A Funding Opportunity for APC-free Open Access Journals and Platforms

This is a guest post by Pablo de Castro, Coordinator for the OpenAIRE FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot.

OpenAIREplus_logoThe FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot, as launched by the EC and OpenAIRE in May 2015, was mainly designed as a tool to fund Open Access publishing fees for publications arising from completed FP7 (7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development) projects. This is its main area of activity and this work is starting to bear fruit, with over 300 funded Open Access publications after a year of operation.

However, most of the journals in the DOAJ charge no APCs to their authors. Moreover, lacking a proper business model, funding opportunities for these journals are scarce beyond governmental and/or institutional funding and specific calls such as the Canadian SSHRC’s.

This is why this pilot has extended its funding scope to also cover APC-free OA journals and platforms through an alternative funding mechanism released on May 3rd. This funding mechanism will allow journals to collect support for the implementation of technical improvements on their publishing workflows. Its features and requirements will be thoroughly discussed at an OpenAIRE webinar on May 12th.

This initiative will specifically offer an opportunity to establish closer links between OpenAIRE and APC-free OA journals and publishers. While fully Open Access publishers like Ubiquity Press and Copernicus are OpenAIRE-compliant, OpenAIRE’s main focus has traditionally been—and will remain—on OA repositories and repository networks. Through this initiative, this will now be extended out to OA journals, allowing a deeper technical harmonization to take place in the APC-free OA publishing landscape.

One of the key technical improvements to be funded will be having the journal’s outputs regularly indexed at article level  in DOAJ. 69% of the OA journals currently listed in DOAJ are indexed at article level, which means there’s room for improvement. OpenAIRE is eager to promote this article-level indexing in DOAJ as a standard that will result in more visibility for the global OA content production.

Another strongly recommended enhancement is the systematic inclusion of the funding and project information in the article-level metadata within the publishing platform. While this is already a requirement for OpenAIRE-compliant repositories (at least for EC-funded projects, i.e. FP7 and Horizon 2020), it is only very rarely happening in APC-free Open Access journals at the time, even when it’s a key aspect of the way the contextual information around a publication is collected and shared. This collection of funding and project information will in fact be key for identifying eligibility for this alternative funding mechanism.

We are very much looking forward then to collecting interesting funding proposals from APC-free Open Access journals and platforms in the next two months. Make sure to register for the May 12th webinar if interested in this funding opportunity!

Greater visibility to APCs: amount, currency, URL

There has been a lot of focus in research on author processing charges (APCs) and submission charges, particularly in the last 16 months or so and DOAJ data is often used as a basis of that research.  Heather Morrison’s recent article in Publications and Walt Crawford’s research published in Cites and Insights are two very recent examples.

DOAJ wants to raise the visibility of charges information even further to facilitate future research and to make it easier for authors, researchers and funders to make informed decisions on where to publish. As part of our commitment to raising the level of quality of data in DOAJ, we released yesterday a small but important change to the display of charging information. All journals accepted into DOAJ after March 2014, or back into DOAJ after a successful reapplication, will have the following information displayed against them:

  • Does the journal have APCs or Submission charges?
  • If so, how much and what is the currency of those charges?
  • What is the URL where that information is clearly displayed and stated on the journal web site?
  • If there are no charges, what is the URL where that information is clearly displayed and stated on the journal web site?

During our review of applications we request that ‘no charges’ is stated explicitly on the journal’s site and we will ask publishers to add that information if they have not already done so.

You will find the new information on each journal’s table of contents page; that is to say the long, detailed view of all the information and metadata that we hold for a journal accessible by clicking a journal’s title in search results. Two examples would be here where the journal has no charges, or here where the journal has APCs.

There are further improvements in the pipeline: we will move the information above the [more detail] link on these pages; we will add charge information to all records in search results; we will include amount and currency in our downloadable CSV file; and we will point the Publication Charges facet in search to the new data. These changes are scheduled for completion in April.

Shortcuts to key datasets in DOAJ; suggest others!

In response to feedback from the community, here are some shortcuts to key sets of data in DOAJ. (All results are sorted by the date that the item was added to DOAJ, with the most recently added at the top.)

