Predatory open-access publishing, or sometimes write-only publishing, is an exploitative open-access academic publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals (open access or not). The idea that they are "predatory" is based on the view that academics are tricked into publishing with them, though some authors may be aware that the journal is poor quality or even fraudulent.[a] New scholars from developing countries are said to be especially at risk of being misled by predatory practices.
"Beall's List", a report that was regularly updated by Jeffrey Beall of the University of Colorado until January 2017, set forth criteria for categorizing publications as predatory. The list was taken offline by the author in January 2017.[b] A demand by Frontiers Media to open a misconduct case against Beall was reported as the reason Beall closed the list, but an investigation by the university was closed with no findings. After the closure, other efforts to identify predatory publishing have sprouted, such as the paywalled Cabell's blacklist, as well as other lists (some based on the original listing by Beall).
In March 2008, Gunther Eysenbach, publisher of an early open access journal, drew attention to what he called "black sheep among open access publishers and journals" and highlighted in his blog publishers and journals which resorted to excessive spam to attract authors and editors, criticizing in particular Bentham, Dove Medical Press, and Libertas Academica. In July 2008, Richard Poynder's interview series brought attention to the practices of new publishers who were "better able to exploit the opportunities of the new environment." Doubts about honesty and scams in a subset of open-access journals continued to be raised in 2009. Concerns for spamming practices from the "black sheep among open access journals and publishers" ushered the leading open access publishers to create the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association in 2008. In another early precedent, in 2009 the Improbable Research blog had found that Scientific Research Publishing's journals duplicated papers already published elsewhere; the case was subsequently reported in Nature. In 2010, Cornell University graduate student Phil Davis (editor of the Scholarly Kitchen blog) submitted a manuscript consisting of computer-generated nonsense (using SCIgen) which was accepted for a fee (but withdrawn by the author). Predatory publishers have been reported to hold submissions hostage, refusing to allow them to be withdrawn and thereby preventing submission in another journal.
On 25 August 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit against the OMICS Group, iMedPub, Conference Series, and the individual Srinubabu Gedela, an Indian national who is president of the companies. In the lawsuit, the defendants are accused of "deceiving academics and researchers about the nature of its publications and hiding publication fees ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars". The FTC was also responding to pressure to take action against predatory publishers. Attorneys for the OMICS Group published a response on their website, claiming "your FTC allegations are baseless. Further we understand that FTC working towards favoring some subscription based journals publishers who are earring [sic] Billions of dollars rom [sic] scientists literature," suggesting that corporations in the scientific publishing business were behind the allegations.
In 2013, John Bohannon, a staff writer for the journal Science and for popular science publications, targeted the open access system by submitting to a number of such journals a deeply flawed paper on the purported effect of a lichen constituent, and published the results in a paper called, "Who's Afraid of Peer Review?". About 60% of those journals, including the Journal of Natural Pharmaceuticals, accepted the faked medical paper, and 40%, including the most established one, PLOS ONE, rejected it.
In 2015, four researchers created a fictitious sub-par scientist named Anna O. Szust (oszust is Polish for "fraud" [person]), and applied on her behalf for an editor position to 360 scholarly journals. Szust's qualifications were dismal for the role of an editor; she had never published a single article and had no editorial experience. The books and book chapters listed on her CV were made-up, as were the publishing houses that published the books.
One-third of the journals to which Szust applied were sampled from Beall's List of 'predatory' journals. Forty of these predatory journals accepted Szust as editor without any background vetting and often within days or even hours. By comparison, she received minimal to no positive response from the "control" journals which "must meet certain standards of quality, including ethical publishing practices." Among journals sampled from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), 8 of 120 accepted Szust. The DOAJ has since removed some (but not all) of the affected journals in a recent purge. None of the 120 sampled journals listed in Journal Citation Reports (JCR) offered Szust the position.
SCIgen, a computer program that randomly generates academic computer science papers using context-free grammar, has generated papers that have been accepted by a number of predatory journals as well as predatory conferences.
Complaints that are associated with predatory open-access publishing include
In 2015, Jeffrey Beall used 26 criteria related to poor journal standards and practices, 9 related to journal editors and staff members, 7 related to ethics and integrity, 6 related to the publisher's business practices, and 6 'other' general criteria related to publishers.
