Archive for the 'Cites & Insights' Category

The Size of the Open Access Market (and an admission)

Posted in Cites & Insights, open access on November 14th, 2014

On October 29, 2014, Joseph Esposito posted “The Size of the Open Access Market” at the scholarly kitchen. In it, he discusses a Simba Information report, “Open Access Journal Publishing 2014-2017.” (I’m not copying the link because it’s just to the blurb page, not to any of the info that Esposito provides.) The 61-page Simba report costs a cool $2,500 (and up), so I can’t give you any detail on the report itself other than what Esposito passes along.

The key portion of what he passes along, quoting Esposito directly:

Simba notes that the primary form of monetization for OA journals is the article processing charge or APC. In 2013 these fees came to about $242.2 million out of a total STM journals market of $10.5 billion. I thought that latter figure was a bit high, and I’m never sure when people are quoting figures for STM alone or for all journals; but even so, if the number for the total market is high, it’s not far off.  That means that OA is approximately 2.3% of the total journals market (or is that just STM . . . ?)….

And, quoting from one of the comments (it’s a fascinating comment stream, including some comments that made me want to scream, but…):

If those numbers are roughly right, then 2.3% of the scholarly publishing revenue equates to something like 22% of all published papers.

That comment is by Mike Taylor, who’s active in this comment stream.

I had no idea whether the Simba numbers made any sense and what magic Simba performed to get numbers from the more than two thousand Gold OA publishers (my own casual estimate based on DOAJ publisher names), but hey, that’s why Simba can get $2,500 for 61 pages…

The admission

There turned out to be a mistake or, if you will, a lie in the December 2014 Cites & Insights, on the very last page, top of the second column, the parenthetical comment. When I wrote that, I fully intended to sample perhaps 10%-20% of the 1,200+ bio/biomed/medical DOAJ journals not in the OASPA or Beall sets to get a sense of what they were like…

…and in the process realized what I should already have known: the journals are far to heterogeneous for sampling to mean much of anything. And, once I’d whittled things down, 1,200+ wasn’t all that bad. Long story short: I just finished looking at those journals (in the end, 1,211 of them–of the original 1,222, a few disappeared either because they turned out to be ones already studied or, more frequently, because there was not enough English in the interface for me to look at them sensibly).

Which means that I’ve now checked–as in visited and recorded key figures from–essentially all of the DOAJ journals (as of May 7, 2014) that have English as the first language code, in addition to some thousands of Beall-set journals and hundreds of OASPA journals that weren’t in DOAJ at that point.

Which means that I could do some very rough estimates of what a very large portion of the Gold OA journal field actually looks like.

Which means I could, gasp, second-guess Simba. Sort of. For $0 rather than $2,500.


The numbers I’m about to provide are based on my own checking of some absurdly large number of supposed Gold OA journals, yielding 9,026 journals that actually published articles between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2014. The following caveats (and maybe more) apply:

  • A few thousand Gold OA journals in DOAJ that did not have English as the first language code in the downloaded database aren’t here. Neither are some number that did have English as the first language code but did not, in fact, have enough English in the interface for me to check them properly.
  • So-called “hybrid” OA journals aren’t here. Period.
  • Journals that appeared to be conference proceedings were omitted, as were journals that require readers to register in order to read papers, journals that impose embargoes, journals that don’t appear to have scholarly research papers and a few similar categories.
  • Some number of journals aren’t included because I was unable or unwilling to jump through enough hoops to actually count the number of articles. (See the October/November and December issues for more details; including the additional DOAJ bio/biomed/medical set, it comes to about 560 journals in all, most of them in the Beall set.)
  • I used a variety of shortcuts for some of the article counts, as discussed in the earlier essays.
  • Maximum potential revenue numbers are based on the assumptions that (a) all counted articles are in the original-article category, (b) there were no waivers of any sort, (c) the APC stated in the summer of 2014 is the APC in use at all times.

