The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a nonprofit online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals (and is a strategic affiliate of the LPC). To be indexed in the DOAJ directory, journals need to meet the rigorous DOAJ selection criteria. Securing inclusion for a journal in the DOAJ is evidence of a commitment to quality, peer-reviewed, open access scholarly publishing practices. However, the process for application and inclusion in the DOAJ is complex and sometimes lengthy, and a 2014 criteria update (and subsequent removal of journals from the index) has caused some consternation among publishers.
In order to better support the indexing of LPC members’ journals, LPC recently partnered with DOAJ on a task force.This group was charged with identifying barriers to library-published journals being indexed in the Directory and proposing ways that LPC could support this crucial work. Over the last year, the task force focused its efforts in the following areas:
The group started by surveying LPC members about their experiences with DOAJ and by reviewing a list (provided by DOAJ) of journals affiliated with LPC member institutions that had applied for inclusion in the index. Some of the major takeaways:
- As of September 2017, 90 journals published by LPC member institutions had been accepted into the DOAJ, 50 had been rejected by the DOAJ, and 20 journals were pending or in progress to be indexed in the DOAJ. It is important to note here that not all journals affiliated with an LPC member institution are necessarily published by the library, and one benefit of this approach was helping member identify journals on their campuses that may benefit from library support.
- When applying for DOAJ indexing, 21% of members found the application process fairly easy and 58% found the process either somewhat difficult or very difficult to complete. Specific pain points included licensing and copyright considerations (e.g. Creative Commons licenses), reporting policies and statements about the quality and transparency of the journal using the DOAJ’s preferred frameworks/language, and the time taken both to complete the lengthy application and to receive feedback from the DOAJ.
- When asked how the LPC can support members with DOAJ applications, 76% of respondents were in favor of developing guides, running webinars and having a central LPC expert contact, and 11% were interested in one-on-one mentoring during the application process.
Based on this investigation, the task force moved on to the second phase of its work: devising ways to support LPC members in getting indexed.
DOAJ application guide
Based on the survey results, the group decided that the most effective way to support library publishers in their work with DOAJ would be to create a freely-available written resource they could draw on when preparing an application. After two intensive trainings with the DOAJ liaison and multiple rounds of writing and revision, the task force is very excited to announce the release of:
The guide walks library publishers through the DOAJ application process step-by-step, and includes explanations of commonly misunderstood questions and information specific to library publishing.
Library Publishing Forum workshop
The task force facilitated a workshop at the 2018 Library Publishing Forum, which took place in Minneapolis, MN, in May. During the workshop, DOAJ Senior Managing Editor Judith Barnsby addressed many of the application pain points identified in our survey and described the plans in place to solve them. Judith also met with many LPC members individually at the Forum about individual cases and questions. Slides from the workshop are available on the LPC website, and we hope to be able to repeat it in future.
Representing library publishers
One of the most exciting outcomes of the task force is increased library publishing representation among the cohort of volunteer DOAJ editors, who review and evaluate DOAJ applications. In addition to task force member David Scherer, who was already a DOAJ editor, the task force has helped to onboard two new DOAJ editors from LPC member institutions: Emma Molls from the University of Minnesota and Amanda Page from Syracuse University. All three editors will provide individual mentorship to LPC members as they work through the application process. They will also be paying close attention to LPC members’ applications and will likely be reviewing them. We expect the presence of LPC members on the DOAJ editorial team will not only help more library publishers to navigate the application process, but will also maintain the excellent relationship LPC and DOAJ have developed over the last year.
As the task force finishes its work, we have made some recommendations for ongoing support to the LPC Board, including more ways to continue the successful collaboration between the LPC and the DOAJ. Stay tuned for more developments and opportunities for LPC members to be involved in this important work.
The members of the task force were: Monica Westin (chair, California Digital Library), Ian Caswell (University College London), Liza Hagerman (Purdue University), Emma Molls (University of Minnesota), David Scherer (Carnegie Mellon University), and Janet Swatscheno (University of Illinois); with Judith Barnsby serving as a liaison to DOAJ.