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Enabling accurate results within the Journal Checker Tool


We’ve worked hard to ensure the results given within the Journal Checker Tool (JCT) are as accurate as possible at this point. However, not all of the data being used by the JCT is ours to update. The tool is a partnership between data sources, with data updates being made in the data sources themselves. The JCT helpdesk will help to coordinate data update requests, but for some changes, particularly at the portfolio level, updates need to be submitted directly to the original data source, including e.g. DOAJ or the ESAC registry. 

It’s in our collective interests to ensure that all the data used by the JCT is as fresh and complete as possible. We ask that publishers, consortia and institutions review their data within our sources such as DOAJ, our transformative agreement index and Shareyourpaper.org permissions to ensure that it reflects the current picture – something we know we don’t have right now for all journals. By taking action in the coming weeks, you are supporting researchers in enabling immediate access to research when Plan S launches on 1 January 2021. 

Fully open access journals

Our data source for fully open access (OA) journals is DOAJ. If a journal isn’t indexed in DOAJ it won’t appear within the JCT. That’s the first thing for publishers to check for their fully Open Access (OA) titles. DOAJ has its own editorial process for determining whether or not a journal can be indexed in it and this process takes time. Most applications are processed in under 3 months but it can take up to 6 months in some cases. Publishers should start to submit their applications to DOAJ once they meet DOAJ’s Basic criteria. Once you are ready to apply, the application form is here: https://doaj.org/application/new. The JCT has access to data on titles that are in the process of applying to DOAJ. 

The JCT will use the metadata held within DOAJ about a journal to determine whether it enables researchers to comply with Plan S. For example, we will look at whether the licence recorded within DOAJ is CC BY or equivalent. If not, then the journal will be identified as not being compliant. Therefore a publisher should check whether the licence options recorded within DOAJ for their titles show the most permissive licence. DOAJ are shortly to launch a new website and application form, with an updated metadata schema. DOAJ has published instructions on how publishers can update their records

Journals under Transformative Agreements

We have built an index of Transformative Agreements (TAs) that have been registered within the ESAC Registry of Agreements. This index features information on the journals included within the agreement and the institutions that have subscribed to it. Agreements are listed within the index by their ESAC Registry Agreement ID, and the data can be downloaded from the JCT website for easy validation.

If you need to register your agreement in the ESAC Registry, you can do so here. Once uploaded to the registry it will be picked up as part of our TA data management process, which involves regular review cycles of agreements within ESAC and looking at the journals/institutions within each individual agreement. Consortia or publishers who wish to submit or update batches of data within the TA index should email jct[at]cottagelabs.zendesk.com


There are two routes to compliance through self-archiving within the JCT. The primary route is the journal’s own self-archiving policy, via the data source Shareyoupaper.org Permissions. Policies are monitored automatically and updated as required. However, if you would like to manually request an update you can do so here. If you’d like support and feedback while updating your policy, you can reach out to their team here.

If the data within Shareyourpaper.org Permissions does not reveal a policy that enables researcher compliance, then the JCT will look at whether the cOAlition S Rights Retention Strategy could be used as a route to compliance. Here the JCT will check if the funder of the research has implemented the Rights Retention Strategy. If so, Self-archiving via Rights Retention will be shown. For more information on Rights Retention see the related blog post: “4 things you should know about the Rights Retention Strategy and the Journal Checker Tool”. 

Transformative Journals

Transformative Journals are subscription journals that have committed to transitioning to fully open access according to the criteria set out by cOAlition S. A list of currently approved transformative journals are available in csv format from the JCT website. Subscription journals who wish to be considered as transformative journals by cOAlition S, and thus the JCT, should apply here. cOAlition S will process applications upon receipt, with data transferred to the JCT within a fortnight once an application has been approved.

[New] JCT: update schedule 

The table below shows the update schedule by which changes to publisher policies – and development on new cOAlition S approved arrangements – are made visible in the JCT. These timeframes may be affected by public holidays and the amount of data being handled at any one time.

Item Frequency
Transformative Journals Once cOAlition S has approved a TJ application – and notified the publisher of this outcome – this information will be visible in the JCT within 10 working days
Transformative Agreement The ESAC registry is crawled on a weekly basis. When we identify a new agreement, we reach out to consortia to obtain details of the titles covered by the agreements and which institutions have access. Once we have this data in the format we can use, this information will be visible in the JCT within 10 working days.
DOAJ updates Changes to metadata in DOAJ (i.e. licence information) will be visible in the JCT within 5 working days of being made visible in DOAJ.
Publisher self-archiving policy updates Changes to publisher self-archiving policies – as disclosed on the publisher web site – are identified by Shareyourpaper.org Permissions and made visible to the JCT within 3 working days. Should a publisher wish to notify us of a change to the policy they should do so here. Information provided via this direct route will be made visible to the JCT within 3 working days.

Hannah Hope

Hannah Hope is the Open Access Project Manager at Wellcome. Her work focuses on ensuring Wellcome-funded researchers have the tools and support they need to ensure their research publications are open and reusable by all. This includes the implementation and monitoring of Wellcome’s OA policy and the infrastructure projects Europe PMC and the cOAlition S Journal Checker Tool. Prior to Wellcome, Hannah worked as a science communicator and publisher at a learned society. Hannah has a PhD in cell biology.