Think. Check. Submit. Helping researchers to make informed publication choices.

Think Check Submit Logo
A new cross-industry campaign launches today – Think. Check. Submit. The campaign will provide information for researchers, through an online hub at, about the criteria they should look for when selecting where to publish their research.

The volume of research output continues to grow, and recent years have seen an increase in new publishing services and outlets. In March of this year, the CrossRef database alone included over 71 million DOIs, of which 55 million refer to journal articles from a total of over 36,000 journals. (And that is just the tip of the iceberg: thousands of journals in DOAJ use no DOI system at all.) At the same time, we read of stories of malpractice, or questionable publishing, but little in the way of guidance exists when it comes to choosing a journal to publish in.

Think. Check. Submit. is a new campaign coordinated by representatives of organisations from across the industry: ALPSP, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), INASP, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM), ISSN, LIBER, OASPA, UKSG and individual publishers. The campaign will help researchers understand their options, and key criteria they can check before making an informed decision about where to submit. Lars Bjørnshauge, DOAJ’s Managing Director, said “I am very proud that DOAJ is one of the founding organisations behind this broad campaign! It ties together nicely everything that DOAJ has been doing, particularly in recent years as we have increased our efforts helping authors and publishers alike commit to a better standard of publishing practice.”

It is envisaged that researchers will benefit from more information on what to consider when choosing where to publish, but the campaign will be directed particularly towards early-career academics and is aimed to be accessible to those whose first language is not English, or who may not be aware of, or have access to, the full breadth of scholarly literature.

Two articles in BMC Medicine point to the negative impact that some journals can have. One gives an individual academic’s point of view of the volume of unsolicited email invitations to publish, many of which are “unclear as to whether the manuscripts published by these journals add value to either the journals or the submitting authors.”[1]  The other investigates the scale and distribution of deceptive open access publishing both geographically and across scientific fields.[2]

“There is a global problem with information inequality and integrity”, said OASPA’s President Paul Peters, “not all publishing bodies operate to the required standards for producing quality literature. Researchers need resources to effectively evaluate these factors. Think. Check. Submit. will help researchers to carefully assess their options in order to make an informed choice before submitting their papers”.

The number of active academic journals grows by around 3.5 per cent each year[3] – in 2014 this equated to almost 1,000 new titles. In terms of regulation, DOAJ implemented new criteria for open access titles in March 2014.  Since then it has processed 6,000 applications, of which 2,700 have been rejected, 1,800 are in process, 1,500 have been accepted. In the same period 700 journals have been removed from DOAJ.

The ISSN network, coordinated by the ISSN International Centre, identifies and provides a bibliographic description to more than 60,000 new print and online serials per year. Every journal must have a registered ISSN before they can apply to be indexed in DOAJ and yet an ISSN number in itself is not intended to certify the quality of a serial. As a step toward certifying quality, the International ISSN Centre has established partnerships with scholarly organizations to promote quality open access resources with its new Directory of Open Access Scholarly Resources – ROAD – which offers a freely accessible description of 12,000 + OA resources including journals, conference proceedings, academic repositories, monographic series and scholarly blogs.

We are delighted to announce the launch of this campaign and would welcome your questions or feedback. Please leave comments here or visit for further information.

[1] You are invited to submit – David Moher and Anubhav Srivastava
BMC Medicine 2015, DOI:10.1186/s12916-015-0423-3
Published 4 August 2015:

[2] “Predatory” Open Access – A longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics
Cenyu Shen and Bo Christer Björk
BMC Medicine 2015, DOI:
Published 01 October 2015:

[3] Taken from The STM Report: An overview of scientific and scholarly journal publishing, Fourth edition

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.

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.