In 2016, researchers Stefan Eriksson and Gert Helgesson identified 25 signs of predatory publishing. They warn that a journal will not necessarily be predatory if they meet one of the criteria, "but the more points on the list that apply to the journal at hand, the more sceptical you should be." The full list is quoted below:
Predatory journals have rapidly increased their publication volumes from 53,000 in 2010 to an estimated 420,000 articles in 2014, published by around 8,000 active journals. Early on, publishers with more than 100 journals dominated the market, but since 2012 publishers in the 10–99 journal size category have captured the largest market share. The regional distribution of both the publisher's country and authorship is highly skewed, with three-quarters of authors hailing from Asia or Africa. Authors paid an average fee of 178 USD per article for articles typically published within 2 to 3 months of submission.
University of Colorado Denver librarian and researcher Jeffrey Beall, who coined the term "predatory publishing", first published his list of predatory publishers in 2010. Beall's list of potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers attempted to identify scholarly open access publishers with questionable practices. In 2013, Nature reported that Beall's list and web site were "widely read by librarians, researchers, and open-access advocates, many of whom applaud his efforts to reveal shady publishing practices." Others have raised the objection that "(w)hether it's fair to classify all these journals and publishers as 'predatory' is an open question—several shades of gray may be distinguishable."
Beall's analyses have been called sweeping generalizations with no supporting evidence, and he has also been criticized for being biased against open-access journals from less economically developed countries. One librarian wrote that Beall's list "attempts a binary division of this complex gold rush: the good and the bad. Yet many of the criteria used are either impossible to quantify..., or can be found to apply as often to established OA journals as to the new entrants in this area... Some of the criteria seem to make First World assumptions that aren't valid worldwide." Beall differed with these opinions and wrote a letter of rebuttal in mid-2015.
Following the Who's Afraid of Peer Review? investigation, the DOAJ has tightened up its inclusion criteria, with the purpose of serving as a whitelist, very much like Beall's has been a blacklist. The investigation found that "the results show that Beall is good at spotting publishers with poor quality control." However, the managing director of DOAJ, Lars Bjørnshauge, estimates that questionable publishing probably accounts for fewer than 1% of all author-pays, open-access papers, a proportion far lower than Beall's estimate of 5-10%. Instead of relying on blacklists, Bjørnshauge argues that open-access associations such as the DOAJ and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association should adopt more responsibility for policing publishers: they should lay out a set of criteria that publishers and journals must comply with to win a place on a 'white list' indicating that they are trustworthy.
Beall has been threatened with a lawsuit by a Canadian publisher which appears on the list. He reports that he has been the subject of online harassment for his work on the subject. His list has been criticized for relying heavily on analysis of publishers' web sites, not engaging directly with publishers, and including newly founded but legitimate journals. Beall has responded to these complaints by posting the criteria he uses to generate the list, as well as instituting an anonymous three-person review body to which publishers can appeal to be removed from the list. For example, a 2010 re-evaluation resulted in some journals being removed from Beall's list.
In 2013, the OMICS Publishing Group threatened to sue Beall for $1 billion for his "ridiculous, baseless, [and] impertinent" inclusion of them on his list, which "smacks of literal unprofessionalism and arrogance". An unedited sentence from the letter read: "Let us at the outset warn you that this is a very perilous journey for you and you will be completely exposing yourself to serious legal implications including criminal cases lunched against you in INDIA and USA." Beall responded that the letter was "poorly written and personally threatening" and expressed his opinion that the letter "is an attempt to detract from the enormity of OMICS's editorial practices". OMICS' lawyers stated that damages were being pursued under section 66A of India's Information Technology Act, 2000, which makes it illegal to use a computer to publish "any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character" or to publish false information. The letter stated that three years in prison was a possible penalty, although a U.S. lawyer said that the threats seemed to be a "publicity stunt" that was meant to "intimidate". Section 66A has been criticised in an India Today editorial for its potential for misuse in "stifling political dissent, crushing speech and ... enabling bullying". Beall could have been sued for defamation, and would not have been able to fall back on truth as a final defense; under section 66A, the truth of any information is irrelevant if it is grossly offensive.
In an unrelated case in 2015, Section 66A was struck down by the Supreme Court of India, which found that it had no proximate connection to public order, "arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech," and that the description of offences is "open-ended, undefined and vague." As such, it is not possible for the OMICS Group to proceed against Beall under section 66A, but it could mount a defamation case. Finally, in August 2016, OMICS was sued for "deceptive business practices related to journal publishing and scientific conferences" by the Federal Trade Commission (a US government agency), who won an initial court ruling in November 2017.
Beall's list was used as an authoritative source by South Africa's Department of Higher Education and Training in maintaining its list of accredited journals: articles published in those journals will determine funding levels for their authors; however, journals identified as predatory will be removed from this list. ProQuest is reviewing all journals on Beall's list, and has started removing them from the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences.
