Unethical Attacks to Open Access Publishing by Librarians: The Jeffrey Beall’s case.

Mario E. Alonso, Francisco Pedro M. Lopez

Abstract—In this paper we examine the phenomenon of several attempts to destroy the Open Access Publishing from various librarians. The was against Open Access (OA) publishing started with the librarian Jeffrey Beall who is a librarian at Auraria Library at the University of Colorado, Denver, USA. However, after some years the common sense among the scholars is that Jeffrey Beall does not have the necessary qualifications to evaluate the various publishers and journals as well as several voices exist that claim that Jeffrey Beall is permanently bribed. Several librarians consider Open Access publishers to be a threat to their profession because there is less need for a library or librarian if academic journals are available free on the Internet. At one point, this so-called “Beall’s List” blog even stated that publishers would be removed from the list if they agreed to stop publishing “open access”. The common denominator among the thousands of journals represented here is that they are “open access”; there are no subscription-based journal publishers or journals listed. This paper try to  throw plenty of light in the dark role of Jeffrey Beall.

 

Keywords—Librarian Science, Bribery, Fake Blogs, Jeffrey Beall

I.                    INTRODUCTION

Beall has no real substantial authority to evaluate scholarly Journals: Jeffrey Beall’s blog has no affiliation to any governing body or organization accredited to scholarly publishing. This is an important key element that needs to be considered when analyzing his blog. He is just single individual writing a blog (full of nonsense) same as many others do over the internet. His blog is his personal opinion and has not been tested for its validity and as such has no authority whatsoever.

Jack of all trades: Not Academically Inclined

Beall only has a bachelor Degree in Spanish yet he criticizes a wide range of Journals in the vicinity of Social sciences and medical sciences. He is a jack of all trades and nothing more. He has no PhD in any discipline.

Self Proclaimed Journal Critic: No Governing Body

Jeffrey Beall works in the Auraria Library, University of Colorado, Denver, USA. He is an employee same as everyone else. He began a blog titled “scholarly open access—Critical analysis of scholarly open-access publishing” in the year 2009. His blog is not associated with the university and does not represent the university in any way. Beall, however, utilizes university resources including his university e-mail address for his activities on the blog. His contact information is posted on the blog as follows, e-mail: jeffrey.beall@ucdenver.edu. He does not post his physical location in his blog.

Jeffrey Beall: Potentially, possibly, or probably a predatory blogger

Open access is a new, digital, revolutionized way of communicating research among their readers and authors. Not that this has any significance to Beall however, who maintains a list of publishers and Journals that he considers predatory. His highly questionable, probably, and possibly predatory blog discredits many involved in publishing houses. His main targets have been publishing houses and journals from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Beall’s Questionable and Predatory Criteria

Beall himself created his own criteria for evaluating Open access Journals. The issue here though, is that validity of his criteria has not been tested with any governing authority associated with scholarly publishing. His blog however, clearly stated many other criteria when discrediting Journals. For example, article processing fees in US dollars is one of the reasons he uses to determine when a Journal is predatory. Please read our articles for more information.

Questionable Beall’s Platinum and Gold Predatory Criteria

Beall created two criteria when evaluating journals. In his platinum category, the author charges article processing fees. On the other hand, in the gold category, authors won’t charge article processing fees and papers are published free of charge.

This categorization has a serious problem since no organization can financially survive as a publisher without receiving funds for their operation. In order to be successful and be able to survive financially, it is necessary to have some sort of funding mechanism in place. The most Open Access publishers charge is article processing fees. There is no justification for publishing free articles or any mode of publication methods free of charge.

University Funds Scammer: Beall is a huge cost to the University of Colorado system?

Beall heavily utilized the University of Colorado’s system; including internet, computers, office space, and maintenance of his office such as electricity, cleaning, furniture, and even photocopy machines.  He works on his blog on the university’s time while he is being paid by the University to work for them not on his leisure blogging hobby. The only positive is that at a minimum, he has posted a disclaimer page on his blog in which he himself declared that the University of Colorado has no affiliation on his blog.

Beall is defrauding the University of Colorado’s system and should be shamed not of anyone else, but only of himself. Despite Beall’s claims of non-affiliation with the University of Colorado, all scamming activities have been conducted utilizing the university’s resources. It appears as though Beall chiefly aims to trade on the University of Colorado’s good name to attract people from abroad to justify his claims on his predatory blog.

