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Open Access Blog Post by Dieter Scholz:
Should We Retire the Term 'Predatory Publishing'?

Source: "Should We Retire the Term 'Predatory Publishing'?" is the title of the blog post at The Scholarly Kitchen written by Rick Anderson.

I had some initial thoughts for the discussion, but for some (technical) reason these initial thoughts did not make it on the blog. Therefore, you find them on this blog (below). My other comments made it on Rick's blog post. You find the links at the bottom of this page.

Now, to get started:

Thanks Rick, I had already given up hope to ever find a blog post from a publishing organization on this topic. I had written on 2014-01-06 to OASPA and proposed OASPA should start a discussion about blacklisting, predatory criteria, ... with a post on their blog (readers can only comment on the blog). I got an answer the same day: "Dieter, ... I will pass your suggestion for hosting a discussion about blacklisting on the blog to the OASPA board...". OASPA never touched the topic and the board never answered.

You are right, the controversy about Beall’s List starts already with the wording. “As former Springer Publisher Jan Velterop put it … ‘using such a term as ‘predatory’ is asking for trouble if malicious intent can’t be proven. To question the journals’ prestige is one thing, but an almost criminal accusation quite another.’ ”(Poynder 2013) Even Beall himself states: “In many cases, the predatory publishers are not doing anything illegal.” (Elliot 2012).

The term “predatory open access publisher” is used predominantly in the USA. In Europe e.g. at OASPA or DOAJ use of the term is carefully avoided. Lars Bjoernshauge from DOAJ derives based on a dictionary definition: “A predatory publisher can then be described as a publisher who intends to injure or exploit others for personal gain or profit.” Bjoernshauge uses the term "questionable publisher" and defines "Questionable publishers are publishers, who are not living up to reasonable standards in terms of content, services, transparency and of business behavior." (Bjoernshauge 2014).

"... Beall [is] acting as prosecutor, judge and jury on who’s predatory and who’s not. Remarkably, hundreds if not thousands of librarians and others seem to take Beall’s word as gospel.” (Crawford 2014). As such, we already have "Beall's gospel" and I do not think "faith in Beall" would help much.

"bad faith" = "deceitfulness, malice, fraudulent intend" is all going in the wrong direction. You explained yourself why: "one problem with the concept of bad faith is that it addresses intentions more than actions". In an evaluation we can only go by facts this is a start: These criteria have to be evaluated in a clear (almost automatic) way with a clear outcome: yes/no, or the amount of something.

For me someone who uses the word "predatory" in publishing is someone who preaches "Beall's gospel" or at least has sympathy for it. Yes, we should retire the term “Predatory Publishing” it means libel. It should be substitute with "questionable publishing".

Recommended reading:

Jeffrey Beall: “I am an academic crime fighter”


Link to the blog post at The Scholarly Kitchen:

Scholarly Kitchen

Please link to my other comments to the blog post and read:

LAST UPDATE:  11 August 2015
AUTHOR:  Prof. Dr. Scholz

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