The Dark Side of Open Access Publishing

Todd Vandenbark

Open Access logoA few weeks ago I received an invitation to create a book chapter proposal for a company called “InTech – Open Access Publisher.” Upon further investigation, I found that this company appeared to be based in Croatia, and in order to get my chapter published I would have to pay a fee of 475 Euros. Needless to say, alarm bells started ringing in my head, and I posted a question on the LITA-L listserv asking if anyone else had heard of this kind of arrangement. In response, Jeffrey Beal sent me a link to an article he wrote for the Charleston Advisor titled “‘Predatory’ Open-Access Scholarly Publishers,” a comparative review “of nine different Open-Access publishers that use the ‘author pays’ model for supporting their publishing efforts.”

Beal reviewed nine such publishers that utilize this “author pays” model of publishing, describing their work this way:

These publishers are predatory because their mission is not to promote, preserve, and make available scholarship; instead, their mission is to exploit the author-pays, Open-Access model for their own profit. They work by spamming scholarly e-mail lists, with calls for papers and invitations to serve on nominal editorial boards.

Beal goes on to claim that the content of these publications are not quality, peer-reviewed work, but are low-quality research that have been rejected by other publishers. Setting up a website for such content is quick, easy, and will result in an avalanche of journal articles in search results. “This abundance will make it harder for scholars to keep up with re- search in their fields, and it will cause online searches to be filled up with links to low-quality research.”

What do you think? Is Beal correct in his assessment that this will create an overabundance of poor-quality research? What should the scholarly side of OA publishing do to respond? Tell us!