Archive for the ‘open access’ Category

How many times?

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

I see yet another OA conference is happening (I’ve never been to one, probably never will be, and that’s OK.) My question, after seeing some tweeted photos: How many times during the conference will gold OA be equated with APCs? Dozens? Hundreds?

Maybe a better question: How often will somebody mention gold OA and explicitly note that most gold OA journals (and 43% of articles in 2016) do NOT involve APCs?

Dear Martin…

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

NOTE: (second update, 6/23/17): I’m now satisfied that I was misreading Eve’s commentary. In the interest of openness, I’ll leave the post [which follows the horizontal line]. Since Eve’s response was for some reason rejected by the commenting system, here’s a link to it.

Original post (between the lines):

I’ve disagreed with Martin Paul Eve in the past but find myself much happier with what he’s trying to do lately. OLH isn’t the model for OA in the humanities, but it’s one promising initiative.


Just encountered “Open Access Publishing Models and How OA Can Work in the Humanities” and, while it’s an interesting piece, I believe Eve oversells the idea that OA just wasn’t happening in the humanities until he came along. And that’s just not true and unfair to some of the pioneers in the field. [See update below the line.]

Here’s the key number: 109,420. Gold OA articles in serious OA journals in the humanities and social sciences in 2016. (80% of those articles in journals that don’t charge APCs.)

I don’t know how many humanities and social sciences articles get published every year, but I’m fairly certain that 109,420 is a substantial portion of them–quite possibly as large a percentage as the 225,591 articles in STEM (excluding biology) albeit probably not the 188,194 articles in biomed.

Those aren’t all in the social sciences by any means. Arts & architecture, 5,019 articles. Education, 15,234. History, 8,289. Language & literature, 11,967. Law, 5,292. Library science, 2,276. Media & communications, 3,884. Philosophy, 3,045. Religion, 3,639.

Maybe I’m misreading Eve’s article; maybe he’s not actually suggesting that there hadn’t been much OA activity in the humanities. Because there has, starting from the very beginning (quite a few of the earliest OA journals were in the humanities, including PACS-L Review, Postmodern Culture, EJournal and New Horizons in Adult Education. I guess it bothers me to see all the work that’s been done to date somewhat minimized–and, again, I may be unfair in reading Eve that way. I’d much rather see a celebration of the enormous amount of work that’s been done in OA by humanities people (certainly including librarians) along with a call to do more and a recounting of innovations. But that’s just me, someone who’s been nattering on about “free electronic journals” for at least 20+ years now.

[OA monographs are a different and fiendishly difficult area. I’m not going there.]

If you’re wondering where those figures came from, go check out GOAJ2: Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2016. It’s an open access monograph, freely available in ebook form and priced at 20 cents above the cost of production in paperback form. More info on it and its predecessor and companions at the GOAJ site.

*Updated 6/23/17: A number of people in Twitter–including Martin Paul Eve–saying this just isn’t so. They may be right. Not the first time that I’ve felt Eve tended to understate the work that had gone before, but I certainly accept the possibility that “tight word counts” are to blame. Since I don’t get invited to do pieces that much, maybe I’m just ignorant of the realities of being a high-profile OA person.

Cites & Insights 17.5 available: GOAJ Subject Supplement

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Cites & Insights 17.5 (June 2017) is now available for downloading at

The 84-page issue (6″ x 9″ pages designed for online/device reading) includes:

The Front: The Countries of OAWorld 2: 2011-2016  pp. 1-11

Announcing The Countries of OAWorld 2: 2011-2016 (links at the usual place) and adding some comments on the cover–specifically, a copy of the heatmap, a table with the data used for the heatmap (combined 2015-2016 OAWorld articles per 100,000 population of each country), and another heatmap and table including APCLand articles (which mostly boosts Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands to three of the top four spots).

