Wednesday, 23 April 2014

ROAD: the Directory of Open Access Scholarly Resources

Presentation given by François-Xavier Pelegrin (Head of the Bibliographic Data Section, ISSN International Centre) on Tuesday 15th April 2014
ROAD is a free service offered by the ISSN International Centre with the support of the Communication and Information Sector of UNESCO. It complements UNESCO’s Global Open Access Portal (GOAP).

60,000 – 65,000 new resources identified each year. Includes databases, websites, loose-leaf items.
ISSN established by UNESCO and the French Government. ISSN does not assess the quality of resources – it just identifies them. 

There has been a significant growth in OA, facilitated by OA systems, e.g. DSpace. Over 3,600 Institutional Repositories registered in ROAR. Approx. 17,000 OA journals, 9,700 DOAJ journals – number currently decreasing as the selection criteria is now more selective.

ISSN receives a lot of questions from researchers and students asking if a journal has an ISSN does this mean that the journal is of a very good quality? They also ask if they can get help finding a good quality journal.  ISSN itself can’t help. There is confusion about their role. 

The ISSN Centre realised that researchers need tools to make positive choices, so ROAD, as a short-term project, started at the end of April last year and ran to the end of December last year, when the beta version was launched. It is hoped that a complete service will be provided by the end of this year.

ROAD is a database of bibliographic data. It contains ISSN records which have been enriched by information on journal quality. This is done by matching the ISSN number with external sources, e.g. DOAJ, SCOPUS. IRs are also listed if they have an ISSN.

It serves three major purposes are:

  • Providing a single access point to various types of online scholarly resources published as open access.
  • Uses the ISSN as key identifier to aggregate data about the quality and reputation of OA resources
  •  Gives an overview of open access scholarly content worldwide.


  • Type of online scholarly resource, such as journals, conference proceedings, academic repositories, monographic series;
  • OA resource;
  • No money wall;
  • Audience is mostly academics, scholars, etc.;

DOAJ; Econlit; Catalogo (Latindex); PsychInfo; Linguistic Abstracts; Scopus; SJR; SNIP; The Keepers Registry.  There is also an agreement in principle with EigenFactor (University Of Washington).
There have been discussions with other organisations which can be used as sources. 

Main features:

  • Faceted search
  • Map search
  • Search by country, subject, indexing service, journal indicator and by ISSN
  • The records are freely downloadable as RDF triples and as MARC XML dump and reuseable under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license
  • Journal indicators and indexing and abstracting services are presented in detail (coverage, method and selection criteria).

Next steps :

  • Improve the service – map, more responsive design.
  • Retrospective identification of OA resources in the ISSN Register.
  • Identification of IRs (semi-automatic assignment method).
  • Enrichment of ROAD records: Article Processing Charge (APC) (Yes/No); license, type and content of repositories, type of peer-review.
  • Development of classification (to improve access by subject), so as to make it more granular.
  • Additional partnerships.
  • Committee for selecting/validating partnerships.
  •  RDF outputs using PRESSo model developed by the ISSN and Bibliotheque National de France.
At the end of the presentation someone asked if there is a way to identify on an ISSN record whether the item is OA. The answer is ‘yes’ as there is a tag in which specific codes for OA resources is entered.

Another question asked was about the funding for ROAD and whether there is a long-term future for the service. The answer was that the service is seen as very important as it will give a general view of scholarly communication and also help researchers find good-quality OA resources and make informed choices about which ones to publish in and use.

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