results for a huge amount of stress and expenditure of resources. No doubt a few colleagues may
be falling short, but the effort involved in trying
to ferret them out would almost certainly be disproportionate to the results obtained.
Alex Gillis’s article on bogus journals was
intriguing (“Beware! Academics are getting
reeled in by scam journals”). I suspect that
classics may differ somewhat from other disciplines, although I do publish in other fields.
Nonetheless, this issue has never arisen for me;
nor indeed have I ever paid any money to have
any article published. There are a good number
of first-rate, online, open access journals, moreover. Ultimately, a researcher should start by
seeing whether the journal in which he or she
proposes to publish is held by their own library.
Are our university libraries subscribing to these
rogue journals? Surely not. Therefore, if one cannot find the journal in one’s own university
library or in a well-funded, first-rate institution
(since many universities cannot now afford even
bona fide journals), then probably one should
Dr. Greatrex is a professor in the department of classics and
religious studies at the University of Ottawa.
Who needs new scientific journals?
i read with much interest the article on predatory journals. I am struck, however, by the fact
that nowhere is there any suggestion as to the
root cause of this new phenomenon. I suggest
the situation is strongly related to the transformation of the scientific paper from a unit of
knowledge to an accounting unit. For it is only when
the academic evaluation of researchers is solely
based on paper-counting that the pressure to
produce more papers creates a market for new
journals eager to make profit from this new situation. Though the internet clearly lowers the barrier to entry into the market of open access
online journals, it is not the main cause of the
multiplication of predatory journals. Who really
needs a new journal in his or her field?
Also, it is interesting to observe that the tips
given to the naive and unsuspecting academics
that fall in the trap of those fake journals are
purely individualistic. Why not first tell them
to ask their colleagues: do you know that jour-
nal? Scholars are part of a community and
they should know which journals are well
accepted in their field. Consulting impact fac-
tors makes sense for someone who has no
clue about the good journals in a given field,
but someone trained and active in that field
should know by experience the legitimate
journal. It should be obvious, for example, that
Physical Review is a good place to publish in
physics or Cell in biology; there is no need of a
“number” to know that.
Finally, the most ironic effect of the creation
of this new market is that published scientists
are now transformed into consumers that need
protection from the U.S Federal Trade Commission! It is high time that researchers rediscover
the sense of being part of a scientific community
that controls the means of dissemination of the
knowledge it produces.
Dr. Gingras holds the Canada Research Chair in the History and
Sociology of Science at Université du Québec à Montréal.
Let libraries do the publishing
with regards to predatory publishing, an easy
solution is to transform academic culture so that
university libraries become the principal publishers of academic research. Accredited universities already have – and are guaranteed to retain
– the branding needed to give confidence that
anything they publish will be free from the kinds
of deceptive and predatory practices outlined in
Dr. Aarssen is a professor of plant biology and evolution in the
department of biology at Queen’s University.
Let us set the record straight
i would like to respond to the concerns that
were raised specifically about the International
Journal of Environmental Research and Public
Health, and its publisher MDPI in general,
in the article “Beware! Academics are getting
reeled in by scam journals” by Alex Gillis
(February 2017). The article questions the qual-
ity and integrity of the journal. I would like to
provide you with additional information in the
hope that this may alter your assessment of it.
1. In 2016, the journal published 1,090
papers, with four corrections and one retraction.
Since its inception in 2004, there have been
three retractions. We do not consider this “many.”
2. The article mentions a lack of rigour in the
journal’s articles: MDPI operates a rigorous editorial and peer-review process. The journal rejection rate in 2016 was 62.3 percent. The Impact
Factor is 2.035 and the journal ranks in Q2 in
Journal Citation Reports. The editorial process is
strictly controlled by the editor-in-chief, Professor Paul Tchounwou, and the editorial board. We
work exceptionally hard to ensure that the journal upholds its quality standards.
3. The article processing charge for the journal is 1,600 swiss francs per paper; at today’s
exchange rate, that equates to approximately
$1,590 USD, not $2,000 USD as mentioned in
We also find this statement troubling and
unfounded: “It hasn’t always been this bad. Legitimate open access publishers, such as the Public
Library of Science (PLOS) and BioMed Central,
began about 20 years ago as the internet
expanded.” Please note that MDPI published its
first open access journal, Molecules, in 1996
(before the term open access was even defined).
You will not find MDPI listed on Beall’s List
(editor’s note: Jeffrey Beall, the University of
Colorado Denver librarian behind the list,
recently shut down his website and blog).
Unfortunately, there are indeed some “
publishers” out there with poor practices, and those
practices are not helpful to the reputation of
legitimate publishers who adhere to industry
standards and ethical publication policies. We welcome the efforts of Jeffrey Beall and also appreciate critical opinions about open access. However,
we are disappointed that some of the facts in the
article were not corroborated with us.
Dr. Vicario is co-managing editor of IJERPH in Barcelona, Spain.
Writer Alex Gillis replies: The comments from Dr.
Vicario remind me once again why academics
should be careful in assessing journals. While the
IJERPH may have four corrections in 2016, Dr.
Vicario didn’t mention that, according to his company’s own website, the journal has issued at least