DOAJ offers 10,000 open access journals from 124 countries in 51 languages

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By Marie Lebert, version of 11 December 2013.
With a shorter version in French.

For 10 years, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) has been at the heart of the open access movement, increasing visibility of open access content and encouraging best practices amongst open access publishers. The directory has just reached the milestone of 10,000 open access scientific and scholarly journals, a number showing the main role now played by these journals alongside conventional toll access journals, with users of DOAJ in 160 countries.


What exactly is DOAJ?

Founded in 2003, DOAJ is a directory of 10,000 open access scientific and scholarly journals in any field and language, half of them searchable at article level. Ten years after its launching with 300 journals, DOAJ has become the authoritative source and the one stop shop for users of quality open access journals. These journals are either peer reviewed or using a quality control system. Their inclusion in DOAJ increases their visibility, ease of use and impact, and is also an incentive to keep or improve the level of quality and degree of openness they were chosen for.

How did DOAJ start?

DOAJ started because of two main factors (to my understanding). First, more and more scientific and scholarly journals were freely available on the internet in the late 1990s and early 2000s, to skip the costs of print versions and to enlarge their readership. Second, the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) was signed in February 2002 as the founding text of the open access movement, for scholars and scientists to join their efforts in making research results available to all, and offer literature “that is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions”. The idea of creating a comprehensive directory of open access journals by collecting and organizing these journals was discussed in October 2002 at the First Nordic Conference on Scholarly Communication in Lund/Copenhagen. DOAJ was founded in February 2003 by Lars Bjørnshauge, director of libraries at Lund University, and launched in May 2003 with 300 journals.

What are the journals included in DOAJ?

They are scholarly and scientific journals in any field and in any language published in any country. They come from a number of sources, for example academic, government, commercial and non-profit private organizations. They publish research or review papers in full text, with peer review or editorial quality control on submitted papers through an editor, an editorial board and/or a peer review system. All content must be freely available without delay (no embargo). Free online registration for users is acceptable.

How are journals added to DOAJ?

The scholarly and scientific community suggests journals for inclusion by means of a submission form, with 300 to 400 submissions received each month. Journal publishers can also send a (different) submission form. After reviewing the submission forms, DOAJ’s editorial team sends a more detailed form to journals for completion. DOAJ’s editorial team reviews every journal manually and checks it against a number of selection criteria before adding (or not) the journal in the directory. The editorial team also removes journals included in DOAJ which don’t live up to these selection criteria. DOAJ removed 50 journals during the second semester 2005, 65 titles in 2006, 97 titles in 2007, and 329 titles so far in 2013 (as of 18 October 2013). To encourage best practices and increase quality (both for content and for technical functionality), DOAJ’s guidelines for publishers give a detailed list of the information that should be provided by journals on their websites.

What are the selection criteria?

They are criteria on the technical, financial and quality standards of the journal: (1) general information about the journal (business model, provision of object identifiers, archiving arrangements); (2) editorial quality control model applied by the journal and/or editorial filtering process for accepted papers; (3) degree of openness of the journal and its articles (information about readers’ rights, re-use rights and authors’ rights). To ensure the quality of its database and discourage low-quality, bogus and predatory open access publishers, DOAJ is presently rewriting and tightening its selection criteria, and will implement the new criteria in the coming months.

What about the metadata?

Resources are first catalogued at journal title level. When a journal has been added in the directory, the journal owner (publisher, provider) is encouraged to supply article level metadata to make article level content searchable on DOAJ’s platform. The article level seach is also a means to further increase the visibility, reputation and impact of the journal. DOAJ makes all metadata OAI-compliant (OAI: Open Archives Initiative), for them to be harvested by aggregators and others.

What about the search and browse functions?

We can search and browse DOAJ at journal level and article level, and filter the results with other criteria. DOAJ introduced the search at article level in June 2004, the “new titles” function in April 2008, the “browse-by-country” function in October 2008, and a new user interface in March 2011. DOAJ launched a new platform in March 2013, with advanced search and browse features at article level (results can be filtered by language, publication year, license and publication fee) and at journal level (results can be filtered by subject, country, license and publication fee). There are tools to share content with online communities (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and to export content to other applications (Reference Manager, EndNote, BibTex). New search and browse functions are planned for the near future (per peer-review model, kind of digital archiving, degree of openness, etc.).

What about the numbers?

DOAJ started with 300 journals in May 2003 to reach:
2,000 journals in January 2006,
3,000 journals in December 2007,
4,000 journals in April 2009,
5,000 journals in May 2010,
7,000 journals in September 2011,
8,000 journals in October 2012,
9,000 journals in September 2013,
10,000 journals in December 2013.

