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Today I came across Jeffrey Beall's website, which lists what he considers to be 'predatory publishers' -- scammers who create low-quality scholarly journals and charge researchers to have their papers published in them. To be honest, until very recently I had no idea how widespread this problem was. I recommend visiting the site, if you haven't before, for a look at the diversity of these scams, whose activities range from legitimate-but-incompetent through to criminal fraud. Beall also produces an annual list of predatory publishers which could be useful if you're wondering whether to delete that email offering to publish your paper -- for a reasonable fee, of course.
Some Open Access (OA) advocates argue that Beall's focus on bad OA journals is unfair, and that he doesn't do enough to acknowledge the good ones or to expose the shady practices of subscription journals. He does seem to have some disdain for the Open Access movement, and seems fairly complacent about the 'traditional' system which has failed in many regards. Nonetheless, Beall is performing a genuine service to the research community. Those who advocate for Open Access should be the most vociferous enemies of parasitic, profit-making scam journals, because they only make life more difficult for those trying to create a genuinely useful Open Access model, and for researchers themselves.
There's humour to be found in the more incompetent attempts at scamming academics, and some sadness when thinking about the circumstances on both sides that have made these scams viable. I intend to think and post more about this in future.
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