Jeffrey Beall is an American librarian, best known for drawing attention to "predatory open access publishing", a term he coined, and for creating what is now widely known as Beall's list, a list of potentially predatory open-access publishers. He is a critic of the open access publishing movement, and is especially known for his blog Scholarly Open Access. He has also written on this topic in The Charleston Advisor, in Nature, in Learned Publishing, and elsewhere.
Beall in 2005
|Alma mater||California State University, Northridge, Oklahoma State University, University of North Carolina|
|Known for||criticism of predatory open access publishing|
Education and career
Beall has a bachelor's degree in Spanish from California State University, Northridge (1982), as well as an MA in English from Oklahoma State University (1987) and an MSc in library science from the University of North Carolina (1990). Until December 2012, he served on the editorial board of Cataloging & Classification Quarterly. In that same year, Beall was awarded tenure by the University of Colorado Denver. In an interview with The Charleston Advisor in July 2013, he said that his biggest influence was Fred Kilgour.
Criticism of open access publishing
Beall classifies open access (OA) publishers as following a "gold model" in which authors pay for their work to be published and a "platinum model" in which they do not pay, and sees the gold model as being prone to abuse. He has argued that "the act of instituting financial transactions between scholarly authors and scholarly publishers is corrupting scholarly communication. This was one of the great benefits of the traditional scholarly publishing system – it had no monetary component in the relationship between publishers and their authors. Adding the monetary component has created the problem of predatory publishers and the problem of financing author fees."
In a June 2012 interview, Beall said that while he supported what he called "platinum open-access", he concluded: "The only truly successful model that I have seen is the traditional publishing model."
In December 2013, Beall published a comment in tripleC, an open access journal, in which he articulated his criticism of open access publishing advocates. He noted that the quality of articles published in many OA journals is low, that peer review in many OA journals is negligible or non-existent, that public access to poor-quality articles harms the public, and that the careers of young scholars who publish in poor-quality OA journals are harmed. He portrayed the open access movement as an anti-corporatist movement whose advocates pursue the goal of "kill[ing] off the for-profit publishers and mak[ing] scholarly publishing a cooperative and socialistic enterprise" while ignoring the benefits of traditional academic publishers, including consistent peer review and attention to the long-term preservation of articles they publish. He has also been critical of the Directory of Open Access Journals for relying on data supplied by journal publishers to determine whether the journal in question should be included in the directory.
Predatory open access publishing
Beall is well known for his investigations of predatory open access publishing, a term he coined. He has published a number of analyses of predatory OA journals, such as one of Bentham Open in The Charleston Advisor in 2009. However, his interest in such journals began when, in 2008, he started to receive numerous requests from dubious journals to serve on their editorial boards. He has said that he "immediately became fascinated because most of the e-mails contained numerous grammatical errors." Since 2008, he has maintained a well-known and regularly updated list of what he states are "potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers". In 2011, Beall's list had 18 publishers on it; by December 29, 2016, this number had grown to 923. Beall has estimated that predatory open access journals publish about 5-10 percent of all open access articles, and that at least 25 percent of open access journals are predatory. He has been particularly critical of OMICS Publishing Group, which he described as "the worst of the worst" in a 2016 Inside Higher Education article.
Beall coined the term "predatory meetings" for a new activity of OMICS and others in organising scientific conferences claiming editorial boards and organising committees with prominent academics who have not agreed to participate, with high fees for attendance, and with poor reviewing standards for acceptance. Deceptively similar names to existing reputable conferences are also used. Beall has criticised the financial arrangements for OMICS conferences, noting that the "registration policy shows that they never grant refunds for registration fees – even if they themselves cancel or postpone the conference. Instead, they grant a credit for other OMICS conferences." He also recommends, "in the strongest terms possible, that all scholars from all countries avoid doing business in any way with the OMICS Group. Do not submit papers. Do not agree to serve on their editorial boards. Do not register for or attend their conferences." He notes a profusion of such conferences located in Asia and identified features of these predatory meetings.
Beall's list and the Science sting
In 2013, Science published the results of a sting operation in which a scientifically flawed spoof publication was submitted to open access publications. Many accepted the manuscript, and a disproportionate number of the accepting journals were on Beall's list. The publication, entitled Who's Afraid of Peer Review?, concluded that Beall is "good at spotting publishers with poor quality control". Of publishers on his list that completed the review process, it was accepted by 82%. Beall remarked that the author of the sting, John Bohannon, "basically found what I've been saying for years".
