Diamond Open Access study commissioned by cOAlition S

Please, help us get to know the open access journals and platforms that are free for readers and authors.

We are pleased to invite you to fill in a survey dedicated to gaining in-depth understanding of open access journals that don’t charge author-fees, often known as the “diamond model”; journals that are free to both readers and authors.

This survey is part of the Diamond Open Access Study commissioned by cOAlition S and intends to explore and deepen our understanding of collaborative non-commercial publishing models for Open Access.

We need to assess the depth and breadth of OA diamond offerings across the globe, and we need to make the case for this kind of OA if we are to gain stronger support from funders.

The survey will be open until the 25th of August 2020

Take me to the survey (English version).
There are translated versions of the survey as well:

DE : https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GZQDBT5?lang=de
FR : https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GZQDBT5?lang=fr
IT : https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GZQDBT5?lang=it
ES : https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GZQDBT5?lang=es
PT : https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GZQDBT5?lang=pt


The landscape of open access journals and platforms that do not charge authors to publish is broad and diverse. These journals and platforms serve specific research areas in different languages, and are attuned to local or regional needs specific to various publishing cultures.

This variety results in a multi-faceted publication offering that is often characterized by a lack of connection and collaboration between publishers. This, in turn, can result in the unintended duplication of efforts or inefficiencies. This survey aims to draw a more complete picture of the diamond journal and platform offering to identify concrete ways to coordinate and support this sector in the future.


We plan to gain a deeper understanding of this landscape and bring greater visibility to it. Furthermore, we will provide insights that will help Coalition S and other stakeholders develop effective policies and funding mechanisms that more strategically support this sector.

How you can help
  • If you belong to the scientific or editorial team of a journal, you can take the survey  on behalf of your journal: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GZQDBT5

  • We’d like to ask you to disseminate this message to your community to increase our outreach to as many quality journals as possible. This message is available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese.

If you have any questions, please contact us: operas@operas-eu.org

About us
The study is commissioned by cOAlition S, a group of national research funding organisations, with the support of the European Commission and the European Research Council (ERC), committed to making full and immediate Open Access to research publications a reality.

The Consortium is coordinated by OPERAS, the infrastructure for open scholarly communication for SSH in Europe. Its partners in this study are: SPARC EuropeUtrecht UniversityDOAJUiT The Arctic University of NorwayLIBEROASPA, ENRESSHRedalyc-AmeliCA and the CSI.

cOAlition S chooses DOAJ’s technical partner, Cottage Labs, to deliver their Journal Checker Tool


As announced today, cOAlition S has awarded the tender for the Plan S journal checker tool (JCT) to Cottage Labs LLP, DOAJ’s existing technical partner. Cottage Labs became DOAJ’s technical partner back in 2013. 

The announcement is welcomed by DOAJ. Lars Bjørnshauge, Managing Director and Founder of DOAJ, said: “Working with Cottage Labs on this project means that DOAJ can focus on what it does best: reviewing applications from journals and making sure those continue to move through the system, without us having to spend huge amounts of time explaining how we work, what we do, and why. Cottage Labs already know how we work, understanding the editorial processes and realising the full extent of what we do.” 

The JCT will be a tool built for measuring how a journal meets different requirements under the three different Plan S compliance routes: Gold open access, Green open access, and transformative journals. For Gold open access, being indexed in DOAJ is the baseline criteria. DOAJ already indexes the vast majority of the journals used by cOAlition S-funded authors and already collects information about the two criteria contained in the first iteration of the JCT:

  1. The journal allows the use of a CC BY license on its articles
  2. Copyright is retained by the author

Richard Jones, a founder of Cottage Labs and technical lead for DOAJ, said: “Plan S is a key step forward for the Open Access movement, and DOAJ is central to that.  Our extensive knowledge of DOAJ makes us ideally placed to deliver a high-quality Journal Checker Tool for cOAlition S, and we’re very excited to be a part of it.“

Work on the JCT is expected to commence immediately as cOAlition S are expecting the first iteration of the tool to be publicly available by November. 

For more information:

A statement regarding the JCT tender for Plan S

In the recent tender document published by cOAlition S for the development of a Journal Checker Tool (JCT), it is stated very clearly that DOAJ is the preferred source of data for the gold open access journal compliance route. DOAJ already collects and publishes the 3 pieces of metadata which must be included in the first iteration of the JCT. 

DOAJ has decided that it will not officially partner with any provider bidding for the tender and neither will it submit a joint bid with a provider. Instead, the DOAJ team is focusing on the changes needed to the platform so that it is ready for future iterations of the JCT. Providers submitting a tender to cOAlition S should be aware that these changes have costs and these will need to be covered. 

