Quality of DOAJ listed journals

A recently published article on a comparison of blacklists and whitelists draws the conclusion that “In the DOAJ, more criteria relate to transparency of business and publishing practices rather than to the quality of peer review. This indicates a risk of falsely endorsing the legitimacy of a journal based on its transparent nature, while at the same time ignoring journals’ lack of best practices in peer review”  

Perhaps we could have done a better job in explaining how DOAJ assess the quality of journals. When the DOAJ list started in 2003, peer review was one of four criteria used in the evaluation.

After the upgrade in 2014, to include more than 40 criteria, it is certainly true that most of these pertain to the transparency of publishing and business practices.

At the same time however, peer review has remained a key criteria for judging the quality of journals that apply for inclusion in the DOAJ index. So the aspect of quality peer review weighs heavily in the assessment of the quality of journals.

In contrast to what the authors of the article state on peer review procedures DOAJ requires peer review by at least two independent reviewers.
Page 13 ; “Both blacklists and whitelists include criteria stating that a journal needs to have a “rigorous” peer review system in place (see list of criteria in supplementary file 2). Both whitelists do not define “rigorous”, however, Cabell’s whitelist implies that peer review should be anonymous and conducted by at least two reviewers.

As stated in the article, peer review is one of the intermediate verifiable criteria. That means that when a publishers states on the website that they have for instance double blind peer-review our editors usually check the correctness of this by verifying an accompanying description of the peer review process. However in case of any doubt concerning the journal’s quality, a special editorial team will do a more detailed analysis on quality criteria including peer review practices, editorial board competence, content comparison of published articles, plagiarism checking and other factors. It is safe to say that our users will have a hard time finding journals in DOAJ with no or inadequate peer review procedures in place.

Because peer review until now has been the holy grail of scientific quality control, it is understandable that people link the quality of, or even the mere presence of peer review with the quality of a given journal. The relationship is unfortunately not so clear cut as many want to believe. Peer review by good connections, friends of friends, even colleagues is often seen. In addition independent peer review panels of experts come to very different conclusions regarding one and the same scholarly work. Because of this, the entire peer review procedure is in a state of rapid change.  Indexing services like the DOAJ have to be aware of the shortcomings of the current system and therefore avoid overrating peer review as THE criteria to assess quality. We think that good publishing practices other than peer review and good quality editorial boards are at least as important and more easy to verify as details of peer review practices.

I want to end with a short word on blacklists. We note that blacklists are depending for a large part on difficult verifiable criteria and subjective judgment, while DOAJ depends largely (77%) on easily verifiable criteria related to transparency and business practices. Blacklists also tend to give a lasting sting to the reputation of journals. More often than not, there exist inadequate and non-transparent procedures for a journal to be removed from a blacklist after improving a journal. For this reason blacklists are often inaccurate and out of date. This risk is even more prominent for one of the lists in the PeerJ study, Bealls list, which has officially stopped to exist but has been resurrected by some people with very unclear policies regarding updates, inclusion and removal of journals from the revived list. In addition, blacklists can never be inclusive, while whitelists are inclusive (ie. most journals in the whitelist will be of good quality while many blacklisted journals will not be predatory at all).

It will not come as a surprise that we strongly recommend to users to  use whitelists and not blacklists to check the quality of journals. Let it also be clear that we do not believe in any complementary nature between both list types and there is another important difference between the (DOAJ) whitelist and blacklists: in contrast to blacklists, DOAJ is not in the business of stigmatizing publishers, rather we spend substantial resources helping journals to improve.

Tom Olijhoek – DOAJ Editor in Chief

How to submit a complete and quality application. A Webinar on the DOAJ.

This invitation is for Scholarly Journal Editors/Publishers/Librarians/Other, in the southern and eastern African regions, to attend a webinar on the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
About DOAJ
The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) – launched in 2003 at Lund University, Sweden – is a centrally, publicly and internationally available community-curated list of high quality open access journal titles across all disciplines. It aims to be the starting point for all information searches for quality, peer-reviewed open access material.
About the webinar
The webinar will try to address the requirements a high quality, scholarly journal should adhere to, as well as the process involved to be acknowledged through being recorded in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ).
Date: Friday, 12 August 2016
Time: 09:00-10:00 SA Time (UCT + 02:00) (Time Zone Converter)
Venue: Virtual via your Chrome/Firefox Internet Browser. More details to follow once you have registered for the webinar.
Requirements: Stable Internet, most recent version of Chrome/Firefox Internet Browser, Sound
Costs: None
Please register by 10 August 2016, by completing the following online form: https://goo.gl/forms/TWcqh9KZHsjTDoZi1
We are looking very much forward to you joining us for this webinar, in trying to address quality in scholarly journal publishing in the southern African region.

