What Happened to Jeffrey Beall’s List of (Allegedly) Predatory Publishers?

Jeffrey Beall is an academic librarian at the Auraria Library at University of Colorado Denver located in Denver, Colorado. He got tenure in 2012 and became an associate professor. For a number of years, he has maintained and curated a blacklist of allegedly (he calls it “potential, possible, or probable”) predatory open access publishers.

Predatory journals can engage in a large number of suspicious activities, such as deceptive journal name, sending massive spam requests to authors and reviewers, falsely claiming to have a higher credibility than they have based on common journal metrics, publish a lot of fake content, do not engage in peer review despite claiming to etc.

The list has received both praise for highlighting these problems and criticism for being unfair. Yet, something strange has now happened with both the list and his website. The list is gone and all content on his website appears to have been purged. Here are the details that are currently available. Because this is a breaking news event, some of the details might change as more information becomes known, but it was accurate when it was posted.

What happened to his website?

On January 15 (Sunday), it was discovered on Twitter that the list of allegedly predatory publishers had been taken down and replaced with a short message saying “This service is no longer available.”.

Beall list is gone

It turns out that this list is not the only thing that is gone. His other three lists (allegedly predatory stand-alone journals, allegedly misleading metric companies and allegedly hijacked journals), about me section and all posts are also gone. His website is basically purged.

Thankfully, there are cached copies of his key lists available:

Publishers: Archive.is | Archive.org
Standalone journals: Archive.is | Archive.org
Hijacked journals: Archive.is | Archive.org
Metric companies: Archive.is | Archive.org

What happened to his Facebook page?

There is also a Facebook page associated with the Beall’s list of allegedly predatory publishers. This has the name “Beall’s List of Predatory Open-Access Publishers” (@ POA.Publishers). If one visits this Facebook page right now, one is greeted by the following:

Beall's Facebook page

This indicates that the Facebook page in question is either temporarily unpublished or deleted. A cache of the Facebook page can be found here. The latest material available from this cache (that is in turn taken from a Google cache from January 14) is from January 10.

Facebook cache

Follow Debunking Denialism on Facebook or Twitter for new updates.

Encroaching activists…

What makes this strange situation even more peculiar is that one of the first coverage of this issue came from a known anti-Beall activist. It is a short post that contains nothing of intellectual substance. It notes that the list and website has been taken down and speculates on the reason. It then proceeds to criticize Beall and recommend other approaches.

The post does not allow comments at the time of this writing, but some people submitted comments before that were never published, yet inspired the author to correct spelling. It also seems that the blog also has taken a lot of content from both Beall and Nature News, much more than what can reasonable by considered to be fair use.

How did this website come to know of the event so rapidly? Right now, there are more questions than answers.

What happens next?

Right now, there is virtually no information available on what happened. We do not know the reason for why the list has been taken down. On social media, speculations involve either a lawsuit threat by Frontiers or unauthorized and illegal access by a third party, but there is really no hard evidence as to why the list was taken down, why the website was purged or why the Facebook page was unpublished or removed.

Many people are highly interested in knowing what happened regardless of their position on the Beall list on allegedly predatory publishers. Some are willing to consider to repost or mirror the list as an act of solidarity should the reason for why the list was taken down be a result of a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). This does not necessarily imply that such individuals agree with all decisions or opinions held by Beall, but value an open and honest discussion about a vocal minority of open access publishers that may or may not be predatory.

At the time this post was published, Beall has not responded to an email asking about details.

Let us cautiously monitor this breaking news event as it develops.

Updates

Information that became available after this article was posted.

Note: it seems that Beall’s university profile is also gone (note added 20170116 20:50 UTC+1).

Note: another potential explanation has surfaced on social media. Might be related to WordPress problems if his staff page and the blog both runs it. Still strange that it would give a different message for the list, but database problems can be very tricky. This suggestion, however, does not explain what happened to the Facebook page (note added 20170116 21:01 UTC+1).

Note: yet another speculative explanation has appeared on Twitter. Perhaps the list is being moved to Cabell’s? Hard to explain why the staff page is down on this hypothesis, though (note added 20170116 22:17 UTC+1).

Note: the anti-Beall activist blog that mentioned the list being down has now added a lot more text to its post about it. New caches are available here and here (note added 20170117 15:27 UTC+1).

Note: social media activity suggests that Beall is active on Wikipedia after the list was taken down (note added 20170117 15:34 UTC+1).

