Access publishing?

Absolutely. The DOAJ plays a leading role in the development of best practices in open-access publishing. For example the DOAJ developed – together with OASPA, WAME and COPE – the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing.

-What is Copernicus doing to support that development? Do you have any exciting projects underway?

Copernicus Publications has been an open-access publisher since 2001. In the past 18 years, we have helped many learned societies and academic institutions launch new open-access journals or transform their existing journals into open-access journals. In addition, we have been promoting open access in the peer-review process since 2001 by implementing the Interactive Public Peer Review, which is now applied by 20 of the 42 journals we publish. The current rise of preprint servers and the formation of initiatives promoting open peer review prove that this peer review model is still innovative.

We are also committed to enabling reproducibility of published research. Therefore, we provide authors with the opportunity to connect their article with underlying or related materials such as data, model code, physical samples, and videos deposited in suitable repositories through DOI linking. In this regard, we also signed the Enabling FAIR Data Commitment Statement in the Earth, Space, and Environmental Sciences.

These past years have focussed on making content accessible. The next ongoing challenge is to overcome the barriers regarding APC payments. We recently launched a national licence in Germany, with many universities and research centres participating. Together with our partners in libraries and funding bodies, we strive towards a seamless open-access experience for authors without worrying about APC payments.

-What are your personal views on the future of Open Access publishing?

I hope that further progress will be made in accelerating the transition towards a world where research outputs are publicly available and reusable. However, I fear that current major initiatives are focussing too much on the big legacy publishers – leaving out smaller publishers and those who are purely open access. While “read and publish” deals might be a step in transforming the publishing ecosystem, funders, consortia, and institutions should not forget about those who stood up for open access when the topic was not on “everyone’s lips”. Furthermore, even though many journals published by Copernicus are financed via article processing charges, APCs are not the only business model for open access.

-What do you think that the scholarly community could do to better
support the continued development of the Open Access movement
in the near future?

I think the current evaluation system for grants, tenure, etc., which still heavily relies on the journal impact factor, favours established journals and puts newer publication venues and innovative outlets at an unfair disadvantage. Of course there are many open-access journals with high impact factors, but there is a structural disadvantage since many open-access journals are newer.

In addition, faculty and students need to be more educated about open access. For many academics, their academic freedom to freely choose a journal for their articles seems to hinge on the fact that they do not want to deal with access and reuse rights. Many academics seem to think that everything is fine because they have access to the literature through the subscriptions of their institutions’ libraries. Furthermore, they do not have to deal with APCs when publishing in subscription journals. This means a lot of advocacy for open access is still needed.

-Much has been said recently about whether open access is succeeding or failing, particularly in terms of the original vision laid out by the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002. Do you think that open access has fallen short of this vision, or has it surpassed expectations?

Whether something is a good idea or not cannot be measured in number of articles or successful journal transformations. I think that most people involved in the open-access movement had hoped for a quicker transition. However, only because it has been slower than envisioned, the vision of BOAI – the public good of “the world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it” – is still the goal to achieve. Around 17 years ago open access was not on the political agenda like it is today (e.g. Plan S). Therefore, I would say the movement has been successful.

 

 

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

Are we overestimating the problem of “predatory” publishing?

In order to unravel the unjustified association of open access with bad or even predatory publishing Tom Olijhoek and Jon Tennant wrote this blog post, recently published in the LSE Impact Blog.
Last summer an international association of investigative journalists launched a massive media offensive on the problem of predatory publishing in science. The data shown were taken from the 2015 study by Cenyu Shen and Bo-Christer Björk, but without proper reference to it.
The study launched by the association of investigative journalists suggests a link between predatory publishing and open access publishing, and that the problem is huge.
However, according to Tom Olijhoek, the DOAJ Editor-in-Chief, and Jon Tennant, a leading voice in and advocate of open science, the facts tell a different story: predatory publishing does also exist in toll-access journals, and the total revenue of predatory open access publishers is 0,5 – 1,5 % of the total revenues of open access publishers.
Let us know what you think by leaving a comment here.

The 10 Principles of Plan S

The welcome announcement last week from Marc Schiltz‘s Science Europe about cOAlition S and the publication of The 10 Principles of Plan S was well received at DOAJ Headquarters. The key principle of Plan S is:

“After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.”