Intersections: Subject Supplement to GOAJ2  pp. 11-84

There won’t be a separate paperback and PDF for subjects this year; this long article expands the one-page-per-subject coverage in GOAJ2 itself, adding up to six more tables and two graphs for each subject.

GOAJ2: Slow start

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

OOPS: I failed to take this out of draft status on May 31, when it was written. Better late than never…

Now that GOAJ2: Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2016 is out (go to for links, as usual), I’ll stop tracking Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2015 and pick up the new one instead.

It’s been a slow first two weeks.

  • Ebook/pdf: 117 downloads
  • Trade paperbacks: None other than my own
  • C&I 17.4 [chapters 1-7]: 51 downloads
  • Dataset: 94 views, 15 downloads

Next steps

The Countries of OAWorld 2: 2011-2016 will be out very early in June (came out on June 1 if all goes well), as a free PDF or $7 trade paperback. Links in the usual place.

GOAJ2 includes single pages on each subject, with three key tables. Additional tables and graphs on the 28 subjects will make up most of the next Cites & Insights, when that appears. There won’t be a separate subject-oriented book.

As always, thanks to SPARC for sponsoring this project. By the way, if you haven’t downloaded the book or read C&I 17.4 yet, you really should. Lots of good stuff–including a discussion on page 10, “The Biggest Numbers,” that offers a one-time-only view of as much of gold OA as anybody’s likely to gather together. How does 962,170 strike you?

The Countries of OAWorld 2: 2011-2016 now available

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

The Countries of OAWorld 2: 2011-2016 is now available as a free PDF ebook or a nominally-priced* ($7) trade paperback.

The 269-page book includes a full set of tables and graphs for every country with at least 25 fully-analyzed OAWorld journals and a slightly less complete set for countries with ten to 24 journals: 64 in all. For the six regions that have them, countries with one to nine OAWorld journals are summarized briefly.

Links to the free PDF and to purchase the book from Lulu (as usual, printed on high-quality 60# cream paper) are at the Gold Open Access project page,

[*Why is this book a dollar more expensive than GOAJ2? Because it’s 81 pages longer. In both cases, the price is rounded up to the nearest $0.50 from Lulu’s production costs. My “profit” is $0.14 on each copy sold. Lulu frequently has sales of 10% to 20%, which can be used for either book.]

GOAJ2: Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2016

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

I’m pleased to announce the availability of GOAJ2: Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2016, the results of the second comprehensive study of serious gold OA: journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals as of 12:0 a.m., January 1, 2017.

For links to the free (and complete) dataset, the free PDF ebook, and the $6 trade paperback, check the project page at

Thanks again to SPARC for sponsoring this project.

This edition includes 8,992 fully-analyzed journals that published 523,205 articles in 2016. (A few hundred journals were excluded for various reasons, fully described.)

Additionally, a brief one-time-only discussion, “The Biggest Numbers,” covers the broadest known universe of gold OA, including journals removed from DOAJ in 2016 and journals included in one-time “blacklists.”

The project is not quite done yet: there will be a book-length supplement detailing OA by country (excluding the 12 big publishers in “APCLand”). That supplement will show up on the project page and be announced in posts when it’s ready. It’s likely that a near-future issue of Cites & Insights will add to the subject coverage in GOAJ2, but that won’t appear as a book or separate PDF.

A brief version of the book, the first seven chapters, will appear as Cites & Insights 17:4 in a few days.

GOAJ: April 2017 update

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

It’s April 30–the last day of the month, when I fetch usage statistics for my websites (as always, omitting part of that last day), so here’s an update on GOAJ. (I might have stopped doing these, but the GOAJ download numbers are still astonishing, so…):

  • Paperbacks: No change. Two copies of GOAJ itself sold. So far, none of the others.
  • Dataset: 8 more views, 1,067 total views; 410 total downloads.
  • GOAJ:  45 total Lulu copies, 2,741 more (total 21,330* copies from my site: total 21,375. Actual number of human downloads probably around 500 for April.
  • Subjects: 20 total Lulu copies, 58 additional, 433* other copies, 453* total.
  • Countries: 8 total Lulu copies, 206 additional, 1,793* total other copies, 1,801 total.
  • C&I: New totals 1,463* copies of the excerpted GOAJ version (16.5) and 4,259* copies of “APCLand and OAWorld” (16.4.)

