An Open Question
We're not talking about the established STM publishers, rather the fly-by-night operations that have popped up overseas to take advantage of authors willing to pay fees to have their scholarly work published. These are the ones that are being deceptive to authors and readers, he says. They're the ones who are non-transparent to the outside world and ultimately are harmful to the idea of open access.
"My work has led me to discover an increasing number of people exploiting the model all over the world," Beall says.
Beall refers to them as "the bad guys," and since 2010, he's kept an ever-growing list of them on his blog—Scholarly Open Access.
"The major publishers are very open about what they do," he says. "They've established policies for retractions. They're open about what they charge. They're transparent. I haven't got any complaints about how they do business. It's the predatory publishers that will hurt the reputation of open access. People can't always tell what is legitimate or not—and it might make them hesitant to print in an open access [publication]. Are they really doing peer review? Are they following industry standards? Many of them have no policies."
One or two new ones pop up each week. There's an editor in Oman out there trash talking Beall right now on the Internet. There's another guy over in Singapore who wants to sue him. But Beall's crusade has gotten the good kind of attention lately, too. He penned an article that appeared in The Scientist magazine in August. His most recent piece—"Predatory Publishers are Corrupting Open Access"—appeared in the World View column in the September issue of Nature.
He recommends authors and publishers alike rally around the OASPA and display the group's logo on their Web offerings as a sign of being legit. But, he adds, that surely won't be the magic bullet to rid the industry of these "bad guys."