Wednesday, May 05, 2010

"Predatory" Open Access Publishing

In the early days of the on-line self-publishing revolution when companies like Xlibris, iUniverse, Author House and Publish America were vying for the attentions of authors of all stripes there occured the inevitable 'bad experiences'. Authors making use of some self-publishing companies were taken to the cleaners with bad contracts, poorly printed books, content they couldn't gain access to and a host of other things. Online research into the experiences of others now enables more recent self-publishers to avoid the rookie mistakes and nefarious companies.

That's not the case in the Open Access Journal market which according to a recent article in the Charleston Advisor is seeing a rash of so called OA journal publishers preying on researchers for their content. They are up to many of the same tricks that some of the early book self-publishing companies got up to that left customers frustrated, disappointed and poorer.

In the article entitled 'Predatory' Open Access Scholarly Publishers, the author takes a close look at nine companies that are offering questionable services. They conclude:
These publishers are predatory because their mission is not to promote, preserve, and make available scholarship; instead, their mission is to exploit the author-pays, Open-Access model for their own profit. They work by spamming scholarly e-mail lists, with calls for papers and invitations to serve on nominal editorial boards. If you subscribe to any professional e-mail lists, you likely have received some of these solicitations. Also, these publishers typically provide little or no peer-review. In fact, in most cases, their peer review process is a fa├žade. None of these publishers mentions digital preservation. Indeed, any of these publishers could disappear at a moment’s notice, resulting in the loss of its content. While we were researching this review, one publisher, Academic Journals, was hacked and the site replaced with radical Islamic propaganda for about a week.

Why would authors pay to have an article published when there are so many free outlets where they could publish, including free Open-Access journals? In many cases, the answer is that the quality of the articles is poor, and they were rejected by the mainstream journals.
Predatory publishers use words such as “Academic” and “Scientific” in their names to falsely add a veneer of legitimacy to their business. Practices such as these, according to Harnad, “are now being taken to a grotesque extreme because of the ease of entry into online publishing and a perceived instability in the traditional journal publishing trade, owing to the growing clamor for OA.”

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