Visibility: The remaining GOAJ4 question

There’s still one open question for GOAJ4: Should I retain and expand the Visibility measure introduced in GOAJ3, or is it a waste of time?

Here’s an excerpt from GOAJ3 that says what I meant by Visibility:


Fee/APC Free % Pay %
Visible 5,982 83.5% 2,981 95.7%
Obscure 1,184 16.5% 133 4.3%

Table 1.6. Visibility, overall

Table 1.6 offers a crude measure of the transparency of a journal’s fee status and amount (that is: is there a fee at all, and if so, how much?). “Visible” is perhaps too generous, including cases where the information is buried within a paragraph somewhere in journal information or requires linking out to a master table. “Obscure” means I was unable to locate clear text (not saying there is a fee is not the same as saying there is no fee!) on the journal’s site—and if there was a link back from DOAJ, checking the link did not yield clear text. There’s an unfortunately high percentage of obscurity among free (no-fee) journals.

I included Visibility tables for each region and each subject group.

If I keep Visibility (or Transparency, which may be a better name for it) in GOAJ4, it would be a more granular measure, probably very much like this

  • 4. Transparent: Whether the journal has a fee (APC or otherwise) and the amount of that fee is either on the home page or in an obvious location no more than one click away.
  • 3. Fairly transparent: No more than three (or four?) clicks away from the home page, and in a reasonably clear location, and not buried within text.
  • 2. Somewhat obscure: Buried within text, or misleading (e.g., a big obvious statement that there are no submission fees, with a note at the end of a discussion that there are acceptance fees), or requires going to another site or opening a PDF or spreadsheet–but still findable within a reasonable time. Journals that require membership and don’t link that requirement to a clear statement of membership dues fall into this category.
  • 1. Obscure: Hidden so well that I had to rely on DOAJ’s information, but at least following the link in DOAJ yielded a page with the information.
  • 0. Hidden or missing: Like 1, but either there is no link back from DOAJ or that link does not yield the information. In earlier volumes, such journals would be excluded for missing or hidden APCs. (That is, before DOAJ required APC information.)

So: worth it or not? Comments open for two weeks…

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