DOAJ launched a search at article level in June 2004, with access to:
46,000 articles from 270 journals (25% of all 1,100 journals) in June 2004,
125,000 articles from 765 journals (30% of all 2,550 journals) in February 2007,
300,000 articles from 1,575 journals (37% of all 4,250 journals) in July 2009,
400,000 articles from 2,000 journals (40% of all 5,000 journals) in May 2010,
600,000 articles from 3,150 journals (45% of all 7,000 journals) in September 2011,
1 million articles (50% of all journals) in March 2013,
1.5 million articles (56% of all journals) in September 2013.

There are 2,000+ publishers in DOAJ (since April 2009), journals in 50+ languages (since July 2009) from 100+ countries (since July 2009), and users of DOAJ in 150+ countries (since 2006). There were 8 million page requests per month in April 2009, and 12 million page requests per month in April 2013.

Institutional membership (launched in February 2007) is thriving, with 62 institutions in December 2007, 92 institutions in April 2009 and 140 institutions in October 2013. Institutions which are not members yet are welcome to join in 2014. DOAJ needs their support.

What about the organization itself?

DOAJ was initiated by the Library Head Office of Lund University in May 2003, under the supervision of Lars Bjørnshauge, director of libraries, and financially supported by project grants (from the start) and by a membership program (since February 2007). Over ten years, DOAJ has grown into a major service requiring a transition to a newly formed organization for operations and development. This transition was effective in January 2013, under the management of Infrastructure Services for Open Access (IS4OA), a UK-registered community interest company (CIC) founded by Alma Swan and Caroline Sutton, with a new platform implemented by SemperTool, a software development company specializing in building digital library technologies.

What about its achievements?

For researchers, librarians and users: DOAJ has become a major reference tool for the scholarly and scientific community, who can find and use these open access journals, now highly visible alongside conventional toll access journals. In an interview dated 15 September 2013, two university librarians at University Jean Monnet in Saint-Etienne, France, mentioned that their electronic journals database now included more open access titles than toll access titles: 9,200 free open access titles (mostly provided by DOAJ being “embedded” in their database) and 6,800 toll access titles.

For journal publishers and providers: Having their journals listed in DOAJ is an incentive for implementing best practices for quality and openness. Staying in DOAJ is an incentive to keep or improve these best practices over the years. Part of DOAJ’s work is to provide advice and tools on best practices, for example a detailed list of the criteria needed for the journal to be included in DOAJ and – more difficult – for the journal to receive the DOAJ Seal. The new set of tighter criteria is being discussed now (as of 11 December 2013), and will be implemented soon. Alongside other organizations, DOAJ’s actions help both newborn OA journals and OA journals with experimental business or publishing models, and help the open access movement gain momentum day after day.

What about the future?

DOAJ wants to be “THE one stop shop for users of open access journals” in any language, at journal or article level. As a major reference tool included in library catalogues and other services, it also wants to contribute to the dissemination of open access research, and to make open access the default for academic and scholarly publishing. The next step for 2014 is the implementation of tighter criteria (discussed since March 2013) to ensure that the journals included in DOAJ are quality open access journals. Another step is to ensure a sustainability model for DOAJ itself, for the DOAJ team to be able to work in the best conditions for the years to come, for the benefit of both users and journals. By including journals in 51 languages, with users in 160 countries, DOAJ also leads the way for a truly multilingual open access movement.

Thank you, Lars, Lotte, Sonja, Rikard, Dominic and Salam. We use your work every day.


Annex: DOAJ’s detailed story

2003/02> The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is founded in February 2003 at Lund University by Lars Bjørnshauge, director of libraries. The idea of creating a comprehensive directory of open access journals by collecting and organizing these journals was discussed in October 2002 at the First Nordic Conference on Scholarly Communication in Lund/Copenhagen.

2003/05> DOAJ is launched in May 2003 with 300 journals. The database records are freely available for re-use in library catalogues and other services through the EIFL network (EIFL: Electronic Information for Libraries), a network of national library consortia reaching 3,000 libraries in 50 developing and transition countries. The database metadata can also be harvested using the OAI protocol (OAI: Open Archives Initiative), and thereby increase the visibility of open access journals.

2003/09> DOAJ plans to offer a searchable index of full text articles for journals included in the directory, with work starting in September 2003 and the new service being launched in May 2004.

2004/06> There are 1,100 journals in DOAJ in June 2004. The new version of DOAJ now includes a search at article level for 46,000 articles in 270 journals (out of 1,100 journals). DOAJ plans to make the article level metadata available for harvesting in September 2004.