Note: Cabell’s denies involvement on Twitter, praises Beall’s work (note added 20170117 16:09 UTC+1).

Note: Cabell’s has been developing their own blacklist during the past two years with Beall as a consultant (note added 20170117 16:49 UTC+1).

Note: Nature News is looking into both the site down issue and the excessive material posted by the activist blog from one of their articles (note added 20170117 17:31 UTC+1).

BREAKING: Lacey E. Earle, VP Business Development at Cabell’s, writes on Twitter that “@CabellsPublish stands behind close personal friend @Jeffrey_Beall who was forced to shut down blog due to threats & politics #academicmafia” (note added 20170117 18:48 UTC+1).

Note: Retraction Watch is aware that the list and website is down and is currently investigating the situation (note added 20170117 19:01 UTC+1).

BREAKING: Retraction Watch has published a post on this issue and they report that the University of Colorado Denver stated that the decision to take down the website and the staff page was taken by Beall himself. Beall has not replied to Retraction Watch queries (note added 20170117 22:39 UTC+1).

BREAKING: Retraction Watch has received a statement by the university indicating that Beall “has decided to no longer maintain or publish his research or blog on open access journals and ‘predatory publishers’.” The statement notes that “Professor Beall remains on the faculty at the university and will be pursuing new areas of research”. Now the only information that we need is additional details about why Beall decided to call it quits. Did he reach his breaking point or where lawsuit threats (or similar) involved? (note added 20170118 01:14 UTC+1).

BREAKING: ScienceInsider reports that the university has stated that the disappearance of the list is not related to legal threats. Now we know the “how” and the “what”, but not the “why” (note added 20170118 01:47 UTC+1).

Note: the anti-Beall activist blog has added more text to its post again (note added 20170118 15:48 UTC+1).

BREAKING: Beall’s lists are now being re-posted on the Internet (note added 20170118 15:55 UTC+1).

Note: this issue has now been discussed in a Nature News item as well (note added 20170118 19:29 UTC+1).

Note: The Nature News item states:

“My blog is now unpublished,” said Beall, an academic librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver (UCD). He added that he couldn’t give reasons and declined to comment further.

It looks like Beall is refusing to answer why he removed the list. If he continues to stay quiet, we might never know the reason behind it. If so, how many readers dare to non-anonymously repost the list(s)? Would Beall file DMCA claims against any such attempts? Or would he consider releasing the list in public domain (note added 20170119 22:46 UTC+1)?

BREAKING: Beall has confirmed that he took down his list due to harassment from allegedly predatory publishers and intense pressure from his university employer. Read more in the follow-up article https://debunkingdenialism.com/2017/06/15/we-now-know-why-jeffrey-beall-removed-list-of-allegedly-predatory-publishers/.

Emil Karlsson

Debunker of pseudoscience.

85 thoughts on “What Happened to Jeffrey Beall’s List of (Allegedly) Predatory Publishers?

  • January 16, 2017 at 20:07
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    The prefix “allegedly” is used here as a precaution to avoid giving the impression that I personally am making a comment on the predatory or non-predatory nature of any of the publisher on the list.

    Even the most vocal critics of Beall probably admit that there are some open access journals that are predatory in nature.

    Reply
    • January 17, 2017 at 19:04
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      Here, let me fix that for you:

      “Even the most vocal critics of Beall are definitely aware that there are some journals that are predatory in nature, but that not all of them are open access. And, open access isn’t synonymous with predatory behaviour”.

    • January 17, 2017 at 19:23
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      I do not think any serious person is claiming “predatory if and only if open access”.

      Personally, I love open access. It has been vital both for my own science learning and for fighting pseudoscience on the Internet. It is the future (and to a large degree also the present).

      However, using what appears to be a lawsuit and/or settlement to take the list, the website, the staff page and the Facebook page down is malignant behavior and probably extremely ineffective. Beall’s publisher blacklist will live on the Internet, but now likely without someone curating and updating it (or correcting potential errors for that matter).

    • January 17, 2017 at 20:20
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      I think the issue everyone who dislikes Beall has had is that he doesn’t seem to acknowledge that traditional publishing can also be predatory (and he certainly isn’t interested in adding these publishers to his list). He has demonstrated a specific dislike of open access models (and seems to talk out of both sides of his mouth with regards to gold OA). And he’s done so in some damaging and/or reckless ways. As someone who thinks he’s problematic, it was always because of his problematic focus on OA.

