Many scholars like the idea of open access: it gives the widest possible audience for their work, including other scholars, practitioners and the general public. The problem is often that their field is dominated by a few, well-renowned subscription journals, and open access options seem like a risk and a step into the unknown. Combined with the existence of unscrupulous publishers with low quality thresholds, it is an easy option to stick with what is familiar.
Several efforts have been made to address questions of trust in open access publishing. Here are a few that can help to when deciding whether a journal you are interested in submitting to is trustworthy:
Think.Check.Submit.: We have written about this initiative before. Instead of listing approved journals, it puts the decision in the hands of potential authors by giving a few simple criteria that can be used to rate journals. These include aspects like checking with colleagues, looking at the editorial board and reading some of the published papers. We are big fans and recommend it to authors.
QOAM: This is a platform that provides ratings on journals. Although only recently set up, they have an impressive number of ratings from scholars in many different fields. You can compare their experiences of having published in the journal and how they rate information on the journal website.
DOAJ: The Directory of Open Access Journals has recently tightened its criteria and removed a large number of journals. It is an excellent and rapidly growing database of open access journals that have been screened against the inclusion criteria.
OASPA: The open access scholarly publisher’s association. While they are not intended as a journal whitelist, membership requires that publishers meet certain standards and they will investigate cases where these are not met. Membership is certainly a positive sign.
Finally, we advise that you use more than one criteria. If something is not clear, then get in touch with the editor: if they give a quick and satisfactory response, it is also an indication that they are working resonsibly.