Jeffrey Beall’s Bogus profile

From the profile (http://library.auraria.edu/directory/staff/beall/jeffrey) ,it is glaringly evident Jeffrey Beall is not a scholar; he doesn’t even have a doctoral degree and has not published in any leading/reputable journals. In fact, the only publications he has to his credit (as reflected in his profile) happens to have been produced in the last two years (there is nil track record of prior publications). That too ONLY 7 publications (pretty pathetic track record to claim to be scholarly). He has never served in any academic or editorial committee. Hence his commentaries and statements are merely an opinion by a quasi (self anointed) academic and not scholarly. A blatant attempt to mislead in the pretext of a scholar. Jeffrey Beall should be sponsored by someone to earn a doctoral degree first before he can even attempt to make a qualified opinion on scholarly publications. His basic degree is from a state university and a masters from another state university. That is hardly scholarly. A very weak attempt to mislead by someone who claims to be an expert with scholarly qualifications. In fact he is trying to sell his services (please visit http://library.auraria.edu/directory/staff/beall/jeffrey) to consult and train whereas he himself needs further education before he can rightfully claim to be an expert.

Academic Fraudster and Imposter

There are numerous cases against Beall, the allegations of which all follow a similar pattern, as many publishing houses and Open access journals revealed their experience with him. At first, Beall’s associate contacted Journals and threatened to blacklist them. Later, he demanded ransom. If anyone pays this ransom, their journal is removed from the list.  All those who refused to pay ransom are included into Beall’s hit list.

Phony Beall’s Kangaroo court

Once a blacklisted journal is included into the so-called Beall list, he will provide opportunity to appeal against his decision. According to his Blog the appeal will hear before a so-called panel. To make matters worse, the names of the individuals in the panel are not listed. Furthermore, the appeal process and procedure are also not published. Their main target is evidently to scam journals and publishing houses. Once the ransom is received Beall removes the Journal from his hit list.

Beall Conspiracy

Beall’s anti Open Access agenda is driven by major publishing houses. Beall’s list will grow until all popular open access journals have been black listed. This will drive researchers to publish their work in the highly paid open access journals. These groups will control publications from the Human Sciences field to the medical sciences field. They want to take back their control over research publications.

Used personal biases,  useless blogger

Jeffrey Beall’s list is not accurate to believe. There are a lot of personal biases of Jeffrey Beall.  Two OA publishers have been removed in Jeffrey Beall’s list recently. There is no reason given by Jeffrey Beall why they were removed. Jeffrey Beall is naive in his analysis. His blog has become useless.

Academic terrorist

Jeffrey Beall just simply confusing us to promote his academic terrorism. His list is fully questionable. His surveying method is not scientific. If he is a real scientist then he must do everything in standard way without any dispute. He wanted to be famous but he does not have the right to destroy any company name or brand without proper allegation. If we support Jeffrey Beall’s work then we are also a part of his criminal activity. Please avoid Jeffrey Beall’s fraudulent and criminal activity. Beall utilizes his bribery and unethical business model.

Not provide sufficient evince for his claims – Unreliable, unmethodical and personal opinions

We wish to conclude by expressing that Beall’s blacklist in its current form is unnecessary and unreliable. On the one hand, there are professional indexing databases operating as watchdogs of journal quality. Professional databases such as the Web of Science, Scopus or PubMed can be used as whitelists of good journals. Also, professional services and societies, such as the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), are putting in a great deal of effort to distinguish reputable open access journals and their publishers from scamming activities. On the other hand, Mr. Beall operates as an individual person and does not provide sufficient evidence for his claims, does not attempt to verify his statements for accuracy, nor operate a methodological approach to his appraisals. Beall also denies the right to defense to those that he attacks. Beall’s judgments are therefore to be considered as unreliable, unmethodical and his personal opinions.

Beall’s academic fraud and activities must end and everyone must now be more vigilant about these activities.

