Frédéric Villiéras, vice-provost for research at Université de Lorraine says: “We are delighted to strengthen our support to the DOAJ. This choice is in line with other financial supports towards open platforms that were decided earlier this year. We are fully committed to supporting open science infrastructures such as the DOAJ and we hope that other french research institutions and libraries will follow. “
Thanks to dozens of quick-acting universities and institutions in Australia, Europe & North America, a new effort to secure Open Science infrastructure is off to a strong start. More than 680 000 Euros have been pledged to support DOAJ and SHERPA/RoMEO already.
“This being a new concept, we are very encouraged by the response of the community at this point. We’re taking this as an early indication that we will, in time, reach our full three-year funding goals for both the DOAJ and SHERPA/RoMEO, two truly vital services. But for this to happen, we will need to continue to see growth in support; far more institutions committing to funding.”
Lars Bjørnshauge, Managing Director and Founder of DOAJ, said: “We are very pleased to see that many of the long standing members of DOAJ have decided to increase their financial support, based on the fees recommended by SCOSS and for the next three years. We are looking forward to welcoming even more members and support shortly. We will do our very best to live up to the ever-changing expectations from the community.”
And “the ever-changing expectations from the community” are, in a nutshell, why SCOSS and sustainable funding models are so important to DOAJ, SHERPA/RoMEO and open access in general. Open access is still a relatively young publishing model and is growing rapidly. New markets are opening up to open access publishing, each of them bringing new challenges with them, and technology is creating new opportunities and functionality in publishing. DOAJ must remain at the forefront of these developments and that means having a stable financial foundation upon which work can continue.
If you’d like to know more about SCOSS please go to http://scoss.org/ and if you would like to make a financial contribution using the SCOSS model, or indeed, any amount at all, please contact Lars: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Janne Pölönen, Head Of Planning at the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies answers our questions.
– Your organisation has been supporting DOAJ for some years now. Why is it important for the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies to support DOAJ?
Federation of Finnish Learned Societies (TSV) produces a Publication Forum rating of academic/scholarly journals and book publishers that supports the performance-based research funding system (PRFS) for allocating part of block funding annually to universities. Similar model, in which the research community – rather than the Journal Impact Factor – is entrusted the rating of outlets, is used for example in Norway and Denmark. The Nordic countries collaborate with support from Nordforsk to create The Nordic list, a common Nordic registry of publication channels. In 2017, TSV and other partners of the Nordic collaboration group agreed to support DOAJ as a trusted international source of whitelisted Open Access journals. In each country, information from DOAJ is supplied to experts to help them identify reliable peer-reviewed outlets.
– What is the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies doing to support that development? Do you have any exciting projects underway?
Especially in the social sciences and humanities (SSH), large share of research is published in national languages and in books. Therefore, important part of the success of OA depends on national solutions and developments. In Finland, learned societies are major publishers of academic/scholarly journals and books. TSV plays a key role in facilitating the transition of the societies’ publishing activities to OA. This includes operating the Open Journal System (OJS) service for the learned societies and launching, in 2017, the Journal.fi portal to OA journals in Finland. An open access plan is required from learned societies to be eligible for the state subsidies that TSV allocates to journals and books series, and a consortium-based funding-model for those transitioning to OA is being sought in collaboration with the National Library. TSV also provides the Finnish scholarly publishers a Label for peer-reviewed publications to promote high standards and transparency of peer-review practices. The Publication Forum list of journals and book publishers helps to disseminate information about open access status and self-archiving policies based on DOAJ and Sherpa/Romeo. Open Access publishing is part of the Open Science agenda, of which TSV is set to become the national coordination body in Finland.
– Much has been said recently about whether open access is succeeding or failing, particularly in terms of the original vision laid out by the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002. Do you think that open access has fallen short of this vision, or has it surpassed expectations? What are your personal views on the future of Open Access publishing?