      I’d argue that giving scholars the skills to evaluate resources and publishers is more important than a list of fake journals that send out a lot of spam. I’m not sure that’s a tenable solution to a problem that can zig when you zag. Gmail filters probably do a better job of protecting researchers than Beall’s list.

      I’d be surprised if he was hacked, though. Beall has a twitter account that he uses on the regular, and I’m sure he’d have had a statement. He’s rarely timid in his approach to his critics. If it’s due to a lawsuit, everything we have to say without details is conjecture.

      Mostly, I wanted to point out, as someone who isn’t into Beall, that my issues with him are about his fervent preoccupation with OA. I don’t deny that there are “predatory journals”, I just mostly think of them as elaborate spam designed to reel in academics.

      And, also, as an aside, I think the hashtag “academicmafia” is very, very funny.

    • January 17, 2017 at 20:30
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      This issue is not about if Beall is right or wrong on particular issues or even if the blacklist is a good or bad idea.

      It is about how someone appears to have decided to make a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) in an effort to get the list taken down instead of taking part in an open and honest debate (or improving their publisher or journal). It is possible to disagree with Beall on a wide range of issues without taking such anti-intellectual and probably counterproductive action.

  • Pingback:What Happened to Jeffrey Beall’s List of (Allegedly) Predatory Publishers? | Emil Karlsson

  • January 16, 2017 at 21:12
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    The most obvious explanation (to me), and of course purely conjectural, is that he was sued by a journal he may have (allegedly) defamed, and settled out of court. Part of that settlement was to take down the lists, and not be allowed to discuss the terms of the settlement. Those kinds of results happen all the time in other arenas.

    Reply
  • January 16, 2017 at 21:29
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    That is unfortunately a very plausible explanation and could explain both the list, the website and the Facebook page. I wonder about his staff profile, though. Maybe they were very thorough and that it, like the Facebook page, contained unwelcome material.

    Reply
  • January 17, 2017 at 07:52
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    Not sure the exact reason, but viewing his blog one might feel, he did a good job but recent years, he became more and more crazy. He not only attacks new publishers based in developing counties, but also attacks well-built publishers, he not only attacks publishers, but also attacks individual scholars, many of who are famed in their own field, he also attacks institutional databases like PMC, which shows his ignorance in the scientific areas and publishing industry… He has gone too far gradually. What a shame.

    Reply
    • January 17, 2017 at 12:45
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      This issue is not about whether Beall or the list are always right, but about what happened to the the list, website, staff profile and Facebook page and if he was subjected to a SLAPP. It is possible to disagree both with Beall and the use of SLAPP.

  • January 17, 2017 at 12:42
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    On the lawsuit settlement scenario, the university would likely also be sued, as they are the “deep pocket.” This might account for the staff page coming down, if it refered to the predator list website. But the lawsuit would be public. It is possible that the mere threat of a lawsuit was enough to cause the university to settle.

    Reply
  • Pingback:India’s white list to curb researchers from publishing in predatory journals | Science Chronicle

  • January 17, 2017 at 15:00
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    I agree that a way to support the existence of a list of predatory publishers and journals is to upload copies of those lists on other websites around the world.

    Reply
  • Pingback:Beall's site went empty as I prepped a balanced #scholcomm talk over the wknd. Assumed tech issues but maybe #SLAPP? https://debunkingdenialism.com/2017/01/16/what-happened-to-jeffrey-bealls-list-of-allegedly-predatory-publishers/

  • Pingback:What Happened to Jeffrey Beall’s List of (Allegedly) Predatory Publishers? – Geeky Library Girl

  • January 17, 2017 at 16:54
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    The disappearance of everything at once is pretty standard reaction to a DCMA/libel-type cease-and-desist demand. The C & D or threat of libel action would not be public, and likely not be made public. There would be no lawsuit to find a record of because there is no suit. The potential of a protracted and costly lawsuit is the threat.

    Reply
    • January 17, 2017 at 17:06
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      Sounds plausible, but this is not the first time people have done that to Beall. I wonder if there is not more to this story, but I have more questions than answers at this point.

  • January 17, 2017 at 19:46
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    There are several possible triggers. Early this month Beall published a new list, with 50% more standalone journals and about 25% more publishers. Last month he called an Indian city the world’s most corrupt city. Lots of new anger to go around.

