Last month we looked at how inclusion in the DOAJ is increasingly being used as a benchmark to identify an “acceptable” fully OA journal. The DOAJ is not an exhaustive index, as criteria for acceptability can vary between indexes and stakeholders.

Therefore, this month we look at additional indexes and journal types. We investigate whether it’s possible to find definitive information about where to publish and about which journals are fully open access.

The nature of data-driven analysis is that we have to follow where the data leads. So, we have split our analysis into several parts to reflect the many different silos of data. Here we are only looking at a sense of scale of whitelists – next month we will examine the overlap between indexes. Finally, later in the year, we will explore blacklists.


As an industry, we do not have a central index of journals and quality ratings. Different indexes take different approaches and have different objectives. For example, the selection processes used byCabells, Clarivate, the DOAJ and Elsevier illustrate the breadth of issues covered when determining journal quality. Even where similar types of criteria are used, their specific application or thresholds may differ. Collectively, they illustrate the complexity behind defining a single approach and that the criteria used often require human judgement to implement.

For the purposes of analysis, we will start with selective indexes which include journals that meet thresholds across a basket of criteria.

Of course, not being in a whitelist does not necessarily mean a journal is of poor quality. It could mean the journal is not mature or does not fulfill the goals of a specific list. Blacklists fulfill a complementary role as they aim to identify journals that might be predatory or have questionable practices. Both types of lists are useful.

Blacklists raise sufficiently complex issues to warrant their own review, so we will set them aside for now and examine them in a later analysis. Whitelists alone are a complex topic, so we will begin by looking at the scale of their coverage. Our thanks go to publishing services provider Cabells for providing us data about their Whitelist and Blacklist.

Scope of Index Coverage

To understand how comprehensive an index might be, we start by analyzing how many journals an index covers. Unfortunately, even simply counting how many journals we have is problematic due to differences in definition. For example, do journals publishing only original research articles count as “scholarly journals”, or should we also count journals which include editorial and magazine-like content?

Table 1 shows numbers of journals in various indexes, to give a sense of relative scale. It does not look at overlaps between indexes.

Sources: Readings taken directly from each index as stated, Web of Science information, JCR information, publishers’ websites and Delta Think analysis. All readings Jun/July 2019, except Delta Think Price List, from Jan 2019.

The General Indexes, which include journals using all business models, provide an overall sense of scale. Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory offers the most comprehensive list of journals.

  • Ulrich’s lists around 131k active academic journals, of which 13% are fully OA. This is arguably too broad. We can narrow this to the roughly 89k peer reviewed journals, of which 17% are fully OA.
  • Even then, this includes related editions (such as print and electronic editions), so we can further filter down to just primary editions, to arrive at a “possible universe” of around 46k distinct journals, of which 9k or so (20%) are fully OA.
  • Some further context not shown above: The 2018 STM Association report puts the total number of scholarly journals at 42k, filtering for English language titles only. Elsevier/1Science’s 1finder lists over 80k journals, and Informa’s 73k.

Fully OA Journals

Once we filter out duplicates, roughly one-fifth of the indexed journals appear to be fully OA. As a rough guideline, the more selective the index, the lower the proportion of fully OA journals. So, “high teens %” of journals in the broader indexes drops to “low teens %” in the more selective indexes.

However, there are some interesting mis-matches in scale of the fully OA-only indexes.

  • ROAD (the’s list of fully OA journals) has more journals than even the most inclusive cut of Ulrich’s. ROAD includes anything that is free to read on the web, regardless of whether its licensing or copyright terms would be considered formally to be Open Access. This roughly doubles the number of journals it includes.
  • Focusing on indexes with some selectivity, the DOAJ lists around 13k fully OA journals compared with Ulrich’s 9k, or around 17% of all its journals. 18% of Scopus journals are fully OA, as are 19% of Delta Think’s sample.


Simply counting journals may not translate to meaningful choice for scholarly publishers (as we see with ROAD’s large numbers), but we can see rough patterns emerge as the indexes become more selective. Just under one-fifth of journals in the major indexes are fully OA, falling to just over 10% in the most selective ones.

This suggests that fully OA journals are slightly less likely to be whitelisted than average. Our sample of major publishers has a greater proportion of their journals as fully OA than the selective indexes, so perhaps publishers’ fully OA output is ahead of the selective indexes.

We should acknowledge differences in coverage of geography and language. Although we have not carried out an in-depth analysis here, our data suggest that some whitelists lean more towards English-language publications than others. This means that “more journals” does not necessarily mean “less selectivity.”

The next step in our analysis will be to look at overlap. For example, if the DOAJ lists around 13k fully OA journals compared with a few thousand in other indexes, could one index cover all needs? Or do we need to consult several when determining whether a journal is fully OA?

Meanwhile, as ever with scholarly publishing, the plethora of definitions and lack of standards make even an apparently simple task such as counting complicated.

…to be continued.


Funded Partnership Brings Dryad and Zenodo Closer – July 17, 2019

“With increasing mandates and initiatives around open data and software, researchers commonly have to make a choice about where to deposit their non-article outputs…To tackle this issue, and make open research best practices more seamless for researchers, we are thrilled to announce a partnership between Dryad and Zenodo.”

The European Mathematical Society Publishing House is growing and moving to Berlin – July 16, 2019

“The new EMS Publishing House leadership team comes with broad and innovative publishing experience and will focus on community and Open Access publishing…After many successful years of publishing from Zürich, the publisher is now moving to Berlin. Its headquarters will be located in the TU Berlin mathematics building and will be headed by André Gaul (CEO) and Vera Spillner (Editorial Director).”

