JournalTOCs, the current awareness service for researchers, scholars and students, now contains the latest Tables of Contents of 5,000 Open Access (OA) journals. The total number of journals included in JournalTOCs is over 20,800 and so those 5,000 OA titles make up just less than 25% of the overall content.
As the Wikipedia explains: “Open-access journals are scholarly journals that are available online to the reader “without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself.””
The remaining 15,800 or so journals in JournalTOCs are either subscription journals, or free or partially free journals.
The exact figures of how many journals are included in JournalTOCs will vary from day to day. This is because the total figure includes only those journals that JournalTOCs has managed to harvest at any time. Therefore, if a computer server which hosts a journal or collection of journals goes down and JournalTOCs is unable to harvest its TOCs, then it will not be included in the grand totals. However, JournalTOCs repeatedly attempts to contact servers, so if the server becomes available again, its content can be harvested once more.
I reject more OA titles than I include in JournalTOCs, for a number of reasons:
1. If the OA journal has no RSS Table of Contents (TOC) feed, then it cannot be harvested.
2. If the title has no ISSN then normally it won’t be added. Genamics JournalSeek is often good for finding ISSNs.
3. If the journal’s publisher is on Beall’s List: Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers, then I am very unlikely to add it. There is no hard and fast rule to this, and identifying true predatory publishers is not really an exact science, as an article in Science: As Open Access Explodes, How to Tell the Good From the Bad and the Ugly? shows. If a journal on Beall’s list is regularly adding what I consider to be good quality content, then I will sometimes consider it for inclusion.
4. If an OA journal has no recently added content, then I won’t add it to JournalTOCs.
5. If an OA journal’s RSS TOC feed has no abstracts, then I’m less likely to include it.
6. I also take into account things such as a clear peer-review policy, and the editorial board.
The aim is to only include good quality journals in JournalTOCs, so that users can be confident that what they find is scholarly.
Here is Jeffrey Beall’s Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers (2nd edition).
The most frustrating cases are those Open Access journals which are of good quality but which don’t have TOC RSS feeds. There really is no good reason for a journal, either OA or otherwise, not to have an RSS TOC feed, because having RSS feeds ensures that content can automatically be distributed in many places on the web (not just JournalTOCs), which means that a title with a feed will get a much wider audience for its content.
On the JournalTOCs Blog is a post: Open Access journals using OJS platform: How to enable journal TOC RSS feeds. There is also some more advice on this page.
I’ve been adding a number of non-English OA titles to JournalTOCs over the past few weeks. Latin America seems to be a place where Open Access is popular, and I’ve added several titles from Brasil and elsewhere. I’ve also added some titles from Nepal, India and Indonesia. If journals are not written in English, I use Google Translate to try to assess their quality.
The fact that a title is included in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) does not mean that it will automatically be included in JournalTOCs, because the DOAJ does not have very stringent rules for inclusion. DOAJ seeems to include too many titles on Beall’s list, plus titles which have ceased to publish, plus some non-scholarly titles.
The majority of trade journals are not included in JournalTOCs. Trade journals are defined by the Wikipedia as: “A trade magazine, or trade rag, also called a professional magazine, is a magazine published with the intention of target marketing to a specific industry or type of trade.” Trade journals can be very useful sources of up-to-date industry news, but their content is not normally regarded as scholarly. If you’re interested in trade news in technology, then there’s always TechXtra OneStep Industry News and GlobalSpec.
Sometimes it isn’t easy to make decisions about whether to include a journal in JournalTOCs. There’s a growing trend for universities to publish undergraduate journals. See for example this list. Should such journals be included in JournalTOCs if they have feeds?