Overview of Open Access journals resources

The ISSN register recently launched a new resource: ROAD, Directory of Open Access scholarly Resources. It is an attempt to describe various Open Access resources. Journals, of course. Besides the journals they describe serials, book series and conference proceedings, but also repositories. The latter was new to me that databases could get an ISSN as well. They have not come very far with their inventory of repositories. Currently they have only indexed 172 Open Access repositories. As can be expected the ROAD directory is far more comprehensive for Open Access journals, currently indexing 7194 Open Access journals and a mere 68 conference proceedings. Book series are not yet included but apparently they will follow in 2014.

The effort of the ISSN organisation to index Open Access repositories is in stark contrast with OpenDOAR which has registered 2582 Open Access repositories worldwide and the Registry of Open Access Repositories with 3585 repositories.

For a comparison of the various initiatives to build and maintain databases of Open Access journals the following databases deserve special mention:

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
Probably the best know collection of Open Access journals. Currently a collection of 9804 free full text, peer reviewed Open Access Journals are described. More than 5636 journals are searchable at the article level on the standard bibliographic metadata of the articles.

Livre! is the a journal portal from Brazilian origin, it covers more than 5916 scientific journals, magazines, bulletins and newsletters but you can easily limit the selections to peer reviewed scientific journals.

Jan Szczepanski’s lists of OA-journals
Jan Szczepanski, a librarian at Göteborg University, has collected links and information on Open Access journals for years. His lists contain over 22,000 current OA-journals (end 2013). Het estimates that about 10% of the links in this anthology are dead, but the metadata provided make it possible to find the journal with web search engines or in the Internet archive.

The Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliothek EZB (Electronic Journals Library)
Covers some 44,000 OA journals. The collection is therefore one of the most comprehensive free journal collections. Just select only the “green” journals and you can browse or search through this impressive collection. The collection covers more than only peer reviewed scholarly journals. Unfortunately you can’t filter out peer reviewed yournals only. You can filter journals by some 41 subject areas.

Walt Crawford’s overview of early E-zines
In Cites & Insight 6(12) Walt Crawford provides an overview of early OA Journals “They weren’t generally called Open Access journals in 1995: If that term existed before 2001 or 2002, it certainly wasn’t the standard name for free online scholarship. But there were examples of free online scholarship, some dating back to 1987.”

I had some doubt whether to include Highwire Press as well. They do list journals from various publishers, but the majority are Toll Access journals, and most of those in Open Access, are delayed open access. Free content as they call it. So it doesn’t fit this collection.

Not a list of journals, but highly suspicious Open Access publishers, is Beall’s list. Most of the resources listed in this post include journals uncritically. Beall’s list is a useful resource to counter some of the Open Access positivism.

The week in review – Week 5, 2014

For a Dutch Open Access advocate there was one event that stood out this week. The speech of @SanderDekker our junior minister Science Policy at the Academic Publishing in Europe 2014 conference this week. His speech ‘Going for Gold‘ was a passionate plea for Open Access that should be achieved through the Golden Road.

Open access is a moral obligation, essential for society and inescapable.

He did not debunk the Green route entirely, but for Dekker the Green Road to Open Access was like coming fourth on a major championship. In the end “if you are going for gold, fourth place is the most frustrating place you can achieve”.
As a product manager, responsible for our repository Staff Publications, I see one clear and present danger in the view of our junior minister. If he accepts the Golden Route as the only route, it might lead to the negligence of the Green Route and subsequently the deterioration repository infrastructure in the Netherlands.

