Another publisher is threatening to sue a librarian over comments made on the librarian’s blog.
In this case, the publisher is the OMICS Publishing Group, and its target is Jeffrey Beall, whose widely-read Scholarly Open Access blog lists publishers (including OMICS) that Beall considers to be questionable or out-and-out “predatory.” For the most part, these are publishers working under an open access (OA) model that exacts up-front charges from authors rather than access fees from readers, thus making the journals freely available to the public. There are both advantages and disadvantages to such a model; one downside is that it offers incentives to establish cheaply-produced and low-quality journals, accepting author submissions indiscriminately and with minimal editorial input, thus allowing the publisher to flood the market with free but shoddy material after taking its revenue up front.
Beall’s list has generated lots of comment and more than a little dyspepsia on the part of publishers included in it. (Earlier this year, he was threatened with a lawsuit by the Canadian Center of Science and Education, as well.) But OMICS’s response is unusual in several respects.
First, the group is asking for damages in the amount of $1 billion, as well as an additional payment of $10,000 to defray the cost of writing the letter itself. It also expresses the intention to pursue criminal charges which, under Indian law, could result in a jail term of up to three years.
Second, it demands that Beall send email messages to Nature and the New York Times, both of which mentioned OMICS in articles about Beall’s list earlier this year. While the letter doesn’t specify what the emails should say, one can only assume that OMICS expects Beall to use them to publicly disavow his previous inclusion of OMICS on his list of “potential, possible, or probable” predatory publishers.
Third — and perhaps most interesting of all — the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that an OMICS attorney has asserted the company’s intention to proceed with both its civil lawsuit and its criminal complaint regardless of whether Beall accedes to its demands.
The full text of the letter can be found at the INFOdocket website.
There are, frankly, many strange things about this letter. (Here’s a sample sentence, without edits: “Let us at the outset warn you that this is a very perilous journey for you and you will be completely exposing yourself to serious legal implications including criminal cases lunched against you in INDIA and USA.”) But what I find particularly strange is that OMICS would go to the trouble of sending a such a long and detailed letter asserting its implacable intent to pursue substantial civil remedies and criminal prosecution at some point in the future, no matter how Beall responds. If such is their intent, then why give him such a long and detailed heads-up? Why not simply file the suit and the criminal complaint? And what possible incentive would Beall have, if these actions are going to take place anyway, to submit to the company’s demands — even assuming that, for example, paying them $1 billion were within the realm of possibility?
Beall can take comfort in one thing, at least: extradition from the US to India, even in the case of convicted terrorists, is apparently quite difficult.
62 Thoughts on "High Noon — A Publisher Threatens to "Lunch" a Criminal Case Against Librarian Critic"
Perhaps “billion” is also a typo as angry lawyer letters are often hastily written. On the other hand I am no fan of Beall’s list, which I studied some time ago. He basically does not like low budget broad spectrum publishers. Ironically one of his biggest complaints is, as you mention, that they publish stuff no one else will. But that seems like the very opposite of predatory to me, as being the publisher of last resort seems like a great service to authors.
More generally the idea of librarians blackballing publications in the name of vague community values is a classic concern. Beall’s condemnations seem both shallow and short on specifics to me. Last I looked there were no specific allegations linked to each publisher on the list, just a blog archive full of vague complaints. In one case his primary complaint seems to have been that the publisher’s mailing address was an apartment number. Maybe it is defamation to call publishers “predatory” on such grounds.
David – I’ll leave any “defense” of Mr. Beall’s list to Mr. Beall. Not sure if you saw the page with his criteria for inclusion: http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/11/30/criteria-for-determining-predatory-open-access-publishers-2nd-edition/
If you have, does this change/modify your comments?
On the contrary Guy, that list taken as a whole is a ridiculous definition of “predatory.” In many cases it merely summarizes the standard business practices of low budget broad spectrum publishers, which is what Beall seems to be really attacking. Moreover, there are no specific allegations from this long list linked to the list of blackballed publishers. Ironically the only link is to the publisher’s website. Thus there is no way for a publisher to defend itself.
