Bad appleMany, myself included, have embraced scholarly open access publishing as an antidote to the ills and exploitative practices of mainstream academic, scientific, and scholarly publishing. However, not all scholarly open access publishing is necessarily good. And one academic librarian, Jeffrey Beall, librarian at Auraria Library in the University of Colorado Denver, makes it his business to track down bad scholarly open access publishers, and spread the word about their wrong-doings.

Beall’s List of “Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers” is one of the best early warning systems around for “questionable, scholarly open-access publishers.” The list is also depressingly huge, and is kept regularly updated, the last update being just the day before writing.

The criteria for inclusion in Beall’s List are exhaustive, and include such obvious scams as “an optional ‘fast-track’ fee-based service for expedited peer review which appears to provide assured publication with little or no vetting,” or a publisher that “charges authors for publishing but requires transfer of copyright and retains copyright on journal content.” There are other less direct ones such as publishers who “operate in a Western country chiefly for the purpose of functioning as a vanity press for scholars in a developing country.”

Unfortunately, the pressure to publish in the academic system is liable to keep scholars eagerly looking for outlets. Said scholars, however, would be well advised to look over the criteria for Beall’s List, and the List itself. Clearly, not all Open is Good.


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