Journals and article processing charges (APCs)

No APCs http://bit.ly/1nNDwdM

Has charges http://bit.ly/1n4KDDb

No information on APCs provided http://bit.ly/1p7vP67

 

Journals with a CC license

CC BY http://bit.ly/1rjc3q9

CC BY-NC http://bit.ly/UmHlPP

CC BY-NC-ND http://bit.ly/1nahC8C

CC BY-SA http://bit.ly/1p201Na

CC BY-NC-SA http://bit.ly/1tqAhOM

CC BY-ND http://bit.ly/1n4NrjO

Not CC-like http://bit.ly/1k8mEnd (this is for journals who have some sort of license in place that is not equivalent to any of the existing CC licensing options. This may be due to territorial or geographical differences where perhaps CC licenses are not generally recognised.)

Get in touch!

There are probably many others that could be added to this post. Leave a comment (or email us via ‘Contact us’ on the DOAJ site) and let me know which ones you would find useful. I’ll then add them here.

 

A few notes about our legacy data

We regularly receive notification that DOAJ data has been used for analysis; analysis done by publishers, librarians, students, technologists, bloggers and many others. That the data is central to so many studies continues to reinforce the importance of the DOAJ in the open access movement. We are confident that, once our current upgrade is complete, and when all the existing journals have been re-evaluated, DOAJ will provide data of an even higher quality that is incomparable to the “old” DOAJ; that is updated more frequently and of a previously unseen level of granularity. It will be a dataset monitored by a large, international network of Associate Editors and Editors, consistently checking and reviewing.

That the data is so regularly used places a responsibility at DOAJ’s door to ensure that the level of data quality is high. This is a responsibility that we take seriously and so I thought it worth clarifying a few points about the DOAJ data.

 

“This site is undergoing maintenance”

The data in the DOAJ database has been collected over a 10 year period and in those last 10 years, not only has the data been through several migrations and transformations but we have seen the size of DOAJ grow from 300 to just short of 10 000 journals. That rate of growth is increasing year on year. This means that we have a large amount of legacy data.

In 2013, we announced that, in response to the changing nature of open access, we would change significantly the inclusion criteria for journals to be listed in the DOAJ, developing our back-end systems accordingly to match the dramatic increase in the resulting workload.  The Community was involved as we sought opinion on the changes we should make. The changes needed amounted to a huge piece of development which required certain activities to be put on hold. Additionally, DOAJ migrated platform in December 2013 so the routine activities of adding journals, removing journals and adding article metadata had to be placed on hold. (Adding new journals was eventually on hold for just over 4 months; removing journals for just under 3.) It wasn’t without a good reason though. DOAJ was migrated to an open source, standards based stable database, hosted by our technical partners Cottage Labs. This also necessitated a substantial clean up of the legacy data.

The result of such a huge project meant that the usual level of data maintenance by our Editorial Team decreased. It didn’t stop – during the first quarter of 2014, 92 journals were earmarked for removal – but for a few months, the public view of DOAJ remained relatively static because the usual weeding and refining was on hold for a few months. There are still areas of the DOAJ data that we know needs to be reviewed and corrected.

Previously, not all information was compulsory

A publisher applying for a journal to be included in the old DOAJ was only required to provide 6 initial pieces of information. Once accepted, the publisher was encouraged to return to the site to provide further information about the journal. One such piece of information was the author processing charge (APC). This is clearly an important piece of information that authors, in particular, like to know up front. Therefore we took the opportunity, when we were designing the new application form, to raise the visibility of this information, require it on application and make it a compulsory question. Naturally, this means that our legacy data has holes in it which need to be filled. All the new journals applying for inclusion after March 19th 2014 have already answered this question. Once we start the re-application process, the ~9700 existing journals in DOAJ will have to answer this question. This process is scheduled to begin in the 3rd quarter of 2014.

All DOAJ data is publisher-provided

While we can force an answer to a question in a web form, we cannot force someone to return to DOAJ and update their information. Of course, information changes over time and often we find that publishers have forgotten to update us. Our system of regular review – our aim is that every journal be reviewed at least once a year – hopes to catch these changes and correct them as quickly as possible. Our new network of Associate Editors will do this more efficiently and pro-actively than ever before but we still encourage the community to get in touch when it spots things that seem to differ. The community can play an important role as our eyes and ears and we encourage that.

 

We first announced the start of our transition period back in October 2013. Since then we have been very open, not only about our progress and development plans but also about the effects that the work would have on the DOAJ itself. Hopefully, with this post I have given you a little more detail as to why there may be inaccuracies in the DOAJ, what we have done to address those and what we will continue to do as our database develops.

We appreciate the patience and support from the community! As always, do please get in touch should you have questions or comments.