Scholarly Indexes are Unwittingly “Legitimizing” Corrupt Publishers

The EBSCO Headquarters.

The EBSCO Headquarters in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
[Photo by John Phelan.]

I have attended many sessions at library conferences sponsored by companies that license scholarly journal indexes to academic libraries. These products used to be called abstracting and indexing services. Now they’re most commonly called journal indexes or scholarly indexes. Their journal coverage is increasing at a suspiciously-fast rate.

Examples of these indexes include EBSCO and its various index products, such as Academic Search Premier, also Scopus and Gale products. Some of these indexes now offer full text as an option as well, or they enable the use of open URLs that link to a library’s copy of the full text.

Companies like these compete with one another for libraries’ business. One of their selling points is the number of journals that they index.

Unfortunately, some of these companies have begun indexing predatory publishers’ content in order to increase the number of journals they index. Their sales pitches then compare their numbers with those of other companies.

For example, EBSCO has signed an agreement to index the independent journal World Journal of Science and Technology (WJST). This journal, published in Karnataka, India, has a big problem with piracy in the form of plagiarism. Moreover, the journal has a very broad coverage which makes it a good place for authors to submit articles rejected elsewhere. Journals like this one specialize in accepting articles that other better-quality journals will not, so WJST is essentially a vanity press.

Yet, EBSCO has signed a contract with the journal to index its content. We think that EBSCO enters into contracts with such journals to increase the number of titles it indexes and advertises to librarians.

In the minds of many, a journal being selected for indexing in an international abstracting and indexing service is a mark of quality. People assume that the major indexers will only include the best journals in their indexing portfolios.

I think this assumption is no longer true. Being selected for indexing is no longer a measure of a journal’s quality.

15 Responses to Scholarly Indexes are Unwittingly “Legitimizing” Corrupt Publishers

  1. Robin Hood says:

    For comapnies like EBSCO and Elsevier, there is only one way to spell quality: PROFIT. Unfortunately, 95% of the academic community is having their hood pulled over their eyes. Fancy web-sites and snazzy technology, backed by robust legal teams. This is the new face of the mega-predators who legitimize the lower-level predators. There is only one word for this: collusion. If Elsevier and EBSCO have been formally informed about the fraudulent activities and unscholarly and poor academic quality of many journals on this blog and other sites, and they continue to “index” and “abstract” and provide full text services, at a cost, of course, then nothing differentiates the moral standing of EBSCO, Elsevier and the predators on Jeff’s blog. Unfortunately, and this is the correct use of the word unfortunately in this context, the scientific community continues to sleep with the enemy, partially because there are few honest choices. If you observe the 9 Mb Excel file of journals indexed by Scopus, you will find so many corrupt, fraudulent and academically pathetic journals, you will begin to wonder, is Scopus a measure of quality, or a measure of power? The same rationale applies to Thomson Reuters Impact Factor. For years, I have been critical of Elsevier and EBSCO precisely for this reason (and others) and I have always been ridiculed and criticised, even by Jeff, for pointing out the obvious truth. Due recognition of the truth is always too late. The damage is already done. Only oen solution now: boycott Elsevier and EBSCO. And do you know why this won’t work now? Because they have accumulated too much power. Many of my blog entries on this blog were cut because I was critical of Elsevier for valid reasons such as this one, but there is this fear of the all-powerful publishing giants. This blind protection of corporations needs to stop and those who are supporting the real fraudstsres need to be exposed. This is the calssical exmaple of crony capitalism, where fraud is the base of profits. This is not a conspiracy theory. The proof lies right before your eyes.

  2. Shawn says:

    Ebsco full-text databases will include just about anything. As far as I know, the A&Is (Not the abstract databass but the actual A&Is) are fairly exclusive.

  3. naser says:

    The link for World Journal of Science and Technology
    worldjournalofscience.com/ does not work. May be this site has become down for copyright violation. I do believe cheaters will face much trouble in long term doing business as Open Text Publisher.

    Even if Scopus index them, scientific society can take a look at the figures like h-index, g-index or highest index and when these numbers become insignificant, people simply could call them predatory publiser.

    African Journal of Business Management is a good example for this case where it was actually listed on Scopus and ISI a couple of years ago and when they acted as pay-me-publish, they lost their indexation in both. Even Scopus did not show any trace of this publisher when some one tried the name of journal using “all field” and placing the name of journal in qutations.

