October 1, 2014

Predatory Publishers | Peer to Peer Review

There are definitely publishers who come to mind when I hear the expression “predatory publishers.” My first thought is of the high-profile academic publishers who are increasing their journal prices by ten or 20 percent per year, leaving libraries with impossible choices to be made between maintaining their journal subscriptions in key fields or buying that year’s monographic production. None of these are on Jeffrey Beall’s “Possible Predatory Publishers” list at the Scholarly Open Access site, however. Beall’s list consists of newly formed open access (OA) journals that charge authors a fee for each article published but that allegedly do not follow accepted academic practice for quality publication or are even fraudulent in nature.

Most likely you have been getting an increasing number of “cold call” requests to publish in OA journals. These may be new OA journals being developed by known scholarly publishers, such as the recently announced “IEEE Access,” which lists among its positive qualities “rapid, binary peer-review process with a decision of accept/reject” and “convenient author-pays publishing model, with an article processing charge of US$1,750 per article.” Others may be asking you to submit articles to journals entirely unrelated to your field of activity, or even to join the editorial board of such a journal. These email messages have alerted many of us to a new phenomenon of what I would call “the gold rush in scholarly publishing.” Many of these newly formed publishers of OA scholarly journals online are inspired by what I think of as the “Hindawi model.”

Hindawi is a scholarly journal publisher founded in 1997 with, initially, a small number of print journals. In 2003 it began to transition to an OA business model and was carefully watched by the academic community. Since then, Hindawi has flourished and now has over 500 journal titles and a staff of at least 200 at its offices in Egypt. Other scholarly publishers are experimenting with the OA model, but none have taken it as far as Hindawi. What is key about this model is that OA has the potential to reach a broader audience than those served by printed publications because there is no cost to receive the content. The cost of OA may be paid for by institutions hosting the journals or using an “author pays” model.

The editorial boards and author lists of the Hindawi journals are made up primarily of scholars from Asia and South Asia, with some from Latin America. In terms of participation in the global scholarly conversation, these are relatively untapped resources. China is considered the most fruitful emerging market for scholarly publishers, but there is still a very large gap between scholarship in the developed world and that in the developing world. Open access publishing has some potential to help bridge that gap, and some publishers see the developing world as an upcoming market for scholarly publishing.

Hindawi appears to have started an OA publishing gold rush, and scores of new publishing ventures have popped up in the last few months. Like the gold rush of 1849, it is unlikely that latecomers will get a sizable share of the mother lode. The rush has been encouraged by the development and availability of journal publishing software specific to this kind of endeavor and the low cost of entry. An individual publisher may initiate anywhere from one dozen to upward to 50 or more journal titles on various topics—almost always, however, in the sciences, as those are the academic areas with monetizing potential. It is a subset of these publishers that is ending up on Beall’s list.

Beall’s analysis of the upstart publishers following in Hindawi’s footsteps (and undoubtedly hoping for a similar success) often mentions their place of origin in a developing country with a possibly implied negative. Yet the tiered nature of scholarly publishing between the developed and the developing countries is not new: statistics show that authors in top-tier scholarly journals are overwhelmingly from wealthy Western environments. Although scholarly publishing has existed outside of the dominant West, few Western libraries carry these publications, and few Westerners would consider publishing in them. Similarly, not a great deal of scholarship from the developing nations is published in the dominant Western literature. With open access publishing, the scholars from developing countries have a chance to become visible, if not to Western scholars, at least to one another.

While many hopefuls flock to the gold rush, so do the cheats, charlatans, and scoundrels. Some of these exploit the situation for their own gain, others go further and take advantage of the trust of others. In the rush to print, and the hopes of attaining prestige, unscrupulous authors can place identical or near-identical articles in multiple journals. Where the journals themselves are not providing rigorous peer review and editorial oversight (and, admittedly, some may not be providing any at all), the rules of academic engagement are thus broken.

Even worse are those publishers whose actions may be fraudulent in nature. Some journals misrepresent themselves by using titles such as “American Journal of…” or “European Journal of…” when they are not associated either geographically or academically with those regions. (I assume that “International Journal of….” is open to all.) There are journals whose editorial boards list fictitious persons or persons who have not agreed to be on the board. The worst plagiarize articles from other sources to fill in their alleged “back issues.”

It is true that the “author pays” economic model is open to exploitation, but nothing excuses outright fraud in any kind of publishing. The dishonest players in this arena are unfortunately making it more difficult for honest but struggling publishers that may eventually be part of a sea change in the exchange of scholarly information that can begin to bridge the gap between the “haves” and “have nots”; between the more privileged scholars with access to top-tier scholarly literature and enviable research budgets; and the scholars from developing countries who could greatly benefit from open access to the world’s academic literature.

