Beall's List of predatory publishers, now withdrawn, was instrumental in the fight against the dubious practices of some online open-access science journals (see P. Sorokowski et al.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, 481–483; 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.
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