All of which means: while these numbers are approximate–the potential revenue figures more so than the article-count figures, I think, since quite a few fee-charging journals automatically reduce APCs for developing nations (as one example). On the other hand, some of the differences mean that I’m likely to be undercounting (the first four bullets) while the last bullet certainly means I’m overstating. Do they balance out? Who knows?

Second-guessing Simba

OK, here it goes:

Given all those caveats, I come up with the following for 2013:

  • Maximum revenue for Gold OA journals with no waivers: $249.9* million
  • Approximate number of articles published: 403* thousand

And, just for fun, here’s what I show for 2012:

  • Maximum revenue for Gold OA journals with no waivers: $200.2 million
  • Approximate number of articles published: 331 thousand

Here’s what’s remarkable: that maximum revenue of $249.9 million, which is almost certainly too high but which also leaves out “hybrid” journals and a bunch of others, is, well, all of 3.2% higher than Simba’s number.

Which I find astonishingly close, especially given the factors and number of players involved (and Simba’s presumed access to inside information, which I wholly lack).

(The 22% of all published papers? Close enough…although it should be noted that 403 thousand includes humanities and social sciences.)

Incidentally, 33 journals account for the first $100 million of that 2013 figure, including one that’s in the social sciences if you consider psychology to be a social science. Not to take away too much from what will appear elsewhere eventually, but if you sort by three major lumps, you get this:

  • Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (excluding bio/biomed/medicine): $66.0 million maximum potential revenue in 2013 for 170 thousand articles; $54.3 million maximum in 2012 for 138 thousand articles. Around 3,500 journals.
  • Biology and medicine: $174.5 million maximum potential revenue in 2013 for 180 thousand articles; $139.0 million maximum in 2012 for 150 thousand articles. Around 3,100 journals.
  • Humanities and social sciences (including psychology): $9.4 million maximum potential revenue in 2013 for 55 thousand articles; $6.9 million maximum in 2012 for 45 thousand articles. Around 2,400 journals.

Those are very raw approximate numbers, but I’d guess the overall ratios are about right. The gold rush is in bio/biomed/medicine: is anybody surprised?

What’s coming

I probably shouldn’t post this at all, since it weakens the January 2015 Cites & Insights, but what the heck…

In any case, now that I’ve looked at the 1,200+ additional journals, I will, of course, discuss those numbers.

(Credit to the late great Tom Magliozzi) The third half of the Journals and “Journals” deeper look will appear in part in the January 2015 Cites & Insights, out some time in December 2014 (Gaia willing and the creeks don’t rise).

That third half will be part of a multipart Intersections essay that also offers a few comments on the current DOAJ criteria (a handful of nits with a whole lot of praise) and considers the possibility that there’s a (dis)economy of scale in Gold OA publishing.

“In part”? Well, yes. I’ll do a discussion of the bio/med DOAJ subset that’s comparable to what I did for the other three sets of Gold OA journals, and I might include a few overall numbers. [See second postscript]

But there may be some more extended discussion of the overall numbers and how they break down (and maybe what they mean?), and that discussion might appear as a special section in the 2014 Cites & Insights Annual paperback, offering added value for the many (OK, maybe one so far) who purchase these paperbacks. It’s also possible that a complete retelling of this story will come out as a print on demand book, one that most definitely won’t be free, if I think there’s enough to add value. [See second postscript]

(Projections? I don’t do projections. I can say that, if the second half of 2014 equals the first half, there would be about 12% more Gold OA articles this year than last. I believe the Great OA Gold Rush of 2011-2013 is settling down…and that’s probably a good thing.)

Postscript, noon PST: I’ve enabled comments. I post so rarely these days that I’d forgotten that they’re now off by default.

Postscript, November 20, 2014:
After writing the abbreviated discussion (not that abbreviated: 14.5 C&I pages) and the full version, and letting it sit for a day or two, I’ve concluded that the full version doesn’t really add enough value for me to make a serious case that people should spend $45 for the paperback C&I Annual if they wouldn’t buy it otherwise. I think the Annuals are great and worth the money, but it’s pretty clear nobody else does.