Knowledge Exchange report on Open Access dependencies

Knowledge Exchange have today released a report highlighting the dependency on key non-commercial services in OA and the importance of ensuring their sustainability if the OA policies developed by institutions and research funders are to be successfully implemented.

DOAJ and SHERPA are named in the report as the two most important services in the OA community that require support from funders in order to operate sustainably in the long term.

Further information is available at Review of Open Access Policy Dependencies and the full report is available at http://repository.jisc.ac.uk/6269/10/final-KE-Report-V5.1-20JAN2016.pdf.

Get involved and volunteer for DOAJ

We are always looking for ‪‎volunteers‬ to help us review the applications for journals wishing to be indexed in ‪‎DOAJ‬. We have well over 100 people, from all over the world, helping us already. It’s a growing and exciting network to be part of and the work being done directly contributes to the quality of peer-review, open access publishing. Are you interested in joining us?

How much work is it?
We ask our volunteers to give us 4 or 5 hours of their time per week but you are left to manage your own schedule.

Who should volunteer?
Anyone who has knowledge and enthusiasm for academic journals, scholarly publishing, ‪‎open access‬, electronic publishing, librarianship, digital preservation. We particularly welcome ‪librarians‬, information studies professionals and students, PhD students, researchers and people affiliated with research institutions. The important thing is that you understand some of the mechanics, principles and politics behind open access and scholarly publishing.

We are always looking for people who have an excellent grasp of English as a first, second or third language.

If you can speak the following languages, with English, we would love to hear from you:

‪‎Arabic (العربية)
Bulgarian‬ (български)
‪Chinese‬ (中文)
‪Czech‬ (česky)
‪Farsi‬ (فارسی)
‪French‬ (français)
German (deutsch)
‪Hungarian‬ (magyar)
‪Indonesian‬ (Indonesia)
‪Macedonian‬ (македонски)
‪Polish‬ (Polski)
‪Portuguese‬ (Português)
Romanian (român)
‪Russian‬ (Русский)
‪Serbo‬-Croatian
‪Slovak‬ (slovenský)
‪Slovenian‬ (slovensko)
‪Spanish‬ (Español)
‪Turkish‬ (Türkçe)

How do I apply?
If you have any questions, contact me here or email feedback@doaj.org

DOAJ is raising the quality bar for open access: SPARC blog post

DOAJ’s managing director, Lars Bjørnshauge, has been interviewed by SPARC about DOAJ’s enhanced application form and raising the quality bar in open access publishing. The post, published today, highlights how effectively the new form is providing a much-needed filter against questionable, unethical and non-transparent publishing practices.  Combined with OASPA’s efforts, the form is an important tool for fighting  “the scholarly community’s legitimate concerns over the quality of Open Access journals” said Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC. “The actions that the DOAJ are taking… provide an important new safeguard, and helps raise the quality bar.”

Of course, we are delighted to hear that our efforts over the past two years are bearing fruit. With financial support from the community, via sponsorships and donations, we have worked hard to implement the new form and its comprehensive administration system that our volunteers use to review the applications. We are also helping publishers improve their practices, helping them understand how their operations can be more “professional, ethical, and transparent”.

DOAJ will not be resting on its laurels quite yet though as there is still much left to do. DOAJ is currently inviting 99% of all the journals indexed in it to reapply. It is anticipated that this process take the rest of this year to complete, progress of course depending on how fast publishers return their reapplications to us. The review work requires a large amount of manpower so we are seeking further financial contributions to help us speed up the process and more volunteers who know Turkish, Indonesian, Farsi, Spanish and Portuguese.

If you or your institutions would like to donate, you can do so here: http://doaj.org/supportDoaj. If you know anyone who might like to volunteer a few hours of their time reviewing applications with us, please show them this post.

Onwards!

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.