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About Indexes and Databases

Indexes and databases are online, searchable collections of information. There are a variety of indexes and databases with different access models, content collection models, and content standards. Some examples include:

  • Open indexes (free to use)
  • Commercial indexes (subscription only)
  • Indexes that offer profit-sharing (aka, royalties for the journal)
  • Indexes that include your content automatically
  • Indexes that you have to apply for - and applications can have different levels of complexity
  • Indexes that harvest your metadata only
  • Indexes that harvest your full-text content
  • Indexes with in-built technical compatibility with OJS

See Getting Found, Staying Found for more in-depth introductory and overview information about indexes.

How to choose indexes and databases for your journal #

Firstly, you may find that your journal is already being indexed or included in a database that automatically includes content. To determine where your journal is already indexed or where other journals in your field are indexed, you can use Ulrichsweb. This is a subscription resource that may be accessible through your university library.

In addition to those that automatically collect and include metadata from online journals, there are a variety of indexes and databases that may be appropriate for your journal which may require you to make an application, or make certain technical or metadata preparations.

Before you apply for inclusion in an index, you will want to consider the following factors in order to select an index that is suited to the scope and goals of your journal:

  • Subject focus
  • Inclusion criteria
  • Application process
  • Open or commercial
  • Ownership of content
  • Timing between submission and successful indexing (and mechanism for submitting corrections)

Be wary of potentially limiting the exposure of your journal by restricting your journal’s inclusion to commercial, closed-access indexes, as well as commercial indexes that ask for “exclusive” indexing rights that limit your ability to index your content elsewhere. You should also make sure that your journal has the appropriate rights to the content it would like to index (for example, in cases where authors retain copyright but grant the journal a CC-BY-NC-ND license, you will not be able to include that content in a commercial index that sells access to their content).

Understanding indexing criteria #

Manual intervention for including content #

Different indexes will have varying criteria for including your publication’s content. Depending on the index, the indexing process may require manual intervention. For example, regular exports of metadata from your journal, sometimes in particular formats, may be required. In OJS, there are many data export utilities, such as plugins that export to DOAJ and PubMed/Medline, that will facilitate providing some of the necessary contents and metadata to certain indexes.

Some organizations may provide guidelines and their requirements for publishers providing content to them. This can include (but is not limited to):

  • Delivery mechanism (e.g., via File transfer protocol or web upload)
  • Acceptable file formats (e.g., PDF, HTML, JATS/NLM XML)
  • Provision of metadata – (e.g., JATS/NLM XML)

Direct harvesting from the journal to the indexing service #

Other indexes may harvest your content directly from your OJS site using the OAI-PMH protocol for harvesting metadata or screen scraping. Depending on the index, they may harvest the full text or just the metadata. For example, Google Scholar retrieves your content on a regular basis, with no need for manual notification of new issues or deposit of files or data. You can optimize your journal for Google Scholar indexing by following the guidance in the Google Scholar Indexing guide.

Also, bear in mind that some indexes may require that you meet certain criteria before being included in their indexes, such as reaching a minimum number of published articles or publishing a certain category of scholarly outputs (e.g., articles vs. reviews).

Most often, when an independently published publication such as a journal seeks to partner with a commercial indexing service for inclusion with a particular commercial database or index, they will be presented with a legal agreement. If at all possible, it is advisable to seek legal counsel or advice from those knowledgeable in electronic licensing to review this document to ensure that it is in the best interest of your journal/publication.