*Missing downloads from 11/13-11/30/16 and, for C&I, 11/13-12/15/16.

Gray OA

Gray OA 2011-2016 (Cites & Insights 17.1) shows a total of 1,263 downloads to date, and no apparent recognition anywhere else that the Shen/Bjork “predatory articles” numbers are demonstrated to be so dramatically wrong; the dataset shows 258 views and 68 downloads.

The Problems with Shen/Björk’s “420,000”

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

[This is Chapter 4 of Gray OA 2012-016, a comprehensive study of journals on “the lists.”]


Cenyu Shen and Bo-Christer Björk published “‘Predatory’ open access: a longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics” in BMC Medicine 13, October 2015. (I’m bemused at the idea that this is a medical paper, but that’s a separate discussion.) I started questioning the paper’s conclusions as soon as it appeared, and continued to do so in my blog and in Cites & Insights.

Quite apart from the apparent assumption that Beall’s word is gospel when it comes to journals being “predatory”—an assumption I found, and find, appalling—I thought the numbers were implausible. The authors used a sample of 613 journals to assert that there were around 8,000 active “predatory” journals in 2014 and that those journals published around 420,000 articles in 2014 (up from around 310,000 in 2013 and 212,000 in 2012).

Being presented with a case for the implausibility of the numbers, the authors responded that the article was peer-reviewed and used proper statistical methods. As I was writing this, I took the time to read open reviewer comments on the article and the authors’ responses. Notably, all of the reviewers said they weren’t qualified to review the statistics—and there were certainly questions raised about the assumption that to be on Beall’s list was to be predatory.

The authors are right about one thing: looking at all the journals is a ridiculously large task. But that task showed that gray journals are just as heterogeneous as I thought they were, making it easy for a 6% sample to be wildly off base.

The First Cut

Now that I’ve done the work, the first note could be that the article’s 2014 figure has the first two digits reversed: it’s closer to 240,000 than to 420,000. Of course, the authors did not accidentally transpose digits; they came up with too-large results. Instead of 420,000 for 2014, 310,000 for 2013 and 212,000 for 2012, the figures should be 255,000 for 2014, 189,000 for 2013 and 125,000 for 2012 (rounding to the nearest thousand)—consistently between 59% and 61% of the article’s figures.

“255,000 questionable as compared to 560,000 DOAJ” isn’t as astonishing as “nearly as many predatory as not.” That 420,000 figure has been cited a lot, mostly by critics of open access in general.

But there’s more to say…

The Second Cut

The authors were working from an earlier and much smaller pair of Beall lists than those that I worked from. I used the Wayback Machine to download versions of the list as close as possible to the versions they used (in both cases, later and presumably a little larger). Flagging publisher and journal listings from those earlier versions yield the figures in Table 4.1, including “UA” journals but excluding X-coded ones.












Table 4.1. Journals and articles based on Beall lists at time of Shen/ Björk article

Now we’re down from 8,000 active journals to 2,692—and from 420,000 articles to just under 114,000. The percentages are still clustered: now the real numbers are 26% to 28% of those reported in the article. Even if you added 50% to my figures to account for a few dozen not-fully-counted journals (rather than the 5% to 10% I consider plausible), you’d be nowhere near 200,000, let alone 420,000. And, of course, 114,000 is a pretty small fraction of 560,000—just over one-fifth.

Even those numbers involve the odd assumption that Beall’s tagging is definitive. What happens if we reduce the universe to those articles and publishers where Beall’s actually made a case?

