The OA Interviews: Ashry Aly of Ashdin Publishing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disinformation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did not end there

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ashry Aly

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

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

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

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

Curious as to the origins of this email, I asked Aly to forward the original to me. On receiving it I looked at the header, where I noted that all the identifying references bar one cited the address, jeffrey.beall@jangomail.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.”

JangoMail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Significant challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prejudice?

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.

Background

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.

Process

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”.

Predatory?

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: jeffrey.beall@ucdenver.edu. 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.

 

Source: http://poynder.blogspot.co.at/2013/01/the-oa-interviews-ashry-aly-of-ashdin.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MOREOVER, IF I DO NOT RECEIVE A CONFIRMATION, WITH PROOF, OF STANDARD AND UNIFORM INQUIRY TO ALL AUTHORS, AS WELL AS A RESPONSE TO THE NEXT 8 QUESTIONS, I WILL CONTACT ALL SCIENTIA HORTICULTURAE AUTHORS AND ALSO THE INSTITUTES TO WHICH ALL SCIENTIA HORTICULTURAE EDITORS BELONG.

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

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

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

Source: http://retractionwatch.com/2014/04/10/following-personal-attacks-and-threats-elsevier-plant-journal-makes-author-persona-non-grata/

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

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

Source: http://blog.scielo.org/en/2015/08/02/motion-to-repudiate-mr-jeffrey-bealls-classist-attack-on-scielo/

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

 

Response by JMIR Publications to Jeffrey Beall’s Blog Post

This blog argues how Jeffery Beall misuse others comments and changes  them in favor of himself. 

Jeffrey Beall has recently published a blog entry with the title “JMIR Publications – a Model for Open Access Publishers” (here). Jeffrey Beall is a librarian who – other than the majority of his colleagues – is highly critical of the open access movement. His claim to fame is the publication of a list of predatory “publishers” – organizations that pretend to be publishers but are really fraudulent individuals or organizations. I actually met JB at the SSP (Society for Scholarly Publishing) meeting in early 2015 in Washington DC, where he assured me that JMIR will never be on that list.

While this hasn’t changed and he doesn’t call JMIR predatory on his blog, he uses strong language such as “fishy” or “amateurish”, which the team at JMIR Publications is shocked and disappointed about.

Beall is not a subject expert in digital health / ehealth (in fact, he has no doctoral degree), and we would like to challenge him to specifically say what exactly the quality concerns he is referring to are (other than that he doesn’t like the cover design of JMIR Public Health & Surveillance, which he labels as “amateurish”) – all our articles are peer-reviewed and carefully copyedited, well cited, and we are not aware of any quality issues or concerns raised previously by others.

He also critisizes “high article processing fees”, but the truth is that JMIR sister journals were created as free or lower cost alternatives to JMIR, have the same APF as for example Plos One ($1500) and are much less expensive than in fact the majority of other OA journals.

He raised a few questions in his blog, to which we respond as follows:

1) “Leading – according to whom?”

The Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) was ranked #1 by Thomson Reuters by impact factor in the Medical Informatics category 5 years in a row until last year (current JCR impact factor 2014: 3.4). The journal has a better impact factor than Plos One, BMJ Open, PeerJ etc.

JMIR is also ranked “leading” on scirev (https://scirev.sc/journal/journal-of-medical-internet-research/) – with a manuscript handling rating of 4.7 (out of 5). JMIR is one of the cofounders of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), and is committed to top quality and ethical publication practices.

UPDATE Dec 29th, 2015: In a comment, Beall now accuses us of being dishonest. We posted a response documenting some metrics but Beall didn’t publish it. While we don’t like to play the Journal Impact Factor card (we don’t like the JIF especially if it is misused to evaluate individual articles), the Journal Impact Factor is widely accepted to evaluate journal quality.

Here is the SCI/ISI Thomson Reuters ranking by 5-year impact factor within the “Medical Informatics” (aka eHealth) subject category:  

journal citation reports 2015 medical informatics category ranking by impactfactors.

