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Experts agree on need for OA quality indicators

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An international group of top experts are willing to contribute to the development of a new tool for assessing the quality of new (open-access) journals. At a two-day colloquium in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, research funders, editors-in-chief of prestigious academic journals, and publishers discussed the results of studies into two possible quality indicators for young (open-access) journals. Although these quality indicators are not yet ready to use, they provided a good basis for discussing how to ensure greater insight into the quality of new journals, said the teams involved.

A number of surveys have shown scholarly-community support for open access to scientific publications but most researchers do not yet publish their work in open-access journals. Part of the problem is that many open-access journals are relatively new and so it can be harder to determine their quality through traditional ways of measuring impact. For example, the European SOAP project indicated that the lack of reliable quality indicators is one of the main barriers to authors publishing in open-access journals.

Faced with this challenge, SURF and Amsterdam University Press, with support from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) investigated potential tools for providing greater insight into the quality of journals. CWTS focused on an indicator for the editorial boards of journals, while Jelte Wicherts of Tilburg University set up a tool to indicate the quality of the peer-review process.

Franciska de Jong, a member of the General Board of NWO, the largest funder of scientific research in the Netherlands, commented: 'Uncertainty is inherent to the enterprise of starting a new journal and we should help the initiators of those journals to turn their prestige as academics into the trust of authors.'