However, I see something important in this story beyond the possible existence of dishonest publishers. What concerns me even more is the complicity of the academic world in general, and in particular the Western academic world, in the substandard publishing endeavors. Many of these upstart companies have found First World academics who are willing to lend their names to the publications but who may not be doing anything to make a positive difference in regard to bridging the research and publication gap between the developed and the developing world. The willingness to put one’s name on a journal that is not following best practices in publishing is a moral failure in academe that needs to be addressed at an institutional level. It is not enough to lend your name to the board of a journal, adding to your own CV; such a position should only be taken by those willing to work toward the development of quality scholarly research and publication. Scholars working in First World academic institutions have a particular obligation to endeavor to level the playing field between the haves and have-less’s in the research arena.

Beall’s list (officially called “Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers”) attempts a binary division of this complex gold rush: the good and the bad. Yet many of the criteria used are either impossible to quantify (“The publisher dedicates insufficient resources to preventing and eliminating author misconduct…”), or can be found to apply as often to established OA journals as to the new entrants in this area (“Depends on author fees as the sole and only means of operation with no alternative, long-term business plan…”).  Some of the criteria seem to make First World assumptions that aren’t valid worldwide, such as, “The publishers’ officers use email addresses that end in .gmail.com, yahoo.com, some other free email supplier.” It isn’t difficult to find Third World university websites with entire faculty lists that use Yahoo! email, undoubtedly because of minimal technical support at their institution.

Even more difficult for the generalists among us is any determination of the cultural and scientific value of the published papers. I have been a reviewer for international conferences and for international journals, and from my vantage point it is very hard to know what will serve as useful information for scholars outside of my environment. At all costs we must avoid making judgments based on our First World assumptions and definitely not based on culture or race or anything other than the potential contribution to scholarship somewhere in the world.

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About Karen Coyle

Karen Coyle (kcoyle@kcoyle.net) is a librarian with over thirty years of experience with library technology. She now consults in a variety of areas relating to digital libraries. As a consultant she works primarily on metadata development and technology planning. She is currently investigating the possibilities offered by the semantic web and linked data technology.

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Comments

  1. I would like to correct two statements about Hindawi that were made in this article. First, while the article mentions that we employ at least 200 staff, the actual number is more than 800 people, as is mentioned at http://www.hindawi.com/about/.

    Second, it is not true that “editorial boards and author lists of the Hindawi journals are made up primarily of scholars from Asia and South Asia.” While there is certainly nothing wrong in having authors and editors from Asia and South Asia, the top 10 countries in terms of the Editorial Board Membership of our journals are as follows (as you can see at the following page http://www.hindawi.com/countries/index/):
    1) USA
    2) Italy
    3) Japan
    4) UK
    5) France
    6) Germany
    7) Spain
    8) China
    9) Canada
    10) Australia

    In terms of our authorship, the following is a list of the 10 countries from which we have published the largest number of articles:
    1) USA
    2) China
    3) India
    4) Japan
    5) UK
    6) Italy
    7) Canada
    8) Germany
    9) France
    10) Brazil

    If you compare this with the list of the most prolific countries in terms of their scholarly publishing output that was compiled by Thomson Reuters in 2011 (which is available at http://archive.sciencewatch.com/dr/cou/2011/11decALL/), you will see that the authorship and editorship of our journals is very reflective of the global distribution of scientific research.

    • Thank you, Paul, for the more recent information. I had used an article of yours for some data, and clearly Hindawi has been growing very quickly. I am also glad to get the data on authorship and editorship. I consider greater publishing opportunities for everyone to be a positive thing, and that it is important that we create, to the extent possible, a single world of letters and science, not a divided world. Open access publishing is more likely to bring that about than the prior print generation. OA publishing is growing at a dizzying rate at the moment, but I suspect that natural forces (like the actual number of authors and readers) will eventually lead to a more “steady state” that looks similar to the scholarly communication that we know today, but more global in nature.

  2. I saw a recent relevant update. R. Poynder has many times rightly pointed that Beal’s list is lacking ‘appeal process’. Now Beall has proposed Appeal process to be implemented for his list (http://scholarlyoa.com/2013/02/27/appeal-process-to-be-implemented-for-this-blogs-lists/). In my some recent posts, I have also suggested to apply ‘correction’ policy. Successful implementation of the ‘Appeal process’ is more important. Though sometimes I was doubtful that whether Beall want to help OA or destroy OA, but most of the times I had faith on Beall, on his flexibility to accept other’s suggestion, on his guts to confess errors in public and also on his hard work. I am so happy to see that academic and social peer review of questionable publishers are about to start. I am also happy to see that third component (correction/appeal) of our social peer review system (i.e. Reward, punishment and correction) is taking shape. Many times I was too harsh on Beall, but most of the time I am very much pleased with Beall’s efforts to establish the Gold OA system in right track.

    Now I have some suggestions and also some warning notes for this process to be implemented successfully.

