Conclusions from OASPA Membership Committee Investigation into MDPI

It came to our attention last month that the status of MDPI as a genuine open access publisher has recently been questioned.  OASPA takes such concerns very seriously and adherence to the membership criteria ( is essential for all of our members and new applicants.

The OASPA Membership Committee has carried out a detailed investigation into the issues that were raised (

The review focussed on the following:

- Controversy surrounding a paper published in the journal Life (
- Controversy surrounding a paper published in the journal Nutrients (
- Nobel Prize Winners listed on the website
- The role of Editorial Board Members
- The role of Dr. Lin within the company
- The functions of the different office locations

Investigations have encompassed review of internal correspondence at MDPI, detailed information on the handling of peer-review, decision making and reviewer reports, plus external comments, blogs and websites.  Based on our findings we feel satisfied that MDPI continue to meet the OASPA Membership Criteria.

MDPI have been extremely cooperative throughout this process and have shared many documents and evidence of correspondence with the OASPA Membership Committee.  We are grateful for their openness during this period.



Statement regarding Springer’s membership of OASPA being placed Under Review

In February, it was reported by Nature ( that around 120 fake articles had been published in apparently peer-reviewed conference proceedings.

Springer, one of the affected publishers, which published 16 of these articles, is a member of OASPA.  Given that the publication of these articles is evidence of a systematic problem with editorial processes, we have placed Springer’s membership of OASPA ‘under review’, pending a thorough response and description of the steps that are being taken to strengthen the necessary processes. Springer has already indicated that the fake articles are being retracted (

The actions being taken by OASPA are consistent with those that were taken last year
( in relation to the sting operation aimed at open-access publishers and reported by Science.

This decision does not affect BioMed Central’s membership of OASPA.



OASPA welcomes new members and demonstrates strong membership growth year-on-year

The OASPA Board is pleased to welcome Brill as a member for 2014.  Founded in 1683 in Leiden, the Netherlands, Brill is a leading international academic publisher spanning 20 subject disciplines. With offices in Leiden and Boston, Brill today publishes 200 journals and around 700 new books and reference works each year.  Brill open access publications are made available through Brill Open on the Brill Online Books and Journals platform in all areas Brill publishes in: Humanities, Social Sciences, International and Human Rights Law and Biology.

In August 2013, Brill Open expanded to include books as well as book chapters. To date, Brill has published around 80 books in open access, several of which as part of ‘OAPEN-NL,’ a project exploring Open Access monograph publishing in the Netherlands. All titles published through Brill Open are available as part of the Brill Open E-Book Collection.

Authors can also publish their articles as open access in any of Brill’s 195 hybrid journals. Additionally, Brill’s six fully open access journals are searchable through the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and its open access books through the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) of which Brill is one of the main sponsors.

Also joining OASPA in January 2014 is ProQuest, a company renowned for innovative content and technology solutions that increase the productivity of students, scholars, professionals and the libraries that serve them. ProQuest enables researchers to more precisely find and access relevant content which includes thousands of open access titles through a range of aggregated databases and notable research tools such as the Summon® Discovery Service.

In addition to integrating and aggregating open access content in many of its information products, ProQuest publishes Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy, an open access journal advancing and supporting environmental research since 2005.

“Open access plays an important role in academic publication and I am delighted that SSPP has received the commendation of OASPA,” Maurie Cohen, Director, Program in Science, Technology, & Society, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Editor, Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy. “The journal aspires to consistently meet a rigorous standard of quality control while simultaneously bringing to light the pioneering work undertaken by scholars and policy practitioners seeking to address the sustainability challenges of the 21st century.”

The OASPA Board is delighted to also welcome BioOne as a member. BioOne launched its nonprofit open access journal, Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene in 2013. A new, peer-reviewed scientific journal, Elementa was founded by BioOne in partnership with Dartmouth, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Michigan, and the University of Washington. As a multidisciplinary publication, Elementa features original research reporting on new knowledge of the Earth’s physical, chemical, and biological systems; interactions between human and natural systems; and steps that can be taken to mitigate and adapt to global change.