 

Most publishers, librarians,` universities, tenure & promotion committees and funders would agree that a consistent and long-standing top ranking by impact factor within its’ discipline would justify to be called a “leading journal” in that discipline. We are not fans of the IF and journals that are not even ranked in the SCI can be leading in their own ways, but our standing here (and not our “hyperbolic marketing”) is the only reason why we are inundated with submissions and need to expand and re-organize.

Other metrics beyond the IF and beyond the harder to measure intellectual contributions to the field, we could mention:

  • – our 17 year publication history,
  • – over 70.000 readers on our mailing list,
  • – a network of over 20,000 authors, editors and peer-reviewers,
  • – hundreds of paying individual and institutional members (including CDC, Johns Hopkins, NIH, WHO…),
  • – 7.000 twitter followers,
  • – dissemination partnership with over 75 other publishers etc.
  • – being ranked a top journal also in other indices, for example Scimago (see below)

scimago ranking in health informatics

Author satisfactions and turnaround times are also important metrics for us, and we benchmark ourselves using journal review sites such as scirev against other journals such as PLoS ONE:

scirev rating

In another comment, Beall attacks us that marketing with the phrase “leading journal” or “leading publisher” “has no place in science”, is “hyperbolic marketing”, and “a shameful practice for a medical publisher”.

This of course is absurd. Every professional publisher is marketing their flagship journals with terms like “leading”, and there is nothing wrong with that, as long as they can justify their claim (usually done with IFs, sometimes with paid subscribers).

 

Examples of other publishers promoting their flagship journals with the phrase “leading journal” – a “shameful practice” according to Beall

Elsevier: “Elsevier’s Current Opinion journals comprise of 17 leading titles in life sciences and adjacent fields.“

Mary-Ann Liebert:

“Human Gene Therapy is the leading peer-reviewed journal focusing on the human aspect of gene therapy”

“Stem Cells and Development is globally recognized as the leading peer-reviewed journal for critical and controversial emerging hypotheses and novel findings in stem cell research.”

“Antioxidants & Redox Signaling (ARS) is the leading journal dedicated to the understanding of redox principles governing health and disease.”

“Journal of Neurotrauma is the leading peer-reviewed journal”

“The leading journal of minimally invasive urology, Journal of Endourologyand the companion videojournal,Videourology™ are the essential publications for practicing surgeons “

Taylor & Francis: “International Journal of Logistics Research and Applications – A leading journal of Supply Chain Management”

Wiley-Backwell: “The Journal of Finance (the ‘Journal’) is the world’s leading journal in financial economics”

University of Chicago Press: “Recognized as the leading international journal in women’s studies, Signs is at the forefront of new directions in feminist scholarship”

McFarland – “a leading independent publisher of academic & non-fiction books”

SAGE: “Journal of Service Research (JSR), peer-reviewed and published quarterly, is widely considered the world’s leading service research journal. “

AAAS: “Science has grown to become the world’s leading outlet for scientific news, commentary, and cutting-edge research, with the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general-science journal.”

Wiley: “Applied Vegetation Science in 2016: the leading journal promoting the application of vegetation science”

and “Strategic Management Journal – The world’s leading mass impact journal for research in strategic management.”

 

On the upside, Beall does not accuse us of being “predatory”, but only debates if we are “leading” or not.

We can live with the debate on whether our branding is justified and invite our readers, editors and peer-reviewers to weigh in, but – with all due respect – prefer to have this conversation with our peers and subject experts.

As made clear by some commentators on Beall’s post, those working in the field already know where to publish their work, and as (perhaps the only?) STM publisher specializing in the area of eHealth (technology in health), we remain committed to our vision to be “the leading ehealth publisher, advancing progress in the health, engineering and social sciences to ultimately help people to live happier and healthier lives using technology”, as spelled out in our Vision and Mission Statement.

Follow-Up/Changes we have made: We reviewed our branding strategy and Vision and Mission Statements. No changes deemed necessary. We invite readers, authors, reviewers and editors to give us feedback on whether our vision is too bold.

