Most scholarly open-access journals from reputable publishers like BioMed Central, PLoS, Nature Publishing Group and many others return high value to the authors who publish in them. But the combination of academic pressure to “publish or perish” with the common open-access funding model of author fees has led to predatory practices on the part of some publishers.
Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, has been investigating, writing and speaking out about predatory and unethical publishing practices for some time. His blog, Scholarly Open Access, critiques a variety of publishers and individual journals, and points out warning signs for would-be authors.
Some journals charge excessive fees, or conceal the fee structure. In an entry he titles “Bait and Switch,” Beall notes that “one of the tactics that predatory open-access publishers use is to solicit and accept manuscripts from authors, publish the manuscripts, and then invoice the authors for the author fee.”
As a companion to the blog, Beall also maintains a list of publishers and journals to be avoided, applying his own standards of evaluation. It’s always worth doing your own investigating or checking in with the reference staff at your own Scott Memorial Library before submitting to a journal you’re not familiar with, but Beall’s work is a reminder to do your due diligence before submitting your article.