The repository infrastructure in The Netherlands and how it can be improved

The Netherlands has a unique repository infrastructure. All universities have their Open Access repository, in most instances managed by the university libraries. Next to that many research institutes maintain Open Access Repositories as well. All the contents of these repositories are harvested and presented in Narcis the overarching repository of the Netherlands. In total 37 institutes participate in Narcis. But lo and behold the 13 universities are the main contributors to Narcis. There are two different policies practiced at the universities in dissemination their publications to Narcis. A group of universities that disseminate complete metadata on all their output to Narcis and a group of universities that only disseminate their open access publications through their repository to Narcis. Some universities can be placed somewhere between these extremes. Since all universities are in the process of acquiring new Current Research Information Systems, there is the opportunity to seize this moment and make arrangements on the exchange of comprehensive metadata for all official university publication output. Make the Academic Bibliography public, and aggregate that output in Narcis.
All universities have to report their publication output to the Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU) according to a strictly defined protocol. At this moment only the final figures are reported to the VSNU by each university independently. With a small change in policy regulations Narcis could be made the overall repository used for the reporting of these figures and by making these reports publicly available the systems becomes transparent and availability, traceability and verifiability mentioned in the VSNU protocol are all safeguarded. In a much better way than the current situation. The new demands from the Junior Minister of Education to the universities to report on Open Access production should be implemented on Narcis as well. The advantage of a comprehensive publication output registration system is that success of open access achievement can be measured as part of total publication output. If we use for this reporting Narics as well we are nog longer dependent on third party providers for bibliographic data provision and we don’t end up with incomparable numbers.

Comprehensive registration will lead to more publications

If the universities manage to achieve a more comprehensive publication output registration it will subsequently become clear that apart from peer reviewed publications, universities publish a lot more than only peer reviewed publications. Many of those other publications contribute considerably and importantly to the open access production of the universities. These publications are more in the realm of grey literature and play a substantial role in knowledge dissemination to other parties than colleague scholars and universities. These publications reach an audience in other parts of public sector, the industry etc. contributing to the so important knowledge circulation within the Netherlands (WRR, 2014). These other publications have always been produced, but where simply not registered, and more importantly not efficiently disseminated. Registration in a CRIS, dissemination trough a repository and aggregation in Narcis will help to spread the word about this grey literature.

Narcis as a link resolver target

There is another way that can reinforce the role of Narcis as well. If we could make Narcis a link resolver target as well for Open Access versions of Toll Access publications the role of Narcis could gain in importance as well. Some OA advocates rely on the Google’s and Google Scholar to identify Open Access versions of articles. But it would better fit in the academic workflow if an Open Access repository could double function as a link resolver as well. If a researcher is using Scopus to find relevant material for his research, he can locate OA versions of articles he might not have access to when they are present in one of the 37 Dutch repositories. Sugita et al. 2007 already reported on a solution like this in Japan. There is some more information on their AIRway project and the existing targets, where Netherlands is lacking completely. Ross Singer blogged a proposal on this subject as well, but I didn’t see it come to implementation.

Reinforcing the green road in the Netherlands

Sander Dekker happily proclaimed the Golden Route to Open Access as his major policy. I do hope that he, in cooperation with the VSNU, would implement a few minor policy changes that enforce the importance of the Dutch repository infrastructure. If the developers of Narcis manage to make Narcis an Open Access target for link resolvers we get a meaningful and sustainable repository infrastructure for relatively little money.

What else caught my eye this week?

Some selected tweets









Sugita, S., K. Horikoshi, M. Suzuki, Shin Kataoka, E.S. Hellman & K. Suzuki 2007. Linking service to open access repositories. D-Lib Magazine, 13(3-4) http://www.dlib.org/dlib/march07/sugita/03sugita.html

WRR. 2013. Naar een lerende economie : Investeren in het verdienvermogen van Nederland. WRR report Vol. 90. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. 440pp. http://www.wrr.nl/publicaties/publicatie/article/naar-een-lerende-economie-1

Academic search engine optimization: for publishers

A few weeks ago my eye caught a tweet on the subject of academic search engine optimization

The nicely styled PDF referred to in the tweet  was from Wiley. Wiley has been quite active in this area. In my book mark list I have somewhere the link to their webpage on optimizing your research articles for search engines (SEO), somewhere tucked away on their author services section. And a link to the article “Search engine optimization and your journal article: Do you want the bad news first?” on their Exchange blog. Wiley is not the only publishers dealing with this subject, here is an example on academic search engine optimization from Elsevier and another example from Sage. I bet there are other examples from publishers to be found.

The major advise is to use the right keywords. Use these keywords in your title, and repeat them throughout your abstract. Contextually repeated as they say. Do mention some synonyms for those keywords as well and please do make use of the key words fields in the article as well.  They emphasize to use Google Trends or Google Adwords to find the right keywords, but that is ill-advised for academic search engine optimization in my opinion. When selecting keywords for academic search engine optimization it is better to use keyword systems, ontologies or thesauri from you subject area, because experienced researchers will use this terminology to search for their information as well. So in the biomedical area it is obvious to consult the mesh browser, but when you are in the agriculture or ecology field of research the CAB thesaurus is the first choice for selecting the appropriate keywords. The Wiley SEO tips ends with  the advise to consistent with your own name (and affiliation, your lab deserves to be named properly as well), and don’t forget to cite your previous work.

