Back in 2015, to celebrate that year’s the Open Access week, I decided to put together a list of the OA journals I knew in planning, urban studies and geography, a list which has been afterwards growing thanks to the support of a number of colleagues. It was just four years ago, but it seemed a different epoch: OA seemed a thing of the future. Many still associated OA with poor-quality research and publication. Fast forward to 2019, and OA is the present, as most publishers have launched their own OA journals and most institutional funders require all outputs to be released freely. However, rather than truly opening publishing practices, with the rise of so-called “gold OA”, where publication costs are covered by authors, mainstream OA has become another way for corporate publishers to increase their revenues. The result is that inequalities in the access to knowledge are being shifted from the distribution to the production side, as coming from a wealthier institution and country now gives authors more access to publication.
The good news is that there is a different path to OA, one where access is truly “open” on both sides, that of the readers and that of the authors. I call this “real OA”, because it is the only way access is… truly open. Thanks to open source software like Open Journal System, managing and storing a journal is easier that it has ever been, and many institutions are using resources to manage journals rather than to pay subscriptions. Another good news is that departments and organisations in the areas of planning, urban studies and geography are among the most active on this path. In particular, there are geographical contexts that have long been marginal to the global geography of “international” academic publication that have been pioneering the building of real OA, and especially Brazil and Latin America, Southern and Eastern European countries. During the last few years, the trend has extended to other geographic contexts, with new OA journals and long-established ones (including Fennia and Geografica Helvetica) going full OA.
If the present of scholarly publication is OA, then only real OA can make its future a just one. Editing, publishing in, and making peer-review work for, real OA journals is the contribution we can all give to a better future for scholarly publication.
This is why I decided to take some more time to update and extend the list of OA journals on this YA blog. Besides checking all links, I have added some journals and provided more information: who publishes the journals and whether their pages claim inclusion on indexes.
Let me be clear: I do not believe in indexes. There are many journals with high Impact Factor that publish pointless research; and there are many good journals that are not indexed, or are not yet (among them, self-plug disclaimer, plaNext – next generation planning, the journal of AESOP YA, or the recently launched Transactions of AESOP). I believe the only way to assess the quality of a journal is to take a look at what they publish; and that the right journal to publish is that where readers will be looking for your contribution. And yet, I am aware that in these times of precariousness and anxiety, publishing in indexed journals is important for many of us (I’m not talking to you tenured fellows, you should be publishing in real OA only!). The good news is that, differently from just a few years ago, there are several real OA journals included in mainstream indexes like WoS and Scopus; and there are newer indexes dedicated specifically to OA (above all, DOAJ) and to specific geographic contexts (like Scielo, the ultimate index for Spanish and Portuguese speaking contexts).
Speaking of languages, a great thing of real OA is that it is far from being a mono-lingual enterprise. In an increasingly multi-polar world, the idea that one language allows to be truly “international” is, in my opinion, just a remnant of colonial thinking. Isn’t it crazy that at the same time as “Anglophone” countries become truly multi-lingual the academic planet becomes mono-lingual? It is. Or, better, it would be if it was true. In fact, many languages are increasingly used internationally in academia; and nothing can replace national, regional and local languages if we want to give “access” to readers beyond academia throughout the world. This is why the privileges multi-lingual journals, which seem to be indeed a majority of real OA journals.
In 2019, submit your work to a real OA journal!