Jeffrey Beall, a scholarly communication librarian at the University of Colorado Denver’s Auraria Library, presented “Writer’s Beware” on Friday, April 25. Beall’s presentation focused on predatory publishers who exploit the gold open access model for their own profit.
Held in the reference room of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point library, Beall explained that predatory publishers publish counterfeit journals to exploit the gold open access model in which authors pay. He said that authors are often dissuaded from open-archiving because it is harder to convert and reformat their documents when transferring their work to publishers.
Beall said that the gold open access model began with good intentions but turned worse.
“The noblest of goals can lead to bad initiatives,” Beall said.
Beall described the gold open access model as a way in which authors can publish in open access journals. Because of predatory publishers, author’s works have a greater potential to become discredited. Beall said that there is no peer review process involved in predatory publishing, nor is there any screening for quality.
Beall first became aware of predatory publishers in the early 2000s. He said that predatory publishers exploded in 2011 and continue to grow today.
“I’m probably the only person in the world who thanks people for forwarding me their spam emails,” Beall said.
Beall said that it is hard for authors to distinguish between predatory and legitimate journals. He sometimes begins to identify predatory publishers through spam email links. Beall began a list of predatory publishers that is published on his blog scholarlyoa.com. It currently lists 400 predatory publishers.
“I realize there are sloppy upstart publishers, so I don’t include them on my list. It’s hard for publishers to make it on my list,” Beall said.
Beall’s list attracted the most attention in 2012 when he saw an uprising of traffic on his blog. His blog lists a slate of criterion for identifying predatory publishers.
UWSP’s reference and instruction librarian Nerissa Nelson said that librarians at the university library were excited to have Beall speak.
“The library faculty and staff usually does a scholarly reception or creative workshop to close the year in spring. This year, we thought it would be fun to include a speaker. We want to alternate our events annually,” Nelson said.
This presentation included a breakfast reception, a question and answer session after the presentation, and a library tour after for ‘out-of-towners’ to enjoy.
This event marked Beall’s first time being in Wisconsin, and the library community was happy to have him. An array of faculty and staff from across the state gathered to watch him present.
“In the library community, we are all familiar with ‘Beall’s List,’” Nelson said.
Beall gave examples in his presentation of easy ways to identify possible predatory publishers. South Asia, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, Ontario, Australia, and the United States see the most predatory publishers.
“Predatory publishers will lie about anything,” Beall said.
Beall said that predatory publishers often include the word “international” in their titles, as to imply their attractiveness for authors who desire a global audience. Other lies include who is on their editorial board, their location, and how they adhere to ethical standards.
Predatory publishers will even go as far as to hold scam conferences that are often stationed in Orlando, San Diego, and Las Vegas.
As far as stopping predatory publishers goes, Beall is unsure there is a clear solution.
“They enjoy the freedom of the press as we do, just in a less qualitative way,” Beall said.
Beall reasoned that predatory publishing is a growing issue. His list has gotten so much traffic that he has had threats made against him from predatory publishers themselves.
“An Indian company demanded one billion dollars from me. I did not pay,” Beall said.
Beall continues to dive into his research and be an advocate for moving authors away from “scammy” editorial sites. He attempts to do so at the University of Colorado, though his site makes clear that his research is not affiliated with the university.