I’ve studied numerous examples of what are called “low-budget broad spectrum publishers,” plus their websites, plus their payment mechanisms. I think this is worth doing by anyone either in favor of Beall’s List, or criticizing it.
In my humble opinion, there is really such a thing as a manifest scam. How one can examine some outrageous examples and think otherwise boggles my mind. Many of these low-cost publishers on Beall’s List clearly aim to collect scholarly manuscripts and mount them (after remittance say by PayPal) with no more professional peer-review than the material mounted on Youtube or Tumblr.
Many are based in poorer geo-cultural areas of the world regretfully known for
email-based scams. Anyone in this discussion has probably received numerous examples of such email “Great News!” messages about their inheriting vast sums, or some family-deprived oil sheik’s widow needing a USA fiduciary.
One could take the position of “Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom” and perhaps defend it even cogently.
However, any posters here are encouraged to examine the websites listed on Beall’s list and judge for themselves: http://scholarlyoa.com.
Full disclosure: I am a colleague of Jeffrey Beall, and his former Publisher when he was the Founding Editor of the “Journal of LIbrary Metadata.” I help him pro bono in the area of publicizing his blog to mainstream science/medical news editors, and to colleagues interested in this area.
Vanity press is not a scam. I have several friends who publish their books that way. So if I give a publisher $500 and get back a URL or DOI to my article published on their web journal there need be no scam against me. One cannot claim both that these are publishers of last resort and that the authors using them do not know what is going on. The premise that scientific researchers are stupid is not supportable. Nor is there anything in these journal email solicitations remotely resembling your hyperbolic examples. Direct mail per se is a valid marketing technique. Some of these journals only publish ten articles a year. That they do not have fancy websites is quite reasonable.
There may well be abuses here but you folks are not identifying them. You seem to be targeting a business model.
A vanity press, clearly advertised as such, is not a scam. However, a vanity press not advertised as such may well be a scam — scamming authors with the false promise of prestige, and scamming buyers with the false promise of high-quality products. And, of course, a vanity press may be presenting itself honestly to authors but dishonestly to buyers of its products. This last scenario seems to be what Beall is often suggesting in the context of his blog.
You said that a “vanity press is not a scam,” and referred to “friends who publish their books that way.” That’s what I was responding to. Vanity book publishers do sometimes sell their books to the general public, and do not always represent them honestly as vanity publications.
That said, APC journal publishers may also scam their readers by presenting their wares as rigorously vetted when they are not. They can get away with such deception more easily if they don’t depend on subscription fees (because disappointing readers will not necessarily lead to lowered revenues). Such scamming may not take money out of readers’ pockets, but it deceives them nevertheless.
I think you should read Beall’s long list of criteria for entry into the list, including double publication, no editorial board, claiming to be a “leading” publisher even if just established, no editing, allowing plagiarism, spamming the community, using names that are misleading, launches hundreds of journals at once, hides information about author fees, etc. http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/11/30/criteria-for-determining-predatory-open-access-publishers-2nd-edition/
You can argue that any single one of these is not “predatory,” but when a large set of these traits come to the market under the auspices of a single entity and there is no clear accountability, it’s hard to accept that these are benign entities.
But Beall nowhere says which of these many criteria any given publisher on his list has violated nor in what combination nor how, except possibly in passing somewhere in his blog archive. Even there I find little of substance. I am not defending anyone just asking for fairness. Which publishers are you claiming has a “large set” of these traits and what is that set and where is your evidence? Perhaps we can start a real list of predatory publishers. As it stands this is a witchhunt.
I don’t believe this is a witchhunt. That’s pure hyperbole, and this is not about individuals but business practices. That said, let’s look at the Better Business Bureau. Here are their standards:
Establish and maintain a positive track record in the marketplace.
Adhere to established standards of advertising and selling.
Tell the Truth
Honestly represent products and services, including clear and adequate disclosures of all material terms.
