COVID-19: turnaround times may be affected

As with most organisations, COVID-19 is having an effect on DOAJ. Although we are an organisation without physical offices (virtual, already remote-working and Cloud-based), our team members and volunteers are all affected in real ways.

This means that we may take longer than usual to process applications. Many applications are processed in under 3 months but this may increase over the coming weeks. We ask you to be patient.

If you are a publisher waiting to hear from us about an application, the standard rules still apply:

  • do not email for a status update if you submitted your application less than 3 months ago.
  • before you contact us, check that emails from us aren’t in your spam folder. (Remember that our volunteers will email from their own email addresses and not DOAJ ones.)
  • always contact us using the Contact Us form and include the journal title and ISSN(s).

On behalf of everyone at DOAJ and all our volunteers, I’d like to thank you for your understanding but, more importantly, take great care of yourselves in these times of uncertainty.

Dom Mitchell
DOAJ Operations Manager

WANTED Portuguese and Spanish speakers: a call for volunteer DOAJ Associate Editors

DOAJ has a network of 130 skilled, voluntary Associate Editors and Editors who spend a few hours a week processing new journal applications for us. Would you like to join us? We are now recruiting volunteers who understand Portuguese and Spanish (You do not have to be a native speaker.) You must also be proficient in written and spoken English. 

As a DOAJ Associate Editor, you will be expected to do a few hours of voluntary, unpaid work a week. You will be provided with training materials to help you carry out your duties. The work you do will directly contribute to the quality, reputation, and prominence of open access, scholarly publishing around the globe. 

If you are interested, please complete this form. 

Requirements of the Role Your role as DOAJ Associate Editor will be guided and supervised by an Editor and a Managing Editor. 

Successful candidates will: 

  • have good knowledge about Open Access (OA); 
  • be passionate about OA; 
  • have good knowledge about OA developments in scholarly publishing; 
  • have a working understanding of OA publishing practices. 

In your work you must: 

  • be confident working online and have stable access to the internet; 
  • support and promote DOAJ and its goals, and be a DOAJ advocate; 
  • maintain confidentiality around information you have access to in the DOAJ database and shared Google Drive, particularly applications you review; 
  • assist in evaluating journals suggested to DOAJ in your specialist language; 
  • adhere to the recommendations around keeping personal data secure and confidential, as laid out by the DOAJ privacy policy

Applications are open to anyone with the requested language skills but please note that if you are associated with a journal in DOAJ, you may not be selected due to a conflict of interest. 

Thank you for considering volunteering for DOAJ!

Myth-busting: DOAJ takes too long to reach a decision

This is a myth.

From about 2012 until 2017, DOAJ was struggling to keep on top of the amount of applications being received.

Implementing new acceptance criteria and making 9900+ journals reapply exacerbated the problem and suddenly we had many reapplications and new applications coming in at the same time.

Triage
All applications go through an initial review to filter out incomplete or substandard applications. We call this process Triage. (From March 2015 to November 2017, Triage rejected 3112 sub-quality, incomplete or duplicate applications.)  Today, the average turnaround on an application from submission to initial review is a few days at the most.

From submission to decision
To improve the time taken to review an application and reach a decision to accept or reject, a revised and improved editorial workflow was implemented. You can read a full explanation on each of the 7 points in our progress report for 2018. The effects of those changes, which we have been monitoring carefully since 2018, are significant. 

Today we have no outstanding applications that were submitted in 2018, and only a small number dating from the first quarter of 2019 remain to be completed. We aim to reach a decision on all applications submitted within 6 months (and are still working hard to reduce that time too) although many are now completed in 3 months or less.

Even so, why does reviewing an application take time?
There are over 50 questions in our application form. Much of the work involved in reviewing an application is correspondence with the applicant and manually checking each answer. Each answer is checked for 3 things: that the answer in the form is correct; that the URL provided contains the information required in the question; that the information on the site is complete and correct.

Incommunicado
A contributing factor to the myth that DOAJ takes too long to reach a decision is the perception that DOAJ never responds. In the past, we did reject some applications without contacting the publisher about this. Since 2018, we have sent emails out for all rejected applications.

One of the most common reasons that an application is rejected is because we do not hear back from the applicant. There can be technical issues at play here: we suspect that sometimes our system-generated alerts, informing the applicant of the progress of their application, don’t reach their recipient. This is often due to particularly sensitive institutional firewalls, messages ending up in Spam folders, or email addresses no longer being valid. But it is also true that long delays in responding to DOAJ’s queries, or in making requested changes, can mean that an application is rejected.

Why do we ask applicants to wait 6 months before they apply again?

When we reject an application, the rejection email contains details about why the application was not successful and usually tells applicants that they must wait 6 months before submitting another application for the same journal to us. Why do we do this?

One reason is that it is an attempt to discourage repeat applications, made in haste, and we get many, many of those. Repeat and duplicate applications clog up the system and take our dedicated volunteers and team away from those applications which need some time spent on them. (In 10 months alone, DOAJ received 221 duplicate applications!)

The other reason is that many of the recommendations that we make in our rejection emails, recommendations made to help journals meet our criteria, take time to implement. Adding words to a website isn’t enough. Changes need to be implemented properly, communicated to stakeholders, tested, and managed. Some changes will require other parties to implement changes too. This all takes time. After the 6 months has passed, we welcome a new application but we ask that the journal website demonstrates very clearly that our recommendations have been put into practice and our editorial team will be very careful to check that all our recommendations have been implemented.