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: 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, Knowledge Unlatched (which supports 9 MDPI journals in the area of humanities and social sciences) and our research collaboration and conference platform at 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.


DOAJ does not endorse Academics Era conferences | Say Hello to Think Check Attend

It has come to our attention that a series of conferences hosted by Academics Era all show the DOAJ logo in the Indexed/Supported section of each conference page. There are literally hundreds of these conferences listed from the Academics Era homepage and each one has the DOAJ logo on it.


Please make sure that you, researchers, students and faculty at your institution think very carefully before sending money to these, or any conferences.


This message is timely as it gives me the opportunity to introduce Think Check Attend.

Think Check Attend is an initiative that guides researchers and scholars when deciding whether to attend a conference or submit an abstract and present their research. The 3-step approach encourages academics to ‘Think’ about the problem posed by predatory or substandard conferences, ‘Check’ the conference against a set of criteria designed to highlight attributes of good and bad quality conferences, and ‘Attend’ only if the conference adheres to the criteria consistent with a legitimate conference.

The initiative is provided by Knowledge E and has been endorsed by Think Check Submit as a sister initiative.

If you are unsure about any conference, then do go to the Think Check Attend website and use their excellent resources.

Extended downtime – Wed 21st March 2018

DOAJ will be offline for approximately 8.5 hours from 12.50-21.10 UTC, or 12.50 to 21.10 GMT on Wednesday 21st March 2018.
DOAJ will experience an extended period of downtime on Wednesday 21st March 2018 while our hosting service, Digital Ocean, installs some important security fixes:
On January 4, 2018, multiple vulnerabilities in the design of modern CPUs were disclosed. Taking advantage of certain processor performance optimizations, these vulnerabilities—named Meltdown and Spectre—make it possible for attackers to coerce applications into revealing the contents of system and application memory when manipulated correctly. These attacks work because the normal privileges checking behavior within the processor is subverted through the interaction of features like speculative execution, branch prediction, out-of-order execution, and caching.*


As well as updates and patches being applied by Digital Ocean to protect our machines, DOAJ’s technical partners, Cottage Labs, will also use the downtime to perform some other, non-related essential maintenance actions.
We apologise in advance for the short notice but we have only just received notification from Digital Ocean that they will work on our machines this week.
If you have any questions, then please leave a comment here or contact us




Two URLs have been brought to our attention which I wanted to alert the community to. The first,, has been made to look just like DOAJ and the second,, has been set up to look like a journal. Please be extremely wary of both of these URLs. Neither of these sites are related to DOAJ or are sanctioned by DOAJ in any way. is clearly a bad screen scrape of our site. At the time of writing, it has no functionality whatsoever. We have made contact with the site owner but have received no response. purports to be a journal. DOAJ does not publish journal content and has no connection whatsoever with the company, Modern European Researches(!), which claims to be behind

It has become almost standard practice when registering a URL to buy up all of the alternatives or variants. This is a costly process (and extremely lucrative for some!) and something for which DOAJ doesn’t have the funds. The best we can do is monitor what variants on our URL are up to and alert our community to anything suspicious.

If you spot any other doaj URL variants then do please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Dom Mitchell
Operations Manager

DOAJ’s Mission (updated March 2018)

DOAJ has just updated its mission to take into account our new Education and Outreach program. I thought that this would be a good opportunity to highlight and explain the elements of the mission in detail.

DOAJ’s mission is to increase the visibility, accessibility, reputation, usage and impact of quality, peer-reviewed, open access scholarly research journals globally, regardless of discipline, geography or language. DOAJ will work with editors, publishers and journal owners to help them understand the value of best practice publishing and standards and apply those to their own operations. DOAJ is committed to being 100% independent and maintaining all of its services and metadata as free to use or reuse for everyone.

…to increase the visibility, accessibility, reputation, usage and impact of quality, peer-reviewed, open access scholarly research journals…

DOAJ’s aim has always been to increase the international reputation of open access publishing. Over the past couple of years, DOAJ has become a kite mark of quality, signifying that a journal a) meets the high criteria laid out in our application form and b) that a journal or publisher adheres to best practice as laid out in the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice. DOAJ encourages 100% open journals over hybrid journals, altmetrics over impact factors, any form of peer review to verify journal content quality, the use of permanent article identifiers and long-term digital preservation systems.

…research journals globally, regardless of discipline, geography or language…


Top 10 Countries in DOAJ

DOAJ realises that open access isn’t confined to the Global North and certainly not the English language. (A quick look at the top 10 countries with journals indexed in DOAJ will show you that.) Indeed, we see most advances in open access publishing coming from the Global South where open access is a default and is often mandated at government level. Open access isn’t limited to scientific, technical or medical journals (STM) but runs the entire gamut of scholarly publishing to include social sciences and humanities (SSH) titles too. DOAJ’s Education and Outreach program ensures that the DOAJ message remains globally relevant.


DOAJ will work with editors, publishers and journal owners to help them understand the value of best practice publishing and standards and apply those to their own operations.

DOAJ understands that standards and best practices can be daunting and that achieving those takes resource and can be hard to do alone. DOAJ wants to improve the overall quality, or perceived quality, of open access and believes that to do this, it must help journals and publishers to raise their game. Therefore DOAJ has a “helping hand” policy under which it will work with publishers, journal owners and editors to show them the value of best practice and standards and how to meet certain levels required to be accepted into DOAJ.

