How to shed the predatory label? Open peer review!
“There are more than 50 questionable open access publishers on Jeffrey Beall’s List of Predatory Open-Access Publishers. Some questionable journals publish independently of any publisher. How has this disease spread? Here are my thoughts and evidence:  Plug-and-play content management such as Open Journal Systems (OJS) provides a no-cost easy way to set up a professional journal publishing platform. For better or worse, this respected attempt by the Open Knowledge Project aimed at ‘improving the scholarly and public quality of research’ has simultaneously offered a fast-track opportunity for publisher copycats to launch an ‘open access’ scholarly publishing operation. To be fair to OJS, there are more than a dozen publishing software packages listed in the Open Access Directory launch by Simmons College.  Nearly every journal concerned with their reputation in fields such as medicine makes considerable effort to adopt a credible peer review mechanism, but the traditional method of author-blinded reviewing does not provide a way for the submitting author to see the identity of the reviewer who detected deficiencies or judged their research deficient. A journal admitting the lack of sufficiently knowledgeable reviewers may ask an author to provide names and contact information of potential reviewers in her/his specialty, creating a different kind of competing interest.  When one of the questionable publishers recently sent me an email solicitation to publish in one of their journals, I also noticed that they charged an author-processing charge (APC) of $400-$600. That amount is very low, considering that open access journals with strong peer review reputations have a business model that requires 200%-500% of that amount for an APC...  A code of conduct published by the Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association (OASPA) is voluntary, and the OASPA itself has not taken fellow publishers to task about the predatory evidence that seems to exist for more than 50 questionable open access publishers.  The stagnant global economy has created the largest unemployment rates in modern history, and would-be entrepreneurs with computer skills and time on their hands could find opportunity by simulating a closed system of peer review and rapid publishing turn-around, satisfying the need of researchers to find a publisher when competition for a place in important journals is very competitive... I think there is something to do to create trust that even goes beyond aligning with the OASPA code of conduct: adopt careful and scientifically-based peer review that is open and available for authors, readers, and the institutions that are providing APC subsidies as part of the Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity (COPE). I encountered open peer review more than 9 years ago, as the editor of a new open access journal on the Biomed Central (BMC) platform. BMC announced that journals could consider publishing the peer reviews as part of an article’s history, signed by the review authors. The editorial staff I initially led declined to make open peer review mandatory, but at least one BMC journal has embraced it. Here is their own description: ‘Biology Direct offers a novel system of peer review, allowing authors to select suitable reviewers from the journal’s Editorial Board; making the peer-review process open rather than anonymous; and making the reviewers’ reports public, thus increasing the responsibility of the referees and eliminating sources of abuse in the refereeing process...’ It may occur to you that a well-written review becomes a scholarly publication, much in the way a book review does in other disciplines. One potential downside is the same concern raised by my own editorial staff. In a relatively small community of like-minded professionals, would an honest review that appeared harsh not be appreciated in the spirit of improvement and/or considered a threat to friendship? I guess we have to ask ourselves why more open access journals did not adopt open peer review, once someone as respected as NCBI Director David Lipman became the editor of Biology Direct...” [Use the link above to access the full text, providing examples of reviews written during the open peer review process.]