Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing, version 3

The 3rd version of the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing is published today.

Introduction

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), and the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) are scholarly organizations that have seen an increase in the number, and broad range in the quality, of membership applications. Our organizations have collaborated to identify principles of transparency and best practice for scholarly publications and to clarify that these principles form the basis of the criteria by which suitability for membership is assessed by COPE, DOAJ and OASPA, and part of the criteria on which membership applications are evaluated by WAME. Each organization also has their own, additional criteria which are used when evaluating applications. The organizations will not share lists of publishers or journals that failed to demonstrate that they met the criteria for transparency and best practice. Backgrounds on each organization are at the bottom of this post.

This is the third version of a work in progress (published 15 January 2018); the first version was made available by OASPA in December 2013 and published on the DOAJ web site in January 2014. We encourage its wide dissemination and continue to welcome feedback on the general principles and the specific criteria.

Principles of Transparency

  1. Website: A journal’s website, including the text that it contains, shall demonstrate that care has been taken to ensure high ethical and professional standards. It must not contain information that might mislead readers or authors, including any attempt to mimic another journal/publisher’s site.
    An ‘Aims & Scope’ statement should be included on the website and the readership clearly defined. There should be a statement on what a journal will consider for publication including authorship criteria (e.g., not considering multiple submissions, redundant publications) to be included. ISSNs should be clearly displayed (separate for print and electronic).
  2. Name of journal: The Journal name shall be unique and not be one that is easily confused with another journal or that might mislead potential authors and readers about the Journal’s origin or association with other journals. 
  3. Peer review process: Journal content must be clearly marked as whether peer reviewed or not. Peer review is defined as obtaining advice on individual manuscripts from reviewers expert in the field who are not part of the journal’s editorial staff. This process, as well as any policies related to the journal’s peer review procedures, shall be clearly described on the journal website, including the method of peer review used. Journal websites should not guarantee manuscript acceptance or very short peer review times. 
  4. Ownership and management: Information about the ownership and/or management of a journal shall be clearly indicated on the journal’s website. Publishers shall not use organizational or journal names that would mislead potential authors and editors about the nature of the journal’s owner. 
  5. Governing body: Journals shall have editorial boards or other governing bodies whose members are recognized experts in the subject areas included within the journal’s scope. The full names and affiliations of the journal’s editorial board or other governing body shall be provided on the journal’s website. 
  6. Editorial team/contact information: Journals shall provide the full names and affiliations of the journal’s editors on the journal website as well as contact information for the editorial office, including a full address. 
  7. Copyright and Licensing: The policy for copyright shall be clearly stated in the author guidelines and the copyright holder named on all published articles.  Likewise, licensing information shall be clearly described in guidelines on the website, and licensing terms shall be indicated on all published articles, both HTML and PDFs.  If authors are allowed to publish under a Creative Commons license then any specific license requirements shall be noted.  Any policies on posting of final accepted versions or published articles on third party repositories shall be clearly stated. 
  8. Author fees: Any fees or charges that are required for manuscript processing and/or publishing materials in the journal shall be clearly stated in a place that is easy for potential authors to find prior to submitting their manuscripts for review or explained to authors before they begin preparing their manuscript for submission.  If no such fees are charged that should also be clearly stated. 
  9. Process for identification of and dealing with allegations of research misconduct: Publishers and editors shall take reasonable steps to identify and prevent the publication of papers where research misconduct has occurred, including plagiarism, citation manipulation, and data falsification/fabrication, among others. In no case shall a journal or its editors encourage such misconduct, or knowingly allow such misconduct to take place. In the event that a journal’s publisher or editors are made aware of any allegation of research misconduct relating to a published article in their journal, the publisher or editor shall follow COPE’s guidelines (or equivalent) in dealing with allegations. 
  10. Publication Ethics: A journal shall also have policies on publishing ethics. These should be clearly visible on its website, and should refer to: i) Journal policies on authorship and contributorship; ii) How the journal will handle complaints and appeals; iii) Journal policies on conflicts of interest / competing interests; iv) Journal policies on data sharing and reproducibility; v) Journal’s policy on ethical oversight; vi) Journal’s policy on intellectual property; and vii) Journal’s options for post-publication discussions and corrections. 
  11. Publishing schedule: The periodicity at which a journal publishes shall be clearly indicated. 
  12. Access: The way(s) in which the journal and individual articles are available to readers and whether there are associated subscription or pay per view fees shall be stated. 
  13. Archiving: A journal’s plan for electronic backup and preservation of access to the journal content (for example, access to main articles via CLOCKSS or PubMed Central) in the event a journal is no longer published shall be clearly indicated. 
  14. Revenue sources: Business models or revenue sources (e.g., author fees, subscriptions, advertising, reprints, institutional support, and organizational support) shall be clearly stated or otherwise evident on the journal’s website. Publishing fees or waiver status should not influence editorial decision making. 
  15. Advertising: Journals shall state their advertising policy if relevant, including what types of adverts will be considered, who makes decisions regarding accepting adverts and whether they are linked to content or reader behaviour (online only) or are displayed at random. Advertisements should not be related in any way to editorial decision making and shall be kept separate from the published content. 
  16. Direct marketing: Any direct marketing activities, including solicitation of manuscripts that are conducted on behalf of the journal, shall be appropriate, well targeted, and unobtrusive.  Information provided about the publisher or journal is expected to be truthful and not misleading for readers or authors.