Elementa fully supports BioOne’s mission to explore economic models and strategic partnerships that balance the needs of all stakeholders,” says President/CEO Susan Skomal. “Moreover, such a dynamic partnership with libraries ensures that we keep our focus on the publication of timely, high quality research to advance the intellectual agenda of science.”

OASPA is pleased to also now have Journal of Terrorism Research join as a Scholar Publisher member.  This journal was launched in 2010 by the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, based at St. Andrew’s University.   Founded in 1994, the Centre is Europe’s oldest for the study of terrorism. The aim of this Journal is to provide a space for academics and counter-terrorism professionals to publish work focused on the study of terrorism, drawing together the different fields of research.

The 3 new professional publishers in particular reflect the steady growth in support that OASPA has received from the publishing industry since the organization was founded in 2008.  In a blog post in December 2013 it was shown that a large number of organizations had joined the association in recent months.  Figure 1 below shows that there is now a higher proportion of professional publisher members within OASPA.


Figure 1. Composition of OASPA Membership yearly since its foundation in 2008

Figure 1. Composition of OASPA Membership yearly since its foundation in 2008


Membership numbers appeared to plateau in 2013, despite many new organizations joining, and this was largely due to work carried out to review OASPA’s existing membership and to ensure that members meet the current membership criteria.  The losses and gains per year are shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2. Gains and losses per year of publisher member organisations

Figure 2. Gains and losses per year of publisher member organisations


For the OASPA Board,

Claire Redhead, Membership and Communications Manager




Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing


The Committee on Publication Ethics, the Directory of Open Access Journals, the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, and the World Association of Medical Editors are scholarly organizations that have seen an increase in the number of membership applications from both legitimate and non-legitimate publishers and journals. Our organizations have collaborated in an effort to identify principles of transparency and best practice that set apart legitimate journals and publishers from non-legitimate ones and to clarify that these principles form part of the criteria on which membership applications will be evaluated.

These criteria are largely derived from those developed by the Directory of Open Access Journals.  Note that additional membership criteria may also be used by each of the scholarly organizations. The organizations intend to share information in order to develop lists of legitimate journals and publishers. We do not intend to develop or publish a list of publishers or journals that failed to demonstrate they met the criteria for transparency and best practice.

This is a work in progress and we welcome feedback on the general principles and the specific criteria. Background on the organizations is below.


About the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE,

COPE provides advice to editors and publishers on all aspects of publication ethics and, in particular, how to handle cases of research and publication misconduct. It also provides a forum for its members to discuss individual cases. COPE does not investigate individual cases but encourages editors to ensure that cases are investigated by the appropriate authorities (usually a research institution or employer).

All COPE members are expected to follow the Codes of Conduct for Journal Editors and Publishers.

About the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ,

The mission of the DOAJ is: to curate, maintain and develop a source of reliable information about open access scholarly journals on the web; to verify that entries on the list comply with reasonable standards; to increase the visibility, dissemination, discoverability and attraction of open access journals; to enable scholars, libraries, universities, research funders and other stakeholders to benefit from the information and services provided; to facilitate the integration of open access journals into library and aggregator services; to assist, where possible, publishers and their journals to meet reasonable digital publishing standards; and to thereby support the transition of the system of scholarly communication and publishing into a model that serves science, higher education, industry, innovation, societies and the people. Through this work, DOAJ will cooperate and collaborate with all interested parties working toward these objectives.

About the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA,

The OASPA is a trade association that was established in 2008 in order to represent the interests of Open Access (OA) publishers globally in all scientific, technical and scholarly disciplines. This mission will be carried out through exchanging information, setting standards, advancing models, advocacy, education, and the promotion of innovation.

About the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME,

WAME is a global nonprofit voluntary association of editors of peer-reviewed medical journals who seek to foster cooperation and communication among editors; improve editorial standards; promote professionalism in medical editing through education, self-criticism, and self-regulation; and encourage research on the principles and practice of medical editing. WAME develops policies and recommendations of best practices for medical journal editors and has a syllabus for editors that members are encouraged to follow.