Openly identify the nature, location, and ownership of the business, and clearly disclose all policies, guarantees and procedures that bear on a customer’s decision to buy.
Abide by all written agreements and verbal representations.
Address marketplace disputes quickly, professionally, and in good faith.
Protect any data collected against mishandling and fraud, collect personal information only as needed, and respect the preferences of consumers regarding the use of their information.
Approach all business dealings, marketplace transactions and commitments with integrity.
The publishers Beall is working to identify seem to violate a majority of these standards.
Kent, you seem to have missed my point which is that Beall has not said which of these listed publishers has violated which of these standards and how? To repeat, “Which publishers are you claiming has a “large set” of these traits and what is that set and where is your evidence?” Beall does not provide it and neither do you. This is the essence of defamation.
This is becoming tedious. If you read the post examining each publisher’s program, Beall lays out the issues he’s found there. Here’s some of what he wrote about OMICS:
I’ve described and documented examples of OMICS Group’s unethical practices, including sending personal invitations to potential authors to submit manuscripts without informing them of the author fees, only to invoice them after their papers get quickly accepted.
Beall’s list seems to work pretty much as the BBB does — that is, complaints come in, and he digs in to see if they’re valid, and usually finds more. I get complaints from academics, too, because their names are misappropriated or they are being spammed or they receive bills from publishers who never indicated a fee needed to be paid. Imagine if you were invited to speak, and after the speech, you were presented with a bill you needed to pay on the spot? You’d be incensed, and you would think that group was unethical.
I think many of us have been following Beall’s blog for some time, so we know the every addition to the list is made after some careful examination of what they are doing. The posts document these findings. If you haven’t read many of these, you might think he’s not basing his criticisms on facts and criteria. But if you’ve followed him for some months, it’s pretty clear he has a lot of facts and evidence to back up his list.
I am sorry you find disagreement tedious, Kent, but you are merely making a point I already made which is that the case against each listed publisher lies buried in the blog archives. During my research I did two trial searches and in both cases I found nothing that would justify the term “predatory,” just the usual complaints about websites and possibly questionable practices, on what scale we do not know.
Nor do I think the BBB uses such language but if they did the threshold would be very high. To me a truly predatory publisher would be one who takes a bunch of APCs and then does not publish the articles. I am a big fan of blog reviews but I do not like blog-based blacklists. I have studied Beall’s Blacklisting methodology and in my view it is unsound.
Fair enough. I shouldn’t have included the “tedious” part. I apologize for that.
You raise an interesting point about the BBB approach, which is basically an accrediting approach. If you pass their standards, you become accredited by the Better Business Bureau, and can hang a certificate in your office and promote that to some extent.
However, a business can be graded from A+ to F. I don’t know if a business would feel an “F” would be defamatory.
Beall could certainly improve upon his first stab at this list. The BBB might be a good model for Phase 2. I do think he’s onto something, however.
And an OMICS journal recently sent an email soliciting articles that was forwarded to me with questions. When I tried to track down their “office” in turned out to be a Nevada corporate registry and handled the registration of literally thousands of companies. They had no idea who OMICS was. And then the fax was directed to a fax number in California. It is hard to evaluate a publisher when there is no “there” there.
Some vanity BOOK publishing firms are quite straight-forward and honest: “We’ll get you a typeset, professional printed book/ebook….the rest (the marketing, sales and success) is up to you.”
Others go way off the honesty scale and imply the possibility of a bestseller.
So, David, your friends may well have chosen well. They may not had been promised, or indirectly promised, bestseller dreams, and gotten excellent value for their money. Or they may not have–it depends on the companies they chose.
It it not logical, I regret to say, to switch gears from vanity book publishing to scholarly OA peer-review journal publishing. They are different animals.
It is not me who makes the vanity press comparison, as that is common in the gold OA debates. Beall specifically complains about these journals publishing that which cannot be published elsewhere. My point is merely that if true it is the opposite of predatory, and not a scam against the authors but rather a service.
