September 26, 2013

Predators and impersonators: A new breed of journals – Part 2

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by ASAS Board of Directors

With all of these new options, how do we know which new publications will contribute long-term to our field and, therefore, deserve our support while they are still in their infancy and which ones are designed purely to profit from the electronic age of easy publication? How do we get this message out to publishers, authors, and the public without inadvertently hurting potentially ethical and important new journals: white lists versus black lists, or lists of criteria? And, if we start creating lists of good and bad, who becomes the judge? There are numerous examples of white and blacks lists that are the serious work of reputable sources. Like impact factor, which is one valid form of evaluation, even though we may not know the details of the algorithms used to calculate it, the creators of white lists and black lists admit to advantages, shortcomings, and flaws to their system. In doing research for this article, we found that many of the white lists and black lists contain descriptions of their listing criteria and offer suggestions to potential authors for how to objectively evaluate a new journal. Thus, black and white lists that are based on objective and openly available criteria can be a valid form of evaluation, especially when this is combined with information, such as impact factor, that can be obtained from reputable indexing services.

In 2010, Jeffrey Beall a Librarian at the University of Colorado developed and published his first “black-list” of “predatory” publishers. The list has grown and changed over the last 3 years. In December 2012, he published the second edition of Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers. We suggest using these criteria as a guideline to evaluate any and all journals before you publish.

The powerhouses in scholarly publishing have researched this topic and reported their findings. For example, a series of articles in the News and Comment section of Nature contains excellent information. In this series, Declan Butler, published “Buyer beware: a checklist to identify reputable publishers.” The checklist includes simple commonsense criteria including the final statement, “if it looks fishy, proceed with caution.”

For now, ASAS asks our members to be vigilant in their journal choices, investigate the journal, and if you have any doubts ask questions or publish elsewhere. We also want to remind members that ASAS publishes three, and only three, journals. Here are the exact titles:

1. Journal of Animal Science

2. Animal Frontiers, in collaboration with European Federation for Animal Science (EAAP), Canadian Society of Animal Science (CSAS), and American Meat Science Association (AMSA)

3. Natural Sciences Education, in collaboration with Alliance of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Science Societies (ACSESS).