The document continues to outline important factors surrounding the desired model of open access and this model sometimes follows closely DOAJ’s preferred model for open access:

  1. Authors will retain copyright.
  2. Content will be published under an open license which fulfils the requirements defined by the Berlin Declaration.
  3. All scientists should be able to publish Open Access even if they have limited means.
  4. Publications fees should be standardised or capped.
  5. The hybrid model of publishing is not compliant with the principles.

DOAJ is pleased to see these principles so in line with the DOAJ criteria.

Lars Bjørnshauge, DOAJ Founder and Managing Director, said: ‘While we should remember that these principles only cover Europe and focus on science and that they may not be applicable on all continents or to the humanities, they will hopefully have a positive impact. Their announcement is timely and they are a welcome move in the right direction. DOAJ is proud to support their implementation.’

Russian scientific journals in the era of open access to knowledge: problems of adaptation

Our DOAJ Ambassador Dr. Natalia Gennadievna Popova has recently published a paper (in Russian) “Russian scientific journals in the era of open access to knowledge: problems of adaptation” or Российский научный журнал в эпоху открытого доступа к знаниям: проблемы адаптации. We are sharing this work with the wider DOAJ community, as we know that there is still lots to do in Russia in the open access arena (as our Ambassadors’ programme has shown) and this is covered in the paper.

Here is the paper’s abstract in English:

The advancement of open access to scientific knowledge has become a determining strategy in the sphere of scientific communication. Open access implies, along with a free access to full-text information online, the creation of a legal basis for the results of research to be used fairly by all interested bodies. The Directory of Open Access Journals, DOAJ, as well as other similar institutions, carries the mission of providing and guaranteeing the quality of open access. Russian journals are increasingly become part of this project, which is considered to be a positive trend. Currently, about 163 Russian titles are listed in DOAJ. However, some journals face difficulties in bringing their publication standards in compliance with the DOAJ quality criteria, which has become a reason for suspending 15 Russian titles from this esteemed international database. This article investigates the process of open access advancement in Russia, in particular, the implementation of international quality standards in the sphere of Russian scientific periodicals. Main DOAJ acceptance criteria are analyzed, as well as those problems that Russian titles experience adapting to them.

Read the full-text (in Russian).

Silver Sponsor National Library of Sweden Answers our Questions on Open Access Publishing and DOAJ

Beate Eellend, Open Access Coordinator at Kungliga Biblioteket (National Library of Sweden), and contributor to the OpenAccess.se blog, answers our questions.

KB

– Your organisation has been supporting DOAJ for some years now. Why is it important for the National Library of Sweden to support DOAJ?

The National Library of Sweden (NLS) has been supporting DOAJ from the very beginning, partly financing the launch of DOAJ at Lund University in 2003. For NLS it is important to support DOAJ as an independent part of the scholarly communication infrastructure. NLS promotes open sources with international standards and rich quality metadata which DOAJ stands for. NLS relies on DOAJ’s assessment on quality Open Access journals and uses DOAJ as a data source for verifying and enriching metadata on Open Access publications from the Swedish universities.

 

– What is the National Library of Sweden doing to support that development? Do you have any exciting projects underway?

NLS is developing the national research publication database Swepub in regards to needs of bibliometrical analysis. One of the needs is to be able to collect data on Open Access publications from the Swedish universities. For this NLS uses DOAJ to verify and enrich Open Access status.

Since 2006 The National Library of Sweden has worked with advancing open access to scholarly output. At the beginning of 2017 the National Library received an appropriation directive from the Swedish Government to act as a national coordinating body in the work towards a transition to open access to scholarly publications. NLS coordinates five studies concerning different aspects of the transition to an open access publishing landscape:

  1. The current merit and resource allocation system versus incentives for open access;
  2. Funding for a transition from a subscription-based to an open access publishing system;
  3. Open access to scholarly monographs;
  4. Financial and technical support for converting peer-reviewed and scholarly journals from toll access to open access;
  5. Monitoring of compliance with open access policies and mandates.