Principles of Transparency

1. Peer review process: All of a journal’s content, apart from any editorial material that is clearly marked as such, shall be subjected to peer review. Peer review is defined as obtaining advice on individual manuscripts from reviewers expert in the field who are not part of the journal’s editorial staff. This process, as well as any policies related to the journal’s peer review procedures, shall be clearly described on the journal’s Web site.

2. Governing Body: Journals shall have editorial boards or other governing bodies whose members are recognized experts in the subject areas included within the journal’s scope. The full names and affiliations of the journal’s editors shall be provided on the journal’s Web site.

3. Editorial team/contact information Journals shall provide the full names and affiliations of the journal’s editors on the journal’s Web site as well as contact information for the editorial office.

4. Author fees: Any fees or charges that are required for manuscript processing and/or publishing materials in the journal shall be clearly stated in a place that is easy for potential authors to find prior to submitting their manuscripts for review or explained to authors before they begin preparing their manuscript for submission.

5. Copyright: Copyright and licensing information shall be clearly described on the journal’s Web site, and licensing terms shall be indicated on all published articles, both HTML and PDFs.

6. Identification of and dealing with allegations of research misconduct: Publishers and editors shall take reasonable steps to identify and prevent the publication of papers where research misconduct has occurred, including plagiarism, citation manipulation, and data falsification/fabrication, among others. In no case shall a journal or its editors encourage such misconduct, or knowingly allow such misconduct to take place. In the event that a journal’s publisher or editors are made aware of any allegation of research misconduct relating to a published article in their journal – the publisher or editor shall follow COPE’s guidelines (or equivalent) in dealing with allegations.

7. Ownership and management: Information about the ownership and/or management of a journal shall be clearly indicated on the journal’s Web site. Publishers shall not use organizational names that would mislead potential authors and editors about the nature of the journal’s owner.

8. Web site: A journal’s Web site, including the text that it contains, shall demonstrate that care has been taken to ensure high ethical and professional standards.

9. Name of journal: The Journal name shall be unique and not be one that is easily confused with another journal or that might mislead potential authors and readers about the Journal’s origin or association with other journals.

10. Conflicts of interest: A journal shall have clear policies on handling potential conflicts of interest of editors, authors, and reviewers and the policies should be clearly stated.

11. Access: The way(s) in which the journal and individual articles are available to readers and whether there are associated subscription or pay per view fees shall be stated.

12. Revenue sources: Business models or revenue sources (eg, author fees, subscriptions, advertising, reprints, institutional support, and organizational support) shall be clearly stated or otherwise evident on the journal’s Web site.

13. Advertising: Journals shall state their advertising policy if relevant, including what types of ads will be considered, who makes decisions regarding accepting ads and whether they are linked to content or reader behavior (online only) or are displayed at random.

14. Publishing schedule: The periodicity at which a journal publishes shall be clearly indicated.

15. Archiving: A journal’s plan for electronic backup and preservation of access to the journal content (for example, access to main articles via CLOCKSS or PubMedCentral) in the event a journal is no longer published shall be clearly indicated.

16. Direct marketing: Any direct marketing activities, including solicitation of manuscripts that are conducted on behalf of the journal, shall be appropriate, well targeted, and unobtrusive.

In the event that a member organization is found to have violated these best practices, OASPA/DOAJ/COPE/WAME shall in the first instance try to work with them in order to address any concerns that have been raised. In the event that the member organization is unable or unwilling to address these concerns, their membership in the organization may be suspended or terminated. All of the member organizations have procedures for dealing with concerns raised about member journals.



OASPA welcomes Palgrave Macmillan as voting members and announces 15 other new member organizations

The OASPA Board is pleased to welcome Palgrave Macmillan as a full member of OASPA with voting privileges.  Based in the UK, Palgrave Macmillan is a global academic and business publisher for the Humanities and Social Sciences and is part of the wider Macmillan Group, representing an unbroken tradition of over 160 years of academic publishing.

This year OASPA developed a separate membership criteria for open access books following a dedicated session at the Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing in 2012 and subsequent discussions.  Palgrave Macmillan announced at the start of 2013 that they would be offering an open access option across all journal and books via Palgrave Open, with all open access publications to be published with a CC BY license.  We are pleased to also now have University of Adelaide Press as a member, who have recently adopted Creative Commons licensing for their open access book publishing program.

