Last semester, we introduced the concept of open access publishing as a source for free online research articles. Open access journals may offer free access to scholarly articles, but remember that not all open access publishers are trustworthy. Predatory open access journals seek to make money rather than to advance peer-reviewed scholarship. Predatory publishers may charge authors exorbitant submission fees, try to claim copyright to authors' works to block publication in legitimate scholarly journals, and publish research that is not supported by evidence due to inadequate editorial review practices. So how can you tell if a free online article is published by a reliable and authoritative source?
A Brief Introduction to the DOAJ
The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals, including more than 12,400 journals and 3.6 million articles from 129 countries. The DOAJ is independent, with all operational funding coming through donations. The directory aims to cover all open access academic journals managed according to an appropriate quality control system, with no limitations for language, geographical region, or subject. The DOAJ defines open access journals as those using a funding model that does not charge readers or their institutions for access. Journals must exercise peer-review with an editor and an editorial board or editorial review carried out by at least two editors.
The DOAJ awards a seal of approval to those open access journals that achieve a high level of openness and adhere to best practice and high publishing standards. DOAJ has awarded the seal to more than 1,300 journals within its directory. To receive the seal, the journal must comply with the following conditions:
Journals may also be removed from the directory if they no longer follow the open access publication model, cease publication, exhibit evidence of editorial misconduct, or fail to adhere to best practices. DOAJ retains a list of journals that have been removed from the directory since 2014, along with the reason for removal.
You can search the DOAJ directory by keyword and limit search results to only include articles with a DOAJ seal of approval. You can also limit search results by publisher. Many open access journals from the DOAJ and other sources are also indexed within the library’s OneSearch Discovery database.
So why don’t all academics support the open access movement by sharing the articles they publish for free online?
Well, it’s complicated. When scholars publish in a proprietary, non-open access journal, the publisher dictates the right to share the articles, and the authors often do not retain the rights to share their work in a free public repository. Publishers require readers to pay a subscription for access to scholarly articles. In addition, some funding agencies that provide grants for scholarly research require open access archiving for their research to increase the use of the information generated. But some publishers prohibit authors from self-archiving in open access repositories, or only permit it under certain conditions.
So how can an academic author find out what rights they have to share their work?
Sherpa/Romeo is an online resource that aggregates and analyzes publisher open access policies and conditions of rights given to authors on a journal-by-journal basis. Romeo provides a summary of publishers' general policies on self-archiving of journal articles, including what version of an article can be deposited, where it can be deposited, and any conditions attached to that deposit. RoMEO's own database covers over 22,000 peer-reviewed journals and serials. RoMEO also searches the DOAJ and other databases for additional journals.
Remember that the RADAR method of source evaluation can also help you determine if an open access article is trustworthy. If you have questions about an open access article or journal, please come visit the Reference Desk.