Some open-access publishing includes article processing charges (APCs), fees charged by the publication to make the article available for free and that are paid by the author, their institution, or another funding body. While this is a legitimate practice, “predatory” journals, which exist just to collect fees, have arisen and plague the scientific community. It can be difficult for an author to discern whether a journal they haven’t heard of is predatory or legitimate.
A recent case in which the author was burned by being accepted for publication by a scam outfit is described by Alan H. Chambers, Assistant Professor at the University of Florida at Homestead, in his Science article “How I Became Easy Prey to a Predatory Publisher.” The article, which provides a helpful look at a side of information literacy—how academics are pressured to publish, and how some less-than-quality materials make it to market—outlines how Chambers discovered that the publisher was predatory and what an author can do to wrest their material back from such an outfit.
In the past, an author who wondered about the reliability of an open access publisher could look it up on Beall’s list, a resource by University of Colorado librarian Jeffrey Beall that listed journals and publishers to stay away from. The list was so widely relied upon that Beall was threatened with legal action by multiple publishers who were included on the list, and he discontinued it. An archived version is still available, and Chambers, the author mentioned above, did consult that resource, but didn’t find the journal he was approached by on the list.
An excellent resource to use in conjunction with the archived version of Beall’s work is this related LibGuide by Bowling Green State University. Students who are learning about the publishing world aspects of the ACRL framework, as well as faculty who are looking for a place to publish their work, or who have been approached by a publisher they’re not sure about, will benefit greatly from this succinct but rich resource. Particularly useful is the link to a list by Rutgers Unviersty, “A to Z List of Common Features in Emails from Predatory Publishers.”