The issue of ‘predatory publishing’, and indeed unscholarly publishing practices, affects all academics and librarians around the globe. However, there are some flaws in arguments and analyses made in several papers published on this topic, in particular those that have relied heavily on the blacklists that were established by Jeffrey Beall. While Beall advanced the discussion on ‘predatory publishing’, relying entirely on his blacklists to assess a journal for publishing a paper is problematic. This is because several of the criteria underlying those blacklists were insufficiently specific, excessively broad, arbitrary with no scientific validation, or incorrect identifiers of predatory behavior. The validity of those criteria has been deconstructed in more detail in this paper. From a total of 55 criteria in Beall’s last/latest 2015 set of criteria, we suggest maintaining nine, eliminating 24, and correcting the remaining 22. While recognizing that this exercise involves a measure of subjectivity, it needs to advance in order to arrive – in a future exercise – at a more sensitive set of criteria. Fortified criteria alone, or the use of blacklists and whitelists, cannot combat ‘predatory publishing’, and an overhaul of rewards-based academic publishing is needed, supported by a set of reliable criteria-based guidance system.
The list of potential, possible or probable predatory scholarly open access (OA) publishers compiled by Jeffrey Beall was examined to determine the effect of their inclusion upon authors, and a possible bias against OA journals. Manually collected data from the publication archives of a sample of 250 journals from Beall publishers reveals a strong tendency towards a decline in their article output during 2012–2020. A comparison of the subset of 506 Beall journals indexed in Scopus with a benchmark set of other OA journals in Scopus with similar characteristics shows that Beall journals reveal as a group a strong decline in citation impact over the years, and reached an impact level far below that of their benchmarks. The Beall list of publishers was found to be heterogeneous in terms of bibliometric indicators but to be clearly differentiated from OA journals not included in the list. The same bibliometric comparison against comparable non-OA journals reveal similar, but less marked, differences in citation and publication growth.
The extent to which predatory journals can harm scientific practice increases as the numbers of such journals expand, in so far as they undermine scientific integrity, quality, and credibility, especially if those journals leak into prestigious databases. Journal Citation Reports (JCRs), a reference for the assessment of researchers and for grant-making decisions, is used as a standard whitelist, in so far as the selectivity of a JCR-indexed journal adds a legitimacy of sorts to the articles that the journal publishes. The Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) once included on Beall’s list of potential, possible or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers, had 53 journals ranked in the 2018 JCRs annual report. These journals are analysed, not only to contrast the formal criteria for the identification of predatory journals, but taking a step further, their background is also analysed with regard to self-citations and the source of those self-citations in 2018 and 2019. The results showed that the self-citation rates increased and was very much higher than those of the leading journals in the JCR category. Besides, an increasingly high rate of citations from other MDPI-journals was observed. The formal criteria together with the analysis of the citation patterns of the 53 journals under analysis all singled them out as predatory journals. Hence, specific recommendations are given to researchers, educational institutions and prestigious databases advising them to review their working relations with those sorts of journals
““Beall’s List”, as a way to keep track of predatory publishers, has been officially offline for some time now.”
“It now appears, though, that the list is back online in updated form, but is being maintained anonymously.”
“Studies have shown that the academic publishing industry achieved impressive revenue levels of approximately USD5,000 per published article in 2011.
In this multi-billion dollar business, the profit of each article was estimated to be between USD3,500 and USD4,000. Even for open-access publishers which charge a much lower fee, the average price per article still hovered around USD660 in the same year. However, the world of academic publishing is not as blissful as many aspiring academicians and researchers would like to believe. In reality, the business of scientific publishing is extremely lucrative.”
“Synopsis: New data sheds light on Indian researcher’s use of low cost journals. The Indian Government’s attack on these journals, based on Beall’s list, could adversely affect the Indian university science community.
Three weeks ago we reported that an Indian agency was using a whitelist to ban the use of unlisted journals for the purpose of evaluating researcher performance. The Agency is the University Grants Commission (UGC), which apparently plays a major role in university based Indian science. I know little about this realm, but it seems to include setting the criteria for hiring and promotion, perhaps as well as granting PhD’s.
“Like it or no—and the Loon doesn’t, particularly—given the context of Beall’s List’s former popularity, anything purporting to replace it needs to be as simple to use as it is. A journal is reputable or it isn’t, after all.”
“On January 15 (Sunday), it was discovered on Twitter that the list of allegedly predatory publishers had been taken down and replaced with a short message saying ‘This service is no longer available.’.
What makes this strange situation even more peculiar is that one of the first coverage of this issue came from a known anti-Beall activist. It is a short post that contains nothing of intellectual substance. It notes that the list and website has been taken down and speculates on the reason. It then proceeds to criticize Beall and recommend other approaches.
The post does not allow comments at the time of this writing, but some people submitted comments before that were never published, yet inspired the author to correct spelling. It also seems that the blog also has taken a lot of content from both Beall and Nature News, much more than what can reasonable by considered to be fair use.
How did this website come to know of the event so rapidly? Right now, there are more questions than answers.
What happens next?
Right now, there is virtually no information available on what happened. We do not know the reason for why the list has been taken down. On social media, speculations involve either a lawsuit threat by Frontiers or unauthorized and illegal access by a third party, but there is really no hard evidence as to why the list was taken down, why the website was purged or why the Facebook page was unpublished or removed.
Many people are highly interested in knowing what happened regardless of their position on the Beall list on allegedly predatory publishers. Some are willing to consider to repost or mirror the list as an act of solidarity should the reason for why the list was taken down be a result of a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). This does not necessarily imply that such individuals agree with all decisions or opinions held by Beall, but value an open and honest discussion about a vocal minority of open access publishers that may or may not be predatory.
At the time this post was published, Beall has not responded to an email asking about details.”