So the full version–19 pages in the two-column format–will be the primary essay (or set of related essays) in the January 2015 volume, and the 2014 Annual will only add a wraparound cover and an index to the contents of the eleven 2014 issues. I’ve added strikeouts to the text above as appropriate.

As for a possible PoD book on Journals and “Journals”: still thinking about it.

*Additional postscript, December 27, 2014:

I’ve now gone through the rest of the DOAJ entries that offer English as one language possibility–another 2,200-odd, of which around 1,500 actually offered enough English for me to make sense of them. I’ve also gone through DOAJ itself for journals where I found it difficult to count articles directly (e.g., undated archives or archives consisting of whole-issue PDFs).

The bottom-line counts for articles and possible revenue for 2013 now come out to around 448,000 articles and around $261 million. Of that, around 366,000 and $231 million are from journals in DOAJ; Beall journals that aren’t in DOAJ–theoretically a larger number of journals, actually not–account for another 76,000 articles in 2013 (around 21% of DOAJ’s numbers) and around $22 million in potential revenue (around 9% of DOAJ numbers). The few hundred OASPA journals that aren’t in DOAJ account for fewer than 6,000 articles (less than 2% of DOAJ) and around $9 million (4% of DOAJ).

Some additional figures may appear in the March 2015 Cites & Insights; a coherent writeup of the whole OA journal scene (2011 through the first half of 2014)–or at least the very large portion of it I could investigate, essentially everything except 2,000-odd DOAJ journals that do not provide any form of English access–will appear next summer. More details later.

Cites & Insights 14:11 (December 2014) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on November 2nd, 2014

The December 2014 Cites & Insights (14:11) is now available for downloading at

This print-oriented two-column version is 34 pages long.

If you plan to read the issue online or on an ereader (tablet, notebook, etc.), you may prefer the single-column 6×9″ version, available at

The single-column version is 77 pages long, because the issue includes many tables, which aren’t broken across columns or pages.

The issue consists of one essay, really the second part of a two-part essay (and you’ll want to read the first part, in the October/November 2014 C&I or its one-column equivalent, first):

Intersections: Journals and “Journals”: Taking a Deeper Look: Part 2: DOAJ Subset and Additional Notes

If you’ve been reading various commentaries about Gold OA journals–including Part 1–you may be wondering where all those supposed no-fee Gold OA journals are. This piece helps to tell that story. Specifically, of 2,843 journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals as of May 7, 2014 that have an English interface version, aren’t from either OASPA members or Beall-list publishers, and are not about aspects of medicine or biology–and that actually published one or more articles between January 2011 and June 30, 2014–more than 78% do not charge fees of any sort, and those journals published 53% of the articles published by the whole group during that period. Those percentages grow to almost 92% and more than 81%, respectively, for 1,426 journals in the humanities and social sciences.

This article looks at the “DOAJ set” in depth, including new tables that show distribution of articles (and journals publishing articles during a year) on a year-by-year basis, including the percentage of free journals and articles from those journals for each year.

But there’s more: I also look at journals by broad topic (27 of them, in 8 even broader groups and two extremely broad supergroups), showing simplified tables for each topic within the DOAJ set and overall numbers for all three sets (OASPA, Beall and DOAJ). Broader groups are compared for all three sets.

There’s a brief discussion (with two graphs) of starting dates for journals. There’s a less-brief consideration of average cost per article by topic, making some simplifying assumptions

Those expecting my comments on the new DOAJ criteria and my thoughts on diseconomies of scale for some kinds of OA journal will have to wait for the January 2015 C&I, which will also look at (at least some of the) DOAJ journals omitted this time around.

Cites & Insights 14:10 (October/November 2014) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on October 13th, 2014

The October/November 2014 issue of Cites & Insights (14:10) is now available for downloading at

This two-column print-oriented version is 24 pages long.

If you plan to read the issue online or on an ereader or tablet, you should download the 49-page single-column 6×9″ version at  That’s especially true this time, as the 48 tables that make up much of the content of this issue are wider and mostly have larger type in the single-column version making them easier to read.