The role of the editors in Academic Search Engine Optimization

In their short PDF the Wiley team mentions to use headings as well “Headings for the various sections of your article tip off search engines to the structure and content of your article.  Incorporate your keywords and phrases in these headings wherever it’s appropriate.”  A nice suggestion but in practice this is hardly ever in the hands of the individual author. Scholarly articles tend to have a rather fixed structure. The IMRAD structure, Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion being the most common. In such a case the author has no space to add headings in the right position in their paper. But research by  Hamrick et al. showed that papers with callouts, tend to have higher number of citations. A “callout” is a phrase or sentence from the paper, perhaps paraphrased, that is displayed prominently in a larger font. The journal which they investigated abandoned the practice to use callouts, but after their article this practice was reinstated again. A decision like that, is an editorial decision. And it is recommended for all journals to help the readers with pointers in the form of callouts, and benefit from the affects it can have as academic search engine optimization as well. My favourite Wiley journal, JASIST, certainly doesn’t make systematic use of callouts.

The other topic on which the editorial board has an important say is the layout of the reference lists in their journals. I have pleaded many times before for a reduced number of specifications of reference lists. It looks like the first task an editorial board of a newly established journal embarks upon is,  is to formulate yet another exotic variation of the many different styles specifying the layout of the reference list. The point however, that these definitions hardly make use of the possibilities of academic search engine optimization, or search engine optimization whatsoever, most often they forget to include linking options in the reference list altogether. Older instructions to authors have not caught up with the present time yet. In the html version of the scholarly articles links are included as part of the journal platform software, but in the PDF versions of the articles the URLs are often forgotten altogether. Where DOIs are linkable in the webpage, in most instances DOIs in the PDF version are most often presented in the form of  doi:10.1002/asi/etc. It is even explicitly stipulated in the APA style and many others to reference a DOI as doi: which goes against the advice of the DOI governing body. These bad practices results in the fact that DOI’s included in the PDF versions of the reference list don’t link. Which is a complete and utter waste of SEO opportunity. So academic search engine optimization is badly broken in this area.

The role of publishers in Academic Search Engine Optimization

Publishers have their role in supporting the editorial boards in resolving the two previously mentioned items. But they should also have a careful look into the PDF files they produce at the moment as well. At this moment the Google Webmaster has only a few pointers to PDF optimization. To mention a few interesting ones: Links should be included in the PDF (this means again DOIs as links rather than doi: statements) since they are treated as ordinary links.  And the last point is important as well “How can I influence the title shown in search results for my PDF document” The title attribute in the PDF is used! And the anchor text. On publishers site this is most often “PDF”. If they only would use the title as anchor text on their website it would work in their advantage. Albeit not mentioned on the Google webmaster blogpost, since it is probably too obvious, if the file had only the name of the title it certainly would help the SEO for the PDF, and it would help all those scientists who download all the PDF files for their research to sort out what file is what about. Was 123456.pdf about the genetics or genomes, or was that in 234567.pdf? Clear titles would help both researchers as well as search engines to work out what it is all about.

And whilst publishers are on the subject of PDF optimization they might as well complete the other attributes for PDF files, such as authors, keywords and summary. If it is not now, another search engine might make use of those attributes another day. You might as well be prepared.  Researchers, using reference management tools, can also benefit from those metadata attributes. Ross Mounce has some interesting blogposts about the researchers need for good metadata in PDFs.  Theoretically a little effort since all that metadata is in the databases already, so make use of it to optimize your PDFs for academic search engine optimization or service to your most loyal users who have so far put up with a load of bad PDFs.


Hamrick, T. A., R. D. Fricker, and G. G. Brown. 2010. Assessing what distinguishes highly cited from less-cited papers published in Interfaces. Interfaces, 40(6): 454-464. http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/inte.1100.0527. OA version:http://faculty.nps.edu/tahamric/docs/citations%20paper.pdf

Related: Google and the academic Deep Web