 

II.                  Beall’s extortion attempts exposed

Self proclaimed Journal critic Jeffrey Beall failed in his attempts to extort the Canadian Agency. It was reported that the so called Open Access hero demanded one million U.S. dollars to remove the Agency’s Journal from his target list.  This is not the first time this type of allegation has surfaced. Many Open Access Journals and Publishers are receiving emails from Beall’s bully brigade demanding large sums of cash to remove journals from his list. Beall attempted to establish authority for evaluating Open Access journals. To do this he utilized his association with the University of Denver, Colorado, USA and his position there as Librarian.  Initially Beall will include Journal and Open Access publishers into his list and he then provides his analysis. His analysis has no merit, however, but only serves the purpose of extortion manifested through his tactics.

It was reported that Beall and his well trained extortionists contacted the Open Access publishers in advance and demanded a lump sum payment. Furthermore, they threatened that if Open Access journals and Publishers failed to pay extortion money those Journals and publishers would be listed on his list.

If any journal or publisher did not obey Beall’s extortive demands it would be listed on his so called “Beall’s list”. This common tactic continues and large numbers of Open Access Journals are being scammed.  Many Open Access Journals and Publishers contacted us and launched their complaints against Jeffrey Beall. We are hoping to bring this matter forward into public attention as Beall’s malicious attempts must not be tolerated further. We continually expose the Beall conspiracy against the Open Access journals.

III.               NATURE: BEALL’S ANALYSIS IS FAKE AND PROBLEMATICS

A recent article published on Nature identified serious issues in Jeffrey Beall’s characterization of the Open Access Journals. Nature further explained that Beall’s analysis has no merit and is fuelled by external factors, which are not directly related to, nor do they affect the quality of publication. This only further established a lack of credibility surrounding his blog.

Currently six billion people in the world do business and communicate via the internet. There are trillions of financial transactions, publications and messages passing through every corner of the world every single day. Beall’s attempts to control internet-based publication by Open Access Journals across the world are childish and immature. Beall has never contacted any Journals directly yet he attempts to examine the quality of publications based on websites and e-mails received or forwarded to him by third parties.

This therefore allows Beall’s blog no credibility. This self-proclaimed journal critic is providing a laugh to the rest of the world and has become an embarrassment for the University of Denvor, USA. University authorities already warned him that he will later be recognized as the “Open Access Joker.” Individuals are reading his blog around the world and are recognizing his work as administratively stupid.

Beall and his bully brigade are frequently blogging in support of Beall’s agenda.  Beall’s recent claim against the Open Access publishers were mainly related to the e-mail received from one of the so called researchers. According to the report, Nature was not able to contact the researcher. If it is a genuine complaint, the complainant must step forward. Instead he/she has remained hidden behind Beall’s blog and from this anonymous standpoint has attempted to discredit Open Access publishers. As such these attempts should be denounced as corrupt.

Even still, regardless of Beall’s agenda against the Open Acess Publishers, a large number of researchers still continue to publish their work in research Journals published by the Open Access Publishers. This is a clear indication that Beall’s agenda is being rejected by many researchers around the world.

IV.                Beall’s attempt at being a Godfather of Open Access is ridiculous

Beall started the Open Access blog mainly to discredit Open Access Publishers and Journals. Furthermore Beall never attempted contact those whose work he criticized. Instead of raising his questions and concerns directly with the journals and publishers involved, he jumped right in to his criticism of them openly and publicly.

It is obvious that different individuals have different interests among the issues and some Open Access Journals charge a hefty amount in publication fees.  However most of the researchers do not have the ability to pay high publication fees. Many simply want to publish their work and share the knowledge and findings with fellow researchers. In this case, the obvious and possible solution is to find alternative publishers and Open Access journals. Some publishers and Journals provide many more incentives for researchers to publish their work

For example, they provide the financial incentive to publish more at a reasonable cost. We do not see any issues on this concept especially since both publisher and researcher benefit from this type of program. The important factor is to maintain quality in publication. Similarly some Open Access journals’ fee structure varies based on the length of time taken to publish the articles. In our view it has reasonable merit. This is because some publishers may not have enough resources to publish as quickly as some researchers might need. However, in such a scenario, paying an additional fee can enhance the process. In most cases reviewers are not paid and alternately they receive honorarium. Nonetheless, this mechanism may not be sustainable for the long run if reviewers’ contribution towards the publication process is not recognized. It is therefore necessary to find a suitable mechanism with which to compensate reviewer contributions. Therefore when looking at the fast-track review process, it is important to note that it can be mutually arranged which can thus compensate for the cost involved in the publication process. In spite of that, Beall continually discredits Journals and publishers based on fast-track fees.

