Background: Open access (OA) journals disseminate research papers free of charge to the reader. Traditionally, biomedical researchers use databases like MEDLINE and EMBASE to discover new advances. However, biomedical OA journals might not fulfil such databases’ criteria, hindering dissemination. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a database searchable at article level, focusing exclusively on OA journals.
The aim of this study was to investigate DOAJ’s coverage of biomedical OA journals compared with the conventional biomedical databases.
Methods: Information on all journals listed in five conventional biomedical databases (MEDLINE, National Library of Medicine, PubMed Central, EMBASE and SCOPUS) and DOAJ were gathered. Journals were included if they were 1) actively publishing, 2) full OA, 3) prospectively indexed in one or more database, and 4) of biomedical subject. Impact factor and journal language were also collected. DOAJ was compared with conventional databases regarding the proportion of journals covered, along with their impact factor and publishing language. The proportion of journals with articles indexed by DOAJ was determined.
Results: In total, 3,236 biomedical OA journals were included in the study. Of the included journals, 86.7% were listed in DOAJ. Combined, the conventional biomedical databases listed 75.0% of the journals; 18.7 % in MEDLINE; 36.5% in PubMed Central; 51.5% in SCOPUS and 50.6% in EMBASE. Of the journals in DOAJ, 88.7% published in English and 20.6% had received impact factor for 2012 compared with 93.5% and 26.0%, respectively, for journals in the conventional biomedical databases. Of journals exclusively listed in DOAJ, only one had received an impact factor. A subset of 51.1% and 48.5% of the journals in DOAJ had articles indexed from 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Conclusions: DOAJ is the most complete registry of biomedical OA journals compared with five conventional biomedical databases. However, DOAJ only indexes articles for half of the biomedical journals listed, making it an incomplete source for biomedical research papers in general.