It’s Time to Reexamine the Tradition of the “Call for Papers”

We need some paper.

Bring me some paper.

Back in the good old days before the internet, scholarly journal publishers would mail printed calls for papers to university departments around the world, and these departments in turn would post them on bulletin boards in or near the department offices.

In those days, there were few or no predatory publishers, so pretty much every call for papers was for a legitimate journal — no vetting was required.

This has all changed with the internet. Now we are bombarded with calls for papers, usually via spam email, and many of them are from predatory publishers. Many of these are forwarded on to scholarly email lists — often blindly — without being vetted for quality.

Some websites try to be helpful by posting calls for papers. One example is the American publication and website called Inside Higher Ed.  This journal appears not to screen the CFPs it receives and uploads them to its website here. However, at the time of this writing, the website lists multiple calls for papers for OMICS Group journals, a publisher I have identified as predatory. Referring scholars to OMICS’ journals is not helping but rather harming them, I think.

Times have changed, and I think that due to the existence of predatory publishers and predatory journals, it is negligent to forward calls for papers without eliminating the predatory ones.

An example of a site that pays careful attention to the quality of the publishers behind the calls for papers is ResearchRaven™, which lists calls for papers in the health sciences, medical humanities and the health-related social sciences. Their calls for papers for publications page (they also have a call for papers for conferences is carefully and professionally screened for quality and stands as an exemplary model of how calls for papers should be re-distributed.

One final note about grammar: in standard English it is ungrammatical to say “Call for paper” when issuing an invitation for scholarly manuscripts. The correct phrase is “Call for papers.” In the native English speaker’s mind, “Call for paper” means the same as “Hey, bring me some paper.”

4 Responses to It’s Time to Reexamine the Tradition of the “Call for Papers”

  1. David says:

    Good job.
    However, given you claim you are able to identify predatory journals, I´d like to read a conflict of interest statement in your website.
    Do you collaborate with any publisher anyhow?

  2. imran says:

    I do not agree that the traditional publishers were not predatory. They too are and had been predatory. There, one may find more plagriasm in research journals as to day in OA journals and more if will be seen in terms of percentage.output.

  3. the seeker says:

    I am an American Studies guy working on the Problem of Evil in contemporary US horror fiction and live in semi-rural India. I go a lot by what you write here and thanks for the service you do to us in way of listing spam-journals and predatory cabals. I’d say you might think of listing a few sites which screen for good call for papers. The CFP at UPenn does not discriminate , neither does papersinvited nor even the MLA. LOL. So where does one go to write on say, insanity and horror lit within the emerging field of medical humanities?

  4. I’m regularly flooded with spam related to “calls for paper(s)”, and received last year roughly 1000 such “invitations” (ca. 3 each day). This is really disappointing, because ALL invitations were completely ridiculous: topics were very very far from my field, my name is almost systematically misspelled, and, in the case of Bentham, the mails indicate an affiliation I left 8 years ago… A new strategy which appeared recently is to post in the same mail the call for papers AND the invitation to join the editorial board AND the invitation to guest edit a special issue.
    Good old days have gone. Before (I mean 20 years ago), it was a great pleasure to met John Gladysz, editor for Chemical Reviews, and to comment personally with him what was planned for future issues of the journal (regardless of who was eventually invited to submit a review). Now, all is bullsh…

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