Beall’s agenda does not serve the purpose of Open Access. In addition to this, Beall has never suggested how research papers can be published quickly without affecting the cost of the publications. He has no alternative suggestions or solutions to the issue, only empty criticism. Also, he is continually attempting to discredit journals that require a little higher of a payment for fast-track publication.

Finally we would like to reiterate that the quality of publication does not depend on the fee structure, whether it is on fast-track or not. Beall did not provide any credible answers to these questions and instead continually and maliciously engaged in the discrediting of Journals and Open Access Publishers.

Friends of Open Access strongly condemn Beall and his agenda against Open Access Journals.  Rather than criticizing the Journals and publishers he should provide support towards Journals in the aim to enhance Open Access publications.

 

V.                  A Predatory Librarian Jeffrey Beall: The crook, the felon, the criminal of the Academic Community

In several places on the internet we read this letter. It seems that it has been written by some Professor http://jeffreybeall.blogspot.ca/2014/01/i-recently-made-inquiry-to-jeffrey.html

 

I recently made an inquiry to Jeffrey Beall (the Denver, USA librarian who runs a webpage where he slanders and insults about 500 publishing houses), whether he, Jeffrey Beall himself, has the ability to solve the simple math equation 5x+3 = 0.

Jeffrey Beall replied to my first email, that he has never studied even the simplest form of Math. Meaning that he doesn’t know what “equation” means (he has never even seen equations like 5x+3 = 0, 3x*x + 7x -4 =0 etc), neither does he know what “Derivative” or “Integral” mean.

 

Jeffrey Beall told me that he has a Bachelor in Spanish and English language. This of course didn’t stop him blacklisting hundreds of houses that publish Math, Physics, Computer Science, Engineering, Economics, Biology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Space Science etc Journals. That from a man who isn’t even able to solve the simple equation 5x+3 = 0, and who doesn’t know what Derivative or Integral mean.

 

Recently, Jeffrey Beall included in his “black list” an old, big Academic Publishing House, with several, historic Journals in Math, Physics, Computer Science, Engineering, Economics (some of which have been indexed in ISI and SCOPUS), and that because, according to Jeffrey Beal, they had copied the… Maxwell Equations from a 2007 article.

 

Obviously, since Jeffrey Beall doesn’t know how to solve the equation 5x+3 = 0, and since he doesn’t know what Derivative and Integral mean, he has zero knowledge when it comes to Electricity or Physics and has never seen the Maxwell Equations (not even in their most basic form).

 

As expected from somebody who is entirely clueless regarding even elementary Math and Physics, he considered the Maxwell Equations found in the Journal to be plagiarized… from a 2007 paper.

 

With a Bachelor in Spanish and English in his CV, Jeffrey Beall passes judgment even to Medicine, Biology, Chemistry etc Journals and articles, while he is fully aware that he’s never attended a University course on which nucleotides make up the DNA molecule, he’s never heard what enzyme, catalysis, proteins etc are, and if one asks him what pH is, he’ll be completely ignorant.

 

However, in his bizarre blog, this person has declared himself a critic of everyone and everything. He blacklists publishing houses (many of which having journals and conferences indexed in ISI, SCOPUS, Compendex, ACM etc), he includes stand-alone journals in “black lists”, slanders Editors-in-Chief, Authors etc. Of course he does all that selectively, following a certain logic of his, which will be analyzed below.

 

In a later email that I sent him, I asked him to comment on why he includes a small publishing house in his black list because “they copied Maxwell’s Equations from a 2007 paper” (poor Jeffrey Beall doesn’t know that Maxwell’s Equations are taught in Universities’ first year elementary physics), while at the same time he excludes IEEE, who have over 85 SCIgen machine-generated fake conference papers published and indexed.

 

(See: A 2013 scientometrics paper demonstrated that at least 85 SCIgen machine-generated papers have been published by IEEE. The Paper has been published in Springer Verlag: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11192-012-0781-y

Download the full paper from:

http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/71/35/55/PDF/0-FakeDetectionSci-Perso.pdf )

 

He also didn’t respond to the question why he didn’t include Elsevier in his black list, who were revealed to have been publishing 6 Medical Journals between 2000 and 2005 with fake articles and studies, that were funded by pharmaceutical companies, in order to scientifically prove that their products were superior to their competitors’. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsevier  or

 

http://legacy.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/2009/05/elsevier-confirms-6-fake-journals-more.html

 

In a third email I asked him where his moral and academic responsibility stands, since if due to him including some publishing houses in black lists, those houses reduce or cease their activity (due to his immoral slandering), hundreds of jobs will be lost and families will end up in the street. Naturally, despite my repeated emails, Jeffrey Beall never replied.