The Final Cut

2014 2013 20*12








Table 4.2. Journals and articles where Beall made a case

Table 4.2 shows the results: fewer than 30,000 articles in 2014—about 7% of the article’s estimate. (The 2012 and 2013 figures are 6% to 7% of the article’s estimates.) These are cases where Beall not only listed a publisher or journal at the time the authors downloaded the lists, but actually made a case for the journals or publishers being questionable or “predatory.”

Those numbers are too low—but they’re arguably what should have emerged from the study. As noted in Chapter 3, I believe realistic numbers are on the order of 120,000 for 2014; 90,000 for 2013; and 56,000 for 2012—still a lot of articles appearing in questionable journals, but not quite so alarmingly high.

What Went Wrong?

How could these two scholars be so far off? First there’s the assertion that all journals on Beall’s lists are actually predatory. Second, the “stratified” random sampling method involves some tricky assumptions, based on a “suspicion” that was “verified” by sampling all of ten journals—the suspicion “that journals from small publishers often publish a much higher number of articles than those of large publishers.”

The sampling used in this study yielded a much lower percentage of empty journals than my 100% survey. The article estimates that 67% of listings represent active journals; my 100% survey (admittedly of a larger list) shows 40% active journals. That’s an enormous difference: instead of 8,000 active journals from the smaller list, you wind up with around 4,800. That’s probably about right (I show 5,988—but that’s from a much larger list).

Beyond that, it appears that the sheer heterogeneity of journals makes projection from a small sample so dicey as to be useless. Unfortunately, I believe that to be the case.

GOAJ: March update

Friday, March 31st, 2017

It’s March 31–the last day of the month, when I fetch usage statistics for my websites (as always, omitting about 6 hours of that last day), so here’s an update on GOAJ. (I might have stopped doing these, but the GOAJ download numbers are astonishing, so…):

  • Paperbacks: No change. Two copies of GOAJ itself sold. So far, none of the others.
  • Dataset: 25 more views, 1,059 total views; 4 more downloads, 456 total downloads.
  • GOAJ: one additional Lulu,  45 total Lulu copies, 4,066(!) more (total 18,689* copies from my site: total 18,734 (actual total almost certainly over 19,000). Here’s the thing: not only does that 4,066 figure represent more than 90% of all data (by bandwidth) from–it’s mostly from spiders and other robots, not from people directly downloading. The latter appears to represent perhaps 700-800 copies, still a lot.
  • Subjects: Oneadditional Lulu, 20 total Lulu copies, 43 additional, 375* other copies, 395* total.
  • Countries: No additional Lulu, 8 total Lulu copies, 242 additional, 1,587* total other copies, 1,595 total.
  • C&I: New totals 1,352* copies of the excerpted GOAJ version (16.5) and 4,154* copies of “APCLand and OAWorld” (16.4.)

*Missing downloads from 11/13-11/30/16 and, for C&I, 11/13-12/15/16.

Gray OA

Gray OA 2011-2016 (Cites & Insights 17.1) shows a total of 1,120 downloads to date, and no apparent recognition anywhere else that the Shen/Bjork “predatory articles” numbers are demonstrated to be so dramatically wrong; the dataset shows 228 views and 58 downloads.

Cites & Impasse: feedback desired

Friday, March 17th, 2017

In the most recent W.a.R. post, I said this:

In the meantime, other than various other stuff, there’s a possible Cites & Insights (if anybody cares–and based on recent readership levels, I’m not sure) and the question of following up on 3,300-odd journals that were in DOAJ on 1/1/16 but not on 1/1/17. And slowing down a bit.

I’m still unsure–and the title of this post, which started out as a typo, may be meaningful.

