Beware of predatory “open access” journals! (and other thoughts)

Open Access (OA) is good for science, good for the library, good for authors. The UCB libraries will help pay the author fees if you want to publish your article in an OA journal. However, a world of pseudo-journals, sometimes labeled "predatory journals," awaits your author payment check. These are journals, with nice sounding titles like Global Journal of Medicine and Public Health or American Journal of Social Issues and Humanities, that are often sham titles. Their major purpose is to collect the author fees, and their content lacks quality. Often they list editorial boards consisting of non-existent people or include scholars on an editorial board without their knowledge or permission. Sometimes they use made-up measures (such as "view factor") to feign standing.

The Scholarly Open Access blog maintains a list of individual journal titles that meet their criteria for determining predatory open-access publishers. It is recommended that you not accept an offer to be on their editorial board, nor pay their author fees to publish in one of these titles! In the most concise terms, if you’ve never heard of the journal, best to avoid it.

Much has been written on this, including articles in The New York Times, Nature, and The Scholarly Kitchen blog.

BUT – it’s easy to pick on these predatory journals (fake conferences also exist). It’s also relatively easy to avoid them. Perhaps more important to get upset over is "the $10 BILLION DOLLARS of largely public money that subscription publishers take in every year in return for giving the scientific community access to the 90% of papers that are not published in open access journals – papers that scientists gave to the journals for free! This ongoing insanity not only fleeces huge piles of cash from government and university coffers, it denies the vast majority of the planet’s population access to the latest discoveries of our scientists." This quote is from a response by Michael Eisen to the predatory journals fiasco. I think the argument boils down to, let’s spend our (limited) energy on the more significant problems in scholarly publishing.