    Many times Beall’s list is termed as some sort of ‘negative approach’ (Reference: comments of Jan Velterop, Ex. Director of Nature, Ex. Director of Springer Open, Reference: http://poynder.blogspot.in/2013/01/the-oa-interviews-ashry-aly-of-ashdin.html).
    Karen Coyle (a librarian like Beall) had severely criticized Beall for enlisting some publishers without much proof and described some of Beall’s evaluation language “to be bordering on racism”. (Reference: https://plus.google.com/109377556796183035206/posts/LQVaue6XYev?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A%20GPeterSuber%20%28G%2BFeed%20of%20Peter%20Suber%29). Therefore, I suggest Beall to take more care to prove his case and arguments this time.

    Suggestion 1: If an appeal process really starts, I suggest that Beall should not be involved in the board (I agree that previously I proposed Beall in the board, which I withdraw now Ref: http://poynder.blogspot.in/2013/01/the-oa-interviews-ashry-aly-of-ashdin.html). It will be more than a case of ‘Competing Interest’ if Beall himself is in the board. In fact here Beall is one party (who is having allegations against the publishers) and publishers are other party (who will be defending their position). Therefore, being a party of this case, Beall cannot take the both post of judge as well as one party.

    PART 2
    Suggestion 2: Make this total appeal process and discussion completely OPEN for highest level of transparency and also to defend complains against any biased evaluation. (Beall can take idea from Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics OR BMC Medicine Open peer review system (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/101/prepub).
    Anyway adoption of OPEN evaluation requires lots of guts and patience but the result will be the most transparent one. Nobody can challenge this transparent system. (I am not claiming that it is the perfect system. In fact no system on earth is perfect. But we should make the system transparent to increase the credibility). Anyway I assume, that Blog concept is by nature OPEN and Beall invited ‘Appeal process” in a blog, he should publish all appeal related discussion/documents open to respect the very nature of BLOG.

    Suggestion 3: First Beall should publish specific complain against each entry in his list based on RECENT evaluation (as Beall also agreed that questionable publishers can adopt standard practices and can improve themselves and also Beall had dropped one name when that publisher improved its business practice). Beall must publish it as OPEN pdf document. Your allegations should not be too old to evaluate (say not more than 6-8 months old). I think this should be the valid starting point for this appeal process. Unless all allegations are in one place then how on earth the publishers start to defend themselves. Otherwise it will be a mockery.
    (You got complain from many persons that your inclusions are without any proof or properly justified (Example:
    1. Karen Coyle: https://plus.google.com/109377556796183035206/posts/LQVaue6XYev?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A%20GPeterSuber%20%28G%2BFeed%20of%20Peter%20Suber%29)
    2. David Solomon (http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/08/04/criteria-for-determining-predatory-open-access-publishers/#comment-1391)

    Suggestion 4: I propose more scientific way to categorize new (probable suspicious) publishers. I fully agree with R Poynder that a Binary system of evaluation has lots of limitation, as he correctly pointed that, “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.” (Reference: http://poynder.blogspot.in/2013/01/the-oa-interviews-ashry-aly-of-ashdin.html). I also oppose a subjective way of evaluation. An objective evaluation scale, say 0-100 score will be more scientific way of labeling different classes of publishers.
    PART 3
    Suggestion 5: I propose this time Beall should develop some precise, solid and useful criteria before evaluation. His evaluation criteria are so broad that if properly applied no publisher in the world can escape his list (Reference: Lars Juhl Jensen’s comment: http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/08/04/criteria-for-determining-predatory-open-access-publishers/#comment-1373). He is ready to term a publisher predatory, if it publishes a journal with very broad scope. Somebody can apply same analogy and can term him a ‘predatory evaluator’ as his evaluation criteria are too broad.
    I propose the new criteria should be very precise and should concentrate on the main service of a publisher (i.e. to work as a gatekeeper for academic scholarly publishing by providing peer review service). There should be weighting of different points as every point can not have equal importance during evaluation and so on. For me a publisher’s basic service is ‘to work as a gatekeeper for academic scholarly publishing by providing peer review service’. If they are claiming that they are gatekeeper but accepting all the papers for their own profit then they are cheating.
    Initial weakness of infrastructure (good office, commercial email service, etc) of a new start-up is bound to come for a new startup. Very few publisher can be lucky enough like PlOS to start with millions of donation. If initial poor office is in question then we would not have seen Microsoft, Facebook, Dell, etc. In fact origination of OPEN access lies in the power of internet and information technology. A small start-up OA publisher without a office and operating from an apartment can run efficiently if it establishes a proper E-management system of peer review and publication. That is the beauty of E-age and internet as it opens up immense opportunity. Here I want recall the comments of Maria Hrynkiewicz: “…but as long as they safeguard the quality of the content and follow the best practices in terms of peer review, copyrights and funding mandates – they contribute to the better dissemination of science.” (Reference: http://www.nature.com/news/report?article=1.11385&comment=50956).

    Suggestion 6: Beall should clearly define what is “Predatory open access publisher” and what is “Legitimate GOLD open access publishers”. At the end of this appeal it will help to make final decision.
    Allow me to recollect, Beall’s definition of predatory publishers as “Predatory, open access publishers are those that unprofessionally exploit the author pays model of open access publishing (Gold OA) for their own profit”. My simple understanding tells me that “Legitimate GOLD open access publishers are those that PROFESSIONALLY exploit the author pays model of open access publishing (Gold OA) for their own profit”. No car can run without fuel. It means taking money or earning money by doing some business (here OA publishing) is not bad/unethical if you are providing your basic service honestly.


