Predatory Publishing and Open Access – a Researcher’s View by Edward Randviir
In this post, Edward Randviir from the Faculty of Science and Engineering cautions colleagues against a rise in predatory publishing practices as a result of the Open Access agenda.
Open Access (OA) is defined as the unrestricted online access to research, and encompasses journal articles, conference proceedings, chapters, monographs, posters, and now datasets. The immediately obvious benefits include enhanced visibility of research and improved chances of author citations, potentially leading to higher societal impact. HEFCE’s Open Access in the post-REF2014 policy states that universities should make any articles and conference proceedings with an ISSN available through an OA route within 3 months of acceptance to be eligible for submission to the next Research Excellence Framework. The University has established Symplectic, as the research information management system that will enable compliance with the OA agenda for staff.
A danger with OA is the plague of predatory OA publishers that have emerged in the past five years. A predatory publisher is one that offers OA publishing, for huge nominal fees that are often undisclosed when they invite academics to write for them, often without providing proper editorial and publishing services. This means that final versions appearing online are incorrect, not proofed properly, and in the majority of cases not even peer reviewed – and whether we like it or not, the peer review process improves the quality of published work and filters out the papers that may not be up to scratch. This also extends to conference proceedings.
How can we tell if a publisher is predatory? Firstly, their emails are generally dubious in the first instance and constitute what I consider to be spam. Secondly, if an invite has come out of the blue, it is best to check online if they are a predatory publisher by accessing Beall’s List, which is essentially a blacklist of predatory publishers compiled by American librarian and researcher, Jeffrey Beall. Beall’s list of predatory publishers is available here: http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/12/06/bealls-list-of-predatory-publishers-2013/
The list does have its critics, but it acts as a safety net for those who are unsure about publishing to an unknown journal.
Having encountered a predatory OA publisher called OMICS, I have experienced the unpleasant nature of these companies. I will be happy to assist anybody who is unsure of whether they are dealing with predatory publishers, so please don’t hesitate to contact me. Please don’t make the same mistake I made.