The Norwegian financing system for Higher Education institutions includes a component which is a fixed sum that is allocated to institutions according to their publications in journals (also book series) that have been found to be of the necessary quality – I call this an accreditation system. (The sums allocated aren’t that big, but no matter how big your budget is, most of it is tied down to operating infrastructure and paying salaries. So the minor amounts that you actually can decide about, are important. The system works so that the only way to get more money, is to increase your publication volume more than the average of the rest of the institutions – a zero-sum game.)
An article in an accredited journal on level 1 (more further down) earns the authors a total of 1 publication point, which is divided amongst the authors. 1 point earns the author’s institution about NOK 33,000 today, i.e. a bit more than USD 4,000 – some of which will end up in a budget near the author.
To be accredited, a journal has to have an ISSN number and a system of quality assurance, generally a double peer review system, that is described on the journal website. It also has to have a non-local authorship, i.e. not more than 70 % of authors may come from a single institution. An editory board should also be visible. At the outstart, data were imported from databases like WoS, Scopus or Ulrichs, later additions have come through suggestions from various interested parties – anyone can register at the site, and suggest new additions.
The database is publicly available here at the site Scientific journals, series and publishers administered by the Norwegian Social Science Data Services (NSD) which acts as a secretariat. They vet all journals, deciding the obvious cases. There is also a publication committee of The Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions (UHR) that makes all final and difficult decisions – and there are 53 subject-based advisory boards to that committee, curating about 100 field specific journals lists.
A twist to the system is that journals of high standing, publishing no more than a total of 20 per cent of all publications within their fields, are elevated to a level 2 (level 1 being the standard level), incurring triple publication points to their authors. The infights about which journals to promote to this level occupies much of the time of the subject-based advisory boards, I am told …
Does it work? The level 1 and 2 system has its flaws and problems. For us OA patriots, the fact that only 1 per cent of accredited OA journals are on level 2, while 10 per cent of TA journals are on level 2, makes the system a major obstacle to a speedy transition to OA.
The accreditation – i.e. selecting some journals to be accredited, turning others down because of too low a quality (or on some technicality, soon to be remedied) – seems to work well. Some journals have been let in, that shouldn’t – but some of these have been weeded out, inspired by Beall’s list but not following Beall slavishly. And no such list will be flawless. A listing on level 1 or 2 in the Norwegian system is a clear indication that a journal has been vetted for a minimum level of quality. Some 22,000 journals have been accredited so far, and a large number (unknown) has been turned down for various reasons, not always to do with quality.
We know that the register is used in other countries, and last September I heard a South African speaker saying that they were considering making suggestions to the register in order to have their journals accredited, with a view to use this accreditation in the marketing of their journals towards authors.