New Japanese OA Publisher Tempts Authors with Cash Prizes

Science Postprint

Don’t go here.

I have added the mega-journal Science Postprint (SPP) to my list of questionable standalone journals. This is only the second journal/publisher from Japan that I have added to my lists.


I first noticed this journal last summer when it began a massive spam email campaign seeking editorial board members. The campaign was successful, and there are hundreds of editorial board members. The journal has now published its first issue, 1(1), and I observe some serious problems.

To increase article submissions, SPP is running two contests that offer cash awards to scholarly authors. However, the cash awards are only a little more than the article processing charges in many cases.

Science Postprint 2

Ponzi would be proud.

This first award, the “Leave a Nest Grant” award, is discriminatory; Europeans and North Americans are ineligible.

In its spam email announcing the award, the journal states,

Q1. Do authors need to pay when they apply for the award?

A1. Yes. The application for an award is the same as usual submission. The processing charge depends on the author’s country of residence.

Should scholarly publishers that use the author-pays model be offering cash awards like this? I don’t think so.

The APCs are listed here and vary from $150 to $900 depending on the GDP of the corresponding author’s home country. So, if you are paying the maximum APC, then you only win about a thousand dollars. Who wants to enter a contest that costs $900 to enter and only offers a $1,900 award? Also, it appears that the publisher also collects a hefty Japanese tax on every fee it charges.

A second, confusing table shows APCs that can reach a maximum of $1,350.

Science Postprint 3

Higher grades (better papers) get lower APCs?

Other problems I observe with this publisher:

It pretty much guarantees a three-week review process: “We strive to shorten the process of paper publish [sic] from several months to approximately three weeks by prompt check of papers and smooth cooperation with our Editorial Board.” [From here.]

The publisher is offering a second award, called the CAN Clinical Oriental Medicine Academic Award. This award also offers a top prize of $1,900 but is limited to “Every researchers [sic] in the fields of Clinical Oriental Medicine.”

There is a lot of advertising on the site, including ads that appear right between the abstract and the text of the article.

The publisher makes some strange promises:

Q: Is there any compensation for refereeing?

A: There will be no compensation at the beginning. However, as the system matures, we plan to implement a feature where referees are given points for refereeing, and donations are made to the referee’s organization or research lab based on the points.

Q: Can I [a referee] publish my paper?

A: We will start accepting paper submissions from 2013 fall. Referees will receive preferential treatment on their submission of papers

Apparently, if you submit a paper, you must also become a member: “Additionally, Annual membership fees which are $50 per person [7,500yen (Japan) plus tax] will be charged.” [From here.]

The journal has a questionable crowd funding scheme: “Science Postprint has created a system which allows the citizens to contribute research grant to a corresponding author through our ‘crowd-funding system.’” They say they will wait until the fund designated for a particular author reaches $1,000, then they will “… make a remittance by the end of March, June, September, or December depending on when the grant exceeds $1000, to your designated account after charging 15% of commission and $15 fee from the total amount of research grant.”

The articles are poorly copyedited, and some appear to contain plagiarism:

Copied?

Matching text in Science Postprint.

The top selection is from the 2013 Science Postprint article “Study of fire fighting foam agent from palm oil for extinguishing of petrol fires.” The bottom one is the original 2007 source of the highlighted text, the article “Novel environmental friendly soap-based fire-fighting agent.” The selected text appears to be copied word-for-word without quotation marks. (I could not access citation [9] to see if the text also appeared there). I found several other similar examples and conclude that the publisher is not checking for plagiarism.

This journal is off to a bad start, and I recommend against submitting papers to it. The site is filed filled with lots of rules and picky procedures, and the journal chiefly appears aimed at getting money from researchers. Don’t go here.

6 Responses to New Japanese OA Publisher Tempts Authors with Cash Prizes

  1. Jeff Shrager says:

    p.s., “Grade is determined by proofreaders, …” (From the linked page: http://www.spp-j.com/editorial_policy.php#link5_2) So at least there are proof readers. This actually makes some sense (although it’s slightly random): pay for value delivered; if you are going to work the proofreaders, you get to pay for the privilege. Actually, nothing in this seems senseless or evil, just slightly random – perhaps poorly thought out. I give them points for creativity, and for being up front about it all (although they could use a copy editor on their web site). Having to pay the entry fee to get a prize is completely normal. And prizes, although weird in academic journals, aren’t the worst thing in the world; conferences give out best student paper prizes all the time. (Which I personally hate bcs it creates un-necessary competition between students! But it’s what’s done, so a cash prize from a journal … dunno that that’s all that bad. As you point out, not enough to make me send a paper, but if I was from a country where it was cheap … ?) And 15% off the crowd sourcing…? Again, they need to keep the lights on somehow.

    All in all this all seems pretty tame, and even slightly interesting.

    (As previously discussed, it is not the job of the publisher nor reviewers to look for plagiarism, just their job to respond it once pointed out. But that hasn’t happened here, yet, so let’s try not to go down that rathole again! :-)

  2. Abhishek Rai says:

    Japan too following the path! Shameful for such nation indeed.

    • Jeff Shrager says:

      I would not blame the country for the (alleged) bad acts of a few of its citizens.

      • Mr. Brown says:

        It is highly likely that this operation is in fact not run by a Japanese, who would not have the scrupples to do this. I would fathom a guess that this is an operation by a foreign scientist or group of foreign scientists, who are abusing their stay in Japan to extract funds from Japanese. Currently, in a bid to win hearts over minds in Japan, MEXT is favoring the financing of MSc and PhD from SE Asian countries, and has been doing so for years now. Buying their forgiveness for WWII sex-crimes in SE Asia is also now inviting a wave of SE Asian-styled value systems. There are numerous cases where Japanese professors have been fooled by SE Asian students, and are now paying the price. So, I suspect that the “owners” of this operation are NOT Japanese. Maybe Jeffrey could try to contact them to get to the bottom of this. This gambling mentality sounds very much like something a Chinese, Indian, Iranian or Pakistani might do, but not a Japanese. Why does Dr. Beall not contact the Japanese authorities about this scam? They would take quite swift action, no doubt against the company and the management. Unlike In India, where the Government turns a blind eye to the wave of predatory OA publishers, even encouraging them to pursue their pseudo-academic goals, in Japan, an iron fist is still maintained against fraud and corruption, at least in academics, so we need someone to make a formal report to Japanese authorities about this.

  3. “filed with lots of rules” –> filled

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