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Magazines > Information Today > July/August 2021

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Information Today
Vol. 38 No. 6 — Jul/Aug 2021
Diamonds in the Spotlight: Archiving APC-Free Journals and Spreading the News

by Dr. Gaëlle Béquet

The ISSN International Centre has a long-standing strategic partnership with the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) that covers the exchange of metadata and the reporting of DOAJ-indexed titles to the ROAD directory of OA resources. ROAD and DOAJ are often used by researchers in library and information science who are focusing on the issues of open science. Two recent studies have drawn the attention of the ISSN International Centre.

The February 2021 journal article “Open Is Not Forever: A Study of Vanished Open Access Journals” identifies at least 174 OA journals that disappeared completely from the web between 2000 and 2019. The authors further show that only 40% of the journals indexed in DOAJ in 2019 indicated that they had implemented digital archiving. The second study, “OA Diamond Journals Study. Part 1: Findings,” published in March 2021, concludes that 68% of diamond OA journals do not have an archiving policy. In an effort to improve the requirements for sustainable archiving in Plan S, the authors of this study recommend creating a synergy among DOAJ, Keepers Registry, and long-term preservation agencies, including national libraries, to guide publishers of diamond OA journals in the implementation of sustainable electronic archiving.

Noting the findings of these two studies, the ISSN International Centre and DOAJ, along with CLOCKSS, the Internet Archive, and the Public Knowledge Project Preservation Network (PKP PN), are currently working together to provide several archiving options for the 7,000 diamond OA journals identified by ROAD and DOAJ that do not yet have established preservation policies.


The ISSN Portal offers a suite of information services for the publishing, library, and research communities. ROAD identifies OA journals based on the indications provided by the 92 national ISSN centers that select OA academic journals at the time of ISSN assignment. Keepers Registry offers free information on the long-term preservation of digitized and digital journal collections archived by a dozen partner organizations, including the Archaeology Data Service (until 2020); the British Library (until 2019); the Cariniana Network; the CLOCKSS Archive; HathiTrust; the Library of Congress; the National Digital Preservation Program, China; the National Library of the Netherlands; PKP PN; Portico; Scholars Portal; and the Swiss National Library (until 2020).

Keepers Registry is a crucial resource because it enables librarians, publishers, and policymakers to find out who has custody of what econtent, how, and with what terms of access. It identifies ejournals that are “at risk of loss”—i.e., those that are archived in fewer than three places or not archived at all and need to be archived. In addition, it showcases the archiving organizations around the world. As of May 2021, Keepers Registry listed 52,042 archived journal titles.

By comparing data from Keepers Registry and ROAD, the ISSN International Centre can obtain the number of OA titles that are identified by an ISSN and archived. As of May 2021, this represented 8,390 titles out of the 47,124 indexed in ROAD (approximately 18%). Regularly updated information on archived titles provided by Keepers Registry partner agencies allows the ISSN International Centre to monitor OA journals whose editors have opted for a digital archiving solution.


The ISSN International Centre, DOAJ, CLOCKSS, the Internet Archive, and PKP PN will build an application to enable the transfer of journals’ full content and associated metadata to one or more archiving agencies, depending on the choice expressed by the journals’ management, as well as the technical characteristics and formats of the data.

Among the journals registered in DOAJ but not yet archived, it appears that 40% use Open Journal Systems (OJS), an open source publishing tool developed and distributed freely by PKP. This application enables journals to set up an automated and free archiving process in the private LOCKSS system managed by PKP (the PKP PN), provided they use OJS 3.x+ and further versions as well as the appropriate plugin. As part of this project, PKP will improve the OJS archiving plugin, notably by creating automated notifications of successful archiving. In parallel, it will carry out communication and training activities with journal editors to encourage them to use this tool, or, if this proves technically complicated, to direct them toward alternative solutions.

DOAJ will provide advice and guidance for journals that do not use OJS and whose technical characteristics allow for archiving by CLOCKSS, the Internet Archive, or any other archiving organization that joins the project after the pilot phase. These archiving options will not be mutually exclusive, as one of the key concepts of digital archiving is certainly the preservation of copies on distributed servers managed by independent organizations.


Based on Keepers Registry statistics from May 2021, CLOCKSS already holds more than 22,000 titles in its dark archive, including 4,316 titles from Elsevier, 3,689 from Taylor & Francis, and 3,219 from Springer, as well as 1,389 from Scielo and 21 from the Open Library of Humanities. CLOCKSS is willing to work with OA journal publishers to diversify its partners and position itself in the open content niche. If we compare the profile of CLOCKSS to that of PKP PN, it appears that the latter archives 2,107 journals, which is 10 times fewer than CLOCKSS, and that the typology of publishers is substantially different, with a high proportion of academic presses in PKP PN. The publisher with the most titles archived in PKP PN is PAGEPress Scientific Publications (68 titles), followed by Universitat de Barcelona (43 titles) and Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego (39 titles). A search on the ISSN Portal shows that the titles of these publishers are all OA and, if they meet the selection criteria, are reported in ROAD.

In addition to CLOCKSS, DOAJ, the ISSN International Centre, and PKP PN, the Internet Archive is also a partner in the project, although it does not yet contribute to Keepers Registry. The Internet Archive offers a third option to diamond OA journals, with automated methods to extract and/or generate article-level metadata records when they cannot be supplied by the publisher, which is the case for about 2,000 journals in my sample. The Internet Archive will harvest and archive journal content on the web or in open repositories and will make available tools for publishers to add or augment metadata and directly upload OA content.


This initiative will start with a survey of the publishers of the diamond OA journals earmarked by DOAJ for the project. It will help determine which archiving option these titles want to archive their content in. A transfer application, developed with the support of the Internet Archive, will be built connecting DOAJ to CLOCKSS via the Internet Archive, and a minimum viable product (MVP) should be ready for presentation by the end of 2021. If the MVP is successful and if grants can be secured, the partners will consider extending the project to a wider group of journals and other archiving agencies, including those participating in Keepers Registry. The latter will serve as a central hub of information on the progress of OA diamond journal archiving and will eventually provide user-friendly tools for comparing archived collections.

Thanks to Dominic Mitchell from DOAJ, Craig Van Dyck from CLOCKSS, and James MacGregor from PKP for their edits.



“Open Is Not Forever: A Study of Vanished Open Access Journals”

 “OA Diamond Journals Study. Part 1: Findings”

ISSN Portal

 Keepers Registry’s Current Statistics

Dr. Gaëlle Béquet is a librarian and a researcher in information science. She published a book in 2014 that explores the socio-technical construction of national digital libraries in Austria, France, and the U.K. She currently chairs ISO Technical Committee 46: Information and Documentation. Her full profile is available on LinkedIn (ëlle-béquet-85442b63). Send your comments about this article to or tweet us (@ITINewsBreaks).