In January 2017, Beall shut down his blog and removed all its content, citing pressure from his employer. Beall's supervisor wrote a response stating that he did not pressure Beall to discontinue his work, or threaten his employment; and had tried hard to support Beall's academic freedom.
In 2017, Ramzi Hakami reported on his own successful attempt to get an intentionally poor paper accepted by a publisher on the list and referenced a resurrected version of Beall's list. This version includes Beall's original list and updates by an anonymous purported "postdoctoral researcher in one of the [E]uropean universities [who has] a hands-on experience with predatory journals."
At the May 2017 meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing, Cabell's International, a company that offers scholarly publishing analytics and other scholarly services, announced that it intended to launch a blacklist of predatory journals (not publishers) in June, and said that access would be by subscription only. The company had started work on its blacklist criteria in early 2016. In July 2017, both a black list and a white list were offered for subscription on their website.
On 18 September 2018, Zbigniew Błock, the Director of the National Science Centre (NCN), the largest agency that funds fundamental research in Poland, stated that if articles financed by NCN funds were published in journals not satisfying standards for peer review, then the grant numbers would have to be removed from the publications and funds would have to be returned to the NCN.
More transparent peer review, such as open peer review and post-publication peer review, has been advocated to combat predatory journals. Others have argued instead that the discussion on predatory journals should not be turned "into a debate over the shortcomings of peer review—it is nothing of the sort. It is about fraud, deception, and irresponsibility..."
In an effort to "set apart legitimate journals and publishers from non-legitimate ones", principles of transparency and best practice have been identified and issued collectively by the Committee on Publication Ethics, the DOAJ, the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, and the World Association of Medical Editors. Various journal review websites (crowd-sourced or expert-run) have been started, some focusing on the quality of the peer review process and extending to non-OA publications. A group of libraries and publishers launched an awareness campaign.
A number of measures have been suggested to further combat predatory journals. Others have called on research institutions to improve the publication literacy notably among junior researchers in developing countries. Some organisations have also developed criteria in which predatory publishers could be spotted through providing tips that include avoiding fast publishers
As Beall has ascribed predatory publishing to a consequence of gold open access (particularly its author-pays variant), one researcher has argued for platinum open access, where the absence of article processing charges removes the publisher's conflict of interest in accepting article submissions. More objective discriminating metrics have been proposed, such as a "predatory score" and positive and negative journal quality indicators. Others have encouraged authors to consult subject-area expert-reviewed journal listings, such as the Directory of Nursing Journals, vetted by the International Academy of Nursing Editors and its collaborators. It has been argued that the incentives for fraud need to be removed.
Bioethicist Arthur Caplan has warned that predatory publishing, fabricated data, and academic plagiarism erodes public confidence in the medical profession, devalues legitimate science, and undermines public support for evidence-based policy.
In 2015, Rick Anderson, associate dean in the J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, challenged the term itself: "what do we mean when we say 'predatory,' and is that term even still useful?... This question has become relevant because of that common refrain heard among Beall's critics: that he only examines one kind of predation—the kind that naturally crops up in the context of author-pays OA." Anderson suggests that the term "predatory" be retired in the context of scholarly publishing. "It's a nice, attention-grabbing word, but I'm not sure it's helpfully descriptive... it generates more heat than light." A 2017 article in The New York Times suggests that a significant number of academics are "eager" to publish their work in these journals, making the relationship more a "new and ugly symbiosis" than a case of scholars being exploited by "predators".
Similarly, a study published in January 2018 found that "Scholars in the developing world felt that reputable Western journals might be prejudiced against them and sometimes felt more comfortable publishing in journals from the developing world. Other scholars were unaware of the reputation of the journals in which they published and would not have selected them had they known. However, some scholars said they would still have published in the same journals if their institution recognised them. The pressure to 'publish or perish' was another factor influencing many scholars' decisions to publish in these fast-turnaround journals. In some cases, researchers did not have adequate guidance and felt they lacked the knowledge of research to submit to a more reputable journal."
Scholars from developed countries are not immune to the problem.
An author mill is a publisher that relies on producing large numbers of small-run books by different authors, as opposed to a smaller number of works published in larger numbers. The term was coined by Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware, as a parallel formation from diploma mill, an unaccredited college or university that offers degrees without regard to academic achievement, and puppy mill, a breeding operation that produces large numbers of puppies for sale with little regard for breed purity, puppy placement, health, or socialization.
