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.

Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science (SCOSS) hits half-million Euro funding mark

Thanks to dozens of quick-acting universities and institutions in Australia, Europe & North America, a new effort to secure Open Science infrastructure is off to a strong start. More than 680 000 Euros have been pledged to support DOAJ and SHERPA/RoMEO already.

In a press release issued by SPARC Europe on 14th August 2018, Vannessa Proudman, Director of SPARC Europe, said:

“This being a new concept, we are very encouraged by the response of the community at this point. We’re taking this as an early indication that we will, in time, reach our full three-year funding goals for both the DOAJ and SHERPA/RoMEO, two truly vital services. But for this to happen, we will need to continue to see growth in support; far more institutions committing to funding.”

Lars Bjørnshauge, Managing Director and Founder of DOAJ, said: “We are very pleased to see that many of the long standing members of DOAJ have decided to increase their financial support, based on the fees recommended by SCOSS and for the next three years. We are looking forward to welcoming even more members and support shortly. We will do our very best to live up to the ever-changing expectations from the community.”

And “the ever-changing expectations from the community” are, in a nutshell, why SCOSS and sustainable funding models are so important to DOAJ, SHERPA/RoMEO and open access in general. Open access is still a relatively young publishing model and is growing rapidly. New markets are opening up to open access publishing, each of them bringing new challenges with them, and technology is creating new opportunities and functionality in publishing. DOAJ must remain at the forefront of these developments and that means having a stable financial foundation upon which work can continue.

If you’d like to know more about SCOSS please go to http://scoss.org/ and if you would like to make a financial contribution using the SCOSS model, or indeed, any amount at all, please contact Lars: lars@doaj.org.

 

The SCOSS initiative: DOAJ receives first funding, from the University of Alberta Libraries.

As reported in November, a coalition has been formed called SCOSS which is running a pilot project aimed at generating a sustaining model of funding for DOAJ and SHERPA/RoMEO.

scoss-1The iniative sets out to attract funding from around the world and it is with great delight that DOAJ can announce it has now received its first funding via this model.

 

ua-lib-colourThe University of Alberta Libraries group was the first to respond to the call for funding and by doing so has made a clear commitment, not only to the sustainability and development of DOAJ, but to the sustainability and success of open access. Denise Koufogiannakis, Associate University Librarian at University of Alberta, said:

“The University of Alberta Libraries (UAL) is committed to building open infrastructure for scholarly communication and is pleased to support DOAJ and SHERPA/RoMEO via the SCOSS funding initiative. Both these services are essential to the success of UAL’s open access initiatives, including our digital repository and our journal hosting and publishing service. They are a vital part of enabling UAL to provide quality open scholarship services that reflect the University of Alberta’s commitment to ‘uplift the whole people’. ”

DOAJ is hopeful that the commitment of UAL is the first of many such actions and is looking forward to hearing from the many other institutions that have been approached under this new model.

 

 

Publishers Report: 2017 in Summary

As a publisher who supports DOAJ, either as a member or as a sponsor, you are part of a growing global network of publishers who have unequivocally stated a firm commitment to support open access through DOAJ’s work. On behalf of the entire DOAJ Team and supporters of open access the world over, I would like to thank you for your continued support. Your contributions are always spent directly on improving DOAJ’s infrastructure; maintaining high levels of recency and accuracy of the DOAJ metadata; and increasing the awareness of issues surrounding open access. The team at DOAJ ensures that all of this happens in a way that keeps DOAJ relevant around the globe, and not just in the Global North.

This report briefly covers our main achievements in 2017, as well as developments for the year ahead. If you have any questions on its content, or would like to know more, then drop me an email: dom@doaj.org.

With very best wishes for the new year ahead,

Dom Mitchell
Operations Manager


What We Achieved in 2017

2017 saw the end of the Reapplications project and the extension of our Ambassador program. We made improvements to our workflow to reduce our turnaround times on new applications and we launched our education and outreach program. Finally, we carried out a series of small projects to internationalise DOAJ as much as possible.

