Once or twice per month I receive an email with a subject line something like “Dear Duncan, D.R., Invitation to Join AASCIT as a Reviewer/Editorial Board Member.” Most of these I delete, but I recently forgot to delete one received on December 18, 2014. As most do, the email reads that the sender is quite interested in one of my recent publications and would like me to submit a follow up manuscript or become a reviewer or member of their editorial board. To satisfy my own curiosity, I visited this association’s web page and found that it publishes 27 journals of a very broad nature. Examining just one journal (American Journal of Science and Technology), I found it has an editorial board of 545 members and no Editor in Chief. Furthermore, unlike SIVB, the web page of AASCIT contains no list of bylaws, no constitution, no code of ethics, and no listed Board of Directors with their addresses. Skeptical, I checked to see if AASCIT was on “Beall’s List,” 1 and there it was.
This is a classic example of what has come to be called a “predatory publisher;”2 the negative side of open access publishing. The idyllic goal of open access publishing was to give scientists and the public worldwide access to peer reviewed research for a onetime fee imposed on the author. From this has sprung a cottage industry of unscrupulous, if not fraudulent, publishers: at least 710 as of January 18, 20151. The sole purpose of these publishers is to make money off of naive scientists at an average rate of $1,800.00 per manuscript2. These publishers are characterized by a lack of business transparency, questionable editorial boards and editorial oversight, spam-like solicitation of manuscripts and, as amply demonstrated by John Bohannon, very poor or no peer review3.
A lack of peer review, the ease of obtaining open access publications and the difficulty of distinguishing between legitimate and predatory publishers has unleashed on the public flawed and potentially erroneous “junk” literature4 and opened an avenue for activist groups to create fictitious literature to support their causes5. For the scientist, there is guilt by association when his or her work is published online along with bogus material2. It is prudent to the integrity of scientists and to science in general to not use these publishers.
To avoid predatory publishers, authors should examine the publisher’s website for the tell tale characteristics mentioned previously. Authors should also check the Directory of Open Access Journals that is presently being revised to remove predatory publishers6, the Journal Citation Report by Thompson Reuters7 that uses impact factors to rate journals, and the “Beall List,” which is an online compendium of predatory publishers1. Checking these lists before sending a manuscript off for publication is critical to maintaining the integrity and credibility of research. Alternatively, publishing in the SIVB journals, either In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology –Plant or In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology –Animal, can guarantee that an author’s work is fairly and rigorously peer reviewed, while being published in a timely manner. If open access publishing is desirable, that too is an option with these journals. The bottom line is that it behooves everyone not to jeopardize their work by using dubious publishers but instead to publish with their society journals.
- Beall, Jeffrey, 2015, “Beall’s List.” Available at: http://scholarlyoa.com/publishers/ Accessed January 18, 2015.
- Beall, Jeffrey, 2012, Predatory publishers are corrupting open access. Nature 489:179.
- Bohannon, John, 2013, Who’s afraid of peer review? Science 342:60-65.
- Kolata, Gina, 2013, Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too). The New York Times. April 7, 2013. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/08/health/for-scientists-an-exploding-world-of-pseudo-academia.html?_r=0. Accessed January 18, 2015.
- Spears, Tom, 2014, Fringe activists learn to use ‘predatory’ science journals. Ottawa Citizen. November 8, 2014. Available at: propaganda http://ottawacitizen.com/technology/science/fringe-activists-learn-to-use-predatory-science-journals . Accessed January 18, 2015.
- Van Noorden, Richard, 2014, Open-access website gets tough. Nature 512:17.
- Thomson Reuters, 2014, Journals in the 2014 Release of JCR. Available at: http://scientific.thomsonreuters.com/imgblast/JCRFullCovlist-2014.pdf. Accessed January 18, 2015.
Submitted by David Duncan
Editor-In-Chief, In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology-Plant