"... Such thoughts got me to wondering about Frontiers in Psychology which is part of the Frontiers’ group of Open Access Publisher and Open Science Platform journals.
Doing some research it didn’t take long to realize they are another example of the devil being in the details of a noble effort when dedication to earning profits and bonuses gets prioritized above meeting their organization’s stated mission. Something that seems to be more common than not. ..."
Trust, but verify, and keep that salt shaker handy.
Introduction to Predatory Scientific Journals
(selections from the following articles are under the fold)
J Med Libr Assoc. 2019 Jan; 107(1): 57–61.
Posted by deevybee , June 7, 2015
Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato, October 23, 2015
Leonid Schneider - October 28, 2015
What I learned from predatory publishers, by Jeffrey Beall
Jeffrey Beall - June 2017 - BiochemiaMedica
DH Kaye - December 20, 2017- Flaky Academic Journals
Jens Nielsen, November 2017, https://doi.org/10.1093/femsyr/fox075
August 24, 2017 - London School of Economics and Political Science
Brenda Wingfield, Bob Millar, April 10, 2019, TheConversation.com
Shaun Khoo, June 16, 2019, TheConversation.com
Reading through Hoffman’s Frontiers in Psychology 2014 paper it occurred to me the published journal article helped lay the foundation for his claim to scientific legitimacy and ultimately his book “The Case Against Reality - Why evolution hid the truth from our eyes.”
That had me thinking about the scientific process and these philosophical musings that Hoffman sculpted into this paper that makes no scientific case against reality and “Physicalism,” despite his bold, yet hollow, claim.
Instead, the authors rely on rhetorical fancy dancing to simply dismiss realism outright, along with enlisting mathematical sleight of hand to conjure all pervading “conscious agents” that he suggests does all of our perceiving and thinking for us.
It begs the question, who would publish such dressed up pipe dreaming as a scientific journal worthy science paper?
Then I remembered, this was “Frontiers of Psychology” - A pay to publish journal dedicated to psychology. In other words, we're back to priorities and the pursuit of profits.
Don’t get me wrong, psychology and philosophy are fine and good for what they are, but objects of our mind is not the point here. Hoffman dismisses spacetime and physical reality as we understand it - that's going over the edge and deserves being called out.
Hoffman's paper dismisses scientific realism and physicalism, the stuff of natural sciences, Earth sciences, but he does so in a journal dedicated to the study of our mind and thoughts.
That is, our Human Mindscape, a soft science full of competing lines are arguments based on ideas and conviction, driven by ego, and resulting in endlessly dog-chasing-tail debates over inventive word games. Seldom getting anywhere. About as soft a science as there is. (Yes, rather melodramatic, but so is the situation, when observed from the outside looking in.)
Hoffman's stunt is worth calling out as scientifically sleazy behavior - rather than being heralded as 'provocative, worth reading, even if far fetched.' What makes it worth reading? What sort of clarity does it offer?
I myself am baffled at why anyone would want to tell people to imagine that spacetime is doomed and that the structure of our day to day world isn't at all what it seems.
There's something nasty, disrespectful, predatory even, cynically taking advantage of the under-informed and gullible - filling their heads with utter nonsense, when there's so much about our real world that people ought to be learning about and opening up their eyes and minds to.
Willful ignorance, along with belligerent ignorance, is a national menace that has received a free pass for way too long. This "Case Against Reality," and such, is where the disconnect begins, destroying our own government and life support system is where it leads.
A stand for honesty and facing down to Earth physical facts and the 'laws of nature' needs to be made.
My point is that Hoffman's thesis has little, if anything, to do with serious natural sciences and the physical reality we are embedded within. Instead, he dismisses it and by extension realistically appreciating evolution with entertaining alacrity.
Such thoughts got me to wondering about Frontiers in Psychology which is part of the Frontiers’ group of Open Access Publisher and Open Science Platform journals.
Doing some research it didn’t take long to realize they are another example of the devil being in the details of a noble effort when dedication to earning profits and bonuses gets prioritized above meeting their organization’s stated mission. Something that seems to be more common than not.
Yes, there are two sides, we also have the folks earning a paycheck through Frontier who defend it vigorously, perhaps too vigorously, perhaps adding another layer of justifying to the label “Predatory Journals.”
Of course, Open Source science papers are awesome, but that doesn't justify ignoring the dark side, or peddling non-science as science.
Not to be overlooked is the current societal milieu in which maximizing profits while minimizing, responsibilities, duties, expenditures, has permeated into every aspect of society. Regardless of consequences. Fruits of the 'me first' age.
I've been culling informative articles. Some better than others, all worth at least skimming and being aware of. Have at it.
The first journal published was Frontiers in Neuroscience, which opened for submission as a beta version in 2007. In 2010, Frontiers launched a series of another eleven journals in medicine and science. In February 2012, the Frontiers Research Network was launched, a social networking platform for researchers, intended to disseminate the open access articles published in the Frontiers journals, and to provide related conferences, blogs, news, video lectures and job postings.
Norwegian Science Index
The National Publication Committee of Norway has assigned Frontiers Media an institutional-level rating of "level 0" in the Norwegian Scientific Index since 2018, indicating that the publisher is "not academic". Individual Frontiers journals have separate journal-level ratings. As of 2020, 56 Frontiers journals are listed in the Norwegian Scientific Index of which 3 have a rating of "level 2" (top 20% of all journals in their field), 50 have a rating of "level 1" (standard academic) and 3 have a rating of "level 0" (not academic).
