Sad Ending? Jeffrey Beall’s Blog was shut down

On 15th of January 2017, it has come to our attention that Jeffrey Beall’s blog ( was shut down for  unknown reasons. It could be due to lawsuit of US government or simply someone might have hacked it. Whatever it is, his attempt and movement, in general, have been questioned by leading scholars around the world (see previous posts on this blog) and his personal views and opinion are not favored anymore. In lieu of this, people, universities and institutes  would prefer to rely on consolidated lists released by organizations such as DOAJ, SCOPUS, Thomson Reuters,PubMed (Medline) and other leading indexing services. A journal/publisher would be a potential venue for publication if their ethical practice has been approved by COPE or any other similar organizations. ( for further info see: Choose the right journal for your research=]

Update 1.

It seems that the shutdown of Beall’s blog has become a hot issue on twittter today (#Jeffrey Beall – Some have expressed their concerns on mysterious disappearance  of the blog and its content, others are worried  and not comfortable about the announcement we made. Nevertheless, it is quite peculiar to see that no one is asking about Jeffrey himself, which is our utmost concern at the present time. We never consider him as a foe, rather someone who has devoted most of his life to disclose the fact behind publishing, be it open access or pay toll journals, though his approach is not professional and have been challenged over the time. Regardless of his strong positions (right/wrong), he is a human being and the academia owes him too much. It is suggested that people should start asking where he is. Is he safe? why does not he respond? What has happened to him? Attempts have to be made to discover the fact very soon, if you claim to be a true follower of him. There are dozens of copies of his blog on the internet and it is unnecessary to dig and republish them. What matters now, we believe, is Jeffrey  himself.

Update 2.

@Lacey E. Earle @CabellsPublish: Jeffrey Beall, whom we all we know very well, is not someone to be afraid of threats. Lots of them have already been around for the past few years. (see legal threats, Everyone must stop speculations and convey the facts, if they can. “Cabell’s is in no way involved”  has already been tweeted. Completely opposing views, however. Interestingly no further insights are given.

Vanishing mysteriously and simply wiping out  the blog, facebook account and the academic profile is not what academicians were expecting to face all of a sudden. So many have trusted him and used his lists, but it sounds all have been in vein. What is the distinction between Beall’s lists and those unethical journals which have gone dark over a night. He is an only individual, perhaps does not believe in teamwork, behind the operation and ostensibly an individual-based work won’t last too long. It was crystal-clear that a single handed  challenging work (partially illegitimate and biased) through sever attacks on individuals, journals and publisher along with unfounded and baseless allegations and harsh tones (regardless of OA/Subscribed) won’t go too far. No guarantee and No warranty!

@A truly wonderful analogy, Disappearance of MH370 vs. Jeffrey Beall

All are impatiently waiting for him to drop a line and respond to clear off the baffling situation.

Update 3.

‘CU Denver spokesperson told ScienceInsider that Beall made a “personal decision” to take down his list’. So if the establishment and managing the the list was for personal reasons, opinions and  views were personal, and finally the shutdown was due to personal decision, why would the public be concerned about the disappearance of his blog? The academia might have been fooled to some extent by trusting him.

Update 4.

While Jeffrey Beall’s Blog is down and there is no reaction from his side (some expected to see his immediate reflection from his Twitter account) , we decided to list out probable  reasons why Beall’s list (questionable journals/publishers) should not have been considered seriously and subsequently it should not be used as a reference point any more in the future.

At this point the cause of shutdown is not clear, but many believe the lawsuits prompted the shutdown and this makes room for alternative organizations like OASAP and DOAJ to lead the mission properly. For now, it is advisable to consult with before submitting a paper for review and publication.

However, his hijacked journal’s list and the list of misleading metrics are still admirable.

Some reasons;

  1. J. Beall has constantly blamed the publishers/journals on his list that there is only one single person behind them and he/she manager everything on the journals. This same claim is true for us to raise at the moment. Jeffrey Beall was an only person behind his blog, acting ac a cop to OA journals/publishers and never considered anyone’s else comments. His appeal page was for a show merely. He had pointed out that content of his blog are personal views. In doing so, do you think personal views should be entertained?
  2. One of the items in his criteria for journal/publisher evaluation was ‘digital archiving policy of journal/publisher’. What about his own blog? He would have a secondary source for a rainy day if he was right. Now, an opportunity has been created for everyone to exploit his list and offer a new list, like this one;
  3. Criticizing OA journals with any model in any filed was out of his capability. He wanted to be Jack of all trade. (Read more
  4. J. Beall never respected the organizations to which their mission was to evaluate and assessed the quality of the journals and their content.

Update 5.”reported that Beall doubles down.. Predatory blog shutdown

Jeffrey Beall will be criminally prosecuted in USA for fraud, extortion, bribery and money laundering shutdown. No information where about predatory Blogger Beall
Predatory Blogger, Beall’s university profile is also gone.
Predatory blogger Beall created own his criterions and directed alot of false claims, causing tremendous injury, personal and professional, to countless numbers of individuals, publishers and organizations. He should be made to release the full content of every blog post he ever published, because that information was in the public domain. So, by suddenly removing all information, he has not only acted cowardly, but irresponsibly.


Our stance

One of the missions of this blog is to share reflections on Beall’s movement and we basically document these reactions and republish them. All published posts are acknowledged by providing the source of information beneath the post. This blog has no intention to project itself as an anti-Beall activist.

Disclaimer and Source:
 We have no connection with the mysterious disappearance of him or his blog and the source of knowing the shutdown of the blog is personal observation of Beall’s Blog and early tweets.



Beall’s List: List of Hijacked Journals & Misleading Metric Companies

Despite the mission an vision of this blog and partial disagreement with  Beall’s views, we decided to maintain a copy of latest updated list. Indeed it was a huge contribution of him to publishing integrity. At times, we will continue and  update the list.

Source:”Beall, J.2016″.

Published under CC-BY.

Misleading Metrics

This is a list of questionable companies that purport to provide valid scholarly metrics at the researcher, article, or journal level.
Last updated: November 3, 2016
Criteria for Determining Misleading Metrics
  1. The website for the metric is nontransparent and provides little information about itself such as location, management team and its experience, other company information, and the like
  2. The company charges journals for inclusion in the list.
  3. The values (scores) for most or all of the journals on the list increase each year.
  4. The company uses Google Scholar as its database for calculating metrics (Google Scholar does not screen for quality and indexes predatory journals)
  5. The metric uses the term “impact factor” in its name.
  6. The methodology for calculating the value is contrived, unscientific, or unoriginal.
  7. The company exists solely for the purpose of earning money from questionable journals that use the gold open-access model. The company charges the journals and assigns them a value, and then the journals use the number to help increase article submissions and therefore revenue. Alternatively, the company exists as a front for an existing publisher and assigns values to that publisher’s journals.

