The (Fuller) Open Access Landscape, Progress Report 2

As of right now, I’m just over one-quarter of the way done: 1,100 journals checked, 3,118 more to go.

I thought a quick progress report might be in order–but please read the whole thing, since some numbers look awful until I add context.

Do note the background: These are 4,218 journals that are in DOAJ as of May 2015, didn’t start in 2015, and weren’t in the main portion of the 2014 study, either because they didn’t appear to have an English interface available, they started in 2014 (later than May 6) or, crucially, they didn’t fit into grades A-D. I’m using Chrome to check these, with Google’s translate facility called into play when needed.

The Big Numbers

The 892 journals where I counted articles published 24,138 articles in 2014, up very slightly from around 23,000 in 2013.

Using the new grading system, where A$ disappears, D disappears, and E-X are now X subgrades, the 1,100 include 819 A, 61 B, 12 C, and 208 X. If that 208 count seems awfully high, read on…

A Subgrades

The 819 A journals–where I see no reason to fault the journal–include:

  • 18 C: Apparently ceased with no 2013 or 2014 articles
  • 5 D: Apparently dying, with no 2014 articles
  • 38 E: Erratic, with some years lower than five articles
  • 25 H: Possible hiatus with no 2014 articles
  • 32 S: Small, never more than 10 articles per year

These were all “D” subgrades in the previous study.

B Subgrades

The 61 B journals–what I think of as “yellow flags”–include:

  • 3 A: Obvious author repetition
  • 2 E: Problematic English in an English-language journal
  • 9 G: Garish or other site problems
  • 19 I: Questionable impact factors given prominent placement
  • 13 M: Minimal information
  • 4 P: Peer review/turnaround issues
  • 11 Q: Questionable claims

C Subgrades

The dozen C journals–“red flags,” but just over one percent–include:

  •  9 A: APC not stated but almost certainly applies.
  • 1 S: Incompetent site
  • 2 T: Absurd titles/articles

X Subgrades

The 208 X journals include:

  • 2 E: Empty since 2010
  • 11 M: Malware (flagged by McAfee Site Advisor or Malwarebytes)
  • 48 N: Not OA, including proceedings journals and those that don’t publish scholarly articles
  • 38 O: Opaque: Unable or unwilling to do article counts–most commonly with wholly undated archives or whole-issue PDFs the only way to see contents.
  • 5 P: Parking pages or other non-journal pages
  • 38 T: Translation insufficient to evaluate journal, for various reasons. (This could be MUCH higher; Chrome’s been doing pretty well.)
  • 10 U: Site reachable but wholly incompetent
  • 56 X: Site not reachable. NOTE: If the URL provided BY THE JOURNAL to DOAJ, as of May 2015, won’t yield the journal’s page in June-September 2015 either through the Excel/browser backchannel or by direct entry into the Chrome address bar, it’s not reachable. Yes, a title-word search would find a few more, but if a journal can’t be bothered to provide a forwarding address or update its DOAJ entry, it’s a red flag in my book. (Testy? Maybe so.)


I’ve been checking the new completions against the old “Not A-D” spreadsheet as I go, and am now through 191 of the 811 journals in that spreadsheet, just under one-quarter.

Of those 191:

  • 83 have recovered–mostly to Grade A, 12 to B and 8 to C (that’s of the 12 C so far).
  • 88 are still in what’s now Grade X, formerly E-X. Thus, there are only 120 new cases of E-X, and only 82 where translation isn’t the key issue. That’s not bad.
  • 20 are unclear, most of them probably DOAJ dropouts between May 2014 and May 2015.

All things considered, this expansion will yield a considerably more comprehensive picture, even though there may still be several hundred journals where I simply can’t figure out what’s going on.

Other Notes: Revised Publishing Plan

If you care about this work and want me to keep doing it, contribute to Cites & Insights: $50 gets you the interim report (free ebook and a private link to a $7 paper back) and a promise of a free ebook if/when I complete this project, probably some time this Fall.  The link gets you to the home page, with the donation info prominent. This offer will end when the new study becomes available.

Otherwise, I’ll probably offer the new study for some amount higher than $50–or possibly $50 for the PDF ebook and $60 or more for the paperback.

As for the anonymized dataset: If or when there are enough contributions or sales to make it worthwhile–let’s say at least half what I was paid for the Library Technology Reports issue that started all this–I’ll put it on Figshare. If not, well, I’ll feel no obligation to do so; if the work’s not worth supporting, so be it.

Yes, I know, institutional support makes more sense than expecting individuals to care enough about OA to spend money on it. I get that. And if anybody has a way of putting me in touch with an institution that would support this at a reasonable (not even minimum-wage) level, I’d be delighted: the email address is

But, of course, I’m not already part of an institution, I lack Appropriate Educational Credentials (boy, am I enjoying the many European and Latin American journals that don’t allow anybody without a doctorate to submit articles!), and when it comes to OA I seem to be tarred with the library brush and have a nasty habit of preferring facts to presumptions. Such is life.

Now, back to the analysis…

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