International Survey of Open Access Journals, and the case of KACIKE

I recently participated in an international study of “quality assurance for open access journals” led by Uwe Müller at Humboldt University in Berlin at the Institute for Library and Information Science along with Prof. Peter Schirmbacher. The reason for my being invited to participate is due to the fact that I am currently the lead editor for KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology, which is listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

As Uwe Müller explained: “The study basically aims at investigating (and maybe disproving) the widespread assumption Open Access journals contained material of minor quality and could not compete with traditional publishing forms”.

This certainly is an assumption that dogs open access journals. For this reason, at KACIKE we encourage authors to save copies of the extensive documentation of peer review that we provide them. Our reviewers are also becoming more severe in their demands and expectations, to the extent that for the past 18 months KACIKE has had a 100% rejection rate, at a time when we are receiving more article submissions than ever before (circa six per year). This is another problem for me as an editor–I often wonder if we should not aim to be more inclusive of works produced in diverse academic settings that do not follow the same standards, and yet are nonetheless interesting contributions.

The survey above itself contained a number of questions that could inspire some ideas among those who filled out the online questionnaire. For example, the idea of dividing a journal into two sections–one that is pre-“print”, that is, papers received and not yet reviewed, but accessible to readers, and a second that consists of reviewed, revised, and approved papers. The question would be what to do with papers that do not gain approval? Would the journal leave them eternally in the pre-approval column?