The reapplication project and updates to journals

All publishers were asked to submit new applications for all of the journals which were already included in DOAJ. 6359 reapplications were sent to us. Of those, 4031 were accepted as meeting the high standards required to be indexed in the Directory. This also means that, for the first time since launch in 2003, more than 99% of all the journal information in DOAJ is less than two years old. For those journals which didn’t make the grade, DOAJ offered feedback on how to improve the journal’s practices and, unless otherwise stated, those journals may send in new applications 6 months after the last decision from us, provided that they can show that they have implemented the changes recommended to them.

Also, our predictions at the start of the project came true and we never heard from 2860 journals; they all failed to resubmit reapplications to us. After repeated reminders, these journals were removed from the Directory which meant that, in total, the reapplication project resulted in a 40% cull of titles from DOAJ.

One of the inherent problems with the reapplications project, which we identified at the start, was that DOAJ relies heavily on journal representatives (publishers, journal owners, editors) to keep the information in the Directory up to date, including cotact details. Currently, a journal representative must contact the DOAJ Team with any updates to the journal information which are then verified and applied on behalf of the publisher. This means that, more often than not, journal information is never updated. To combat this, DOAJ reviews journal information regularly but to make this whole process easier, we will be launching a new system which will enable journal representatives to update information themselves. Submitted updates will be reviewed by the DOAJ Team before being published immediately to the site.

Extension of the Ambassador program, education and outreach

The Ambassador program, launched in 2016 and financed by the IDRC, was a huge success, so much so that we received further funding to extend the program into 2017. The DOAJ Ambassadors were able to continue their excellent work in their home territories. It also meant that, in those countries where we suffered a heavy loss of titles after the Reapplication Project, DOAJ was able to target efforts and encourage new applications from many of the local open access journals. This most recently happened in Korea, Japan and Indonesia and further countries are planned for 2018. We extended the Editor-in-Chief’s role to concentrate specifically on Education and Outreach and in 2018, we will be launching a series of training videos, specifically aimed at improving the quality of applications sent to us. More on that below.

Improved workflow and reduced turnaround times

Something that we hear a lot at DOAJ is that our turnaround times for processing new applications are too long. In 2017, this was certainly due to the number of reapplications which we had to process but, unfortunately, we have always had lengthy processing times. In the hope that this will encourage more applications from titles not yet in DOAJ, we took steps to correct this and reduce the time to first decision.

Never before has DOAJ been in a position where it has had so many people working for it and processing applications for us. We created a new role, Senior Managing Editor, whose is specifically tasked with monitoring throughput; we expanded our Triage role which, essentially, removes all of the rubbish applications from the queues, allowing the editorial team to focus on those applications which matter; we identified and pooled our most dedicated volunteers to give greater processing power; we have started a system whereby applications can be allocated directly to a reviewer rather than sitting in a holding pattern awaiting assignment; we re-focused our editorial team and allocated resource to those countries submitting the most applications to us; we introduced a reporting system which allows us to track applications and alerts us when the workflow slows for whatever reason.

All of these changes combined will see a greater throughput of new applications in 2018.

Internationalisation of DOAJ

Despite our aim to be as global as possible, much of what we write is in English, or is generated from our offices across Europe. DOAJ aims to be as global as possible and be as relevant as possible to all parts of the world. In 2017, we extended the range of our translated materials, hoping to encourage more interaction and participation from all around the world. We also invited guest blog posts from our Ambassadors, a series which focussed on how open access works and some of the issues facing open access in different parts of the world.

 

Coming Down The Pipe in 2018

Our three focus areas for 2018 are:

  1. Sustainability
  2. Scalability and stability
  3. Education and outreach

Sustainability

We have partnered with agents working in Europe who are approaching institutions on our behalf to secure more funding. DOAJ is also one of the beneficiaries of the SCOSS pilot which launched late 2017 with an aim to establishing a sustainable funding model for DOAJ and SHERPA/RoMEO. As our operations grow, we require more funding and so we need to fund DOAJ in a more sustainable way than the hand-to-mouth model we survive on currently.

Also, more attention is being paid, both by potential funders as well as the community, to what DOAJ is, how we are set up and how we operate. People are looking to us for more transparency and structure in our business model and our processes, and as a community-driven organisation, our supporters are expecting to have more of an influence in DOAJ’s direction. We will be formalising a new governance model in early 2018 to meet these demands.

