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Looking to publish in an open access journal? Beware predatory publishers…

Have you ever been asked to submit a paper to a journal, but only if you are willing to pay thousands of dollars in author’s fees to a publisher with which you are unfamiliar? The open access movement has the potential to give authors more control over their own work and provide greater access to information to the greater scientific community. However, there are a growing number of predatory publishers which are eager to separate authors from their money — and copyright — in order to publish their work in bogus journals.

Jeffrey Beall, Scholarly Initiatives Librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, provides a valuable resource to researchers questioning the legitimacy of an open-access publisher. His Beall’s List of “Potential, possible, or probably predatory scholarly open-access publishers” is often the first thing I check when I’m reading an article that seems “fishy”. Beall has recently published a column in Nature emphasizing the importance of scientific literacy in protecting the virtues of the open access movement, stating:

“Scientific literacy must include the ability to recognize publishing fraud, and libraries must remove predatory publishers from their online catalogues. The worst offenders can usually be discovered without too much effort: their websites are littered with grammatical errors and they list bogus contact details. The borderline cases are more difficult to spot — here, we need open-access zealots to open their eyes to the growing quality problems.

Conventional scholarly publishers have had an important role in validating research, yet too often advocates of open access seem to overlook the importance of validation in online publishing. They promote access at the expense of quality: a shortcoming that tacitly condones the publication of unworthy scientific research.”

Libraries and researchers need to work together on this, both to protect the goals of open access and the work of honest scientists. The Library’s Scholarly Communication guide can help CSUSM faculty and students navigate these sometimes confusing waters.

Citation: Nature 489, 179 (13 September 2012) | doi:10.1038/489179a