DOAJ is committed to being 100% independent…

DOAJ is owned by an independent C.I.C. (community interest company) called IS4OA. The statutes of the CIC ensure that DOAJ may not be sold. IS4OA was formed for the sole purpose of ensuring that DOAJ could continue as an independent entity after it moved away from Lund University in 2013. DOAJ is funded entirely by voluntary donations, either via membership or sponsorship and IS4OA is committed to keeping it that way.

…maintaining all of its services and metadata as free to use or reuse for everyone.

In the true spirit of open access—the BOAI definition of open access on which the DOAJ has built its criteria —the entire corpus of metadata in DOAJ will always be free to everyone. DOAJ will never charge for the provision of its metadata or for any of its services, be they online or in person. Other content on the site is licensed with a Creative Commons license and the codebase which DOAJ is built on is open source.

Dom Mitchell
Operations Manager

Copyright and Licensing – Part 3

In 2016, we published 2 blog posts on copyright and licensing: Part1 and Part 2In these posts we explained and illustrated that copyright and licensing are two different things linked by the fact that licenses can only be granted by copyright holders. Here is Part 3, a guest post by our Editor-in-Chief, Tom Olijhoek.


In this post I want to discuss the practice by some open access publishers of not using Creative Commons licenses but using their own constructions for publisher specific licenses. A reason for this may be, for example, that the government of the country of the publisher does not recognise the (American company derived) Creative Commons licensing.

DOAJ accepts journals that do not use CC licensing ONLY if the specifics of the publisher licenses match the conditions of Creative Commons licenses. That is to say that licenses need to be compliant with the BOAI conditions of Open Access and need to allow for immediate access to all materials, with implicit permission to download , share, distribute and use the material for lawful purposes.

To better explain what DOAJ will and will not accept, I want to highlight some real life examples.

Example 1:  Copyright transfer agreement in conflict with open access

Let’s have a look at a case where the publishers use a copyright transfer agreement conflicting with the conditions of the Creative Commons License applied to the same work.

Publisher [x] has a copyright transfer agreement (CTA) saying:

The Author(s) agree that all copies of the Work made under any of the above rights shall prominently include the following copyright notice: “© XXXX [year] X. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic reproduction and distribution, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modifications of the content of this paper are prohibited.”

This is in clear conflict with the conditions of BOAI Open Access and also with the use of the CC BY-NC license used by the very same journal.

After discussions with the publisher, two passages in the CTA now read:

[x] shall make the final, published version of the article freely available on the [x] Publishing platform without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full text of the article, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the Author(s). This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of open access
Copyright Notice The Author(s) agree that all copies of the Work made under any of the above rights shall prominently include the following copyright notice© XXXX [year] [x] Users may use, reuse, and build upon the article, or use the article for text or data mining, so long as such uses are for non-commercial purposes and appropriate attribution is maintained. All other rights are reserved.

I also want elaborate on the point that publishers often demand a copyright transfer agreement with a range of arguments like:

[x] needs copyright for an article because, as publisher, [x] is in the best position to defend the article legally. In addition, transfer of copyright assures [x] that the work in question is entirely the author’s own. Once again, the purpose of transfer of copyright is not to prevent the author from reuse of his or her own work, as long as this doesn’t involve republication in a competing journal or other competing resource.

DOAJ holds the policy that leaving the copyright with the author is best practice. The publisher will only need publishing rights. For this reason journals of publishers who leave the copyright with the author are eligible for the DOAJ Seal.

Example 2: Copyright statement in conflict with open access:

© Copyrights of all the papers published in Journal of XXX are with its publisher, [x] [Country]. Users have the right to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of articles in the journal, and that users can use and reuse material in the journal as long as attribution is given when appropriate or necessary. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Example 3: License in conflict with open access:

You may read, download, print, copy, search, link to the full text, or use them for any lawful purpose not otherwise prohibited here. You may not modify, create derivative works from, participate in the transfer or sale of, post on the World Wide Web, or in any way exploit the Site or any portion thereof for any public or commercial use without the express written permission of [x]

Example 4: License  in conflict with open access:

Reproduction, posting, transmission or other distribution or use of the article or any material therein, requires credit to the article author as copyright holder. Permission does not need to be obtained for downloading, printing, or linking to [Repository] content. Individuals have the right to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of articles in the Journal XXX and to use them for any other lawful purpose…

/// same document:
Libraries interested in printing a paper from Journal of XXX for their permanent collection should contact the journal editors responsible for posting the paper. The requesting library can then gain copyright clearance from the paper’s author(s). People seeking an exception, or who have questions about use, should contact the editors.

It may be evident from the statements above that the use of non-Creative Commons licenses and the use of copyright transfer agreements make the evaluation of open access  journals on acceptable copyright and licensing conditions difficult and time consuming. At the same time the different conditions created by publishers in these cases make it very confusing for authors and users to know their rights.  I realise that the issue of copyright and licensing ranks among one of the most difficult issues of open access publishing. Therefore I strongly recommend that publishers make use of the excellent Creative Commons licensing schemes and also leave copyright for published works with the authors. Again, these conditions are the key requirements for obtaining the DOAJ Seal of Excellence in open access publishing.

I sincerely hope that the number of DOAJ Seal journals in DOAJ will continue to rise!

Tom Olijhoek

(Copyright and licensing information specific to completing an application is also available.)