In its series Open Access News & Views, Delta Think recently published an analysis of the DOAJ. We very much enjoyed the piece and found it to be one of the most well-informed articles written about us. We would like to add to the discussion by commenting on a few of the issues raised in the article.
Comparing apples with oranges
The main problem, when you compare ROAD, Web of Science (WoS), Scopus and DOAJ, is that all of these services have different definitions and criteria as to what constitutes a valid journal entry in their databases.
In general, one can say that DOAJ’s criteria are the strictest and therefore DOAJ is not an index of all open access (OA) journals but an index of gold standard, quality, peer-reviewed OA journals. So therefore not all OA journals meet our criteria.
Being indexed in DOAJ acts like a badge of quality. A quality stamp based on the business operations of a journal and its reliability, how closely that journal adheres to best practices and which standards it uses. Scopus and WoS are not in the business of measuring any of those. (We would take this opportunity to point out that DOAJ holds many more journals which aren’t in Scopus.)
The Scopus selection process is explained here: https://www.elsevier.com/solutions/scopus/how-scopus-works/content/content-policy-and-selection
Regarding WoS you can find more information here: https://www.clarivate.com/products/web-of-science/open-access
ROAD criteria are perhaps the most relaxed: open access to all content; no moving wall or embargo; no hybrid journals; mainly research papers; the audience is mainly researchers and scholars.
We hope that together, we can achieve more transparency on inclusion criteria and we think that this would be welcomed by the community. DOAJ has an excellent working partnership with ISSN (who run the ROAD database); we are in communication with Scopus regularly; and we would welcome the opportunity to work more with Clarivate, who produce Web of Science.
We know that all these services take DOAJ metadata, either directly via OAI-PMH, our journal CSV file or our data dumps, or indirectly by using data feeds from third parties. What we have yet to establish, in the case of Scopus and ROAD, is how often they take the data from us–we believe for Scopus this could be as seldom as every six months–and how they then filter it.
Another point worth highlighting is that, to date, DOAJ has relied on publishers applying to be assessed and indexed and we have done very little soliciting of journals. However throughout 2019/2020 we will start approaching relevant OA journals not currently indexed and working with them to help them submit a quality application. This initiative is part of a funding drive for this year.
Regarding the implementation of Plan S
DOAJ expects to be involved in the implementation of Plan S and this will lead to additional criteria for journals to become Plan S compliant. In any case, we expect that Plan S will make it even more relevant for journals to be assessed and listed in DOAJ.