Obvious and profound difference between bottom-rung subscription journals and bottom-rung OA journals: subscription journals have to convince multiple subscribers that they have a product worth paying for, sustainably, otherwise no journal; authors risk only their article, not their money. Publishers risk their investment. Not so with bottom-rung OA journals, where, with next to no investment, publisher takes next to no risk, and author, often unknowingly, takes all the risk.
I figure the publisher investment is at least several million dollars so not nothing. Plus you seem to be making the stupid-author argument. You might want to refine your argument, as usual. Please try again.
How do you figure? All you need for an operation like this is a website and an email address. Most seem to be run out of small apartments. Where is your “several million dollar” figure coming from?
As for the stupid-author argument, see this NY Times article which mentions scientists who have been fooled by these sorts of approaches:
What you folks seem to be missing is that these are real journals publishing real articles. One of the themes here in the Kitchen has been how expensive publishing is and low budget publishing is no exception. In fact this comment illustrates my concern, which is that Beall’s list conveys the false impression that all these publishers are merely scam artists. The reality is that they are publishing a lot of articles. Many claim to do peer review and to have significant rejection rates. Setting up and running a system of say 100 journals that publish an average of 20 articles per year per journal is not trivial. Hence my estimate.
I have no idea. I have just seen the claims made in passing. Some of the publishers try to defend themselves.
This may be the stupidest thing said yet in a long string of stupid comments here. Subscription journals most certainly do NOT need to convince subscribers of anything. That was likely taken care of years ago when the journal’s publisher launched their “Big Deal” that amounted to an offer that libraries sadly couldn’t or didn’t refuse. Publishers are often showing libraries how valuable their big deals are based on how many shiny new journals they have added–journals that no one in the library has asked for. If your cable company raised the price on you 50% over five years but kept adding channels like “CSPAN Student Council” and “The Slug Channel,” Harnad would say “obviously the Slug Channel is quality TV or so many people wouldn’t subscribe.” His comments evince a complete lack of understanding of the state of affairs in academic publishing.
Steve, are you under the impression that libraries buy nothing but Big Deals these days? I’m guessing you’re not a librarian — if you were, you’d know that despite the significant presence of Big Deals in most academic collections, title-by-title selection and cancellation remains an important part of our work. At my institution (a medium-sized ARL library) we still have over 1200 individual (i.e., non-package-based) journal subscriptions, all of which we look at critically every year. This means that subscribers do, in fact, have to be convinced of something in regard to individual titles: we have to be convinced to retain expensive subscriptions and to pick up new ones, which generally means cutting others. (Not that there’s much the publisher itself can do to make that case, though; it will generally be made by our users.)
[Looks like I can’t reply to Rick’s comment addressing me, so I’ll reply to this one instead and hope the formatting makes sense.]
Hi Rick. Yes, I’m a librarian at a small liberal arts college. I don’t doubt that an ARL library has 1200 individual journal subscriptions. I would also guess that the percentage of the budget those journals take up is quite small compared to the chunk that the big pigs are getting with their “Freedom Collections” and so on. It’s also interesting that you bring up cancellation when talking about these journals. Of the 86,000+ journals your library receives, those 1,200 are the only journals you can really even consider canceling due to the strictures of the Big Deals.
My point was not so much that no journal needs to find an audience and carry its own weight. My point was that a journal’s mere existence is no proof that anyone reads it or has chosen consciously to subscribe to it.
Steve, you are of course right that 1200 is a small number compared to 86,000. However, in this context it’s absolute numbers, not relative numbers, that matter: 1200 journals is 1200 journals, and the work required to manage them doesn’t shrink when you put them in the context of a larger number. It’s also worth pointing out that the 86,000 figure you found on our statistics page includes tens of thousands of journals to which we do not subscribe, but which we get via Academic Search Premier and similar content aggregators–that’s why it says “journals received” rather than “subscriptions.”