J Med Libr Assoc. 2019 Jan; 107(1): 57–61.
Published online 2019 Jan 1. doi: 10.5195/jmla.2019.491
How do journals in the Frontiers series have such a (relatively) high impact factor? @Reddit_U.Lamaksha
Posted by deevybee , June 7, 2015
Frontiers journals have become a conspicuous presence in academic publishing since they started in 2007 with the advent of Frontiers in Neuroscience. When they were first launched, I, like many people, was suspicious. This was an Open Access (OA) online journal where authors paid to publish, raising questions about the academic rigour of the process. However, it was clear that the publishers had a number of innovative ideas that were attractive to authors, with a nice online interface and a collaborative review process that made engagement with reviewers more of a discussion than a battle with anonymous critics.
Like many other online OA journals, the editorial decision to publish was based purely on an objective appraisal of the soundness of the study, not on a subjective evaluation of importance, novelty or interest. As word got round that respectable scientists were acting as editors, reviewers and authors of paper in Frontiers, people started to view it as a good way of achieving fast and relatively painless publication, with all the benefits of having the work openly available and accessible to all. …
With success, however, have come growing rumbles of discontent. …
Then, there have been some very public criticisms of editorial practices at Frontiers. The first was associated with the retraction of a paper that claimed climate denialism was associated with a more general tendency to advocate conspiracy theories. Papers on this subject are always controversial and this one was no exception, attracting complaints to the editor. The overall impression from the account in Retraction Watch was that the editor caved in to legal threats, thereby letting critics of climate change muzzle academic freedom of speech. This led to the resignation of one Frontiers editor**.
Next, there was a case … – see Retraction Watch account here.
Most recently, in May 2015 there was a massive upset when editors of the journals Frontiers in Medicine and Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine … The editors protested and published a manifesto of editorial independence, leading to 31 of them being sacked by the publisher.
… but it was finally exploded completely when someone on Twitter pointed me to this article entitled "First time description of dismantling phenomenon" by Laurence Barrer and Guy Giminez from Aix Marseille Université, France. …
In which a favour for a colleague leads to being associated with un-scholarly peer review practices, un-collegiate behaviour, and predatory open access publishing mechanisms. My advice? Stay away from Frontiers.
1. Poor Peer Review Practices
In October 2014 I was approached by a colleague of mine, Frederic Kaplan, from EPFL, for a favour. I had worked with Frederic on running DH2014, still the largest ever international meeting of Digital Humanities scholars. Frederic was setting up a new, online, open access, peer reviewed journal in Digital Humanities. Would I help him out in being a reviewer? Of course, I said. Our community needs more venues to publish in, Digital Humanities has a commitment to open access, and having helped set up an online, peer reviewed, open access, Digital Humanities journal myself, I know how difficult it is to get any established scholars to support you in the early days. I was happy to help: I do try to be helpful. But now I have to be helpful to the wider online community to discuss what happens when you lend your name to a Frontiers publication. …
2. Why are all the Senior Editors in Frontiers in DH male?
… Wait, you dont understand why this is problematic? When 46% of the 500+ attendees to DH2015 audience were women? When DH is has plenty of knowledgeable women around, when four out of the last 5 program chairs of the DH conferences have been women (myself included), when… I could go on and on, but Women In Digital Humanities Are Not Hard To Find, Okay? When there are lots of women around being very helpful, and here, in 2015, we have a new journal launched that can only find men to put in senior positions. Right-oh. Let’s just pause for a minute and congratulate them on that, shall we?
3. Why wont Frontiers remove my name when I ask?
Shall I show you some of the responses I got from the Frontier Journals editorial team? Oh go on let me show you some of them. Explaining why they wont remove my name from Frontiers in Digital Humanities, Frederick Fenter, Executive Editor of Frontiers, said: “To remove it would… cause damage to the author of that article. We look forward to hearing from your lawyers.”
Responding to criticism regarding the gender issue of the Frontiers in DH board, Fenter said “Our CEO is a woman, 80% of our editorial office employees are women”. You’ve heard it here first – the lowly editorial assistants are women, the senior editors are men. BINDERS FULL OF WOMEN, I tell you. They maintain I signed an agreement with Frontiers to have my name associated with them forever: I never signed any agreement. I asked them for a copy of the agreement they claim to have: they do not respond. It goes on and on. They will not remove my name. …
4. Advice for others considering publishing in Frontiers in Digital Humanities
Let’s take a look at the criteria for determining predatory publishers which puts journals on Beall’s list, shall we? Its a long list, available in a PDF, but there are things on that list which Frontiers in Digital Humanities is definitely coming up trumphs with (I quote here from Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers, but the highlighting is all my own):
- The journals have an insufficient number of board members , (e.g., 2 or 3 members), have concocted editorial boards (made up names), name scholars on their editorial board without their knowledge or permission or have board members who are prominent researchers but exempt them from any contributions to the journal except the use of their names and/or photographs.
- The editorial board engages in gender bias (i.e., exclusion of any female members).
- The publisher begins operations with a large fleet of journals, often using a common template to quickly create each journal’s home page.
- The publisher engages in excessive use of spam email to solicit manuscripts or editorial board memberships.
