The dark side of open access journals?

The New York Times has an article on the rise of predatory, fake science journals — these are journals put out by commercial interests with titles that sound vaguely like the real thing, but are not legitimate in any sense of the word. They exist only for the resource that open access publishing also uses, the dreaded page charge. PLoS (a good science journal), for instance, covers their publishing costs by charging authors $1350; these parasitic publishers see that as easy money, and put up cheap web-based "journals", draw in contributors, and then charge the scientists for publishing, often without announcing the page charges up front, and often charging much, much more than PLoS.

Nature has also weighed in on problematic journals, again emphasizing that it's a bad side of open access. I think that's the wrong angle; open access is great, this is a downside of the ease of web-based publishing, and is also a side-effect of the less than stellar transparency of accreditation of journals. There are companies that compile references to legitimate journals, and they are policing the publishing arena by refusing to index fake journals, but that isn't going to be obvious to the reader.

One really useful resource, though, is this list of potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access journals. I notice that our old friend, The Journal of Cosmology, is listed, deservedly (I wonder if Jeffrey Beall, has had his face photoshopped onto pictures of obese women in bikinis as a reward?) It's missing De Novo, the fake journal created by Melba Ketchum specifically to publish her Yeti DNA paper — but maybe that one isn't threatening to sucker in authors, since it's more of a vanity project.

I also notice that the major creationist journals aren't on the list: Acts&Facts, the Answers Research Journal, and BIO-Complexity. Maybe it's because they're real journals?

Ha ha ha ha. Sorry, couldn't resist. Scientist humor.

Maybe it's because they're so obviously fake and associated with such blatant ideological nonsense that no real scientist would be tempted to publish there.

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I think I've gotten spam from several of the journals in the "potential predatory journals" list. I'm talking dozens of emails inviting me to submit papers to journals in fields totally, wildly unrelated to any topic on which I've ever published. I assumed these were just crummy start-up journals desperate to drum up submissions (a number seemed to be Indian), but no, I see now that if I'd had a manuscript to send in, no matter how bad, it would have been stuck up on line somewhere and then I'd have gotten a $2600 bill. There's a good red flag - except for special issues or reviews, editors of REAL journals don't solicit manuscripts. They have too much work as it is.


We'd like to reach out regarding the growing debate over stem cell research and regenerative medicine.

There have been new developments in Chinese researcher Rongxiang Xu's lawsuit against the Nobel Assembly. Xu is seeking clarification on misstatements made
in awarding the 2012 Nobel Prize. Meanwhile, James Watson’s remarks about the ineffectiveness of genetic sequencing have created burning questions as to the
future of medicine. With the regenerative medicine debate heating up, these issues are highly relevant for the global medical community.

Please take a look to see if this is would interest your readers.

Lawsuit Details

The suit was filed against the Nobel Assembly to clarify essential scientific details that Dr. Xu believed were misstated in their October 2012 Nobel prize

Upon Nobel’s assertion that the lawsuit was frivolous, Xu is urging the Assembly to distinguish whether or not the human regenerative potential is innate or
must be artificially created. These errors not only discredit Dr. Xu's science, but also involve the health and safety of all people worldwide.


Dr. Xu is an award-winning scientist whose work in applied regenerative restoration science has validated time and again that human regenerative potential is
innate. His work has implications in many medical fields, including helping severe burn victims and potentially assisting in the fight against cancer. He has
also illustrated the capability for in situ regenerative restoration of severed fingers and the elimination of scar tissue.

All of which supports the natural approach over the artificial, and the fact that regenerative medicine is capable of filling the void left by genetic sequencing.

The relevance of these debates could be informative for your readers. Would you be willing to share a piece to help make your audience aware of the impending
upheaval in the scientific community?

For more background on James Watson’s statements and Dr. Xu’s lawsuit:

The Scientist - “Snubbed for a Nobel”:

Sacramento Bee - “Nobel Assembly Attempts to Downplay Lawsuit with Dr. Rongxiang Xu”:

UT San Diego - “Watson Questions the Usefulness of Genetic Sequencing”:

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about it. You can also learn more at the MEBO International Website and check out some of our
content at the MEBO International Facebook Page, which hosts information about Dr. Xu.

Thanks so much for your time.

With appreciation,

Dave N.

I often get spam urging me to submit manuscripts to journals with ridiculously wide scopes, like "science, the humanities, and business".

except for special issues or reviews, editors of REAL journals don’t solicit manuscripts. They have too much work as it is.

The exception is when the journal is just being founded.

The relevance of these debates could be informative for your readers. Would you be willing to share a piece to help make your audience aware of the impending
upheaval in the scientific community? PZ is in the scientific community, and so are many of his readers. Better yet: PZ is a development biologist. If there were anything to your story, PZ would already know it.

Also, he almost never reads the comments on this version of Pharyngula. Go to the full one at

By David Marjanović (not verified) on 10 Apr 2013 #permalink

Okay, fair enough, but surely legitimate startup journals concentrate on authors and society members who are at least in the same general field (e.g., life science vs. computer science).


By David Marjanović (not verified) on 11 Apr 2013 #permalink