Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ulrich's and DOAJ: an idea

To its credit, Cambridge Scientific Abstracts' for-profit Ulrich's Periodicals Directory, long considered an authoritative service on periodicals information by libraries, publishers, and others, is including open access journals. The Directory of Open Access Journals provides the highly valuable service of vetting journals both for appropriate scholarly quality controls, and open access status. Surely a business relationship would make sense here? The benefits would be consistent, quality information on open access journals for Ulrich's, saving Ulrich's staff time on the vetting process; and, funds for DOAJ, to help establish a sustainable business model for this essential service. This makes so much sense for us librarians ~ perhaps we should call our CSA rep with this suggestion?

Here is a bit of background explaining how I came up with this idea.

Ulrich's does not post their definition of open access on their web site. However, based on a bit of research, my best guess is that Urlich's practical definition of open access would appear to be "included in the Directory of Open Access Journals". For example, a Dec. 30, 2006 search of Academic / Scholarly, Online, Refereed, Open Access Journals with a start date of 2006, yields a list of 36 titles. All 36 titles are found in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

This is an excellent approach, as DOAJ is indeed considered an authority on open access, peer reviewed journals, as all titles are vetted for both criteria by a professional librarian before being added to DOAJ.

However, Ulrich's approach seems to be somewhat inconsistent. While DOAJ includes 2,514 titles as of December 30, 2006, an Ulrich search for Academic / Scholarly, Online, Refereed, Open Access titles, includes only 1,482 titles. There are indications that some of these titles are actually in Ulrich's, but the open access designation has been missed. For example, BioMed Central's new title, Chinese Medicine, is listed in Ulrich's, but does not appear on the 2006 start date / open access list. Another example: a search for "Hindawi" as publisher yields 51 titles, but a search for ""Hindawi" as publisher and open access" yields only 26 titles (Hindawi currently has 50 open access titles). Also, a search for "Public Library of Science" as publisher yields 8 titles; a search for "Public Library of Science and open access" yields only 6 titles.

So, here is the suggestion. Obviously, it benefits both Ulrich's and its customers to include open access titles. Since DOAJ is already doing the work of vetting titles both for scholarly quality control and for full open access, would it not benefit Ulrich's to contract with DOAJ to receive the DOAJ title lists on a regular basis? This would provide Ulrich's with quality, consistent information for open access titles - and, such a business arrangement should be helpful to DOAJ to establish a sustainable funding structure.

Considering the benefits of having this kind of consistent quality for open access titles in Ulrich's - shouldn't we librarians be asking our Ulrich's reps to make this happen?

This post is the sixth in the Transitioning to Open Access Series.

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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