29 January 2010

More journals that smell like spam

A while ago, I shared a loopy email from an Indian scientific publisher asking me to publish in their journal. I got another one, and it’s an interesting study in convergence. For entirely different reasons, this one also convinces me not to take it seriously.

This is a group called Science Publications. The email they sent is actually simple, clean, and correctly spelled. Although that it’s signed only by “Editor,” not a person with, you know, a name is a bit of a worry.
Since I do neurobiology, I had a look at the American Journal of Neuroscience. And almost every page on that website makes my bullshit detector ping.

  • The current issue has exactly one article. For a journal that is supposed to be published every six months, one article is a pretty slim haul.
  • Claims to be at volume 6, but clicking the “back issues” page shows nothing of volumes 1 through 5.
  • The editorial board contains three people. No institutional affiliations are given. Compare this to the journal Neuroscience, which lists an editor-in-chief, an associate editor, seventeen section editors, and seventy-three members of the editorial board, and each one has an institution listed by the name.
  • The authors’ instructions refuse to accept references that are not on the internet.
  • The critical page is, naturally, “Method of payment.” So, there will be a fee for publishing or processing or something. But they don’t tell you how much it is. If it’s on the site, it’s hidden pretty deep.

That’s one journal. Another annoys me by spelling “online” as “OnLine” in its title: a weird compound neologism that nobody uses.

It’s be great that the publishing revolution creates the potential for new journals. But from a research author’s point of view, it’s the wild, wild west out there. And it’s not clear yet who are the honest settlers and who are the cattle barons and con men.

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