- Evidence exists showing that the publisher does not really conduct a bona fide peer review.
etc etc etc. Uh-oh.
All this to say: I wouldn’t like anyone to think that just because my name is on the Frontiers in Digital Humanities website that I support this effort or this publishing house. I did undertake a peer review for them once, in good faith. I have asked for my name to be removed in protest for gender balance issues in their senior editorial board appointments, but “To remove it would… cause damage to the author of that article”.
As a result I’m left recommending that others in Digital Humanities do not go anywhere near Frontiers in Digital Humanities, to prevent any damage to themselves, or their own scholarly reputation.
But then again, I’m always happy to be transparent when it comes to academic publishing.
Update: 28th July 2015
… Turns out I’m not the first to draw attention to the problematic peer review and publishing model of Frontiers. You can read into other such public postings, especially this post from @deevybee on “My collapse of confidence in Frontiers journals”, posted just a few weeks ago.
Professor Bishop covers more about the history of the platform and other recent public statements made by academics over how they view it – it’s worth a read, so I won’t cover this ground again here, but it shows that this isn’t just a paranoid rant from me: those considering publishing in this venue should be very careful.
Regarding their publishing model – I was right in surmising that “Frontiers awards annual honoraria to chief editors at threshold levels of success of their journals” … what would success look like? Well, it turns out there’s a set of public facing guidelines for Speciality Chief Editors, hilariously titled “Equal Opportunity Research Publishing” (given the fact that Equal Ops regarding gender doesn’t come into the equation). It’s clearly a franchise model, fair enough.
Now, these guidelines makes for very interesting reading, and there are numerous stages where Frontiers in DH didn’t follow the rules – only one peer review, instead of two (despite the hundreds of editors!), the peer review wasn’t blind – Frederic specifically asked for me to review his paper.
I didn’t undertake the review as part of the interactive system – it was all done over email, etc etc. So here we have a franchise that just didn’t follow the rules, which is probably the source of my ill-feeling about the Frontiers in DH peer review process.
I therefore suggest that anyone considering publishing with Frontiers or being asked to join the review board looks at these guidelines, and people should double check that they are happy with this approach, and that when they are involved, the rules are followed. …
Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato, October 23, 2015
… Beall told Nature that he stands by his decision and that he has received dozens of e-mails from the scientific community outlining bad practices at Frontiers.
Beall names some controversies that he says helped raise concerns about the Frontiers journals. These include a Frontiers in Psychology paper suggesting that conspiracy theorists do not believe in climate change and a Frontiers in Public Health paper raising questions about the link between HIV and AIDS. Both ignited Internet firestorms on publication.
In a statement, Frontiers said that it was committed to serving the academic community, was a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics and was also on the ‘whitelist’ of legitimate publishers kept by the Directory of Open Access Journals. “Dubious actions as such by an individual with a long history of opposing Open Access publishing serve only to create confusion that slows down the development of Open Access publishing,” says the statement. …
Interestingly, turns out Frontier is extending its tentacles ever deeper into the scientific publication industry. Then there’s the Holtzbrinck Group connection, talk about a publishing octopus. The modern way, seeking ever more power, control, profits. Til ya burst?
Here’s the notice that appears at the bottom of this story:
The Holtzbrinck Group, based in Stuttgart, Germany, is a part owner of Frontiers and also owns a share of Nature’s parent company, Springer Nature. Frontiers says that “While generally operating as an independent business and publisher, Frontiers now collaborates with Holtzbrinck businesses including NPG on key initiatives to advance the cause of Open Science for the benefit of both the research community and the broader public.” Nature’s news team is editorially independent.
Nature 526, 613 (29 October 2015) doi:10.1038/526613f
You know what they say, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
By Leonid Schneider - October 28, 2015
The Lausanne-based publishing house Frontiers, founded by the neuroscientists Henry and Kamila Markram, has been added to the Beall’s List of potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers. Was this decision justified? I wish to share here some of my recent investigations.
The Lausanne-based publishing house Frontiers, founded by the neuroscientists Henry and Kamila Markram, has been recently added to the Beall’s List of potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers. Was this decision justified? I wish to share here some of my recent investigations.
Previously, I reported about an editorial conflict at the Frontiers medical section in Laborjournal and Lab Times. In May 2015 Frontiers sacked almost all of its medical chief editors. This was because those chief editors had signed a “Manifesto of Editorial Independence”, which went against one of the key guidelines of Frontiers, namely that editors must always “allow the authors an opportunity for a rebuttal”. Associate editors are namely instructed to always “consider the rebuttal of the authors”, even “if the independent reviews are unfavourable”.
At the same time, chief editors claimed to have had little, if any, influence over the editorial processes at Frontiers. Since the Frontiers Executive Editor Frederick Fenter fired all 31 signatory chief editors, Frontiers in Medicine has been operated without an Editor-in-Chief and with few Chief Specialty Editors. Medical ethics requirement for publication, originally introduced by the previous chief editors, were not implemented in the Frontiers instructions for authors.
There appear to be few people in a position to provide oversight, while the associate editors handle manuscripts which they often receive directly from authors. Some of these associate editors are no strangers to controversy themselves; Alfredo Fusco, who is also a frequent author at Frontiers in Medicine, has had several of his papers retracted and is facing a criminal investigation over alleged data manipulations.
“From a reviewer point, there is no opportunity to reject a paper, only to endorse or ask for further revisions”.