    I strongly disagree with Beall. I strongly protested the case of email spoofing against Beall. And now I also strongly protest Beall’s this behavior. It is grossly unfair.

    Beall himself issued this notice, “We recommend that scholars read the available reviews, assessments and descriptions provided here, and then decide for themselves whether they want to submit articles, serve as editors or on editorial boards.” (Reference: http://scholarlyoa.com/publishers/).
    This view is quite acceptable and neutral.
    Contrary to Beall’s own view, Beall has started to suggest people to isolate the questionable publishers by this way: “I recommend against having any association with all of these journals. Do not send them any manuscripts, do not agree to review any of their papers, and do not agree to serve on their editorial or advisory boards.” (Reference: http://scholarlyoa.com/2013/02/19/bangladeshis-publishing-even-more-journals-from-connecticut/)
    This view is more aggressive and forcing to polarize the readers.

    Now it seems that Beall is not only giving neutral evaluation to the readers he is slowly becoming aggressive and now he is loosing patience, who is not obeying him. Now Beall started personal attacks against the individuals. This is really a dangerous tendency. Some people may find similar tendency as history documented about fascist attitude, religious bigotry, and attacks on girls by Talibans who disobey them, or suppressive action against Galileo Galilei, etc.
    Prof. Perry is one of the top most neuro scientists of the world and consistently ranked within first 100 top scientists in his category. He has enormous contribution to science. He has enough peaks of academic achievements in his more than 100 page resume. He is already in editorial board of many high impact subscription based journals. To recollect a few: one of the top Alzheimer’s disease researchers with over 900 publications; one of the top 100 most-cited scientists in Neuroscience & Behavior; one of the top 25 scientists in free radical research. Perry is highly cited over 33,000 times and is recognized as an ISI highly cited researcher. Perry is editor for numerous journals and is editor-in-chief for the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease which is having 3.745 impact factor in 2011. He is fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and past-president of the American Association of Neuropathologists. He will gain no physical reward by sitting in the editorial board of these new journals. But still he is serving as chief editor or editorial board member of many new OA journals. Why? He may have a different and unique attitude than others. He is not afraid of mixing with the new and questionable. He may have a noble attitude that with his tremendous experience he may heal the problem of new journals from inside. Daring and real strong persons are never afraid of their stature as they they may have enough self confidence. They may believe that ‘isolation’ is not at all a solution of a problem. Only internal developments can solve a problem. Kudos to Prof. Perry for his unique attitude and self confidence. I remember that Mother Teresa also believed that isolation is not the solution and if you have power you should mix and help to improve. We need more and more George Perry to improve these questionable journals. I also suggest Beall to take the chief editors’ post of a questionable journal in his expertise area and improve the behavior of the journal from inside.

    • Karen Coyle says:

      A Khan,

      Thank you for your extensive contributions. I entirely agree that we must avoid prejudicial statements in our analyses. There is a risk of rising hostilities that is entirely unnecessary. The facts should speak for themselves.

      I think we are in a particular moment of time with an explosion of “entrepreneurship” around publishing in new markets. There is a great deal of un-met demand for publishing opportunities, mainly fueled by a not very helpful policy of “publish or perish.” There’s something fundamentally wrong in scholarly careers today, but I think changes are inevitable. Let’s just hope they come sooner rather than later.

  3. In spite of all efforts (manual/software), plagiarism existed in past as well as present. Unethical authors are always available. Therefore, if Elsevier / Springer /T&F can not stop plagiarism with the assumption that they have most trained manpower or costly software or access to all subscription based databases, then it is obvious that small publishers with limited resources (as mentioned above), can not fight this plagiarism disease. Therefore, unethical authors can fool these small publishers more easily. (My assumption is: The small publisher is really honest and not a predatory publisher who wants to accept all papers for a fee). And also I want to clear that I am not in support (or against) of Ashdin. I am describing the problem of small publishers.

    I also find Beall immature as he is ready to label any small (mainly third world) publisher as ‘predatory’ whenever he found a single case against it. I think he is in hurry to populate his list. If still he repeats the same mistakes he has done for last 2 years during his ‘bad OA publicity program’, he will slowly loose the credibility. Numerous mistakes are very easy to find out in his list and he is very slow in learning (Reference: Karen Coyle’s comments in https://plus.google.com/109377556796183035206/posts/LQVaue6XYev, David Solomon’ comments in http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/08/04/criteria-for-determining-predatory-open-access-publishers/ etc.) .

    Beall himself reported a case of self-plagiarism in a journal of Springer. But it seems we are ready to show more patience for the big names!