DOAJ will gladly work with all parties submitting a tender and provide them with a breakdown of those costs, as is stated as required on page 6 of the tender document.

DOAJ’s open letter to SSHA communities about Plan S

The recently published Royal Historical Society (RHS) working paper on Plan S contains some errors about the role that DOAJ might play in Plan S certification. These misunderstandings are commonplace and we, the DOAJ Management Team, have seen them before in other responses to Plan S. They are disappointing but they are not surprising. The draft Plan S requirements are vague enough to allow for assumptions to be made. Many statements from organisations or representative bodies, and papers, including the one from our DOAJ Board member Jan Erik Frantsvåg, have made the same assumption.

So far DOAJ has refrained from responding to Plan S and its commentators. The draft guidelines published by cOAlition S thus far are only that: draft. DOAJ is not a confirmed “partner” of Plan S. Feedback on the bold plan, submitted after public consultation, is still being worked through and, until we hear further, nothing is confirmed. However, the responses keep coming and with them perpetuated myths about what DOAJ does and who it serves.

The DOAJ Management Team recently decided that it is time to do a bit of “myth-busting“. Therefore we are publishing this open letter, partly as a response to the RHS paper, mostly as a way of addressing the misunderstandings that have been circulated on social media, but also as a call to SSHA communities to collaborate with us.

SSHA communities are going to need a lot of support

We felt it was important to respond to this particular statement because it illustrates that there is a great need to support social science, humanities and arts (SSHA) communities. DOAJ is keen to work more closely with SSHA communities and the organisations and bodies working with them to enable them to become fully familiar with the driving forces behind open access, in a way that the STEMM communities already are. Organisations representing SSHA communities can assist their members in that process and encourage them to embrace open access and the free dissemination of publicly funded research. RHS has a responsibility to help their members to understand the importance of open access, new publishing models and the opportunities which open access publishing brings, as much as research funders have a responsibility to fund more History research than they do today in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.


With this post, DOAJ is putting out an open call to representative groups in the social sciences, humanities and arts to collaborate with us…

DOAJ falls short in its coverage

The RHS paper points out that ‘most ‘history of medicine’ journals identified from the DOAJ are not fit for purpose for high-calibre UK History research publications’ (page 3). We agree 100% that our coverage of SSHA journals is not good enough and this is something that we are actively tackling this year.

In 2014, DOAJ tightened its acceptance criteria and in 2015* made all the 10 000+ indexed journals reapply to remain indexed. Many SSHA journals failed to submit a re-application to us, or didn’t meet enough of the criteria to remain indexed. It is not enough to expect these journals to simply come to us and apply. We must go to them and help them understand why being indexed in DOAJ is a good thing, but we cannot do it alone. With this post, we are putting out an open call to representative groups in the social sciences, humanities and arts to collaborate with us and help us to identify journals that are fit for purpose, and which should be indexed in DOAJ.

(* This letter was updated on 23rd May to correct the year in this sentence. DOAJ imposed its new criteria in March 2014 and began the reapplication project in 2015.)

The current draft of the Plan S requirements disfavour any journals, SSHA or otherwise, that do not charge APCs and these are exactly the journals that DOAJ is trying to protect and promote.

Plan S and SSHA journals

The RHS paper describes an understandable concern that Plan S disadvantages SSHA journals, many of which do not charge APCs. We were pleased to read this comment as this echoes exactly the concern which DOAJ presented to cOAlition S during the feedback period. The current draft of the Plan S requirements glosses over any journals, SSHA or otherwise, that do not charge APCs and these are the journals that DOAJ is trying to protect and promote.

DOAJ also presented feedback that shows how the current draft of Plan S favours the larger, more traditional publishers since it provides incentives for them to “flip” to open access. The small, innovative, perhaps unfunded, open access journals and publishers are given no support at all and DOAJ is in agreement with RHS that this will directly affect SSHA journals in a major way.


DOAJ is not an index of high impact, high prestige journals from the Global North and neither will we become one if we become a cOAlition S partner.

DOAJ and Plan S compliance

Many commentators of Plan S have mentioned either that many journals in DOAJ are not Plan S compliant or that it is hard to identify Plan S compliant journals currently indexed in DOAJ. If cOAlition S confirms that DOAJ is a partner in Plan S implementation then the DOAJ Management Team will adapt DOAJ, both the website and the editorial processes, to allow journals to apply for Plan S compliance.