A host of other new members have joined over the past few months and we are delighted to be working with the following organizations as we continue to strive for excellence in standards of open access scholarly publishing:


Professional Publishers:

  • Company of Biologists
  • F1000 Research
  • Karger Publishers
  • Libertas Academica
  • University of Adelaide Press


Scholar Publishers:

  • Anti-Trafficking Review
  • Biological Bulletin of Bogdan Chmelnitskiy Melitopol State Pedagogical University
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Icelandic Review of Politics and Administration, IRPA
  • Nepal Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Northeast Brazilian Health Journal (Revista Piauiense de Saúde)


Other Organizations with Voting Rights:

  • Copyright Clearance Center
  • DOAJ
  • Knowledge Unlatched


For the OASPA Board,

Paul Peters, President



OASPA’s second statement following the article in Science entitled “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?”

Since OASPA released its first response to the Science ‘Sting’ article published in October, the OASPA Board has been looking at the implications of the findings for the organisation and its members.

There has also been much discussion of the Science article, exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the exercise and associated data, along with the way that Science has presented this work to the media.  In general, we feel that this follow-up has served to emphasise two key points: the data provide useful insight into editorial practices at a number of substandard publishers; no conclusions can be drawn as to whether poor practices are more or less prevalent at subscription-based or open-access journals.

The work at OASPA has been conducted, in consultation with the OASPA board, by the membership subcommittee, comprising Caroline Sutton, Catriona MacCallum, Claire Redhead and Mark Patterson.

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OASPA’s response to the recent article in Science entitled “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?”

Below is a statement from the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) in response to the recent “sting” that was reported in Science in an article entitled “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?”

OASPA was established in 2008 to bring together a growing community of high-quality publishers, who were showing how research could be published according to the highest standards and made freely and openly available at the point of publication.  Our goal was, and continues to be, promoting best practices in open access publishing and providing a forum for constructive discussion and development of this field.  Open access publishing has continued to grow since the establishment of OASPA, and is now a well-established part of the scholarly publishing landscape.

A second reason for the establishment of OASPA was the emergence of a group of publishers that were engaging in open access publishing without having the appropriate quality control mechanisms in place.  OASPA’s approach to addressing this issue was to establish strict criteria for entry into the Association, such that applicants are screened for policies relating to publication fees, peer review, licensing, etc. For publishers that do not initially meet our criteria, we provide a detailed list of our concerns to the publisher and encourage them to adjust their policies accordingly.

The “sting” exercise conducted by John Bohannon that was recently reported in Science provides some useful data about the scale of, and the problems associated with, this group of low-quality publishers, which is an issue that OASPA has worked to address since the Association was first created. While we appreciate the contribution that has been made to this discussion by the recent article in Science, OASPA is concerned that the data that is presented in this article may be misinterpreted.  We will issue a fuller response to this article once we have had a chance to review the data in more detail (and we applaud the decision to make the data fully available), but for now we wish to highlight what can and cannot be concluded from the information contained within this article.

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New board members join the OASPA Board of Directors

OASPA member organisations have this year had the opportunity to vote for new representatives as the Board of Directors expanded from 9 seats to 10, and 2 of the current board members were ending their term.  Following the election process, OASPA is delighted to announce the appointment of 3 new board members: Mark Patterson, Lars Bjørnshauge and Peter Binfield.

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Updated Program for the 5th Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing (COASP 2013)

The program and speakers have been announced on the website for COASP 2013

There is still time to register for the event, this year taking place at the Radisson Blu Latvija in Riga from 18-20 September.  Registrations close on September 6th. See the conference website for full details.

Announcing the Preliminary Program for the 5th Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing, 18-20 September, 2013

The 5th Conference on Open Access Scholarly Publishing (COASP) is to be held this year at the Radisson Blu Latvija in Riga, Latvia. The preliminary program is now available on the conference website, together with details of how to register for this event.

Early bird registration fees are available until 30th June and further reductions are offered to OASPA and OAPEN members. Members of OASPA are also invited to participate in the fifth General Meeting of OASPA on September 18th.