Ideally, OOIR would automatically find the latest papers published in all 786 journals indexed in Web of Science’s SSCI categories of Political Science, Sociology, Law, Geography, History, Area Studies, and Communication.
However, OOIR’s algorithms are designed to potentially fetch metadata from only 678 of those (i.e. 86%). In actuality, since OOIR's launch in Nov. 2018, its scripts have only found papers from 651 journals (i.e. 83%). That means that up to 135 journals are missing – how come?
Three Groups of Missing Journals
There are three types of journals that are left out. The first one consists of popular magazines (rather than academic journals) which are not peer-reviewed, but which are nevertheless indexed in SSCI for historical reasons (e.g. Foreign Affairs, Monthly Review, The Nation or New Republic).
Another group consists of small publishers' journals who may not have the resources to deposit metadata the way OOIR would need them (namely via CrossRef – more details below).
Finally, a large group of journals (almost 60) not capable to be followed by OOIR’s scripts are Law Reviews. They are student-edited journals from law schools which are not peer-reviewed but which nevertheless play a major role in legal scholarship. They have their own unique websites (rather than sub-pages on large scholarly publishers as is often the case), and the Law Reviews’ articles are freely accessible (ever since the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship 2008), but they operate outside the usual scientific institutions – they do not have DOIs, for instance, and they do not deposit metadata at CrossRef.
The Lack of Harmonized Scholarly Metadata
It may surprise some readers to find that OOIR's algorithms cannot find papers from over 100 journals. After all, all these outlets regularly publish articles that can be easily found on their websites.
But OOIR relies on a harmonized, uniformly structured, machine-readable data presentation (as outlined in our About Us-page) so that it can easily fetch a paper’s date, title, DOI and other metadata. There is one large platform where such scholarly metadata are harboured, namely CrossRef, but not all journals feed their metadata into that database.
Journals that are Still Missing Due to Imperfect Algorithms
From a total of 786 unique journals we would ideally follow, 678 journals theoretically deposit their metadata at CrossRef. Now, why have we found papers from only 651 journals so far (leading to a difference of 27 missing journals)?
Some of the missing outlets can be traced back to the fact that they simply seem to not have published any new papers during this period.
However, there are also journals that do deposit metadata about their latest papers at CrossRef, but which OOIR’s scripts nevertheless cannot fetch. Admittedly, it may be an imperfection from our side, for our scripts mainly search for new papers using a particular selection of elements via CrossRef’s API, namely the element "pub-date" (followed by the current month, e.g. "2019-07"; for more details, see our About Us-page). Unfortunately, albeit one could expect a journal to fill in this "pub-date" element, sometimes their editorial teams may miss doing so, in which case our scripts are unable to find the relevant papers.
OOIR constantly works on enhancing its scripts so that such gaps do not arise. For instance, in June 2019, we have added a possibility to search for the element "online-pub-date" rather than "pub-date". Alas, we can never guarantee an almighty algorithm, and we would wish that all journals harmonize their way of depositing metadata so that OOIR’s scripts can easily find them.
All in all, this means that we miss new papers from at least 108 journals. The actual rate fluctuates between 85% (Area Studies and History) and 92% (Communication) of listed journals. Only Law is a clear outlier: Just 50% of Law journals use CrossRef. This is quite unfortunate, for it follows that research discovery in Law is regrettably hampered due to this lack of scholarly metadata.
OOIR’s journal coverage may thus cover 786 journals in theory, but actually resides at ca. 85% of that, i.e. somewhere between 651 journals (i.e., the number of journals from which we did find papers since OOIR’s inception in Nov. 2018) to 678 journals (i.e., the number of journals which expressly claim to deposit metadata at CrossRef).
Disaggregated by discipline, these are the detailed numbers:
- 225 total journals indexed (see the list here)
- 198 deposit metadata at CrossRef
- 196 journals’ papers were found by OOIR’s algorithms so far (since Nov. 2018).
- 148 total journals indexed (see the list here)
- 139 deposit metadata at CrossRef
- 135 journals’ papers were found by OOIR’s algorithms so far (since Nov. 2018).
- 149 total journals indexed (see the list here)
- 89 deposit metadata at CrossRef
- 80 journals’ papers were found by OOIR’s algorithms so far (since Nov. 2018).
- 83 total journals indexed (see the list here)
- 76 deposit metadata at CrossRef
- 75 journals’ papers were found by OOIR’s algorithms so far (since Nov. 2018).
- 95 total journals indexed (see the list here)
- 86 deposit metadata at CrossRef
- 81 journals’ papers were found by OOIR’s algorithms so far (since Nov. 2018).
- 74 total journals indexed (see the list here)
- 66 deposit metadata at CrossRef
- 62 journals’ papers were found by OOIR’s algorithms so far (since Nov. 2018).
- 88 total journals indexed (see the list here)
- 85 deposit metadata at CrossRef
- 82 journals’ papers were found by OOIR’s algorithms so far (since Nov. 2018).