 

2) Why do “some of the journals don’t have their own editorial boards”.

Beall cites JMIR Cancer (created in April 2015), which is a brand-new journals less than 12 months old. The original issues were published with articles originally submitted to JMIR, where authors consented to a manuscript transfer. Editorial board members are currently being recruited. Other journals such as i-JMR get the majority of their submissions from JMIR (papers that are out of scope for the original JMIR but are of good enough quality to be published are offered a transfer to i-JMR). For other journals, such as JMIR Research Protocols (which publishes mainly already peer-reviewed protocols or proposals), JMIR Publications is also moving away from static editorial boards, and experiments with novel methods to dynamically assign submissions to ad-hoc editors based on merit points (“karma”).

Beall misleadingly talks about “missing editorial boards”, which is factually wrong. We clearly disclose on the website that the current EB of the 4 journals in question consists of EB members of JMIR. There is nothing unethical or wrong about this. Neither OASPA nor COPE specificy that an editor can only be associated with one journal. As an aside, the task of the “editorial board” varies widely across journals and publishers, and it is a somewhat anachronistic model. JMIR has a database of over 10,000 peer reviewers, and several academic editors handling submissions for submissions across different journals. Each academic editor and peer-reviewers are named at the bottom of each published article.

Follow-Up/Changes we have made: EB’s for JMIR Med Educ and JMIR Mental Health have been updated. We will update other Editorial Boards in 2016. We will also reveal details of our innovative “karma” points based dynamic assignment of editor roles to members of our experts / past reviewers database.

 

3) “The publisher appears to be in a belabored process of re-organizing and expanding, aiming to maximize profits.”

– yes, JMIR Publications is re-organizing and expanding, because our reputation in the field (and frankly, obsession with the Impact Factor) attracts more submissions than what JMIR can handle with the original minimal staff. Sister journals were created to recruit additional editors. “Profits” (or more accurately, revenue from Article Processing Fees) are re-invested into people and infrastructure.

Follow-Up/Changes we have made: No changes deemed necessary. We stand behind our reorganization strategy and innovation in publishing.

 

4) “JMIR publishes sixteen open-access medical journals, most of them broad in scope, a strategy designed to optimize revenue by making most health sciences articles fall into the coverage of at least one of the journals.”

– it should be noted that all journals have a focus on technology in health, so the focus is not as broad as Beall makes it sound like. JMIR is a niche publisher and it is actually more likely that an article falls into the scope of the 300 journals published by Elsevier.

Follow-Up/Changes we have made: No changes deemed necessary. We stand behind our expansion strategy, which is ultimately intended to distribute the submission load among more academic edtors.

 

5) “JMIR charges an optional fast-track fee”

Like other leading publishers (eg. Nature Publishing Group), JMIR experiments with an optional fast-track fee, where we guarantee a rapid decision within 3 weeks, by tightly monitoring reviewer responsiveness. JMIR invented this model – we were the first publisher experimenting with it (long before Nature did), developed the code and contributed it to the OJS platform (see more information on fast-track data here). If this is used by what Beall calls “predatory” publishers, then this is unfortunate, but it is nothing we have control over. The fast-track option is much appreciated and heavily used by some of our authors who have a specific deadline for a rapid decision, eg. a grant proposal, deadline for tenure & promotion, or PhD defense date. Pointing out the additional costs is a bit like criticizing that some researchers prefer to take the plane rather than a Greyhound bus to a conference. And, Mr Beall, don’t worry, these costs don’t come out of library budgets (which, as librarian, seems to be his primary concern).

To phrase his critique about the fast-track fee in the way he did (‘like many predatory journals, some (or all) of the JMIR journals offer a fast-track fee”) is misleading and borders on slander, as it is suggestive of JMIR being a predatory journal (without saying it). It is not just “predatory journals” experimenting with fast-track.