Predatory open access publishing is a closely related practice. However, the aims and the business model are rather different: predatory publishers will charge the author up front for publishing in a supposed scientific journal. Since academic evaluation is largely based on publication count or other bibliometrics, even well-meaning authors may be willing to pay to bolster their career prospects.CafePress
CafePress, Inc. is an American online retailer of stock and user-customized on demand products. The company was founded in San Mateo, California, but is now headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, USA along with its production facility. In 2001, CafePress.com won the People's Voice Webby Award in the Commerce category.Custom Ink
Custom Ink is an American-based online retail company that makes custom apparel such as T-shirts and sweatshirts.Hijacked journal
A hijacked journal is a legitimate academic journal for which a bogus website has been created by a malicious third party for the purpose of fraudulently offering academics the opportunity to rapidly publish their research online for a fee.Jeffrey Beall
Jeffrey Beall is an American librarian, best known for drawing attention to "predatory open access publishing", a term he coined, and for creating what is now widely known as Beall's list, a list of potentially predatory open-access publishers. He is a critic of the open access publishing movement, and is especially known for his blog Scholarly Open Access. He has also written on this topic in The Charleston Advisor, in Nature, in Learned Publishing, and elsewhere.When Beall created his list, he was employed at the University of Colorado Denver. More recently, he was a librarian at Auraria Library in Denver until March 2018.List of self-publishing companies
The following lists are of notable self-publishing companies, and some which provide assistance in self-publishing books, provide print on demand services as publishers, operate as vanity presses, or custom print merchandise and on products.
Self-publishing and vanity publishing are totally different business models. And vanity presses are different from book packagers, book shepherds, or those offering a la carte publishing services for a fee but who do not charge you to publish your book. A self-published author employs a printer (publishing) to operate a press, but retains ownership of copyrights, ISBN's, the finished books and their distribution. A vanity press or subsidy publisher retains some of the rights, usually including ownership of the print run and control over distribution, while the author bears much or all of the financial risk.Both models share a common characteristic of shifting risk and primary editorial control to the author; both encounter the same issues of lax editorial control when the author does not do all of the editorial and production functions well.
The vanity press model almost always charges too much, delivers too little, all with low quality and tries to sell unneeded and useless services at high profit margins.
This differs from the conventional model (royalty publishing) in which a publisher pays an author an advance to create content, then assumes full control of the project and any commercial risk if a tome sells poorly. Also excluded is sponsored publishing, where a company pays an author to write a book on its behalf (for instance, a food manufacturer marketing a cookbook written by outsiders or a hobby materials supplier publishing a book of blueprints).These lists includes only some publishers; it is not a complete list of all existing self publishers nor vanity publishers.MDPI
MDPI is an organisational acronym used by two related organisations, Molecular Diversity Preservation International and Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, which were both co-founded by Shu-Kun Lin. The first organisation, Molecular Diversity Preservation International, founded in 1996, is primarily a chemical sample archive, with some scholarly publishing and conference activities. The second organisation, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, was founded in 2010, primarily as a publisher. As of 2018 MDPI publishes 213 academic journals, including 37 that have received an impact factor. However, the quality of MDPI's peer review is disputed.MDPI was included on Jeffrey Beall's list of predatory open access publishing companies in 2014 but was removed in 2015. Beall's list was shut down in 2017; Beall later wrote that he had been pressured to shut down the list by various publishers, specifically mentioning MDPI. The publisher was downgraded to level 0, the lowest level, in the Norwegian Scientific Index for the year 2019, although most individual journals are listed at level 1.Oncotarget
Oncotarget is a twice weekly peer-reviewed open access bio-medical journal covering research on all aspects of oncology and publishing sub-sections on topics beyond oncology. The journal was established in 2010 and is published by Impact Journals. The editors-in-chief are Mikhail Blagosklonny and Andrei V. Gudkov.
In 2017, the journal was dropped from MEDLINE. In 2018 Clarivate Analytics delisted the journal from the Journal Citation Reports and all of its other products because "the journal no longer meets the standards necessary for continued coverage", despite having listed the journal as a "Rising Star from Essential Science Indicators" only a few months prior.Outskirts Press
Outskirts Press is a Denver, Colorado-based book publisher which caters to self-publishing authors.Pattern Recognition in Physics
Pattern Recognition in Physics was an open-access journal originally published by Copernicus Publications which was established in March 2013 and terminated in January 2014. The editors-in-chief were Sid-Ali Ouadfeul (Algerian Petroleum Institute) and Nils-Axel Mörner, the latter of whom is a well-known global warming skeptic. Copernicus ceased its publication due to concerns over the publication's views towards the scientific consensus of global climate change and the method of peer review. In March 2014 Ouadfeul reopened the journal, "run on private founding" [sic]Predatory conference
Predatory conferences or predatory meetings are meetings set up to appear as legitimate scientific conferences but which are exploitative as they do not provide proper editorial control over presentations, and advertising can include claims of involvement of prominent academics who are, in fact, uninvolved. They are an expansion of the predatory open access publishing business model, which involves the creation of academic publications built around an exploitative business model that generally involves charging publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals.Print on demand
Print-on-demand (POD) is a printing technology and business process in which book copies (or other documents) are not printed until the company receives an order, allowing prints of singular or small quantities. While other industries established the build to order business model, "print-on-demand" could only develop after the beginning of digital printing, because it was not economical to print single copies using traditional printing technology such as letterpress and offset printing.
