All about the International Scholarly Research Network

International Scholarly Research Network

Part of the International Scholarly Research Network's home page.

The International Scholarly Research Network (ISRN) is not really a network. Instead, it’s a publisher, or more precisely, a publisher’s imprint. ISRN is a brand of Hindawi Publishing Corporation based in Cairo, Egypt.

Hindawi publishes 86 titles under this brand, and the titles all begin with the initialism ISRN. Alphabetically, the first is ISRN Agronomy, and the last is ISRN Zoology. The journals all fall into the areas of science, technology and medicine.

This imprint is not on my list (above) of questionable publishers, but I am monitoring its progress. ISRN uses the gold open-access model of financing scholarly publishing. That is, it charges authors upon acceptance of an article. The normal fee for ISRN titles is US $500 per article, but some of the titles temporarily have no fees, and the publisher claims to waive fees for authors from certain developing countries.

The journals do not have editors. Instead, they have unusually large editorial boards, with many titles having as many as two hundred members or more, from around the world. Submissions are sent to two of the editorial board members who quickly review the paper and reply to Hindawi with their comments. Some unknown person at Hindawi then makes the final decision on whether to accept or reject the paper, or to return it to the author for revision.

Large editorial boards also help recruit article submissions; in this model the board members effectively function as salesmen for the journal, as the publisher makes its money not from subscriptions but from author fees.

The coverage of the journal titles is broad. Two examples are ISRN Botany and ISRN Civil Engineering. Broad journal coverage is typical of publishers that use the author-pays model. The broader the coverage a journal has, the more papers fall within its scope, generating more submissions and making more money for the publisher.

The journals then lack focus; they become loosely-connected anthologies, incoherent and desultory. Lacking editors-in-chief, they are faceless components of scholarly communication.

I will continue to monitor the progress of Hindawi’s International Scholarly Research Network brand.

20 Responses to All about the International Scholarly Research Network

  1. M.R. Maleki says:

    Hi many thanks for your valuable guidance. Would you please prvide me the Imavt Factor of this Journal as well (mrmaleki@ujiroft.ac.ir)

  2. David Eliezer says:

    very nice to have some independent information regarding this and other publishers… Thanks!

  3. Matt Wall says:

    I’ve just been contacted by these guys and asked to be on the editorial board for a new journal – ISRN physiology. After reading your post I’m pretty wary – should I be? Have you managed to dig up anything else about these journals? Thanks in advance…

  4. Darren Gosse says:

    I’ve been asked to write one of their spotlight articles.

    They say: “The Article Processing Charges required by ISRN Materials Science will be waived for all Spotlight Articles. Moreover, authors will be provided with an honorarium of $1,000 upon the completion of their Spotlight Article as a sign of appreciation for their efforts.”

    If they are outlaying, this sounds like an attempt to jump clear from the ruck of low-grade OA publishers, it seems to me. Hindawi are in my mind tarred with the same brush as many OA journals on your black list, and I am wondering ‘is that fair?’ Am I being biased towards the old school publishers? I’m having trouble deciding whether to take it up. Very hard to find info on the journal. I do recognize some names on the editorial board, though none I’d say were really eminent.

  5. Aleksandar says:

    based on your comment: “The broader the coverage a journal has, the more papers fall within its scope, generating more submissions and making more money for the publisher.”, what do you think of PLOS One? the scope can not be broader and I do not see any negative publicity about it.

    • There’s plenty of criticism of Plos One. Perhaps you need to look harder. To paraphrase one recent comment, Plos One is a repository masquerading as a journal. What separates Plos One from the predators is that Plos One has good intentions; the predators do not.

      • Aleksandar says:

        “What separates Plos One from the predators is that Plos One has good intentions; the predators do not.”
        this is really a subjective opinion.
        For example, I am the co-owner of InTech OA publisher (which is on your list), and I am pretty sure that we do not have any “bad” intentions. After all, two of us were scientists. I appreciate your work and energy you invest in clarifying the area of OA publishing, but the line between “good and bad guys” is so not clarified. At the end, it is based on someones subjective opinion, in this case of yours. We tried many times to talk with you openly, but without any success.