Here’s the numbers:

  • The January 2017 Cites & Insights, Gray OA 2012-2016: Open Access Journals Beyond DOAJ, shows 1,043 total downloads, but 975 were in 2016 and only 68 are in March 2017. I’d hoped that this study–which I wasted spent way too much time on–would get, say, one-fifth the readership of Gold Open Access Journals 2011-2015 and might have some small effect on the discussions regarding “predatory” journals. (I’d really hoped that somebody might acknowledge that the “420K 2014 articles in predatory journals” figure was provably wrong–but I keep seeing that figure repeated.) [Remarkably, GOAJ  2011-2015 has another 2,099 downloads in the first half of March 2017!]
  • The February 2017 Cites & Insights, a fairly ordinary issue, has a total of 408 downloads to date, but only 82 in March: not terrible, but not impressive.

Readership is way down–and so is my motivation to write the [March? April? May? Spring?] issue–but not just because of declining readership, and partly for one reason that I think may be related to declining readership. So I’m offering up a couple of possible reasons and asking for feedback. C&I isn’t entirely going away [yet], but could become a mostly-OA-supporting-material outlet. Or not.

1. Dystopia Fatigue: 45 for the Loss

The reason that is definitely reducing my interest in writing and may be reducing others’ interest in reading C&I is that so much mental and emotional energy is spent trying to cope with the dystopian situation that could be summed up as 45–not only an administration that appears set on making America a mean-spirited, post-science, pathetic nation relying on bloated armaments to push actual great nations around, but also the newly-empowered racists and bigots who seem to feel that it’s now American to loudly proclaim the shameful feelings they once tended to keep to themselves.

It is draining to read the news. It is worse than draining to read some of the reactions. It is draining to try to determine what (other than the usual PPFA, ACLU, AU etc. checks) to do about it–and whether drastic actions are warranted.

I can only assume that others also find it draining, and may not feel like reading secondary/apolitical stuff like C&I that isn’t actually good “escapist” reading. (I’m just over halfway through The Devil’s Brood: is that escapist?)

For British readers, there s a separate-but-related dystopian present going on.

It’s hard to argue with a lack of remaining energy. I will surely agree that real action that might help preserve what’s left of America’s greatness is a whole hell of a lot more important than reading (or writing) my stuff.

Now, getting off the soapbox:

2. Old, Repetitious and Largely Irrelevant

That’s the quick way of putting it.

I’m trying to do stuff that nobody else is doing, since I gladly affirm that younger, more energetic and probably brighter people can and should be doing the kinds of things I used to do. Without mentioning my age directly, I’ll note that our taxes for 2016 are heavily impacted by being required to either take certain payments starting last year or losing half of that money to the Feds.

The GOAJ studies are good examples of stuff nobody else is doing. I’d like to think that most C&I essays also fall into that category–but they may not be worth doing. As for repetitious and irrelevant…perhaps.


[A few of you will wonder whether my continued lateral-nerve problem, being reduced to six-finger typing, is also a factor. No, the nerve still hasn’t recovered, and may or may not ever do so. But I managed to write all three booklength portions of GOAJ2011-2015 despite this problem, so while my typing continues to be much slower and less accurate than before March 2016, that’s not a major factor.]

  • Should I spend most of the “pause”–the next three or four weeks, before Phase 2 of the GOAJ2011-2016 research and then all the analysis and writeup–on revisiting the 3,000-odd “departed” journals for a supplemental chapter and just let C&I lie dormant? And use leftover time to catch up on reading…
  • Should I try to split the time between that revisit [which turns out to be reasonably fast because I’m only looking at 2016 availability and article counts, not APC levels] and doing a C&I issue? [Which would probably consist of one medium-length roundup on access & economics and one relatively brief roundup on the disappearing blacklists.]
  • Other suggestions?

Comments are open. I’m interested in your feedback.

Updated March 22, 2017:
I’m still looking for feedback of all sorts. If your comment doesn’t show up, it may be awaiting moderation or possibly deleted as spam–I’ve had to change spam control (from Spam Kismet 2, which no longer seems compatible, to WP-SpamShield), and I no longer see spam-trapped comments. You can always email me your comment (, if it doesn’t show up within a day of posting…if you note “Intended as a post comment” I’ll add it here.