Hijacked Journals

“Sometimes someone will create a counterfeit website that pretends to be the website of a legitimate scholarly journal. The website creators then solicit manuscript submissions for the hijacked version of the journal, pocketing the money. In some cases the legitimate versions of the journals are only published in print form and they may not have websites.
In the table below, the hijacked journal is listed in the left column; the corresponding authentic version of the journal is on the right.  In cases where no website can be found for the original journal, a link is made to a bibliographic record for the journal.”
Hijacked Journal Authentic Journal
ACADEMIE ROYALE DES SCIENCES D OUTRE-MER BULLETIN DES SEANCES Bulletin des séances- Académie royale des sciences d’outre-mer
Acoreana Journal (Journal of Acoreana) Açoreana: revista de estudos açoreanos
Acta Bioethica Acta Bioethica
ACTA CIRURGICA BRASILEIRA Acta cirúrgica Brasileira
Afinidad Afinidad
AIMS Report Journal AIMS report
The Journal of Albertiana Albertiana
Amoeba Journal Amoeba: NJN-mededelingenblad
Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências
Anare Research Notes ANARE Research Notes
Journal Andamios Andamios, Revista de Investigación Social
Archives des Sciences Archives des Sciences
Aula Orientalis Aula Orientalis
Ayer Also here Ayer: Revista de Historia Contemporánea
Baltica Journal Baltica
BEITRAEGE ZUM NATURSCHUTZ IN DER SCHWEIZ(Switzerland Nature) Beiträge zum Naturschutz in der Schweiz
Blue Jay Journal Blue jay
Bothalia Journal Bothalia – African Biodiversity & Conservation
Bradleya Bradleya
Buletin Teknologi Tanaman also here Buletin Teknologi Tanaman
Bulletin of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences Bulletin of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences
Busqueret Es Busqueret
Cahiers des sciences naturelles Les cahiers des sciences naturelles
CAHIERS DE PAIOLIVE Les Cahiers de Païolive
Chemical and Process Engineering Chemical and Process Engineering
Chemical Modelling Journal Chemical Modelling: Applications and Theory
Ciência e técnica Ciência e técnica vitivinícola
Comptes rendus de l’Académie bulgare des Sciences Comptes rendus de l’Académie bulgare des Sciences
Contributions in Science Contributions in Science
Doriana Doriana : supplemento agli Annali del Museo civico di storia naturale “G. Doria.”
DU Journal Published By Verlad Niggli AG (VNA) Du
Education Journal Education
Electronics Information & Planning Electronics information & planning
Emergencias Emergencias
Ephemera Also here. Ephemera: revue d’éphéméroptérologie
Epistemologia Epistemologia
FAUNA ROSSII I SOPREDEL NYKH STRAN Fauna Rossii i sopredelʹnykh stran
GAIA-ATHENS Journal Gaia
GAZI UNIVERTESI GAZI EGITIM FAKULTESI journal Gazi University Journal of Gazi Educational Faculty
GMP Review GMP Review
Hermes Journal France Hermès
Hospital Materials Management Hospital material$ management
HFSP JOURNAL HFSP journal: frontiers of interdisciplinary research in the life sciences
Iheringia Série Botânica Iheringia. Série botânica
Journal of Information System Management Information Systems Management
Interciencia Association Interciencia
International Journal of Academic Research (IJAR) International Journal of Academic Research
International Journal of Game Theory International Journal of Game Theory
International Review of Social Psychology La Revue internationale de psychologie sociale
JNCC REPORT JNCC report series
Journal of Engineering Technology (JoET) Journal of Engineering Technology (JET)
Journal of Information System[s] Management Information Systems Management
Journal of Psychology and Theology Journal of Psychology & Theology
JOURNAL OF RENEWABLE NATURAL RESOURCES BHUTAN Journal of renewable natural resources, Bhutan
Journal of Technology Journal of Technology
Jokull Journal Jökull
JNSS: Journal Namibia Scientific Society Journal / Namibia Scientific Society
Jurnal akademik: Indonesia Academic Journal Jurnal akademik
Kasmera Journal (Revista Kasmera) Kasmera
LUDUS VITALIS Ludus vitalis: revista de filosofía de las ciencias de la vida
MAGNT Research Report MAGNT Research Report
Martinia Martinia: bulletin de liaison des Odonatologues de France
Meanjin Meanjin
Mitteilungen Klosterneuburg Mitteilungen Klosterneuburg
Nationalpark Berchtesgaden Forschungsbericht Nationalpark Berchtesgaden: Forschungsberichte
Nationalpark-Forschung in der Schweiz Nationalpark-Forschung in der Schweiz
The Naturalist Journal The Naturalist
Nautilus Journal The Nautilus
Natura Natura: orgaan der Nederlandsche Natuurhistorische Vereeniging
Odjeljenje prirodnih nauka
Odonatological Abstract Service Odonatological abstract service
OTECHESTVENNAYA ISTORIYA Journal Российская история = Rossiĭskai︠a︡ istorii︠a︡
Pensee La Pensée
PHILIPPINE SCIENTIST Philippine scientist
Ponte: International Scientific Researches Journal Il ponte: rivista mensile
PraeParator Der Präparator
PHYTON Annales Rei Botanicae Phyton: annales rei botanicae
Recht & Psychiatrie Recht & Psychiatrie
Reef Resources Assessment and Management Technical Paper Reef resources assessment and management: technical paper
Research-Technology Management(Res Tech Manag) Research-Technology Management(RTM)
The Revista Brasileira de Medicina do Esporte Revista Brasileira de Medicina do Esporte
SALMAGUNDI Salmagundi: a quarterly of the humanities & social sciences
Revista Técnica de la Facultad de Ingeniería Universidad del Zulia Revista Técnica de la Facultad de Ingeniería. Universidad del Zulia
Saussurea Saussurea, journal de la Société botanique de Genève
SCANDIA Scandia: Tidskrift för historisk forskning
Scientia Guaianae Scientia Guaianae : a series on natural sciences of the Guayana region
Scientific Khyber Scientific khyber
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal
South African Journal of Business Management also here South African Journal of Business Management
Survey Methodology Survey Methodology
Sylwan (English ed.) Sylwan
Systems science journal Systems science
TECH REV: Technology Review journal MIT Technology Review
TERAPEVTICHESKII ARKHIV Terapevticheskiĭ arkhiv
Transactions of the Natural History Society of Northumbria Transactions of the Natural History Society of Northumbria
Transylvanian Review Transylvanian Review
Veliger The Veliger
VERIFICHE Verifiche: Rivista di scienze umane
VITAE-REVISTA DE LA FACULTAD DE QUIMICA FARMACEUTICA Vitae, la revista de la Facultad de Química Farmacéutica
Walia Journal Walia, journal of the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society
WIWO Report WIWO report
Wulfenia, Wulfenia Wulfenia




Jeffrey Beall’s Unprofessional Attack on PLOS ONE!& Reasons why Beall’s list should not have been taken serious

Not only does Jeffery Beall diminish Chinese, Indian,  Middle Easterns Academicians of south east Aisa,  and  and Muslims but also now he attacks on PLOS ONE and his short sighted and narrow minded followers consider PLOS ONE as a potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly journal. We do hope that Jeffery does not remove the post one day. The reason why we release his post is that he has been an unethical blogger (known as Predatory Blogger) and whenever he is under pressure he changes the posts, removes, or changes the tone a of it. Due to the mistrust that academicians have toward Jeffery Beall, we copied his post verbatim from his blog so that any possible alter in his post can be evident.…/ongoing-questions-about-plos-one…/

Ongoing Questions about PLOS ONE’s Peer Review
Good, cheap, fast: choose one.
Scientific spammer PLOS ONE is an ongoing source of amusement. Its peer review is regularly called into question, with the journal accepting unscientific papers. PLOS ONE increasingly resembles a lonely and un-selective digital repository more than a scholarly publication. Here’s a report of another PLOS ONE blooper.

Dr. Norman Sleep is a geophysicist at Stanford University. Recently, he received a spam email from PLOS ONE inviting him to conduct an ad hoc peer review of an article submitted to the journal (apparently PLOS ONE’s 5,000-member editorial board is only for show).

Here’s part of the spam email Dr. Sleep received from PLOS ONE:

From: PLOS ONE <>
Reply-To: PLOS ONE <> Date: Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 9:03 PM
To: Norman Sleep <>
Subject: Reminder: Pending invitation to review PLOS ONE manuscript about to expire – PONE-D-16-24600 – [EMID:960690e1f258b755]

*Do not reply directly to this email. Please use the links below to accept or decline this assignment to avoid receiving automated reminders.


Dear Dr Sleep,

We are writing to follow up on your invitation from Dr. Harry Zhang to review the below manuscript, which has been submitted for publication in PLOS ONE. The Academic Editor values your expertise and would greatly appreciate your time in reviewing the submission. This invitation will time out in 24 hours, at which point you will be unable to accept the invitation and review the manuscript. Please click the “accept” link below if you would like to evaluate this submission.

Physical activity, energy expenditure, nutritional habits, quality of sleep and stress levels in shift-working health care personnel

The author list and abstract are appended below in addition to more detailed information about PLOS ONE and its editorial criteria. If you accept this assignment, you are confirming that you have no competing interests that may affect your ability to provide an objective evaluation. Our Competing Interests policy can be found at If you have any potential competing interests, you should decline this assignment.


So, as you see, the journal solicited Dr. Sleep — a geophysicist — to peer review a manuscript about sleep, which is far outside his area of expertise but matches his surname.

This is evidence that PLOS ONE is using a flawed, automated system for selecting peer reviewers.

Publishing in PLOS ONE is easy; the journal is not very selective. Its editorial board of over five thousand members apparently doesn’t perform too many peer reviews, and the journal mainly exists to generate income to subsidize the publishing of PLOS’s specialized journals.

Appendix: A spam email from PLOS ONE I received recently.

How invalid is the list of Fake Research Journal Publishers?

It has come to our attention that a blog has recently emerged and share the list of Fake journal publishers. (

It seems that the list is biased, developed individually without considering any standard criteria. This is an evidence to show that how Beall’s followers exploit the list in favor of themselves.

Not only have been entire open access journals labelled as Fake and Predatory, but also almost all publishers of the subscribed journals are blacklisted and considered fake. It has been suggested that authors should “avoid submitting manuscript to these publishers. I am keeping list of Open Access as well as Subscription based Journal”.

On the basis of Jeffery Beall movement, we conclude that whatever Jeffery Beall is doing is truly harmful and it brings confusion and distress to the researchers. Hence we do suggest everyone  to simply ignore the list released by Jeffery Beall and the list of fake journals on this blog

How would Jeffery Beall (Predatory Blogger) reflect on rapidly increasing amount of fraud and plagiarism in subscribed journals?

We imagine that every academician is now aware of platform that reports frauds and plagiarism taking place in prestigious and subscribed journals. It has come to our attention that three to five retraction are detected and reported by the that are mainly happening in the subscribed journals published by reputable publishers.

