Guide to applying

Before you start the application process, you will be asked to log in or register. You can save your progress and review all your answers before you submit them. To help you, a PDF list of the questions is available for download.

Basic criteria for inclusion

The type of journal that can apply

Open access journals published in any language may apply. Journals should adhere to the Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing.

  • The journal must be actively publishing scholarly research
    • Any research subject area
    • Publish at least five research articles per year
    • Primary target audience of researchers or practitioners
  • Newly launched journals
    • Before applying to DOAJ, a new or flipped journal must demonstrate a publishing history of more than one year or have published at least ten open access research articles.

The type of open access

  • DOAJ only accepts open access journals.
  • We define these as journals where the copyright holder of a scholarly work grants usage rights to others using an open license (Creative Commons or equivalent). This allows for immediate free access to the work and permits any user to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose.
  • The journal must display an open access statement indicating that it fulfils the DOAJ definition of open access.
  • The full text of all content must be available for free and open access without delay.
    • No embargo period
    • No requirement for users to register to read content
    • A charge for the print version of a journal is permitted

Journal website

  • The journal must have its own dedicated URL and homepage that is accessible from any location
  • Each article must be available as an individual, full-text article
    • one unique URL per article
    • HTML or PDF, as a minimum
  • Journals that include intrusive advertising will not be accepted. See best practice recommendations for advertising.
  • DOAJ does not approve of using Impact Factors or ranking metrics. However, journals may display the Journal Impact Factor calculated by Clarivate and metrics from Scopus. Journals must not display any reference (images, links, logos) to Impact Factors or ranking metrics from any other service.
  • The website does not need to be in English. If the site is available in multiple languages, the information provided must be the same in all languages.

The following information must be available online and easily accessible from the journal homepage:

  • Open access policy
  • Aims and scope
  • Editorial board (including institutional affiliations of all members)
  • Instructions for authors
  • Editorial process (peer review)
  • Licensing terms
  • Copyright terms
  • Author charges
    • If a journal doesn’t have any charges, then this must be stated
    • Must include all fees that may be charged to the author, from submission to publication, including:
      • submission fees
      • editorial processing charges
      • article processing charges (APCs)
      • page charges
      • colour charges
    • Any fee waiver must be clearly specified with the conditions of waiver, e.g. amount, time period.
    • If there are charges for withdrawing the article after submission, they cannot exceed the author charges.
  • Contact details
    • Include the name of a contact person and the journal's dedicated email address.
    • The country in the application and on the journal website must be where the publisher is registered and carries out its business activities.


  • A journal must have at least one ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) that is registered and confirmed at
  • The ISSN(s) must be displayed on the website.
  • The journal's name in the application and on the website must match what is shown at

Quality control process

  • A journal must have an editor and an editorial board.
    • The editorial board must be listed on the website.
    • The name and affiliation of all editors and board members must be included.
    • Journals that display a list of reviewers must include their names and affiliations.
    • The editorial board for the journal should consist of at least five editors with appropriate qualifications and expertise. It is recommended that board members should not all come from the same institution.
  • All articles must pass through a quality control system (peer review) before publication.
    • The type and details of the peer review process must be stated clearly on the website, including the process for special issues, if applicable.
    • At least two independent reviewers should review each article.
  • Use of a plagiarism checking service is highly recommended but not required for inclusion in DOAJ.
  • Endogeny should be minimised.
    • The proportion of published research papers where at least one of the authors is an editor, editorial board member, or reviewer must not exceed 25% in either of the latest two issues.

Special issues

Journals that publish special issues or other content curated by guest editors must adhere to these additional criteria:

  • The Editor-in-Chief must be responsible for the content of the entire journal, including all special issues, which must fall within the scope of the journal
  • Special issue articles must have the same editorial oversight as regular papers, including external peer review, and be clearly labelled
  • Journals must ensure that guest editors’ credentials are checked and approved
  • The Editor-in-Chief or dedicated board members must oversee the guest editors
  • Papers submitted to a special issue by the guest editor(s) must be handled under an independent review process and make up no more than 25% of the issue's total


  • The licensing terms for use and re-use of the published content must be clearly stated on the website.
  • DOAJ recommends using Creative Commons licenses for this purpose.
  • If Creative Commons licensing is not used, similar terms and conditions should be applied.
    • Extra care must be taken to state these terms clearly.
  • It is recommended that licensing information is displayed or embedded in full-text articles, but this is not required for inclusion in DOAJ.
  • More about licensing

  • The copyright terms applied to the published content must be clearly stated and separate from those applied to the website.
  • Copyright terms must not contradict the licensing terms or the terms of the open access policy.
    • “All rights reserved” is never appropriate for open access content.
  • More about copyright

Additional criteria for some journal types

  • Arts and humanities journals

    • For these disciplines (pages 10-16 only), DOAJ can accept journals that undertake editorial review, rather than peer review. Editorial review must be handled with a minimum of two editors.
  • Clinical case reports journals

    • DOAJ only considers a case report research if it includes the retrospective analysis of three or more clinical cases or a literature review. The journal must publish at least five articles per year that meet this definition.
  • Conference proceedings journals