2006/01> There are 2,000 journals in DOAJ in January 2006. 50 journals were removed during the second semester 2005 for no longer living up to the selection criteria. Based on feedback from users, these criteria have been updated to be more understandable to everyone. DOAJ is used by visitors from 150 countries.

2006/10> DOAJ launches a “for authors service” in October 2006. The service is a look up service for authors who want to publish their research as open access. They can find information about “pure” open access journals and “hybrid” journals that – for a fee – allow authors to publish their research as open access in an otherwise toll access journal.

2006/12> There are 2,500 journals in DOAJ in December 2006. 65 titles were removed in 2006 by not living up to the selection criteria. DOAJ is used by visitors from 160 countries. Hundreds of libraries worldwide have included the DOAJ titles in their catalogues and other services. Commercial aggregators are benefiting from the service as well by harvesting metadata from DOAJ.

2007/02> There are 2,550 journals in DOAJ in February 2007. An article level search service is available for 125,000 articles (30% of all journals). DOAJ also launches a membership program allowing individuals, universities, research centers, libraries, library organizations, library consortia, aggregators and other organizations to contribute. For libraries and institutions from the developing world, the membership fee is up to their financial resources.

2007/05> DOAJ launches a new file upload feature in May 2007, for journal owners to upload multiple articles into DOAJ in one go. Files must conform to the new DOAJ article XML schema. A new metadata format is also added to the OAI interface to harvest records.

2007/11> DOAJ makes a preliminary announcement on its forthcoming DOAJ/SPARC Europe Seal of Approval Program in November 2007. DOAJ and SPARC Europe (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition Europe), a leading organization of European research libraries, are working on a set of standards for publishers of open access journals.

2007/12> There are 3,000 journals in DOAJ in December 2007. 96 titles were removed in 2007 by not living up to the selection criteria. The new membership program (launched in February 2007) now includes 51 libraries, 10 library consortia, 1 aggregator and 3 individuals.

2008/04> There are 3,300 journals in DOAJ in April 2008. DOAJ adds a “new titles” function. Users can now retrieve a list of new titles added to DOAJ either alphabetically (by journal title) or chronologically (date and time when new journals were added, during the last 30 days or more).

2008/04> DOAJ and SPARC Europe launch the SPARC Europe Seal for Open Access Journals in April 2008, to promote open re-use policies. These journals should use a CC-BY license, and provide the metadata of all their articles to DOAJ, which makes them OAI-compliant.

2008/07> DOAJ adds a new “browse-by-country” function in July 2008. Users are now able to check which countries have journals included in DOAJ, how many journals for each country, and the titles of the journals (listed by year).

2008/10> DOAJ adds a new RSS function in October 2008. The feed provides a detailed list of new journals added in the last 24 hours.

2009/04> There are 4,000 journals in DOAJ in April 2009, with 8 million page requests per month. These journals are published by more than 2,000 publishers from 98 countries in 50 languages. 94 titles have been removed in 2008 for no longer living up to the selection criteria. The membership program now includes 80 libraries, universities and research centers, 10 library consortia, 2 aggregators and 13 individuals.

2009/04> DOAJ launches a pilot project (sponsored by the Swedish Library Association) with the e-Depot of the National Library of the Netherlands in April 2009 for the long term preservation (archiving) of these journals. Many open access publishers are new, meaning they are fragile when it comes to financial, technical and administrative sustainability. The long term archiving of their journals could solve this issue and become an integral part of the service provided by DOAJ.

2009/07> There are 4,250 journals in DOAJ in July 2009, with 1,575 journals searchable at article level (300,000 articles). These journals from 100 countries in 50 languages cover all scientific subjects.

2010/05> There are 5,000 journals in DOAJ in May 2010, with 2,000 journals searchable at article level (400,000 articles). During its seven years of operation, DOAJ has been sponsored by the Open Society Institute, SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), SPARC Europe, EBSCO (which historically stood for Elton B. Stephens Company), INASP (International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications), Axiell, the National Library of Sweden and the Swedish Library Association.

2011/03> DOAJ launches a new user interface in March 2011, while keeping it simple for everyone to use, including in areas with low bandwidth.

2011/06> DOAJ is available in French in June 2011, following a partnership with the consortium Couperin, which carried out the translation.

2011/09> DOAJ includes 7,000 journals in September 2011, with 45% of the journals searchable at article level (600,000 articles).

2011/09> DOAJ is available in Turkish in September 2011, following a partnership with the consortium ANKOS, which carried out the translation.

2011/10> DOAJ is available in Greek in October 2011, following a partnership with the consortium HEAL-Link, which carried out the translation.