It may be worth mentioning that in the Bohannon / Science “sting operation”, where a fake low-quality paper was sent to OA journals to identify “predatory” publishers who bypass peer-review, JMIR – of course – did not accept or even consider the paper.  It didn’t even enter the peer-review stage because it was deemed out of scope. To bring JMIR in connection with “predatory” pubishers who bypass peer-review is absurd. Our peer-reviewers are listed at the end of each article.

Follow-Up/Changes we have made: No changes deemed necessary. Our author survey shows that the majority of authors appreciate the FT option and we will keep it, unless authors tell us otherwise. All authors receive a post-submission and post-publication questionnaire where they can give us feedback. While some authors find it “unfair” that money can buy a faster turnaround, it is also “unfair” that people travelling in business class have more legroom. The alternative would be to sell only economy class seats with higher ticket prices for everybody. Our authors don’t want this.

6) “The website is hard to navigate and poorly organized.”:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and our users certainly have different opinions – some of the tweets and quotes we have collected include:

  • “Just noticed your new website. Beautiful! Best journal website I’ve seen so far.”
  • “Simple, responsive and friendly!.. @JMedInternetRes new website is above Excellent..i am returning each day to my account!.”
  • “I really love the new look at the Journal for Medical Internet Research! Great work, ”  (http://www.jmir.org/announcement/view/83)

We will continue working on our goal to “make JMIR the most cutting-edge, beautiful, and advanced academic journal site on the web” (Josh Flowers, Lead Designer and Director of User Experience at JMIR Publications). We welcome constructive feedback if there are specific issues you had with the site. 7) Regarding Google map picture of a “dwelling”, JMIR is a virtual organization, with staff and freelancers in different places and often working from home. The editorial office (where the permanent staff is hosted) is actually located in an administrative wing at the Toronto General Hospital, and a picture of that office building can be found at http://jmirpublications.com.

 

Finally, it is somewhat flattering (but inaccurate) to frame JMIR Publications as a “large” publisher that is morphing into “the type of publisher the open-access movement was organized to take down.”. JMIR Publications is still a far cry away from being a Elsevier or even PLoS. JMIR is a scientist-owned publisher that was created in 1998 out of passion for technology in health, long before the open-access movement became fashionable. While we are proud of having become one of the leading journals in our field with a journal that is on par or better (according to impact factor) than journals published by publishing giants, it was certainly not created to “take down” anything or anybody. We are open access because we think it helps to disseminate knowledge.

To answer Beall’s last question — is JMIR the future of medical publishing? — we certainly think so and we will continue to be innovative and disruptive in many aspects.

We look forward entering a constructive dialogue with Mr Beall, but would appreciate to continue the debate on a scholarly and non-polemic level. Those working in the field of Digital Health, ehealth/mhealth and public health informatics are perhaps in the best position to judge our reputation and the quality of the material we publish, and we invite our authors, readers, peer-reviewers and editors to leave a comment on Mr Beall’s blog.

In a another comment, Beall calls us a “idiosyncratic publisher”, and if this means that we are not like other publishers, then we can agree to and are proud of that. Innovators and successful businesses are often initially accused of being “idiosyncratic”, because if they would simply imitate what everybody else does they would not be successful or innovative. We take it as a compliment.

 

Prof. Gunther Eysenbach,

Publisher

Co-Founder, Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association

—–

Addendum: What is behind JB’s mission to discredit gold-OA?

While Beall stopped short of accusing JMIR Publications to be predatory, it may be worth citing Phil Davies from the Scholarly Kitchen regarding Beall:

Beall is falsely accusing nearly one in five as being a “potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open access publisher” on appearances alone.

(…) it means that librarian, Jeffrey Beall, should reconsider listing publishers on his “predatory” list until he has evidence of wrongdoing. Being mislabeled as a “potential, possible, or probable predatory publisher” by circumstantial evidence alone is like the sheriff of a Wild West town throwing a cowboy into jail just ‘cuz he’s a little funny lookin.’

Civility requires due process.