In act of brinkmanship, Elsevier cuts off UC’s access to its academic journals – July 11, 2019

“As of Wednesday [July 10th, 2019], Elsevier cut off access by UC faculty, staff and students to articles published since Jan. 1 in 2,500 Elsevier journals, including respected medical publications such as Cell and the Lancet and a host of engineering and scientific journals. Access to most material published in 2018 and earlier remains in force.”

Springer Nature and ResearchGate extend content sharing pilot following positive feedback – July 11, 2019

“Springer Nature and ResearchGate today extend their content sharing pilot. The second iteration of the pilot will now see four times more Springer Nature content being rolled out across the ResearchGate platform, including content from specialized Springer journals.”

Access to ScienceDirect, Scopus and SciVal open for the Hungarian research community, as EISZ and Elsevier work towards an Open Access pilot agreement – July 4, 2019

“Hungarian Electronic Information Service National Programme (EISZ) and Elsevier have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and Letter of Intent, as they move towards finalizing a new innovative pilot agreement for research access and Open Access publishing in Hungary.”

IOP Publishing begins open data trial – July 1, 2019

“IOP Publishing is trialing a new data policy on three of its journals to encourage and support authors to make the data underpinning their article more accessible. The trial will begin in July on the journals Environmental Research Letters, Journal of Physics: Complexity, and Machine Learning: Science and Technology and will be extended to five additional IOP Publishing journals after three months.”

Plans for a new Open Access Book Network take shape – June 27, 2019

“Foundational planning is currently underway for the formation of an Open Access Book Network. Development of this network was the topic of a recent ELPUB 2019 Conference panel session…The original idea for the network was born in Autumn 2018 during an OA books event hosted by Knowledge Exchange in Brussels.”

Nine routes towards Plan S compliance – updated – June 15, 2019

“On May 31, cOAlition-S, the group of funders responsible for Plan S, published the updated Plan S principles and implementation guidance, addressing feedback received during the public consultation period. Based on these details we updated our scheme of nine routes towards compliance.”

Research England awards £2.2m to project to improve and increase open access publishing – June 14, 2019

“A new Research England funded project is set to help universities, researchers, libraries and publishers to make more, and better, use of open access book publishing. It will enable greater access to world-leading research and increase its impact.”

medRxiv, a new preprint server for the health sciences, announced today – June 5, 2019

“Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), Yale University, and BMJ today announced the forthcoming launch of medRxiv (pronounced “med-archive”), a free online archive and distribution service for preprints in the medical and health sciences.”

Theme of 2019 International Open Access Week To Be “Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge” – June 4, 2019

“The 2019 Open Access Week Advisory Committee is pleased to announce that the theme for the 2019 International Open Access Week, to be held October 21-27, will be ‘Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge.’ … The Open Access Week Advisory Committee decided it was important to focus on equity again in 2019—to deepen our conversations about being inclusive by design and to turn those conversations into action.”


July 18, 2019

ASHG to launch Human Genetics and Genomics Advances, a new open access journal

“The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) announced it will launch a new journal that will provide a high-quality, scientific society-led, fully open access option for the human genetics and genomics research community.”

July 17, 2019

BMJ launches new open access neurology journal

“BMJ Neurology Open is an online, peer-reviewed, open access journal, dedicated to publishing medical research in all areas of clinical neurology and neuroscience.”

July 15, 2019

New Cambridge University Press journal to explore the impact of data science on engineering

“A new open access journal from Cambridge University Press, Data-Centric Engineering will explore the transformative effect of data science on engineering.”

July 11, 2019

Brill’s Journal of Jesuit Studies is Open Access through Crowdfunding

“Brill is proud to enter into a partnership with six sponsors to continue publishing the Journal of Jesuit Studies in Open Access.”

July 2, 2019

Poultry Science Association and Elsevier announce new publishing agreement

“Poultry Science and The Journal of Applied Poultry Research will both move to Gold Open Access, with all future published articles and all archived articles to be shared worldwide immediately.”

June 26, 2019

EDP Sciences launches two new open access journals

“We are pleased to announce the publication of two new journals from June 2019 – Integrative Oncology & Rehabilitation and Integrative Respiratory Medicine.”

June 14, 2019

IEEE Announces 14 New Open Access Journals

“IEEE announced it is launching 14 new gold fully open access journals spanning a wide range of technologies. The new journals will begin accepting submissions in the fall of 2019 and publish their first articles in early 2020.”

June 13, 2019

Cooper Medical School of Rowan University launches new open-access scholarly journal

“The Cooper Rowan Medical Journal (CRMJ), a new open-access, peer-reviewed biomedical science journal from CMSRU, has published its first manuscripts.”

June 12, 2019

New open access journal to explore the impact of data science on government policy

“Launched this week, Data & Policy will explore the role of data science in shaping government policy – and its possible impact on privacy and public trust.”

June 11, 2019

Journal of Physics: Complexity – A new open-access journal from IOP Publishing

“IOP Publishing is launching JPhys Complexity, a new multidisciplinary, open access journal focusing on the science of complex systems and networks.”

June 6, 2019

Open Access Acoustics Journal to be published by EDP Sciences

“EDP Sciences (EDPS) and the European Acoustics Association (EAA) are delighted to announce their partnership to publish Acta Acustica united with Acustica (AAuA) from January 2020.”