Jeffrey Beall has quoted me extensively in his latest blog post: http://scholarlyoa.com/2014/09/23/sudanese-researcher-falls-victim-to-questionable-publisher/
If you think I’m anti open access, please read on:
Lately, I have come across several researchers in developing countries who have actually published papers in some of the journals blacklisted by Jeffrey Beall. I have even met some of these researchers.
This was a bit of a shock to me, and it should be to anyone who wonders if people actually submit real research to predatory journals. I’m talking about really bad, obviously bad journals, not those in a grey area. I’ve worked in scientific communications for 10 years and I think I know how to spot a pretty bad journal.
Predatory journals don’t just publish horribly bad or highly plagiarized research. They publish the papers of unsuspecting or well-meaning authors in developing countries who are trying hard to get published. Their papers may be the outcome of authentic research that they have painstakingly carried out, and they may have put in a lot of effort in writing it up. But maybe…
- They didn’t have enough funds to do thorough research. (No surprise, this is a common problem in developing countries.)
- They didn’t design their research project well enough. (They didn’t have anyone to guide or support them in research methodology.)
- They didn’t do a thorough literature review. (They didn’t have access to the journals they need to read or they might lack searching skills.)
- They don’t know how to write up and present research results. (English may be a second or foreign language and/or they’ve not learned how to write a research paper.)
And maybe it’s all four reasons. Maybe even more.
What are researchers to do? They do need to survive in the ubiquitous publish-or-perish culture where they’re judged by the number of papers they have published.
This is where predatory journals come in. They will publish anything for a fee. They have jumped on the bandwagon of article processing charges (APCs) to charge authors to publish papers, and they will post pretty much any paper on their websites and call themselves open access journals.
I am for open access and other “open” things, such as open source software (I use Linux) and open education (I’m a big fan of MOOCs and I facilitate online courses myself).
But I am against predatory publishers. Aside from the damage they’re doing to the open access movement, they’re harming fledgling research environments in developing countries and deceiving authors.
You have apples, you have rotten apples. Sometimes they come together. What do you do? Would you reject apples for good? Or would you get rid of the bad apples and be more careful when you shop for apples the next time?