The benefits of getting your journal added to scholarly indexes are many. Inclusion in well-known indexes can help your journal expand its online presence, improve article discoverability, and build a reputation as a high-quality publication in its field. But, the process of applying for different indexes can be daunting. You may be wondering where to begin and what will be expected of you during the application process.
In a recent interview Dr. Roland J.W. Meesters, editor-in-chief of Journal of Applied Bioanalysis (JAB), shared his experience applying to have JAB added to scholarly indexes, including the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Check out our interview with Meesters for tips on how to prepare an index application, what to expect during the application process, and what you’ll need to do once your journal has been accepted by an index to ensure they can access the full text of all your newest articles.
RM: At the moment we are only indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). It took between four to six months for that application to go through. It’s also only valid for one year, so every twelve months we’ll need to reapply. DOAJ has a very strict application process to avoid admitting journals not adhering to their general publishing best practices.
To be indexed in DOAJ, first, your journal has to be Open Access (OA) and all of your articles must be accessible directly after they are published (no embargo period). Among other criteria you’ll need to meet for DOAJ and other indexes is stating what if any submission fees or article processing charges (APCs) authors must pay for their articles. This needs to be clear on your journal’s website. They also ask that you have the names and email addresses of each of your editorial board members available on the website. In the process of reviewing your application, they might contact a few of the editors to verify that they’re actually at the journal. You can access a full list of requirements for the DOAJ and all other indexes on their websites to get all the details.
RM: Yes, we applied for three more index services. It can take a lot of time applying for different indexing organizations. Some take a year, and some even take more than a year. Scopus rejected us for one reason: they said they only index journals that have been on the market two years or longer. We’ve only been on the market for one year and three months now, so it’s too early for us to apply. But we can and surely will reapply next year. EBSCO is still under review. When I last contacted them they said it could take up to one year. Chemical Abstract Service is also under review, so I expect maybe by the end of the year or the start of next year we’ll hear back from them.
Our ultimate goal, of course, is PubMed, but that’s something for the future. When we launched the journal we checked the OA market and quickly found that the DOAJ was the principle indexing organization, so that was the first choice we made. Then we went after the standard indexing services I used for my other non-OA science publications, like Scopus and PubMed. What we’ve chosen is specific to our journal’s field of science. Journals should look to get added to indexes that are popular and respected in their field.
RM: It hasn’t been difficult, but many indexes do have very specific formatting requests for your journal website that can take time to fulfill. For example, if your journal requires a publication fee, to be indexed by DOAJ, the journal must clearly display information about that fee on its website in a way DOAJ deems acceptable.
Once you’ve submitted your applications, after a couple of months have passed, the indexes you applied for will scan your journal’s website and the information on it. If there’s something that does not adhere to their requirements you’ll have the time to change and correct that information and apply again. I would advise trying to carefully review all of the basic index requirements and make any necessary updates to your journal website in advance, because making updates during the application process can make things take a lot longer.
RM: Of course. A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is important so that the indexes can find your articles. With Scopus, one of the questions on the application form was “is your journal an OA journal?” and another, “is it indexed with DOAJ?”. So, for OA journals it seems like applying for DOAJ first might be a plus.
In general, for all of the indexes, I would say the most important thing is to be as specific as possible and try to put as much information as you can about your journal on the correct pages of your website. The more information you present, the easier it is for indexing services to see that you’re a quality journal and that you adhere to all their requirements.
RM: Being indexed in Google Scholar is very important. I’ve noticed that many of my students use Google Scholar when they’re searching for a paper. That’s the easiest way for them to find it. I think many young scholars feel this way and it seems that Google Scholar will only become more popular.
Because we’re using Scholastica for peer review and publishing, JAB is automatically indexed in Google Scholar. So for this I didn’t have to do anything, because it was taken care of by Scholastica. For journals that don’t have the benefit of automatic indexing, I would recommend finding the time to fulfill the steps required to be added to Google Scholar a main priority.
Once accepted to an index, what if any steps do journals have to take to ensure all of their new articles show up in the index?
RM: For DOAJ, you’ll need to provide metadata for all of your newest journal issues and articles. That’s one of the commitments your journal must make for indexing, because DOAJ doesn’t actively collect article metadata for indexed journals.
Now that JAB is indexed in DOAJ with every new issue we have to submit article metadata via a secured section of the DOAJ website. The metadata includes journal volume, issue, article title, DOI, authors’ names, etcetera. Some of the article metadata is mandatory and marked with an asterisk such as the journal ISSN, article title and authors. The DOI is not mandatory, but if you have it, it’s much better. You can also leave journal volume and issue number blank if you publish all of your articles individually as you accept them, so there is flexibility in the indexing requirements for journals following different publication models.