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.
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.
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:
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  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.