Hunters and hunted

January 28, 2016

The rise in exploitative publishing practices must be countered not only by the open-access movement but also by everyone involved in research publication. However, there are a few aspects of the graph on “predatory” publishers that readers should be aware of (“Journals and publishers setting sights on the unwary”, News, 21 January).

First, the source of the graph, Jeffrey Beall, began compiling his list only in 2010, so the graph does not necessarily represent growth, only what has been tracked. Second, as Walt Crawford has adeptly shown, Beall’s judgements are opaque. Crawford found that, in Beall’s most recent listings, “for roughly 90% of publishers...and journals added to the list, there is no published rationale whatsoever for Beall’s condemnation”. Third, Beall is ideologically motivated in his list, hoping to discredit open access, writing publicly that the open-access movement is “anti-corporatist” [sic] and that it “wants to deny the freedom of the press to companies it disagrees with”.

Finally, much of Beall’s rhetoric is pejoratively Anglocentric; he has publicly asked whether the well-respected South American publication platform, SciELO, is “more like [a] publication favela”.

For these reasons, among others, a number of institutions (such as the University of Manchester) are explicitly advising their authors not to use Beall’s list.

Martin Paul Eve
Senior lecturer in literature, technology and publishing
Birkbeck, University of London


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