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

Stevan Harnad harnad at ECS.SOTON.AC.UK
Mon Aug 6 08:23:28 EDT 2012

On 2012-08-06, at 4:50 AM, Juan Gorraiz wrote:

> Dear Stevan,
> FYI - the Bibliometrics Department of the Vienna University Library / Austria has been jointly working with the Carlos III University of Madrid / Spain on a bibliometric study analysing the impact evolution of Gold OA journals for the last months.
> Our results will be presented at Scientometrics 2012 in Regensburg (20 September) and the Open Access Days in Vienna (27 September 2012).

Dear Juan,

I will be interested to see your results. If I have understood correctly, you are not just looking at the rate of growth of the number of Gold OA journals, but also at their citation impact.

I am sure that for journals with the same subject matter and the same peer-review quality and selectivity standards, the Gold OA journals would have higher citation impact than the non-OA journals. The reason I am sure is because the within-journals OA/non-OA comparisons for articles that were and not made Green OA have consistently shown the OA citation advantage.

However, there still seems to be the logical and methodological problem -- in trying to show this effect at the between-journal level, OA vs non-OA, rather the within-journal, between-article level -- that there is no way to determine whether two journals, even if they have the same subject matter, have the same peer-review quality and selectivity standards. Hence it is not clear whether one is comparing like with like.

> Like you, we have also used Ulrichs since it provides relevant information on Open Access as well as on JCR status.
> However, deduplication in Ulrichs is time-consuming and cumbersome due to the many format editions Sally Morris mentioned. Unfortunately sometimes Open Access journals are listed only as print journals, even though they are either as well or exclusively published as online journals. PloS is the best example as one of the most successful Open Access titles. Except for PloS One all other PloS titles are only (incorrectly) listed as print journals (and ceased!) in Ulrichsweb.

It is a pity that as large and widely used (and unique) a database, with no competitors, cannot promptly and fully remedy each of these problems.

Perhaps it is indeed because Ulrichs has no competitors.

This is, then, yet another problem that universal OA itself will correct (at least for peer-reviewed research), once it is universally mandated by institutions and funders.

> Thus filtering only for online format editions in Ulrichs would therefore unintentionally exclude the most successful OA journals.
> One needs to be aware of these limitations and should cross-check the results retrieved with DOAJ.

I agree completely, and our own studies always cross-check with DOAJ. (This is a cross-check that Ulrichs itself could easily implement!)

> Stevan, you further wrote "ISI also indicates which of its indexed journals are Gold OA".
> This would indeed be desirable, however, we could neither find any hint on OA in WoS nor in JCR (not to mention this information is not at all searchable).

If I was mistaken about that, I must apologize. I do know that ISI keeps a tally of the number of OA journals it indexes. If it does not tag those journals explicitly, then that is an example of another lapse by a large and widely used database. Ditto for any classification errors. 

Universally mandated OA will fix all of that too. (It's just that right now, still on the road to universally mandated OA, it would have been a big help if these two large databases were more rigorous and responsive to the user community's needs.

I hope the user community will try to put some pressure on Ulrichs to shape up and keep up with evolving user needs in the online era.

For ISI, maybe a nudge from its founder might help... (Gene?)

Best wishes,


> Best regards,
> Juan and Christian
> Stevan Harnad schrieb:
>> Adminstrative info for SIGMETRICS (for example unsubscribe):
>> 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
>>    effect.
>> 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
>> Button.)
>> 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
>> OA.
>> Stevan Harnad
>>>            *TOTAL PEER-REVIEWED:
>>>            28,135
>>>            *
>>>            *ISI-INDEXED:
>>>            9,268* (/ 33% /) of the *28,135 *are indexed in
>>>            Thomson-Reuters-ISI's
>>>            Journal Citation reports
>>>            *GOLD OA:
>>>            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")
>>>            *ISI-INDEXED GOLD OA:
>>>            741* (/ 8% /) of the *9,268* Thomson-Reuters-ISI-indexed
>>>            journals
>>>            are *Gold OA* journals
>>>            *ENDORSE GREEN OA:
>>>            *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:
>>>            *AVAILABLE ONLINE:
>>>            *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
>>>                <x-msg://227/>
>>>                <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 <x-msg://227/>    web:
>>> *Work
>>> *School of Psychology
>>> University of Hertfordshire
>>> College Lane, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 9AB, UK
>>>   voice:   +44 (0) 170 728 4626
>>>   fax:     +44 (0) 170 728 5073
>>> *Home
>>> *19 Elmhurst Avenue
>>> London N2 0LT, UK
>>>    voice:   +44 (0) 208  444 2081
>>>    mobile: +44 (0) 740 318 1612
>>>    fax:       +44 (0) 870 706 1445
> -- 
> **********************************************
> Dr. Juan Gorraiz
> University of Vienna
> Library and archive services
> Bibliometrics Department
> Boltzmanngasse 5
> A-1090 Wien
> Tel.:
> +43-1-4277-27609
> +43-66460277-27609
> Fax:
> +43-1-4277-27650
> mailto:
> juan.gorraiz at
> **********************************************

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