The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) has admirably set out the ideal that we should have both free access and unrestricted use of research publications. The transition to OA requires the continued will and effort, both at international and national level, of policy-makers, leaders, administrators, librarians, and researchers advocating OA. This movement is making it increasingly difficult for publishers not to facilitate open access with reasonable cost and embargo. The transition is perhaps not happening as fast as we hope because there are many stakeholders, interests, and traditions involved in academic/scholarly publishing. For the same reason, open availability of research publications continues to take place in many forms, some of which fall short of the BOAI ideals. We will be getting free access without unrestricted use and free access delayed with embargoes – these are needed to help the transition. The environment for the development of OA has become more and more complex, for example with the emergence of academic social networks that have increased the ambiguity among the research community over what is OA and what is not. Nevertheless, as many studies show, there has been a global growth in the share of research publications that are openly available to everyone on the internet and it is fair to expect this growth to continue.
– What do you think that the scholarly community could do to better support the continued development of the Open Access movement in the near future?
Most attention has been paid to journal publishing but also open access to peer-reviewed monographs and book chapters need to be facilitated. Researchers can increase their awareness of reliable OA publishing options and make the effort to archive their publications to an OA repository whenever the journal or book publisher permits self-archiving. Institutions should facilitate archiving and identification of OA policies. More studies are needed to show and communicate the added value of open access to research and society. Researchers can also be encouraged to choose channels that either are open access or allow self-archiving with reasonable embargo, and scholarly publishers of journals and books can be encouraged to increasingly develop and offer viable OA options. This will require the development of institutional, national and international OA policies, evaluation practices and infrastuctures. European Commission has already set a strong agenda including rewards and Incentives, indicators and next-generation metrics, future of scholarly communication, European Open Science Cloud, FAIR Data, research integrity, skills and education and citizen science. The next challenge is for all the relevant stakeholders in EU countries to work out how this agenda is best adapted to national and local contexts and cultures to advance open access and open science.
As a publisher who supports DOAJ, either as a member or as a sponsor, you are part of a growing global network of publishers who have unequivocally stated a firm commitment to support open access through DOAJ’s work. On behalf of the entire DOAJ Team and supporters of open access the world over, I would like to thank you for your continued support. Your contributions are always spent directly on improving DOAJ’s infrastructure; maintaining high levels of recency and accuracy of the DOAJ metadata; and increasing the awareness of issues surrounding open access. The team at DOAJ ensures that all of this happens in a way that keeps DOAJ relevant around the globe, and not just in the Global North.
This report briefly covers our main achievements in 2017, as well as developments for the year ahead. If you have any questions on its content, or would like to know more, then drop me an email: email@example.com.
With very best wishes for the new year ahead,
What We Achieved in 2017
2017 saw the end of the Reapplications project and the extension of our Ambassador program. We made improvements to our workflow to reduce our turnaround times on new applications and we launched our education and outreach program. Finally, we carried out a series of small projects to internationalise DOAJ as much as possible.
The reapplication project and updates to journals
All publishers were asked to submit new applications for all of the journals which were already included in DOAJ. 6359 reapplications were sent to us. Of those, 4031 were accepted as meeting the high standards required to be indexed in the Directory. This also means that, for the first time since launch in 2003, more than 99% of all the journal information in DOAJ is less than two years old. For those journals which didn’t make the grade, DOAJ offered feedback on how to improve the journal’s practices and, unless otherwise stated, those journals may send in new applications 6 months after the last decision from us, provided that they can show that they have implemented the changes recommended to them.
Also, our predictions at the start of the project came true and we never heard from 2860 journals; they all failed to resubmit reapplications to us. After repeated reminders, these journals were removed from the Directory which meant that, in total, the reapplication project resulted in a 40% cull of titles from DOAJ.
One of the inherent problems with the reapplications project, which we identified at the start, was that DOAJ relies heavily on journal representatives (publishers, journal owners, editors) to keep the information in the Directory up to date, including cotact details. Currently, a journal representative must contact the DOAJ Team with any updates to the journal information which are then verified and applied on behalf of the publisher. This means that, more often than not, journal information is never updated. To combat this, DOAJ reviews journal information regularly but to make this whole process easier, we will be launching a new system which will enable journal representatives to update information themselves. Submitted updates will be reviewed by the DOAJ Team before being published immediately to the site.
