According to Wikipedia, a content farm is “… a company that employs large numbers of often freelance writers to generate large amounts of textual content which is specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by automated search engines. Their main goal is to generate advertising revenue through attracting reader page views as first exposed in the context of social spam.”
One of the predatory publishers on my list operates as a kind of scholarly content farm — but with a reverse twist. Instead of paying writers to produce the content, this publisher instead requires the writers to pay to have their content included on the site.
This publisher is Internet Scientific Publications LLC, (ISPUB) based in a residence in Sugar Land, Texas. ISPUB publishes about 90 medical journals, each containing copious amounts of advertising. The advertising appears both on the journals’ home pages as well as on individual articles.
There is so much advertising on this site that it interferes with site navigation and distracts from the content. In an email I received from Dr. Olivier Wenker, the site’s owner, he claimed that the advertising helps lower the author-fees charged to authors whose work appears in the site’s journals. I found this claim disingenuous. I think the true purpose of the site is to make money for its owner, Dr. Wenker.
But Dr. Wenker has discovered another way to make yet even more money from his site.
He’s added a link to the Copyright Clearance Center on every page in his site. Although the site’s content is published open access, Wenker copyrights all the articles, limiting their use to viewing on his site only.
This link will help generate more revenue for the doctor. I have seen the web pages of hundreds of open access publishers, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen one with a Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) Link. The link leads users to the CCC web page, where they must pay hefty fees to license their use of the Dr. Wenker’s journals, content that others paid him with the intention to share freely.
This action is entirely against the spirit of the open-access movement, the goal of which is to share research with a wide audience without payment of fees. It’s unfair to the authors who paid to have their articles published on the site.
Internet Scientific Publications masquerades as a scholarly publisher, when, in fact, it is a special kind of Internet content farm.