    One of our colleague had actual experience when his PhD student wanted to publish his paper where it had been published somewhere else. The publisher could easily figure this issue even using a simple search, but it seemed that thet preferred to receive the 550$ and published the paper, which did not have even a good quality. My colleage stoped this guy and asked him to make significant contribution and re-submit the paper.

    The problem, as jeff specified in other posting, is that most of predatory publishers make false statements about their journals being listed on ISI, Scopus, etc. I sincerely encourage Jeffry to create a page for these publishers and call them criminal!

    Best
    Naser

  4. Wil says:

    EBSCO also has a substantial chunk of content by Icon Group International (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Icon%20Group%20International&ie=UTF8&search-alias=books&sort=relevancerank) in one of their premium business databases. Amazon link is relevant–they have 550k items listed there.

    They’re listed in EBSCO under Philip M.Parker, who was in the New York times and the Guardian for using software algorithms to compile books automatically from publically available web content (Example: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/14/business/media/14link.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0).

    There are 238,854 Results for Boolean/Phrase: AR “Parker, Philip M.”

    Hopefully those links work.

  5. A Khan says:

    I second the opinion of Shawn. EBSCO, PROQUEST, CABI etc still maintain good evaluation criteria and it is not easy to be included. OK, I do agree that some low quality journals are there. But still the overall quality is OK. Exception is not the rule. For some exceptions, you can not blame the entire system. These low quality journals can be from Open access journals or from subscription based journal. Therefore, if you are speaking about the faults of EBSCO, you should discuss both OA as well as subscription based journals. It will complete the discussion.
    I expect more patience when talking about others’ small error. Please refer to the entirety of the criterion/error from both side. It will give you more credibility. You should remember that nobody is perfect. And your list is also not perfect and your evaluation criteria are also not perfect (Reference you have deleted many silly or laughable reasons from your version 1 criteria (http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/08/04/criteria-for-determining-predatory-open-access-publishers/) and improved it in version 2 (http://scholarlyoa.com/2012/11/30/criteria-for-determining-predatory-open-access-publishers-2nd-edition/)). Therefore, it will not be justified to cancel all your hard work by showing 4-5 borderline publishers, who were dropped previously from your version 1 list or in future some more names may be dropped if they show improvement in publishing practice.

    As Elsevier published 6-8 fake journals, you can not blame that total Elsevier quality went down or Elsevier is promoting fake journals (Reference: Elsevier published 6 fake journals: Source: http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/27383/title/Elsevier-published-6-fake-journals/ or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsevier). Most of these AI agencies are good and maintain quality.

  6. Robin Hood says:

    Mr Khan, Shawn was actually criticising EBSCO, but seems your poor understanding of the English language has prevented you from understanding the former part of his comment. Rather than spewing out what Wikipedia feeds you, you need to spend more time sending e-mails to people in top places and challenging the status quo. It’s exactly because there are exceptions to the rule that there should be boycotts and severe penalties. Let’s remember what rank Elsevier has in the world in terms of science journal publishing. Just in case you don’t know. No. 1. And let’s remember who the parent company of Elsevier is: Reed-Elsevier. Ans let’s also remember that there was a strong campaign against Elsevier last year that turned into a boycott for its predatory pricing policies. This is because we should demand nothing less than perfection from the No. 1. Have you seen EBSCO pull fraudulent journals or journals where scientific quality, fake editors, or a host of other problems exist? Of course not. Same for Elsevier. Same for Thomson Reuters. It is for this reason that DOAJ has panicked and established external quality control teams to monitor who is included. However, what is DOAJ doing about those predators that are already included? They should throw them out. Because, as I indicated above, profits come first and pseudo-quality second. The predation in OA is relevant to Elsevier because Elsevier also publishes OA journals, but its operations, like those of Springer, are out of India, so Elsevier and Springer are monitoring this blog carefully because the association of OA predators with India could tarnish their reputation as they seek greater profits for their shareholders while paying lower costs for labor. Not unlike Walmart. So try to be more neutral in your blind love towards Elsevier. CABI is a non-profit organization with a 20 million US$ profit margin! Don’t be fooled by what their web-sites and marketing managers spew at you: that’s all PR meant to be a smoke screen. How much fraud, abuse, irregularities and other serious problems in Elsevier journals are reported to the public, either by Elsevier or by the scientific public? Almost nothing. Because the masses have been silenced. So, in the same way in which Jeff’s blog represents a vocal and powerful complaint against the OA predators, they share the publishing stage with Elsevier, EBSCO, and the rest and thus those companies deserve equally critical scrutiny. Faults, errors, or frauds that are detected should be publically disclosed, without fear of retribution. As equally as we are critical of the OA publishers, we should also be balanced in our criticisms of the established publishers and how they may have reached such positions of power. There are no coincidences or destiny, only pre-determined choices. If enough voices demand change in EBSCO, Elsevier and others, as we are doing here for OA journals, then maybe we could see change and the fraudsters might start to fear the voice of the masses. As for WJST, that fraudulent publisher is still there: http://worldjournalofscience.com/index.php/wjst/, alive and kicking. Remember, fraud is the active will to deceive someone, and is a criminal activity in most countries, so, I don’t see why the tender-hearted on this blog seem to object to the word criminal.