Extension of the Ambassador program, education and outreach
The Ambassador program, launched in 2016 and financed by the IDRC, was a huge success, so much so that we received further funding to extend the program into 2017. The DOAJ Ambassadors were able to continue their excellent work in their home territories. It also meant that, in those countries where we suffered a heavy loss of titles after the Reapplication Project, DOAJ was able to target efforts and encourage new applications from many of the local open access journals. This most recently happened in Korea, Japan and Indonesia and further countries are planned for 2018. We extended the Editor-in-Chief’s role to concentrate specifically on Education and Outreach and in 2018, we will be launching a series of training videos, specifically aimed at improving the quality of applications sent to us. More on that below.
Improved workflow and reduced turnaround times
Something that we hear a lot at DOAJ is that our turnaround times for processing new applications are too long. In 2017, this was certainly due to the number of reapplications which we had to process but, unfortunately, we have always had lengthy processing times. In the hope that this will encourage more applications from titles not yet in DOAJ, we took steps to correct this and reduce the time to first decision.
Never before has DOAJ been in a position where it has had so many people working for it and processing applications for us. We created a new role, Senior Managing Editor, whose is specifically tasked with monitoring throughput; we expanded our Triage role which, essentially, removes all of the rubbish applications from the queues, allowing the editorial team to focus on those applications which matter; we identified and pooled our most dedicated volunteers to give greater processing power; we have started a system whereby applications can be allocated directly to a reviewer rather than sitting in a holding pattern awaiting assignment; we re-focused our editorial team and allocated resource to those countries submitting the most applications to us; we introduced a reporting system which allows us to track applications and alerts us when the workflow slows for whatever reason.
All of these changes combined will see a greater throughput of new applications in 2018.
Internationalisation of DOAJ
Despite our aim to be as global as possible, much of what we write is in English, or is generated from our offices across Europe. DOAJ aims to be as global as possible and be as relevant as possible to all parts of the world. In 2017, we extended the range of our translated materials, hoping to encourage more interaction and participation from all around the world. We also invited guest blog posts from our Ambassadors, a series which focussed on how open access works and some of the issues facing open access in different parts of the world.
Coming Down The Pipe in 2018
Our three focus areas for 2018 are:
- Scalability and stability
- Education and outreach
We have partnered with agents working in Europe who are approaching institutions on our behalf to secure more funding. DOAJ is also one of the beneficiaries of the SCOSS pilot which launched late 2017 with an aim to establishing a sustainable funding model for DOAJ and SHERPA/RoMEO. As our operations grow, we require more funding and so we need to fund DOAJ in a more sustainable way than the hand-to-mouth model we survive on currently.
Also, more attention is being paid, both by potential funders as well as the community, to what DOAJ is, how we are set up and how we operate. People are looking to us for more transparency and structure in our business model and our processes, and as a community-driven organisation, our supporters are expecting to have more of an influence in DOAJ’s direction. We will be formalising a new governance model in early 2018 to meet these demands.
Scalability and stability
With our technical partners, Cottage Labs, we are about to start a huge infrastructure project which will completely rebuild the underlying platform, making it more stable and easier to develop in the future. Traffic to DOAJ has more than doubled over the last 3 years and we must ensure that the platform remains fit for purpose for the next 5 years at least, particularly as traffic will increase even more as we add new metadata and new ways to connect to the site to harvest it.
Over the latter half of 2017, we saw spikes in usage from crawlers, usage through our API and had to throttle some of these to make sure that users on the site were able to use the site normally. We want to expand and stabilise the platform so that we can accommodate all traffic sources without any adverse effects.
Education and outreach
As mentioned above, DOAJ will be launching a series of training videos, to encourage better quality applications. We are currently putting together the first one which will be an introduction to DOAJ. We will then publish a series of videos, aimed at editors, publishers and researchers, to help simplify some of the more obscure aspects of open access publishing. One such area will be copyright retention versus [Creative Commons] licensing.
Our Editor-in-Chief will continue to target areas of the world from which we receive few or low quality applications. DOAJ will firm up its presence in the open access arena both as an educator and an influencer. We also hope to increase the number of Social Science and Humanities journals in DOAJ.