At the point we would be very eager to see how Beall would reflect on this growing issue and if you wish to know more about the different types of frauds in these journals please subscribe by email on

Reputation is money in academic publishing or why Jeffrey Beall is wrong

Jeffrey Beall, the librarian at the University of Colorado Denver who maintains the list of “predatory” open access publishers and journals, recently wrote his second (as far as I know) overt attack on the open access movement. Previously, Beall accused the movement of being anti-corporatist (which is obviously partially true, but also false, since the open access movement comprises of people from different backgrounds and of different political beliefs). Now he has changed his reasoning, but what has not changed is his negative attitude towards open access, which has lead him to present a selective and biased argument.

To understand all the problems raised by Beall, first, we have to examine the role of contemporary academic publishing. It serves mostly as a selection mechanism in a crowded field of research. Researchers need publishing output to get funding, promotions, jobs, and to get tenured. This triggers a lot of pathologies, but above all it makes the system incredibly competitive and fragmented.

Every researcher wants to publish in the best available journal, especially favouring the ones that can boost career options and further reputation. Almost every university, funding committee or ministry of science, has some rules in place to make publishing in some journals a better investment than publishing in others. It must be stressed that these rules have been created and are controlled by universities and funding bodies – and not by publishers. These rules are based on journal reputation, which is usually represented by some quantitative measures, with Impact Factor by Thomson Reuters being the most important, but not the only one.

The elite club

These rules make us all play the very same old game, meaning that for a journal editor or a publisher it pays off to publish top authors, to gain or maintain a good reputation, and at the same time, for an author, it pays off to publish in good journals. The main problem with this system are the ultra-selective, astronomically expensive journals, which are considered an ultimate authority, and which keep selectivity on artificially high level, so as not to lose the discrete charm of elitism (have a look here for further reading). And, as in the case of every quasi-monopolist, the biggest problem is that they are not infallible, and as evidence suggests they publish pseudo-science and bogus articles from time to time, which does not change the fact, that people (funders, tenure committees and media) trust them. Every serious journal publisher is trying to get to this elite club, arduously collecting different points in reputation rankings, as authors are obviously less eager to publish elsewhere.

Academia has strong regulatory mechanisms to fall back on. A publication in a “predatory” journal won’t pay off for an author, as the title of the publishing venue is the be-all and end-all for the majority of academic committees and competition among researchers is growing.

Let’s start 100 bogus journals today. What will it change?

Let’s get back to Beall’s article, which starts by describing the different types of open access. The gold path, which Bealls equates with the model based on Article Processing Charges is the main problem for him. However, as far as I am concerned, gold open access means simply that an article is openly available in a journal, on the publisher’s website, as opposed to a repository. This model can be based on different sources of funding, it may require authors to pay for being published or not. You can have a look at the DOAJ database to quickly see how many open access, peer-reviewed journals indexed there charge APCs.

Beall’s argument based on the premise that many bogus journals funded by APCs will publish just about anything, irrespective of its scientific value is true. However, there are also plenty of reputable, high-profile, open access journals that also charge APCs. And despite the fact, that there is probably fewer of these than those of extremely poor quality, they are much more important for the academic community.

According to Bo-Christer Björk, one of most prominent open access researchers, there are more than 10 000 very low quality, open access journals, which publish everything or almost everything they receive in submissions. Jeffrey Beall has specialised in flagging these journals, but it appears he missed the fact that many of them publish almost no content. And probably some of the existing content is as fake as the journals themselves, and generated by their “publishers” to make them appear more serious. Authors do not want to publish there and this is the reason why these journals are not a real problem.

Why are there so many journals of this kind? Because you do not need many financial resources to start a bogus academic journal nowadays. It is easy to create an amateurish website, to choose a random title, and generate some editorial text with several misspelled words, etc. I think I could on my own, without any help, start 100 new journals this week which Beall would have to add to his list. But will it be a threat to the academic world? I do not think so. I think that the Integrated Journal of British was made by desperados and for desperados. Since the investment was very low and in fact hosting is the only cost of this “journal”, alongside some extremely unqualified work. If 2 or 3 desperate authors from nowhere will pay several hundred dollars for APCs, the profit margin would be fair and the risk low. But I do not expect that the owners of such journals will become millionaires. Life is not that easy. And it is not a coincidence that almost all journals on Beall’s list are based in low-income countries.

APC is not corruption

Some of my colleagues at De Gruyter Open are editors of relatively new or very new open access journals and they know that getting the first submissions requires a lot of promotional work and renown names in the editorial teams. And if the first articles are not of the highest quality (preferably authored by known authors) the journals will not be able to survive the competitive market.

Running a profitable journal requires getting an Impact Factor or at least getting indexed by distinctive abstracting and indexing services. It is not an easy task and can only be achieved by publishing more and more articles that will consequently get cited in already established venues. Publishing pseudo-science will drive any unexperienced publisher out of business (established, reputable journals can publish bogus papers from time to time). The only feasible way of acquiring submissions from acknowledged researchers is through paying attention to quality control and stringent peer review of each published article. It is also worth mentioning that serious publishers introduce APCs to new journals only after they gain some recognizability, because it is hard to find real researchers who want to pay for publishing in unknown venues.

In the long term, it is also not worth publishing bad papers just to get APCs. It just doesn’t pay off, since reputation is money in this business. And even if we were to consider that APCs corrupt peer review, the traditional venues are not free from corruption either. Peter Suber pointed out some time ago that a lot of prestigious journals charge page fee, colour fee, etc., which all together very often amounts to a low APC in open access serials.

Is green open access about to blow up the system?

About green open access Beall writes:

A third variety of open-access publishing, often labeled as green open access, is based in academic libraries and is built on an oversimplification of scholarly publishing. In the green open-access model, authors upload postprints (the author’s last version of a paper that is submitted to a subscription publisher after peer review) to digital repositories, which make the content freely available. Many academic libraries now have such repositories for their faculty members and students; the green open-access movement is seeking to convert these repositories into scholarly publishing operations. The long-term goal of green open access is to accustom authors to uploading postprints to repositories in the hope that one day authors will skip scholarly publishers altogether. Despite sometimes onerous mandates, however, many authors are reluctant to submit their postprints to repositories. Moreover, the green open-access model mostly eliminates all the value added that scholarly publishers provide, such as copyediting and long-term digital preservation.

The low quality of the work often published under the gold and green open-access models provides startling evidence of the value of high-quality scholarly publishing.

The role of green open access is in fact totally different. Authors who use this means of research communication usually do not want to abolish journal publishing. Their actions are very much a result of the current publishing landscape, since this route is usually chosen by authors who want to publish in well-established journals, which do not offer the gold open access option. Virtually all journals allow authors to submit their works to repositories (usually after an embargo period). This gives an author an additional visibility and is generally accepted by publishers, because they still have the monopoly to sell an article to readers in the first months, when it is the most valuable and most in demand. Thus, a substantial part of green open access articles comes from from good quality, conventional journals, that are peer-reviewed. Repositories do not produce low quality science. They include pre-prints (article version before peer-review), but one can easily distinguish them.

Green open access has been here for a while and it does not seem to harm publishers, nor does it eliminate any services provided by them. It just creates an alternative (and usually delayed) circulation of papers. The main limitation of green open access is that publishers will not accept self-archiving of post-print without an embargo period, because it would make their business unprofitable. And authors who want to fully enjoy the benefits of open access usually do not like embargoes so much. So the main drawback of green open access is that it is not the best solution for any party.

That’s true, there is a “revolutionary” fraction of the open access movement, in favour of totally abolishing conventional publishing using green open access policies that eliminate embargo periods. This would probably make the conventional publishing model unprofitable and would make all publishers to shift toward the alternative options within gold open access publishing. But presently it seems that all open access policies respect the interests of publishers and do not cause any important changes in academic journals’ environment.

And what about the facts?

What is worrying, is that Beall disfigures facts. And I am wondering what the reason is behind his negligent attitude toward open access at large. He goes on to say: “The open-access movement is a coalition that aims to bring down the traditional scholarly publishing industry and replace it with voluntarism and server space subsidized by academic libraries and other nonprofits.” I think that academic publishing at the moment is paid by academic libraries and it is not going to change. The model based on Article Processing Charges (if it succeeds) will not change anything except from the fact that it will revert the current model. And that’s it. In both open access and the traditional model money goes from the university to the publisher, the publisher pays for all services including work that is necessary to make the paper accessible and discoverable.

When Beall writes that “Open access actually silences researchers in developing and middle-income countries, who often cannot afford the author fees required to publish in gold open-access journals.”, it seems like an another example of his bad will. Virtually every credible open access publisher has a fee waiving policy, which (very often) automatically abolishes author fees for researchers based in low-income countries. And this is aside from the fact that these authors may also choose open access journals that do not charge authors for publications, or still, use green option. There is nothing in the idea of open access that silences anybody.

The part about Creative Commons licenses might be also misleading. According to Beall:

Most open-access journals compel authors to sign away intellectual property rights upon publication, requiring that their content be released under the terms of a very loose Creative Commons license. Under this license, others can republish your work—even for profit—without asking for permission. They can create translations and adaptations, and they can reprint your work wherever they want, including in places that might offend you.

