Sunday, January 29, 2006

Trends in refereed journals / open and toll access

Data on scholarly, peer-reviewed journals from three sources is presented and analyzed. Ulrich's reports 1,253 scholarly, peer-reviewed open access journals, about 5% of the journals in this category. The number of new journal start-ups recorded in Ulrich's since 2001 appears to be fairly steady since 2001, both for all scholarly, peer-reviewed journals, and for open access scholarly peer-reviewed journals. The largest number of open access peer-reviewed journal start-ups recorded was in 2004, the last year for which data is likely complete, with a total of 99. DOAJ includes a total of 2,009 open access journals as of today. One possible source of the discrepancy in numbers could be an english-language bias in Ulrich's; of the academic journals listed in Ulrich's, almost 90% are in the english language, while DOAJ appears to represent a much broader linguistic spectrum.

Both DOAJ and Ulrich's list considerably fewer open access journals than are found in Jan Sczcepanski's list, over 4,700 journals as of December 2005. There are several possible reasons for this. One is that many academic journals are not necessarily peer-reviewed; for example, only about 40% of the journals listed as academic / scholarly in Ulrich's are peer-reviewed. If we assume that 40% of the journals in Jan Szczepanski's list are peer-reviewed, the total would be 1,880 - very close to the DOAJ figure of 2,009.

There are reasons to think that all available figures for open access journals are underestimates. Jan Sczcepanski's, the longest list available, for example, focuses on social sciences, humanities, and math; it is also primarily the work of one individual working on a volunteer basis, albeit with assistance with others around the world. DOAJ and Ulrich's figures both depend on discovery, and a vetting process. With freely available open source publishing software readily available, it is quite easy for anyone to set up a peer-reviewed journal. Independent start-ups are quite likely not to be immediately noticed by listing services, particularly ones in languages not understood by staff at listing services. For example, staff at a listing service with an english background and some knowledge of European languages might not be able to identify a chinese-only open access journal, even after discovery.

Data from Ulrich's Periodicals Directory (subscription access)

Ulrich's includes a total of 56,777 academic / scholarly journals. Of these, 24,340, or a little over 40%, are identified as refereed, or peer-reviewed journals. Of these, 21,463, or nearly 90%, are in the english language. 1,253 (about 5%) are open access (I haven't found Ulrich's definition of open access).

Academic / scholarly, refereed journals by start year:

2001: 360
2002: 324
2003: 297
2004: 340
2005: 248*

Open Access:
2001: 98
2002: 90
2003: 68
2004: 99
2005: 64*

* It is likely that data from 2005 is incomplete, due to the time required for discovery and reporting of new journals. It would be premature to decide that the number of new journals had decreased in 2005.

Directory of Open Access Journals
2,009 journals, all fully open access, academic / scholarly and peer-reviewed. DOAJ does not provide any easy means of searching by journal. There does not appear to be any easy means of searching by language either, however, several quick random searches easily demonstrate the broad linguistic spectrum of DOAJ. For example, looking in the alphabetical index under "K", the languages of the first 10 journals listed are english, japanese, portuguese/spanish/english, german/french/english, croatian, and english/french. In other words, about half the journals include non-english language content. Similar results are found by scanning for the subject "history" in the middle of the list of 75 titles, or by scanning the bottom of the title list starting with "S".

Jan Sczcepanski's list: 4,705 titles (humanities, social sciences and math open access journals) as of Dec. 2005.

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

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