Vanity Journals are Threatening Taxonomy

Herpetology article

A must-read article.

Recently I have learned about two self-published “journals” that are creating havoc for insect and reptile taxonomists. These are the two journals:

These two unrelated journals are basically self-published, vanity journals. They focus on taxonomy, “the scientific process by which natural groups are identified, described, named, and classified” (Kaiser et al., 2013, p. 8).

Moreover, “taxonomists, like courts, must deal with precedent” and “Because of the importance of precedent, taxonomy is uniquely vulnerable to crackpots” (Myrmecos Blog, December 13, 2007).

Further, “In herpetology, unscientific taxonomy under the guise of science, has been presented with increasing frequency in nonprofessional outlets since the year 2000” (Kaiser et al., 2013, p. 9).

The recently-published article, Best practices: In the 21st century, taxonomic decisions in herpetology are acceptable only when supported by a body of evidence and published via peer-review, provides a pitch-perfect description of the problem and offers a call to action for resolving the problems that these “taxonomic vandals” have been causing. The article is an excellent example of boundary work, which is the process of enforcing the demarcation between science and non-science.

It is the best herpetology article I have ever read.

The Australasian Journal of Herpetology is published by Raymond Hoser in Victoria, Australia. Regarding this journal, Kaiser et al. (2013), claim, “Although the AJH masquerades as a scientific journal, it is perhaps better described as a printed ‘blog’ because it lacks many of the hallmarks of formal scientific communication and includes much irrelevant information” (p. 17).

Regarding Calodema, one blogger reports “The journal Calodema has become the red herring in taxonomic publishing because of the very low standards of its publications (BIOSYSCONTEXT, March 5, 2011). Calodema calls itself a “new scientific natural history journal edited by Dr Trevor J. Hawkeswood of Sydney, Australia.”

Hawkeswood likes to name things after himself; Hawkeswoodidae is a family of spiders. His journal is really a component of his blog, which is called The Life and Works of Dr. Trevor J. Hawkeswood.

The solution is to limit taxonomy to authentically peer-reviewed articles.


BIOSYSCONTEXT (March 5, 2011). Makham, Hawkeswood and Calodema: What a strange set-up [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Kaiser, H., Crother, B. I., Kelly, C. M. R., Luiselli, L., O’Shea, M., Ota, H., et al. (2013). Best practices: In the 21st century, taxonomic decisions in herpetology are acceptable only when supported by a body of evidence and published via peer-review. Herpetological Review 44(1), 8–23.

Myrmecos Blog (December 13, 2007). The rogue taxonomist [Web log post]. Retrieved from:

38 Responses to Vanity Journals are Threatening Taxonomy

  1. David Solomon says:

    The web site of the Australasian Journal of Herpetology looks like something my kids created in their junior high school web development class back in 1998. Jefferey, are you actually wasting your time worrying about something like this? :-)

    • It’s not about me. The herpetology article I cited makes the case and clearly shows how the vanity journals are hindering good science.

    • David, the way that taxonomy works, an official species description or revision in a published venue has precedence over prior work and must be cited in future work. There are detailed reasons how and why this matters, as discussed in the articles and posts cited by Beall. Even though these are rinky-dink outfits, they are actually threatening the foundations of taxonomy in these fields. Presumably the rules for systematics will evolve to deal with contemporary pseudojournals, but at the moment, it’s a big issue.

  2. Seba Marshall says:

    Look what i found during net surfing, this article was published in 2012 in the journal at this link:

    The exactly same article with a different name was published in 2013 at this link:

    If you check the quality of this article, its dumb, if you check end references, there is no issue no, volume number and no page number.

    What you will comment for this.

  3. David Marjanović says:

    Uh, the BIOSYSCONTEXT post makes clear that “Hawkeswoodiidae” was “named” by Makhan & Ezzatpanah, not by Hawkeswood. It’s also invalid, because they used Amrishoonops as the type genus, as opposed to anything beginning with “Hawkeswoodi-“.

