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.