2012/06> DOAJ is included in the portal of the Europeana Libraries Project launched in Tartu, Estonia, in June 2012. Many other libraries worldwide have included DOAJ in existing catalogues and services, thus offering added value for the global research and education community and for the journal owners.

2012/10> DOAJ is available in Spanish and Portuguese in October 2012, with translations made by Redalyc (for Spanish) and the University of Porto (for Portuguese).

2012/12> There are 8,300 journals in DOAJ in December 2012.

2013/01> DOAJ has a new home in January 2013 under the management of Infrastructure Services for Open Access (IS4OA), a UK-registered community interest company (CIC) founded by Alma Swan and Caroline Sutton, with a new platform implemented by SemperTool, a software development company specializing in building digital library technologies. After being initiated by the Library Head Office of Lund University in May 2003, and financially supported by project grants (from the start) and by a membership program (since February 2007), DOAJ has grown into a major service requiring this transition to a newly formed organization for operations and development in the years to come.

2013/02> DOAJ’s new team is announced in February 2013, with Lars Bjørnshauge as managing director, Lotte Jorgensen as managing editor, Sonja Brage and Rikard Zeylon as editors, Dominic Mitchell as community manager, and Salam Baker Shanawa as IT development manager. There is also a new advisory board of 15 experts (Community/Consortia: Kevin Stranack, Tom Olijhoek, Caren Milloy, Jean-François Lutz, Jan-Erik Frantsvåg, David Prosser, Iryna Kuchma, Stuart Shieber; Publishers/Aggregators: Leslie Chan, Martin Rasmussen, Paul Peters, Cameron Neylon, Bettina Goerner, Arianna Becerril-Garcia, Susan Murray).

2013/03> DOAJ launches a new platform in March 2013, with advanced search and browse features, and tools to share and export content to other applications. The advanced search and browse features are at article level (results can be filtered by language, publication year, license and publication fee) and at journal level (results can be filtered by subject, country, license and publication fee). The tools to share and export content to other applications include sharing content with online communities such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, and exporting references to Reference Manager, EndNote or BibTex.

2013/03> 1 million articles are searchable in DOAJ in March 2013, with metadata provided at article level for half of the journals. DOAJ also works with key stakeholders to address issues in quality and openness by setting up new and tighter criteria for journals to be included in DOAJ.

2013/05> DOAJ celebrates its 10th anniversary in May 2013, with journals from 119 countries in 51 languages, and 12 million page requests per month.

2013/06> After consulting its advisory board, DOAJ publishes a draft list of new and tighter selection criteria (a) for a journal to be included in DOAJ, and (b) for the creation of a DOAJ Seal of Approval of Open Access Journals. These new criteria are meant to encourage best practices amongst open access publishers. They are open for public comment until 15 July 2013, with discussions on social media, in mailing lists and via email.

2013/08> After sending a survey to all publishers of the journals included in DOAJ, with questions about long-term preservation (archiving), the use of permanent article identifiers (DOIs) and financial support (funding), DOAJ received 1,242 responses (out of 2,000+ publishers), with 75% of the respondents completing the whole survey, and the survey results publicly available online in August 2013.

2013/09> 1.5 million articles are searchable in DOAJ in September 2013, with all article level metadata available for harvesting. A response to the consultation period for new and tighter criteria is published online along with a second revision of the criteria.

2013/10> The discussion about new criteria started (in March 2013) long before John Bohannon’s controversial article published in Science on 4 October 2013 about flaws in the peer review of some open access journals. The article mentions some journals listed in DOAJ. As stated in DOAJ’s responses at the time, 10 journals were removed by DOAJ long before the article was published, as part of the team’s continuous review process. The other journals mentioned by John Bohannon were removed from DOAJ by 15 October 2013. Given the increase of low quality, bogus and predatory open access publishers as a flipside of the success of the open access movement, DOAJ counts on the community to be watchdog.

2013/10> DOAJ includes 9,948 journals on 4 October 2013, with a search at article level for half of them. Between 1 August 2013 and 10 October 2013, the editorial team adds 348 new titles in the directory and removes 329 journals that don’t live up to the current criteria (including the journals mentioned in John Bohannon’s article). DOAJ is still working with its advisory board on revising and tightening its selection criteria, with implementation of the new criteria in the coming months. 140 institutions around of the world have DOAJ membership. Membership for a university library is GBP £400.

2013/12> The milestone of 10,000 journals in DOAJ is reached on 11 December 2013, with 10,006 journals from 124 countries, and 5,743 journals searchable at article level (1,567,311 articles).


Copyright © 2015 Marie Lebert
License CC BY-NC-SA version 4.0

Written by marielebert

2013/12/11 at 17:56

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