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The Dark Side of Open-Access Journals

A growing number of open-access journals of questionable reputation are offering to publish "seemingly anything" for a fee and are preying on researchers to lend them credibility, The New York Times reports today.

One doctor who submitted two articles to The Journal of Clinical Case Reports was billed $2,900 for their publication, a fee he had not been told about. When he tried to withdraw the papers, they were published anyway, and his fee was waived after a year of back-and-forth.

A plant pathologist at Rutgers University agreed to join the editorial board of another journal, Plant Pathology & Microbiology, only to find himself listed by the publisher as an organizer and speaker for a conference called Entomology-2013."I am not even an entomologist," he told the Times. The conference is trying to mimic a well-known meeting called Entomology 2013.

Up to 4,000 such "predatory journals" exist today – at least a quarter of all open-access journals – according to Jeffrey Beall, a research librarian at the University of Colorado, who keeps a blacklist of them called "Beall's list."