Well, indeed most journals indexed in DOAJ employ Creative Commons Attribution license which allows others to republish or translate their work. But it still requires attribution of the original author and offers protection against plagiarism, etc. There are also several other Creative Commons types of licenses, which are more restrictive. De Gruyter Open uses Creative Commons Non Commercial, Non Derivatives license, which allows readers to republish work only for non-commercial purposes and does not allow translations or adoptions.

Finally, when Beall suggests that open access publishers may be the main force behind the current debate about the limitations of peer review it sounds to me like a conspiracy theory. Those who complain most about peer review are authors, because they are very often losing time that is important for their careers as a result of rejections they consider unfair. This in turn ties in with the fact, I mentioned above, that a lot of journals are over-selective to maintain their prestige. And authors want to be published quickly, but in a famous journal. This is the main cause of tension around peer review. On the other hand, managing peer review is one of the key services that open access publishers offer to authors, so publishers would be reluctant to do away with it.

Do we need more education?

The only important point made by Beall in his text is about political activists trying to make use of the bogus journals.

Antinuclear activists, for example, are using predatory publishers to spread half-truths and false information about the effects of nuclear radiation. The pseudo-science gets published in journals that, to the general public, appear authentic, and the research is branded as science. Moreover, once political activists publish articles in open-access journals, they often seek coverage in the media, which sometimes publishes or broadcasts stories that promote the pseudo-scientific ideas of the political activists.

It is by the way interesting that Jeffrey Beall can judge what is a half-truth in the effects of nuclear radiation. I cannot, since I do not have degree in neither physics nor medicine and I will not try to write about things I know nothing or little about. Back to the point, this might be a problem, and I am curious how often popular media has repeated false information after a publication in very low quality journal, which has probably not been reviewed. If it occurs frequently, it is is a real challenge to the academic community to educate journalists to be more critical about science and pseudo-science.

Is open access a threat to us?

At the very end I would like to add one more thing about myself. I hold a PhD in sociology, which as I believe, allows me to understand a fair majority of academic papers in this subject area, and some from the general field of humanities and social sciences. It also gives me an understanding of the nuances of statistical analysis. I use these skills daily to read academic papers, both as part of my work at De Gruyter Open and beyond. Despite the fact that I do not live in the so-called Third World, I do not have regular access to subscription journals. I think that about 95% papers I read are open access. When I find an interesting paper on a publisher’s website, it is seldom published in gold open access. Usually it is paywalled, but I can find it’s free version anyway with Google Scholar. I also use and to search for papers (on there are plenty of quantitative studies on open access and academic publishing), and I have to say that some of non peer reviewed articles I find there are of poor quality, but they are just small percent. Generally, my work is much easier and I think also more effective, courtesy of open access. So, it is hard for me to understand why someone is paying so much attention to gibberish papers that probably nobody reads, instead of writing about all the important open access articles available on-line.

Image credit: Dick Daniels licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0

This entry was posted on May 21, 2015 by Witold Kieńć and tagged , , , .

Beyond Beall’s List: We need a better understanding of predatory publishing without overstating its size and danger.

Although predatory publishers predate open access, their recent explosion was expedited by the emergence of fee-charging OA journals. Monica Berger and Jill Cirasella argue that librarians can play an important role in helping researchers to avoid becoming prey. But there remains ambiguity over what makes a publisher predatory. Librarians can help to counteract the misconceptions and alarmism that stymie the acceptance of OA.

If you have even a fleeting interest in the evolving landscape of scholarly communication, you’ve probably heard of predatory open access (OA) journals. These are OA journals that exist for the sole purpose of profit, not the dissemination of high-quality research findings and furtherance of knowledge. These predators generate profits by charging author fees, also known as article processing charges (APCs), that far exceed the cost of running their low-quality, fly-by-night operations.

Charging a fee is not itself a marker of a predatory publisher: many reputable OA journals use APCs to cover costs, especially in fields where research is often funded by grants. (Many subscription-based journals also charge authors fees, sometimes per page or illustration.) However, predatory journals are primarily fee-collecting operations—they exist for that purpose and only incidentally publish articles, generally without rigorous peer review, despite claims to the contrary.

Of course, low-quality publishing is not new. There have long been opportunistic publishers (e.g., vanity presses and sellers of public domain content) and deceptive publishing practices (e.g., yellow journalism and advertisements formatted to look like articles). It is also not unique to OA journals. There are many mediocre subscription-based journals, and even respected subscription-based journals have accepted deeply problematic submissions (e.g., Andrew Wakefield et al.’s article linking autism to vaccines in The Lancet and Alan Sokal’s nonsense article in Social Text).

Although predatory publishers predate OA, their recent explosion was expedited by the emergence and success of fee-charging OA journals. No matter how strong our urge to support and defend OA, librarians cannot deny the profusion of predators in the OA arena; John Bohannon’s recent “sting” made abundantly clear (despite methodological flaws) that there are many bad actors. Rather, we should seek to understand their methods, track their evolution, and communicate their characteristics to our patrons.

Blacklists, whitelists, and other defenses against predatory publishers

The highest-profile watchdog of predatory publishers is Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado-Denver, who curates a blacklist of “potential, possible, or probable” predatory OA publishersand journals. Beall’s list has become a go-to tool and has even been featured in The New York Timesbut it is not the final word on predatory publishing, partially because Beall himself has a complicated, and not entirely supportive, attitude toward OA in general.

Without a doubt, Beall has amassed considerable knowledge and greatly increased awareness of predatory publishing. He is recognized as a leading expert and has gone largely unchallenged, probably both because nonexperts are eager for blacklists that seemingly obviate the need for individual analysis of publishers and journals, and because little empirical research has been done on the phenomenon of predatory publishing. However, in 2014, Walt Crawford took Beall to task in an article called “Ethics and Access 1: The Sad Case of Jeffrey Beall.

Crawford criticizes Beall for not contextualizing predatory or low-quality publishing as a phenomenon that predates OA and is not exclusive to OA journals. He also points out that Beall favors toll-access publishers, specifically Elsevier, praising its “consistent high quality.” However, a simple Google search for “fake Elsevier journals” reveals Beall’s position as tenuous. Furthermore, Beall conflates OA journals with “author pays” journals, and reveals his skepticism, if not hostility, about OA. Politics aside, Beall’s laser-like focus on predatory publishers may prevent him from having a broader perspective on scholarly communication. Case in point: Beall has blithely declared the “serials crisis” to be over, but those of us who manage resources beg to differ.

Another concerning aspect of Beall’s work is his evaluation of OA publishers from less economically developed countries. Crawford, Karen Coyle, and Jill Emery have all noted Beall’s bias against these publishers. Imperfect English or a predominantly non-Western editorial board does not make a journal predatory. An interesting example is Hindawi, an Egyptian publisher once considered predatory that improved its practices and standards over time. If we accept that there is a continuum from devious and duplicitous to simply low-quality and amateurish, then it is likely, as Crawford believes, that some of the publishers on Beall’s list are not actually predatory. Although Beall’s contributions are arguably compromised by his attitudes about OA, the criteria he uses for his list are an excellent starting point for thinking about the hallmarks of predatory publishers and journals. He encourages thorough analysis, including scrutiny of editorial boards and business practices. Some of his red flags provide a lot of “bang for your buck” in that they are both easy to spot and likely to indicate a predatory operation. These include editors or editorial board members with no or fake academic affiliations, lack of clarity about fees, publisher names and journal titles with geographic terms that have no connection to the publisher’s physical location or journal’s geographic scope, bogus impact factor claims and invented metrics, and false claims about where the journal is indexed.

Beall also lists common practices indicative of low-quality but not necessarily predatory journals. He is rightfully wary of journals that solicit manuscripts by spamming researchers, as established publishers generally do not approach scholars, as well as publishers or editors with email addresses from Gmail, Yahoo, etc. Also, he wisely warns researchers away from journals with bizarrely broad or disjointed scopes and journals that boast extremely rapid publication, which usually suggests no or only cursory peer review.

Given the fuzziness between low-quality and predatory publishers, whitelisting, or listing publishers and journals that have been vetted and verified as satisfying certain standards, may be a better solution than blacklisting. The central player in the whitelisting movement is the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). In response to the Bohannon sting, DOAJ removed 114 journals and revamped its criteria for inclusion. Journals accepted into DOAJ after March 2014 under the stricter rules are marked with a green tick symbol, and DOAJ has announced that it will require the remaining 99% of its listed journals to reapply for acceptance.

At the basic level, a journal must be chiefly scholarly; make the content immediately available (i.e., no embargoes); provide quality control through an editor, editorial board, and peer review; have a registered International Standard Serial Number (ISSN); and exercise transparency about APCs. Journals that meet additional requirements, such as providing external archiving and creating persistent links, are recognized with the DOAJ Seal. DOAJ receives an assist from the ISSN Centre, which in 2014 added language reserving the right to deny ISSNs to publishers that provide misleading information.

An organization that whitelists publishers by accepting them as members is the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA). Members must apply and pledge to adhere to a code of conduct that disallows any form of predatory be-havior. OASPA has made errors in vetting applicants, though: it admitted some publishers that it later had to reject (e.g., Dove Medical Press).

