Let the Author Beware: Five Questions for Jeffrey Beall

Associate Professor Jeffrey Beall, University of Colorado Denver, is the founder of Beall's List of predatory journals. He answered several questions for Kidney News Online regarding the growth of predatory publishing in the academic market.

When did you start these lists of predatory journals and publishers, and how have they grown since then?

I started my current blog about five years ago — in January 2012, though I had another, less formal blog before it. The number of publishers on my list has grown from a few dozen to over a thousand. An additional list covers "standalone" journals, single journals that are not published as part of a publisher's fleet of journals. The numbers continue to grow regularly, with new, predatory open-access publishers and journals launched all of the time.

There is a lot of pressure to publish; what advice would you give authors to help them identify credible journals?

I generally focus my work on identifying low-quality and predatory journals, so the first thing I would say is avoid the journals and publishers I have spotlighted on my lists. Find journals from non-profit scholarly societies in your field, journals that you read and that your senior colleagues publish in. Give preference to journals included in your library's online catalog, journals that are transparent and that professionally manage peer review.

In a perfect world, how would you have tenure committees assess a candidate’s publications?

It depends on the tenure criteria and on the field. The proliferation of easy-acceptance journals has greatly decreased the validity of scholarly publishing as a measure of academic achievement. One can now publish pretty much any manuscript in a month or so at a cost of just a couple hundred dollars, thanks to open-access journals. Committees need to move away from counting the number of published articles and look at article quality, novelty, and impact. It's much more difficult to carry out this type of subjective evaluation, though. Academic managers prefer objective measures (such as counting one's number of published articles), because such evaluation is easier to manage and seen as "fairer," more objective.

You make a distinction between “gold” and “platinum” open access journals. Would you explain that for our readers?

Gold open access is free to readers, but the authors pay a publishing fee. Platinum open access is free to both readers and authors, with the costs covered by the publisher, usually an association, university, or some similar organization. Often, platinum OA operates on a tight budget and is unable to offer value added services to its published authors, such as copyediting, promotion of published works, publisher platforms for libraries, and the like.

In addition to predatory journals, you have spoken about predatory meetings. How do you define a predatory meeting?

Predatory conferences and meetings are a growing problem, especially in Asia. These are low-quality conferences that exist only to make a quick profit from conference attendees. The conferences target funds allocated to university travel budgets. Many have spiffy websites that display attractive pictures of Las Vegas, Orlando, Bali, and similar resort destinations, which is where these conferences are typically held. Many simultaneously hold multiple conferences at the same hotel, one in each of the hotel's meeting rooms. They market themselves like predatory journals, spamming potential conference attendees, creating names that closely match those of established conferences, and offering a quick and easy acceptance of submitted conference papers.

Also of interest:

Resources for authors: Writing well, navigating peer review.

 

 

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Associate Professor Jeffrey Beall, University of Colorado Denver, is the founder of Beall's List of predatory journals. He answered several questions for Kidney News Online regarding the growth of predatory publishing in the academic market.

When did you start these lists of predatory journals and publishers, and how have they grown since then?

I started my current blog about five years ago — in January 2012, though I had another, less formal blog before it. The number of publishers on my list has grown from a few dozen to over a thousand. An additional list covers "standalone" journals, single journals that are not published as part of a publisher's fleet of journals. The numbers continue to grow regularly, with new, predatory open-access publishers and journals launched all of the time.

There is a lot of pressure to publish; what advice would you give authors to help them identify credible journals?

I generally focus my work on identifying low-quality and predatory journals, so the first thing I would say is avoid the journals and publishers I have spotlighted on my lists. Find journals from non-profit scholarly societies in your field, journals that you read and that your senior colleagues publish in. Give preference to journals included in your library's online catalog, journals that are transparent and that professionally manage peer review.

In a perfect world, how would you have tenure committees assess a candidate’s publications?

It depends on the tenure criteria and on the field. The proliferation of easy-acceptance journals has greatly decreased the validity of scholarly publishing as a measure of academic achievement. One can now publish pretty much any manuscript in a month or so at a cost of just a couple hundred dollars, thanks to open-access journals. Committees need to move away from counting the number of published articles and look at article quality, novelty, and impact. It's much more difficult to carry out this type of subjective evaluation, though. Academic managers prefer objective measures (such as counting one's number of published articles), because such evaluation is easier to manage and seen as "fairer," more objective.

You make a distinction between “gold” and “platinum” open access journals. Would you explain that for our readers?

Gold open access is free to readers, but the authors pay a publishing fee. Platinum open access is free to both readers and authors, with the costs covered by the publisher, usually an association, university, or some similar organization. Often, platinum OA operates on a tight budget and is unable to offer value added services to its published authors, such as copyediting, promotion of published works, publisher platforms for libraries, and the like.

In addition to predatory journals, you have spoken about predatory meetings. How do you define a predatory meeting?

Predatory conferences and meetings are a growing problem, especially in Asia. These are low-quality conferences that exist only to make a quick profit from conference attendees. The conferences target funds allocated to university travel budgets. Many have spiffy websites that display attractive pictures of Las Vegas, Orlando, Bali, and similar resort destinations, which is where these conferences are typically held. Many simultaneously hold multiple conferences at the same hotel, one in each of the hotel's meeting rooms. They market themselves like predatory journals, spamming potential conference attendees, creating names that closely match those of established conferences, and offering a quick and easy acceptance of submitted conference papers.

Also of interest:

Resources for authors: Writing well, navigating peer review.