Other resource: Directory of Open Access Journals

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is an index of OA peer-reviewed journals maintained and updated by volunteer editors (of whom the author of this blog is one). At the time of this update, there were roughly 9,000 OA journals listed in the directory.

DOAJ has existed since 2003, initially as a project of Sweden’s Lund University and (currently) as its own non-profit entity, managed by Infrastructure Services for Open Access, a UK-based company which aims to “facilitate easy access to OA resources” (source).

The bulk of DOAJ‘s site consists of a searchable, browsable list of vetted OA journals. End-users can search the list or browse it by DOAJ-editor-selected subject area—although the search interface can be a little buggy sometimes.

Each journal page contains basic information about the journal’s aims and scope, the type of peer review used, and links to its instructions for authors and editorial board. Each journal page also includes information about whether or not that journal levies article processing charges (APCs) or submission charges at authors publishing in or submitting to it, as well as whether those fees can be waived in some situations. However, this information is not always available for journals which were added to the directory earlier in its history and which have not recently been reviewed. Some journals also provide article-level metadata to the directory; those that do will list published articles on their journal page as well as the above information.

Although the directory does have its quirks, its status as an index of quality OA journals makes it a must-use resource for anyone looking to publish their research in an OA environment.

Web site: Open Access Overview

Peter Suber’s Open Access Overview is a web page on the author’s personal web site which is intended to serve as an introduction to the OA movement.

Although there are books which also serve this purpose (including several by Suber, who is a very well-established OA expert), the web overview has several benefits, chief among which are:

  1. It is relatively short
  2. It breaks down concepts to an elementary level, and provides succinct definitions for terms, and
  3. It links out to other, more exhaustive resources at the point of information

The page consists of a number of lists, which address different functional/theoretical aspects of OA:

  • Basic information about OA
  • Legal basis for OA
  • OA focuses on “literature that authors give to the world without expectation of payment”
  • OA is often publicly funded
  • OA is “not free to produce or publish”
  • OA and peer review
  • Differences in OA journal publishing (Gold OA) and OA repositories (Green OA)
  • OA as a constructive project
  • OA is not the same as universal access
  • OA is not a business model
  • Usefulness of OA for different groups of people
  • “OA in historical perspective”

Additionally, Suber includes links for further reading (although some are no longer actively maintained).

If the overview page is still too detailed, Suber also maintains a “Very Brief Introduction to Open Access” which sets out nothing more than the basic definitions of OA, what it tries to do, and how it tries to do it.

Resource: Beall’s List of Predatory Open Access Publishers

Beall’s List of Predatory Open Access Publishers is a web site, maintained by Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at UC Denver. Beall’s list contains several different continually updated lists of OA publishers with questionable or harmful practices. The list was started in 2011 as an annual publication, and moved to a continual-update model in 2014 due to the increasing volume of publishers. Now, the list publishes an annual index with links to the lists and a basic overview of the number of journals in each.

Currently, Beall’s List contains information on predatory publishers split into the following categories:

Beall’s list is an excellent resource for anyone with questions about an OA publisher or journal. The 2016 index post to Beall’s List of Predatory OA Publishers, with links to each list, can be found here.

Article: The Development of Open Access Journal Publishing from 1993 to 2009

Article citation: Laakso M, Welling P, Bukvova H, Nyman L, Björk B-C, Hedlund T (2011) The Development of Open Access Journal Publishing from 1993 to 2009. PLoS ONE 6(6): e20961. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020961

In their 2012 article “The Development of Open Access Journal Publishing from 1993 to 2009,” Laakso et al. measure the numbers of active journals and published articles in each year between 1993 and 2009. The article starts with a quick description of how the Internet has enabled OA publishing, and a definition of the two types of OA with which the authors are concerned: Green OA, where publishers allow authors to self-archive some form of their submitted articles; and Gold OA, where the journal itself is available free of access in some form.

Next, Laakso et al. lay out previous research, mentioning earlier surveys of OA publishing by Ware and Mabe (2009), Crawford (2002), Wells (1999), Morris (2006)—whose study the authors note as the most comprehensive prior to their own—, and Sotudeh and Horri (2007), among others.