The issue consists of one essay:

Journals and “Journals”: Taking a Deeper Look

This essay builds on the July 2014 Cites & Insights investigation by including full article counts for the thousands of OA journals in Beall’s lists (that is, those that actually publish articles!) and those published by OASPA members, extending the article counts back to 2011, and modifying the groups of journals to be more meaningful.

It also introduces the rough numbers for the new set of Gold OA journals that will form the heart of Part 2 of this two-part essay (the December 2014 C&I), namely more than three thousand journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals as of May 7, 2014 that aren’t in one of the other two sets, that do have enough English in the interface for me to analyze them and that are not on biology-related or human medicine-related topics.



C&I and The Project: A quick update

Posted in Cites & Insights, Stuff on September 13th, 2014

Just a quick update, also marking the last blog post I’ll do before I turn another year older…

The October 2014 Cites & Insights…

…will not exist. At least not as a separate issue. Most probably, the next C&I will be an October/November 2014 issue and will appear, with luck, some time in October or early November.

The project…

…is going swimmingly, I think. As of Wednesday, I’d have said “I’m sure”–but the last 300-odd journals in the Beall spreadsheet (the “independent” journals, because I checked them in publisher order) are slow going, as I should have expected.

For a bunch of journals with the same publisher, I can expect similar layout, the same place for APCs (if they’re hidden–some publishers are up front with them), the same possible shortcuts for counting articles. And for some “publishers,” I can anticipate spending very few keystrokes confirming that the “journals” are still nothing more than names on a web page.

The most extreme case of this came very early in the week, when I hit a “publisher” with 426 “journals,” only 20 of them having any articles at all. I usually consider it a good day if I can process 150 journals in all (usually doing 10 in the new DOAJ list followed by 30 in the much longer Beall list: the OASPA list has been done for a while now), an OK day if I process 100, and a great day if I can do 200. With that “publisher”, I managed 460 journals in one day, including 60 from the DOAJ list.

Given that Wednesday’s basically a half day and the weekend counts as a half day in total, here’s where I think I am:

  • I should finish Pass One on the Beall list by the end of this coming week. (Pass Two, a little additional refinement, should only take a week or so for all three lists combined.)
  • I might finish Pass One on the DOAJ list by the end of the following week–let’s say “within September” as a hoped-for deadline.
  • I can actually start working on Part One of the article(s) before the DOAJ list is complete, since that list should only enter into Part Two.

Then come lots of data massaging, thinking about the results, and writing it all up. I have no idea how long that will all take or, for that matter, how long the results will be. I’m aiming for somewhere between two 20-page and two 30-page essays, each constituting a C&I issue. My aim is notoriously weak.

I believe the project will be interesting and revealing. I know I’ve found some journals I might want to go back to and do some reading from…

Swan song?

At the moment, this project feels a little bit like a swan song. I don’t really have any major projects or book projects in mind at the moment. Oh, there are a couple of thousand–check that, 1,500–Diigo-tagged items waiting to be turned into various essays, but that’s just seeing C&I wind down. Or not.

It’s quite possible that new ideas will arise. Or I’ll start reading more, maybe finally join the local Friends and volunteer at the store or whatever. Or…

Anyway: Back to the project. 239 journals on the Beall list and 908 on the DOAJ list left to go; I’m sure a few of the DOAJ ones will disappear in the process (and I just deleted one duplicate title on the Beall list yesterday–a journal entered with two slightly different names but the same URL).

Update as of September 30, 2014:

Pass One is complete.  I chose not to start on the first part of the report until the DOAJ set was complete.

So is Pass Two.

I’ve started in on Part One of the report, and have completed the background material (a lot of it!).

Barring various disasters, Part One should be ready (and published as the October/November 2014 Cites & Insights) before the end of October. Again with the usual caveats, Part Two should be ready in mid-November.

One thing I’ve already found, and should have realized–but note that I really didn’t prejudge likely results. I’d planned to use graphs for a few things, specifically peak articles by journal within a set of journals, APCs for journals and maximum potential one-year revenue per journal.

