Will Article Promotion Companies Make Article-Level Metrics Obsolete ?

Educational Researches

Danger Will Robinson!

Scientists beware: There is a new scholarly publishing-related scheme that aims to separate you from your money. I recently blogged about several emerging, web-based companies that promise to promote individual scholarly articles for a fee. There no common term to describe this scheme, so I am making one up: Article Promotion Companies, or APCs. If you haven’t yet received a spam email from one of these companies, you will soon. They will write you about one of your recent articles and offer to promote it for you on their websites. The fees range from about USD $15-30.

I think the emergence of these companies will distort and perhaps invalidate article-level metrics (ALMs). Paid article promotion schemes will game article-level impact measurements. They will gratuitously inflate a particular article’s actual quantifiable impact. One of these companies is called Educational Researches. The company hides its location. It uses a WordPress platform and uses Wikipedia content to make itself look legitimate. Here is an example of one of their spam emails:

I am pleased to inform you that the Educational Researches team has identified your recent publication, [Redacted] as being of special interest to the progress in the Education field. We would like to list your publication on our next edition of the Educational Researches series.

Educational Researches was founded in 2013 for alerts the scientific community to breaking journal articles considered to represent the best in Education research. For today’s edition, click here. Educational Researches is viewed almost 10,000 times each month.

Publications featured by Educational Researches gain extensive exposure. This exposure may benefit you and your organization since this provides a showcase for key research studies such as yours. This exposure has the added benefit of encouraging additional funding.

There is a small processing charge for listing publications on Educational Researches (only $15). Please let us know if you are interested in having your work featured on our website. If you accept our invitation we will post the summary of your article and key words with proper citation of the original Journal. This may extend your findings; further highlight the importance of your work and organization’s activities. We will process your publication after receiving the payment click here. (Upon payment, please notify us the Article Title, and the Corresponding Author Name. Please send a very brief email to editor@educationalresearches.com)

We do operate within a narrow time frame to meet our aim of delivering breaking publications and we therefore request that if you do wish to be featured you contact us as soon as possible.

Whether or not you are interested please feel free to register to our Educational Researches service at http://www.EducationalResearches.com

Sincerely…

Editor of Educational Researches

Email: editor@educationalresearches.com

Web: www.EducationalResearches.com

Soon we’ll likely see companies that will use social media to promote your research for you, for a fee. The facility with which one can game article-level impact measurements is making the good old impact factor seem even more valuable.

13 Responses to Will Article Promotion Companies Make Article-Level Metrics Obsolete ?

  1. Mike Taylor says:

    Since APC already stands for Article Processing Charge, wouldn’t it be better to make up a different name for these companies?

  2. Yurii Chinenov says:

    I don’t think it is important that much, not at least at the level of academic evaluations. We tend to read these articles rather than just blindly accept numbers associated with them as a measure of, well, whatever they purport to measure. I cannot, however, guarantee the same when it comes to regulatory or policy evaluations, let alone mass media/general public.

  3. I note that there is a ‘Not Found’ on their page http://www.educationalresearches.com/academic-journals/ so it looks as if their website is not well organised.

    Of course, researchers don’t need to pay to make their papers visible. A completely free service for individuals, which I am involved with, features the very latest content from 21,700 scholarly journals from 1,700 different publishers. Of the 21,700 journals, 5,500 are Open Access (and we try to weed out the predatory ones). JournalTOCs http://www.journaltocs.ac.uk/index.php where you can view the latest Tables of Contents, or Follow journals of interest and also elect to receive email TOC alerts.

    Registration to receive alerts etc is also free.

    Maintenance costs for JournalTOCs are met by the premium service http://www.journaltocs.ac.uk/customise.php which is aimed at institutions.

    Tens of thousands of individual researchers make use of this service every month. More details about JournalTOCs on my blog entry at http://roddymacleod.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/journaltocs-current-awareness-service-for-researchers-now-contains-the-latest-tables-of-contents-of-over-20000-journals/

    The JournalTOCs service ingests the RSS TOC feeds from journals and presents the aggregation in an easy to use interface.

  4. David Solomon says:

    This is a problem but not surprising. You see it with every high stakes assessment situation. The higher the stakes, the more people will try to cheat and game the measure whether it is administrators and teachers manipulating test student standardized test scores or journal editors/publishers playing citation games to increase their impact factor. It’s an arms race between those trying to game the measure and those trying to keep it valid.

