Avoiding predatory publishers in open access publishing

This is a guest post by Nancy Foasberg, Humanities Librarian, Assistant Professor, Queens College; follow Nancy at @nfoasberg

Open access journals make scholarly research publicly available without charge to the reader.  Ideally, open access journals apply the standard publication practices we would expect from any scholarly journal.

There are many benefits to this model of publishing. Unlike many traditional journals, open access journals often allow authors to retain the copyright of their work; this means that authors can archive their work and more.  Open access journals also allow broader access than a work in an expensive journal might otherwise achieve.  They can often achieve faster publication times because of their digital nature.  Furthermore, they attempt to provide a solution to the crisis faced by academic libraries whose budgets are increasingly strained by the rising fees charged by for-profit publishers.

Many well-regarded publishers, including the American Institute of Physics, Oxford University Press, and the Public Library of Science publish open access journals.

However, it is always important to thoroughly vet your publishers before submitting work to them! While open access publishing has many benefits, it has also attracted some unscrupulous publishers who run predatory open access journals.

Predatory journals may misrepresent their mission or their standing in the field.  Some have editorial boards without sufficient academic expertise. Some improperly publish papers that have already been published elsewhere. These journals may exist mostly to charge exorbitant author fees.  Legitimate open access journals may also charge author fees in order to support themselves; the difference is in the quality of the publication.

How can you protect yourself from predatory open access publishers?  Jeffrey Beall has made available a set of criteria you can use to determine whether a publisher is legitimate or predatory.    This can help you to identify the warning signs of a predatory journal.  Beall also provides a list of journals and publishers he has already identified as questionable.

In particular, I would like to warn faculty and graduate students about the Journal of Arts and Humanities, which recently sent out a call for papers that reached many Queens College email addresses. This journal is published by the “Maryland Institute of Research,” which apparently is not based in Maryland at all.

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Authors’ rights workshop

Publishers often ask authors to sign away some rights as a condition of publication. When you publish your works, what rights do you retain? Can you repost it on your website? Who owns your copyright? How can you retain the rights you want? Should you consider publishing in open access journals?

Aiming to strengthen your knowledge about intellectual property,the speakers covered several aspects of academic publishing with a focus on authors’ rights, including:

•    Considering the benefits of retaining copyright
•    Assessing the types of contracts you may be offered
•    Negotiating a better contract
•    Accessing alternatives to traditional academic publishing
•    Recognizing current problems with the academic publishing environment

The workshop focused primarily on journal articles rather than other types of publications.

Michael Miller, Associate Librarian for Public Services, Benjamin Rosenthal Library
Nancy Foasberg, Humanities Librarian, Benjamin Rosenthal Library

If you missed the presentation, a recording is available here.
Download a pdf of the slides here.

Additional resources:

Scientist meets Publisher  – explanatory video
JAMA – Authorship Responsibility, Conflicts of Interest and Funding, and Copyright Transfer/Publishing Agreement (pdf)
Wiley-Blackwell –  copyright transfer agreement (pdf)
BioMed Central – copyright and license agreement (pdf)
SHERPA/ROMEO – searchable list of publisher policies
SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) Guidelines and Tools for negotiating contracts
Columbia University Libraries’ Copyright Advisory Office –  guide to negotiating ccopyright agreements
Funding models for OA journal
SPARC guide “How Open Is It?” (pdf)
Directory of Open Access Journals
SPARC – Author Addendum
Open Access Pledge

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