Of course, no blacklist or whitelist can substitute for head-on investigation of a journal. Open Access Journal Quality Indicators, a rubric by Sarah Beaubien and Max Eckard featuring both positive and negative journal characteristics, can help researchers perform such evaluation. Furthermore, any tool or practice that gives researchers more information is a boon. For example, altmetrics provide a broad picture of an article’s impact (not necessarily correlated to its quality), and open peer review—i.e., any form of peer review where the reviewer’s identity is not hidden—increases transparency and allows journals to demonstrate their standards.

The role of librarians

As librarians, we need to understand the hallmarks and methods of predatory publishers for several reasons. Most obviously, we must help researchers avoid becoming prey and help readers recognize low-quality journals. In addition, we need to counteract the misconceptions and alarmism that stymie the acceptance of OA.

For example, many researchers conflate journal quality with publication model or business model, and librarians can help untangle those concepts. To do so, we must arm ourselves with clear, convincing explanations that quality and reputation are independent of openness, that OA journals do not necessarily charge fees, and that fees do not necessarily imply predatoriness. We should be ready with examples of high-quality and well-respected OA journals, as well as reassuring facts about fees (e.g., as of January 2015, 63% of journals listed in DOAJ have no fees) and efforts to marginalize predatory publishers.

Furthermore, we need to make sure that researchers understand that OA can be achieved not only through OA journals but also through self-archiving in repositories. Confusion on this point is still rampant, and too many researchers write off OA entirely because they’ve encountered suspect OA journals.

Clarifying the two approaches can reengage these researchers with the prospect of opening scholarly literature. Of course, it is always strategic to explain the benefits of OA in general, including increased readership and citations. In other words, we need to be able to describe the beast, its implications, and its limitations—neither understating nor overstating its size and danger. By informing ourselves and our patrons, we not only counter confusion about OA journal publishing but also help starve predators and therefore contribute to the future of scholarly communication.

More broadly, librarians play an important role as participants in blacklisting, whitelisting, and other projects endeavoring to deter predatory publishers and promote best practices. We are key stakeholders in scholarly and professional conversations reimagining various aspects of scholarly communication.

This originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of College and Research Libraries NewsBerger, Monica, and Jill Cirasella. “Beyond Beall’s List: Better Understanding Predatory Publishers.” College & Research Libraries News 76.3 (2015): 132-5. This article is reprinted with the authors’ permission.

Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of the Impact of Social Science blog, nor of the London School of Economics. Please review our Comments Policy if you have any concerns on posting a comment below.

About the Authors

Monica Berger is Associate Professor and Electronic Resources and Technical Services Librarian at New York City College of Technology, CUNY. Her academic interests include scholarly communications as well as popular music.

Jill Cirasella is the Associate Librarian for Public Services and Scholarly Communication at the Graduate Center CUNY, where she leads numerous scholarly communications initiatives, including the GC’s new institutional repository, Academic Works. Jill is a vocal advocate of open access and seeks to promote understanding and adoption of open access at CUNY and beyond.

Finding Reputable Open Access Journals

You have three options when choosing to make your work open:

  • Publish in an explicitly open access journal, which might involve paying article processing charges (APC)—a fee that is commonly used to offset the lack of a paid subscription to support the journal.
  • Publish in a hybrid journal that uses both open access and subscription models for making its content available to readers. APCs for these journals can be just as high (if not higher) than OA-only journals. High-profile journals and publishers in a number of disciplines are developing hybrid options for authors who either choose (or are required to because of funding mandates) to make their work open.
  • Publish in a traditional subscription journal, and either negotiate to retain some rights to your work, or self-archive a pre-print of your article in your institutional or disciplinary repository.

All three options will allow you to share some version of your work with the wider world. However, your decision will likely depend on two key factors:

  • Amount you are willing or able to pay (either out of pocket or via research funds) to publish your article.
  • Importance of publishing in particular kinds of publication venues for the purposes of securing tenure or promotion.

This combination of factors can produce many different results. For example, early-career scholars often have access to fewer research funds or grants to cover publication charges, and often feel pressure to publish in particular journals in order to satisfy tenure requirements. These individuals might choose to publish in a subscription journal and make use of other means to provide access to their work. Scholars who work with translational research and who want to ensure their materials will be available to communities beyond the academy might choose an open access journal to ensure the broadest possible access to their work, regardless of fees. Some researchers might have publication requirements imposed upon them by funding agencies, mandating that they share their work openly in accordance with the funder’s rules. It’s even possible that a top journal in your field might have very author-friendly agreements, allowing you to publish your work in accordance with open access principles without having to compromise on your need (or desire) to have it appear in a particular journal.

The most important thing to remember is that there are many ways to make your work open. Choose the method that works for you and your co-authors.

In order to make an informed decision, educate yourself about the default copyright policies of any journals you are considering as publication venues. It’s possible they have author-friendly policies already. If you have received funds to support your research, educate yourself about any mandates or conditions upon receipt of those funds. It’s possible your funding agency has requirements for publishing that you weren’t aware of previously. If you need help finding an appropriate publication venue, consult a librarian in your field.


The OA Interviews: Ashry Aly of Ashdin Publishing

When in 2008 Jeffrey Beall — a metadata librarian at the University of Colorado Denver — began to receive spam email solicitations from unknown Open Access (OA) publishers he became concerned.

Issues of spam aside, Beall suspected that some of the companies that were bombarding him with invitations to pay them to publish a scholarly paper were little more than vanity publishers, intent not on publishing high-quality peer-reviewed journals, but on ensnaring unwary researchers into paying for a shoddy service.

The suspicion was that in some cases these publishers were effectively doing little more than dumping papers on the web with little or no peer review. Yet they were charging authors hundreds of dollars to do this. (And in some cases $1,000+).

Conscious that the number of these publishers was growing, and convinced that researchers needed some guidance to help them distinguish between good and bad OA journals, Beall began to compile a list of what he termed “predatory publishers”.

“Predatory publishers,” he explained to me last year, “are those that unprofessionally exploit the gold open-access model for their own profit.”

Beall’s list was controversial from the start, not least because it was often not clear on what basis he had concluded that a publisher was predatory. Moreover, when last year he finally published the selection criteria he uses to make his decisions he met with some angry criticism, with researchers questioning both their validity and usefulness.

It also became apparent that Beall’s list included publishers who appeared to be entirely ethical, and to all intents and purposes keen to publish high-quality OA journals. To add to critics’ distrust, publishers’ names would sometimes disappear from Beall’s list without explanation.

Nevertheless, as it became increasingly evident that researchers were indeed being targeted by unscrupulous OA publishers, Beall and his list began to attract the attention of the scholarly press.

Last year, for instance, his activities were featured twice in The Chronicle of Higher Education (here and here), as well as in The Times Higher, The Scientist, and most recently in Nature.


This publicity clearly annoyed the publishers on Beall’s list, not least those who believe that they have been unfairly characterised as predatory.

At the same time, however, the publicity has confirmed Beall’s claim that there are some extremely doubtful OA publishers operating. The Nature article, for instance, sparked a campaign of disinformation against Beall. The first signs of this became evident in November, when comments were posted at the bottom of the Naturearticle that were falsely attributed to two of the OA movement’s most prominent advocates — Stevan Harnad and Peter Suber.

The comments alleged that Beall was withholding or removing the names of publishers from his list when paid to do so.

Responding to the false attribution on December 4th, Harnad posted a comment on the Nature site. “If the inarticulate English didn’t give it away, then the incoherent content falsely attributed to me (and to Peter Suber) should be apparent to everyone with any familiarity with open access and with our views,” he wrote. “But the Fool’s-Gold scam journals are going beyond just spamming to solicit authors, editors and referees: They are now doing fraudulent postings to counter criticism. This is the dark side of openness and begins to sound like the Nigerian fee scams.”

Suber likewise confirmed that the comments posted under his name had not been written by him. In an entry on Google+ he said, “On November 28 someone posted a comment on the [Nature] article, allegedly from me, accusing Beall of blackmailing publishers by charging a fee to keep them off his list of predatory publishers.”

He added, “The comment was a fraud. I didn’t write it, and I don’t buy its accusation for a second. On the contrary, I deplore it.”

As a result, the falsely attributed comments were taken down from the Nature site. Explaining the reason, Nature’s Richard Van Noorden posted the following note: “Nature has closed this World View to further comments. Some comments were being posted under false names, violating our Community Guidelines by impersonating others. We removed comments that we could verify as impersonations.”

Did not end there

But the campaign of disinformation did not end there. A few weeks later, messages began to circulate on the Web alleging that Beall was emailing publishers on his list and offering to reassess them for a fee. As “proof” of this claim an email said to have been written by Beall was attached to the messages. “I can consider re-evaluating your journals for 2013 edition of my list,” the email read. “It takes a lot my time and resources. The fee for re-evaluation of your publisher is USD 5000.”

Evidently the email was intended to suggest that Beall was trying to extort money from publishers on his list.

