June 8, 2012

Chronicle interview with author of List of Predatory, Open-Access Publishers

In its June 5 issue, the Chronicle of Higher Education has a Q&A With Jeffrey Beall, the author of the web List of Predatory, Open-Access Publishers. Beall is an academic librarian at the University of Colorado at Denver. Some excerpts:

So what exactly is "predatory open-access publishing?"

Predatory open-access publishers are those that unprofessionally exploit the gold open-access model for their own profit. That is to say, they operate as scholarly vanity presses and publish articles in exchange for the author fee. They are characterized by various level of deception and lack of transparency in their operations. For example, some publishers may misrepresent their location, stating New York instead of Nigeria, or they may claim a stringent peer-review where none really exists.


There seem to be a lot of publishers that originate in Nigeria and Pakistan. But I also found one in St. Cloud, Minnesota, just up the road, called Scientific Journals International. Do you know anything about it?

Yes, I am very familiar with Scientific Journals International. I included this publisher in a comparative review I had published in the Charleston Advisor in April, 2010. The publisher is basically a one-man operation, and I heard late last year that he has the operation up for sale. The owner uses a single ISSN for the whole site, a non-standard practice. (ISSN's are normally applied at the journal title level, not at the publisher level. Every journal is supposed to have a unique ISSN.) He also uses one giant editorial board for all his journals.

Does any particular discipline seem over-represented in predatory open access publishing?

Predatory open-access publishers prey mostly on researchers in the STM fields because that's where the grant money is.


On the other side of the equation, of course, there are the academics that sign on with the journals, or even publish their articles there. It seems as if part of the problem is the university status system. There is no real downside to publishing articles in crappy journals. At least not in medicine, where the main aim seems to be to build a massive CV (and to generate lots of grant money, of course.)

Yes, some academics are abusing the system. They submit weak papers to predatory publishers and then take credit for them when they apply for promotion or tenure. However, many of those publishing in predatory journals are graduate students and junior faculty who lack the experience to recognize the predators. The publishers have learned to exploit this naivete.

Tenure and promotion committees need to change (and many are changing). They need to be able to identify scholarly vanity presses and to properly assess articles published in them. Mentors should steer junior faculty away from scam publishers and direct them to top-tier journals.

Posted by stemp003 at June 8, 2012 11:03 AM
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