  5. [...] Will Article Promotion Companies Make Article-Level Metrics Obsolete ? [...]

    • Rahim Khan says:

      Not a great idea….Decency apart, it comes under violation of cyber security acts of many countries.

      • Jill Miotke says:

        Dear Rahim Khan,
        How would the forwarding of the Nature link violate a cyber security act? It is just the link to a report that is already available at the Nature website, not to the paper itself.
        I can understand that the “remove” paper might be in violation. But I appreciate the posting of the link by Schmuck. It is the best laugh I have had in a few days.

      • Schmuck says:

        Maybe so, I agree it is not the most decent paper, actually it is funny in a very vulgar way, but it was accepted for presentation in an alleged scientific meeting.
        I think we should stick to the nature link, which can take you to the less than decent link.

        By the way as many here already know, you can create your own random papers using (I think I got the link from an older post here on on retraction watch): SCIgen – An Automatic CS Paper Generator

        http://pdos.csail.mit.edu/scigen/

    • Nils says:

      A similar story happened when a randomly generated math paper got accepted in an OA journal:

      http://thatsmathematics.com/blog/archives/102

      See Nat Etheridge’s blog for related exciting developments:

      http://thatsmathematics.com/blog/

  6. In a sense, this is merely an extension of the role of a journal in the first place… to present and make accessible the work that we do. If I choose a journal that fails to do this, it probably means my article is already a dead horse, and flogging it further will be wasted effort.

    After finding a publisher I am happy with, my main concern with a newly published article is to reach the people I personally know might be interested, so they can use it if they want, and eventually lead others to the work through reference or word of mouth.

    ResearchGate provides a very good (and free) system for speeding up this kind of person to person connection for the dissemination of research. Though any person can put any work into circulation, articles will only circulate widely if actual people like the articles and the authors.

    What do employers need when looking for new research and teaching staff? They all need the best staff they can find and afford. If they cannot afford to pay for top academics with top research and teaching skills, they can try to offer conditions that are attractive, and must focus on other attributes like job-role flexibility, personality, and sincerity… none of which are measured by article or journal impact factors.

  7. Dear Mr Beall,
    I agree with you, why should we pay if there are systems such as Reserach Gate and Academia Edu, where we do not have to pay. More over, those system allow communication between scientist, where we can ask for suggestions, when we got difficulties in our research.
    (Jeanne Adiwinata Pawitan)

  8. Dr. Stats says:

    Hi Beall,

    How are you, i am fed up from your posts. Although, you are doing good by pointing out new or money sucking publishers. BUT, as far as my opinion is considered, you are supporting the PREDATORY ones, according to the concept of SCANDAL MARKETING techniques. Please read this emerging marketing tactics. According to this point of view, businesses try to scandalize their products, this technique saves the business marketing expenses by giving them cheap fame, i-e. parasitical behavior. What you are doing? just giving them cheap fame. You are giving fame to those publishers whom name was not listen by majority even on GOOGLE.

    My dear friend, let me tell you that you need to read the basic literature of BUSINESS, FINANCE, ADMINISTRATION all based on socially constructed realities and self fulfillment prophecies. Have you written a single word about the blood sucking CAPITALISM or WALL STREET, where the so-called management researchers are planning to cheat people by making plans like Sub prime mortgages, Collateralize debt obligation, from Moore’s law to More’s law, Cap n trade and many other bullshits. I would appreciate you if you write about these bullshits, can you estimate the wealth of a person responsible for present crisis of credit started from US and destroyed every good economy at the surface of Earth. Can you? No you can’t. You can only market publishers who are publishing wrongly, who are making few dollars by sheparding papers, but you can’t point out the GIANTS who are teaching our students, HOW TO SUCK BLOOD OF POOR, HOW TO GET COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE AT ANY COST, you know the meaning of any cost? No you can’t even think about it. Write about white collar slaves which we in US manufacturing. A slavery to serve business tycoons.

    In the present business knowledge’s point of reference, you are doing nothing but getting paid to market these publishers via scandalizing them. I would appreciate you if you direct you marvelous castigating skills towards actual issues and let the Adam Smith’s invisible hand be decided the fate of these publishers.

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