Gray OA: Going Beyond DOAJ?

To date, Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2015 has been downloaded more than 5,000 times (including more than 1,200 so far this month). (The link is to the $6 paperback, where you could be the first on your block–or anywhere other than at my house–to own one.)

GOAJ covers serious gold OA, journals listed in DOAJ. But there’s more–some of it sketchy, some of it just not in the directory for one reason or another. How much? Nobody knows–although one paper came up with what I regard as an improbably high number (that paper, which also seemed to assume that this is all “predatory,” has predictably been used as an anti-OA weapon).

As it happens, while there’s probably no complete list of “all gold OA journals that aren’t in DOAJ,” there is a list–actually two lists, one of publishers and one of standalone journals–which, while worthless and unfortunate for the purpose it purports to serve, is probably a pretty good starting point.

So, slightly obsessive and curious “researcher” that I am, I’ve set out to find out what’s out there–that is, how many active OA journals not in DOAJ published how many articles in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and the first half of 2016? (I grabbed the lists at the start of July 2016.)

I think of this group–journals not in DOAJ that are gold OA (not hybrid), that disclose author-side charges or explicitly deny them, and that don’t consist entirely of one-article single issues where the article’s clearly plagiarized from another journal–as gray OA.

So far…

I’ve looked at 405 publishers and “publishers” out of around 1,000 total. I’ve set aside two of those as being too difficult to deal with, and analyzed the rest.

I hope to do the rest, and the independent journals, over the next three months–and write up the results as the 200th issue of Cites & Insights, possibly also available as a PDF ebook. Target is the end of the year (which, if you’re a C&I reader, will also tell you that there will only be two other issues between now and then).

So far, I’ve found 2,372 journals with at least one article; 5,969 “journals” with no articles (most of them existing only as nearly-empty template-generated pages); 584 failed journals (mostly ones with charges that aren’t stated); 353 journals that are excluded for various reasons (e.g., subscription journals); and 322 journals in DOAJ (omitted, of course). Will I wind up with 2.5 times as many? Probably not–but who knows? (Of those 2,372, fewer than 1,000 are actually active–that is, have published 3 or more 2016 articles.)

As for article counts, I believe I have good reason to avoid making any projections.

  • First 4,400-odd journals: 4,737 articles in Jan-June 2016; 11,845 in 2015; 10,786 in 2014; 5,391 in 2013.
  • Second 4,700-odd journals: 21,335 in Jan-June 2016; 42,715 in 2015; 37,886 in 2014; 29,556 in 2013.

So for 2015, I could plausibly project around 60,000 articles–or 210,000 articles. I’d guess the “truth” is somewhere in between but I don’t know. (Numbers anywhere near those of that article? Not impossible, but…)

From here on out…

I do not have funding for this project. I do not plan to <shudder> start a crowdfunding campaign </shudder>. Based on past experience, I can assume that attempting book sales would yield almost no sales–and almost no exposure. So I do plan to give the report itself away.

The data? Not likely. Without funding, I’m not motivated to do a lot of extra work to pretty up the dataset–and, unlike GOAJ, I don’t see much potential for derivative projects.

If somebody wants to come forth with an appropriate offer, that might change–and I might be motivated to do the hard extra steps to make the effort truly complete. You know my email address ( I won’t be holding my breath.


The next C&I will be late, and there will be fewer issues. That might be true anyway. Looking past 200 is difficult…

By the way, the Countries of OAWorld book really is worth owning–and I’m not saying that to get my share of the $8 price. ($0.02–two cents.)

[Added a bit later:] Some quick notes:

  • This is a quantitative study. Other than failure to disclose APCs, obvious plagiarism and simply not being OA, I’m not evaluating journals–not looking at editorial boards, turnaround time or grandiosity.
  • I’ve seen a few likely papermills, a little crackpottery (but then, there’s arsenic-based life, so that’s a tricky term), and some other nonsense. I’ve also seen some focused operations that make me wonder why they’re not in DOAJ.
  • I have not gotten to the “o” segment yet. No comment required.


Comments are closed.