I became aware of this campaign on 17th December, when a number of attempts were made to post the allegation as a comment on the interview I had conducted last year with OMICS’ Srinubabu Gedela. A copy was also posted under Beall’sNature article (oddly, given that the comment feature had been closed on 4thDecember), as well as on other blogs, mailing lists, and the sites of OA publishers (here is an example).

Many of these messages were subsequently taken down by site owners. Even so, the accusation against Beall continues to circulate widely on the web. At the time of writing this, a search for “Jeffery Beall is blackmailing small Open Access publishers” produced nearly 4,000 hits.

Responding to the new campaign of disinformation, Suber posted a further note on Google+. “Jeffrey Beall is the target of a dishonest smear campaign,” he wrote. “This is his reward for investigating scam OA journals that give OA a bad name.”

Added Suber, “His work has generated some good-faith disagreement about which journals deserve his criticism. Fair enough. But his work has also triggered some nasty guerrilla counter-attacks. For example, some of his enemies have forged emails in his name pretending to demand money in order to remove publishers from his list of predatory publishers.”

Suber concluded, “These attacks are contemptible. We should identify scam OA journals, shame them, and advise authors and readers against them. Beall is one of the leaders doing this work and I applaud him for it.”

Ashry Aly

On reviewing the messages that were circulating I noted that many were prefaced with a note from one of the publishers on Beall’s list — the founder and owner ofAshdin Publishing, Ashry Aly.

Aly’s preface read, “Now a days anyone can open a blog and start doing things like Jeffrey Beall which is harmful for science and open access journals. Nature should also be very alert from Jeffrey Beall who is now using Nature’s reputation to broadcast his bribery and unethical business model.”

On the 18th December Beall responded to the allegations against him, posting a denial to a number of mailing lists (e.g. here) “I’m writing to let people [know] that I’ve been the victim of an ongoing, organized attempt to discredit me and my blog,” he wrote. “Specifically, I’ve been a victim of email spoofing, in which someone is sending emails that appear to be from me but really are not.”

That same day I received a personal email from Aly, again alleging that Beall was trying to blackmail small OA publishers. Below his message Aly had cut and pasted the email alleged to have been sent by Beall asking for $5,000 for a reassessment.

Curious as to the origins of this email, I asked Aly to forward the original to me. On receiving it I looked at the header, where I noted that all the identifying references bar one cited the address, Only the “FROM” line included Beall’s real University of Colorado Denver address.

I emailed the header to Beall and asked him if he thought it constituted proof that someone had spoofed his email address. He replied, “I lack the credentials to perform a forensic analysis of email messages involving spoofing. However, I do not need to do any analysis, for I know that I never sent the email in question to Aly or to anyone. I would never send such an email. I cannot prove a negative, so all I can do is to state to you that I never sent those messages.”


When I did a search on the name JangoMail I discovered that it was a companythat advertises itself as a “web-based email broadcast and email marketing system” designed to allow companies to “create, send, and track email campaigns.”

I contacted the company and asked if it could confirm that the message alleged to have been sent by Beall had been distributed by one of its customers. If it had, I added, could JangoMail share with me details of the message’s origins.

I received the reply: “It appears that these messages were sent via a free trial account that has already been terminated for spamming based on our internal controls. For privacy reasons, we cannot disclose any additional information without a formal subpoena.”

I asked JangoMail if it could at least tell me in which country the account had been registered, when it was opened and closed, and whether it was possible to confirm or deny that the account had been operated by Beall. Again I was told that for privacy reasons, “We cannot disclose any additional information without a formal subpoena.”

I persisted, asking if JangoMail could answer a question that (so far as I could see) raised no issues of privacy. That is, is it possible to use JangoMail to spoof an email address? More specifically, is it technically possible to send an email via JangoMail but make it appear to have come from a completely different email address?

I received no reply to this question, and so can only report that JangoMail declined to confirm or deny that its service can be used to spoof email addresses.

Where does this leave us? It appears that we simply do not know who sent the controversial email, and presumably we never will unless someone goes to the expensive of obtaining a subpoena in order to extract the information from JangoMail. It has to be asked however: Why would Beall go the effort of opening a JangoMail account in order to send an email demanding money from publishers if he planned to identify himself in the process?

So I suggested to Aly that someone had tried to confuse him by posing as Beall. Aly, however, continues to insist that the message came from Beall — for reasons he outlines in the Q&A interview below.

Who is Ashry Aly? He is, he told me, a former employee of Hindawi Publishing, having left the company to found Ashdin Publishing in 2007. This was confirmed byAhmed Hindawi, who emailed me that Ashry had worked for him from January 2000 until he resigned on August 2007. “The last two jobs he had with us were titled PreTeX team leader — between sometime in 2003 or so until 2006 — and then Journal Coordinator for a year or so before his resignation.”

Hindawi added, “I don’t remember much about Ashry personally other than he was a hard working individual.”

Significant challenge

Perhaps we should not end the discussion here. After all, everyone appears to agree that the prevalence of unscrupulous OA publishers poses a significant challenge to the OA community, and indeed for scholarly communication at large.

When Beall published his 2013 list of predatory publishers he reported that the number had grown from 18 in 2010, to 23 in 2012 and 225 in 2013. “The increase in predatory publishers from 18 to 225 in two years demonstrates the increasing scale of the problem,” he suggested. “The entire scholarly publishing system is in danger of eroding due to the increasing influence of predatory publishing.”

Some deny that the problem is as serious as Beall maintains. Others suggest that the wholesale categorisation of hundreds of publishers as “predatory” is not only inherently unfair, but was always bound to attract retaliation of some sort from those placed on the list. As former Springer Publisher Jan Velterop put it to me by email, “using such a term as ‘predatory’ is asking for trouble if malicious intent can’t be proven. To question the journals’ prestige is one thing, but an almost criminal accusation quite another.”

Of course, with Suber, we should deplore disinformation campaigns like the one that Beall appears to have been a victim of. On the other hand, if any honest publisher has been falsely accused of being predatory they will doubtless feel as victimised as Beall presumably feels.

All in all, it is hard not to conclude that there are genuine reasons for concern with the current situation. Obviously, any publisher still on Beall’s list who believes that it has been unfairly branded as predatory will be concerned. But researchers should also be concerned, since they are undoubtedly vulnerable to becoming victims of an unscrupulous OA publisher.

I regularly receive emails from researchers complaining that they have been persuaded to submit a paper to an OA publisher only to discover that the service provided falls far short of what they were promised for their money. Moreover, in some cases, they report, any attempt to complain about the way in which a paper has been reviewed, or published, or to complain that an author was unaware at the time of submitting their paper that doing so would incur a fee, is met not with a sympathetic investigation into the matter, but increasingly aggressive demands for payment.

Concern about the problem of unscrupulous OA publishers intensified on January 9th, when Beall reported on the launch of a new organisation called the Open Access Journal Publishers Association (OAJPA) — which appears to be based in India.

If, as Beall argues, OAJPA is a “dishonest attempt to add a mark of legitimacy to a bunch of predatory journals” it will surely intensify concerns. Amongst other things, the OAJPA site includes a list of member journals. Researchers will doubtless assume this to be some form of endorsement. But with no published details of who is behind OAJPA, and no contact information behind an inscrutable contact form, it is not clear who might have endorsed them.

It also seems likely that OAJPA will be confused with the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) — a well-regarded OA organisation whose membersinclude some of the world’s leading scholarly publishers, including the BMJ Group, the American Physical Society (APS), Oxford University Press (OUP), the Royal Society and Wiley.


But this raises another point too: the emergence of the OAJPA, and its presumed location in India, reminds us that the vast majority of publishers on Beall’s list seem to be based in the developing world. Membership of OASPA, by contrast, appears to be top-heavy with Western-based publishers — many of whom today are traditional subscription publishers who have seen the way the wind is blowing, and embraced OA as a result.

We are therefore bound to ask: is there a danger that some in the West are susceptible (if only unconsciously) to prejudice when considering the merits of publishers based in the developing-world?

There is no doubt that some of the OA publishers that have emerged in the developing world in recent years can accurately be described as “predatory, and many of these publishers are on Beall’s list. It also seems highly likely that themajority of the unscrupulous OA publishers operating today are based in the developing world.

But we need also to remind ourselves that some of the OA publishers based in the developing world seem to be driven by entirely honourable motives, and appear to be as ethical as any in the West. They also seem keen to develop world-class OA journals. A good example is Hindawi, which at one time featured on Beall’s list (as did its ISRN), before disappearing from it without explanation.

Might we be arriving at a point where any publisher based in the developing world is automatically assumed to be unscrupulous, if not downright predatory?

This point was made by Velterop in a comment he posted on a Google+ entry about OAJPA that Suber published. Responding to the proposition that the new organisation was obviously predatory, Velterop said, “Toe-cringingly amateuristic, absolutely. But ‘predatory’? They don’t charge anyone. Their English is very poor, but we must be careful with culturalism. OAJPA may be an attempt, amateuristic, but nonetheless well-meant, to get OA journal publishing attempts from non-western countries together in some way. Instead of dismissing them out of hand, we might suggest to OASPA to consider stretching out more of a visible helping hand to OA publishers in developing countries.”