    See some of previous cases:
    Reason 1. Publication of plagiarized paper (http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/12/19/publisher-charges-authors-for-retractions/)
    (References:
    1. http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/08/22/plagiarism-in-the-journal-of-sports-medicine-doping-studies/#more-614
    2. http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/08/31/international-prank-involving-predatory-publishers-makes-headlines-in-indonesia/#more-642)

    Reason 2. Duplication of Journal title
    (References:
    1. http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/09/18/two-publishers-each-have-a-journal-with-the-same-title/#more-720)
    2. http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/07/10/new-open-access-publisher-copies-anothers-name/#more-458)

    If a new and small publisher becomes victim of an unethical scientist, very fast we conclude that it is a predatory one. If journal of a giant publisher becomes victim, we are ready to give this journal more and more chances to prove itself. This tendency is not healthy. We (including me) should show more patience for the new before labelling it as bad. We should guide them what they should do or not. If the new publisher fails to prove its good wishes and repeatedly do the same mistakes, we must punish it with some label. But who are experienced and big journals, they should get less chance to prove. Yes, I do agree that there are some true criminals in Beall’s list, who are born to cheat people. They are shameless. Even they get 100 number of chances they will not correct themselves. They should be really punished by public defamation. But I strongly believe that there are also some new players in Beall’s list who did some mistakes due to lack of experience and honestly try to correct those. But they are not getting sufficient chances to get out of Beall’s list. I think Beall’s work is really doing lots of good thing for the Open Access publishing, but it is slowly creating another big problem.

    It is creating a real new predatory class of open access publishers. Even the new publishers, who wants to follow good industry practices, has no way out from this list. So, even they want to be good and rectify the errors, they can not. So now these ‘transition level publishers’ will slowly become helpless. But real criminals will grow as (you believe it or not) there are some unethical authors who want to easily publish their papers and they want these criminals help to publish their papers without peer review. But as the frustration will grow these ‘transition level publishers’ will slowly enlist their names with these criminals and one fine day they will also become real predator. So there will be one class i.e. born predator and there will be another class i.e forced predator (created by social isolation and punishment). We should be very careful in this case.

    Beall really wanted to do some good service for open access publishing. But as an indirect result of that work, we are creating a bigger problem. I strongly believe that every offender should get chances to become good. It is the base of our social system to allow every offender to rectify. We must punish the criminals. But at the same time we should be careful that our actions/rules/regulations should not create more criminals. I want to request Mr. Beall and other Open Access advocates in this particular aspect. Once you took the seat of the judge to decide who is predator or not, and slowly people accepts your judgement and view (as evident from Beall’s recent publications in Nature, Scientists, Higher Education Chronicle, etc), you enter in the more critical area, where much greater responsibility, care, patience are required. You must punish criminals and must allow initial offenders to become good and responsible. Otherwise you may unintentionally create lots of ‘forced predators’. History teaches us that ‘more power demands more patience and more responsibilities’. No doubt that Beall is now one of the most powerful voices related to open access publication.

    It is more important to create an environment / appeal procedure / curing procedure to heal this disease from academic publishing. It is not Beall or me or someone else to judge the good wishes of the new players. It is the ‘new players’ who has to prove themselves that they honestly want to shed the predatory label and appeal for the same and abide by the stringent standard industry rules of scholarly publishing. If anybody does not improve, Darwin’s theory will kill them slowly. History teaches us that ‘hating and isolation’ do not permanently solve a problem. I know that everybody is aware of the great lessons taught by Lord Budhha, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr, etc. Now it is time to apply these lessons to cure this disease. Political history also teaches us that ‘suppression and isolation’ can not cure terrorism’. Only real social and economic development can solve the problem of terrorist prone area. Similarly by isolation and defamation of new inexperienced publishers (leave some real criminals) will not solve this so called ‘predatory’ problem (it may only aggravate it and an endless counter-hate campaign will start). We have to develop a system to correct (or at least to minimize) the errors of these new players. So that one day these new publishers will become responsible publishers.

    As I have previously mentioned, that competition is healthy and only this competition can eventually bring down the cost of Open Access Publishing to 200-450 US$ from presently estimated 1500-2000 £ (Reference Finch report and Danielle Moran http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2012/12/19/taylor-cost-publish-gold-open-access/). And I see that most of this competition is bound to come from developing countries, where chances to lower the processing cost are more. (Recollect how the great revolution came in software, hardware and IT industry in China, India, Taiwan, etc. I think that 20 years back nobody could have imagined it or believed it). Nobody can stop this industry trend and the rules of economics will propel these developments in the scholarly publishing industry. Now it will be more wise decision not to try to stop this development but to guide this development in proper direction.

