College and University Libraries Division

Texas Library Association

Are Predatory Publishers Tainting the Open Access Waters?

By Shelly Burns, MLIS, AHIP
TWU-IHS, Dallas Library

Although it seems as if open access is finally getting the respect from academia that many librarians think it deserves, a surge in acceptance of OA has also spawned a new breed of vanity publishing known as predatory publications.  Predatory journals seek to “exploit the gold open access model – which requires the author of an accepted article to pay a processing fee for publication – simply to make a profit.”1  These publications charge authors exorbitant prices to publish manuscripts and use sneaky tactics such as mass email invitations, naming researchers to editorial boards without their consent, and less than thorough peer review, if any at all.

Jeffrey Beall, scholarly initiatives librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, has created a criteria for spotting predatory publishers and has made it his business to keep a running list of suspects on his blog:   But simply having a list is just not enough, as it seems these predatory publishers will stop at nothing to make a buck, even going so far as to use fake affiliations and host spoof conferences where presenters are actually billed for the privilege of speaking.  Some of these predatory publications are so good at looking legitimate that it is very difficult to tell the prestigious from the malicious.

We all know that nothing is free, and although the OA movement has made the dissemination of information much more fluid than it once was, this too comes with a price.  We can all agree that the traditional publishing model is in need of serious reform; however, it is a model which has been very successful at keeping the scholarly – well, scholarly – and the rubbish more the exception than the rule.  It seems that OA has not only opened the flood gates of information, but has also muddied the waters of scholarly literature.  What you think about the pros and cons of OA?

1. Wilson K. Librarian vs. (open access) predator: An interview with Jeffrey Beall. Serials Review. 2013;39(2):125-128. doi:


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This entry was posted on August 27, 2013 by in Open Access.


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