The resulting high acceptance rate at Frontiers goes hand-in-hand with the fact that the publisher has offered its chief editors a reward of €5,000 “for each batch of 120 papers submitted to your section in 2015”.
… Regardless their publishing and editorial policies, Frontiers journals have recently joined the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) en masse. Coincidently or not, prior to this the Frontiers journal manager Mirjam Curno joined the committee as council member. While most other journals list their editors-in-chief as their COPE contact, none of the listed Frontiers journals does. Instead, their COPE contacts are exclusively the employees of the publisher, working in managerial capacities – and not involved in the editorial process of the journals. Some of these employees have little experience in the research fields they are now supervising. … (link to full story)
Lately it seems like the rising tide is going against Frontiers. Originally hailed as a revolutionary open-access publishing model, the publishing group has been subject to intense criticism in recent years. Recent issues include being placed on Beall’s controversial ‘predatory publisher list‘, multiple high profile disputes at the editorial level, and controversy over HIV and vaccine denialist articles published in the journal seemingly without peer review. As a proud author of two Frontiers articles and former frequent reviewer, these issues compounded with a general poor perception of the journal recently led me to stop all publication activities at Frontiers outlets. Although the official response from Frontiers to these issues has been mixed, yesterday a mass-email from a section editor caught my eye:
It seems Frontiers is indeed aware of the problems and is hoping to bring back wary reviewers and authors. But is it too little too late? Discussing the problems at Frontiers is often met with severe criticism or outright dismissal by proponents of the OA publishing system, but I felt these neglected a wider negative perception of the publisher that has steadily grown over the past 5 years. To get a better handle on this I asked my twitter followers what they thought. 152 persons responded as follows: …
That is a stark difference between the two top open access journals – whereas only 19% said there was no problem at Frontiers, a full 50% say there is no problem at PLOS ONE. I think we can see that even accounting for general science skepticism, opinions of Frontiers are particularly negative.
Sam Schwarzkopf also lent some additional data, comparing the whole field of major open access outlets. …
… What are some of the specific complaints I regularly hear from colleagues?
- Spammy special issue invites. An older issue, but at Frontier’s inception many authors were inundated with constant invites to special issues, many of which were only tangentially related to author’s specialties.
- Spammy review invites. Colleagues who signed on to be ‘Review Editors’ (basically repeat reviewers) reported being hit with as many as 10 requests to review in a month, again many without relevance to their interest
- Related to both of the above, a perception that special issues and articles are frequently reviewed by close colleagues with little oversight. Similiarly, many special issues were edited by junior researchers at the PhD level.
- Endless review. I’ve heard numerous complaints that even fundamentally flawed or unpublishable papers are impossible or difficult to reject. Reviewers report going through multiple rounds of charitable review, finding the paper only gets worse and worse, only to be removed from the review by editors and the paper published without them.
…. (Link to full story)
Jeffrey Beall - June 2017 - BiochemiaMedica
This article is a first-hand account of the author’s work identifying and listing predatory publishers from 2012 to 2017. Predatory publishers use the gold (author pays) open access model and aim to generate as much revenue as possible, often foregoing a proper peer review. The paper details how predatory publishers came to exist and shows how they were largely enabled and condoned by the open-access social movement, the scholarly publishing industry, and academic librarians. The author describes tactics predatory publishers used to attempt to be removed from his lists, details the damage predatory journals cause to science, and comments on the future of scholarly publishing.
In January 2012, I launched a new blog titled Scholarly Open Access that listed predatory publishers and journals and offered critical commentary on scholarly open-access publishing. In January 2017, facing intense pressure from my employer, the University of Colorado Denver, and fearing for my job, I shut down the blog and removed all its content from the blog platform. In the five years I authored and published the blog, I had an amazing learning experience. I met and corresponded with hundreds of brilliant scholars and scholarly publishing industry executives from all over the world. I learned more about scholarly publishing than I ever imagined I would, about the pressure for researchers to publish, about academic evaluation, and about peer review.
Setting the stage for predatory publishing …
Open access advocates …
Predatory journals …
… What I learned from predatory publishers is that they consider money far more important than business ethics, research ethics, and publishing ethics and that these three pillars of scholarly publishing are easily sacrificed for profit. Soon after they first appeared, predatory publishers and journals became a godsend both for authors needing easy publishing outlets and sketchy entrepreneurs wanting to make easy money with little upfront investment. …
Remove our publisher from your list
Over the five years I published my blog and its list, publishers and standalone journals constantly tried various means of getting off the lists. Over time the requests to remove journals and publishers increased in number, as more and more universities recommended the lists or used them as official blacklists. Also, the methods publishers used became more intense.
Often owners of predatory publishing operations would email me, extolling the virtues of their journals, describing the rigor of their peer review and the credentials of their esteemed editorial boards. Some of them did a self-analysis using the criteria document I used and made available, and without exception these self-analyses found that the publisher didn’t meet any of the criteria – not even close – and deserved to be removed from the list immediately.
Others used more aggressive strategies. …
On blacklists and whitelists …
Predatory publishers and the threat to science
I think predatory publishers pose the biggest threat to science since the Inquisition. They threaten research by failing to demarcate authentic science from methodologically unsound science, by allowing for counterfeit science, such as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to parade as if it were authentic science, and by enabling the publication of activist science.
