It’s Open Access Week, a time set aside to advocate for access to scholarly research free of price barriers and most copyright and licensing restrictions. In recognition of open access initiatives, Falvey Memorial Library created the SOAR (Scholarship Open Access Reserve) fund. To date, one application to cover an article processing charge (APC) has been granted to a faculty member. A second is pending. The Library has also received inquiries about how we will vet open access journals eligible for APC reimbursement and, more generally, for advice on how to identify high quality open access journals. We’d like to share the answers to these questions more broadly.
The Falvey Memorial Library Resource Council has devised a checklist for ensuring due diligence in reviewing SOAR requests. Our approach to evaluating journals is holistic, taking into consideration a range of attributes with no single criterion automatically leading to acceptance or rejection.
– We note whether the journal has an ISSN, when the …journal started, how closely the journal has conformed to a …publication schedule, and publisher reputation.
– We verify credentials and participation of named editorial …board members.
– We look for clear statements on editorial processes, …research misconduct, conflict of interest and data access …policies.
– We check Beall’s List to make sure the journal or publisher …is not included among identified predatory publishers.
Inclusion in the Directory of Open Access Journals signals that the journal has passed an independent evaluation.
Similarly, indexing in recognized
databases, differing by discipline, is a barometer of value. We gather journal level metrics, such as Impact Factor, SCImago and Eigenfactor. Additionally, we look at article level metrics, indicative of quality scholarship and influence, for a sampling of published papers.
Authors seeking to identify quality open access journals in their field may also use several other tools.
The most widely known is the Directory of Open Access Journals. The DOAJ is a membership organization devoted to promoting open scholarship by encouraging transparency and best practices in peer reviewed publishing. A newer directory going by the acronym ROAD, a service of the ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) issuing agency, is a bit broader than DOAJ in that it includes not only journals but also conference proceedings, monographic series and even scholarly blogs. The advanced search allows you to search by keyword, topic, publication type and index coverage. This directory does not screen journals for quality indicators. Think. Check. Submit. is a new website, largely sponsored by open access publishers and advocates, to help authors identify trusted journals.
As open access has become more commonplace, traditional journal tools have added “open access” check-offs. Cabell’s Directory of Publishing Opportunities, covering nursing, psychology, business and education-related disciplines, has an advanced search that supports specifying green, gold or hybrid open access models. Cabell’s is designed for selecting journals by quality indicators, such as editorial policies, acceptance rates, journal metrics and time to publication. InCites, the new Journal Citation Report from Thomson Reuters covering science and social science disciplines, has an open access check-off within its interface, too—and only journals with impact factors are covered through InCites. Scopus, the Elsevier interdisciplinary database, added an open access check-off in its browse feature. Both Scopus and InCites define open access journals in conformity with the generally recognized definition of gold open access journals, which provides readers with immediate, paywall-free access to all content.
Many still view open access journals with trepidation, fearing that they aren’t peer-reviewed, that they pollute scholarly discourse with poorly designed and executed or falsified and fraudulent results, and that they prey on scholars eager to publish within a tight timeframe. The Library hopes to dispel these fears by sharing our tips and tools for evaluating open access journals (equally applicable to subscription model journals, we might add). Given the proliferation of funders’ requirements for public access to funded research, the spreading adoption of institutional open access policies, the resistance by university libraries to exorbitant journal prices, the international recognition of the value of freely-exchanged scholarship, and the authors’ appreciation for enhanced impact, open access—be it through open access journals or repositories—will only continue to grow.
Open Access Week logo via openaccessweek.org
Article by Linda Hauck, subject librarian for business.
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