There’s some uncertainty as to exactly how quickly the ranks of open access journals are growing. As Heather Morrison notes in a recent blog post, as early as 2005 some were arguing (with data) that the peak growth of open access journals was past. The current conventional wisdom seems to be that growth rates are higher than ever.
Unfortunately, we’re working with limited data. The best source for information about open access is the Directory of Open Access Journals. Unfortunately, the DOAJ only offers two pieces of chronodata about the journals it lists: when the journal started and when the journal was added to DOAJ.
Heather’s post explains why start year can be misleading: first, it underrepresents recently-started journals, which may take a while to come to the attention of DOAJ editors and make it through the vetting process; second, it lists when a journal started publication, not when it became OA. If a journal started publication in 1990 but converted to OA in 2005, its start year will be listed as 1990. If you want to know when a journal became OA, that’s not helpful.
Date added also is not necessarily indicative of when a journal became OA, either. If a journal started in 2005 only came to the attention of the DOAJ today, its date added wouldn’t reflect when the journal started.
In an ideal world, DOAJ would list a third date, indicating when the journal became OA. (For journals born OA, this would obviously be the same as the start date; for converts, it’d be the date of the conversion.) Unfortunately, this information isn’t always readily available, and it’s not listed in DOAJ. So the short answer is, it’s hard to know exactly how quickly the ranks of OA journals are growing.
With that said, it’s still interesting to know when journals were added to the DOAJ. Interestingly, according to data from the DOAJ’s new titles page, roughly the same number of journals were added each year from 2003-2007. To date, 2008 is a significant increase over previous years; if the growth rate from the first 10 months of the year holds for the last 2, it’ll be nearly a 50% increase. (Click the thumbnail to see the chart full size.)
|Year||# of titles added|
|2008 (to date)||727|
My guess would be the actual number for 2008 by year end would be in the 750-850 range — I’m guessing we’ll slow down a bit as we approach the end of the semester and the holidays. It’s still a big jump from the past several years. Assuming the data’s accurate, I wonder why: are more journals being submitted for inclusion, or are more journals meeting DOAJ’s selection criteria (e.g. to have an ISSN), or are there simply more journals in existence?