Because they aim to generate profits for their owners, gold (author-pays) open-access journals have a strong conflict-of-interest when it comes to peer review. They always want to earn money, and rejecting a paper means rejecting revenue. This conflict is at the heart of the ongoing downfall of scholarly publishing. Increasingly, the consumers of scholarly publishers’ services are the authors, not the readers, and not academic libraries. Businesses naturally always want to keep their customers content, for they want the revenue streams to continue and grow larger, as they add new services – such as more easy-acceptance journals – to their offerings. …
The scholarly publishing industry …
The future of scholarly publishing …
Over the five years I tracked and listed predatory publishers and journals, those who attacked me the most were other academic librarians. The attacks were often personal and unrelated to the ideas I was sharing or to the discoveries I was making about predatory publishers.
Academic librarians constantly attacked me because I dared to point out the weaknesses of the open-access publishing model. Librarianship slavishly follows political correctness and trendiness, so it’s no surprise that the profession fell in line with the open-access social movement and attacked those seeking to tell the truth about it. Many of these librarians were untrue to the faculty at their universities, praising open-access but failing to warn of the traps the predatory publishers were setting.
So, it’s not only the scholarly publishing industry that needs reform and self-regulation. Academic librarianship needs to wake up to the problem of predatory publishers and be true to library patrons seeking help and advice on scholarly communication.
 Conflicts of interest None declared.
Farrell D, editor. Systems and procedures exchange center (SPEC) flyer. In: Serials control and deselection projects. 147th ed. Washington, NW: Association of research libraries, Office of management service, 1988. p. 1-2.
Beall J. Dangerous predatory publishers threaten medical research. J Korean Med Sci. 2016;31:1511–3. https://doi.org/10.3346/jkms.2016.31.10.1511
Anonymous. Posterous. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posterous. Accessed February 9th 2017.
Moosa IA. A critique of the bucket classification of journals: The ABDC list as an example. Econ Rec. 2016;92:448–63. https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-4932.12258
Gieryn TF. Boundary-work and the demarcation of science from non-science: Strains and interests in professional ideologies of scientists. Am Sociol Rev. 1983;48:781–95. https://doi.org/10.2307/2095325
Beninger PG, Beall J, Shumway SE. Debasing the currency of science: The growing menace of predatory open access journals. J Shellfish Res. 2016;35:1–5. https://doi.org/10.2983/035.035.0101
It is now quasi official: do not mess with Frontiers. My earlier reporting made it a credible possibility that this Swiss publisher was behind the January 2017 shut-down and removal of Jeffrey Beall’s list of “potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers”, and it was now indeed verified by an article in Chronicle of Higher Education.
The librarian Beall used to be constantly under attack from Open Access (OA) publishers who were unhappy about his personal opinions and his private decisions to place them on his blog list. With those, his University of Colorado in Denver supported Beall. But the trouble started when he placed in October 2015 the Swiss publisher Frontiers onto his list, thus effectively declaring this Holtzbrinck-owned outlet a predatory publisher, after hearing of scientists’ complaints and reading my reports.
To be fair, Frontiers are still defended by a much bigger number of scientists who see the advantage of having a reliable business partner who will publish certain manuscripts which hardly any respectable journal might consider.
Especially certain kinds of psychologists figured out that with the life-science-oriented Frontiers they can easily get merited as proper neuroscientists, or even biomedical polymaths (e.g., here). Regardless of the bunk they place there for $2500 a pop. …. (link to complete article)
Nine months after a dogged academic librarian quietly closed his carefully tended list shaming more than a thousand scientific journals as unscrupulous, the Beall’s List Murder Mystery remains unsolved.
[This is an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, America’s leading higher education publication. It is presented here under an agreement with University World News.]
Why, after toiling so hard for five years – and creating a resource cherished by scientists wary of exploitative publishers – did the University of Colorado at Denver’s Jeffrey Beall abruptly give it all up? Who, or what, forced his hand?
There are several prime suspects:
- • His fellow university librarians, whom Beall faults for overpromoting open-access publishing models.
- • A well-financed Swiss publisher, angry that Beall had had the temerity to put its journals on his list.
- • His own university, perhaps fatigued by complaints from the publisher, the librarians, or others.
- • The broader academic community – universities, funders of research, publishers, and fellow researchers, many of whom long understood the value of Beall’s list but did little to help him out.
- • Beall himself, who failed to recognise that a bit of online shaming wouldn’t stop many scientists from making common cause with journals that just don’t ask too many questions.
In the end, all played important roles in the demise of Beall’s List. On one level, Beall’s saga is just another tale of warring personalities. On another, though, it points to a broader problem in publishing: Universities still have a long way to go to create systems for researchers to share and collaborate with one another, evaluate one another’s work, and get credit for what really matters in research.
… But the Swiss publisher angry that it had showed up on his blacklist, Frontiers Media, may have played an even bigger role. In October 2015, Beall announced in a tweet that he had added Frontiers to his list, citing "wide disapproval from scientists".
Reports described Frontiers as operating a factory of low-paid workers who churned out solicitations to academic authors. And the journals had published papers on disputed topics that include creationism, climate change, and AIDS.
