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.

The Reapplications project is officially complete.

DOAJ is very pleased to announce that its Reapplications project, which started in January 2015, is officially complete. Although the last reapplication was processed by the DOAJ Editorial Team at the end of October, some tidying-up remained to be done: a few discontinued journals; a few which had changed title; and a few for which we had no reapplication. In total, the DOAJ Editorial Team processed 6359 submitted reapplications, of which 2058 were rejected.  A further 2860 journals were removed from the database for failing to submit a reapplication at all. In total over 40% of the journals were culled from the database.

All the journals which are now listed in the database have been reviewed under DOAJ’s stricter criteria. 99% of the journal records are as current as mid-2015. A small fraction are slightly older, from 2014.

Now that the Reapplications project is complete, DOAJ will work with its technical partners, Cottage Labs, to develop a system whereby publishers can submit updates to their journal records, automating a time-consuming process which distracts the editorial team from reviewing new applications. We will write more here when we have something to share.

 

Final call! Journal reapplications to DOAJ close 31 March

The extended deadline for journals to reapply for listing in DOAJ closes on Thursday 31 March 2016 at midnight UK time (GMT+1).

All journals that were accepted into DOAJ before March 2014 must reapply to remain indexed in the Directory. Journals that do not reapply will be removed from our list.

Don’t delay – please ensure that your reapplication is submitted in time. Contact us at feedback@doaj.org if you have any problems with your reapplication.

It’s not too late to reapply!

The extended deadline for journal reapplications to DOAJ is fast approaching, but we know that some journals are still to reapply. Don’t delay – get your reapplication in now!

Journals that have not reapplied by 31 March 2016 will be removed from the DOAJ list.

Analysis shows that the country with the highest number of reapplications not yet submitted is the USA, followed by Brazil and India. The top 10 can be seen in the chart below.

reapps chart

To reapply, log in to your DOAJ account and click on Publisher Area in the orange bar to find your reapplication. Read this help document for some tips to make this easier. Please contact us at feedback@doaj.org if you can’t remember your username or have any questions about the reapplication process. We’ll be happy to help.

Reapplications deadline extended

The time for submitting your reapplications to DOAJ is due to end tomorrow!

As some publishers have not yet been able to complete their reapplications, we are extending the time limit until the end of March 2016. We will be sending a final email reminder to those accounts who have yet to submit a reapplication.

Please ensure you submit your reapplication by then, or your journal will be removed from DOAJ. Guidance on submitting your reapplications can be found here. Contact us if you have any questions about the process.

Remember you don’t need to qualify for the DOAJ Seal to be listed in DOAJ. See our earlier blog post on this topic.

‘Indexed in DOAJ’ versus ‘the DOAJ Seal’

I need to clarify what being indexed in DOAJ means and how the Seal is related to that, and how the reapplication process works.

There is a common misunderstanding that only journals that get the Seal are “indexed in DOAJ”, that only Seal journals are quality, peer reviewed open access journals. This is incorrect. ALL journals in DOAJ have been approved as quality, peer reviewed open access journals. The whole DOAJ list is the approved, community-curated list of reputable journals!

  1. What ‘Indexed in DOAJ’ means
    Being indexed in DOAJ means that a journal has passed up to 4 stages of independent and objective, manual review. It means that the journal has been investigated by our Editorial team who have researched whether or not the journal/publisher does what they claim to do on the journal site and in their (re)application to us. During the investigation, the DOAJ editors go through the pages on a journal’s site to make sure that all the information presented to a user is easy to find, clearly and accurately presented and easy to understand. The editorial board is investigated, and sometimes members of the board are contacted and their institutional connections verified, their work on the board is confirmed and which other boards that member sits on. Being indexed in DOAJ means that the journal adheres to high levels of quality of its publishing services and services to authors and users, including: peer review, licensing terms, a strong open access statement, a fully functional editorial board and more. Being indexed in DOAJ means that the journal is a good open access journal, a trusted open access journal.
  2. The reapplication process
    DOAJ upgraded its requirements for journals to get into DOAJ. The upgrade, which covered all new applications, was made live in March 2014. This meant that there were about 9000 journals already in DOAJ—accepted into DOAJ between 2003 and 2013—that had been accepted under less stringent requirements. We require that every one of them upgrades their information with us. To make it easier for users to see which journals have been accepted under the new criteria we added a green tick next to them. Journals without a tick next to them still have to be reviewed against the new criteria. Note however that even journals that have no tick against them have been manually reviewed and accepted into DOAJ as being reputable.If a journal is in DOAJ, it is on the list of approved and reputable journals.
  3. The DOAJ Seal
    The DOAJ Seal, think of it like this: journals that have the Seal are journals that adhere to outstanding best practice; journals that don’t have the Seal are good, trusted journals adhering to best practice. The Seal has been allocated to a handful of journals accepted into DOAJ since 2014. Journals that are awarded the Seal have answered ‘Yes’ to 7 questions that DOAJ has chosen specifically as indicators of an extra high and clear commitment to open access best practices, of extra high levels of commitment to publishing technologies, and the most ‘open’ form of open access. Importantly, the journals that DO NOT have the Seal still adhere to high levels of quality required for indexing in the DOAJ, especially those journals that have a green tick. No Seal DOES NOT mean low quality, non peer reviewed, questionable, ‘dodgy’, ‘scammy’.

I hope that this helps. DOAJ spends all of its time improving information on reliability, trustworthiness and accuracy. DOAJ also spends a lot of time ensuring that questionable journals do NOT get into the directory. DOAJ is already doing that work for you so that you can be exactly sure what levels of service you can expect when you choose a journal to submit to, to recommend to faculty, to read research in.

As ever, if you have any questions, leave a comment or get in touch!

Reblog: Top 10 publishers in DOAJ (by number of titles) 2014 to 2015

We’re a big fan of the work of the Sustaining Knowledge Commons team. The post below, published yesterday, takes a look at the change in the Top 10 list of publishers indexed in DOAJ from 2014 to 2015.

Source: Top 10 publishers in DOAJ (by number of titles) 2014 to 2015

In her post, Heather says: “The percentage of journals in DOAJ published by the top 10 publishers has increased slightly, from 14% to 16%.” I think there are 3 main reasons why:

1) We have seen a renewed interest in DOAJ from large publishers since we relaunched in 2013 and increased our visibility and transparency (expanded our communications and activities, launched the updated application form and started the Reapplications project).

2) We are now processing applications faster than ever before and part of that is due to the streamlining of the process for ‘bulk’ applications from multi-journal publishers, increasing our capacity but leaving us more time for the smaller publishers.

3) These publishers have launched more open access titles.

We are in regular discussion with 8 out of the 10 publishers listed in the blog, mostly as they update their information with us (Medknow to Wolters Kulwer Medknow) and submit their reapplications.

Reapplications are open. Have you submitted yours yet?

Just a reminder that reapplications are open and that you must submit your reapplication(s) before the end of 2015. Failure to do so, will result in your journal being removed from DOAJ.

The reapplications are coming in fast. BioMed Central just submitted 220 in one go! Great work BMC.

We recently sent out a first reminder to 4680 accounts. Did you get yours? If not, let me know and add doaj.org to your email address book / your domain safelist.

Guidance on submitting your reapplications can be found here. If you have more than 11 journals in DOAJ, the process is slightly different. Get in touch and I will guide you through.