Title not found: room for improvement in maintaining access to articles when journals disappear

Update July 3: 11 “titles not found” have been added, 9 for BioMedCentral and 1 for Springer Open, for a total of 15 titles so far.

Some open access journal publishers and services may not have much experience in the complexities of keeping track of journals and articles as journals change over time. The purpose of this post is to highlight the loss of ready access that occurs when a journal ceases publication and is removed from DOAJ, and sometimes from the publisher’s website as well. It is understandable that DOAJ wishes to focus on and encourage active open access journals, however removing content when journals cease is a disservice to readers and authors alike.


Authors: always post a copy of your article in an open access archive, even if you have published in an open access journal.

Open access journal publishers: if a title ceases to exist, do not remove the title from your website (unless it had no articles at all). If the journal has changed title, add a link to help the reader make the connection. If the title has ceased, include a note to that effect.

DOAJ: indicate that journals have ceased rather than removing them from DOAJ. Include a field to indicate whether journals are active or not. There is an “end date” in DOAJ which seems like a good candidate to use for that purpose.

Examples of title not found

These 9 titles were on the BioMedCentral website in 2014, but have disappeared as of May 2015:

BMC Medical Physics
Genome Integrity
International Archives of Medicine
Journal of Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Injury
Journal of Molecular Signaling
Longevity & Healthspan
Microbial Informatics and Experimentation
Nuclear Receptor Signaling

These titles were on the Libertas Academica website in 2014, but have disappeared as of May 2015:

      • Autism Insights
      • Cell Biology Insights
      • Clinical Medical Insights: Dermatology
      • Immunotherapy Insights
      • Particle Physics Insights

Sciedu Press

  • Journal of Haematological Malignancies – last issue appears to be 2013. Still listed in DOAJ, not included on publisher’s website.

From Springer Open, 1 title on the website in 2014 disappeared in 2015:

Scalable Computing

These 4 journals were from the sub-sample of 139 journals we surveyed last year published by publishers with 9 or fewer journals – a 3% attrition rate for this sub-group:

  • American Journal of Oil and Chemical Technologies
  • International Journal of Phytomedicine
  • International Journal of Marketing Practices
  • Journal of Emerging Trends in Economics and Management Sciences

This post is part of the Tech Tips series

Morrison, H. (2015). Title not found: Room for improvement in maintaining access to articles when journals disappear. Sustaining the Knowledge Commons / Soutenir Les Savoirs Communs. Retrieved from https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2015/05/15/title-not-found-room-for-improvement-in-maintaining-access-to-articles-when-journals-disappear/

9 thoughts on “Title not found: room for improvement in maintaining access to articles when journals disappear

  1. Dr Morrison,

    The five journals you have listed above have not been removed from the Libertas Academica website. They have been closed and are located in the archived section (http://www.la-press.com/journal_homepage.php?archived=y), although some webpages associated with the journals have been removed to reduce the possibility of them being confused with active titles. The journals will be moved to CLOCKSS within the next twelve months with the intention that they remain permanently available, per our commitment to authors of papers published in them.

    • Thanks Tom this is good to know. However authors keen on publishing their articles and funders willing to pay the APCs should keep in mind that the just because a journal is listed in DOAJ and displayed as an active title on the publisher’s website does not mean that they can count on either continuing, even in the short term. The author’s work can be shifted to archival status (and therefore less visible) through circumstances beyond the author’s control. This is a disadvantage to OA publishing.

      • I’m not certain that in every case a journal being archived will lead to papers in it losing visibility but I agree that there is a risk of that happening. With CLOCKSS, LOCKSS, and other archiving efforts such as Pubmed Central the risk is reduced. In the case of these journals we ceased accepting papers for peer review a substantial period before they were finally archived. Authors of papers under review at the time that we decided to archive them were notified and had the choice to withdraw their paper or continue with publication. I don’t think any serious publisher would take the decision to archive a journal without great reluctance and with full consideration of the consequences for authors and readers.

  2. Libraries (and possibly others) regularly use the DOAJ metadata to include journals in their search services. Pulling a journal from DOAJ likely means thousands of entry points for searchers where the content is no longer available. If a searcher has a citation to a work and it specifies the journal and the journals appear to be online and available at the publisher’s website, if the article they are looking for is not found there they may not search further. It is not intuitive that an article published just a short while ago will have been moved to an archive.

  3. This is a critique of DOAJ, not LA. FYI, there are many other publishers in the same boat. LA just happens to be the list we finished first. I’ll be adding more titles. Lots of them.

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