Friday, December 14, 2012

Beware! Predatory Publishers

Scholarly Open Access is a blog maintained by Jeffrey Beal, a librarian at Auraria Library, University of Colorado Denver. The aim of this blog, it seems, is to warn everyone about the dangers of people exploiting open source publishing to produce substandard academic publications. In particular, Beal warns us about Predatory Publishers - his latest list published on 4th December lists 244 publishers and 126 individual journals that fall into this category.
What does a publisher or journal have to do to be labelled a predatory publisher? Perhaps the most common way of finding yourself labelled as predatory is to demand that authors pay for their publications. It is implied, and sometimes stated, that payment is likely to dilute the peer review process, or in some publications the peer review process may not be transparent or applied. In general, the publisher or journal does not conform to the codes of conduct for the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, Committee on Publication Ethics or the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers. Other factors include lack of transparency, the setting up of a journal for no other purpose than earning money from the publication, any manner of false claims, any practice that brings academic publishing into disrepute and any form of plagiarising practice. All of this is carefully laid out in Beal's Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers.
The blog is not afraid to name and shame and includes many specific instances of what Beal calls predatory publishing. Applying the criteria, here is a typical example, brought to my attention by IJLS editors. I particularly like the poor spelling - dead giveaway!!! IJLS takes a very stern approach towards predatory publishing and no longer accepts papers from authors who have had their work accepted in the list.
I expect more publishers to take a similar line as more unscrupulous businesses cotton on to the generally subjective nature of the peer review process - a system of review that is just waiting to be exploited by people with no investment in the long-term development of academic standards.

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