Archive for March, 2018

GOAJ2: March 2018 update

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

Here’s how things are going for GOAJ2: Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2016 and The Countries of OAWorld 2011-2016 and related stuff (all linked to from the project home page), through March 31, 2018 [noting that most of the last day of each month is missing because of how statistics are done]:

  • The dataset: 408 views, 74 downloads.
  • GOAJ2: 1,503 PDF ebooks (and two paperbacks), plus 948 copies of chapters 1-7 (C&I 17.4)
  • Countries: 575 PDF ebooks (no paperbacks)
  • Subject supplement (C&I 17.5): 1,457 copies

Looking at the rest of gold OA (beyond DOAJ), Gray OA 2012-2016 has now been downloaded 2,366 times, while Gray OA 2014-2017: A Partial Followup, released in October 2017, has 992 downloads.

Malware in OA

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

Update 2, 5/3/18: The third pass is complete. It cleared three more journals, leaving 198 as malware. Most of these–still 136–are from Indonesia. More than half are from six Indonesian universities, with two of those (Universitas Udayana and Universitas Diponegoro) accounting for 71. Nearly all are from universities. As far as I can tell–and I’m not as sure of my facts here–66 of the 198 are new to DOAJ in 2017, and none of the 132 others was flagged as malware last year.

While XM/malware journals account for just a bit less than 2% of the study, which is far too high, they’re mostly small journals even by OA standards. Although I have no article counts for some 23 of the journals (not in last year’s study and no article-level reporting to DOAJ), totals for the other 176 are 2,920 articles for 2017 (more incomplete than previous years); 5,250 for 2016; 5,016 for 2015; 4,335 for 2014; 3,698 for 2013; and 2,546 for 2012–that is, never more than about 1% of serious gold OA totals.

Some brave or foolhardy folks, and those without especially careful protective software, will find that some of these journals don’t seem problematic (and, of course, some universities may get around to cleaning up their code). That could include 80 “riskware” (lower threat level) and 67 “phishing” sites. along with the 49 “malware” and two security certificate problems.

Update 4/29: I’ve completed the second pass; the third pass will begin on May 1 (and with luck end on May 3; medical stuff will take up all of May 2).

The good news: the malware count has been roughly cut in half. There are now 201 journals where malware prevents me from getting full data–and another 30 where blocked subsites mean that I *can* get full data but that users not running good malware software might be infected. [A couple of new malware cases showed up during the second pass, and are included in the 201.]

The bad news: There are still 201 malware-blocked journals, which I’ll recheck starting May 1, in addition to the 30 “malware outbound” cases, 46 “X category” journals to get one final check (journals that yield 404s, parking pages, database failures or are otherwise not workable), and 20 miscellaneous rechecks. After that I’ll normalize the data, prepare the upload spreadsheet, add derived-data columns, and start on the book[s].

If you’re wondering: Indonesia still dominates with 136 malware cases, but that’s also the biggest drop. Brazil shows 27; Romania 10; Malaysia 9; Iran 4; Taiwan, Philippines, and Portugal 3 each; Chile and Italy 2 each; and singletons from Turkey and Ukraine. Two Indonesian universities account for 67 of the 136 cases, with domain-level issues.

Original post:

Here’s the short version: if you’re involved with gold OA and think you can contact useful people, download, a spreadsheet with all 410 journals flagged as having malware during my scan of gold OA journals (first pass just completed). Sites that are fixed by May 1, 2018 will be included in GOAJ3: Gold Open Access Journals 2012-2017. Those that aren’t, won’t.

CHANGES 4/4/2018: At DOAJ’s request, I’ve added ISSN and E-ISSN columns to the spreadsheet, both populated using Excel VLOOKUP on the URL column.

Slightly longer version:

I’ve finished the first pass. There are a lot of journals with malware problems: 410, as compared to 67 in last year’s run.

Yes, Indonesia makes up the bulk of them–but by no means all.

The acceptable number of infected journal sites is, of course, zero.

The spreadsheet is arranged by country, then publisher, then journal. A “note” column contains possibly-useful notes (e.g., did Malwarebytes flag an outbound request as malware or was it at the domain level?).

Thirty countries had at least one instance, but most were from a handful of countries:

Indonesia 287
Brazil 41
Ukraine 13
Romania 11
Malaysia 9
Portugal 5
Colombia 4
Costa Rica 4
Iran, Islamic Republic of 3
Philippines 3
Poland 3

These countries had two cases each: Argentina; Chile; Italy; Morocco; Nepal; Peru; Spain; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of.

These had one each: Bangladesh; Bulgaria; Ecuador; Georgia; Mexico; Mongolia; Paraguay; Taiwan, Province of China; Tunisia; United Kingdom; United States.

The spreadsheet includes a country page–and a publisher page for those (slightly normalized) with four or more malware journals.


The second pass will probably start around April 20, 2018–but journals still flagged as having malware will be tested once more, no earlier than May 1, 2018, but probably not long after that.

If I continue to hit malware, I’ll try an alternate access path (doing a journal name search in Bing or Google); if that doesn’t help, I’ll pick up numbers fro DOAJ if I can–but only for “bigger numbers.” I won’t include infected journals in the overall study, and certainly can’t recommend them.

Interestingly, only three of the journals were also infected with malware in last year’s study.

Cites & Insights: unclear when

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

A brief non-status report on when the next issue of Cites & Insights might appear. I’d originally planned a slightly longer and perhaps more plaintive note, but circumstances argue for brevity.

The very short version: not dead, but there might not be an issue until Gold Open Access Journals 2012-2017 is complete, and that, in turn, might not be until June or maybe even July.

Why? Originally a combination of time pressures, lack of inspiration and some disappointment that my work on telling the truth about non-DOAJ OA journals and various lists has turned into a convenient checkmark for anti-OA articles, citing the earliest and least conclusive of several articles and essentially saying “There: We looked at the other side.” (According to Google Scholar, that 2014 piece has been cited 34 times–and not one of the other pieces has been cited at all.) (And let’s not even start on the fact that the fatally flawed but peer reviewed “420,000 predatory articles in 2014” nonsense continues to be The Accepted Story, with my carefully-done demonstration of the real numbers–about one-tenth to one-fourth as many, depending on assumptions–having no impact that I can determine, at least on the published literature.) But personal medical issues have added to that melange, making things even fuzzier.

The time pressure: GOAJ3, the new study, is turning out to take longer than expected (in the investigation phase) for at least three reasons:

  1. There are a lot of newly-added journals: 2,538 in all. Those take longer.
  2. Since there should be no journals with missing/hidden fee information, given DOAJ’s new requirements, I decided to check transparency along with verifying fee existence and amount: that is, to record whether it’s reasonably clear from a journal site whether there’s a fee and what it is, or whether you essentially need to rely on DOAJ. That’s going to be valuable information, I think, but it’s taking longer than expected.
  3. Life interferes with research, as it should, and that seems to be more the case this year. (Where 18 months ago I felt considerably younger than my chronological age, now I feel every day of 72.5 years..and this latest situation isn’t helping. Details unimportant, but old California hands might note that it relates to the initials/common name of one long-gone regional airline…)

I originally thought I’d be well enough along to pause the study in mid-February and do a short March issue (indeed, one essay’s ready and another’s half-done). That wasn’t true–and I found that I’d rather slog away at the journals thann write an issue. The next opportunity would be late March/early April, cross fingers, after completing the first pass and waiting at least two weeks before starting the second pass. That might still happen, but it might not

I know this may not be helpful. Sorry about that. Meanwhile, back to the hundreds of Universidad… journals.