    Reply
  • January 17, 2017 at 20:16
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    There are really two issues at play here. Most simply, it would be good to know what happened to Beall and why his sites have been purged – until then, everything is just idle speculation. More central is whether the scholarly communication world should depend so much on the opinions of a person who is a strident anti-OA activist and conspiracy theorist and whose writings are increasingly unhinged. (Don’t believe me? Read them!) Many of the “publishers” damned in his list are indeed bad actors and frauds, and everyone who supports OA should be willing to admit that the movement has spawned a scam industry. But Beall has too often injected his rabid libertarian and frankly racist politics into the mix, which calls into question almost everything he has done. Blacklisting is an inherently negative and confrontational approach to a serious problem, and it’s time to find another way to showcase the successful examples of open scholarship rather than playing a whack-a-mole game against the frauds.

    Reply
    • January 17, 2017 at 20:33
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      You and others are free to disagree vocally with Beall on whatever issue.

      But the issue here is that a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) appears to have been used to effectively silence Beall and his list(s). This is deeply anti-intellectual and likely counterproductive. There are many, more mature ways to handle that conflict.

  • January 17, 2017 at 20:47
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    Cabell’s use of the term “threats & politics” (especially politics) does suggest that the Uni pulled his plug based on the threat of litigation.

    Reply
  • Pingback:Why did Beall's List of potential predatory publishers go dark? - Retraction Watch at Retraction Watch

  • January 17, 2017 at 22:34
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    Olga Koz, you submitted an comment that suggested that Beall was open to answering some questions. However, it looks like it contains a personal phone number. I am not entirely comfortable with having that posted here since a brief Internet search shows that it is not commonly known and might constitute doxing.

    If Beall is open to answering some questions, he has received emails from myself, Leonid Schneider and Retraction Watch.

    Reply
  • January 17, 2017 at 23:19
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    Jeffrey Beall should be criminally prosecuted, if not in the US, then in the Hague. Even though his blog brought some value to the discussion of unscholarly OA journals, he nonetheless directed alot of false claims, causing tremendous injury, personal and professional, to countless numbers of individuals, publishers and organizations. He should be made to release the full content of every blog post he ever published, because that information was in the public domain. So, by suddenly removing all information, he has not only acted cowardly, but irresponsibly.

    Reply
    • January 18, 2017 at 01:05
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      You think writing a list on the Internet is equivalent to crimes against humanity, genocide or war crimes? If you were laboring under the impression that your comment had any level of substantive or intellectually honest content, I think you are grossly mistaken.

      Also, it is not true that his blog posts are in the public domain. If nothing else is explicitly stated, it is under copyright.

      You are welcome to disagree with Beall and his lists, but this is not about whether or not Beall is right on any particular issue. It is about whether it is acceptable for critics to use lawsuits as a means to get unwelcome content removed instead of taking (or ignoring) the debate about issues. Even if this particular event should turn out to not be triggered by a lawsuit (or similar), Beall has been subjected to this before.

    • January 18, 2017 at 09:04
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      Thanks for your response, Emil, however, I don’t think this is a case of SLAPP, but a case of libel since freedom of speech still needs a border and bottom.

      Leaving Beall’s personal standards, obvious bias and unprofessional expressions out of discussion, just think about that, how many of the thousands of journals in his list were sentenced after rigorous investigation? Actually, he only looked up if the publishers are OA and new, if they are OA and located in developing countries, and if they are OA while he can seek one single complaint from one ex-author, ex-reviewer or ex-editor. Only with that information, he lists a journal in. Why don’t see there are much more scholars having a fruitful collaboration with the journals than these ex-s? (Usually, these ex-s intend to attack the journals because they were unhappy, because their papers were rejected by the journal, review comments or suggestions were not taken by the journal. Beall provided them a platform to let their unhappiness burst out and take revenge on the journals).

      There are predatory journals in his list, but can anyone assure that all the journals in his list are predatory with the “investigation” performed by him? If not, what his action means to those journals that are not “predatory”, to those authors and their research published in the journals, to the reviewers and editors involved in the journals? Libel just took him a couple of minutes and no other cost, but to the journals built up by a group of scholars that devoted huge time and energy, it is a fabricated but fatal devastation. To these journals and scholars, the broad, solid devastation he caused without solid evidence, is libel.

    • January 18, 2017 at 12:53
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      That is a real troll comment and it is chicken shit to hide behind the moniker OA anonymous.

