Predators and bloodsuckers in academic publishing – Derivace
lterrat's bookmarks 2017-02-02
"Strielkowski’s story is an especially bizarre example of what stands behind the sharp rise of so-called predatory publishing. It is estimated, for instance, that between 2010 and 2014, the number of ‘predatory journals’ globally rose from 1800 to 8000, and the number of articles published in such journals increased from 50,000 to 400,000. Importantly, careful reading of Strielkowski’s story shows that his academic-trickster business model worked in synergy with dominant indicators of scientific quality integral to many evaluation and rankings systems. Strielkowski, after all, quite rightly promotes himself as an expert on how to get published in journals listed in SCOPUS and Web of Science – a valued skill, since many national scientific evaluation systems consider these two databases to represent an unquestionable guarantee of scientific quality and even to serve as barriers against mediocre and worthless publications. Considering this case, it seems that the current globally shared obsession with 'exact' bibliometric measurements of research productivity and impact is a source from which predatory/parasitic publishing spawns, rather than a remedy for it. We must not forget that the motivation of the two databases, which are owned by private corporations and equity funds, is to make a profit rather than measure quality (which seems a contradictory expression – can quality in any way be measured?). What’s more, the profit-driven character of Web of Science is likely to deepen under the new ownership of Onex and Baring Asia.
Finally, by instructing us that the metaphor of 'parasitism' is better suited than that of 'predation', the aforementioned tale allows us to refine a more useful conceptual language for general description of the ongoing and rapid metamorphosis of the academic publishing ecosystem. It may well be the case that science is subjected to severe bloodletting – not only by novelistic vampire characters, but also by the established publishers who act as bloodsuckers, this time more amorphous and truly gigantic, who leach off public budgets for science (e.g. libraries’ subscription costs, scientists’ salaries, research expenses) and often the non-paid labour of authors, editors, and reviewers. Even though Jeffrey Beall never really paid attention to 'bloodsuckers' and was even accused by many supporters of open access of acting in their interest, his role in pinpointing “vampires” was no doubt pioneering. We believe that the continuation of his work in some form will be critical to and necessary for the credible development of open-access academic publishing, as well as for the cultivation of the publishing landscape as such."