ISSN: Key Information for Measuring the Quality of Open Access Resources

Source: ROAD

The ROAD is the directory of open access scholarly resources that was developed in late 2013 by the ISSN International Centre, with communications and information support from UNESCO, which promotes free access to scientific information through its Global Open Access Portal (GOAP).

ROAD permits free access to a set of 12,500 bibliographic records that describe five types of academic and multidisciplinary resources published throughout the world, in 50 languages (most of which are academic journals but also include around 100 other resource types, such as academic repositories, serial monographs, conference proceedings and scholarly blogs). What all of these resources have common is that they are identified by their ISSN numbers issued by the ISSN national centres.

Resources by thematic area and type ROADWhile this directory focuses on the Social Sciences and Applied Sciences, one of its key objectives is to improve it by including such areas as the Arts, Humanities and Pure Sciences.

In order for a scientific resource identified by the ISSN national centres to be accepted in ROAD, it must fulfill two basic criteria:

  1. Open access to all of its contents with no embargo, and
  2. The source must consist mainly of research articles.

In the second phase of acceptance, the ISSN International Centre verifies the metadata and confirms their relevance.

Objectives of ROAD

ROAD mainly contributes towards the development of open access worldwide, as part of the movement supported by UNESCO for free availability of scientific knowledge.

In this sense, the ROAD team seeks to provide new ways to utilize the ISSN, linking a selective registry of academic publications (thanks to bibliographic data from the ISSN International Registry) with data from diverse associated sources such as bibliographic indexes, metrics, heritage archives, and records.

At the same time, because the main objective of the ISSN is to assist academics in finding and assessing the quality of open access resources, ROAD is also a singular instrument for these functions.

Forces of the ROAD: the ISSN network

Collaboration by the ISSN national centres network is essential to make ROAD a unique service based on progressive and continued identification of resources by these centres.

It may come as a surprise that the countries that provide the greatest collaboration are India and Brazil, followed by the United States, United Kingdom and France, due to their open-source scientific production which is particularly advanced.


In addition to using the map to search by clicking on the icons that show the number of publications and provide access to the resources, information may be sought using the main page according to thematic areas and resource types.

Temáticas y tipo de recursos ROADThe advanced search function can also be used to compare criteria and filter the results by searching according to facets.

Cuadro de búsqueda ROADMeasurement of the Quality of Academic Resources

Indexing and abstracting services carry out selection and specialized indexation. They include ATLA CPLI® (with 4 registered publications), ATLA RDB® (with 30), CAB Abstracts (with 1,145), CAS SciFinder® (with 345), EconLit (with 101), GeoRef (with 88), Global Health (with 1000), Linguistics Abstracts (with 70), Medline (with 487) and PsycINFO® (with 130).

Evaluation services provide scientific evaluation along with bibliometric indicators. These include Scopus, SJR (2013) and SNIP (2013), all with 2,504 registered publications.

At the same time, repositories and registries describe the resources, providing supplementary data to those from ISSN. These include Latindex (with 1,592 registered publications), DOAJ (with 5,754) and PMC (with 1,132).

Finally, the The Keepers Registry, with 1,172 registered publications, facilitates locating resources whose main objective is digital preservation.

Additionally, external sources complete the information found at the ISSN International Registry in terms of:

  • Open access economic model (green access or gold access),
  • Reuse mode, indicating the Creative Commons license used,
  • Impact factor awarded by Scopus, SNIP or SJR.

The following is a typical record in the ROAD:

Registro ROADComplete bibliographic information is found on the left; on the right, the first three blue boxes contain information from the ISSN International Registry and its associated sources; below, the “Indexed by” box contains external information, and finally the fifth blue box contains links from ROAD to associated sources.

ROAD developments for the future

Following recommendations made by the Steering Committee at its June 2015 meeting, ROAD will focus its efforts on significantly contributing to scientific blogs and repositories, specifically in the disciplines of the Humanities and the Arts, along with the Pure Sciences. That is why the ISSN International Centre is seeking and implementing ways to cooperate with institutional aggregators and platforms that compile blogs and repositories, with the aim of linking metadata among associated databases.

It also seeks to improve geographic coverage in Latin America with support from the ISSN Latin American Centres and Latindex. In the very near future, cooperation should also be strengthened between the ISSN International Centre and Latindex, following signature of a new working agreement.

The role of Colombia in ROAD

Cooperation by the ISSN Colombian Centre will be essential in reaching these new goals, by locating new open access resources and providing the ISSN with more online resources for inclusion into the ROAD system. According to the book Indicadores de acceso abierto y comunicaciones académicas en América Latina, published in November of 2014 by the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales, CLACSO), in 2014 more than 800 Colombian journals were indexed in Latindex, RedALyc and SciELO and the percentage of Colombian academic journals was 10%, 22% and 17% respectively in the Latin American region.

According to this study, Colombia is among the top five countries with respect to contributions to the scientific community in terms of the number of indexed or shared journals and repositories. According to Open DOAR, Colombia has 40 academic repositories, accounting for 15.2% of repositories of Latin America.

Colombian publications thus constitute a very important potential resource for developing ROAD.


Nathalie Cornic

Nathalie Cornic holds a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. She has joined ISSN International Centre in 2013. Nowadays, she is Deputy Head of the Data, Network and Standards Department, and she manages ROAD website strategic development, ISSN Register coverage development, metadata quality and information monitoring. She previously managed digital collections (from data processing to online valorization and dissemination) for French national institutions like Films Archives, the National Library (BnF) and the National Museum of Modern Art’s research library.