Thursday, March 13, 2014

Comment and warning about low-quality journals / Beall's List

I was distressed by an email I received on Monday. It initially looked pretty interesting.  They're inviting me to write a paper for their journal.   

Dear professor Daniel M. Russell,
Evaluating the conference papers, IJACSci Journal Editorial Committee have tried to select the high valued papers with increasing interest among worldwide scientific audience and community. In this regard the extended version of your paper entitled " Will Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) Change Education?" is invited for review at IJACSci providing the modifications listed at part B.

A. About IJACSci Journal:
IJACSci is an international peer reviewed journal which has attracted authors from all over the world maintaining the high standard levels during review and publication steps. With monthly issues IJACSci journal has already published more than 32 Issues at 4 Volumes. The latest issue could be surveyed on the journal site referring to ( The acceptance rate of regular and invited papers submitted to IJACSci is about 35% and 66%, respectively, and those papers with minimum quality and scientific background are rejected during 7 working days. The review procedure is approximately finalized within one month and authors are notified about the status of their submission. The published papers are indexed at some highly accessed scientific databases such as GoogleScholar, Citeseer, ArXiv, Scribd, Scirus, Docstoc, SSRN, and also is under negotiation to be included at Scopus and ISC.

But my initial sense of unease about this invitation was confirmed when I looked at what they asked me to do.  

Keep in mind, my paper "Will Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) Change Education?" has already been published in another venue.  Yet here comes a journal asking if I'd make a few modifications, and then they would re-publish it.  

In particular, they asked me to change the title and the introduction.  Wait a second...  Really? That's it?? They didn't ask for a particular change, but ANY change.

This worried me.  It sounds a bit like they want to republish the paper as a new paper, without doing any of the work.  

What's more, the invitation is pretty wonky, when you look at it.  It is as though the editorial board doesn't have a copy editor.  The opening sentence, for instance, is very stilted and odd. Then there are peculiarities like "the review procedure is approximately finalized within one month," or the use of the term "GoogleScholar" (no space between them), and the overuse of quotation marks in inappropriate places.  

So I did what I hope all careful scholars would do--I did a search for this publication and found their entire publishing group on Beall's List.  

Background:  Jeff Beall is a librarian at Auraria Library, University of Colorado, Denver.  He has a passion for high-quality open-access work, and keeping the culture of open-access aware of what's going on in the field.  

He also maintains a list of "Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers."  That's his Beall's List.  He updates this annually.  The 2014 version is here.  

These are journals that are basically low-quality, "accept anything" kinds of places.  As seen by the invitation I received, they're looking for work that's already been published, looking for a minor edit (to avoid the plagiarism detectors), and then republishing as "open access."  
I didn't accept their invitation, so I don't know if they require the authors to pay for publication (I know that some DO require this).  But the whole thing is faintly scurrilous.  If they'd asked me to write an entirely new paper based on the topics & themes of my previous work, that would be one thing.  But they didn't.  

And yes, Google Scholar does have some papers indexed from IJASci, but that's the consequence of crawling web resources.  If academics list the paper, then it gets indexed along with everything else.  

Bottom line:  Be cautious about those "too good to be true" invitations to write for an unknown journal.  It's often worth checking into the publication and the publishing group.  While appearing on Beall's List isn't the kiss of death, finding the journal you're planning on writing for on the list definitely suggests checking more carefully.  

Further reading:  For a bit of background and context on this topic, I highly recommend Karen Coyle's "Predatory Publishers | Peer-to-Peer Review" from the Library Journal (April 4, 2013).  

1 comment:

  1. Not having any knowledge of this issue I read through just trying to understand. But I did take it a step further and went to the site in question IJPG. I started with the letter 'a' and quickly found some titles that sound very familiar. "Drought in California", "Doctorate Degrees", "Education Attainment", & "Garden City Ferry" . Interesting. Sound likes you have a following. Not really sure what this means?