As for the point you were making: your point may have been that a journal’s existence is no proof of readership (true enough), but what you actually said was that publishers don’t have to convince people to subscribe to their journals, and that to suggest otherwise “may be the stupidest thing said yet in a long string of stupid comments” on this topic. That comment would seem to reflect a deep ignorance of what actually happens in academic libraries, where title-by-title selection and deselection is still (for better or for worse) very much alive.
OK, Rick, we’ll just have to disagree then. It’s my experience that the vast, vast majority of the titles libraries subscribe to were not ever debated or decided upon by the librarians on an individual basis, and that many if not most commercial journals need not worry about proving their worth by convincing subscribers that their content is worthwhile.
Reply to @David Wojick
The word “stupid” seems to be quite liberally used in this kitchen…
Subscription journal start-ups get neither Big-Deal publishers nor Big-Deal subscription-bases by simply setting up an online store-window, as pay-to-publish Gold-OA junk-journals need not bother to do, since they go straight for the author’s pocketbook and publish-or-perish needs.
They wrap themselves in the fashionable mantle of “OA,” “peer review” and “international,” but all they are really delivering is Fool’s Gold.
“Perhaps “billion” is also a typo”
Yes, they may have hit ‘b’ instead of ‘z’.
On the other hand there may be a deep pocket here. I can imagine an Indian judge and jury enjoying sticking a rich American university with a big judgement.
I’m concerned over whether this is a US or British billion.
I am concerned that you are making extensive generalized allegations against the library community and Mr. Beall, who represents academic librarians everywhere, especially in the collection development area. Could you elaborate about your interest in this subject and why you feel compelled to defend these less-than-professional publishers?!
My interest in Beall’s list began last October when I wrote this Kitchen article about the growth of gold OA publishing: http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2012/10/03/the-new-wave-of-gold-oa-journals/. Several commenters noted with horror that I included publishers on Beall’s list, which I had never heard of. So I did a personal research project on it and came to the conclusions and concerns outlined in my comments here. I was going to do a Kitchen article on my concerns (Kent can verify this) but it slipped away due to other work.
I am not defending any specific publisher on this blacklist but I admire the basic low budget broad spectrum gold OA business model. Unlike some people I think we need more work published not less, but then I am in the discovery business. I doubt that Beall represents academic librarians everywhere or at least I hope he does not. There is nothing intrinsically unprofessional about low budget publishing, nor do we need librarians telling us what should or should not be published. As I said in the beginning, attempted censorship by librarians is an age old problem (I remember the 1950’s). Other than that I am not making extensive generalized allegations against the library community. I have very specific concerns about Beall’s blacklist.
You’re not alone in having critical thoughts about Beall’s list, about the use of the term “predatory” (some of those on his list have been characterized more as “inept”) or the sometimes unclear criteria for inclusion. But this is something of a problem for researchers–there are a lot of bad actors out there (there’s a reason all of our email programs and blog commenting programs have spam filters after all).
I do agree that a “white list” might be a good approach and OASPA seems to be doing some work along these lines:
Thank you for pointing out an interesting and informative blog. I’ve bookmarked it. (Guess their letter didn’t work out quite the way the publisher’s lawyers figured!)
Suing librarians is not a good business strategy; however, this should not give librarians a privileged position to make damaging public statements. When I exposed the British publisher, Emerald, for republishing hundreds of articles in their journals without attribution, I did so with fear of a personal lawsuit. A Cornell lawyer advised me to keep my public statements factual and not to engage in any language that could be construed as libelous. While Cornell could protect me from a suit filed in the United States, there was a risk that I would be sued in the United Kingdom. And if I wasn’t willing to travel to the UK and defend myself, there was a real chance that I would never be able to touch British soil again. Was it worth the risk?
While I’m neither condemning nor condoning Beall’s lists of ‘predatory’ publishers, no one should be surprised or shocked with threats of legal action. Beall (and his employer) will need to decide whether these lists are worth defending and whether the benefit to academics is worth the personal risk. In my case, it was, but in the end, I did not come out unscathed.