All groups have stakeholder representation from Swedish funding agencies, HEIs, researchers and the National Library of Sweden. The goal of the studies is to formulate recommendations for national solutions to fulfil the goal of the Swedish Government; that the transition to open access to scholarly publications, research data and artistic works should be fully implemented in 2026 at the latest

– What are your personal views on the future of Open Access publishing?

It is our firm belief that open access will strengthen the scholarly system as well as society at large. A broad collaboration between stakeholders is needed in order to achieve the goal of open access. Also, we aim to strengthen the control of the total costs of publishing while preserving the quality control system. This is no easy task, conflicting interests complicates the transition to a sustainable open access publishing system.  

– What do you think that the scholarly community could do to better support the continued development of the Open Access movement in the near future?

As long as there are little or no incentives or rewards for researchers practicing open access and open science, the prestige economy will continue to hinder the development. Scholarly community leaders have an important role to show the way forward.

– Much has been said recently about whether open access is succeeding or failing, particularly in terms of the original vision laid out by the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002. Do you think that open access has fallen short of this vision, or has it surpassed expectations?

None of the above. We are in the middle of a very complex societal transition where digitization strongly affects both research and higher education. This transition is still ongoing and has never been tried before – we are living in a trial and error era.

 

Silver Sponsor MDPI answers our questions on DOAJ and Open Access

This is the first of a series of interviews with our Gold and Silver sponsors. MDPI answered our questions on DOAJ and Open Access publishing.

mdpi-pub-logo (1)

Your organisation has been supporting DOAJ for a few years now. Why is it important for MDPI to support DOAJ?

Both DOAJ and MDPI are pioneers in open access. DOAJ was one of the first organizations to provide guidance to scholars looking to publish in open access. An application process was introduced a few years ago and the directory has defined a very clear set of best practices that are expected. Today, DOAJ is an important and trusted source of information about open access publishers and journals, both for authors and funding bodies. Maybe DOAJ could consider maintaining a public list of changes (new additions and removals) to the directory in future!

*NOTE from DOAJ: we actually do this, but we are aware we need to place the link on a more prominent place on our site: https://doaj.org/faq#metadata. You can download a list of journals in CSV (comma-separated) format which can then be imported into Excel or any equivalent analysis tool. The CSV file is updated every 30 minutes.

What benefits does being indexed in DOAJ bring to your journals?

Our journals are more visible to researchers and institutions through being in DOAJ and authors can trust we adhere to best practices and open access principles set forward by the directory. MDPI has the greatest respect for what DOAJ has achieved!

Do you think that the DOAJ has been and/or still is important for the development of Open Access publishing?

Of course!

What is MDPI doing to support that development? Do you have any exciting projects underway?

We collaborate with institutions, universities, and libraries to jointly develop and promote open access. We think it is very important to work hand in hand with the main stakeholders, which is why we launched our institutional program five years ago, currently with over 350 institutions participating in the program. We are exploring different publishing models through our preprint platform Preprints.org, Knowledge Unlatched (which supports 9 MDPI journals in the area of humanities and social sciences) and our research collaboration and conference platform at sciforum.net. We also support initiatives like DORA and the Jussieu Call to explore how research can be communicated more effectively and to explore different models beyond article processing charges paid by authors.

What are your personal views on the future of Open Access publishing?

Open access is the publishing model of the future. We focus our energy and capacity on upholding the quality of our publication process, which we see as essential for continued growth. We will support funders and universities in their efforts to define policies aimed at ensuring research is freely available.

What do you think that the scholarly community could do to better support the continued development of the Open Access movement in the near future?

There is no special treatment needed for open access publishers. Authors are becoming aware they need to gain control over their intellectual property. Not least to ensure their work is as visible as possible, with free access to as many readers as possible. The right to distribute/deposit accepted versions is one way of gaining more control.

Much has been said recently about whether open access is succeeding or failing, particularly in terms of the original vision laid out by the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002. Do you think that open access has fallen short of this vision, or has it surpassed expectations?

Open access will continue to grow. MDPI is expanding, both in number of journals and papers published. Other publishers are adding to the number of high-quality open access journals. We will continue to work exceptionally hard to ensure open access is a success and research becomes freely available to everyone.