SPARC Europe (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) have just announced a new SPARC Europe Seal for Open Access Journals.

In order for journals to be approved, they must use a Creative Commons Attribution license – which is compliant with the Open Knowledge Definition. It is great to see growing support for making scholarly publications fully open!

The announcement – which includes comments from OKF advisory board members John Wilbanks and Peter Suber – is reproduced below.

Growing numbers of peer-reviewed research journals are opening-up their content online, removing access barriers and allowing all interested readers the opportunity of reading the papers online, with over 3300 such journals listed in the DOAJ, hosted by Lund University Libraries in Sweden.

However, the maximum benefit from this wonderful resource is not being realised as confusion surrounds the use and reuse of material published in such journals. Increasingly, researchers wish to mine large segments of the literature to discover new, unimagined connections and relationships. Librarians wish to host material locally for preservation purposes. Greater clarity will bring benefits to authors, users, and journals.

In order for open access journals to be even more useful and thus receive more exposure and provide more value to the research community it is very important that open access journals offer standardized, easily retrievable information about what kinds of reuse are allowed. Therefore, we are advising that all journals provide clear and unambiguous statements regarding the copyright statement of the papers they publish. To qualify for the SPARC Europe Seal a journal must use the Creative Commons By (CC-BY) license which is the most user-friendly license and corresponds to the ethos of the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

The second strand of the Seal is that journals should provide metadata for all their articles to the DOAJ, who will then make the metadata OAI-compliant. This will increase the visibility of the papers and allow OAI-harvesters to include details of the journal articles in their services.

‘We want to build on the great work already done by the publishers of many open access journals and improve the standards of open access titles,’ said David Prosser, Director of SPARC Europe. ‘Working with the DOAJ means that we can provide help and guidance to journals who wish to move beyond the first step of free access to full open access and our long-term aim is to ensure that all journals listed in the DOAJ can attain the standards expressed within the Seal’

‘Improving the standards of the rapidly increasing numbers of open access and contributing to the widest possible visibility, dissemination and readership of the journals is very much in line with our mission,’ said Lars Björnshauge, Director of Libraries at Lund University. ‘We are very happy to see the enormous usage of the DOAJ and the support from our membership’

‘Legal certainty is essential to the emergence of an internet that supports research. The proliferation of license terms forces researchers to act like lawyers, and slows innovative educational and scientific uses of the scholarly canon’ said John Wilbanks, Executive Director of Science Commons. ‘Using a seal to reward the journals who choose to adopt policies that ensure users’ rights to innovate is a great idea. It builds on a culture of trust rather than a culture of control, and it will make it easy to find the open access journals with the best policies.’

‘This is an excellent program with two important recommendations. CC-BY licenses make OA journals more useful, and interoperable metadata make them more discoverable. The recommendations are easy to adopt and will accelerate research, facilitate preservation, and make OA journal policies more open and more predictable for users. I hope all OA journals will adopt them –not to get the Seal from SPARC Europe and the DOAJ, but for the same reasons that moved these organizations to launch the program: to make OA journals more visible and useful than they already are,` said Peter Suber, Open Access Advocate & Author of Open Access News.

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Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, where he is currently writing a book on data worlds. He is also Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). More about his work can be found at and he tweets at @jwyg.