Major OA Diamond Journals Study completed: Report emphasizes diversity and sustainable pathways for diamond Open Access

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OASPA is pleased to announce the publication of an in-depth report and associated recommendations arising from a study of open access journals across the world that are free for readers and authors, usually referred to as “OA diamond journals”. 

Funded by Science Europe and commissioned by cOAlition S in order to gain a better understanding of the OA diamond landscape, the publication of the study is the culmination of work undertaken from June 2020 to February 2021 by a consortium of 10 organisations (including OASPA) led by OPERAS. The study uncovers a vast archipelago of up to 29,000 journals, most of which (60%) are in the humanities and social sciences, serving the needs of multiple scientific communities across the world. 

Using the results from a widely disseminated survey that was translated into 6 languages, together with focus groups and direct outreach to target journals and platforms, the study examines the core areas which are critical for OA diamond journals to operate, encompassing everything from legal structures and governance to technical capabilities, editorial processes and funding models. 

The group used statistical analysis of bibliographic databases, responses from over 1,600 journals, collected more than 7,000 free text submissions and other data from 94 questions, and organised three focus groups with 11 journals and 10 interviews with hosting platforms. The results of the study uncover a number of challenges faced by diamond journals which are presented at length in a findings report published today. 

Particular difficulties around areas such as licenses, content preservation and persistent identifiers are highlighted. More generally, in spite of scientific quality, many journals face operational challenges and rely heavily on volunteering. There is a need to develop infrastructure and to increase funding to support their operations.

In line with the objectives set by cOAlition S, the separately published recommendations have been based on an extensive study of the data gathered. The analysis presented by the group in the report points to clearly defined areas in which research funding organisations, institutions, societies and infrastructures can focus in order to strengthen and sustain OA diamond journals and the ecosystem in which they operate, as well as assisting these journals in compliance with open access policies such as Plan S. 

The group recommends to kick start an action plan to support diamond journals by organising an international symposium in six months, setting up a funding plan in one year and creating a capacity center in two years.

Additional materials are shared with the community for further research and reuse: the study dataset, the references library, and the crowdsourced non-DOAJ Journals Inventory.

The study group intends to engage with the community in the coming weeks to initiate fruitful discussions about how the OA diamond sector could be better coordinated and supported. Coming events and updates will be announced on this web page: 

Download Study outputs:


About the funders 

  • Science Europe is an association of major Research Funding Organisations and Research Performing Organisations. It was established in October 2011 and is based in Brussels.
  • cOAlition S is an international consortium of research funding and performing organisations supporting Plan S, an initiative for Open Access publishing that was launched in September 2018. Plan S requires that, from 2021, scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms.

About the consortium 

  • OPERAS is the Research Infrastructure supporting open scholarly communication in the social sciences and humanities (SSH) in the European Research Area. Its mission is to coordinate and federate resources in Europe to efficiently address the scholarly communication needs of European researchers in the field of SSH. OPERAS’ aim is to make Open Science a reality for research in the SSH and achieve a scholarly communication system where knowledge produced in the SSH benefits researchers, academics, students and more generally the whole society across Europe and worldwide, without barriers.
  • SPARC Europe is a Dutch Foundation with over 140 organisations from 23 countries supporting its work. It is working to make Open the default in Europe. Its work centres around 3 goals: Driving Open Access, expanding access to research data and accelerating Open Education in Europe through policy development and advocacy programmes.
  • Utrecht University Library offers support in every phase of searching for, managing and publishing scientific information. At the library, Jeroen Bosman and Bianca Kramer perform research and provide expertise on open scholarship.
  • UiT The Arctic University of Norway holds a long standing commitment to open science. The university library organizes one of the most important conferences on scholarly communication in Europe, the Munin Conference. Jan Erik Frantsvåg, open access advisor at the university library, has a strong expertise in this topic and has published a number of scholarly articles on subjects relevant to the study.
  • The Center for the Sociology of Innovation (CSI), founded in 1967, became one of the world’s leading research centres in the field of Science and Technology Studies in the 1980s, when Michel Callon and Bruno Latour among others developed a new approach known as the «sociology of translation» or Actor-Network Theory (ANT). At CSI, Didier Torny’s research focuses on higher education and research public policies, as well as the political economy of academic publishing.
  • OASPA (Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association) is a membership organisation representing a broad community of organisations engaged in open scholarship, including scholar-led and professional publishers of books and journals, across varied geographies and disciplines, as well as infrastructure and other services. OASPA works to encourage and enable open access as the predominant model of communication for scholarly outputs, and to ensure a diverse, vibrant, and healthy open access community.
  • DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals. Currently, DOAJ lists more than 10 000 OA non-APC journals.
  • Redalyc/AmeliCA is a collaborative infrastructure for advancing diamond OA publishing. It provides journal production technology, editorial professionalization, journal quality assessment, visibility and discoverability services, metrics, full-text indexing and Linked Open Data. Currently, it indexes 1500 OA journals from 633 publisher institutions from 31 countries. The online collection offers around 800.000 full-text articles. 
  • LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries) is Europe’s principal association of research libraries, consisting of nearly 450 national, university and other libraries from more than forty European countries.
  • ENRESSH (the “European Network for Research Evaluation in the Social Sciences and the Humanities”) is a network of researchers, research administrators and librarians that has grown out of a COST Action, starting in April 2016 and ending in April 2020. It brought together more than 125 participants from 36 countries.

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