Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science (SCOSS) hits half-million Euro funding mark

Thanks to dozens of quick-acting universities and institutions in Australia, Europe & North America, a new effort to secure Open Science infrastructure is off to a strong start. More than 680 000 Euros have been pledged to support DOAJ and SHERPA/RoMEO already.

In a press release issued by SPARC Europe on 14th August 2018, Vannessa Proudman, Director of SPARC Europe, said:

“This being a new concept, we are very encouraged by the response of the community at this point. We’re taking this as an early indication that we will, in time, reach our full three-year funding goals for both the DOAJ and SHERPA/RoMEO, two truly vital services. But for this to happen, we will need to continue to see growth in support; far more institutions committing to funding.”

Lars Bjørnshauge, Managing Director and Founder of DOAJ, said: “We are very pleased to see that many of the long standing members of DOAJ have decided to increase their financial support, based on the fees recommended by SCOSS and for the next three years. We are looking forward to welcoming even more members and support shortly. We will do our very best to live up to the ever-changing expectations from the community.”

And “the ever-changing expectations from the community” are, in a nutshell, why SCOSS and sustainable funding models are so important to DOAJ, SHERPA/RoMEO and open access in general. Open access is still a relatively young publishing model and is growing rapidly. New markets are opening up to open access publishing, each of them bringing new challenges with them, and technology is creating new opportunities and functionality in publishing. DOAJ must remain at the forefront of these developments and that means having a stable financial foundation upon which work can continue.

If you’d like to know more about SCOSS please go to http://scoss.org/ and if you would like to make a financial contribution using the SCOSS model, or indeed, any amount at all, please contact Lars: lars@doaj.org.

 

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft signs up as a sustainable funder

dfgDOAJ is extremely pleased to welcome Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to the growing list of organisations who have committed funds, via SCOSS, to support DOAJ on its way to a sustainable form of funding and future. DFG has demonstrated a commitment to open access for years and as such, we are very proud to receive their support.
Angela Holzer said of the commitment that DFG “considers the sustainability of vital infrastructures for open access crucial for the future. DOAJ has proven to be a very valuable tool not only for researchers and libraries, but also for funders and infrastructure providers. We welcome a transparent and sustainable development of DOAJ in the public interest”.
About DFG
The DFG is the self-governing organisation for science and research in Germany. It serves all branches of science and the humanities. In organisational terms, the DFG is an association under private law. Its membership consists of German research universities, non-university research institutions, scientific associations and the Academies of Science and the Humanities. (http://www.dfg.de/en/dfg_profile/mission/index.html)
About SCOSS
The formation of the Global Sustainability Coalition for Open Science Services (SCOSS) represents a community-led effort to help maintain, and ultimately secure, vital infrastructure. This recognition of the cruciality of such infrastructure, and of securing it, is what led to the formation of SCOSS. Groundwork for the coalition was laid by the Knowledge Exchange, which presented many of the foundational ideas for it in its 2016 report Putting Down Roots, Securing the Future of Open Access Policies.

 

Publishers Report: 2017 in Summary

As a publisher who supports DOAJ, either as a member or as a sponsor, you are part of a growing global network of publishers who have unequivocally stated a firm commitment to support open access through DOAJ’s work. On behalf of the entire DOAJ Team and supporters of open access the world over, I would like to thank you for your continued support. Your contributions are always spent directly on improving DOAJ’s infrastructure; maintaining high levels of recency and accuracy of the DOAJ metadata; and increasing the awareness of issues surrounding open access. The team at DOAJ ensures that all of this happens in a way that keeps DOAJ relevant around the globe, and not just in the Global North.

This report briefly covers our main achievements in 2017, as well as developments for the year ahead. If you have any questions on its content, or would like to know more, then drop me an email: dom@doaj.org.

With very best wishes for the new year ahead,

Dom Mitchell
Operations Manager


What We Achieved in 2017

2017 saw the end of the Reapplications project and the extension of our Ambassador program. We made improvements to our workflow to reduce our turnaround times on new applications and we launched our education and outreach program. Finally, we carried out a series of small projects to internationalise DOAJ as much as possible.

The reapplication project and updates to journals

All publishers were asked to submit new applications for all of the journals which were already included in DOAJ. 6359 reapplications were sent to us. Of those, 4031 were accepted as meeting the high standards required to be indexed in the Directory. This also means that, for the first time since launch in 2003, more than 99% of all the journal information in DOAJ is less than two years old. For those journals which didn’t make the grade, DOAJ offered feedback on how to improve the journal’s practices and, unless otherwise stated, those journals may send in new applications 6 months after the last decision from us, provided that they can show that they have implemented the changes recommended to them.

