Researchers typically search journal archives for literature review before venturing into a new project. There are databases that enable access to scholarly literature through university memberships and subscriptions. However, the soaring costs of subscription fees for high-impact journals have restricted their access to many non-academic libraries and other less funded universities, thereby affecting the visibility and readership of such articles.
Propagation of free online journals and the development of subject specific online archives are very important to enhance the growth of scientific knowledge and ease the journal crisis for researchers. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is one such open access resource that lists and indexes over five thousand free online journals. This represents about 16% of the approximate 25,000 peer-reviewed academic journals in existence. Some of the more well-known publishers are in the fields of science, technology, and medicine. All the journals listed in the DOAJ meet the criteria for open accessibility and quality, along with a regular publishing schedule and editorial oversight of content.
Originally developed by the Lund University libraries in 2002, the DOAJ has paved the way to this trend in scholarly publishing by collecting journal titles into a single location, thereby providing easier access to researchers worldwide. After the Budapest Open Access Initiative, DOAJ was started as an open access-related project with funds provided by the Open Society Institute. The aim of DOAJ is to “increase the visibility and ease of use of open access scientific and scholarly journals thereby promoting their increased usage and impact”. The contributions of DOAJ to the scientific world have been well recognized by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) of Europe and awarded it for “outstanding achievements in scholarly communication” in 2009.
DOAJ selects the journals to be listed in its directory based on criteria such as coverage, subject matter (scientific or scholarly), types of resources (full text research articles or review papers), and the institution source such as academic, government, commercial, and non-profit private organizations. Topics covered in the DOAJ include Agriculture and Food Sciences, Arts and Architecture, Biology and Life Sciences, Business and Economics, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, General Works, Health Sciences, History and Archaeology, Languages and Literatures, Law and Political Science, Mathematics and Statistics, Philosophy and Religion, Physics and Astronomy, General Science, Social Sciences, and Technology and Engineering