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.

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 www.thinkchecksubmit.org, 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 www.thinkchecksubmit.org for further information.

References
[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: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/13/180

[2] “Predatory” Open Access – A longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics
Cenyu Shen and Bo Christer Björk
BMC Medicine 2015, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12916-015-0469-2
Published 01 October 2015: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12916-015-0469-2

[3] Taken from The STM Report: An overview of scientific and scholarly journal publishing, Fourth edition
http://www.stm-assoc.org/2015_02_20_STM_Report_2015.pdf

“The Tick” is now live!

Now it’s easier to see which journals were accepted into the DOAJ under our new criteria, in other words, after March 2014. I posted a piece earlier this year where I explained that all journals accepted into DOAJ after that date would be marked with a green tick. We have now completed that work and “The Tick” is live on the site.

For every qualifying journal, The Tick appears in two places: in search results, alongside the journal’s name; and on the journal’s table of contents page.

 

The Tick in search results

The Tick in search results alongside the journal name

The Tick on a journal ToC page

The Tick on a journal’s table of contents page

(If you can’t see the Tick, then you will need to refresh the page: Ctrl +F5 on a PC, Cmd + R on a Mac.)

Proactive not reactive

Earlier this week, Nature News & Comment published a piece about the DOAJ under the heading ‘Open-access website gets tough‘.

We are happy about the exposure but there are a couple of things to address.

1) Coming to the end of a process started in December 2012

The process of drafting new, tougher criteria started way before the so-called “Science sting” which found problems in the peer review process of many of the questionable open access journals deliberately selected for the study.

IS4OA (www.is4oa.org) officially took over the responsibility for DOAJ on 1st January 2013 but it announced on 18th December 2012 that one of the most important things it would do was to ensure the implementation of stronger selection criteria for journals to be included—and to stay included—in the DOAJ. This was primarily to make it easier for authors to find a proper open access journal in which to publish their work. It makes it easier also for research funders, universities and managers of open access publication funds to make an informed decision on which open access journals comply with their policies in terms of licensing, archiving and APCs. In June 2013, after input from the DOAJ Advisory Board, I tweeted that a draft of the new criteria was available for public comment:

The draft received a lot of attention and constructive input from the community and the new application form finally went live in March this year, after a platform migration and a good deal of development.

All new journals wishing to be indexed in DOAJ and all journals indexed currently have to complete the form and then pass a much more rigorous and detailed evaluation. All the information provided by the journals will eventually be publicly available and searchable, further empowering the community to make better decisions re which open access journal to publish in and to help the DOAJ team monitor compliance. At time of writing, 231 journals have been accepted into the DOAJ under these new criteria.

Naturally, this change means much more evaluation is needed per application—multiplying current operations by a factor of 10—so DOAJ put out a call in January 2014 for voluntary editors to assist in the (re)-evaluation of the journals. The call generated 250 applications from researchers, PhDs, professors, librarians and academic publishing professionals from more than 30 countries mastering more than 30 languages. For DOAJ to achieve its vision of being a truly global service, extending coverage around the world, this is an important landmark.

With further development, DOAJ has also implemented a 3-tier evaluation process which will, as far as possible, filter out any questionable journals. This process will take time, especially since 99% of the 9939 journals have to be re-evaluated. We expect the process to be completed late 2015.

2) Even more vital to the community

The DOAJ Team knows for a fact that these efforts are taking DOAJ in the right direction that will ensure it continues to meet the needs of the public. It has already had excellent feedback on the new developments via social media channels, via training sessions held by Redalyc throughout South America and from its sponsors and supporters. It is also known that many university open access publication funds list inclusion in the DOAJ as being one of the criteria for a successful funding request. Furthermore, someone looking for a quality, peer-reviewed, open access journal in their field is more likely to start their search with the DOAJ list of journals, than with any other list; a curated list of reputable journals that uses a 3-tier review process, that harnesses the skills and expertise of the community and that requires 48 pieces of different information from an applicant before a journal can be considered for inclusion.

All the improvements above add up to a dramatic change for the DOAJ and the way it operates. It can only continue this approach if the communities that use and value DOAJ continue to support it. DOAJ has been operating entirely on financial support and is one of the oldest community funded, open access infrastructure services. Along with its sponsors, more than 100 university libraries, 15 library consortia and others already support DOAJ financially but more are needed! Become part of this impressive group of sponsors and supporters by going to http://doaj.org/supportDoaj and donating.

Welcome to the DOAJ news service

Welcome!

This news service will bring you all the latest news and developments from DOAJ and our work at the centre of the open access community.

We will keep you informed on our work as we expand our features, functionality, and teams of dedicated volunteers across the globe.

You can get in touch here if you have questions or comments. We would love to hear from you.

Dom Mitchell, Community Manager