Also, our predictions at the start of the project came true and we never heard from 2860 journals; they all failed to resubmit reapplications to us. After repeated reminders, these journals were removed from the Directory which meant that, in total, the reapplication project resulted in a 40% cull of titles from DOAJ.

One of the inherent problems with the reapplications project, which we identified at the start, was that DOAJ relies heavily on journal representatives (publishers, journal owners, editors) to keep the information in the Directory up to date, including cotact details. Currently, a journal representative must contact the DOAJ Team with any updates to the journal information which are then verified and applied on behalf of the publisher. This means that, more often than not, journal information is never updated. To combat this, DOAJ reviews journal information regularly but to make this whole process easier, we will be launching a new system which will enable journal representatives to update information themselves. Submitted updates will be reviewed by the DOAJ Team before being published immediately to the site.

Extension of the Ambassador program, education and outreach

The Ambassador program, launched in 2016 and financed by the IDRC, was a huge success, so much so that we received further funding to extend the program into 2017. The DOAJ Ambassadors were able to continue their excellent work in their home territories. It also meant that, in those countries where we suffered a heavy loss of titles after the Reapplication Project, DOAJ was able to target efforts and encourage new applications from many of the local open access journals. This most recently happened in Korea, Japan and Indonesia and further countries are planned for 2018. We extended the Editor-in-Chief’s role to concentrate specifically on Education and Outreach and in 2018, we will be launching a series of training videos, specifically aimed at improving the quality of applications sent to us. More on that below.

Improved workflow and reduced turnaround times

Something that we hear a lot at DOAJ is that our turnaround times for processing new applications are too long. In 2017, this was certainly due to the number of reapplications which we had to process but, unfortunately, we have always had lengthy processing times. In the hope that this will encourage more applications from titles not yet in DOAJ, we took steps to correct this and reduce the time to first decision.

Never before has DOAJ been in a position where it has had so many people working for it and processing applications for us. We created a new role, Senior Managing Editor, whose is specifically tasked with monitoring throughput; we expanded our Triage role which, essentially, removes all of the rubbish applications from the queues, allowing the editorial team to focus on those applications which matter; we identified and pooled our most dedicated volunteers to give greater processing power; we have started a system whereby applications can be allocated directly to a reviewer rather than sitting in a holding pattern awaiting assignment; we re-focused our editorial team and allocated resource to those countries submitting the most applications to us; we introduced a reporting system which allows us to track applications and alerts us when the workflow slows for whatever reason.

All of these changes combined will see a greater throughput of new applications in 2018.

Internationalisation of DOAJ

Despite our aim to be as global as possible, much of what we write is in English, or is generated from our offices across Europe. DOAJ aims to be as global as possible and be as relevant as possible to all parts of the world. In 2017, we extended the range of our translated materials, hoping to encourage more interaction and participation from all around the world. We also invited guest blog posts from our Ambassadors, a series which focussed on how open access works and some of the issues facing open access in different parts of the world.

 

Coming Down The Pipe in 2018

Our three focus areas for 2018 are:

  1. Sustainability
  2. Scalability and stability
  3. Education and outreach

Sustainability

We have partnered with agents working in Europe who are approaching institutions on our behalf to secure more funding. DOAJ is also one of the beneficiaries of the SCOSS pilot which launched late 2017 with an aim to establishing a sustainable funding model for DOAJ and SHERPA/RoMEO. As our operations grow, we require more funding and so we need to fund DOAJ in a more sustainable way than the hand-to-mouth model we survive on currently.

Also, more attention is being paid, both by potential funders as well as the community, to what DOAJ is, how we are set up and how we operate. People are looking to us for more transparency and structure in our business model and our processes, and as a community-driven organisation, our supporters are expecting to have more of an influence in DOAJ’s direction. We will be formalising a new governance model in early 2018 to meet these demands.

Scalability and stability

With our technical partners, Cottage Labs, we are about to start a huge infrastructure project which will completely rebuild the underlying platform, making it more stable and easier to develop in the future. Traffic to DOAJ has more than doubled over the last 3 years and we must ensure that the platform remains fit for purpose for the next 5 years at least, particularly as traffic will increase even more as we add new metadata and new ways to connect to the site to harvest it.

Over the latter half of 2017, we saw spikes in usage from crawlers, usage through our API and had to throttle some of these to make sure that users on the site were able to use the site normally. We want to expand and stabilise the platform so that we can accommodate all traffic sources without any adverse effects.