That won’t happen. I guessed that all three would be power-law graphs. What I didn’t guess was just how extreme those graphs would be: even with logarithmic vertical scales, the graphs were so crowded near the bottom as to be difficult to interpret. I prepared a table equivalent for the first graph attempted (peak articles by journal within the Beall set) and, after looking at both (and dealing with the complexities of full-page-width graphs within a two-column Word document, especially if you want captions for the graphs), I ripped out the first two graphs and will use tables instead. They don’t give as much detail, but they’re much easier to understand and to format.


Open Data, Crowdsourcing, Independent Research and Misgivings

Posted in Cites & Insights, open access on September 1st, 2014

or Why Some Spreadsheets Probably Won’t Become Public

If you think that title is a mouthful, here’s the real title:

Why I’m exceedingly unlikely to make the spreadsheet(s) for my OA journals investigations public, and why I believe it’s reasonable not to do so.

For those of you on Friendfeed, there was a discussion on specifically this issue beginning August 26, 2014. The discussion was inconclusive (not surprisingly, partly because I was being a stubborn old goat), and I continued to think about the issues…even as I continued to build the new spreadsheet(s) for the project I hope to publish in the November and December 2014 Cites & Insights, if all goes well, cross several fingers and toes.

Consider this a public rethinking. Comments are most definitely open for this post (if I didn’t check the box, let me know and I’ll fix it), or you’re welcome to send me email, start a new thread on one of the social media I frequent (for this topic, Friendfeed or the OA community within Google+ seem most plausible), whatever…

Starting point: open data is generally a good idea

There may be some legitimate arguments against open datasets in general, but I’m not planning to make them here. And as you know (I suspect), I’m generally a supporter of open access; otherwise, I wouldn’t be spending hundreds of unpaid hours doing these investigations and writing them up.

All else being equal, I think I’d probably make the spreadsheet(s) available. I’ve done that in the past (the liblog projects, at least some of them).

But all else is rarely equal.

For example:

  • If a medical researcher released the dataset for a clinical trial in a manner that made it possible to determine the identities of the patients, even indirectly, that would be at best a bad thing and more likely actionable malpractice. Such datasets must be thoroughly scrubbed of identifying data before being released.

But of course, the spreadsheets behind Journals, “Journals” and Wannabes: Investigating The List have nothing to do with clinical trials; the explicitly named rows are journals, not people.

That will also be true of the larger spreadsheets in The Current Project.

How much larger? The primary worksheets in the previous project have, respectively, 9,219 [Beall’s Lists] and 1,531 [OASPA] data rows. The new spreadsheets will have somewhere around 6,779 [the subset of Beall’s Lists that was worth rechecking, but not including MDPI journals], exactly 1,378 [the subset of OASPA journals I rechecked, including MDPI journals], and probably slightly fewer than 3,386 [the new “control group,” consisting of non-medicine/non-biology/non-biomed journals in DOAJ that have enough English in the interface for me to analyze them and that aren’t in one of the other sets] rows—a total of somewhere around 11,543. But I’m checking them more deeply; it feels like a much bigger project.

So what’s the problem?

The spreadsheets I’ve built or am building are designed to allow me to look at patterns and counts.

They are not designed for “naming and shaming,” calling out specific journals in any way.

Yes, I did point out a few specific publishers in the July article, but only by quoting portions of their home pages. It was mostly cheap humor. I don’t plan to do it in the new project—especially since most of the journals in the new control group are from institutions with only one or a handful of journals; I think there are some 2,200 publisher names for 3,386 journals.

This is an important point: The July study did not name individual journals and say “stay away from this one, but this one’s OK.” Neither will the November/December study. That’s not something I’m interested in doing on a journal-by-journal or publisher-by-publisher basis. I lack the omniscience and universal subject expertise to even begin to consider such a task. (I question that anybody has such omniscience and expertise; I know that I don’t.) I offered possible approaches to drawing your own judgment, but that’s about it.

Nor do I much want to be the subject of “reanalysis” with regard to the grades I assigned. (I don’t want angry publishers emailing me saying “You gave us a C! We’re going to sue you!” either—such suits may be idiotic, but I don’t need the tsuris.)