Kenneth W Witwer, an assistant professor of molecular and comparative pathobiology at the Johns Hopkins University, is an ally of Beall’s. He is also an expert on AIDS, and he said he was especially bothered by a paper in Frontiers in Public Health questioning the long-established fact that HIV causes AIDS, and the journal’s subsequent decision not to retract it. …
December 20, 2017 - DH Kaye - Flaky Academic Journals
… Naturally, Frontiers claims that all of its 59 journals covering more than 460 specialties conduct transparent and rigorous peer review. It also states that "We publish all papers that are scientifically correct." (Emphasis in webpage). This asservation is hardly transparent. What is a "scientifically correct" paper? One that reports true results? No journal can guarantee that. Does it mean that every article that meets some methodological criteria will be published? What about those that do not meet these criteria? How many of the 65,000 papers published in the profusion of journals are not only incorrect, but reflect poorly conceived or executed research?
Wikipedia lists various controversies about Frontiers articles and resignations of editors. Individuals have complained about the shallowness of the review process (e.g., 1, 2) and allegedly heavy-handed or unscrupulous tactics by Frontiers to shut down Beall's list of predatory journals (e.g., 3, 4). One Frontier editor wrote an interesting description of "How to create a top journal by accepting (almost) everything" (5).
So what is the verdict on the Frontiers collection of articles? I am not prepared to pin the label "predatory" on them, but given the nonscientific polling and anecdotal reports that abound (6), it seems doubtful that publishing in these journals would be regarded as a coup. … (link to full story)
January 2, 2020 - ReplicationIndex.com
This blog post is heavily based on one of my first blog-posts in 2014 (Schimmack, 2014). The blog post reports a meta-analysis of ego-depletion studies that used the hand-grip paradigm. …
… However, given the lack of evidence with the hand-grip paradigm it is not surprising that within-subject designs also failed to show ego-depletion effects with other dependent variables in within-subject designs. Thus, these results further suggest that ego-depletion effects are too small to be used for experimental investigations of will-power.
Of course, Roy F. Baumeister doesn’t like this conclusion because his reputation is to a large extent based on the resource model of will-power. His response to the evidence that most of the evidence is based on questionable practices that produced illusory evidence has been to attack the critics (cf. Schimmack, 2019).
In 2016, he paid to publish a critique of Carter’s (2015) meta-analysis in Frontiers of Psychology (Cunningham & Baumeister, 2016). In this article, the authors question the results obtained by bias-tests that reveal publication bias and suggest that there is no evidence for ego-depletion effects.
Unfortunately, Cunningham and Baumeister’s (2016) article is cited frequently as if it contained some valid scientific arguments.
Fact Checking Cunningham and Baumeister’s Criticisms
Cunningham and Baumeister (2016) claim that results from bias tests are difficult to interpret, but their criticism is based on false arguments and inaccurate claims. …
Confusing Samples and Populations
This scientifically sounding paragraph is a load of bull. The authors claim that inferential tests require sampling from a population and raise a question about the adequacy of a sample. However, bias tests do not work this way. They are tests of the population, …
The claims about power are not based on clearly defined constructs in statistics. …
Confusing Absence of Evidence with Evidence of Absence
…Aside from the issues regarding the interpretation of the intercept, Cunningham and Baumeister also fail to address the finding that sample sizes and effect sizes were negatively correlated. If this negative correlation is not caused by questionable research practices, it must be caused by something else. Cunningham and Baumeister fail to provide an answer to this important question. …
No Evidence of Flair and Skill
Earlier Cunningham and Baumeister (2016) claimed that power depends on researchers’ skills and they argue that new investigators may be less skilled than the experts who developed paradigms like Baumeister and colleagues. …
Handgrip Replicability Analysis
The meta-analysis included 18 effect sizes based on handgrip studies. Two unpublished studies (Ns = 24, 37) were not included in this analysis. …
Baumeister has lost any credibility as a scientist. He is pretending to engage in a scientific dispute about the validity of ego-depletion research, but he is ignoring the most obvious evidence that has accumulated during the past decade. Social psychologists have misused the scientific method and engaged in a silly game of producing significant p-values that support their claims. Data were never used to test predictions and studies that failed to support hypotheses were not published.
“We did run multiple studies, some of which did not work, and some of which worked better than others. You may think that not reporting the less successful studies is wrong, but that is how the field works.” (Roy Baumeister, personal email communication)
As a result, the published record lacks credibility and cannot be used to provide empirical evidence for scientific claims. Ego-depletion is a glaring example of everything that went wrong in experimental social psychology. This is not surprising because Baumeister and his students used questionable research practices more than other social psychologists (Schimmack, 2018). …
Carter,E.C.,Kofler,L.M.,Forster,D.E.,and McCulloch,M.E. (2015). A series of meta-analytic tests of the depletion effect: Self-control does not seem to rely on a limited resource. J. Exp.Psychol.Gen. 144, 796–815. doi:10.1037/xge0000083
This is a list of possibly predatory journals. The kernel for this list was extracted from the archive of Beall’s list at web.archive.org. It will be updated as new information or suggested edits are submitted or found by the maintainers of this site.
This list is only for individual journals. See the other list for publishers potentially engaging in predatory practices.
BEALL'S LIST OF POTENTIAL PREDATORY JOURNALS AND PUBLISHERS
Vanity press is a type of publishing, where authors pay to have their work published; either in money or – more often – in the author’s publication rights. During the publication process, no peer-review is promised by the publisher and no quality control is done. Vanity press usually does no editing, and the authors are left to do all the formatting and spell-checking by themselves. Their works are then published in self-publishing outlets, such as on Amazon, and physical copies of their books have outrageously high prices. The authors, of course, get no income from the sales.
