The term “institute” is used a lot these days in the open-access scholarly publishing industry. It’s used to add credibility to an operation that is essentially a scholarly vanity press.
Why just be a mere publisher when you can be an institute? As an added bonus, institutes can also sponsor conferences, providing an additional revenue stream for their owners.
I recently added the following two publishers to my list of questionable open-access publishers:
First, the Macrothink Institute uses the Open Journal Systems software to publish its twenty journal titles. The journals all cover broad areas of study and are mostly in the fields of biology, economics, general science, and social sciences.
The institute claims to be based in Las Vegas, Nevada. It states its mission as “Thinking about tomorrow, dedication to the development of science and research.” The “Pay Publication Fee” link is displayed prominently.
The site doesn’t explain the institute’s name. Why “Macrothink”? What does Macrothink mean exactly? Or is it just a trendy term that will attract authors and fees?
This publisher’s articles all have DOIs and the Creative Commons licenses are clearly stated.
Still, I am concerned about an organization calling itself an institute when it is really just a vanity press. This false designation is misleading.
This is another scholarly vanity press that markets itself as an institute. Using clever marketing techniques, bright colors, money-saving offers, and diverse products, this publisher sells authors a method of adding publications to their vitas with minimal work.
In fact, this publisher has a very suspect peer-review process. According to the Institute, its peer-review process involves the following steps:
- Authors submit articles for publication
- The author registers for the conference/webinar of his or her choosing
- The author completes two (2) blind reviews of work submitted by other authors in the same discipline and subject matter. The editor of the journal is responsible for coordination of the process.
- Authors are expected to use the peer review rubric and return completed peer reviews within two (2) weeks of receipt from the editor.
- Once the two (2) reviews are completed, the author’s reviewed manuscript is returned with the publication decisions.
So it appears that to become a peer reviewer, all you have to do is submit a paper. The site boasts that articles can be published within a month of submission.
The site requires visitors to establish a login/password to access its content. The site’s seventeen journals mostly cover education and business. The journals have only a few articles, and each article constitutes a separate issue.
The articles all bear a copyright statement at the table of contents level, but the PDFs themselves have no licensing information. So, while the articles are open access, they are copyrighted.
There are already several other open-access publishers that market themselves as institutes, and I expect many more to appear in the coming months.