Velterop may have a point. Either way, assuming a simple binary opposition of “good guy” or “bad guy” — as Beall’s list effectively does — is doubtless likely to encourage prejudice and discrimination.

Indeed, the preponderance of developing-world publishers on Beall’s list has led to just such accusations. As Beall put it to me last August, “I recently published a list of my criteria for determining predatory publishers on my blog, and there has been mostly negative reaction, with some even implying that I am racist for including third-world firms on the list.”

We could also note that, from one perspective, OASPA could be viewed as little more than a cosy club of predominantly Western-based publishers more focused on maintaining their dominance of the scholarly publishing industry than embracing the new publishers that are emerging from the developing world, or of helping them to learn about and conform to world-class scholarly publishing standards. Certainly, OASPA has demonstrated little interest in addressing the problems posed by predatory publishers.

This last point is important. Beall’s list is the product of a lone individual. As such, he is more susceptible to the kind of attacks he has experienced than would be an organisation like OASPA. And while we have no good cause to question Beall’s motives, or his honesty, it is clear that some believe his methodology to be flawed, his selection process haphazard, and his system essentially unaccountable.

Nub of the matter

The nub of the matter is that the author-pays OA publishing model has encouraged unscrupulous publishers to enter the scholarly publishing market. Yet no one has come up with an adequate way of delineating the good from the bad. We have Beall’s unsatisfactory binary approach — where OA publishers are essentially assumed to be ok, or predatory — and we have the inherent assumption behind OASPA that probity is coterminous with memberdhip of its exclusive club.

Some argue that a solution to this impasse will soon be offered by the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), which on 17th December announced that the management of its database was being transferred to a UK-based company calledIS4OA.

One stated goal of the new organisation is to improve the selection process used by DOAJ when deciding whether to add a journal to its database. “In communication with the community we will develop improved criteria for inclusion in the DOAJ,” the press release announced, “for instance by aligning criteria with OASPA’s code of conduct and the Open Access Spectrum.”

This development, however, is likely to prove somewhat controversial. DOAJ currently includes a good many journals published by companies categorised by Beall as predatory. People will understandably wonder whether this signifies that Beall’s criteria for categorising publishers as predatory are flawed. Alternatively, they might wonder if DOAJ has been adding journals to its database without giving sufficient thought to their quality, or the business practices of the respective publisher.

Consider, for instance, that the DOAJ lists seven Ashdin journals. Yet according to Beall, Ashdin is a predatory organisation.

If it turns out that the DOAJ has been operating a lax assessment process when reviewing journals submitted to it, its new management will presumably need to remove some of the journals in its database. This would likely spark further guerrilla warfare, or at least angry exchanges and bad feeling.

Moreover, it would still appear to leave OA publishers in an undesirable binary world of good and bad. Either they are in the DOAJ, or they are out of it. And since the DOAJ is a Western-based initiative, suspicions will surely remain that the process is discriminatory.

Whatever one’s views about these matters, the situation looks set to remain unsatisfactory for the foreseeable future.

The interview begins …

RP:  You describe yourself as the director of Ashdin Publishing. Who owns the company?

AA: I am the owner.

RP: As I understand it, Ashdin Publishing is currently based in Belgium, but was founded in Egypt. Is that correct?

AA: Yes, that is right.

RP:  In what way is Ashdin Publishing connected with Dinah Group?

AA: Dinah Group is the parent company, which consists of (1) Dinah Publishing Services and (2) Ashdin Publishing.

RP: I assume you own both companies then. Can you say in which country they are registered and what their current revenues are?

AA: They are registered in Egypt. I’d prefer not to mention the revenues.


RP: Can you say something about yourself and your background?

AA: Before I founded Ashdin Publishing I had over 11 years’ experience in scholarly publishing. During that time I worked in many publishing departments, including in production, coordination, and quality control.

RP: Can you cite some of the publishers in whose departments you worked?

AA: I worked for Hindawi from 2000 to 2007.

RP: When and why was Ashdin Publishing founded?

AA: Ashdin Publishing was founded in 2009. I set it up because although interest in Open Access is growing rapidly the model generally assumes that authors pay a fee to publish their papers. This is problematic because large publishers expect authors to pay from $500 to $1,500 per article and most authors based in developing countries are unable to pay these fees.

Essentially, I felt there was a need for an OA publisher willing to charge authors only a nominal fee to publish their papers. That was my primary aim in setting up Ashdin Publishing.

RP: How much does Ashdin Publishing charge to publish a paper?

AA: Currently our article-processing charge (APC) is 100 to 300 Euros. But we plan to reduce that even further to allow authors from developing countries, and those who do not have grants, to publish their articles in our journals.

RP:  How can Ashdin charge so little to publish a paper when other OA publishers say that they need to charge a lot more in order to make a profit? You mentioned a figure of $500 to $1,500. In fact, Public Library of Science (PLOS) charges between $1,350 and $2,900 a paper, and the hybrid journalsoffered by traditional publishers generally charge $3,000 per paper. How is it possible for Ashdin Publishing to charge so much less than this and yet survive as a business?

AA: The way we operate is that the APC is intended to cover the publication costs plus only a small marginal profit. We can do this because where publishers like PLOS will employ hundreds of people we operate with only a handful of staff.

We use a lot of freelance copy-editors based in Egypt, for instance, which lowers our overheads. We also use print-on-demand suppliers to fulfil our print subscriptions.

These factors allow us to lower the cost per article to a more manageable figure for authors.

RP:  You said you plan to reduce prices still further. How low do you expect Ashdin’s APC to fall?

AA: Starting from 2013, we plan to charge authors only 100-200 Euros per article.

RP:  I believe Dinah Publishing Services offers copyediting, proofreading and technical editing services. I am wondering if you are able to charge so little because authors are expected to pay for editorial services prior to submitting their papers, using Dinah Publishing Services perhaps. 

AA: Dinah Publishing Services does not offer these services to authors, but toother publishers wanting to outsource the work.

Moreover, once a manuscript has been accepted for publication by Ashdin, it undergoes language copyediting, typesetting, and reference validation in order to provide the highest publication quality possible. We do not charge authors for these services.

RP: You mentioned print subscriptions. I assume this means that while all the papers published by Ashdin are made freely available, readers are also able to subscribe to print versions of the journals?

AA: Correct. We offer print subscriptions to libraries.

RP: How much do you charge for this?

AA: The subscription price is 199 Euros per year. This covers the print and delivery costs while also providing us with a minimal profit margin. In fact, we are reducing our prices here too. So where last year the cost was 300 Euros, now it is just 199 Euros for a print subscription to an Ashdin journal.

RP: What does a subscription buy?

AA: A subscription consists of just one volume per year. That contains all the articles published during the year bundled together in print format.


RP: How many journals does Ashdin currently publish?

AA: Ashdin currently publishes 29 journals, but we plan to expand our portfolio by launching new journals in new fields of science.

RP: How many individual papers has Ashdin published to date?

AA: We have published 401 articles. Remember that most of our journals are new and were only launched in 2012.

RP: Talk me through the peer review process employed by Ashdin journals.

AA: The entire editorial workflow is undertaken by means of our online Manuscript Tracking System.

Once a manuscript is submitted, the Editor-in-Chief of the journal inspects the submitted manuscript. If he or she determines that the manuscript is not of sufficient quality to go through the normal review process, or if the subject of the manuscript is not appropriate to the scope of the journal, the manuscript is rejected with no further processing.

If the Editor-in-Chief determines that the submitted manuscript is of sufficient quality, and falls within the scope of the journal, he or she sends the manuscript to one of the journal’s Associate Editors, who manages the peer-review process for the manuscript.

After inspecting the submitted manuscript the Associate Editor can reject it without further processing. Otherwise, he or she will assign the manuscript to a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 5 external reviewers for peer-review.

The reviewers then submit their reports on the manuscript along with their recommendation to the Associate Editor. If these are acceptable the paper is published.

RP: As noted, Ashdin is an OA publisher. Can you clarify the copyright situation? When I looked at the web site I noticed that all the pages on the site had a note stating that copyright was vested in Ashdin Publishing and on an “all-rights-reserved” basis.

AA: As you say, all the articles we publish are Open Access. This means that the authors retain the copyright in their work. The copyright statement you saw at the bottom of pages is an old one, dating from 2011. I asked the webmaster to remove it today, and it will be gone by the time this interview is published.

RP: Nevertheless, so far as I can see the articles themselves have no copyright notice attached to them indicating that they are OA, or under what licence they have been made available.

AA: Correct, our articles do not currently contain any copyright statement. However from 2013 onwards we plan to add the following statement to all our articles: “This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited”.


RP: Ashdin Publishing is currently included on Jeffrey Beall’s list of predatory publishers. Why do you think that is so?

AA: I do not know, but Ashdin and other publishers do not deserve to be on that list. Every author who has published his or her work in an Ashdin journal will be aware of the effort (reviewing and editing) that goes into enhancing a paper before it is published by Ashdin.