  7. A Khan says:

    I support Shawn’s TOTAL comment. I support his criticism as well as other comments, where he points the strength of A&Is. It is more balanced. I hope if I point out some weakness of Journal Prep (Shawn Maloney is President of that org) then to complete the discussion, I must say what excellent service he is giving to academic community also. Otherwise I am biased. I praised his way of describing the system’s faults as well strengths. No system is perfect and we have to be neutral when describing facts.

    Similar way, I have lots of differences with Beall. But I really love his hard work, his passion to correct the system. At least he has dared to touch this issue. I believe that many borderline publishers in Beall’s list must appreciate his work, though their names are available in his list. They should be thankful that they are getting the knowledge from Beall’s analysis about their weakness and also getting chance to improve (if they wish to do so). Many big names are available in OA movement but who is giving a proper guidance to these new OA publishers. Nobody. At least from Beall’s blog new OA publishers are getting selfless and free peer review. And if they wish they can take those criticisms in positive sense and can improve their system. If anybody does not improve, Darwin’s theory will kill them slowly. As a person my responsibility is to praise Beall as well help him to correct some errors. I hope Beall also likes it (otherwise he would have moderated my comments and never published those comments. Some other commenter said that his/her comments were deleted or never published). This is the process of scientific peer review. “Reward, Punishment and Correction theory” is the main foundation of our social system. I praise Beall for his flexibility to accept criticism and also the great power to apply those criticism to develop a better system. Any kind of bigotry, whether academic or religious, is dangerous.

    I don’t support Robin Hood’s “Liberate Science 2012″ concept (Reference: http://metadata.posterous.com/83235355). I see lots of dramatic good potentiality in his revolutionary concept. As per my understanding, he wants to destroy all present traditional publishing system and he wants to create a new system, as the present traditional social / publication system is not perfect and is corrupt. Therefore, he wants to create everything from beginning. I find lots of good things in his concept. If it really comes then ‘a PERFECT system can be achieve’.
    But nobody can give guarantee that the new system will be faultless.
    It is more practical to agree and accept the truth that NO system is perfect. Our academic peer review or social peer review concepts are meant to minimize the errors and apply “Reward, Punishment and Correction theory” to develop a better system. In this regard I want recall Beall’s definition of predatory publishers “Predatory, open access publishers are those that unprofessionally exploit the author pays model of open access publishing (Gold OA) for their own profit”. My simple understanding tells me that “Legitimate GOLD open access publishers are those that PROFESSIONALLY exploit the author pays model of open access publishing (Gold OA) for their own profit”. No car can run without fuel. It means taking money or earning money by doing some business (here OA publishing) is not bad/unethical if you are providing your basic service honestly. For me a publisher’s basic service is ‘to work as a gatekeeper for academic scholarly publishing by providing peer review service’. If they are not working as a gatekeeper and accepting all the papers for their own profit then they are cheating. It may happen that any new OA publisher is unorganized initially and has no big office, operating from a small apartment from a developing country, use gmail/yahoo etc but if they are maintaining the main service (peer review) properly, then they are definitely contributing. Here I want recall the comments of Maria Hrynkiewicz: “…but as long as they safeguard the quality of the content and follow the best practices in terms of peer review, copyrights and funding mandates – they contribute to the better dissemination of science.” (Reference: http://www.nature.com/news/report?article=1.11385&comment=50956).

  8. Nils says:

    The only use I can see in these scholarly indexes is to help finding articles on a given subject. Being included doesn’t say anything on a journal’s quality. To some extent, bibliometric indices such as impact factors can give a measure of quality. However, they can be easily manipulated, as has been shown by Douglas Arnold in his article “Nefarious Numbers” available here:

    http://www.ima.umn.edu/~arnold/integrity.html

    An alternative are services that review the already published papers, such as MathSciNet and Zentralblatt Math. This is only possible, however, with the help of the whole research community who are willing to provide these reviews free of charge. The system isn’t perfect, peer review never is, but it works far better than any other system I have seen.