    • For DOAJ to include journals dedicated to publishing conference proceedings, the journal must have an ISSN and a permanent editorial or advisory board providing editorial oversight. Papers from each published conference must be peer-reviewed according to DOAJ criteria. Full text of all conference papers must be available. Individual conference proceedings will not be indexed.
  • Data journals

    • DOAJ will accept journals publishing research articles about data or datasets, but not journals that simply link to datasets or announce their availability.
  • Overlay journals

    • DOAJ will accept journals that select and peer-review articles hosted on a preprint server or other site.
  • Student-run journals

    • If a student body runs a journal, there must be an advisory board for the journal where at least two members have a PhD or equivalent qualification.
  • Flipped journals

    • Where a journal was previously published as a subscription or hybrid journal and has now flipped to a fully open access model, this information must be clearly displayed:
      • The date of the change to fully open access
      • The availability of the archive material (open access, free, or paywalled)
      • Reuse rights of the archive material (all rights reserved or open license)
    • All content published after the flipped date must be completely open access.
    • DOAJ will consider flipped journals for inclusion after they have published at least ten research articles as a fully Open Access journal.
  • Mirror journals

    • A mirror journal is a fully open access version of an existing subscription journal, with the same aims and scope, peer review processes and policies and an editorial board with at least 50% of the same members. The journal may have a similar name as the subscription title, but it must have a different ISSN. DOAJ will currently accept mirror journals if they meet the usual basic criteria for inclusion.
  • Book review journals

    • Journals consisting only of book reviews will not be accepted.

The application process

  1. Your application is successfully submitted when you see a Thank You screen and receive a confirmation email.
    • If you do not receive that email, contact us.
  2. An editor will review your application. You may receive an email alerting you when this process has started.
  3. The editor may need to contact you during the review process. Please answer any questions they send you. This helps us process your application correctly. Be aware that we will reject an application if, after one month, we haven't received answers to our questions.
  4. The editor reviewing your application may be a volunteer and will not have a email address. Check your spam folder frequently just in case the emails have ended up there.
  5. If your application is accepted, you will receive an email to confirm this.

Time from submission to decision

The time from submission to decision varies greatly and depends on the responsiveness of the journal contact and/or applicant. Generally, a decision is reached within three months. We cannot provide a status update for applications which are less than three months old.

If your application is rejected

You will receive an email giving the reasons for rejection of the application. Unless otherwise advised by DOAJ staff, you may not submit another application for the same journal until six months after the date of the notification of rejection.

If your application was rejected due to an unconfirmed ISSN, we may be able to reopen the application if the ISSN is confirmed within three months of the DOAJ rejection. Email the DOAJ Helpdesk.

You are responsible for providing accurate information when you submit an application. Applications that contain information that is inaccurate or wrong or that have answers missing are automatically rejected.

DOAJ only accepts journals that follow good publishing practice. If our review finds a publisher is not adhering to best practice, has provided information that is untrue or misleading, or has questionable publishing practices, DOAJ will not allow further applications from that publisher for a period of up to three years.

Journals or publishers that have had multiple exclusions totalling six years or more will not be considered for inclusion in DOAJ and applications from them will be automatically rejected.

Journals already accepted into DOAJ may be removed if they are found to be no longer adhering to DOAJ criteria or publishing best practice.

Please ensure that, if you do apply again after the exclusion period, the journal meets the DOAJ criteria for inclusion and that any necessary changes have been made to the journal website or policies.


You may submit an appeal if your journal has been removed from DOAJ or your application has been rejected and no new application is allowed for at least a year. Email the DOAJ Appeals Committee.

The appeal should contain the following information:

  • Journal title
  • Journal ISSN
  • Reason for appeal
  • Evidence for the DOAJ Appeals Committee to consider
  • The original notification of rejection/removal

Appeals are considered by the DOAJ Appeals Committee, consisting of the Head of Editorial and members of the editorial team. Committee meetings are held monthly. After your case is discussed, a member of the Committee will contact you with the result of your appeal. This will not be the same Managing Editor who handled your case originally.

No further communication will be entered into after the appeal is heard and the Committee has made their decision.

In other languages

We are always looking for volunteers to translate our criteria. If you would like to volunteer to do this, please contact us.

Please note that these translations may not include the latest changes made to the Guide in November 2023.

Our criteria are available in:

Version history

This is Version 2.2 of our Guide to applying.

Version 2.2 (January 2024 - removed 'DOAJ will not accept a journal if all content in the last year/volume is published as special issues' from the Special Issues section of the Basic criteria.)
Version 2.1 (November 2023 - changed Editor-in-Chief to Head of Editorial in the Appeals section; removed the 'Updating your journal record' section as this information is now on the Publisher information page.)
Version 2.0 (November 2023 - addition of new criteria around special issues, smaller changes for clarity and plain English.)
Version: 1.3 (April 2023 - further clarification to endogeny, displaying journal rankings, information about author charges and reviewers, flipped journals and journals/publishers with multiple exclusions )
Version: 1.2 (February 2022 - extra copyright and licensing information were moved to a separate page)
Version: 1.1 (December 2021 - a clarification to endogeny criterion)
Version 1.0 (November 1.0)