Keeping tabs on pseudo journals [retracted]


Update 10 March 2014: Since I published this post, I’ve been made aware of an alternative agenda in Jeffrey Beall’s crusade against predatory publishers. His real crusade is, apparently, against Open Access publishing. This agenda is clearly indicated in his own words in an open access publication entitled, “The Open-Access Movement is Not Really about Open Access.” More information about Beall’s agenda can be found here. I am not removing this post from the site, but I am disavowing its contents as positive coverage of the work of Beall may undermine the long-term goal of allowing all scientists, and the public, to access peer-reviewed publications as easily and inexpensively as possible.

Earlier on, I lamented the annoying – and predatory – practices of pseudojournals. I wished that someone could do something to identify and contain these parasites.

I just learned someone is. Meet Jeffrey Beall. This guy is awesome. He’s an academic librarian at UC Denver. He’s taken on the herculean task of identifying, calling out, and investigating all of these non-journals that try hard to look like real academic outfits.

He calls these pseudoacademic entities “predatory journals” and “predatory publishers,” which is an apt label.

He runs the blog Scholarly Open Access, which I just discovered last week.

A column by him ran in Nature Magazine about this topic and his blog six months ago. I’m not a guy who regularly peruses Nature (unless EO Wilson goes all group-selectionist and my colleagues go all doctrinarian), so this slipped my attention.

It’s definitely worth a visit to Beall’s site. Not only does he keep an up-to-date list of publishers and journals that are “predatory” in nature, he also shares much of his investigation into particular circumstances, such as this one guy who is the “Editor in Chief” of several “journals.”

These journals have all kinds of fake information and corrupt financial arrangements, often done in a hilariously inept manner. It’s entertaining to spend some time on this blog. I’ll be regularly visiting, for entertainment of the drive-past-an-accident-scene-and-can’t-not-look-while-passing-by kind of variety.

Of course, it’s of practical use too, in the event your institution also has people who use these fake journals as a way to boost their CV, in case they need an external opinion to validate your own. Mr. Beall is doing some spectacular work and we should all express some appreciation for delving into this muck on behalf of the rest of academia.

By the way, right after I prepared this post, the New York Times came out with a profile of Beall’s efforts, focusing on not only pseudojournals but also the pseudoconferences that are hosted by the same or similar organizations.

8 thoughts on “Keeping tabs on pseudo journals [retracted]

  1. I remember encountering Beall’s work during the Elsevier boycott fracas, and was impressed that he had been considering these issues so carefully and for so long. Now I use his list as my go-to resource for finding out whether a journal in an unfamiliar subject area is crap or not.
    What I find particularly interesting in these groups of are the “borderline” cases, such as Hindawi, who are treading the line between respectable and predatory.

  2. This Hindawi situation is interesting to me in particular.

    There is an old journal of entomology called Psyche, that was run by the Cambridge (Mass) Entomological Society. It went belly up several years ago. The archives of Psyche are loaded with detailed and valuable natural history and experimental work. Any person who works on ants should be quite familiar with a ton of old Psyche articles.

    In recent years, Psyche was acquired by Hindawi. The content of the journal definitely still is what you’d expect in a low-tier but legitimate journal, and plenty of my colleagues from all nations, many of whom do excellent work, are publishing in Psyche. Their ‘special issues’ have been produced by people whose work I respect and have gotten real researchers to contribute to them.

    I was asked to join their editorial board. I was a little reluctant, but then I looked some of the others on the list – some of whom are academic heroes of mine, and I agreed to let them use me. (I also do editorial service for an established legit journal.) This makes me wonder if everyone actually agreed to be on board, or if their names got poached from the earlier incarnation of Psyche before it collapsed. My involvement is part of legitimizing it, but it seemed legit before I signed on. I realize that many of the journals at Hindawi aren’t as legit as Psyche. They just bought the name from the old journal, but the community seems on board with the concept. I don’t think I’d publish in Psyche, but it is a venue for people to publish minor natural history work that otherwise wouldn’t get written up elsewhere and I don’t have a problem with it. However, maybe I should look more carefully at what’s inside.

  3. Terry,

    That is interesting because I was considering submitting a small article on different trapping methods to Psyche this summer. I thought it was appropriate because of its past, I had not kept up with the change in ownership recently. I may have to rethink this.

  4. I just noticed that it is still sponsored by the Cambridge Entomological Club:

    It would be interesting to solicit their input on how the journal is run and how peer review takes place. There are solid papers appearing in the journal.

    However, I do find it odd that there is no obvious academic Editor-in-Chief. Things are handled in-house through Hindawi. The ‘editorial board’ is huge, but I’ve never been asked to handle or review a manuscript. However, I have provided been asked to provide comments on the appropriateness and potential quality of two separate ‘special issues’ that they run. In those cases, I was contacted not by an academic editor to my knowledge, but by the “Special Issue Developer” for Hindawi.

  5. I was happy to find out about Beall’s list from the NY Times article. I had been following recent posts about pseudo open-source journals, so I knew they existed. However, I recently received a request to review for a journal that seemed sketchy and didn’t have a way to check it (but there were enough reasons to decline the review). Now I can refer to this list. Although the journal and publisher I received a request from weren’t on this list, I did ask whether we could submit ones.

    I am also on the pseudo-conference list and I have no idea how I ended up on it — luckily most of those now go directly to my spam box.

  6. I’m so glad for the existence of Beall’s list, if not to identify the journals, then to justify my identification.

    I think they find us all once we publish anything, anywhere.

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