    • January 18, 2017 at 15:22
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      James C Coyne, I agree that it is a troll comment. However, I decided to use a much weaker comment moderation for this particular post to preempt the whole “you talk about potential lawsuit threat, but won’t publish critical comments” nonsense (although the lawsuit hypothesis seems more unlikely right now).

      Also, anti-Beall trolls are expert at making a fool of themselves and the position they advocate.

    • January 18, 2017 at 15:28
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      Joshua, I am leaning towards a voluntary retraction of the list unrelated to any lawsuit threat at the moment because of the recent developments.

      I fully admit that the list is not perfect and probably contain errors based on pure statistical reasons since all methods have an error rate. I am sure there is at least one error in the total amount of material ever produced by Beall.

      But the way to handle his list is not to leverage enormous legal power to silence an individual, but to take seriously consider his objections and fix any problems. Be transparent to the world and prove that they are not predatory. Everyone benefits from this. Instead, people have (although probably not in this particular event) resorted to various legal threats to attempt to force him to stay quiet. This is (or was) the key issue in this post.

  • January 18, 2017 at 13:30
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    Beall provided a list of OA publishers and journals that gave scholars a good starting point for exploring new avenues of publication; a quick reference in a pinch. Also, he has a mechanism in place to allow an appeal by publishers/journals who felt they were incorrectly identified as being predatory; though, his blog also provided details for what caused publishers/journals to be included on the list. Did that appeal process work and were legit publishers/journals able to win appeals? I don’t know (and perhaps that will be at the heart of a lawsuit if this is about a lawsuit). And sure, there could be more traditional journals that also acted predatory in nature. His lists were about open access and certainly the biggest problems popped up in OA. The omission by Beall is not a weakness of his list; rather, it is an opportunity for someone else to step up and maintain a database of questionable practices in the traditional realm.

    Reply
    • January 18, 2017 at 15:44
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      Thank you for your balanced contribution to this comment section.

      It looks like Cabell’s will host their own curated blacklist soon, but it might not be freely available.

  • January 18, 2017 at 14:03
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    Actually, Karl, Beall’s being wrong might be an issue. Slander and libel are wrong and if the person slandered or libeled uses the threat of a lawsuit to stop or reduce the harm that is arguably a good thing.

    Reply
    • January 18, 2017 at 15:33
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      Here is were we diverge. I think it is much more vital to protect freedom of expression of individuals (especially if they are highlighting misuse, abuse or other issues like that) than to protect large corporations from criticism.

      Corporations could easily take his criticisms seriously, fix the problem(s) and become a lot more transparent and demonstrate in open discussion that they are, in fact, not predatory. Resorting to legal threats is, I think, a sign of weakness. It is also often unproductive for the plaintiff due to the Streisand effect, so no one really benefits from it.

    • January 18, 2017 at 15:59
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      The vast majority of the over 10,000 journals on Beall’s lists are very small businesses in developing countries, the opposite of the large corporations that publish the conventional high priced journals that Beall is protecting. A great many are standalone journals with APCs of about $100, publishing a few hundred articles a year.

      Moreover, these thousands of low cost journals are publishing hundreds of thousands of scientific articles a year, a million or more to date by some estimates. If Beall is slandering the journals he is also slandering this vast group of author’s, also from developing countries.

    • January 18, 2017 at 16:16
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      The world has rapidly changed during the past few decades. The World Bank now rejects the term developing world because it does not fit with the distribution of world economy. Furthermore, even smaller corporations can take steps to fix any problems and increase transparency and it is probably easier for them to do so than larger corporations.

      Criticizing a journal or publisher as predatory is not a criticism of the authors that have been taken in by those allegedly predatory journals. On the contrary, they would be victims of the publisher and highlighting journals as predatory would protect, not slander, those authors. It is also not really legally possible to slander or libel someone indirectly or by proxy. There has to be a clearly identified (physical or legal) person.

      You also seem to be claiming that Beall is protecting conventional journals. But choosing to focus on a particular problem is not the same as dismissing the idea that other problems exists elsewhere. I think you are performing the fallacy of relative privation.

    • January 18, 2017 at 17:28
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      You seem to have missed my point, Emil. You simply assume that the 12,000 or so journals on Beall’s list are all somehow victimizing the million or so authors they are publishing. My belief is that the vast majority of these journals are legitimate, but they have a low cost business model that Beall has targeted along with the actual predatory journals.

