A kill for predatory journals

We all get them, some of us more than 10 a day, emails from journals suggesting we publish in their august pages. Clearly, these emails don't come from Nature or the New England Journal of Medicine but can we be certain that these are quality publications. In the current publishing environment, with the revolution/evolution in on-line publishing, how do we recognise which of the many new titles appearing will be well-received and stand the test of time? To achieve the best dissemination of our research efforts many of us seek to publish in open access journals - in fact many funding bodies demand that your work is only published in open access journals. Like subscription journals, open access journals run the gamut from reputable and well-regarded to little-known and menial. But, with open access publishers asking authors — or their institutions — to pay article processing charges to make the work open to all readers, the latter group of journals (little-known and sloppy) have been able to make a good deal of money from authors.

Enter Jeffrey Beall (academic librarian at the University of Colorado in Denver), hero of the hour, who noted that there is a group of open access publishers who can be considered less interested in your science than your money.  The term he gave to this behaviour was 'predatory' and in response to the growing number of dubiously titled journals he created an online list of 'predatory publishers.' Many authors found it helpful to check his list before submitting an article to an open access journal. The blog, maintained since 2008, was taken down earlier this month. The reason for removal of the site is unclear but there have been rumours that threats and politics forced Beall to shut down the site.

Which journals should you consider submitting your articles to in the post-Beall universe? We provide some guidance here. You can also find guidance within the literature itself - some articles are even open acces. Where Beall’s list was a blacklist there are white lists widely available. These lists identify journals and publishers that follow established, recognised standards in open access publishing — for example the Directory of Open Access Journals (doaj.org) or the membership list for the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (oaspa.org/membership/members). If a journal is listed in the DOAJ, or the publisher is a member of OASPA, authors can be assured that the journal to which they’re submitting follows responsible publishing practices. However, these are not independent voices - "choose well young Skywalker".