This post is written in light of recent discussions and questions raised about OASPA’s membership criteria and how OASPA screens applicants prior to their joining the organization. In the interests of both our members and the scholarly community, we would like to describe our application procedure here as well as the guidelines we have now adopted for handling reports of misconduct in relationship to our Code of Conduct. We have posted the same information on our web site.
As we’ve stated before, our ambition is that OASPA membership should become a mark of quality for OA publishing – we want to promote high standards and best practices. It is for this reason that we ask potential members to provide us with several items of information in their application (see the membership criteria), in an effort to determine whether the applicant operates with integrity and is genuinely committed to open access publishing. As far as new applications are concerned, applicants are assessed by two of the OASPA Board members.
The screening process involves reviewing the applicant’s web site, and assessing whether there is sufficient evidence that the applicant meets the standards laid out in the OASPA code of conduct. We pay attention in particular to the following:
• The publisher has at least one journal that regularly publishes original research or scholarship which is all open access
• Contact information and instructions to authors are clearly available
• There is evidence of an acceptable peer-review process and a relevant editorial board
• Information about publication fees (if appropriate) is clearly provided
• License information is clear and compatible with the OASPA statement on open access.
We also frequently ask new applicants to make adjustments to the information on their web sites with regard to some of these issues, to improve their licensing arrangements, for example. We have also had to decline applications for membership on occasion.
In addition to the above, from April 1, 2010 we shall require those applying as professional publishing organizations to specify the legal status of the organization (e.g. for profit, non-profit, limited liability, etc.) and to state where the organization is registered and the company identity number.
It is important to note that OASPA does not seek to become an accreditation or ratings agency. This would be a difficult task given our limited resources, but also inappropriate given that we are not industry-neutral. We are a membership organization that seeks to set and maintain high standards. As noted above, applications are reviewed to the best of our ability. We are happy to work with applicants to review their practices and bring them in line with general industry standards and emerging best practices.
The OASPA Code of Conduct states that reports of misconduct can be submitted to the Board. The OASPA Board has now adopted a formal procedure for handling such reports from the community, which is posted on the OASPA website here.
In fairness to our members, we need time to investigate any complaints carefully and to allow members the opportunity to respond. We cannot investigate the circumstances surrounding individual editorial decisions, unless there is evidence of systematically flawed processes. If we find that a complaint is upheld, our preference will always be that the member offers a credible commitment to improve their working practices, which we will monitor. However, in cases where the member cannot adequately respond, or does not wish to respond, we will need to terminate membership.
OASPA seeks to support its members to develop best practices and further industry standards, while also recognizing our responsibility to the scholarly community our members serve to make our own practices as transparent as possible.
- The OASPA Board