Vanity press usually targets young academics with no experience, that have just finished their degree and produced a thesis. Then, such publisher offers publication of their work in a book form for free. If however, the author wants to publish their research in the form of an academic paper afterwards, they are usually not permitted to do so, because of the legal contract with the vanity publisher.
Difference between vanity press and predatory publishing
Predatory publishers claim to have a working peer review, but actually it’s either not present or it’s substantially flawed. Vanity press, on the other hand, never claim to have a peer review process – therefore they are usually perfectly legal businesses.
List of vanity press
Here we list the known vanity press outlets. Please be cautious about sending them any of your articles or theses.
This website is a copy of Beall’s list of predatory publishers & journals. It was retrieved from the cached copy on 15th January 2017. The list itself will not be changed, I may, however, add notes to the list. Also, there is an update section below the list (in order to preserve the original list’s integrity), where I will add new predatory publishers/journals.
I am not Jeffrey Beall. I prefer my identity to be anonymous, largely for the reasons that Beall mentioned in his recent article (see here). However, I can tell you that I am a postdoctoral researcher in one of the European universities and have hands-on experience with predatory journals.
I will keep the list updated as much as possible, although I suspect I simply won’t have time to do as thorough job as Beall. Hopefully, people will point me to the new, possibly predatory journals and publishers.
However, expect the list’s applicability to diminish over time. That is why I strongly suggest anyone that deals with publishing academic articles to read the information available on ThinkCheckSubmit.org, which has tips about how to publish in a journal that is not predatory. I would also suggest you read Beall’s criteria for identifying a predatory publisher.
A third of the journals published by Frontiers in 2019 and 2020 (20 / 61 journals) have increased in price by 18% or more (up to 55%). This is quite a contrast with the .4% Swiss inflation rate for 2019 according to Worlddata.info ; 18% is 45 times the inflation rate. This is an even more marked contrast with the current and anticipated economic impact of COVID; according to Le News, “A team of economic experts working for the Swiss government forecasts a 6.7% fall in GDP”. (Frontiers’ headquarters is in Switzerland).
This is similar to our 2019 finding that 40% of Frontier’s journals had increased in price by 18% or more (Pashaei & Morrison, 2019) and our 2018 finding that 40% of Frontier journals had increased in price by 18% – 31% (Morrison, 2018). …
Jens Nielsen, FEMS Yeast Research, Volume 17, Issue 7, November 2017, https://doi.org/10.1093/femsyr/fox075
We surely all agree that it is extremely important for our work, and it is therefore to some extent strange that we as scientists have lost control of the majority of this infrastructure, which today is dominantly controlled by a few large multinational companies. Traditionally scientific publishing was controlled by learned societies such as Royal Society and National Academy of Science in USA and publishers associated with key universities, e.g. Oxford University Press and MIT Press (that started to publish Cell), but just like multinational companies such as Sigma-Aldrich, Roche and Agilent have evolved through mergers and acquisition to dominate the provision of chemicals, research equipment, and various services to researchers, the publication of scientific results in peer-reviewed journals has evolved to become a highly consolidated and very profitable industry controlled by for-profit companies.
Thus, the three largest publishers Elsevier, Springer and Wiley-Blackwell now represent about half of the 10 billion GDP scientific publication industry, with Elsevier being by far the largest with a 24% market share and the two others having a market share of about 12% (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/jun/27/profitable-business-scientific-publishing-bad-for-science) (I strongly recommend reading this excellent article in the Guardian describing in more detail the history of the scientific publication industry). …
It is an industry like no other, with profit margins to rival Google – and it was created by one of Britain’s most notorious tycoons: Robert Maxwell.
… But Elsevier’s business model seemed a truly puzzling thing. In order to make money, a traditional publisher – say, a magazine – first has to cover a multitude of costs: it pays writers for the articles; it employs editors to commission, shape and check the articles; and it pays to distribute the finished product to subscribers and retailers. All of this is expensive, and successful magazines typically make profits of around 12-15%.
The way to make money from a scientific article looks very similar, except that scientific publishers manage to duck most of the actual costs. Scientists create work under their own direction – funded largely by governments – and give it to publishers for free; the publisher pays scientific editors who judge whether the work is worth publishing and check its grammar, but the bulk of the editorial burden – checking the scientific validity and evaluating the experiments, a process known as peer review – is done by working scientists on a volunteer basis. The publishers then sell the product back to government-funded institutional and university libraries, to be read by scientists – who, in a collective sense, created the product in the first place. …
Blog Administration - August 24, 2017 - London School of Economics and Political Science
Scholarly publishing faces daunting challenges. Rising journal costs have seen many universities have to make strategic cuts to library collections. To Kyle Siler, the digital world has opened new niches and frontiers for academic publishing, offering many innovative and diverse possibilities. But opportunities must be grasped by scientific professional associations that have arguably lost sight of ideals of accessibility and affordability, and by members of faculty whose responses to the threat of journal cancellations can shape the outcome of negotiations with publishers.
Vanity and predatory academic publishers are corrupting the pursuit of knowledge
Radio National’s Background Briefing recently presented a grim academic tale of identity theft, shambolic conferences, exploitation, sham peer review and pseudoscience.