Phil Davis, in an analysis of the Who's Afraid of Peer Review? sting operation, observed that "Beall is falsely accusing nearly one in five as being a 'potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open access publisher' on appearances alone." He continued to say that Beall "should reconsider listing publishers on his 'predatory' list until he has evidence of wrongdoing. Being mislabeled as a 'potential, possible, or probable predatory publisher' by circumstantial evidence alone is like the sheriff of a Wild West town throwing a cowboy into jail just 'cuz he's a little funny lookin.' Civility requires due process."
Joseph Esposito wrote in The Scholarly Kitchen that he had been following some of Beall's work with "growing unease" and that Beall's "broader critique (really an assault) of Gold OA and those who advocate it" had "crossed the line".
Wayne Bivens-Tatum, librarian at Princeton University, published a rebuttal in tripleC, regarding Beall's criticisms of open access publishing. He stated that Beall's "rhetoric provides good examples of what Albert O. Hirschman called the 'rhetoric of reaction'", and concluded Beall's "argument fails because the sweeping generalizations with no supporting evidence render it unsound."
City University of New York librarians Monica Berger and Jill Cirasella said his views are biased against open-access journals from less economically developed countries. Berger and Cirasella argued that "imperfect English or a predominantly non-Western editorial board does not make a journal predatory". While recognizing that "the criteria he uses for his list are an excellent starting point for thinking about the hallmarks of predatory publishers and journals," they suggest that, "given the fuzziness between low-quality and predatory publishers, whitelisting, or listing publishers and journals that have been vetted and verified as satisfying certain standards, may be a better solution than blacklisting."
One major journal whitelist is the Directory of Open Access Journals; Lars Bjørnshauge, its managing director, estimated that questionable publishing probably accounts for fewer than 1% of all author-pays, open-access papers, a proportion far lower than Beall's estimate of 5–10%. Instead of relying on blacklists, Bjørnshauge argues that open-access associations such as the DOAJ and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association should adopt more responsibility for policing publishers: they should lay out a set of criteria that publishers and journals must comply with to win a place on a whitelist, indicating that they are trustworthy.
Rick Anderson, associate dean in the J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, challenged the term "predatory open access publishing" itself: "what do we mean when we say 'predatory,' and is that term even still useful?... This question has become relevant because of that common refrain heard among Beall's critics: that he only examines one kind of predation—the kind that naturally crops up in the context of author-pays OA." Anderson suggested that the term "predatory" be retired in the context of scholarly publishing. "It's a nice, attention-grabbing word, but I'm not sure it's helpfully descriptive… it generates more heat than light." In its place, he proposed the term "deceptive publishing".
On 15 January 2017, the entire content of the Scholarly Open Access website was removed, along with Beall's faculty page on the University of Colorado's website. The removal was first noticed on social media, with speculation on whether the removal was due to migration of the list to the stewardship of Cabell's International. The company later denied any relationship, and its vice president of business development declared that Beall "was forced to shut down blog due to threats and politics". The University of Colorado also declared that the decision to take down the list was a personal decision from Beall. Beall later wrote that he had taken down his blog because of pressure from the University of Colorado, which threatened his job security. Beall's supervisor, Shea Swauger, wrote that the university had supported Beall's work and had not threatened his academic freedom. A demand by Frontiers Media to open a research misconduct case against Beall, to which the University of Colorado acquiesced, is reported as the immediate reason for Beall to take down the list. The university's investigation was closed with no findings.
After the website was taken down, medical researcher Roger Pierson of the University of Saskatchewan said, "To see Beall's work disappear would be an absolute disaster," adding, "From an academic perspective, this represents the absence of an extremely important resource."
In February 2013, the open-access publisher Canadian Center for Science and Education sent a letter to Beall stating that Beall's inclusion of their company on his list of questionable open-access publishers amounted to defamation. The letter also stated that if Beall did not remove this company from his list, they would subject him to "civil action".
