“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….”