  • We will add a separate stream for those journals seeking Plan S compliance.
  • Being indexed in DOAJ will not equal Plan S compliance.
  • We will make it possible for journals to be indexed appropriately in DOAJ: Plan S compliant or DOAJ compliant or compliance for both.
  • We understand that many of the journals which eventually achieve Plan S compliance probably aren’t in DOAJ today.
  • We do expect that many of the journals in DOAJ today may not even want to apply for Plan S compliance.
  • We will work hard to make sure that Plan S compliant journals are quickly and easily identifiable by users.

DOAJ’s mission is to ‘to increase the visibility, accessibility, reputation, usage and impact of quality, peer-reviewed, open access scholarly research journals globally, regardless of discipline, geography or language’. That missions includes a focus on open access journals from the Global South. It is impossible today to tell what effects Plan S will have on scholarly publishing in the Global South.

The RHS paper states that ‘relatively low quality standards of the OA journals in DOAJ suggest that these outlets lack staff, expertise and/or funding to undertake essential editorial work (of which English prose enhancement forms only one example)’ (page 20). This is a sweeping generalisation. The author of the paper assesses the academic quality of these journals by their structure and financing and this is a mistake we see time and time again, particularly from commentators in the Global North. Every journal in DOAJ has been manually reviewed to ensure that it meets our standards for best practice and publishing standards in open access. We index journals from all over the world, journals of all shapes, sizes and business models and yes, many of them are run single-handedly without funding. But DOAJ is not an index of high impact, high prestige journals from the Global North and neither will we become one if we become a cOAlition S partner.

The RHS paper also states that ‘Plan S’s reliance upon DOAJ, …has caused some bemusement in the OA community.’ (page 17) Any bemusement displayed by the open access community is based on misunderstandings: the misunderstanding that DOAJ, in its current form and structure, is ready to monitor Plan S compliance; and the misunderstanding that DOAJ still has a problem with quality. DOAJ took proactive steps in 2013 to address the problem of questionable journals and implemented its expanded application form in March 2014.  We hope that this post goes some way to address those misunderstandings.


DOAJ has grown to represent the gold standard of open access.

‘…DOAJ, which has well-known issues with quality/reliability’ (Page 17)

We refute the claims that we have problems with quality and we would welcome a discussion with the author of the RHS paper to look at the evidence she has for this statement. In 2014, DOAJ rewrote the standard for quality, peer-reviewed open access publishing. The re-application project referred to above was the start of a long process to raise the bar to be indexed with us and since then, DOAJ has grown to represent the gold standard of open access. In fact, it is very hard to find questionable publishers in DOAJ today.

Our criteria form the basis of the criteria for almost all of the other services operating within open access and our metadata is pulled into every major aggregation, indexing and discovery service, including Scopus, Web of Science and others. Indeed Scopus will only add their open access tag to a journal when they see it has been indexed in DOAJ, and Web of Science requires indexing in DOAJ for open access journals to be in their list.


DOAJ article metadata is as up-to-date as the publishers wish it to be

Some of the journals mentioned in Appendix 1 of the RHS paper have published content more recently than stated but have not supplied metadata to DOAJ. Unlike other indexing services, we do not go out and collect article metadata from journals so DOAJ only contains the article metadata that publishers have provided to us. We work very hard to encourage publishers to send their metadata to us and the advent of our API has gone a long way to facilitate this. We are seeing the number of articles deposited rapidly increase. (266,255,000 hits recorded to the API in 2018.) We are researching ways to make depositing metadata with us even easier, particularly by allowing other XML formats to be deposited with us. This work will need to be complete should DOAJ become a key player in Plan S. 


Many journals from countries where English is not the first language enhance their article content’s visibility in DOAJ by uploading translated abstracts to us.

Non-English language content in DOAJ

‘The DOAJ descriptor often suggests that a journal publishes both in English and other languages when in fact only an English abstract is published’ (page 18). In fact, where a language or multiple languages are displayed against a journal entry in DOAJ, this refers to the language of the full text and not the language of the abstracts. See https://doaj.org/application/new#languages-container. Many journals from countries where English is not the first language, and which publish in their native language, enhance their article content’s visibility in DOAJ by uploading translated abstracts to us, but the full text content often remains in a language other than English. They do this because they know that the article metadata will be widely disseminated and DOAJ is an excellent platform for them to share their published work.

As I wrote earlier, DOAJ would love to work closely with societies and other organisations in SSHA, like the Royal Historical Society, to identify journals which are ‘fit for purpose for high-calibre … research publications’. We note the statement that ‘RHS lacks sufficient staffing or financial resources to undertake a full analysis of the availability and Plan S-compliance of OA History or Humanities journals’ (page 16) and expect that that may be true of other SSHA communities. I wonder if there isn’t a piece of work here that we can do together to kick start this process?