Myth-busting: DOAJ indexes “predatory” journals

This is, of course, a myth.

Some people are afraid to use DOAJ because they believe that it lists questionable (“predatory”) journals. DOAJ started to clean up its index in 2014. DOAJ was the first service to define the standards aimed at preserving the quality and trustworthiness of a database of open access journals. Today, DOAJ’s standards are the unofficial gold standard for open access journals.

Raising the bar
Early in 2013, DOAJ’s team decided that the problem of questionable journals—at that time proliferating from India in particular—needed to be tackled.  DOAJ’s inclusion criteria were not adequate enough to filter out journals of dubious character. By October 2013, the three countries with the most journals in DOAJ were the USA, Brazil and India. In December 2013, the number of journals in DOAJ passed the 10 000 mark for the first time: the number of journals from the “USA”* (1247) and India (652) had risen sharply and faster than any other country.

Work on a new set of criteria for inclusion in DOAJ started in early 2013; this was developed, reviewed by the Advisory Board and eventually sent out for public consultation in June 2013. After extensive development work, the new application form built around the criteria was made live in March 2014. The new criteria, a work that had involved the whole open access community, increased the DOAJ application form from just 17 questions to today’s 58.

At that point, every single journal in DOAJ was made to reapply under the new criteria, to be re-indexed. This was more effective at improving the level of quality in DOAJ than we could ever anticipate.

*A typical questionable publishing trait is to pretend that a journal is registered in Global North countries, particularly the USA.

Effective criteria
DOAJ has developed rigorous checks to ensure a very high level of quality of every journal in its index.

One of the most effective checks, which delivered considerable changes in the geographic distribution of journals in the database, is insisting that a journal is listed in the country that its business activities are carried out.

Compared to other indexes that are often cited in research on scholarly publishing and open access, it is safe to say that DOAJ is probably the cleanest and most reliable, especially in the context of questionable publishing. To back up that statement, DOAJ is carrying out its research, comparing some well-known indexes. More details on that will be published here very soon.

Joint initiatives
To highlight its approach to creating a list of quality journals, to reinforce its position on questionable publishing and to emphasise the importance of standards as an effective tool to helping to identify good journals, DOAJ co-authored the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice, first released in December 2013.

DOAJ is also a founding organisation of the innovative campaign, Think. Check. Submit.

Old stains are hard to wash away
The problem of questionable publishing is vastly exaggerated. For those who still insist that DOAJ is filled with questionable journals, we would ask you to take a closer look at the database today, review our criteria and read the research on both the problem of questionable publishing and how prolific it isn’t.

If you do think that a journal in DOAJ is questionable, however, please report that journal to us so that our Questionable Publishing team can review it.

Large Scale Publisher Survey reveals Global Trends in Open Access Publishing

9th January 2019 – A survey of publishers with journals indexed in DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) has revealed surprising trends in the way that content is published; what types of organisations are publishing the content; on how publishing standards are being accepted globally; and geographical trends on the uptake of open access.

The survey was sent out by DOAJ to its 6000+ account holders, that is to say publishers, in the Summer of 2018. Account holders were allowed one response each, regardless of how many journals they have in that account and all accounts have at least 1 journal active in DOAJ. The total number of responses returned was 1065. Answers revealed some interesting facts, especially when compared to answers provided in the last publisher survey carried out in 2013.

All links point to the underlying data.

