Under the auspices of the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS, Leiden University), QOAM has set up a freely available list of

Bona Fide Journals - BFJ


For now, BFJ will be a subdomain of QOAM. Eventually, BFJ will have its own domain.

Data sources

The 42.000+ listed journals (27.000 fully OA plus 15.000 hybrid) come from JournalTOCs

The list of bona fide journals will include:

  • no-fee journals (because, naturally, a no-fee journal cannot be predatory). Source: QOAM. The no-fee journals in QOAM come from DOAJ, platforms like SciELO, Redalyc, OpenEdition, African Journals Online, and from publishers upon request.
  • journals in DOAJ (because they have passed a thorough vetting procedure). Source: DOAJ. DOAJ labels in BFJ are updated weekly.
  • hybrid journals contracted by libraries or funders (e.g. via Transformative Agreements). Source: Plan S, publishers upon request. The Plan S Journal Checker Tool has a (complete?) list of transformative agreements: https://journalcheckertool.org/transformative-agreements
  • journals which have gained the trust of three or more different libraries. Source: libraries (see below).

These journals will be coloured blue in the complete list of journals. Journals trusted by just one or two libraries are light blue (see below). The remaining journals are listed in grey.

BFJ Flow

Contribution of libraries

Clicking a grey journal produces the following line: “If you want to express your trust in this journal on behalf of your library, please register (new user) or log in (returning user) with your academic email address.” Once you are logged in the following text box pops up.

The library of *your institution* confirms the trustworthiness of this journal. Date *date*. Contact *your name*.

The text between asterisks is machine generated. Ticking the square suffices.

Clicking a light blue journal shows this table (with one or two institutions):
This journal is trusted by the following libraries:

Library of Date Contact
Institution 1 dd-mm-yyyy Name
Institution 2 dd-mm-yyyy Name
If you want to express your trust in this journal on behalf of your library, please register (new user) or log in (returning user) with your academic email address.

Clicking a blue journal leads to a new window with metadata of the journal plus one of the following phrases:

  • This is a no-fee journal, or
  • This journal is included in DOAJ, or
  • This journal is contracted by [list of institutions], or
  • This journal is trusted by the following (three or more) libraries:

Library of Date Contact
Institution 1 dd-mm-yyyy Name
Institution 2 dd-mm-yyyy Name
Institution 3 dd-mm-yyyy Name
If you want to express your trust in this journal on behalf of your library, please register (new user) or log in (returning user) with your academic email address.

When considering to express trust in a journal, the first reference of a library might be its embedded professional knowledge. Most libraries are familiar with some university journals; they may know of journals of (small) societies or charities in their own discipline, etc. The only thing they have to be certain of in this step is that these are not malafide journals. In case of doubt, the Compass to Publish might offer some practical criteria. And at the end of the day, library competence determines the authority of the list.


BFJ’s infrastructure is pretty simple and in part based on QOAM, making maintenance light.

Data maintenance remains the main portion of BFJ’s workload.

  • The no fee journals constitute the first category in BFJ. They come from QOAM, which in turn uses DOAJ and platforms like SciELO, Redalyc, Open Edition, African Journals Online as sources. These sources are well maintained by their respective actors and easily downloadable.
  • The DOAJ labels for the journals in the second category are downloaded weekly from DOAJ, a renowned directory of fully OA journals.
  • Some reservations must be made though about the third category, the contracted journals. When contracts are not open, they cannot be incorporated in QOAM. In that case the contracted journals are missing in the blue list (unless, of course, three or more libraries have expressed their trust in a journal). It is foreseen that the pressure on publishers to open up these contracts will grow, as cOAlition S has made openness of new transformative agreements one of their requirements for Plan S compliance from 1 January 2021 onwards. Currently, the Plan S Journal Checker Tool discloses 91 transformative agreements. These are incorporated in BFJ (via QOAM). The same holds for institutional memberships or ‘subscribe-to-open’ deals.
  • The library community has to take care of the fourth category. Take-up by libraries remains to be seen, but a presentation of this initiative at the LIBER 2020 Conference has been promising: 80% of the attendees thought this a useful approach and 60% said they felt inspired to contribute. To make sure that the expressions of trust come from three different libraries, only one such expression may be published per library for a specific journal. Expressions of trust can be removed by the same person who expressed their trust (when logged in).

Community controlled

BFJ is fit to purpose. Predatory (or otherwise dubious) journals will not make it to the blue list, and consequently remain obscure. Indeed, potential frauds would have to take the following hurdles: (1) obtain three email addresses of different academic institutions, (2) tick three times the box “ I am submitting this expression of trust on behalf of my library.”, (3) anticipate that their email name will be visible on the web site, and (4) that other academics may contact them at their registered institutional email address. Ultimately, BFJ’s administrator may be alerted and delete improper expressions of trust. Thus, the list is community controlled.

GDPR compliant

BFJ is an open list of trusted journals, based on public data sources and expressions of trust coming from academic libraries. Such expressions can only be submitted by people with an academic email address. In practice this means that BFJ collects the institutional email addresses of the submitters. Their email names are publicly visible, but not the email adresses, and only registered colleagues will be able to contact them. Underlying this policy is the view that (1) anonymous expressions of trust are prone to misuse and should be avoided, and (2) academic colleagues should be able to contact each other for dialogue. No other uses of these data are foreseen. This code of conduct is in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Finally, BFJ uses the https protocol for secure exchange of data. Its data are stored in the Netherlands and governed by Dutch law.

Minimal viable product

The current version of Bona Fide Journals is the minimal viable product. Feedback is solicited here, and will be used for a community driven development of BFJ