In the event that a member organization is found to have violated these best practices, or other specific requirements of the organization, OASPA/DOAJ/COPE/WAME shall in the first instance try to work with them in order to address any concerns that have been raised. In the event that the member organization is unable or unwilling to address these concerns, their membership in the organization may be suspended or terminated. All of the member organizations have procedures for dealing with concerns raised about member journals.

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About the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE, https://publicationethics.org/)

COPE provides advice to editors and publishers on all aspects of publication ethics and, in particular, how to handle cases of research and publication misconduct. It also provides a forum for its members to discuss individual cases. COPE does not investigate individual cases but encourages editors to ensure that cases are investigated by the appropriate authorities (usually a research institution or employer). All COPE members are expected to apply COPE principles of publication ethics outlined in the core practices.

About the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ, https://doaj.org)

The mission of the DOAJ is to curate, maintain and develop a source of reliable information about open access scholarly journals on the web; to verify that entries on the list comply with reasonable standards; to increase the visibility, dissemination, discoverability and attraction of open access journals; to enable scholars, libraries, universities, research funders and other stakeholders to benefit from the information and services provided; to facilitate the integration of open access journals into library and aggregator services; to assist, where possible, publishers and their journals to meet reasonable digital publishing standards; and to thereby support the transition of the system of scholarly communication and publishing into a model that serves science, higher education, industry, innovation, societies and the people. Through this work, DOAJ will cooperate and collaborate with all interested parties working toward these objectives.

About the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA, https://oaspa.org/)

OASPA is a trade association that was established in 2008 in order to represent the interests of Open Access (OA) publishers globally across all disciplines. By encouraging collaboration in developing appropriate business models, tools and standards to support OA publishing, OASPA aims to help ensure a prosperous and sustainable future for the benefit of its members and the scholarly communities they serve. This mission is carried out through exchanging information, setting standards, advancing models, advocacy, education, and the promotion of innovation.  

About the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME, http://www.wame.org)

WAME is a global nonprofit voluntary association of editors of peer-reviewed medical journals who seek to foster cooperation and communication among editors; improve editorial standards; promote professionalism in medical editing through education, self-criticism, and self-regulation; and encourage research on the principles and practice of medical editing. WAME develops policies and recommendations of best practices for medical journal editors and has a syllabus for editors that members are encouraged to follow.

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

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!

Some minor edits to the Application form

Thanks to feedback from the community, we’ve been able to make some small changes and clarifications to the Application form.

We haven’t changed anything that affects the information required by the form but we have changed some of the Help texts and, hopefully, made the task of filling out the form slightly simpler.

The following changes that we made are of particular note:

  • Questions 4 & 5: changed ‘ISSN’ and ‘EISSN’ to “ISSN (print version)” and “ISSN (online version)” and …
  • … changed the help text to: ‘Only provide the print ISSN if your journal has one, otherwise leave this field blank. Write the ISSN with the hyphen “-” e.g. 1234-4321.’
  • Question 19: changed the question text to: ‘How many research and review articles did the journal publish in the last calendar year?’
  • Question 34: changed the Help text from ‘The journal must have either an editor or an editorial board with at least 5 clearly identifiable members, affiliation information and email addresses.’ to ‘The journal must have either an editor or an editorial board with at least 5 clearly identifiable members and affiliation information. We will ask for email addresses as part of our checks.’

Why do we ask for email addresses?

Asking journals to display email addresses on a web site can be a sensitive issue. We are fully aware of the implications of posting email addresses, privacy and spamming. So, even though it is possible to write email addresses in a non-crawlable way, thereby protecting the owner from unsolicited mail, we will no longer require publishers to display email addresses on the site unless they are already doing so. We will instead look for the information on the site or ask for URLs for five editorial board members. And don’t worry: no e-mail addresses that we receive will ever be displayed on DOAJ and we never reuse these email addresses for our own use. The data is safe with us.

You may wonder why we ask for email addresses in the first place? As we carry out our assessment on a journal’s quality, one of the key pieces of information that we look for is that the journal has a clearly identifiable editorial board as per the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing joint statement that we published with WAME, COPE and OASPA. Verifying email addresses for editorial board members gives us one extra piece of evidence that the members come from the Institution that the journal says they come from and allows us to contact them to confirm that they have accepted to be on the editorial board.

What do we mean by ‘research’ and ‘review’ articles?

For those smaller journals, publishing perhaps only a handful of articles a year, we will carefully look at the types of articles they are publishing to make sure that the journal content is high quality original research. For those journals publishing case reports, you may count them as original research articles if they focus on more than 3 cases in the analytical activity.

When providing the number of articles published, you may round down to the nearest 10.