In May 2013, OMICS Publishing Group, which had also been included on Beall's list of predatory open access publishers, issued a warning to Beall in a poorly-written letter stating that they intended to sue him, and were seeking $1 billion in damages under section 66A of India's Information Technology Act, 2000. However, section 66A was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of India in an unrelated case in 2015. In 2016, Beall welcomed news that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission had filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court against the OMICS group. The complaint is the first against an academic publisher and alleges that the defendants have been "deceiving academics and researchers about the nature of its publications and hiding publication fees ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars", holding manuscripts hostage by seeking fees to allow them to be withdrawn, and promoting predatory conferences; Inside Higher Education reports that Beall has published examples of these sorts of activities by OMICS, and he has previously said of the organisation: "If anything is predatory, it's that publisher. It's the worst of the worst." OMICS' attorneys have described the allegations as baseless. In November 2017, a federal court in the District of Nevada granted a preliminary injunction that
"prohibits the defendants from making misrepresentations regarding their academic journals and conferences, including that specific persons are editors of their journals or have agreed to participate in their conferences. It also prohibits the defendants from falsely representing that their journals engage in peer review, that their journals are included in any academic journal indexing service, or any measurement of the extent to which their journals are cited. It also requires that the defendants clearly and conspicuously disclose all costs associated with submitting or publishing articles in their journals."
- Deprez, Esmé E.; Chen, Caroline (August 29, 2017). "Medical Journals Have a Fake News Problem". Bloomberg. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
- Beall, J. (2012). "Predatory publishers are corrupting open access". Nature. 489 (7415): 179. Bibcode:2012Natur.489..179B. doi:10.1038/489179a. PMID 22972258.
- Beall, J. (2013). "Predatory publishing is just one of the consequences of gold open access" (PDF). Learned Publishing. 26 (2): 79–83. doi:10.1087/20130203.
- Beall, J. (June 1, 2018). "Invited comment: Predatory journals exploit structural weaknesses in scholarly publishing". 4open. 1: 1. doi:10.1051/fopen/2018001. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
- In copies of the staff directory of Auraria Library archived in the Wayback Machine, the library listed Beall as Scholarly Communications Librarian on August 27, 2017, as Copyright and Information Access Librarian on March 7, 2018, and no longer listed Beall on April 30, 2018. See also his credentials reported in a 2014 interview: Pasquale, Cynthia (June 11, 2014). "Five questions for Jeffrey Beall". CU Connections. University of Colorado.
- "Beall's Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). auraria.edu. Auraria Library. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 2, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- "About the Author". Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on October 21, 2015. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
- Machovec, G. (2013). "An Interview with Jeffrey Beall on Open Access Publishing". The Charleston Advisor. 15: 50. doi:10.5260/chara.15.1.50.
- Beall, Jeffrey (2013). "The Open-Access Movement is Not Really about Open Access". TripleC. 11 (2): 589–597. doi:10.31269/triplec.v11i2.525. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
- Elliott, Carl (June 5, 2012). "On Predatory Publishers: a Q&A With Jeffrey Beall". Brainstorm. The Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Baker, Monya (May 9, 2016). "Open-access index delists thousands of journals". Nature. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
- Beall, Jeffrey (2017). "What I learned from predatory publishers". Biochemia Medica. 27 (2): 273–279. doi:10.11613/BM.2017.029. PMC 5493177. PMID 28694718.
- Beall, Jeffrey (September 2009). "Bentham Open". The Charleston Advisor. 11 (1): 29–32.
- Butler, D. (2013). "Investigating journals: The dark side of publishing". Nature. 495 (7442): 433–435. Bibcode:2013Natur.495..433B. doi:10.1038/495433a. PMID 23538810.
- "LIST OF PUBLISHERS". Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on September 17, 2016. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
- Kolata, Gina (April 7, 2013). "Scientific Articles Accepted (Personal Checks, Too)". The New York Times. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
- Jump, Paul (August 2, 2012). "Research Intelligence - 'Predators' who lurk in plain cite". Times Higher Education. Retrieved August 29, 2015.
- Carey, Kevin (December 29, 2016). "A Peek Inside the Strange World of Fake Academia". Upshot. The New York Times.
- Harbison, Martha (April 9, 2013). "Bogus Academic Conferences Lure Scientists". Popular Science. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
- Straumsheim, Carl (August 29, 2016). "Feds Target 'Predatory' Publishers". Inside Higher Education. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
- Beall, Jeffrey; Levine, Richard (January 25, 2013). "OMICS Goes from "Predatory Publishing" to "Predatory Meetings"". Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on June 5, 2016. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
- Beall, Jeffrey (July 14, 2015). "Another Taiwan-Based Mega-Scholarly Conference Organizer Emerges". Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on September 9, 2015. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
- Bohannon, John (2013). "Who's Afraid of Peer Review?". Science. 342 (6154): 60–65. doi:10.1126/science.342.6154.60. PMID 24092725.
- "LIST OF PUBLISHERS | Scholarly Open Access". March 6, 2015. Archived from the original on March 6, 2015. Retrieved February 6, 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- Knox, Richard (October 3, 2013). "Some Online Journals Will Publish Fake Science, For A Fee". NPR. Retrieved May 3, 2014.
