“…….So things might have happily continued, had not the corporate interests within this limited, subsidised economy pushed journal subscription prices to the point where access to the knowledge went into a state of decline, at a time when new publishing technologies enabled researchers to take publishing back into their own hands. These new technologies have been used to demonstrate how access can be greatly increased, improving the circulation of knowledge, restoring the researcher’s control of knowledge, and extending its value as a public good by making it far more widely available.” Willinsky J. 2003. The Nine Flavours of Open Access Scholarly Publishing . J Postgrad Med 49:263-7.
Academics write most of their work in journals. Journals should publish and curate good quality work, but unfortunately the majority are also used to make money for commercial publishers. This is not a win-win situation. Corporate profits are frequently high because companies retain author copyrights, and sell the material to (mainly) scholarly and university libraries, that frequently struggle to stock key journals because of the cost. Five companies are now dominating the field, and buying out smaller ones. Financing of this form of scholarly publishing is opaque. Academics do not rock the boat on this very often, because their prestige and careers are linked too much to the journals they publish in, and most of the prestigious ones are commercial and expensive. Our systems of merit and performance measures are not yet geared to rewarding publishing that is ethical, or based on social justice criteria (Cahill and Irving 2015). This is especially bad at research universities. (good ref. here, a depressing study here that shows social scientists in particular don’t care as much about OA as they about the rank of outlets).
To make some contribution to the debate about whether social scientists can avoid the big commercial, firewalled journals, I list below decent academic journals that are free or cheap to publish in, have proper refereeing, and are Open Access – free for readers. Copyright is retained by the author in most but not quite all of them. Open access journals can also impose substantial fees on authors instead of readers. Those with high fees above cUS$500 for authors are excluded- like most social scientists I don’t have more than this to contribute to a publication and I don’t think more is justified. There is a long debate about whether in our internet world, we should be paying at all, which I won’t get into here.
The list began with fields my students and I publish in, hence the small number of themes [environment & development, human geography, anthropology, urban studies and planning, area studies, general social science, and the university research/teaching/publication process], but it should be useful as a starting point. Further discussion on journals and open access here. Journals are the main systems of prestige, ranking and hierarchy that we have, much as it would be fairer to ignore them and just publish in the most appropriate venue for the readership. I have included Scopus and its useful impact factor derivative Citescore (released Dec 2016, now called Scopus Sources), Web of Science (formerly ISI) and their newish Emerging Sources Citation Index listings.
For the majority of my colleagues reading this who have not thought much about OA and publishing ethics (and are manically trying to publish in the best places), I hope you find something you can contribute to. In brief, open access is the best way to publish scholarly material – more readers, and articles under authors’ control. It is a logical outcome of the invention of the web, and the Academic Spring protests of 2012 (analysis, reasons), which have had echoes – eg the Lingua debacle over the resignation of an editorial board that was dissatisfied with Elsevier’s control of copyright and high OA charges, and all the Netherlands universities’ fight with the same company in 2015 about high charges.
Most of the journals on the list are run by the “community economies” of unpaid academics, university libraries or departments, or scholarly societies, and a few are commercial but still have acceptable author fees that mere mortals could afford (APCs) *. Only if the big publishers are able to offer OA at reasonable fees, is it worth considering publishing an OA article with them. That said, as Sir/Prof. Tim Gowers argues, journals these days exist only to accommodate author prestige – you can publish anything online, or easily just email the author for a copy of an article (or use Researchgate, Academia.edu or Sci-hub). So OA journals need to be as good in quality and meticulous as those conventional ones that are costing our libraries a fortune. I hope I only list good ones here.
The invention of the web and its rollout in the early 1990s spelled the end of the need for conventional firewalled journals. Printed copies are no longer required (although they may be desired by a few) and the culture among scholars has changed to storing individual article PDFs and only printing them if needed. There are few costs for hosting a journal online – storing its files is easy. Costs, or value, are all in the labour. To suggest there are major cost implications of OA is not true, unless professional editors or translators are used. If publishing is done largely by academics and their institutions, which is my hope, the cost of running journals is absorbed into regular workloads or taken up by grants, and we have a true change in publishing underway. “The commitment of scholars everywhere to finding new ways of improving access to knowledge” (Willinsky 2003) need not be commercialised or costly. The ‘big five’ publishers (who now control 66% of papers in social sciences in the WoS, and rising…) and some of the smaller ones will have to adapt or perish (but they do produce indexing, which is useful for now). We will have our copyrights and a larger potential readership, and university libraries will have more money to spend. We will also be able to support smaller and multilingual world periphery journals.
DOAJ if your journal isn’t on here, a curated list of proper OA journals, not good. However in 2016 they did some housecleaning, but it was pretty poorly done so many legit. journals complained about being missed off. This now (2017) seems to be rectified.
A campaign to alert you to dodgy publishers, because there are some ▻http://thinkchecksubmit.org.
A listing of academic articles on radical OA ▻http://radicaloa.disruptivemedia.org.uk/resources/radical-open-access-literature
A video about OA ▻https://youtu.be/L5rVH1KGBCY
Paywall (2018) the movie ▻https://paywallthemovie.com – free and recommended.
Open Access Chronicle ▻http://paper.li/jimtill/1309217562
Beall’s List, Original site was removed in Jan ’17 – possibly the author was threatened with litigation in some way. (now archived and updated ▻https://beallslist.weebly.com). Crappy journals designed to make money, and allowing substandard work, (were) identified and weeded out. Beall, now retired, did focus on the negatives of OA, was criticised for libertarian views supporting free enterprise but only for the conventional, subscription-based publishing establishment. And it must be said, he held a very embarrassing conspiracy theory about all OA publishing!
QOAM Quality Open Access Market. Crowd-sourced assessment of OA journals. Evolving. List of journals and publishers is useful. ▻http://www.qoam.eu
Francophone journals list (geography) ▻http://www.openedition.org/catalogue-journals?searchdomain=catalogue-journals&q=geography
All Australian university-run journals ▻https://aoasg.org.au/australian-oa-journals
Useful journal list in the environmental field, not all free ▻http://www.esf.edu/es/sonnenfeld/envsoc_journals.htm
JURN – good and updated list of OA journals, edited and searchable. Site down 2019 try here for a pdf instead ▻http://www.jurn.org/directory
ESOP young academics list of OA planning journals ▻https://aesopyoungacademics.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/open-access-week-planext-and-a-list-of-oa-journals
List of online anthropology journals ▻http://www.antropologi.info/links/Main/Journals
INASP It funds Nepal Journals Online (most with credible academic status), Bangladesh Journals Online (BanglaJOL), Philippines Journals Online (PhilJOL) and Sri Lanka Journals Online (SLJOL), (and other countries). For Africa see www.ajol.info. Not all of these are good though; if I find good ones there I will place them below. For Eastern Europe see ▻https://www.ceeol.com
Latin America journal listing (til 2015) ▻http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/region/journals
Impact of the social sciences – a useful LSE project with some actual data.
Giant list by Jan Szczepanski, 9mb word file! Not all are cheap or taking english articles. ▻https://www.ebsco.com/open-access/szczepanski-list
Radical Open Access conference, June 2015, Coventry ▻http://radicalopenaccess.disruptivemedia.org.uk/videos
Walt Crawford writes more about OA publishing than anybody else- even book length manuscripts interrogating the DOAJ database. He shows reputable free OA journals are predominant – only a minority have high APCs.