Using the Directory of Open Access Journals

DOAJAs a follow-up to Prof. Judy Xiao’s fantastic article in last semester’s newsletter,“Looking for the Right Place to Publish Your Article? These Databases Can Help,” this article will discuss an alternate way to locate academic journals for publication: using the Directory of Open Access Journals.

First of all, what are open access journals? Open access is a new publication model (and therefore slightly complicated and controversial) for distributing academic articles. A simple explanation is this: as journal subscription prices rise dramatically and library funding diminishes, we are reaching a crisis point in terms of making new research accessible to educators and academics, who need to access scholarly articles in order to further produce research.

“The Directory of Open Access Journals is an online collection of open access journals. The journals are all produced independently and the DOAJ provide easier access to those who might not otherwise know where to find these journals.”

Enter the open access publication model, in which scholarly journals provide their content online for free. Here the explanation could become more complicated, but in basic terms, these are scholarly journals whose content is freely accessible to the public, with the explicit mission of making scientific and scholarly articles accessible to other scholars and academics.

The Directory of Open Access Journals is an online collection of open access journals. The journals are all produced independently and the DOAJ provide easier access to those who might not otherwise know where to find these journals. There are a variety of ways to browse journals or search for articles by subject using their database. On the main homepage they offer a basic search bar that you can use to search the database directly. Note that you can selectively search either for articles or for journals; if you are using the database to do research, you are likely to want articles, but it you are using the database to discover places to submit your work, then limiting by journal makes the most sense.

The easiest way to browse for journals, however, is to click the advanced search link. This brings you to a page which allows you to specify your search by journal/article, and then within that selection, by subject, country, language, or whether or not the publication charges (note: to mitigate the cost peer-review and publication many open access journals charge the writer a small publication fee. If you are not willing to pay for publication, then you may want to limit out fee-based journals right away.)

This is what happens when you click to the advanced search screen:


Note the two circles above: the first green circle shows what happens when I click the “journals/articles” option (I can search just by journal by clicking the word “journal”) while the lower green circle shows that I can browse by subject.

Once I click journal, the screen changes accordingly:


With a few simple clicks, I have now limited my search to journals, and furthermore to journals who do not charge publication fees.  I have also limited my topic to “media studies” by entering those keywords into the top right field. My subject choices (see green box on left) automatically change to subjects describing my keywords,“media studies.” If I wish to, I can click one of the subject limiters such as “Media and communication” or perhaps, “Communication and mass media,”. Finally, the green box in the center screen indicates the information you see in the results pool.

The top entry is Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies and even without reading the journal I learn numerous details about the publication. I can see where it is published, when they started, do they charge, who publishes this journal, what topics do they publish, and most importantly, a link to their web site. From there, I can peruse the journal and see if they are a good home for my article.

This is merely one of many ways you can use this highly professional online database to search open access journals. The database makes it very easy for researchers to find articles, but also for scholars to find open access homes for their work.

For more information, please contact:

-Anne Hays, Adjunct Assistant Professor and Instruction Librarian