For their own study, Laakso et al. gathered their data on the number of OA journals from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), a free online index. As the authors note, DOAJ was selected for this purpose because it is “an actively maintained and well-established index with clear inclusion criteria” (p.3). In 2009, DOAJ contained 4,767 OA journals (Laakso et al., p7). For the number of articles published in each year between 1993 and 2009, Laakso et al. manually collected data from that year’s active journals, since automated methods were deemed insufficient (p.3).

What makes the article (and others like it) most interesting, of course, is a comparison of the data Laakso et al. present with data for 2016. now indexes 8,948 journals—almost double the amount Laakso et al. report for 2009. Although the number of articles is harder to calculate, DOAJ currently indexes 2,024,744 articles—more than double the 893,574 OA articles Laakso et al. report having been published between 1993 and 2009 (p.7).

It is worth noting that, despite Laakso et al.’s use of DOAJ as the sole source for the number of OA journals in 2009, the index does not contain every single journal—at least, not in 2016. With the current rules for inclusion, journals must publish 5 articles per calendar year to stay in the index. Additionally, new journals must apply, a process which can sometimes take many months, as DOAJ is a volunteer-run index. (This blogger is a volunteer there, so is well acquainted with the process and its various delays.)

In any case, given that the number of articles index in DOAJ alone is so high, it is clear that OA publishing has continued to expand in the seven years since Laakso et al.’s study.

Foundational text: Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities

The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities” (Berlin Declaration) is a foundational document of the Open Access (OA) movement.

The Berlin Declaration was created in 2003 by a number of OA groups and academic institutions, and was intended to build on the Bethesda Statement on OA Publishing and the Budapest Open Access Initiative by presenting practical ways interested parties could “promote the Internet as a functional instrument” for OA. (Source)

The Berlin Declaration presents a goals statement and a definition of OA which are similar to those in the documents it builds upon. It also lays out a number of ways interested parties can contribute to the OA movement, which are vague enough not to be limited by future technological developments and which mostly involve acting as an OA advocate.

You can read the full text of the Berlin Declaration online at the Max Planck Society, as well as sign the declaration yourself. An updated mission statement authored in 2013 is also available on the site.

Foundational Text: Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing

The Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing is one of the three core declarations which defined and popularized the term Open Access (OA). It was created in a 2003 meeting at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland, and was intended to push the biomedical community in particular to engage more with the idea of OA for scientific literature.

The statement sets out a definition of an OA publication as meeting two conditions:

First, it must be made available (with proper attribution) free of charge for users to “copy, use, distribute, transmit and display” as they will. (source)

Second, it must be deposited in a relevant online repository.

Although the second condition is not necessarily a condition outside the biomedical research community, much of the first condition is strongly in line with current broad definitions of OA.

Beyond this basic definition, the Bethesda Statement provides supplementary statements on the benefits of OA from three different groups of stakeholders: Institutions and Agencies; Libraries and Publishers; and Scientists and Societies.

The definition the Bethesda Statement provides, and its stakeholder statements, still point out issues the OA community faces today, such as the use of fees and processing charges. You can read the full Bethesda Statement here.

Foundational Text: Budapest Open Access Initiative

The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) was one of the first declarations to popularize the notion of Open Access (OA) for peer reviewed research.

Launched in February of 2002 after a meeting of the Open Society Foundation in Budapest in December of 2001, the declaration aimed to “accelerate progress in the international effort to make research articles in all academic fields freely available on the Internet” (source).

The document not only lays out several philosophical reasons for OA but presents two strategies for achieving it: Self-archiving, whereby scholars are free to deposit copies of articles they’ve written in freely accessible archives, and OA journals, where access to journal content is free without the need for archiving.

Not all of the BOAI declaration’s recommendations are followed today. For example, many OA journals still exist which charge subscription or access fees.

You can read the full BOAI declaration, as well as supplementary material related to the background of the declaration and what’s been happening since, at the Budapest Open Access Initiative home page.