What is the the Directory of Open Access Journals ?
The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lists virtually every open access scientific journal. To be listed, journals have to have published at least 10 articles or published for at least one year. According to the webpage of the Directory of Open Access Journals, its database contains an impressive number of more than 12,000 journals from 130 countries published in 80 languages. More than 7 million articles have been recorded in the database, and this number is growing every day.
This makes the Directory of Open Access Journals an excellent tool for researchers who believe in open access as it provides a handy list of journals. Readers can use the website to access journal articles for free. However, as we will outline below, there is one critical catch to the prevailing open access publishing model of almost all journals listed in the directory.
What do most journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals have in common?
The most obvious answer is that all journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals publish their research open access. That means that all articles in the open access journals list are freely available. Readers don’t need to pay to access these articles, as still is the case for many traditional academic publishers. This is an essential step in the right direction, and we by no means want to return to the times when research stayed hidden behind paywalls and expensive journal subscriptions.
However, almost all journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals have in common that they rely on the free labor of often overburdened researchers who use their spare time to edit and review papers. Some people say that this is ok because evaluating and handling the journal submissions of one’s colleagues is a service to the scientific community.
In theory, this sounds reasonable. However, in reality, the free work of academics around the globe primarily serves the economic interests of a multi-billion publishing industry. Thus, what is portrayed as serving the community actually serves the shareholders of large publicly traded companies.
How the standard open-access publishing model takes advantage of free labor
When authors want to publish in many of the most respected international, peer-reviewed journals that are listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals, they have to pay an article processing charge. This charge has some justification. It costs money to run a journal that publishes high-quality research. Staff such as assistants, typesetters, and other people involved in the production process need to be paid.
However, editors and reviewers are expected to contribute for free for some reason. Unsurprisingly, established publishers who profit from the current system provide a set of excuses for why paying editors and reviewers is impossible. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Three common excuses used by open access publishers
The first excuse of many traditional publishers and those listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals is that paying editors and reviewers for their work would render the publishing business unprofitable. However, this argument does not square with the enormous profit margins of many publishers. In fact, academic publishing has been so profitable precisely because it more than often is built on the exploitation of free work.
The next excuse is that paying editors and reviewers is practically impossible as it would involve too much paperwork. This argument makes little sense in an industry that asks millions of authors to sign publishing agreements every year.
A third excuse is that paying editors and reviewers undermines the quality of the peer-review process. It is argued that academics who commonly chose their profession out of passion would quickly become focused on earning easy money rather than doing a thorough job. However, financially compensating people for their work is not only the right thing to do. It also generally increases people’s work quality and performance. So why should it be different for academic publishing?
At Advances.in, we pay editors and reviewers for their work.
We believe that a change in the academic publishing industry is overdue. Therefore, we pay editors and reviewers for all of our journals for their work. You can read more about our publishing model here.
Paying editors and reviewers is not only morally the right thing to do. It also can make a significant difference in many academics’ lives. Especially for people who are employed in underpaid positions and/or who live in less privileged parts of the world, a side income can help make ends meet.
If you agree that it is time to pay editors and reviewers for their work, we hope you will support our publication model by submitting some of your work to one of our journals. Each journal features a highly respected editorial board, and papers are quickly evaluated by scholars who care because they feel that their efforts are appreciated. We hope this can inspire more journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals to adopt our publication model. So let’s start giving back to the community together.