Many traditional small presses have replaced their traditional printing equipment with POD equipment or contract their printing to POD service providers. Many academic publishers, including university presses, use POD services to maintain large backlists (lists of older publications); some use POD for all of their publications. Larger publishers may use POD in special circumstances, such as reprinting older, out of print titles or for test marketing.Printer (publishing)
In publishing, printers are both companies providing printing services and individuals who directly operate printing presses.Printers include:
Newspaper printers, often owned by newspaper publishers
Magazine printers, usually independent of magazine publishers
Book printers, often not directly connected with book publishers
Trade printers, who offer wholesale rates within the printing industryAn artist who operates a printing press to execute their own works of printing press such as, hand in limited runs. That is usually distinguished from other printers by the term printmaker.Redbubble
Redbubble is a global online marketplace for print-on-demand products based on user-submitted artwork. The company was founded in 2006 in Melbourne, Australia, and also maintains offices in San Francisco and Berlin.
The company operates primarily on the Internet and allows its members to sell their artwork as decoration on a variety of products. Products include prints, T-shirts, hoodies, cushions, duvet covers, leggings, stickers, skirts, and scarves. The company offers free membership to artists who maintain the copyrights to their work, regulate their own prices, and decide which products may display their images.Shopify
Shopify is a Canadian e-commerce company headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario. It is also the name of its proprietary e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Shopify offers online retailers a suite of services "including payments, marketing, shipping and customer engagement tools to simplify the process of running an online store for small merchants."The company reported that it had more than 600,000 merchants using its platform as of August 2017, with total gross merchandise volume exceeding $26 billion.Shutterfly
Shutterfly, Inc. is an American Internet-based company, headquartered in Redwood City, California, and specializing in image-publishing services. Shutterfly's flagship product is its photo book line. The company, founded in 1999, is currently led by Christopher North. The company went public in 2006.
The Shutterfly customer base is heavily skewed toward women, who accounted for 80% of customers as reported in 2013.Shutterfly's revenue derives from "turning digital snapshots into tangible things".Spreadshirt
Spreadshirt is a global e-commerce company that offers print-on-demand for clothing and accessories. It operates in Europe and North America. Customers can either discover products designed by others or create their own designs. It is also possible for vendors to create their own shops. Spreadshirt has its own factories for printing the ordered items.Vanity press
A vanity press, vanity publisher, or subsidy publisher is a publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published. Vanity publishers have no selection criteria as opposed to other "hybrid" publishing models. The term has appeared in mainstream U.S. publications as early as 1941.
In contrast, mainstream publishers, whether major companies or small presses, derive their profit from sales of the book to the general public. Publishers must therefore be cautious and deliberate in choosing to publish works that will sell, particularly as they must recoup their investment in the book (such as an advance payment and royalties to the author, editorial guidance, promotion, marketing, or advertising). In order to sell books, commercial publishers may also be selective in order to cultivate a reputation for high-quality work, or to specialize in a particular genre.
Because vanity presses are not usually selective (at least in the same way a commercial publisher would be) publication by a vanity press is typically not seen as conferring the same recognition or prestige as commercial publication. Vanity presses do offer more independence for the author than does the mainstream publishing industry; however, their fees can be higher than the fees normally charged for similar printing services, and sometimes restrictive contracts are required.
While a commercial publisher's intended market is the general public, a vanity publisher's intended market is the author and a very small number of interested members of the general public. In some cases, authors of a book that is vanity published will buy a substantial number of copies of their book, so that they can give it away as a promotional tool.Write-only
Write-only or write only may refer to:
A file access permission type
In programming languages, a property of a class, which has only mutator methods
Write-only documentation, a tongue-in-cheek term for documentation that is written to satisfy a process but never read subsequent to its writing
Write-only language, a derogatory term for programming languages that are hard to read
Write-only publishing, a derogatory term for predatory open-access publishing
Write-only memory (disambiguation)