Open access in the sciences is undoubtedly a highly discussed topic at the moment, but it’s also a phenomenon that makes scientific and research information accessible to anybody. However, given the overwhelming amount of information available in the present time, it’s fair to say that without a knowledge of verified sources it’s difficult to distinguish a quality open-access journal from a predatory one. At first glance, these predatory journals appear to be professional periodicals, but their indexing level in reputable databases is practically non-existent, and the indexing information from predatory journal websites is usually fake. It is also very common for the people operating these predatory journals to demand significant sums of money for ‘publishing’ an article. So, what can be done about this?

One of the key sources for eliminating the risk of collisions inside the information smog is the DOAJ – Directory of Open Access Journals. It is currently managed by the non-profit organisation Infrastructure Services for Open Access C.I.C., and the source base is genuinely significant. These are the basic statistics as of 24 April 2020.

  • 14,493 Journals
  • 11,500 searchable at Article level
  • 133 Countries
  • 4,823,597 Articles

Looking back at the history of the DOAJ, it was created in Sweden in 2003 with only “only” 300 journals, so there’s been some impressive progress. What’s more, the DOAJ currently also contains open-access journals from reputable publishers such as Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer, BioMed Central and many others.

Searching in the DOAJ

Directory of Open Access Journals website

THE DOAJ has a fairly simple search interface. We can filter by selected aspects, the most important being the field / subject of the journal, the language and publisher. The search box then lets you build searches based on phrases, which is particularly useful when exploring the actual article content. At the same time, you can choose the specific field you want information from.

Let’s choose the topic of Competitive intelligence for our query and search for records of specialist articles with this phrase in the title, then sort the results by the date they were added to the database.

DOAJ bibliographic records

In the Editorial Information section, the secondary bibliographic information, along with title and author data, also provides some insight into the article acceptance policy. Among other things, we can find out here how long the peer-review procedure takes. Naturally, there is also a link to the full text article if it is available.

Example of a bibliographic record in the DOAJ system.

DOAJ – Browsing by category

If we don’t know the keywords we need to search for the required document, we can choose to browse the contents of the database instead. The DOAJ gives us an overview of all represented areas, and we can further branch off into individual classes.

Once we’ve chosen a category, the DOAJ provides a statistical breakdown of the number of relevant articles and journals in its database.


  • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) system is one of the top databases of open-access scientific journals.
  • It offers searches in nearly 15k journals from many different fields.
  • You can search by phrase and specify fields such as a title, abstract, etc.

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