Presenter Hagar Cohen provided an eye-opening introduction to predatory academic publishing and conferences, with a particular focus on the publisher OMICS Group. It was also a very human story, including researchers travelling across the globe only to find they’re attending an imitation of an academic conference.
Why do predatory and vanity academic publishers and conferences exist? Why are they flourishing now? And what can they tell us about the failings of academia?
Peer review is imperfect, but prevents many dubious manuscripts from being published. It effectively excludes authors who are unwilling or unable to meet the standards of mainstream academic publishing.
Vanity and predators …
Both vanity and predatory academic publishers exploit opportunities created by legitimate peer review and academic performance metrics. In particular, they allow authors to publish articles that would never survive legitimate peer review. …
… Similarly, predatory outfits will invite academics to present at conferences, for a hefty fee, but those conferences may be pale imitations of real conferences. Background Briefing attended a shambolic conference in Brisbane with fewer than 30 attendees. Many of the speakers listed on the program did not attend. One has to wonder if the missing speakers even knew they were on the conference program.
Online explosion …
University of Colorado librarian Jeffrey Beall maintains a list of hundreds of potentially predatory publishers, which produce thousands of dodgy journals. Most of these publishers have appeared in the past decade. …
Can the vanity and predatory publishers provide lessons for academia? Clearly, no sector of the community (including academia) is free from shonky online operators. While it would be cute to assume there are just good and bad publishers, sometimes the practices of the dodgy operators can be found elsewhere. Springer and IEEE have published gibberish produced by a computer program. Elsevier publishes Homeopathy, despite homeopathy having no scientific basis. Academics must strive to maintain and improve academic standards, including at major publishers.
… That said, those who knowingly avoid peer review by submitting to vanity and predatory publishers are effectively avoiding scrutiny and rigour. They are deliberately avoiding what is needed to advance knowledge and understanding.
Brenda Wingfield, Bob Millar, April 10, 2019
The rise of open access publishing should be applauded. Scientific research and literature should be made available to everyone, with no cost to the reader.
But there’s a catch: nothing is actually free and someone has to pay. The open access model merely changes who pays. So rather than individuals or institutions paying to have access to publications, increasingly, academics are expected to pay for publishing their research in these “open access” journals. In this way, publishers continue to make money even though they no longer charge readers to access their journals.
The bottom line is that payment has been transferred from institutions and individuals paying to have access to researchers having to pay to have their work published.
There has been some debate about the rising cost of journal subscriptions and the University of California has recently “broken away” from academic publisher Elsevier, stopping its subscriptions entirely.
There is however, little focus on the costs of open access to researchers in the developing world. …
One of the solutions to this problem lies with publishing houses. Of course publishers want to make money. But if they’re serious about genuine open access and getting more authors from the developing world then some serious discussions are needed about reworking the current model. …
… Another possible solution is pressuring open access journals to waive charges for researchers in developing countries. Academics could also be encouraged to write first for journals that are affiliated to societies. Profits from these kinds of journals go back into supporting science through research grants, travel grants and meeting support.
And researchers must start incorporating publishing costs when applying for grants. Some major funders already encourage this, as does South Africa’s National Research Foundation in some cases. Other granting agencies should be urged to do the same.
Shaun Khoo, June 16, 2019, TheConversation.com
Research and discoveries need to be shared. And when those discoveries are publicly funded, they should be openly accessible. Academic journals are the main forum researchers use to share new discoveries with other researchers, particularly in the sciences. For most academic journals, university libraries pay subscription fees on behalf of students and researchers.
But, over the past 20 years, there has been a push to make journals freely available to anyone with an internet connection. In response, research funders have announced open access policies in the United States, Canada, Australia, South America and Europe.
Commercial academic publishing has been extremely profitable for a long time. Researchers usually access journals in their fields using their university library’s subscriptions. Because these journals are so necessary for researchers to do their jobs, publishers have spent the last 30 years raising prices at a rate faster than inflation.
The importance of journal subscriptions for researchers has helped publishers like Elsevier make huge profits. Elsevier makes so much money that their chairman tries to publicly downplay their profitability. …
Raise fees, increase revenue …
Pay-to-publish, or perish …
… The problem of rising publishing fees and academics’ price insensitivity is just another of the myriad of perverse incentives associated with pay-to-publish scholarship, which fuels predatory publishers and disenfranchises academics from poorer countries.
As it happens, while studying Objects of Consciousness 2014 I stumbled upon Rainer Mausfeld, who received his doctorate in 1984. Since then he established himself as a respected authority in the psychology of perception and cognitive science.
While I know I'm not even close to an expert, I do know how to find experts and learn from them. Even if it means having to rethink long standing personal assumptions, after all, additional information and education helps us make better decisions.
That's why I'm looking forward to sharing key excerpts from Reiner Mausfeld's published response to Hoffman's 2014 deception:
Title: “Notions such as “truth” or “correspondence to the objective world” play no role in explanatory accounts of perception” - Rainer Mausfeld - Psychonomic Bulletin & Review volume 22, pages1535–1540(2015) - September 18, 2015
Professor Mausfeld is fluent with the historical background and substance behind Hoffman's arguments along with his arcane mathematics, in a way I never will, I look forward to sharing his expert assessment.
Cc’s Students’ Guide, a work in progress.
Frontiers in Psychology - June 17, 2014
Student Resources - Background:
More to come . . .
Feel free to copy and share
Email: citizenschallenge gmail com