- Davis, Phil (October 4, 2013). "Open Access "Sting" Reveals Deception, Missed Opportunities". The Scholarly Kitchen.
- Esposito, Joseph (December 16, 2013). "Parting Company with Jeffrey Beall". The Scholarly Kitchen.
- Bivens-Tatum, Wayne (2014). "Reactionary Rhetoric Against Open Access Publishing". TripleC. 12 (2): 441–446. doi:10.31269/triplec.v12i2.617.
- Berger, Monica; Cirasella, Jill (2015). "Beyond Beall's List: Better Understanding Predatory Publishers". College & Research Libraries News. 76 (3): 132–135. doi:10.5860/crln.76.3.9277. Retrieved August 1, 2015.
- Anderson, Rick (May 11, 2015). "Should We Retire the Term "Predatory Publishing"?]". The Scholarly Kitchen. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
- "Why did Beall's List of potential predatory publishers go dark?". Retraction Watch. January 17, 2017. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
- "Librarian's list of 'predatory' journals reportedly removed due to 'threats and politics'". Retrieved January 25, 2017.
- Singh Chawla, Dalmeet (January 17, 2017). "Mystery as controversial list of predatory publishers disappears". Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
- Swauger, Shea (December 1, 2017). "Open access, power, and privilege: A response to "What I learned from predatory publishing"". College & Research Libraries News. 78 (11): 603–606. doi:10.5860/crln.78.11.603.
- Paul Basken (September 12, 2017). "Why Beall's List Died — and What It Left Unresolved About Open Access". The Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Paul Basken (September 22, 2017). "Why Beall's blacklist of predatory journals died". University World News.
- "Beall's List of Predatory Journals and Publishers". beallslist.weebly.com. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
- "Stop Predatory Journals". predatoryjournals.com. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
- Spears, Tom (January 17, 2017). "World's main list of 'predatory' science publishers vanishes with no warning". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
- Flaherty, Colleen (February 15, 2013). "Librarians and Lawyers". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
- Anderson, Rick (May 20, 2013). "High Noon – A Publisher Threatens to "Lunch" a Criminal Case Against Librarian Critic". The Scholarly Kitchen. Retrieved October 24, 2016.
- New, Jake (May 15, 2013). "Publisher Threatens to Sue Blogger for $1-Billion". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
- Chappell, Bill (May 15, 2013). "Publisher Threatens Librarian With $1 Billion Lawsuit". NPR. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
- Venkataramakrishnan, Rohan (May 19, 2013). "Send Section 66A bullies home". India Today. Retrieved October 24, 2016.
- Sriram, Jayant (March 25, 2015). "SC strikes down 'draconian' Section 66A". The Hindu. Retrieved October 24, 2016.
- Molteni, Megan (September 19, 2016). "The FTC is Cracking Down on Predatory Science Journals". Wired. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
- Shonka, David C.; Rusu, Ioana; Ashe, Gregory A.; Bogden, Daniel G.; Welsh, Blaine T. (August 25, 2016). "Case No. 2:16-cv-02022 – Complaint for Permanent Injunction and Other Equitable Relief" (PDF). Case 2:16-cv-02022. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
- Straumsheim, Carl (August 29, 2016). "Federal Trade Commission begins to crack down on 'predatory' publishers". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
- "FTC sues OMICS group: Are predatory publishers' days numbered?". STAT News. September 2, 2016. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
- McCook, Alison (August 26, 2016). "U.S. government agency sues publisher, charging it with deceiving researchers". Retraction Watch. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
- "FTC Charges Academic Journal Publisher OMICS Group Deceived Researchers: Complaint Alleges Company Made False Claims, Failed To Disclose Steep Publishing Fees". ftc.gov. Federal Trade Commission. August 26, 2016. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
- Bailey, Jonathan (September 12, 2016). "Federal Trade Commission Targeting Predatory Publishers". iThenticate – Plagiarism Blog. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
- "FTC Halts the Deceptive Practices of Academic Journal Publishers". Federal Trade Commission. November 22, 2017. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
- "Scholarly Open Access: Critical analysis of scholarly open-access publishing". Archived from the original on December 30, 2016. Retrieved December 13, 2017. (now offline)
- Updated Beall's List of Predatory Publisher maintained by an anonymous postdoctoral European researcher
- "Jeffrey Beall - Google Scholar Citations". scholar.google.com. Google Scholar. Retrieved December 13, 2017.