Releasing the full spreadsheets would be doing something I explicitly do not want to do: spreading a new set of journal grades. There is no Crawford’s List, and there won’t be one.

For that matter, I’m not sure I much want to see my numbers revalidated: for both projects, I use approximation in some cases, on the basis that approximation will yield good results for the kind of analysis I’m doing. (I’ll explain most of the approximation and shortcuts when I write the articles; I try to be as transparent as possible about methodology.)

For those reasons and others, I would not be willing to release the raw spreadsheets.

Could you randomize or redact the spreadsheets to eliminate these problems?

Well, yes, I could—but (a) that’s more unpaid labor and, more important, (b) I’m not sure the results would be worth much.

Here, for example, are the data label rows and one (modified) data row from part of the current project:

Pub Journal 2014 2013 2012 2011 Start Peak Sum Gr GrF APC Note
pos POS Physics 15 34 14 1 2011 34 64 B $600

The columns, respectively, show: the publisher code (in this case, Pacific Open Science, a nonexistent—I think—publisher I may use to offer hypothetical examples in the discussion. Their slogan: If an article is in our journals, it’s a POS!); the journal name; the number of articles in January-June 2014, all of 2013, all of 2012, all of 2011; the starting year; the peak annual articles; the sum of the four years; the letter grade; a new “GrF”—the letter grade that journals with fewer than 20 articles per year would get if they had more; the article processing charge for a 10-page article; and any note I feel is needed. (If this was the new DOAJ control group, there would be another column, because hyperlinks were stored separately in DOAJ’s spreadsheet; for the one I chose, “POS Physics” is itself a hyperlink—but, of course, there’s no such journal. Don’t try to guess—the actual journal’s not remotely related to physics.)

I’ll probably add a column or two during analysis—e.g., the maximum annual APCs a given journal could have collected, in this case 34×600 or $20,400, and for the new DOAJ group the subject entry to do some further breakdowns.

I could certainly randomize/redact this spreadsheet in such a way that it could be fully re-analyzed—that is, sort the rows on some combination that yields a semi-random output, delete the Pub column, and change the Journal column to a serial number equal to the row. Recipients would have all the data—but not the journal or publisher names. That wouldn’t even take very long (I’d guess ten minutes on a bad day).

Would anybody actually want a spreadsheet like that? Really?

Alternatively, I could delete the Gr and GrF columns and leave the others—but the fact is, people will arrive at slightly different article counts in some significant percentage of cases, depending on how they define “article” and whether they take shortcuts. I don’t believe most journals would be off by more than a few percentage points (and it’s mostly an issue for journals with lots of articles), but that would still be troublesome.

Or, of course, I could delete all the columns except the first two—but in the case of DOAJ, anyone wanting to do that research can download the full spreadsheet directly. If I was adding any value at all, it would be in expanding Beall’s publisher entries.

What am I missing, and do you have great counter-arguments?

As you’ll see in the Friendfeed discussion, I got a little panicky about some potential Moral Imperative to release these spreadsheets—panicky enough that I pondered shutting down the new project, even though I was already about two-thirds of the way through. If I had had these requests when I began the project or was, say, less than 2,000 rows into it, I might have just shut it down to avoid the issues.

At this point, I believe I’m justified in not wanting to release the spreadsheets. I will not do so without some level of randomizing or redaction, and I don’t believe that redacted spreadsheets would be useful to anybody else.

But there are the questions above. Responses explicitly invited.

[Caveat: I wrote this in the Blog Post portion of Word, but it’s barely been edited at all. It’s probably very rough. A slightly revised version may—or may not—appear in the October 2014 Cites & Insights. If there is an October 2014 Cites & Insights.]

Now, back to the spreadsheets and looking at journals, ten at a time…

Added September 3, 2014:

Two people have asked–in different ways–whether I’d be willing to release a spreadsheet including only the journal names (and publishers) and, possibly, URLs.

Easy answer: Yes, if anybody thought it was worthwhile.