      I also use the term emerging economies, if you prefer that. (UNESCO still uses developing countries.) What I see happening is that the emerging economies are doing lots of research and there is in parallel an emerging low cost OA journal model, with an APC of around $100, compared to the $3000 the big established publishers are charging. A $100 journal looks nothing like a $3000 journal and Beall’s criteria are discriminatory in this regard. This has the effect of protecting the high cost journals.

      But the low cost model is well suited to the emerging economies, where researchers have very little money.

    • January 18, 2017 at 19:26
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      I have never claimed or assumed “that the 12,000 or so journals on Beall’s list are all somehow victimizing the million or so authors they are publishing”. What I have claimed is that the authors who have been taken in by predatory journals are victims of the publisher.

      Show me evidence that being “low cost” is enough to get on the publisher blacklist.

    • January 18, 2017 at 20:28
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      Emil, you say that you have not “claimed or assumed that the 12,000 or so journals on Beall’s list are all somehow victimizing the million or so authors they are publishing. What I have claimed is that the authors who have been taken in by predatory journals are victims of the publisher.”

      The question then becomes what fraction of the 12,000 or so journals is actually predatory and what fraction of the million or so authors have been taken in. I think the fraction is very small in both cases, because these researchers are not stupid. If so then Beall is in fact defaming a lot of legitimate low cost journals (and their authors by implication).

      Lots of Beall’s supposed criteria will pick up $100 APC journals, because the criteria are based on $3000 journals. Having a sophisticated website for example (which DOAJ also uses). Having a general name is another. So is doing extensive peer review, because peer review is expensive, a luxury.

      But as you may know, Beall never presents why a given journal or publisher has been classified as predatory. One is told that it is in the blog and my experiments in finding these reasons all failed. In one case it seemed that a publisher was classified as predatory simply because their address was an apartment, not an office. If a $100 journal publishes 100 articles in a year their budget is $10,000, while a $3000 journal has $300,000 to spend. The difference is enormous. When I first studied Beall’s writings it quickly became clear that he was including the low cost business model, simply because it does not meet his high priced journal standards.

      You might look at Shen and Bjork and ask how this tremendous growth in low cost publications can be predatory? I think it cannot be. There are too many journals and too many articles.
      See http://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-015-0469-2

    • January 18, 2017 at 21:02
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      Stop squirming. Show me evidence that merely being “low cost” is enough to get on the publisher blacklist. There is an official list of criteria. Go on.

    • January 18, 2017 at 21:52
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      The evidence is that thousands of low cost journals on the blacklist are publishing millions of articles. But I am not claiming that every low cost journal is on the blacklist, just that many are.

  • Pingback:Will we see Jeffrey Beall’s predatory journal list in a new avatar? | Science Chronicle

  • January 18, 2017 at 14:30
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    Reblogged this on Ressources électroniques des bibliothèques de l'UQAM and commented:
    Bonjour,
    Le blog de Jeffrey Beall, ainsi que sa page Facebook et son profil d’employé à l’université de Colorado à Denver sont vides depuis le 15 janvier dernier. Que se passe-t-il? Monsieur Beall n’a pas commenté sur la disparition de son contenu. Il est connu pour la fameuse liste de “Predatory open-access publishers”. Je suis stupéfiée ce matin !

    Reply
    • January 19, 2017 at 22:35
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      This is now fixed and changed to “Meanwhile, Emil Karlsson has posted the links to the cached copies of Dr. Baell’s lists.”

  • January 18, 2017 at 16:16
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    I have to say I’m a bit astonished by some of these comments. I come down fairly strongly on the “Beall’s list did more harm than good” side of the debate (especially given the lack of transparency, but also given his recent anti-OA screeds that I don’t think can be separated from the list). That said, there is no doubt in my mind that the same freedom of expression that allows me to say that Beall’s list is crap should allow him to say that OA is a communist conspiracy and that Frontiers publishes junk science (for example). These are clearly statements of opinion, not fact, and making strongly expressed opinions legally (let alone physically) risky does a tremendous disservice to academia and the public sphere at large. In a way, I’m even more troubled if this turns out to be due to personal and political threats rather than a lawsuit. While SLAPPs are bad, there’s at least some level of recourse and transparency. Scaring scholars into silence is, well, scary.

    Reply
    • January 18, 2017 at 16:28
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      Scary indeed. I fully agree that both Beall and critics of Beall should have the ability to voice their concerns and opinions.