    So that this future development (in scholarly publishing in the developing countries) take a proper shape. Basically, I believe that always competition is healthy. At least some of the new publishers (Hindawai, Co-action, Frontiers, etc) started to break the monopoly of the giants. It is a good sign for all of us. Personally I have great respect for the works of Beall. Kudos to Beall for the laborious work he has done for last 3 years (Reference: http://scholarlyoa.com/about/). But sometimes I suspect Beall that whether he is really a supporter of OA or he wants to destroy OA secretly (for his personal fame or may be for a hidden competing interest due to his role of Librarian. Normally Librarians have very influential role is purchasing of subscription of traditional journals, which costs thousands of dollars. If subscription based journal losses its present position and all journals become OA then what….). Once Beall confessed that he believes that “The only truly successful model that I have seen is the traditional publishing model.” (Reference: http://chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/on-predatory-publishers-a-qa-with-jeffrey-beall/47667). I sincerely want to believe that Beall is not having any hidden agenda behind his hard work to find only the ugliest areas of OA not the strength of OA. I will be very happy that if my all apprehensions about Beall is wrong.

    But presently I believe that Beall’s list is not now only ‘Beall’s personal list’. Knowingly or unknowingly Beall has discovered the gold mine of faults of new gold open access publishers. He has intelligently coined the term predatory, which is essentially rediscovery of vanity press, existed long back in subscription as well as new author pays model (Reference: http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2012/03/06/predatory-open-access-publishers-the-natural-extreme-of-an-author-pays-model/#comment-44652). Beall has got enough media coverage (Reference: http://www.nature.com/news/predatory-publishers-are-corrupting-open-access-1.11385) in last one year by discussing bad OA than the fame of his total remaining career.

    Enough BAD OA publicity happened! Now it is time to understand that it is not going to help OA in long run. It is now time to organize this unorganized sector. I know that it is almost impossible to do this tough job alone. I have some proposals. (OASPA may have competing interest issue here, as the board of that organization is from the related industry only (Reference: http://oaspa.org/about/board/))

    Step 1: Develop an evaluation board of appeals of these predatory publishers.
    Proposed members of the Expert committee:
    1. Peter Suber (Director of the Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP))
    2. Stevan Harnad (Canada Research Chair in cognitive science at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and professor of cognitive science at the University of Southampton)
    3. David Solomon, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, E. Lansing, MI USA and Author of The Online Guide to Open Access Journals Publishing
    4. Bo‐Christer Björk (Management and Organization, Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland)
    5. Lars Bjørnshauge (Ex. Director of Lund Libraries)
    6. Mike Taylor, open access advocate from University of Bristol
    7. Jeffrey Beall (Team leader) (Due to his vast experience in this predatory open access publishing issue) (Auraria Library, University of Colorado Denver)
    8. Richard Poynder, Journalist widely respected for his independence, even-handedness, analysis, careful interviews, and detailed research
    Step 2: Develop systematic procedure to evaluate appeals of so called predatory publishers (You can take some help from these references: http://openbiomed.info/2012/04/shed-predatory-open-peer-review/ and comments section of the link: http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/08/04/criteria-for-determining-predatory-open-access-publishers/ )
    Step 3: There should be some application process to get removed from your list. Publishers should apply officially
    Step 4: An expert committee should evaluate the applications and announce the result on quarterly basis. Some application charges may be formulated to cover the cost of this total operation and related website.

    It is more practical to agree and accept the truth that NO system is perfect. Our academic peer review or social peer review concepts are meant to minimize the errors and apply “Reward, Punishment and Correction theory” to develop a better system. In this regard I want recall Beall’s definition of predatory publishers “Predatory, open access publishers are those that unprofessionally exploit the author pays model of open access publishing (Gold OA) for their own profit”. My simple understanding tells me that “Legitimate GOLD open access publishers are those that PROFESSIONALLY exploit the author pays model of open access publishing (Gold OA) for their own profit”. No car can run without fuel. It means taking money or earning money by doing some business (here OA publishing) is not bad/unethical if you are providing your basic service honestly. For me a publisher’s basic service is ‘to work as a gatekeeper for academic scholarly publishing by providing peer review service’. If they are not working as a gatekeeper and accepting all the papers for their own profit then they are cheating. It may happen that any new OA publisher is unorganized initially and has no big office, operating from a small apartment from a developing country, use gmail/yahoo etc but if they are maintaining the main service (peer review) properly, then they are definitely contributing. Here I want recall the comments of Maria Hrynkiewicz: “…but as long as they safeguard the quality of the content and follow the best practices in terms of peer review, copyrights and funding mandates – they contribute to the better dissemination of science.” (Reference: http://www.nature.com/news/report?article=1.11385&comment=50956).