There are three possible sheets:

  • The Beall list, with publishers and the publisher codes I assigned on one page, the journals (with “xxind” as a publisher code for Beall’s separate journal list) and publisher codes on another page. All (I believe) publisher names and most but not all journal names have hyperlinks. (Some publishers didn’t have hyperlinked lists I could figure out how to download.) That one might be mildly useful as an expansion of Beall’s publisher list. (This would be the original Beall list, including MDPI, not the new one I’m using for the new study.)
  • The OASPA list, similarly structured and same comments, lacking MDPI (which is in the new one I’m using for the new study).
  • The new “partial DOAJ” list–DOAJ entries that aren’t in medicine, biology or biomed, that have English as a language code and that aren’t–if I got it right–in the other lists. I don’t honestly see how this could save anybody any time, since all it is is a portion of what’s downloadable directly from DOAJ, albeit in May 2014 rather than now.

If someone wants one of these, let me know– I may not respond immediately, but I’ll either return the sheet you want as an email attachment or, if there’s more than one request, possibly load it at or in Dropbox and send you a link.



Correction in Cites & Insights 14:9

Posted in Cites & Insights on August 26th, 2014

Thanks to the eagle eye of an early reader, I was alerted to an error on page 15, column 2, of Cites & Insights 14:9. While there are almost certainly grammatical and spelling errors in every issue, this one was a math error that changed the significance of the paragraph–and since it was caught so early, I did something I normally never do: I fixed the paragraph, added a “[Corrected 8/26/14]” flag, and reissued the publication.

If you’ve already read it or downloaded it and don’t wish to do so again, here’s the change:

In the paragraph beginning “Most of the university libraries…” (in the subsection “Elsevier journals–some facts”), I managed to reverse the British pounds to dollars calculation. Doing it properly means changing the last two sentences in the paragraph.

What was there originally:

Notably, assuming that a pound is worth $1.70, JISC struck a much harder bargain than American public universities in general: the range is from $7.36 to $49.27, with a mean of $18.45, less than half the mean for U.S. institutions. of course, the package may very well be different.

I was somehow dividing pounds by $1.70 rather than multiplying them. Fixing that yields this text:

Converting to dollars, the range is $21.27 to $142.39 with a mean of $53.37—higher than the U.S. figures except at the low end. [Corrected 8/26/14.]

My apologies for the error.

Cites & Insights 14:9 (September 2014) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on August 25th, 2014

Cites & Insights 14:9 (September 2014) is now available for downloading at

This two-column print-oriented version is 18 pages.

For those reading C&I online or on an ereader, the single-column 35-page 6×9″ edition is available at

This issue includes:

The Front: Toward 15 and 200: The Report    pp. 1-2

I promised a list of supporters and sponsors and an overall report on the outcome of the spring 2014 fundraising campaign for C&I. Here it is. Oh, there’s also “A Word to the Easily Confused” about the definition of “journal,” the change in the masthead to “periodical” because some folks are easily confused, and the need for consistency when choosing to regard gray literature as worthless.

Intersections: Some Notes on Elsevier  pp. 2-16

A half-dozen subtopics (actually five subtopics and some miscellanea) involving Elsevier that haven’t been covered recently elsewhere in C&I.

The Back  pp. 16-18

Four mini-essays.


NOTE: One paragraph on page 15 of this issue includes erroneous (reversed) pounds-to-dollars calculations. Those have been fixed and the issue has been replaced. The net change: JISC did *not* apparently strike a much harder bargain with Elsevier; the UK prices are higher except at the low end, where they’re about the same.


Posted in Cites & Insights on August 14th, 2014

Body of post deleted on the grounds of pointless semi-blind item and why bother?