  • January 18, 2017 at 16:22
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    It might be interesting to compare the 2016 and 2017 lists for clues as to who might be behind this. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the drop came so quickly after the 2017 list was published. Also, it seems incredible to me that the 2017 lists were archived so soon after being published and before being taken down (mere hours before!). It is almost as if someone wanted to ensure the list was available, but reduce the liability by having it on their own site… It always seemed like an incredible amount of work to investigate these rapidly increasing sketchy journals, so I’m hoping it is simply a case of the workload increasing beyond the demands of one person’s time..

    Reply
    • January 18, 2017 at 16:38
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      Maybe, but any entity on the 2016 list might just have had enough. The new lists had been up for about 1-2 weeks before it got taken down. The caches are taken either automatically and/or by people (depending on what service is used). If Beall had wanted to ensure that the list would be available but not having it on his own website, he could just have started an anonymous blog and used the Tor network and published it there.

      I am still eager to learn more about the “why” reason behind why he took the lists down, but would like to refrain from conspiratorial thinking at this point.

    • January 18, 2017 at 16:52
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      Why do you look so hard? Perhaps J. Beall was just tired of being a target of constant bullying and decided to say “adios”.

    • January 18, 2017 at 19:19
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      The timing makes it unlikely. If you’re sick of the hassling and being a target, why come out with a 2017 list?

  • January 18, 2017 at 17:03
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    Maybe ‘conspiratorial’ is a bit of a stretch, and absolutely true that someone who had been on the list for more than a year and simply had enough could easily be involved. I’m just thinking I’d look at the changes first. It seems the statement by Cabell’s certainly implies a threat of some kind, although if Beall’s academic freedom is under attack, I’m dismayed his university hasn’t produced a statement. If it was simply that the work had grown beyond his capacity to keep up, or he is planning a joint venture with Cabell’s why not simply leave the information up along with a statement that this was no longer being maintained? Emil, I’m glad you’re watching out for this and will be curious to see what transpires

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  • January 19, 2017 at 03:40
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    Now that any rumors of legal action have been quashed, I think it is quite clear that Mr. Beall has (perhaps unilaterally) removed his list to avoid competing with the commercial product to be offered by Cabell’s. Meanwhile, Cabell’s tweet, with its unfounded implications of legal threats and hashtag “academic mafia” is unprofessional and undermines their supposed role as guardians of truth.

    It was unprofessional to just vanish like that, but the loss of Beall’s list is no great loss. It was too influenced by his biases (particularly against open access–the clue is in the name–and India) and taken too seriously by too many (to Beall’s credit, he only calls publishers “possibly” predatory, but almost everybody forgets that qualifier).

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  • January 19, 2017 at 03:53
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    “But the way to handle his list is not to leverage enormous legal power to silence an individual, but to take seriously consider his objections and fix any problems. Be transparent to the world and prove that they are not predatory. Everyone benefits from this. Instead, people have (although probably not in this particular event) resorted to various legal threats to attempt to force him to stay quiet. This is (or was) the key issue in this post.”

    Thanks Emil, I do agree with this piece. But if you do a research on the internet, you will find there are indeed publishers responded to Beall’s attack by being transparent: they applied for investigation performed by institutions like COPE, OASPA and publicized the conclusion. And actually, from multiple angles, OA is much more transparent than past publishing models.

    On the contrary, it was Beall that was not transparent. He seldom informed the public why each journal was listed; he removed a couple of journals from his list almost silently and did not prove the improvement that the journals had done; he didn’t take most appeals into account. Originally, I found the list useful, but gradually, I feel that I should not publish in any OA journal, and I don’t understand what I should trust, the PMC, SCIE, Scopus or Beall.

    If had to be more transparent and free in speech, perhaps this issue should be judged by a jury. If any publisher accuses Beall for libel, they should provide their evidence to prove they are clean; if Beall announced any journal is predatory, he should face the accusation. This is fair. As to possible costs, perhaps Beall fan can collect by crowdfunding, or Beall can afford it using the money he might receive from protecting and removing journals – I have no evidence on this, just a personal assumption, like some people may assume some journals pay institutional membership for a shield, so that they can publish papers, keep authors’ payment then retract a hundred of papers a time seeming so upright while Beall kept blind on these cases…

    As a scholar, I believe certification ought to be offered by those institutions, ranking ought to be offered by those databases, at least at this stage. Whatever, this issue indeed reflects an urgent need of surveillance in this OA trend, and I don’t wish Beall as an individual and his primary job would be hurt.