  • Type of publishing organisation:
    Out of survey respondents, the top 5 most common types of publishing organisation in DOAJ are: University Department or Press, Non-commercial Publisher, Library publisher, Research centre and Society publisher. (It should be noted however that in terms of pure output, the top ten organisations in DOAJ account for just over a third of the 3.6 million articles indexed. Eight of the top ten organisations are commercial publishers.) 
  • Geographical spread:
    The geographical spread between 2013 and 2018 remains relatively unchanged apart from two notable exceptions. Open access in Indonesia has become de rigueur. In 2013, DOAJ received 9 survey responses from Indonesia; in 2018 that jumped to 155, the most responses from any one country in the 2018 Survey. Conversely, responses from India fell from 101 in 2013 to just 11 in 2018. (The number of Indian journals in DOAJ has fallen from 643 in 2013 to 254 in 2018.) The Top 5 countries providing responses in 2018 were Indonesia, Brazil, Spain, Romania and USA; in 2013 it was Brazil, Spain, India, Romania and Italy. 
  • DOIs for articles:
    While the DOI is an internationally recognised publishing technology, for some the financial and technical barrier to use of DOIs is a problem. In 2013, only 35% of respondents used DOIs; in 2018 this has jumped to 73%*. However, when publishers were asked why they did not use DOIs the 5 most common words given in responses are: implementing, cost, funding, financial, paying.
    * see note 
  • Article metadata:
    More publishers are supplying metadata to DOAJ than ever before; even more would if the process was easier and yet, for many article metadata is still a mystery. The number of respondents providing article metadata to DOAJ has increased from 55% in 2013 to 84% in 2018. When asked which format of metadata publishers would like to supply to DOAJ, 46% said they preferred CrossRef, while 8% said JATS. However, 42% of all 2018 respondents said that they didn’t understand what a metadata format was so there is much work to do here! 
  • Benefits of being indexed in DOAJ:

Our respondents said that the top 3 benefits of being indexed in DOAJ in 2018 are:

  1. Certification that our journal(s) are quality publications
  2. Increased readership
  3. Increased scientific impact

In 2013, it was:

  1. Increased visibility of content
  2. Certification of the journals
  3. Prestige

74% of respondents said that submissions had definitely or maybe increased since being indexed in DOAJ while over 70% thought that traffic had increased to their sites.

  • Predatory publishing:
    Predatory publishing really isn’t considered to be a big deal for DOAJ publishing community. 62% of respondents said that they didn’t have to deal with competition from predatory publishers or journals. There was no equivalent question in 2013.
     
  • Research Assessment:
    It’s where you publish that counts.” 86% of respondents said that in their countries researchers are evaluated on where they publish rather than what they publish. There was no equivalent question in 2013.

Building on these findings the DOAJ team will continue to adapt and develop its systems, in accordance with its strategy, to ensure that the DOAJ platform meets user needs, particularly those needs of the global publishing community. After all the platform consists entirely of journal and article metadata, all of which (bar one exception) is provided by the publishers themselves.

Contact
Dom Mitchell
Operations Manager
dom@doaj.org


About DOAJ Directory of Open Access Journals

DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. DOAJ is independent. All funding is via donations, 40% of which comes from sponsors and 60% from members and publisher members. All DOAJ services are free of charge including being indexed in DOAJ. All data is freely available.

DOAJ’s mission is 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. DOAJ will work with editors, publishers and journal owners to help them understand the value of best practice publishing and standards and apply those to their own operations. DOAJ is committed to being 100% independent and maintaining all of its services and metadata as free to use or reuse for everyone.

DOAJ does not endorse Academics Era conferences | Say Hello to Think Check Attend

It has come to our attention that a series of conferences hosted by Academics Era all show the DOAJ logo in the Indexed/Supported section of each conference page. There are literally hundreds of these conferences listed from the Academics Era homepage and each one has the DOAJ logo on it.

DOAJ DOES NOT SUPPORT OR ENDORSE ANY OF THESE CONFERENCES.

Please make sure that you, researchers, students and faculty at your institution think very carefully before sending money to these, or any conferences.

thinkcheckattend

This message is timely as it gives me the opportunity to introduce Think Check Attend.

Think Check Attend is an initiative that guides researchers and scholars when deciding whether to attend a conference or submit an abstract and present their research. The 3-step approach encourages academics to ‘Think’ about the problem posed by predatory or substandard conferences, ‘Check’ the conference against a set of criteria designed to highlight attributes of good and bad quality conferences, and ‘Attend’ only if the conference adheres to the criteria consistent with a legitimate conference.

The initiative is provided by Knowledge E and has been endorsed by Think Check Submit as a sister initiative.

If you are unsure about any conference, then do go to the Think Check Attend website and use their excellent resources.

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!