Education and outreach

As mentioned above, DOAJ will be launching a series of training videos, to encourage better quality applications. We are currently putting together the first one which will be an introduction to DOAJ. We will then publish a series of videos, aimed at editors, publishers and researchers, to help simplify some of the more obscure aspects of open access publishing. One such area will be copyright retention versus [Creative Commons] licensing.

Our Editor-in-Chief will continue to target areas of the world from which we receive few or low quality applications. DOAJ will firm up its presence in the open access arena both as an educator and an influencer. We also hope to increase the number of Social Science and Humanities journals in DOAJ.

Total financial support from libraries and library consortia in 2017, broken down by country.

Top 10 libraries screenshot

Top 10 Countries in terms of financial support received from libraries and library consortia in 2017

As we near the end of the year, it’s time to review our finances and start the annual process of sending out invoices for the coming year. Part of that work is to establish out how much support we received from our wonderful library and library consortia members in 2017. Attached here is a PDF detailing the total support, broken down by country:

Funding per country for 2017 (updated 3 Jan 2018) [PDF]

28 countries in total donated to DOAJ in 2017. The Top 5 countries (total GBP) are USA, Austria, United Kingdom, Norway and Sweden but if you consider the amount donated in relation to the size of the country, then Luxembourg, Austria and Norway are way ahead of the others.

We are extremely grateful to all of our members, many of them repeat supporters, who strongly and openly commit to open access by supporting DOAJ throughout 2017. Without them, DOAJ wouldn’t be able to continue the great work it is doing and wouldn’t be at the centre of open access like it is today.

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.

Austria: a concerted and coordinated national effort to lead by example

It is Open Access Week 2015 and what better way to mark than by publishing some extremely good news!

DOAJ is extremely grateful for the support that it now receives from Austria! These are truly outstanding commitments from Austrian universities and research centres, from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy and from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). This is the first time that DOAJ has received support from a Ministry and a research funder and it demonstrates, in a very concrete way, a determination to support Open Access that goes far beyond signing Open Access declarations and issuing open access policies that, far too often, are too soft. To be blunt: it is really good to see influential organisations putting their resources and power where their mouths are. DOAJ hopes that the Austrian example will inspire others to do the same! Read the FWF press release published today: see section ‘Successful fund raising campaign for the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) by Universities Austria (UNIKO) and by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)‘ in the middle of that page. The original announcement is here (in German).

The FWF and Austria have stepped up to the mark and are taking a leadership role in actually paving the way for the entire Open Agenda. It is encouraging to see Austria taking a very distinct role, and at a national level, in supporting sustainability for freely available infrastructure services for open access.

DOAJ knows that research funders, universities (open access publication funds), libraries and researchers look to it to identify good open access journals. DOAJ works hard to continuously provide more and better services to meet these needs and serve stakeholders. DOAJ has a lot to do with the re-evaluation of ~9000 journals to ensure that they comply with its tighter criteria for inclusion. The outstanding support from Austria enables DOAJ to recruit more staff with publishing experience to build up the team of professionals already working to ensure the quality and reliability of DOAJ.

50 major public research organisations in Europe adopt four new common principles on Open Access Publisher Services

In a press release published yesterday, 50 Science Europe members agreed on 4 new common principles expected for publisher members when providing payments/subsidies for Open Access venues. The first principle states that journals must be listed in DOAJ, Web of Science, Scopus or PubMed.

The new principles adopted by Science Europe aim at setting minimum standards for Open Access publishing services provided by scholarly publishers. These general – and at the same time very practical – principles will help ensure scholarly and technical quality and cost effectiveness of Open Access-related services in all fields, from sciences to social sciences and the humanities. As scholarly publishing makes its transition to an Open Access system, and as service providers change their business models, the outcome of the transition will depend on the added value and quality of the services provided.

Of course, this is fantastic news for DOAJ. It underlines our position at the heart of Open Access publishing and it recognises officially the work we have been doing over the past two years to raise the quality bar for open access journals and publishing.

Lars, DOAJ’s Managing Director, said: “The New Science Europe Principles on Open Access Publisher Services confirm that DOAJ really is on the right track with its new requirements for being listed. We are aware that this is a huge undertaking, and we are only able to do this because of our brilliant team, the more than 150 volunteers that are working a few hours a week to evaluate the journals and, of course, the support we receive from library consortia, university libraries from more than 50 countries and our sponsors.”

Indeed, DOAJ has already opened the process for journals to reapply to remain indexed and will soon be re-evaluating the 9700 that must reapply. We require funds to continue this great work so do consider becoming a DOAJ member, sponsor or give us a donation.