 

There are also rumours on the internet that some publishing houses, like Hindawi and Elsevier, pay Jeffrey Beall on a yearly basis in order not to be included in his black list. This looks like heavy taxing that the publisher is asked to pay annually to Jeffrey Beall, and, as we’ll see below, part of this tax ends up in the Denver University funds.

 

Actually, Hindawi was in Jeffrey Beall’s black list a year ago. Then, after negotiations, Jeffrey Beall placed them in a watching list (i.e. an “under observation” list), and eventually completely removed them.

 

Just like Jeffrey Beall himself mentioned in his blog, Hindawi’s people visited him in Denver and offered him “explanations”. After that, Jeffrey Beall gradually removed Hindawi from his black list.

 

Why, Mr. Jeffrey Beall, did you agree to meet with Hindawi’s representatives in your office in Denver, when Hindawi was black listed? What did you talk about, Mr. Jeffrey Beall? Hindawi, as mentioned on their website, has an annual turnover of $6 million.

Couldn’t they use part of that money to pay off Jeffrey Beall?

 

Furthermore, in his blog, Jeffrey Beall has posted a photo of Hindawi’s headquarters, which he calls “House of Spam”. So, Mr. Jeffrey Beall, why isn’t Hindawi in your black list, when among your fundamental black listing reasons, like you mention in your blog, is spam?

Having read all that, you can draw your own conclusions on who Jeffrey Beall is and what his real motives behind his publishing house and scientific organization black listing blog are. Houses and Organizations that Jeffrey Beall calls “Predatory Publishers”.

Maybe it’s time to talk about Predatory Librarians, Mr. Jeffrey Beall. About librarians who target Open Access Journals, especially because the open, online PDF policy deprives librarians (like Jeffrey Beall) from the possibility of receiving kickbacks from publishing houses.

To those who are not aware, it is known that several publishing houses paid- and pay-off librarians (like Jeffrey Beall), in order to get their libraries to subscribe to those houses.

Meaning that, in order for a certain University, Research Center, Company to buy some books or subscribe to some journals, it is common knowledge that librarians receive money under the table from the respective publishing houses. It is therefore natural and understandable for this kind of librarians (Jeffrey Beall, for instance) to fight Open Access Journals and Open Access Publishing Houses, since they

 

  1. a) lose their kickbacks,
  2. b) lose their power and influence in the library, as well as the University.

 

I’ve saved all my email exchange with Jeffrey Beall, along with their headers/source code, and I will soon upload them to various websites. I need everyone’s help though, by sending me emails (to the email address found at the bottom) and exchanging information on Jeffrey Beall’s scandalous behavior.

And one last question to Jeffrey Beall: How can a librarian WITHOUT a Ph.D. be an Assistant Professor at the University of Denver, Mr. Jeffrey Beall?

 

Could it be that Jeffrey Beall bribed older professors, using the abundance of money that he is said to possess?

 

Could it be that Jeffrey Beall threatened that if they don’t vote for him, he’ll include all journals where they have papers published in his black list, and slander them on the internet?

 

Or is it that they were so much impressed by his research? Actually, Mr. Jeffrey Beall, what is your scientific research? Your scientific research as a “real scientist” that is, Mr. Jeffrey Beall. What publications do you have, besides slandering, insulting and discredit hundreds of scientific organizations and publishing houses? What do you teach at the University of Denver Mr. Jeffrey Beall?

 

Is there really any course (real scientific course) that you can teach, Mr. Jeffrey Beall, besides calling publishing houses and scientific organizations “predatory”?

 

It doesn’t look like it, Mr. Jeffrey Beall. No matter how hard we looked, we didn’t find any courses taught by you at the University of Denver.

 

Neither on your personal webpage, Mr. Jeffrey Beall, nor on your money-making blog, nor even on the University of Denver website is there any mention about courses taught by you.