Natureally, I’m delighted

Posted in Cites & Insights, open access on August 6th, 2014

My name appeared in a Nature news article today (August 6, 2014). Specifically:

The DOAJ, which receives around 600,000 page views a month, according to Bjørnshauge, is already supposed to be filtered for quality. But a study by Walt Crawford, a retired library systems analyst in Livermore, California, last month (see found that the DOAJ currently includes some 900 titles that are mentioned in a blacklist of 9,200 potential predatory journals compiled by librarian Jeffrey Beall at the University of Colorado Denver (see Nature 495, 433–435; 2013).

and, later in the piece:

Bjørnshauge says that a small cohort of some 30 voluntary associate editors — mainly librarians and PhD students — will check the information submitted in reapplications with the publishers, and there will be a second layer of checks from managing editors. He also finds it “extremely questionable to run blacklists of open-access publishers”, as Beall has done. (Crawford’s study found that Beall’s apparently voluminous list includes many journals that are empty, dormant or publish fewer than 20 articles each year, suggesting that the problem is not as bad as Beall says.)

Naturally (or Natureally), I’m delighted to have my name show up, and a C&I issue linked to, in Nature. (It didn’t come as a complete surprise: the journalist sent me email asking about my affiliation–none–and, later, where I live.)

I’m not quite as delighted with the slant of that first paragraph (quite apart from the fact that Beall’s lists do not list some 9,200 “potential predatory journals,” they include publishers that publish or “publish” that number of journal names). Namely, I think the story is not that 900 “potentially predatory” journals appear in DOAJ with the loose listing criteria that site formerly used. I think the story is that more than 90% of the journals in DOAJ are not reflected in Beall’s list, given his seeming zeal to target OA journals.

But, of course, it’s the journalist’s story, not mine, and I do not feel I was quoted incorrectly or unfairly. (Incidentally, I don’t  have nits to pick with the second paragraph.)

I agree with Bjørnshauge that a blacklist is itself questionable.

Do I believe the much improved DOAJ will constitute a real whitelist? I’m not sure; I think it will be a great starting point. If a journal’s in the new DOAJ, and especially has the DOAJplus listing, it’s fair to assume that it’s probably a reasonably good place to be. (But then, I’m no more an expert in what journals are Good or Bad than Beall is.)

Anyway: thanks, Richard Van Noorden, for mentioning me. I hope the mention leads more people to read more about questionable journals than just Beall’s list. I strongly believe that the vast majority of Gold OA journals are as reputable as the vast majority of subscription journals, and I believe I’ve demonstrated that there aren’t any 9,200 “predatory” journals out there that are actual journals researchers with actual brains and a modicum of common sense would ever submit articles to.

A few readers may know that I’ve embarked on a related but even more ambitious (or idiotic) project, having to do with volume of articles and adding a new and very different control group. Dunno when (if?) I’ll finish the huge amount of desk work involved and produce some results. I do believe that, among other things, the results may shed some light on the apparent controversy over how prevalent APCs are among Gold OA journals… (And, incidentally, more financial support for C&I wouldn’t hurt this process.)


Cites & Insights 14:8 (August 2014) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on July 15th, 2014

Cites & Insights 14:8 (August 2014) is now available for downloading at

The two-column print-oriented issue is 32 pages long. A single-column 6×9″ version designed for online/tablet reading is also available, at   (The single-column version is 61 pages long.)

This issue includes the following:

The Front: Once More with [Big] Dealing   pp. 1-2

If you read the June 2014 issue, you may be aware that “Big-Deal Serial Purchasing: Tracking the Damage” wasn’t available when I thought it would be.

It’s available now; this brief essay offers the link to the ALA Store page for the Library Technology Reports issue and notes the complementary book for those academic librarians with deeper interests.

I believe every academic library should pay attention to this issue of LTR. If your library subscribes, it should be available now (electronically) or in a few days (in print form). If it doesn’t, you should buy the issue as a separate. Some of you really would find Beyond the Damage: Circulation, Coverage and Staffing useful as well.

Words: Doing It Yourself  pp. 2-18

Notes on self-publishing and whether or not it makes sense for you (or for your library to assist with).

Intersections: Access and Ethics 3  pp. 18-32

A range of commentaries having to do with open access and ethics over the past 18 months or so–and a couple of brief followups on previous essays. (You may notice that one Very Large Journal Publisher doesn’t show up much in this essay. Its time will come.)

What’s not here: the list of C&I supporters and sponsors. I’ll add the three names (yes, three) in a later issue.

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