Among Beall’s complaints about such publishers as OMICS is that they use the names of prestigious scholars without their permission, pretending that they are members of editorial boards of these journals or participants in the “conferences” they run. This is a widespread practice, and it can be easily exposed by asking the scholars whose names have been misappropriated in this way whether they ever gave permission for such use. I have done a little of this investigating myself, so I know this is a practice at least some of the “predatory” journals follow. What is comical is that they even misidentify sometimes what the area of expertise of these scholars is. I discovered, for example, that a computer scientist at Penn State was listed as an authority on philosophy!
The letter sent by OMICS’s lawyer is full of errors, which themselves make a mockery of claims in the letter that OMICS is a “high quality” publisher. It’s not as though English is a foreign language in India, after all!
My suggestion is that all the scholars whose names have been misappropriated by OMICS join in a class-action suit against OMICS and demand $2 billion in payment as well as $20,000 for the lawyer’s letter conveying the claim.
Reminds me of an equally entertaining letter I got from an Indian lawyer:
Dr Gillian Dooley (Special Collections Librarian at Flinders University):
Jeffrey Beall’s list is not accurate to believe. There are a lot of personal biases of Jeffrey Beall. Hindawi still uses heavy spam emailing. Versita Open still uses heavy spam emailing. But these two 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. I think some other reliable blog should be created to discuss more fruitfully these issues. His blog has become useless.
Mark Robinson (Acting Editor, Stanford Magazine):
It is a real shame that Jeffrey Beall using Nature.com’s blog to promote his predatory work. 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.
I find these quotes fascinating, since they are attributed to people who I presume to be native English speakers, and yet are written in very awkward and non-idiomatic English. I also notice that these exact quotes have been extensively posted elsewhere, verbatim, in response to other articles and blog postings about Beall’s list.
Does anyone know Gillian Dooley and Mark Robinson? Can these quotes be substantiated?
“It is a real shame that Jeffrey Beall using Nature.com’s blog” doesn’t sound like the writing of someone who would be the acting editor of Stanford Magazine . . . and I doubt the Stanford alumni association, publisher of Stanford Magazine, would touch this topic.
I think we all know what’s going on here.
Rick, these are written in Indian English.
Here is Gillian Dooley:
You can be certain she did not write this and she would be shocked to see her name bandied about fraudulently by these time wasters…
See some interesting discussion about one of Beall’s claim “The Serials Crisis is Over.” (here: http://svpow.com/2013/05/08/of-course-the-serials-crisis-is-not-over-what-the-heck-are-you-talking-about/).
I don’t want to believe that Beall has hidden agenda against “Open Access model”. May be he is targeting first the most vulnerable parties to create a huge media hype against OPEN Access. I am not sure. Please advise.
Some interesting criteria of applied by Beall to include some journals in his “predatory list”
Note: I want to clear that I am not in support of any specific publisher (here: International Journal of Medicine and Biomedical Research). I am describing the problem of small publishers.
Case: International Journal of Medicine and Biomedical Research (Reference: http://scholarlyoa.com/appeals/#comment-16169)
Beall’s argument: 1. There is the regular occurrence of plagiarism among the articles. For example, one of the journal’s articles contains this passage, without any attribution:
“Variability in CD4+ LCs among healthy HIV seronegative adults has been widely reported and has been attributed to biological, ethnic group influences as well as differences in the methodologies used for T-cell enumeration.”
That passage originally appeared here:
My points: 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 labeling it as bad. 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/)
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). But if a publisher regularly publish plagiarized articles (may be intentionally), then researchers will automatically distance themselves from that publisher. Therefore, that publisher will not have no business in future. It is really difficult to believe that a publisher is such a fool to loose its all business by intentionally publishing some ‘plagiarized articles’. I believe that even a ‘true predatory publisher’ is not that much fool.
Beall’s argument 2. Much of the authors’ guidelines is copied from other sites.
My point: Theoretically speaking it is a copyright issue and other sites can lodge a complain. But is it a predatory practice to dupe the authors? NO. Frankly speaking if all journals (at least of same discipline) follow a single ‘author guideline’ it will save many thousands of hours of authors wasted for formatting, style matching, etc.
