Scholarly Open Access
year, for instance, his activities were featured twice in The
Chronicle of Higher Education (here and here), as well as
in The Times Higher, The Scientist, and most recently in Nature.
the same time, however, the publicity has confirmed Beall’s claim that
there are some extremely doubtful OA publishers operating. The Nature article,
for instance, sparked a campaign of disinformation against Beall.
comments alleged that Beall was withholding or removing the names of
publishers from his list when paid to do so.
not end there
the campaign of disinformation did not end there. A few weeks later,
messages began to circulate on the Web alleging that Beall was emailing
publishers on his list and offering to reassess them for a fee. As
“proof” of this claim an email said to have been written by Beall was
attached to the messages. “I can consider re-evaluating your journals
for 2013 edition of my list,” the email read. “It takes a lot my time
and resources. The fee for re-evaluation of your publisher is USD 5000.”
the email was intended to suggest that Beall was trying to extort money
from publishers on his list.
became aware of this campaign on 17th December, when a number of
attempts were made to post the allegation as a comment on the interview I
had conducted last year with OMICS’ Srinubabu Gedela. A copy was
also posted under Beall’sNature article (oddly, given that the
comment feature had been closed on 4thDecember), as well as on other blogs,
mailing lists, and the sites of OA publishers (here is an example).
of these messages were subsequently taken down by site owners. Even so,
the accusation against Beall continues to circulate widely on the web. At
the time of writing this, a search for “Jeffery Beall is blackmailing
small Open Access publishers” produced nearly 4,000 hits.
preface read, “Now a days anyone can open a blog and start doing things
like Jeffrey Beall which is harmful for science and open access journals. Nature
should also be very alert from Jeffrey Beall who is now using Nature's reputation
to broadcast his bribery and unethical business model.”
I suggested to Aly that someone had tried to confuse him by posing as
Beall. Aly, however, continues to insist that the message came from Beall
— for reasons he outlines in the Q&A interview below.
we should not end the discussion here. After all, everyone appears to
agree that the prevalence of unscrupulous OA publishers poses a
significant challenge to the OA community, and indeed for scholarly
communication at large.
deny that the problem is as serious as Beall maintains. Others suggest
that the wholesale categorisation of hundreds of publishers as
“predatory” is not only inherently unfair, but was always bound to
attract retaliation of some sort from those placed on the list. As former
Springer Publisher Jan Velterop put it to me by email, “using
such a term as ‘predatory’ is asking for trouble if malicious intent
can’t be proven. To question the journals’ prestige is one thing, but
an almost criminal accusation quite another.”
the other hand, if any honest publisher has been falsely accused of being
predatory they will doubtless feel as victimised as Beall presumably
in all, it is hard not to conclude that there are genuine reasons for
concern with the current situation. Obviously, any publisher still on
Beall’s list who believes that it has been unfairly branded as predatory
will be concerned.
article initially published on http://poynder.blogspot.ca/2013/01/the-oa-interviews-ashry-aly-of-ashdin.html