Scalability and stability

With our technical partners, Cottage Labs, we are about to start a huge infrastructure project which will completely rebuild the underlying platform, making it more stable and easier to develop in the future. Traffic to DOAJ has more than doubled over the last 3 years and we must ensure that the platform remains fit for purpose for the next 5 years at least, particularly as traffic will increase even more as we add new metadata and new ways to connect to the site to harvest it.

Over the latter half of 2017, we saw spikes in usage from crawlers, usage through our API and had to throttle some of these to make sure that users on the site were able to use the site normally. We want to expand and stabilise the platform so that we can accommodate all traffic sources without any adverse effects.

Education and outreach

As mentioned above, DOAJ will be launching a series of training videos, to encourage better quality applications. We are currently putting together the first one which will be an introduction to DOAJ. We will then publish a series of videos, aimed at editors, publishers and researchers, to help simplify some of the more obscure aspects of open access publishing. One such area will be copyright retention versus [Creative Commons] licensing.

Our Editor-in-Chief will continue to target areas of the world from which we receive few or low quality applications. DOAJ will firm up its presence in the open access arena both as an educator and an influencer. We also hope to increase the number of Social Science and Humanities journals in DOAJ.

Presenting the DOAJ Ambassadors

Further to our announcement of the start of our IDRC-funded project focussing on the improvement of open access journals in the global south, I am delighted to present to you the list of 15 DOAJ Ambassadors. These Ambassadors will be working on behalf of DOAJ until April 2017 and will be operating in 11 regions or sub-regions across the globe. DOAJ is very lucky to have such a great list of names: people who have a wide-ranging set of skills and will bring huge amounts of experience to the DOAJ organisation.

After two members of DOAJ were invited recently to present at the NEICON/ASEP conference in Russia, we are very lucky to be able to extend the program’s work to the Russian Federation.  Three volunteers, led by Olga Kirillova, have also joined the list of DOAJ Ambassadors, extending the work of the program outlined to IDRC but on a self-funded basis. This is a hugely beneficial development for open access and DOAJ.

The final list of DOAJ Ambassadors are:

Region Name Based in
Southern Africa Ina Smith South Africa
East Africa Solomon Mekonnen Ethiopia
West Africa Pascal Soubeiga Burkina Faso
North Africa Kamel Belhamel Algeria
China Yanhong Zhai China
China Cenyu Shen Finland
China Xin Bi China
Middle East & Persian Gulf Mahmoud Khalifa Egypt
East India Sridhar Gutam India
West India Vrushali Dandawate India
South India Leena Shah India
Latin America Ivonne Lujano Mexico
Russian Federation Olga Kirillova Russia
Russian Federation (West) Maxim Mitrofanov Russia
Russian Federation (East) Natalia Popova Russia

Welcome to all of you!

The biographies for the DOAJ Ambassadors are posted here.

The majority of the Ambassadors will be converging on the island of Crete, in the beautiful village of Vamos, for an intensive 4-day training retreat starting next week. The outcome of that meeting will be an initial 2-month action plan for each Ambassador to implement as soon as s/he is back on home turf. That plan will then inform the actions for the rest of the year. It is really exciting that developments will start to take shape so soon after the retreat.

Each region will present its own challenges to the Ambassadors and to DOAJ but there will be exciting milestones to reach. For example, can DOAJ gain an online presence in China via the huge social media networks there? Will we see an increase in quality journal applications from India, a country sadly linked to questionable publishing practices and author spamming? Will we see an increase in the number of applications from East and West Africa, two regions of the continent that are sadly under-represented in DOAJ today? In Latin America, where a relatively large number of journals are already indexed in DOAJ, will we be able to increase the number of journals from the smaller countries like Bolivia, Ecuador or Guatemala?

In all of the regions, language can be a barrier. Almost all of the DOAJ site is in English and we haven’t yet found a good-enough piece of software that will translate the most important parts of the site for us. We will be addressing that as part of the IDRC project but having our Ambassadors on the ground will be hugely influential in increasing awareness of the site and our criteria.

DOAJ will be reporting on the progress of our Ambassador program regularly and I hope to be able to share some exciting statistics with you soon.