DOAJ: handmaiden to despots? or, OA, we need to talk | Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir les savoirs communs

“As any movement grows and flourishes, decisions made will turn out to have unforeseen consequences. Achieving the goals of the movement requires critical reflection and occasional changes in policy and procedure.The purpose of this post is to point out that the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) appears to be inadvertently acting as a handmaiden to at least one despotic government, facilitating dissemination of works subject to censorship and rejecting open access journals that would be suitable venues for critics of the despotic government. There is no blame and no immediately obvious remedy, but solving a problem begins with acknowledging that a problem exists and inviting discussion of how to avoid and solve the problem. OA friends, please consider this such an invitation….”

Myth busting: DOAJ is not inclusive – News Service

“One of the most common criticisms levelled at DOAJ, particularly over the last 5 years, is that the index is not inclusive enough; that its coverage is poor; and that it lists only a fraction of the open access journals that exist. Our research shows that many journals reported as “missing” from DOAJ have a failed application or have been removed for not meeting DOAJ standards….”

The open access mandate: Be careful what you wish for – Bruno Agustini, Michael Berk,

“One of the main concerns regarding a fully open-access model is the quality of open-access journals. The Directory of Open Access Journals now lists 13,505 journals, with numbers increasing fast. While some are undoubtedly excellent, a massive majority and growing number are anything but.”

Where Can I Publish? – Delta Think

“Last month we looked at how inclusion in the DOAJ is increasingly being used as a benchmark to identify an “acceptable” fully OA journal. The DOAJ is not an exhaustive index, as criteria for acceptability can vary between indexes and stakeholders.

Therefore, this month we look at additional indexes and journal types. We investigate whether it’s possible to find definitive information about where to publish and about which journals are fully open access….

Once we filter out duplicates, roughly one-fifth of the indexed journals appear to be fully OA. As a rough guideline, the more selective the index, the lower the proportion of fully OA journals. So, “high teens %” of journals in the broader indexes drops to “low teens %” in the more selective indexes.

However, there are some interesting mis-matches in scale of the fully OA-only indexes.

ROAD (the’s list of fully OA journals) has more journals than even the most inclusive cut of Ulrich’s. ROAD includes anything that is free to read on the web, regardless of whether its licensing or copyright terms would be considered formally to be Open Access. This roughly doubles the number of journals it includes.
Focusing on indexes with some selectivity, the DOAJ lists around 13k fully OA journals compared with Ulrich’s 9k, or around 17% of all its journals. 18% of Scopus journals are fully OA, as are 19% of Delta Think’s sample….”

Regarding a Delta Think blog post analysing the DOAJ – News Service

“The main problem, when you compare ROAD, Web of Science (WoS), Scopus and DOAJ, is that all of these services have different definitions and criteria as to what constitutes a valid journal entry in their databases.

In general, one can say that DOAJ’s criteria are the strictest and therefore DOAJ is not an index of all open access (OA) journals but an index of gold standard, quality, peer-reviewed OA journals. So therefore not all OA journals meet our criteria.

Being indexed in DOAJ acts like a badge of quality. A quality stamp based on the business operations of a journal and its reliability, how closely that journal adheres to best practices and which standards it uses. Scopus and WoS are not in the business of measuring any of those. (We would take this opportunity to point out that DOAJ holds many more journals which aren’t in Scopus.)…”

Spotlight on Serials: Open Access: Current and future trends in OA in Latin America

Ivonne Lujano, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) Ambassador in Latin America, will discuss the history of open access in Latin America, best practice publishing and standards, and how DOAJ helps to improve scholarly research journals globally. 

Solange Santos, Publishing Coordinator for Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO), will address why Latin America is advanced in the use of the open access publishing model as a strategy to increase the visibility of the scientific output in the region. SciELO promoted and developed a network of 16 national collections of open access journals, focusing on each country’s conditions and priorities. She will also explain SciELO’s advocacy for a global and inclusive scholarly communication. …”

Analyzing the DOAJ – Delta Think

“The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is increasingly being used as a benchmark to determine whether a journal is fully OA, most notably as part of both the original and recently revised Plan S guidelines. This month we take a look at the DOAJ and consider how it compares to other sources for evaluating fully OA status.

The draft Plan S Implementation guidelines suggested that a listing in the DOAJ is mandatory if a journal is to be considered fully OA. This led to commentators raising concerns that many DOAJ Journals do not meet other Plan S criteria, and are therefore not compliant.

In an open letter on its blog, the DOAJ team addressed concerns about its coverage, journal quality, promotion of APC-charging journals, and Plan S compliance. The DOAJ is not (at the time of writing) a formal partner of Plan S. The team do not claim it offers exhaustive coverage and remain neutral to whether journals charge APCs. In 2014 it tightened its acceptance criteria and made all of its 10,000+ indexed journals reapply to remain indexed, which led to a shrinkage in its coverage. The team is now taking active steps to ensure that lost ground in arts & social sciences coverage (in particular) is made up and they have ambitions to keep it updated at least annually.

Whatever its shortcomings, the DOAJ is used as a benchmark by academic studies as it’s a convenient data set to analyze. ImpactStory uses a journal’s presence in the DOAJ as a key indicator of its fully OA (gold) status,* which means that products which consume ImpactStory data (such as Web of Science and Dimensions) do so as well. Following its recent consultation exercise, the latest implementation guidelines from cOAlition S restate the DOAJ as being the de facto index of compliant fully OA journals. cOAlition S also hints at further work to be done, stating that it “will work with the…DOAJ…and other potential partners to establish mechanisms for identifying and signalling whether journals…fulfil [its] requirements.” …

The DOAJ is now being used as an ipso facto source which feeds a number of services and is a core part in OA compliance policies (even allowing for caveats). However, if the DOAJ is being used as a sole indicator of journals’ fully OA status, then their coverage will be incomplete.

Much of this discrepancy may be due to omitted journals not meeting the DOAJ inclusion criteria. It ultimately remains the responsibility of publishers to make sure that their (eligible) DOAJ data are up to date. If publishers fail to do this, then their journals may not appear – or not appear correctly – in some widely-used discovery services….”

What are mirror journals, and can they offer a new world of open access?

To meet the evolving needs of our community and expand our open access publishing options, Elsevier is piloting the concept of open access “mirror journals.” These journals are fully gold open access but share the same editorial board, aims and scope and peer review policies as their existing “parent” journals – and the same level of visibility and discoverability. They provide an additional option for open access publishing in the Elsevier portfolio.

They will have the same title as their parent journal, distinguished by the letter X after their name. The new titles will have their own ISSN numbers and citation metrics….

We introduced the concept of OA mirror journals in 2018, launching a pilot program of more than 40 mirror journals across a range of subject areas in life, health and physical sciences….

DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) has accepted the first OA mirror journals, and Elsevier will continue to start DOAJ approval processes with all other OA mirror journals. Clarivate has accepted the first mirror journal for ESCI (Emerging Sources Citation Index) coverage, and other applications are in the pipeline. We have been gratified to see that citations have already started to flow in to the OA mirror journals, demonstrating their immediate impact with the research community….

For further information, we have created this FAQ. …”

DOAJ reaches its funding target within 18 months of starting its fund-raising programme – SPARC Europe

“We are delighted to announce that the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) has reached its funding target to cover its operational costs as outlined in its SCOSS application. Eight consortia and 175 institutions/organisations from 18 different countries have committed support to DOAJ. “We’d like to thank our supporters. That this many organisations have gotten behind this initiative and promised this amount of funding shows how important sustaining open access infrastructure is,” said Lars Bjørnshauge, DOAJ Managing Director….”