Corrected Ulrichs estimate of total number of active peer-reviewed journals: 28,094 in August 2012

Stevan Harnad harnad at ECS.SOTON.AC.UK
Sun Aug 5 10:20:57 EDT 2012

On 2012-08-05, at 5:39 AM, Kornbrot, Diana wrote:

> Could this list be made available?
> ISI-INDEXED GOLD OA: 741 (8%) of the 9,268
> Thomson-Reuters-ISI-indexed journals 
> are Gold OA journals 

It's in Ulrichs: Just do the search. ISI also indicates which of its
indexed journals are Gold OA.

> So 1/3rd of all peer reviewed are ISI-indexed
>      1/6th of goldOA reviewed are ISI-indexed
> Does this say something about [Q] quality of goldOA?
> Or about [B] indexers resistance [bias] to[ward] new ideas ?

As you note, the reason could be either Q or B.

However, the following five further factors tend to favour
the hypothesis that the reason is  Q.

Quality (Q):

Q1. Many Gold OA journals are new, and hence have not yet
created and demonstrated their quality standards

Q2. ISI has objective criteria for inclusion, and have no
reason at all to raise or lower them for Gold OA journals.

Q3. Unlike years ago, when part of ISI's motivation for selective
coverage was that it was expensive to index a journal, in
the online era that expense has gone way down.

Q4. On the contrary, including more journals enriches the
usefulness (hence market value) of the ISI database.

Q5. Lowering quality standards, however, has the opposite

And the following two factors favours the hypothesis that the
reason is B:

Bias (B):

B1. It is a long-standing complaint about ISI that it is English
language-biased. Many non-covered journals may be 
non-covered because they are in other languages rather than 
just because they do not meet ISI's criteria for coverage.

B2. ISI coverage is not even across all disciplines, being more
complete in science than in other scholarly disciplines.

Let me add a further general observation. There is a very
unfortunate, widespread and counterproductive tendency
to equate OA with Gold OA and to imagine that the reason
OA is not growing faster is because of a bias against OA
journals. Hence the fancied "solution" to the OA problem
would be for tenure/promotion committees to put an end
to their bias against OA journals, and give them equal
"weight" with non-OA journals (or, as some have suggested,
even a higher weight!).

This "bias" view is as incorrect in the case of tenure committees
as it is in the case of ISI. It is justified, indeed necessary, to
expect all journals -- OA and non-OA -- to establish a
track-record for quality, rather than to exempt or favour them 
on the basis of their cost-recovery model. 

And, yes, journal age is definitely a factor, as it necessarily takes 
time for a new journal to establish a sustainable track-record for 
quality standards. (And quality standards basically add up to the
rigour and selectivity of a journal's peer review standards.)

In contrast to this special pleading on behalf of Gold OA
journals, there is no such problem with Green OA, as all articles
can be deposited in repositories regardless of whether they
are published in (Gold) OA journals or non-OA journals, new
or old journals, ISI-indexed or non-indexed journals.

Hence the relevant potential OA percentage for Green OA is
neither ISI's 33% nor Gold OA's 13% (or 8%) but the 60%
that journals endorse and that Green OA mandates guarantee.
(Mandates also provide "Almost OA" for the remaining 40%,
with the help of the repositories' automated email-eprints-request

The rest is just about whether and when funders and institutions
get around to mandating Green OA, and which journals authors
choose to publish in. 

(RCUK has just taken a huge gratuitous step backward on Green,
in an attempt to bias authors' choice of journals toward Gold [in the 
hope of forcing journals to convert to Gold] by re-directing scarce 
research funds (as recommended by the Finch Report and adopted 
by the UK Government) toward paying for Gold, and requiring payment 
for Gold even when a journal is hybrid Gold (subscriptions + optional 
fees for authors wishing to pay for Gold OA).

> Query: Do ALL peer reviewed require author payments?
> Or are some ‘pro bono’

Most peer-reviewed journals do not require author payments. But
they are certainly not "pro bono": they require subscription payments 
by subscribing institutions.

Some, but not all Gold OA journals require payment of an author
publication fee. The majority do not. (They are able to cover
their costs through subscriptions and/or subsidies.)

However, there is reason to believe that the no-fee Gold OA
journals may be largely national and/or non-English-language
journals (hence the ones less covered by ISI).

And, like it or not, the Pareto 80/20 principle needs to be kept in mind
too: 80% of the usage and citations of journals is of the top 20% of
journals (and articles). 

(Although the high-impact factor journals have the highest average 
citation counts, individual articles in other journals may sometimes 
have very citation counts too. Hence authors' and articles' individual
citation counts should be taken into account by tenure/promotion
committees too, not just the average citation count of the journal in
which they were published.)

And, ceterum censeo, OA articles are both downloaded and cited
more than articles in the same journal and year that are not made

Stevan Harnad

> 28,135
> 9,268 (33%) of the 28,135 are indexed in Thomson-Reuters-ISI's 
> Journal Citation reports
> 4,365 (13%) of the 28,135 are open access journals (freely 
> available online) (Gold OA, presumably not including Hybrid Gold)
> (DOAJ lists 8005 journals, but many may be either peer reviewed 
> or "exercise editorial quality control")
> 741 (8%) of the 9,268 Thomson-Reuters-ISI-indexed journals 
> are Gold OA journals
> By way of comparison, according to the last estimate of journals 
> indexed by SHERPA/ROMEO (which does not include all the journals 
> indexed by Ulrichs, but does include most of  the top journals indexed 
> by Thomson-Reuters-ISI):
> 60% of journals recognize the author's right to provide immediate, 
> un-embargoed open access upon self-archiving their final drafts 
> in their institutional repositories.
> That means 60% of all journal articles can be made Green OA
> immediately (no embargo) if all institutions mandate it.
> I did come up with one anomaly, however. De-duping along the lines
> recommended by Serials Solutions, the result was: 
> only 3,659 (14%) of the 28,135 are available online
> (that strikes me as suspiciously low)
> Stevan Harnad
> On 2012-08-04, at 2:45 PM, Sally Morris wrote:
> Here's a response from Serials Solutions which should clarify the matter once and for all
> Sally
> Sally Morris
> South House, The Street, Clapham, Worthing, West Sussex, UK  BN13 3UU
> Tel:  +44 (0)1903 871286
> Email:   sally at <mailto:sally at> 
> From: Diven, Yvette [mailto:Yvette.Diven at] 
> Sent: 03 August 2012 22:01
> To: Sally Morris
> Subject: RE: [GOAL] Update on Ulrichs estimate of total number of active peer-reviewed journals: 55, 311
> From Serials Solutions…
> Dear Colleagues,
> As of 3 August 2012, the number of active peer-reviewed journals listed in Ulrichsweb is 28,094 titles.  This figure represents a count of all Primary editions (most of which are print editions, but some are also electronic) of those titles.
> The figure of 55,311 active peer-reviewed journals reflects the count of the number of all related format editions of the 28,094 active peer-reviewed journals. (For example, one of the 28,094 active peer-reviewed journals may have a primary print edition, an online edition, and also a CD-ROM edition for a total of 3 format editions.)
> Dr. Harnad’s search results reflect the current count across all journal format editions. It is possible to isolate (remove) the related editions from those search results by applying the Edition Type filter from the Search Results screen and selecting that filter’s ‘Primary’ option.
> We hope that this information is helpful.
> Emeritus Professor Diana Kornbrot
> email:  d.e.kornbrot at    
> web:
> Work 
> School of Psychology
>  University of Hertfordshire
>  College Lane, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 9AB, UK 
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