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.”
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, email@example.com. 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.”
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 ashdin.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.