  9. Perhaps the indexing services should be encouraged to index ALL journals, good, bad and ugly, and then add criteria that allow us to see more easily which are the good, bad, and the ugly. In addition to ‘impact factors’ we need ‘academic status’ factors, including a ‘status pending’ or ‘suspected scam’ category for new journals that have not yet had time to prove themselves, or that do not provide adequate information about themselves.

  10. R V Krishnakumar says:

    A humble request to Dr.Beall. Please think about first cleansing this page from persons who use bogus/fake names. To ensure this, it may be made mandatory to upload a photograph and their, title, and affiliation. It is disgusting to see Robin Hood being impolite in countering arguments/points. To me he seems an expelled employee of some open access publishing house. The way he comments on Mr.Khan’s proficiency in English is uncalled for. If Robin Hood is English, let his fellow citizens know his arrogance, if he is a responsible Father, let his children know he can be uncivilised to even people whom he had not met; if he is an employee, let his colleagues know he can be barbaric. If Robin Hood is his real name, I think we need to know who he is? Not all who express their views are experts. This is a place for many to learn too!

  11. naser says:

    Nils

    I disagree with what the idea of saying impact factor cannot say anything about the quality of journals. A good quality paper can receive thousands of citations. For instance, the idea of Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) was first presented on European Journal of Operational Research published by Elsevier and it has received over 5300 times of citations. DEA is the basis of measuring relative efficiency in science and literally thousands of papers have been written based on this simple paper.

    There are many well known open access publishers who own highly cited papers.

    Based on a survey published by OpenTextPublication.com, h-index, g-index and high-index numbers for Journal of Coating are 453, 690 and 6320, respectively. In their ranking International Journal of Polymer Science maintains h-index, g-index and high-index numbers of 81, 151, 4158, respectively. These are high quality open text publishers.

    However, some novice predatory publishers listed on Bealls list try to show that they have similar numbers.

    For example take a look at

    International Journal of Industrial Engineering and Technology

    with the address http://tjprc.org/journals.php?jtype=2&id=9

    they claim they are indexed by ISI and many other well known indexes, which is a false statement. They claim they maintain IF of above one, which is another false statement. If you look at their papers’ citations on Google schoolar, which covers every thing you will see no paper with citation above 2. This means even low quality papers published elsewhere did not cite their journal.

    I encourage Jeffy Beall to prepare a separate list and introduce these people who have tarnished Open Text Publication society.

    Best
    Naser

    • Nils says:

      Naser,

      You are misquoting/misunderstanding my comment. I did not say that impact factors do not reflect a journal’s quality at all. I said that they can be manipulated. The case of Ji-Huan He, Mohammed El Naschie and others manipulating the impact factor of IJNSNS speaks volumes. Thus one should avoid relying on automatically computed bibliometric indices alone to judge a journal’s quality. Other aspects, like the journal’s perception in the community are more important.

      To give an example of what I mean, here is a list of ratings of mathematics journals by the Australian Research Council:

      http://www.ima.umn.edu/~arnold/math-journal-ratings/index.html

  12. naser says:

    Nils

    I read ratings of mathematics journals published by the Australian Research Council. According to This ranking system, Applied Mathematics and Computations maintains an excellent ranking of A. According to Scopus, the journal has h-index of 63, which means a good performance. However, this journal is in black list of scientific journals in some other countries, You may ask why and here is the reason:

    For some years, they had an easy process of review and the papers were getting accepted very easily. Some university professors published tens of papers in short amount of time and applied for university promotion. I can introduce a person who have published 50 ISI journals where 44 of them were published in this journal. Therefore, people became suspicious and kept this journal in black list.

    Ranking a journal based on its reputation may or may not work, properly. AMC is ranked A in Australia and in my personal opinion, it is a good journal, but many people were published for decision made solely because of fast review process AMC editor-in-chief made for a period of time.

    Best
    Naser

  13. Safi says:

    what is about Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences?

  14. Rafi says:

    What then is need to index a journal if the indexing bodies do not give journal any quality?

    I believe it the quality of the paper that is most important.

    In my own view of all the issue that has been discussed so far on this blog,the academicians and researchers are to blame because they are the one writing the papers,they also are the one doing double submission and unethical related issue about journal operation.

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