 

So, since you do absolutely no scientific research, and you don’t even teach pre-graduate or post-graduate students, what is your role at the University of Denver, Mr. Jeffrey Beall?

 

Does the University of Denver pay you a salary, Mr. Jeffrey Beall, or do you pay the University to let you bear the title of Assistant Professor?

 

A title that you really do not deserve, as you have no Ph.D., no actual research work and do no teaching whatsoever. It is a shame for the University of Denver to have professors like you, Jeffrey Beall.

 

Or is running a blog that slanders everyone and everything considered scientific research?

 

It most certainly is not, Mr. Jeffrey Beall.

 

Could it be, however, an applied money-making project for you and your university, Mr. Jeffrey Beall?

 

(By the way, why should a small publishing house from some place in India, which cannot attract papers, nor editorial board members, from western universities, be in your black list Mr. Jeffrey Beall? In this case, you should also black list all non-US and non-European universities. Of course there exist first-rate universities, like Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, Cambridge. Should all other universities be in a black list? Is this your logic “Professor” Beall? Furthermore, you condemn any new publishing house, as it is natural for them to not have papers and not be indexed as soon as they launch, but has to deal with you, who, like a vulture, immediately includes them in your black list for those reasons.)

 

I would greatly appreciate your response, Mr. Jeffrey Beal. And I would also appreciate feedback from anyone who agrees with me.

 

My aim is to create a network of true scientists and expose “Professor”, “Academic Teacher” and, above all, “Researcher” Jeffrey Beall (this science jack-of-all-trades, who doesn’t know a first-degree algebraic equation, derivatives, integrals, elementary Physics and Chemistry laws, etc) Article originally published on http://jeffreybeall.blogspot.ca/2014/01/i-recently-made-inquiry-to-jeffrey.html

VI.                Bachelor of Arts in Spanish: Beall’s attempt to monitor peer review process for science and technology journals is ridiculous and laughablE

Jeffrey Beall wrote a post on his Scholarly Open Access blog raising questions about the Swiss open-access (OA) publisher Frontiers. In Beall’s post he wrote, ‘Frontiers does not meet the criteria for inclusion as a predatory publisher, but I regularly receive complaints about its spamming and editorial practices. I realise that there are probably many people that are satisfied with Frontiers, and that it is likely publishing good science. Still, there is value in sharing others’ experiences with this publisher.’

 

To back this up he shared three emails he has received about the publisher. The emails – and some of the comments below the post – criticise the volume of emails from Frontiers inviting people to review articles. They also note that review invitations are often not relevant to the recipients’ specialities, which leads some commenters to speculate on the quality of the review process.

 

Beall summed up his blog post with: ‘When a scholarly publisher doesn’t have to worry about losing subscriptions, the entire publishing dynamic changes. There’s less accountability. We hope that Frontiers can take these criticisms into account and make improvements in its operations.’

 

Kamila Markram, CEO and co-founder of Frontiers, told Research Information that she was disappointed by the post and particularly the concerns raised about the publisher’s peer-review process.

She readily admits that the publisher is contacting many researchers. However she says that this is a normal part of publishing and new journal launches. ‘What we are experiencing are the growing pains of success,’ she said. She explained that the recent significant investment that Frontiers received from Nature Publishing Group has given the company the opportunity to grow. This, of course, has benefits for the publisher but has, she said, had unforeseen impacts on the publishing process.

 

The company has used some of this investment to launch new journals away from the company’s original focus of life sciences. ‘We are expanding at a quick pace so are contacting thousands of people informing them of new journals,’ she said. ‘I’m a scientist myself and I hear from publishers every day and not just OA publishers. You can buy lists of researchers’ contact details and that’s a normal practice for publishers when they are marketing journals.’

 

Many of the comments and complaints raised in Beall’s post and the emails that he included were about the company’s approach to peer review, in particular that researchers are asked to review papers that are not in their field. However, Markram denies that the experiences shared in Beall’s post show a lack of quality in the peer-review process.

 

‘It’s complete nonsense to say that we don’t have a proper review system in place. Peer review from our point of view is really at the heart of science. We have put in place a standardised review template that asks very detailed questions. We also publish the names of reviewers to make it transparent,’ she said.

 

So what about the experiences people have had of being asked to review papers in subjects that they know little about? These experiences come down to the different approach that the publisher has taken to organising peer review, according to Markram.

