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 (https://scholarlyoa.com/) 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=http://thinkchecksubmit.org/]

Update 1.

It seems that the shutdown of Beall’s blog has become a hot issue on twittter today (#Jeffrey Beall – https://twitter.com/search?src=typd&q=jeffrey%20beall). 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, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Beall). 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 thinkchecksubmit.org 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; https://sites.google.com/site/fakeresearchjournalpublishers/home
  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 https://blogs.lt.vt.edu/openvt/2015/05/19/a-response-to-jeffrey-bealls-critique-of-open-access/)
  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.

http://scholarlyoa.net”reported that Beall doubles down.. Predatory blog shutdown

Jeffrey Beall will be criminally prosecuted in USA for fraud, extortion, bribery and money laundering
https://scholarlyoa.com/ shutdown. No information where about predatory Blogger Beall
Predatory Blogger, Beall’s university profile is also gone.   http://people.auraria.edu/jeffrey-beall/home
 
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.

proof

 

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″. scholarlyoa.com

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
AGROCHIMICA Agrochimica
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
ANDRIAS JOURNAL Andrias
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
CADMO JOURNAL CADMO
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
COMUNICACOES INSTITUTO DE INVESTIGACAO CIENTIFICA TROPICAL SERIE CIENCIAS BIOLOGICAS Comunicações. Série de ciéncias biológicas
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
ECOLOGIE Ecologie
Education Journal Education
Electronics Information & Planning Electronics information & planning
Emergencias Emergencias
Ephemera Also here. Ephemera: revue d’éphéméroptérologie
Epistemologia Epistemologia
EUROPE – REVUE LITTERAIRE MENSUELLE Europe : revue mensuelle
FABRERIES JOURNAL Fabreries
FAUNA ROSSII I SOPREDEL NYKH STRAN Fauna Rossii i sopredelʹnykh stran
FOURRAGES Fourrages
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
KUROSHIO Kuroshio
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
MULTITEMAS Multitemas
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
ODJELJENJA PRIRODNIKH NAUKA CRNOGORSKA AKADEMIJA NAUKA I UMJETNOSTI GLASNIK
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
REVUE SCIENTIFIQUE ET TECHNIQUE-OFFICE INTERNATIONAL DES EPIZOOTIES Revue scientifique et technique
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
TEKSTIL JOURNAL CROATIA Tekstil
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.

https://scholarlyoa.com/…/ongoing-questions-about-plos-one…/

Ongoing Questions about PLOS ONE’s Peer Review
PLOS ONE
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 <em@editorialmanager.com>
Reply-To: PLOS ONE <plosone@plos.org> Date: Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 9:03 PM
To: Norman Sleep <norm@stanford.edu>
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.

PONE-D-16-24600
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 athttp://www.plosone.org/static/competing.action. 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. (https://sites.google.com/site/fakeresearchjournalpublishers/home)

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 https://sites.google.com/site/fakeresearchjournalpublishers/home.

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 http://www.retractionwatch.com/ 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 retractionwatch.com 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 http://www.retractionwatch.com/

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 Academia.edu and Arxiv.org to search for papers (on Arxiv.org 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.

Source: http://libguides.wits.ac.za/Scholarly_Research_Resources/Predatory_Publishers