      • Aren’t all opinions subjective? Many others have criticized InTech as well, for example,

        http://poynder.blogspot.com/2011/10/oa-interviews-intechs-nicola-rylett.html

      • Aleksandar says:

        “Aren’t all opinions subjective?” – of course they are, and once again I really appreciate your opinion, but your list has too important impact to be based on opinions. I can not seriously comment your work and the list based on my opinion. I commented the fact that you are not implying the same “rules” to all, you are filtering them, which is not right and is not working toward everybody’s goal to explain misunderstandings about open access publishing.
        In scientific world (which I am part of) opinions do not matter, but arguments and facts.

  6. m says:

    Hi many thanks for your valuable information. Would you mind tell me about Impact Factor of ISRN materials science? My email is m.kheirkhah@ma.iut.ac.ir

  7. Ambrose Leung says:

    ISRN invited me to publish for free in their ISRN Economics. The requirement was to submit the paper within a certain time period which I did. After about a week of submission, I was asked to transfer my paper to ISRN Education due to content of the paper. They required my response within 24 hours, so I agreed to it in a rush as I was busy with other projects at the time. Then ISRN accepted our paper and said that there will be a $500 processing fee, which I am refusing to pay as I was invited to publish for free to begin with. Their reason is that because my paper has been transferred to a different journal and not the initial one that invited me. This is a scam and they are still harassing me for the $500.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience with Hindawi. This may be a case of bait-and-switch.

    • Ambrose Leung says:

      Update: My ordeal with ISRN is finally over after more than 2 months. The only way I can get them to finally withdraw my paper is by continuing to ignore their numerous messages asking me to pay the $500 processing fee. Initially when I responded to their messages, they just kept sending me similar messages urging me to pay. I am glad this is finally over.

      • charles Jr says:

        Ambrose i am curious .. how did it end? was your paper published in this journal or not? before submission did they state that there were no publication fees? because what i am seeing on their web page is that some journals have no fees required and on the others they state the fee.

  8. paul says:

    Hello,
    A very informative post -thank you! ISRN Neuroscience invited me to join their wide editorial board and I did that partially because I wanted to see as an “insider” how the process works for this group of journals that is somewhere in the gray zone when it comes to reputation. Here are pros and cons that I have noticed (and I have reviewed 4 times for them): Cons: the editor in chief is not a reputable person (what we are used to publishing in e.g. Elsevier journals) and I am not sure whether this person has a real capacity to make final decisions in controversial cases. Pros and cons in one :): in one case when a manuscript was iffy (in which an editor in chief would normally make a call without sending it to referees) they asked me to read the paper paying attention to a questionable set of data to assess whether I had any reservations. Once I described the design was flawed, they provided their own similar pre-assessment and rejected the paper right away. It means that someone actually pre-screens those papers, but having a real editor in chief would make their life easier. Pro: 2 out of 4 manuscripts that myself and the second referee deemed as inadequate were rejected flat out. The decent papers were published after significant revisions.

  9. charles Jr says:

    even after this long time.. this article is really interesting. i have have visited the website of this group and they clear indicated that there are no processing fees required for some journals .

    do you have any new information in regards to the ISRN? or even their latest impact factor if known..

    thank you

    • Ambrose Leung says:

      Charles, I ended up withdrawing my paper successfully from ISRN. I was initially attracted to submit a paper there because no fee was required within a given period of time. When they asked me to switch my paper to another one of their journal, I was assuming that there would be no fee because that’s how it started. It turned out that was their “bait and switch”. They approved the publication of my paper in the other journal and asked me for the fee. It was only after almost 3 months of insisting not to pay the high fee that they finally withdrew my paper. I strongly recommend NOT to submit your papers to ISRN. It is not an honest organization.

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