 

‘When we started Frontiers we did it in the conventional way, with associate editors assigning reviewers but we found that it was a very lengthy process. It can easily take two months to invite reviewers because it is an iterative process and then we have to chase up to get the reports,’ she said.

 

She recounted how her husband and Frontiers co-founder Henry Markram, was an editor on the board of another journal where every time an article was submitted to that journal all of the board was informed and given the opportunity to review the paper. The board found this useful as a way to keep track of current research even if they were not interested in a particular paper, she noted.

 

Frontiers decided to adapt a similar approach to its review process. Each journal therefore has a significantly larger than usual board – ‘we really want to ensure that all the expertise is covered,’ she said – and everybody on the board is what the publisher calls a ‘review editor’. This means that they are all informed of all papers submitted.

 

‘Everybody on the board has been invited. They are all signed up and so they should know about our approach and we are doing a lot of educate about the Frontiers process,’ Markram said, adding that this move was initially very popular with authors because, instead of up to two months to assign a reviewer, this process could be done within a few minutes.

 

And this worked fine, she said, when the publisher was small. What has happened over the past two to three years, according to Markram, is that, as the publisher has grown so have the number of submissions, and therefore the number of emails to review editors.

 

‘It worked fantastically well for a while and then our journals grew. We became victims of our own success; the people who complained were those on our most successful journals,’ she said. For example, she noted that the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience now receives around a thousand submissions a year, which equates to a large number of emails.

 

The company therefore developed an algorithm to filter out relevant reviewers. This sends review invitations to 10 people and then to 10 more if none of the first 10 are interested. ‘The algorithm is intended to accelerate the process and was built with authors and publication timing in mind,’ she said, although she admits that it is not perfect.

 

‘We have put in place a system that matches reviewers with articles. We have a review system software but the algorithm is only as good as the keywords that people put in,’ she explained. ‘When editors and reviewers sign up with us it’s very important that they fill in what they are interested in. This is important for when editors assign reviewers manually to, which they can also do.’

 

However, she added that the publisher takes criticism seriously and is refining the algorithm regularly in response to feedback. ‘Sometimes we get a bit of negative feedback. Always the burning feedback is from people who are angry. We are listening to what people are saying and modifying our algorithms on a weekly basis.’

 

Markram also feels that some of the criticisms in the blog post are about OA more widely and believes these criticisms are often unfair. ‘There is so much discussion now about the quality of OA. We recently compared the eight journals of ours that already have impact factors and they are above average in their fields,’ she said. ‘With OA there is a lot of misunderstanding. We need to educate people and do a lot of advocacy work,’ she continued. ‘There is a proper process in big OA publishers and we are members of COASP.’

 

And on the concern raised in the blog post and elsewhere about gold OA being about publishers making money she noted, ‘subscription publishers are making huge margins. We [at Frontiers] are for profit and have to run a responsible business and pay our staff but making money is not our primary goal. I consider that this is human heritage so we can’t do it in a sloppy way.’ Indeed she noted that Frontiers was founded with the aspiration that at some stage the process of publishing OA could be made free by replacing the current system with a freemium business model. ‘We are not there yet so have APCs,’ she concluded.

 

This article inititally published on http://www.researchinformation.info/news/news_story.php?news_id=1452

VI CONCLUSION

Beall is not a recognized authority in evaluating scholarly Journals. He is a Man with zero credibility.

 

Jeffrey Beall’s blog has no affiliation to any governing body or organization accredited to scholarly publishing. This is an important key element that needs to be considered when analyzing his blog. He is just a single individual writing a blog (full of nonsense) same as many others do over the internet. His blog is his personal opinion and has not been tested for its validity and as such has no authority whatsoever. Even so, Beall attempted to create a problem that does not exist. When we compare the number of open access journals around the world, Beall’s list is not significant at all. Despite that, Beall has maliciously discredited many Open access journals and demanded ransom in exchange for the removal of them from his hit list. This academic crime must end. We have added Jeffrey Beall to our list as a potential, possible, probable, predatory Blogger.

References

 

Mario E. Alonso and Francisco Pedro M. Lopez  are with the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Ronda de Toledo, 1 28005 Madrid, Email: mario.alonso@linuxmail.org

 

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