    And thanks for providing me the freedom of speech though you are thinking I am fooling myself. You did a much better job than Beall if the public has seen how he responded to appeals and different voices. I will stop arguing as most scholars like me have our own, independent judge, but I will keep watching this.

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  • January 19, 2017 at 08:34
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    Thank you very much for the excellent coverage of the Beall case. Just a few days before the web page was taken down we completed a study on (allegedly) predatory journals in Italy:

    http://www.lem.sssup.it/WPLem/2017-01.html

    We found (as other studies did) that the list is not perfect but very informative. With respect to the discussion on this blog, three points are worth mentioning:

    1. It is not just about developing word: in Italy the problem of dodgy journals is significant and increasing.
    2. It is not just about Open Access: among the top (allegedly) predatory journals chosen by Italian researchers there are important not Open Access journals.
    3. White lists (e.g. Scopus) are also very imperfect.

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  • January 19, 2017 at 13:26
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    2 questions: 1/ Why did the university find it necessary to state that Beall would remain as faculty? Was that ever in doubt? Isn’t he tenured? 2/ Why this tepid message from the university? Why are they not standing side by side with their faculty member defending his academic freedom and freedom of speech?

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    • January 19, 2017 at 15:27
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      1. Because Beall took down his staff page and they wanted to clarify between the competing hypotheses of “staff page had content about allegedly predatory journals” and “Beall got kicked out from his university”.

      2. Possibly because it looks like it is a decision made by Beall. Even if it is due to threats and politics as Lacey E. Earle stated, Beall might not have given sufficient detail to the university in the first place, so they might just be reporting what he told them.

  • January 19, 2017 at 15:49
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    I recall reading Beall’s final post before the site went silent. I did not read it immediately after publication on the 10th, but waited perhaps a day or two to look it over. In that post, he linked to two previous articles of his, one from 2012 and one from 2015. The 2012 link led me to a “service is no longer available page,” whereas the 2015 link was still functional. A short period later, the 2015 link became dead as well. This was ultimately the fate of the rest of the site.

    Was Beall removing posts one by one or in batches, perhaps by date & starting with the oldest? There are several ways to shutdown/delete a WordPress site*, yet Beall chose not to completely delete his page, as his followers (seen as # of followers) remain on the site and his domain is accessible. Why did he opt not to remove it completely? Would the archived links have still been available if he deleted the domain? Was this his method of preserving enough of the site for archiving purposes or just for the record?

    Also, I was curious about why he would remove his public Facebook, but not his Twitter? Did he opt to make his Facebook private because he wanted to continue using it to contact close others, but be out of public view, whereas the Twitter was purely for public/professional communication purposes?

    *How to delete a WordPress blog:
    http://m.wikihow.com/Delete-a-WordPress.Com-Blog

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    • January 19, 2017 at 16:13
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      We only know the posts are gone, but on WordPress you can either delete, convert to draft or privately publish posts. This can be done in batches with just a few clicks. Beall probably did not remove it completely because he added in the “this service is no longer available” to get people to understand that he was retracting his lists, but not that he rage-quit the Internet. His Facebook page was not a personal page but a Facebook page for the list. His Twitter account, on the other hand, is a personal account. He did not rage-quit the Internet in total and probably want a channel to communicate to the world with. He will still do research, just not related to open access.

  • January 23, 2017 at 03:48
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    Beall’s service to science and scientists is necessary to the point that it’s a job that the science community needs to address by setting up a think tank and watchdog funded by the universities with a legal department to take on the predators. I certainly wish there was self-policing here in Canada with literary publishers. We have a tremendous problem publishers who routinely abuse the people they are supposed to be supporting to the point where our culture in general is suffering on a massive scale. Here is my experience: http://duncanweller1.blogspot.ca/2015/05/international-con-artist-dimiter-savoff.html

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    • January 24, 2017 at 12:30
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      Unfortunately the reasons for each journal being listed are buried in the blog, which is now lost. Is the blog archive archived anywhere?

    • March 27, 2017 at 18:28
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      I found the 2017 list but not the blog which supposedly explains the entries on the list. Anyone found the blog?

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    • March 27, 2017 at 18:43
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      Actually it is the New Yorker, not New York Magazine, a very big difference. They have a quote from Beall saying he shut down due to pressure from his University, which is new news.

      Unfortunately the New Yorker piece misses the fact that Beall’s list is also a revolution in low cost OA publishing. See my http://davidwojick.blogspot.com/2017/02/beall-based-indian-turmoil.html

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