Beall’s argument 3. The journal has a very broad coverage to attract more author fees, and there are already many journals with a similar coverage — there is no authentic need for this new journal. It’s just being done for the profit.
My point: He is ready to term a small publisher predatory, if it publishes a journal with very broad scope. So ‘PloS One’ can be predatory as Nature was there. Some other examples: PLoS ONE ($1350) — “submissions in any discipline that will contribute to the base of scientific knowledge”
– SpringerPlus ($1080) — “all disciplines of Science”
– Nature’s Science Reports ($1350) — “all areas of the natural sciences”
– IEEE Access ($1750) — “all IEEE fields of interest”
– Nature Communications ($5000) — “all areas of the biological, physical and chemical sciences”
– BMJ Open ($1885) — “medical research from all disciplines and therapeutic areas”
– SAGE Open ($99) — “span the full spectrum of the social and behavioral sciences and the humanities” (Reference: Felipe G. Nievinski’s comment: http://scholarlyoa.com/2013/03/05/new-term-moamj-multidisciplinary-open-access-mega-journal/#comment-14891). Amazing! Somebody can apply same analogy and can term him a ‘predatory evaluator’ as his evaluation criteria are too broad. Beall’s 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).
Beall’s argument 4. The journal claims to be indexed is services that are not abstracting and indexing services.
My point: It can be inexperience or lack of knowledge regarding ‘definition’. Is it a serious issue? I doubt. If the publisher claims to be indexed somewhere falsely and duping the authors by that information then I think it is a predatory practice. As I found that “Science Record Journals”, are doing the same: Please see my comments here: http://scholarlyoa.com/2013/04/11/the-suspicious-case-of-science-record-journals/#comment-17256
Beall’s argument 5. There no indication of the journal’s digital preservation policies.
My point: Please keep some patience on new start ups. No one can start in a absolutely perfect way. Can Beall claim that he was ‘born perfect’? If any publisher does not have digital preservation policy, it can be low quality new publisher. But predatory! Please think twice.
Beall’s argument 6.. There is no indication of the journal’s policies regarding retraction.
My point: Please see my explanation of point 5.
I can give many such interesting examples on how Beall is preying on so called small ‘Predatory publishers”
I find Beall is 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.) .
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).
If a new small 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. 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.
I would be interested in whether you view publishers using names of scholars as members of editorial boards without their permission as a “mistake.” That is so deplorable a practice that I cannot see how anyone, anywhere, can think it is just ignorance of standard practice that leads to it. For me, any publisher that engages in that kind of deceptive advertising is, by definition, predatory, and I’ll bet that many publishers on Beall’s list have been guilty of this practice. That kind of publisher, in my opinion, should never get a second chance.
Yes Sandy, I support your view. I have no sympathy for those publishers who are knowingly cheating scholars. They are PREDATORY. But at the same time I strongly believe that many new startups are present in his list who should get a second chance. Do you think Beall’s arguments are right to include above mentioned “International Journal of Medicine and Biomedical Research” (Link: http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2013/05/20/high-noon-a-publisher-threatens-to-lunch-a-criminal-case-against-librarian-critic/#comment-97084)???
One thing worth considering here, and not really discussed so far, is Beall’s tendency to link ‘predatory’ with ‘developing world’. The two are not necessarily connected yet Beall often conflates them. Plus some of his criteria are based on normative first world assumptions. This approach may act to tar genuine scholarship (and scholarly publishers) from the developing world with the predatory brush. It’s worth noting that in exposing what I consider a problematic subtext to Beall’s list, I am not defending predatory practices. I have published two posts on this issue which may be of relevance to this thread:
I suggest main point of discussion should be the main service of a publisher (i.e. to work as a gatekeeper for academic scholarly publishing by providing peer review service). 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 business, unless heavily funded. 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).
I would also include quality of copyediting as an important criterion, although i realize that even well-established publishers vary quite a bit in how much, and how good, copyediting they provide.