RP: When I asked Beall why he had added Ashdin to his list he said that he had found a “significant presence of plagiarism and self-plagiarism” in a paper published by Ashdin. He also said that you were using the pseudonym “John Costa” when communicating with researchers, and that you recently emailed his colleagues accusing him of trying to blackmail you. Is this true?

AA: There is no plagiarism or self-plagiarism in any of our journals. All Ashdin articles are original, and it is easy for our editors and reviewers to detect plagiarism and reject any article containing it. Each accepted article will have been passed by 2 reviewers and 2 editors before it is accepted.

RP: Have you been using the name John Costa, as Beall claims?

AA: Yes, I use John Costa as I feel it is an easy name in all languages. But I will use only Ashry in future.

It is also true that I forwarded an email to Beall’s colleagues that I had received from him asking me to pay him to have my name removed from his list.

RP: This will be the email that began to appear on the Web at the beginning of December (e.g. here, here and here). This was circulated with a message from you alleging that Beall has been writing to publishers on his list and offering to re-evaluate them for $5,000, an offer your message described as blackmail. Did you write this message and is it you that has been posting it in multiple places online?

AA: It is true that I received an email from Mr. Beall asking me to pay $5,000 to re-evaluate Ashdin and remove it from his list. I sent the message to some publishers and some people who work in the publishing industry to let them know what is going on, but I did not post it online.

RP: There seem to have been a number of different messages circulating signed by you. One you sent to me, for instance, one that someone tried to post to my blog, and the one I highlighted above. Did you write all these messages?

AA: I wrote the e-mail here and I sent it to some publishers, but I did not post it online.

RP: Beall tells me that your response to the email you received was to offer to pay him $500 (rather than $5,000) to have your name removed from his list. Is that correct?

AA: No, we will not pay any money to him. In the meantime, we plan to continue developing our journals, and launching new ones.

RP: Are you sure that the email offering to re-evaluate publishers on Beall’s list for a fee actually originates from Beall, or could it be the work of someone posing as him? Is it in your view genuine?

AA: I am sure that the email was from him. If you have a look at his “Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers”, you will find that some of these criteria can be applied to a great many publishers (even large publishers). But Beall does not include any of these publishers on his list, only small publishers. He wants to blackmail us.

RP: This is a serious allegation you are making. I am wondering whether you have any proof. When you forwarded to me the email demanding money that you say Beall sent I took a look at the message header. This suggested to me that it may not in fact have come from him at all. Where is your proof that it was Beall who sent it?

AA: The proof is that I received the email from his account: Also, I contacted all the publishers on Beall’s list. Only one other publisher (beside Ashdin) told me that they had received the e-mail I received. This is proof that Mr. Beall sent the e-mail.

Moreover, if someone else wanted to blackmail the publishers on the list, and take money from them, why did they not send the e-mail to all of the publishers on the list? That way they could make a lot of money.

RP: Do you believe that there are some OA publishers who deserve to be on Beall’s list? If so, is it possible that one of these less ethical publishers may have been the source of the message rather than Beall, and that it was sent not in order to blackmail anyone, but to discredit Beall?

AA: Yes, I believe that some of the publishers on Beall’s list deserve to be there. Some of them are using Elsevier’s logo, for instance, while others have fake impact factors.

But if one of them sent me the letter, why did they send it only to me and one other publisher? I mean, why did this person not send the letter to all of the publishers on Beall’s list?

RP: Ok, let’s move on. You are not the only person to criticise Beall for the criteria he uses to decide whether to put a publisher on his list. Do you think it might make sense for those publishers who believe they have been unjustifiably placed on his list to get together and form an interest group? Such a group could, for instance, a) point out why they feel that Beall’s criteria are inadequate, or not being evenly applied, b) explain how the criteria could be improved and, c) establish its own criteria and rules with a view to self-regulation?

AA: Yes, it would be a good idea for serious publishers to do this. In fact, I am talking to some of them right now, and we will see what we can do.

RP:  Do you think that the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) could help in this?

AA: I am not sure about that. Ashdin is not member of OASPA at the moment, and so far as I am aware Beall’s list does not currently include any member of OASPA. Nevertheless, I would imagine that OASPA might be interested in this issue.

RP: Are you aware of, or involved with, the recently-launched Open Access Journal Publishers Association (OAJPA)?

AA: I can find no information about who created OAJPA, and I am not convinced that it would be beneficial for Ashdin to join, so I do not plan to do so.

RP: Thank you for agreeing to do an interview with me.



Following “personal attacks and threats,” Elsevier plant journal makes author persona non grata

An Elsevier journal has taken “the exceptional step of ceasing to communicate” with a scientist-critic after a series of “unfounded personal attacks and threats.” The move means that the journal, Scientia Horticulturae, will not review any papers that include the critic, Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva, as an author.

Here is the text of the letter (pdf here, obtained from an anonymous source), signed by Gert Jan-Geraeds:

I am a Publishing Director for Elsevier, publisher of the journal Scientia Horticulturae. I am contacting you with regard to your communications with the journal’s editors and publishers since 2010.

Elsevier fully supports scholarly discussion as a vital part of scientific communication and progress. In that spirit, our editors and publishers have repeatedly responded to your concerns over the past years. However, there is a difference between healthy dialogue and disagreement about science and unfounded personal attacks and threats. In addition, we find unfounded accusations forwarded to outside parties, whom have little or nothing to do with the science at all, inappropriate and not conducive to scientific discourse.

For example, you have heavily criticized the editors’ requests for you and your co-authors to confirm that all authors have fulfilled the authorship criteria. As we have explained to you, the reason for these requests is that we know of instances where you did not qualify as an author under our journal guidelines, which are identical to the ICMJE criteria for authorship.

Therefore, we now take the exceptional step of ceasing to communicate with you, and that includes any review of your papers. Since you do not communicate with the Journal and Elsevier in a professional manner, we will neither recognize nor respond to your attacks. The Editors of the journal also agree with this decision. We regret that we will have to take this very unusual step, but in this case there is no other choice.

The restriction is apparently limited to Scientia Horticulturae, and the letter does not use the word “ban,” although this is of course effectively the same thing.

Readers of Retraction Watch will be familiar with Teixeira da Silva’s name, as he is a frequent commenter. For those who do not know him, he is a former plant researcher at a Japanese university who has been crusading for years against what he considers corruption in scientific publishing, particularly in the plant sciences.

For a sense of what the journal is referring to, here is quote from a message Teixeira da Silva sent the editors, copying a number of other scientists, after the journal rejected one of his papers:

I will expose your fraud to every scientist I know, and make my case public from now on that corruption and fraud, lack of professionalism and libel are the four corner-stones for the publishing frame-work by Elsevier and this journal, Scientia Horticulturae.

In another email, in which he called for the immediate resignation of the journal’s two editors-in-chief, Teixeira da Silva wrote (capital letters his):

Moreover, if I do not see a resignation in 72 hours, I will immediately post this libelous case of editorial bias and witch-hunting on Retraction Watch and other blogs.


We asked Teixeira da Silva to comment on the letter, whether he agreed with the decision of the editors and publisher, and how he would respond to allegations that he has engaged in “unfounded personal attacks and threats” and “unfounded accusations.” He did not respond directly to our specific questions, but sent this comment:

I am quite surprised to be receiving a PDF file from Retraction Watch that is addressed to me and not to Retraction Watch. That document was only in my hands for at most 2 hours. Considering that this is a confidential document that was provided by Elsevier Ltd. to me, exclusively, and that Retraction Watch has not formally received this document from me, I can only conclude that there has been foul play. Has Elsevier provided this document to Retraction Watch? Has the content and the background been duly researched by Retraction Watch? If yes, then there is absolutely no need to respond to any query by Retraction Watch since Ivan and Adam will thus know all the answers.

Elsevier declined to comment, saying that the letter spoke for itself.


Motion to repudiate Mr. Jeffrey Beall’s classist attack on SciELO | SciELO in Perspective

“Jeffrey Beall, an American librarian who gained notoriety publishing a list of open access publishers and journals considered as ‘predatory’ by him, posted in his blog an unbelievably mistaken and prejudiced article, beginning with its title, ‘Is SciELO a Publication Favela?’1 Based on an ethnocentric and purely commercial point of view, Mr. Beall supposes that, since the whole ensemble of its publications are not indexed by Thomson Reuter’s bibliographic database, and because of the discontinuation of a proposal by a Brazilian government agency to hire a commercial publisher to disseminate some of the nation’s periodicals, SciELO’s publications would be ‘hidden from the world’ (sic). Seemingly in order to promote commercial publishers, Mr. Beall despises the asset that the SciELO collection represents, and makes factually incorrect assertions. Contrary to his statements, the whole collection is already indexed in the Scopus database. Also in opposition to another of his mistaken affirmations, SciELO has adopted for some time the Creative Commons license, which means that there is no risk of an article ‘losing its interest’ due to author’s copyright issues. One paragraph in particular demonstrates the prejudices, classism, imperialism and crass commercialism present in the tone of Mr. Beall’s diatribe: ‘Thus, commercial publisher platforms are nice neighborhoods for scholarly publications. On the other hand, some open-access platforms are more like publication favelas’ …”