    Therefore, I propose more scientific way to develop criteria for evaluating new (probable suspicious) publishers. I fully agree with Poynder that a Binary system of evaluation has lots of limitation, as he correctly pointed that, “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.” I also oppose a subjective way of evaluation. An objective evaluation scale, say 0-100 score will be more scientific way of labelling different classes of publishers. I also dislike too many points of evaluation. I strongly dislike Beall’s numerous points of evaluation. Beall has populated his list without much thought or research. It is too much surprising to me that his list came first (Version 1 in 2011 Dec: http://carbon.ucdenver.edu/~jbeall/Beall%27s%20List%20of%20Predatory,%20Open-
    Version 2 in 2012 first quarter: http://scholarlyoa.com/publishers/
    Version 3 Dec, 2012: http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/12/06/bealls-list-of-predatory-publishers-2013/ , then came his criteria for inclusion (Version 1 came August, 2012 and version 2 came in November 2012). (version 1 criteria (http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/08/04/criteria-for-determining-predatory-open-access-publishers/) and version 2 (http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/11/30/criteria-for-determining-predatory-open-access-publishers-2nd-edition/)). In order to justify all his entries in his list he created many silly or laughable points. He was severely criticized for those points and he reduced some points in his version 2. But he can not reduce much. Otherwise he can not justify his all entries (I remember he included one publisher which has not published any single paper at the time of inclusion but just launched its website, where they have used some uncommon childish fonts, which qualified them for Beall’s list). This is his big problem. I suggest that we should not create such funny situation. Therefore, I propose the new criteria should be very precise and should concentrate on the main service of a publisher (i.e. to work as a gatekeeper for academic scholarly publishing by providing peer review service). There should be weighting of different points as every point can not have equal importance during evaluation and so on.

    Finally, I must tell that competition is healthy and we must promote it. It is good for OA, it is good for science. We must remember that the number of entries in Beall’s list is inversely proportional to the acceptance of OA concept among scholarly communities world wide. I feel that bad OA is getting more media interest than good OA. It is not ‘naming and shaming policy’ which is going to solve this disease by keeping faith on Darwin. It will be again the same mistake we made by suppressing terrorists. It is development and correction which can cure 70-90% of this disease. For remaining 10-30% we should keep faith on Darwin. Something is missing in the present flood of discussions. Our academic peer review or social peer review concepts are meant to minimize the errors and apply “Reward, Punishment and Correction theory” to develop a better system. I am more worried to see that in most of our discussion the last component (i.e. Correction) is missing. It will only aggravate the disease. It is a normal phenomenon that anything BAD gets more interest than anything GOOD. In this way Beall is doing more harm than helping the OA in long run. His list is increasing day by day and proportionately increasing media interest and suspicion of scholarly community towards general OA. I support the view of Jan Erik Frantsvåg which tells that “…. The problem is that all our writings on bogus OA makes that what hits the headlines, not the good OA initiatives. Scientists hear about the bogus, and become sceptical to OA. We must spend more time praising the good OA, so that also gets into headlines and attract scientists’ attention.” (Reference: https://plus.google.com/109377556796183035206/posts). I request Beall as well as all other OA advocates to implement ‘correction’ policy, which is till date missing, to complete the OA movement.

  4. I agree with Coyle that “Scholars working in first world academic institutions have a particular obligation to endeavor to level the playing field between the haves and have-less’s in the research arena.”
    I strongly dislike Beall’s behavior to personally attack Prof. Perry, who is trying to help new OA journals by his vast experience. It is grossly unfair.

    Beall himself issued this notice, “We recommend that scholars read the available reviews, assessments and descriptions provided here, and then decide for themselves whether they want to submit articles, serve as editors or on editorial boards.” (Reference: http://scholarlyoa.com/publishers/).
    This view is quite acceptable and neutral.
    Contrary to Beall’s own view, Beall has started to suggest people to isolate the questionable publishers by this way: “I recommend against having any association with all of these journals. Do not send them any manuscripts, do not agree to review any of their papers, and do not agree to serve on their editorial or advisory boards.” (Reference: http://scholarlyoa.com/2013/02/19/bangladeshis-publishing-even-more-journals-from-connecticut/)
    This view is more aggressive and forcing to polarize the readers.

    Now it seems that Beall is not only giving neutral evaluation to the readers he is slowly becoming aggressive and now he is loosing patience, who is not obeying him. Now Beall started personal attacks against the individuals. This is really a dangerous tendency. Some people may find similar tendency as history documented about fascist attitude, religious bigotry, and attacks on girls by Talibans who disobey them, or suppressive action against Galileo Galilei, etc.
    Prof. Perry is one of the top most neuro scientists of the world and consistently ranked within first 100 top scientists in his category. He has enormous contribution to science. He has enough peaks of academic achievements in his more than 100 page resume. He is already in editorial board of many high impact subscription based journals. To recollect a few: one of the top Alzheimer’s disease researchers with over 900 publications; one of the top 100 most-cited scientists in Neuroscience & Behavior; one of the top 25 scientists in free radical research. Perry is highly cited over 33,000 times and is recognized as an ISI highly cited researcher. Perry is editor for numerous journals and is editor-in-chief for the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease which is having 3.745 impact factor in 2011. He is fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and past-president of the American Association of Neuropathologists. He will gain no physical reward by sitting in the editorial board of these new journals. But still he is serving as chief editor or editorial board member of many new OA journals. Why? He may have a different and unique attitude than others. He is not afraid of mixing with the new and questionable. He may have a noble attitude that with his tremendous experience he may heal the problem of new journals from inside. Daring and real strong persons are never afraid of their stature as they they may have enough self confidence. They may believe that ‘isolation’ is not at all a solution of a problem. Only internal developments can solve a problem. Kudos to Prof. Perry for his unique attitude and self confidence. I remember that Mother Teresa also believed that isolation is not the solution and if you have power you should mix and help to improve. We need more and more George Perry to improve these questionable journals. I also suggest Beall to take the chief editors’ post of a questionable journal in his expertise area and improve the behavior of the journal from inside.

