Predatory journals: Beall's List is missed

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
544,
Page:
416
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/544416b
Published online

Beall's List of predatory publishers, now withdrawn, was instrumental in the fight against the dubious practices of some online open-access science journals (see P. Sorokowski et al. Nature 543, 481483; 2017). To borrow a metaphor from James Woolsey, director of the CIA when the Soviet Union was collapsing: 'we live now in a jungle filled with a bewildering variety of predatory publishers. And Beall's List was easier to keep track of.'

The list was a government standard for checking academic publishers and journals worldwide. We now urgently need other standards to take its place. Ethics committees must draw up guidelines for distinguishing reputable from disreputable journals. And citation databases such as Scopus and the Web of Science need to weed out journals suspected of predatory practices to prevent authors from unwittingly submitting manuscripts to them.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Cambridge Judge Business School, Cambridge, UK.

    • Wadim Strielkowski

Corresponding author

Correspondence to:

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Comments

  1. Report this comment #69707

    Aristote Aristotle said:

    Nature tries to stigmatize other competitor journals and there is a huge conflict of interest with this. Nature and its mushrooming sisters are the most predatory journals ever.

  2. Report this comment #69737

    Jan Jakubik said:

    Wadim Strielkowski missing Beal's list?! What an irony!
    Wadim Strielkowski published over last 3 years about 60 papers or books mostly in unknown and disreputable journals. More about Wadim Strielkowski can be found in his own biography here

  3. Report this comment #69797

    Wadim Strielkowski said:

    Mr. Jan Jakubik's comment clearly shows that we urgently need to replace Beall's List with something that would be both verifiable and acceptable for the whole academic community. Beall?s List was made a standard for checking academic publishers and journals in many countries at the ministerial level (although many countries, including the Czech Republic, never made Beall's List official and considered all journals indexed in Scopus and Web of Science as appropriate). Now that Beall?s List (in fact, a private blog) has been taken down in January this year, all we are left with are its archived copies from dubious sources all over the Internet and a plethora of opinions and accusations what to consider "good" and "bad" journals. This situations gives people like Mr. Jakubik an opportunity to call some good academic journals "unknown and disreputable" because they personally think so. In the absence of clear rules anyone can be blamed of anything and this might lead to an academic witch hunt.

  4. Report this comment #69807

    Aristote Aristotle said:

    Why a so-called "Beall's list" should miss? And it misses whom?
    Wadim Strielkowski contradicts himself and he seems ignore how and why.
    Do not defame governments by claiming that Beall's list has become a government standard.
    If there is really a government that relies on such a bogus list, it should be because of people like you who work for such governments and because they are unable to know that Beall's list has zero scientific value.
    Otherwise, can you tell what is the scientific value of a personal blog, or a list made by a guy sitting down in his office to distribute subjective judgments on journal X and Y?
    Nature also contradicts itself. It has already announced the support of DORA that recommends against using biased metrics or reputation of journals to judge people or papers, but it takes part in defaming other journals to remain alone in the arena.
    So, the first to blame is Nature, not you, Wadim Strielkowski .
    Some Nature's practices are by far worst than many so-called predatory journals.

  5. Report this comment #69843

    Zhenhua Zhang said:

    Peer review: Avoid pseudo review

    The publication contributes often form the basis for research funding and career advancement. Due to the lack of valuable peer review, many researchers publish papers blindly in predatory journals which seriously threatens the quality of scholarship (Predatory journals recruit fake editor; doi:10.1038/543481a; Nature 543, 481-483; 2017; http://www.nature.com/news/predatory-journals-recruit-fake-editor-1.21662). On the other hand, in order to publish articles in non-predatory high-level journals, some authors who want to avoid the real peer review often recommend their own acquaintances because of the existence of reviewers recommended by authors. Some other authors even use the real names of the reviewers in the process of recommending reviewers, but impersonate the reviewer's e-mail address, which makes the editor think that the article is sent to the real reviewer (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13277-017-5487-6).

    In response to this situation, the review system should be able to get the Reviewer Locator Results from Google or Web of Science. The review system should also be able to verify the information of the recommended expert online, identify the authenticity of the expert, and whether the author has a collaborative relationship with the recommended expert. By reviewing the recommended reviewers, the review system should verify whether the authors recommend peer-related experts directly related to the literature, and whether the authors are willing to accept peer-to-peer evaluations of their own research results.

    Of course, journals can also be based on specific circumstances, to cancel the process of reviewers recommended by authors. BioMed Central (BMC) retracted 43 manus cripts including 41 Chinese authors' in 2015, which was due to the undue influence and harm of the peer review process. Now, BMC has canceled the process of author's advice on the recommendation of reviewers (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/03/27/fabricated-peer-reviews-prompt-scientific-journal-to-retract-43-papers-systematic-scheme-may-affect-other-journals/?utm_term=.f98f79b73fc1 ).