Beall has been quoted as saying “The only truly successful model that I have seen is the traditional publishing model.” and “open access publishing is an anti-corporatist movement” whose advocates pursue the goal of “kill[ing] off the for-profit publishers and mak[ing] scholarly publishing a cooperative and socialistic enterprise“. ( Beall, Jeffrey (2013). “The Open-Access Movement is Not Really about Open Access”. tripleC 11 (2): 589–597. )

It is this political view and his general criticism of gold-OA against which readers should and will see JB’s assault against JMIR Publications, which threatens his belief system – we can see how confusing and irritating it must be to come across a non-traditional, yet succesful gold-Open Access publisher, which is not a “socialistic enterprise”, and intelligent readers will be smart enough to draw their own conclusions.

To quote Joseph Esposito on the Scholarly Kitchen in an article aptly entitled “Parting Company with Jeffrey Beall”: “His outrage clouds his judgment and expression and undermines his best arguments.” (http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2013/12/16/parting-company-with-jeffrey-beall/).

Outrage against succesful gold-OA models or not, JMIR Publications is disappointed about the abusive tone and personal attacks against our employees, authors, peer-reviewers, and invite readers to judge Mr Beall based on his own language and actions. We have maintained a civil tone throughout the debate, which cannot be said about Mr Beall.

We are also now learning that Mr Beall systematically suppresses comments on his blog that defend JMIR, which we find unprofessional at best. (if anybody has left a comment that is critical of his analysis, please send a screenshot to us).

Community Reactions

Some of the twitter responses to Beall’s attempt to discredit JMIR:

 

Email by Brennan

email by Callegaro

(asked if he had posted a response, it becomes clear that Beall has censored it) Beall censors

(Beall also censored some of our comments, which  “awaited moderation” for several days and then mysteriously disappeared) Beall censors commentsBeall censors

Source:http://www.jmir.org/content/beall

Backlash against Beall’s Blog

[Forwarding from Jeffrey Beall, via the ScholComm list.  --Peter Suber.]


Colleagues,****

** **

I am the author of Scholarly Open Access <http://scholarlyoa.com/>, a blog
that includes lists of questionable scholarly publishers and questionable
independent journals. ****

** **

I'm writing to let people that I've been the victim of an ongoing,
organized attempt to discredit me and my blog. ****

** **

Specifically, I've been a victim of email
spoofing<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Email_spoofing>,
in which someone is sending emails that appear to be from me but really are
not. ****

** **

One of the spoofed emails is an offer to "reevaluate" a publisher's
presence on my list for five thousand dollars. These emails try to make it
look like I am extorting money from publishers. ****

** **

Also, someone is going around setting up new blogs that reprint the spoofed
email or that include contrived quotes from scholars. An example is
here<http://editormedicinalchemistry.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/jeffrey-beall-is-blackmailing-small-open-access-publishers-through-his-predatory-publishers-blog/>.
****

** **

Additionally, someone is leaving negative comments about me and my work on
various OA-related blogs and websites, writing in the names of people
prominent in the OA movement. One place this occurred was in the comments
section of my October *Nature* piece. The publisher has removed these
spurious statements and closed further comments.****

** **

I'm going to continue my work identifying questionable and predatory
publishers as best I can. Because many of the publishers on my list are
true criminals, it's no surprise that they would respond in a criminal way.
****

** **

I realize my blog is not perfect; I've made mistakes and have tried to
learn from them. Many of you have given me valuable advice, and I have
tried to implement the good advice as best I could. I have not engaged in
any of the activities that they are trying to frame me with.****

** **

Thanks for your understanding. ****

** **

Jeffrey****

** **

Jeffrey Beall, MA, MSLS, Associate Professor****

Scholarly Initiatives Librarian
Auraria Library
University of Colorado Denver
1100 Lawrence St.
Denver, Colo.  80204 USA
(303) 556-5936
jeffrey.beall at ucdenver.edu****

Source: http://mailman.ecs.soton.ac.uk/pipermail/goal/2012-December/001407.html

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

My answer to the recent article by Jeffrey Beall.

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 databaseto 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.

Source: http://openscience.com/reputation-is-money-in-academic-publishing-or-why-jeffrey-beall-is-wrong/