  5. Beall’s Criteria should fit to include this new journal of Elsevier

    Accupuncture and related therapies (Elsevier), option: open access (3000 USD)

    On 13-4-2013: There is only 1 issue Vol 1, no 1 (2012)
    On 13-4-2013: Aim and scope: no information
    On 13-4-2013: only 4 articles written by editor in chief (3) and 1 of the editors (1)

  6. It may be that over 65% of ‘predatory’ publishers are in fact based in the United States.

    http://www.semantico.com/2013/05/are-predatory-publishers-an-american-export/

  7. Karen, this piece contains various inaccuracies, but what concerns me the most is the assumptions, which are barely implicit, that the scholarship from developing world countries is of inferior quality to the scholarship of developed countries. And that this is evident in the fact that journals from developed countries publish largely Western scholars’ work. While it is true that there is less scholarship published from developing countries, the reasons for this are much more complex , as has been written about by many scholars including those from developed countries such as Jean Paul Guedon and Leslie Chan. I recently wrote about this briefly at http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2013/04/29/redrawing-the-map-from-access-to-participation/.
    We are all concerned about the rise of opportunistic publishing in the name of open access, but this has got nothing to do with developing countries (or Hindawi) and everything to do with the commercial drive to profiteer which exists in both traditional scholarly publishing systems as well as emerging ones.

  8. Karen Coyle says:

    Laura, I read your piece and I think you and I are in complete agreement.

    I definitely do not assume inferiority in the scholarship in developing countries. I do see a “visibility gap” where those scholars have much less opportunity to participate in the global scholarly conversation. It is my hope that the rise of Open Access journals will do two things:

    1) greatly increase the sharing of scholarly information
    2) open up the scholarly conversation to more voices

    The developing countries are, in the words of publishers, “un-tapped markets.” This sudden flurry of OA journals is responding to that market. And it is a flurry — I expect it to settle down.

    My crystal ball look at the near future would go like this:
    - rise of OA journals that publish primarily from this previously un-tapped market
    - related rise in open access to what we in North America and Europe consider to be our “mainstream” of scholarly publishing – Elseview, Wiley, etc.
    - eventual breakdown of the developed/developing world separation in scholarly publishing

    So I see the new OA journals as being a positive. As I say in the piece:

    ” there is still a very large gap between scholarship in the developed world and that in the developing world. Open access publishing has some potential to help bridge that gap, and some publishers see the developing world as an upcoming market for scholarly publishing.”

    Your article looks beyond publishing, and I absolutely agree that publishing patterns are not the only issue. I agree when you say:

    “In conclusion, to redraw the map of global knowledge production, the inequitable global power dynamics of global knowledge production and exchange must be confronted head on.”

    This is a complex issue and there are many ways to look at it. I appreciate your contribution in this area.

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  10. About Mr Beall’s list, some parts are true, as there are many predatory journals, but there are also a lot that do not deserve to be in his list.

    Mr Beall disseminated his list via website, so, publishers that feel inappropriately judged by Mr beall counter-attacked via web site. These are some website that attacked Mr Beall and regarded him as a crooke:

    http://fakeconferences.blogspot.com/2013/11/prof-nicola-bellomo-sent-us-this-email.html
    http://iaria-highsci.blogspot.com/
    http://bogus-conferences.blogspot.com/2012/12/have-you-hear-about-jeffrey-bealls-big.html
    http://jeffreybeallbogus.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/jeffreybeallbogus/#comments

    I tried to paste websites like this into Mr beall’s website, but unfortunately they are removed, instead of defending himself. This make me think that all this counter-webs may contain true information, and maybe Mr Beall does not want that the whole world know about his crime.

  11. Konstantinos Margaritis says:

    Dear Mrs. Coyle,

    Thank you for the very insightful article. In fact with all respect to Mr. Beall I think that he falls in the trap of equalising a journal with its publisher in its entirely. The fact that one plagiarised article has been found in one journal does not make the entire publisher “bogus”. I agree that the publisher is in charge for the journals published under its name, but the academic responsibility belongs to the members of the editorial. And it would be extremely unfair for the rest of the journals under the same publisher to carry this “bogus” term. Instead, he could simply mention the journal where he possibly found the unethical behaviour, rather than the publisher.

    Nevertheless, the fact of randomly approaching reviewers (as it has happened to me) without asking or checking their field of interest is, in my opinion, a sign of unethical practice.

  12. Fadayomi Theophilus says:

    A lot of academics from the developing countries have been wondering at the massive explosion of OA of different qualities, and the need for standards which I think is the major concern of Beall. His list of potential, possible or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers should be taken in good spirit by these publishers to improve the quality of their publications.