    In addition, there is a third-party agency that provides details of the counterfeiting of potential peer reviewers for these above papers. The phenomenon has attracted wide attention that the academic papers are written, submitted or reviewed by the third-party agencies. Academic journals should make it clear to authors that it is forbidden to cooperate with the third-party agency to do these counterfeiting behaviors (http://www.cast.org.cn/n35081/n35096/n10225918/16823889.html).

  6. Report this comment #70003

    Maxim Plác said:

    Thank you for giving me a good laugh!

    Wadin Strielkowski has been expelled from Charles University in Prague, because of frequent publishing in predatory journals. The case became known as the ?Strielkowski scandal? and has been widely reported in the Czech media; see, for instance, here:
    http://www.euro.cz/archiv/jak-vysat-rozpocet-na-vedu-do-posledni-kapky
    http://ceskapozice.lidovky.cz/predatorske-casopisy-nici-vedu-d3d-/tema.aspx?c=A161207_143204_pozice-tema_lube
    http://www.euro.cz/archiv/predatorska-vydavatelstvi-utoci-vysavaji-cesky-rozpocet-na-vedu-1255068
    See also this presentation (pp. 4-10) for a detailed account of the fallout:
    http://www.vedazije.cz/node/5100
    It is in Czech, but some translator service can perhaps help you to make sense of the main message.

    Wadin Strielkowski should be given credit for raising the awareness about predatory publishing as an exemplary culprit but not be given a chance to fool people again. I hope this comment helps raising international awareness about his true nature.

    By the way, he quickly added this post to his list of ?publications?: http://www.strielkowski.com/lectures/journals-publication/. Now he can claim to ?get published? in Nature. Of course, his affiliation to Cambridge Judge Business School is hoax too.

    Last time I checked, he was based somewhere in Ural. I hope he would venture further beyond and stays there (without access to the web).

    Just don?t delete this ?communication?, so people can keep laughing (some crying)!

  7. Report this comment #70081

    Wadim Strielkowski said:

    I am glad that my Correspondence sparkled emotions. It was intended to do so.

    If the researchers were expelled from the Charles University in Prague for publishing in predatory journals, the university (as well as the majority of other universities in the country) would have to be shut down for the lack of staff. In the Czech academic community, everyone and his mother are publishing in predatory journals and vanity press outlets. It is claimed that between 2009 and 2013, most Czech universities printed diploma theses of their students as research monographs at one vanity press publisher and then claimed governmental support for them. In total, about $2 million was made in this way and no one seems to bother about it. The whole story with a full list of ?research monographs? can be found here: http://vedazije.cz/node/5101 (the text is in Czech but one can use the online translator to get the basic idea).

    Although Beall's list was a good reference point and but it was never officially recognized by the Research, Development and Innovation Council of the Czech Republic – the main criterion remained whether the publication was listed in Scopus or Web of Science databases. In July 2015, the Central Library of the Charles University in Prague stated that, in their view, if the respective journal is listed in Jeffrey Beall's list and in Scopus or Web of Science in the same time, the only relevant criterion is that it is listed in Scopus and Web of Science (Beall's list was simply irrelevant). Their official view has changed since then but many universities in the Czech Republic keep on claiming that the only relevant criterion for journal publications is whether the journal is listed in Scopus or Web of Science.

    Nevertheless, it seems that the issue of predatory journals bothers Czech academics more than anyone in the world. Why would researchers from this small nation are so preoccupied about it? The explanation might be that the academic job market in the Czech Republic is rigid and the number of posts is limited. Apart from that, a job in the academia does not earn much. In the INOMICS 2014 report (page 20, Figure 17) the annual salary of a lecturer in the Czech Republic is reported to be below $15.000 (the same as in Albania or Ukraine). The lecturers in the UK receives $47.000 a year, while their counterparts in Australia and the United State receive $69.000 and $76.000 respectively. However, many researchers would not survive outside the walls of their universities and research institutions because they simply cannot do anything else (rather than show same PPTs to their students year after year), have a poor command of English, lack any international experience and thus are unemployable outside academia. This is the reason why many people employed in the Czech academia are prepared to go to great length to hold on to their jobs. Intrigues, false accusations, involvement of the corrupt journalists in mass media ? all these become the tools of getting rid of the competition (i.e. those who are better and smarter).

    Besides, it has to be noted that ?Maxim Plác? is a fake name ? a quick search in main research databases (e.g. Scopus, WoS) would reveal that such person does not exist and never published a single research article anywhere. Thence, the person who wrote the comment is not just a hoax but is also a coward who is afraid to reveal her or his true identity.

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