Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The dark side of open access

The last post was about spam.
Unfortunately, this one is too.
It turns out there is a dark side to open access journals.
This is covered in a fascinating and disturbing New York Times article Scientific articles accepted (Personal checks too).
Think twice before you receive an invitation to submit an article, speak at a conference, or serve on an editorial board, from an organisation you have not had prior dealings with.
I get a lot of this spam and it almost all automatically goes to my Junk mail folder. But, I did not realise just how bad the problem is, particularly for those who are duped.


  1. That was worth reading. Frightening. It makes me angry when people hold you ransom over something and then by the simple act of ignoring you, can cause you so much frustration and cost you so much time.

    It would be interesting to hear of anyone who has been to one of these conferences (what I got out of the article is that these are genuine conferences that actually go ahead). Do people arrive at the conference and over the course of the first few hours it dawns on everyone that they're actually at a look-a-like?

  2. The article's main points (that there are scamsters out to benefit from your gullibility, and they use a variety of methods -- both conferences and journals to lure you) are all fine. But along the way, the reporters's smear job on open access is nothing short of the journalistic equivalent of drive-by shooting.

    While it is true that most of these scamsters use the online-only model, they do so primarily to save money. In other words, open access is an unintended consequence of their cheapness -- not the cause of their scam.

    [Aside: On an alert, I once visited the "website" of one such scam journal, and it didn't even bother to register its own domain name -- it used, a free website builder from Google!]

  3. Other than their non legitimate nature, I don't see a very straightforward connection between dubious conferences and dubious on-line journals. I think the harm done to somebody that happens to publish a good paper in a bad journal is much smaller than the one if somebody attends a fake conference.

    On the other side, the seek of profit is a common point of both good reputation and long tradition groups and the new open-access journals.