    Cargo cult science.

  4. Seba Marshall says:

    I want to know that in your list, there are few journals having respected indexing like Scopus, DOAJ etc. I think the journals cleared their inclusion policies, why these respectable indexers associate themselves with journals if they are not doing good. Please explain the error is at your selection side or indexers side?

  5. Wendy Scutt says:

    Actually I think the vanity journal of note here is “Journal of Herpetology”, where the editor is the paper author and yet he doesn’t tell the readers.
    The paper you cite has about 300 evidence free taxonomic changes in an act of grievous taxonomic misconduct. Most of the authors of your cited paper, (e.g. Schleip, Wuster and Crother) are serial offenders!
    Maybe you should actually “read” the papers you slate an those you commend, before offering ill-informed comments!

  6. dannybloom says:

    yes call them vanity journals or “vanity academic paper mills” or VAPS as i call them or your good term of PREDATORY JOURNALS or predatory publications. THIS IS IMPORTANT

  7. dannybloom says:

    dr beall _ dan bloom in taiwan here _ found you after reading gina
    kolata”s very good article on predatory publications that vampire on
    naive and sometimes vain scientists and academics. your term is good
    ie predatory publications. i call them “vanity academic paper mills”
    and i think that the more the media calls the preying journals as
    either predatory publications as you do or vaps as i do for vanity
    academic paper mills the more the public and the science community
    will wake up. i noticed that nyt kolata never used the word predatory
    publications in her article. why not? maybe send info to dot earth
    blog at andrew c revkin page at ny times. since climate change vanity
    articles might also be preyed on?

  8. Hani Hadi says:

    British Journal of Dairy Sciences

    Print ISSN: 2044-2432
    Online ISSN: 2044-2440
    Frequency: Bi-annual
    Current Issue/Volume/Year
    Indexed In: DOAJ
    Airiti Library, Taiwan
    Genamics JournalSeek
    Chemical Abstracts Service

  9. Richard M Magsino says:

    Dear Dr. Beall,

    Kindly check on the journal publications published here in the Philippines (IAMURE – International Association of Multidisciplinary Research). All signs of being a predatory publisher I think can be seen in this this publishing group. Thank you!

    • I did do an analysis of this publisher in January of this year but didn’t find that it met the criteria for a predatory publisher. I agree it is sloppy.
      I’d be interested to hear the reasons why you think it should be classified as predatory or questionable. Did I miss anything? Thank you.

    • Baggy Ricardo says:

      IAMURE has an ISI- indexed journal (, and has been subscribed by several top universities in the world. It is also ISO-accredited. The editorial board ( for instance of the International Journal of Ecology and Conservation are world re-known scientists, like Inocencio E. Buot Jr, who has a plant (Hoya buotii) named after him because of his contribution in the field of taxonomy.

      I am just wondering how we can simply label a journal/publisher as predatory just because we experienced something on the way they do their works that is not palatable to our taste.

      Are the criteria used in identifying a publisher/journal as predatory had been subjected to scientific rigor? Or are they more stringent than the criteria used by Thomson Reuters or Scopus in evaluating journals for indexing in their facilities.

      Just a thought.

      • Two points:

        1. ISO does not accredit journals. You apparently have been tricked by IAMURE into believing this silly myth, Baggy.
        2 IAMURE is an extremely low-quality and highly questionable publisher. Its journals are a scholarly disaster. It has also made much money by organizing low-quality vacation-conferences in East Asia.

        Good day.

      • Baggy Ricardo says:

        Dear Sir,

        Thanks for the information. Yes, ISO does not accredit journals but processes, products, services, etc. I supposed. If that is the case sir that the process of this publisher has been accredited by an International Accrediting body, how come that it would be considered as a predatory publisher? And if one of its journals have been indexed in ISI, do you think there is something wrong with the classification or use of the criteria or accreditation process or there is something wrong with Thomson’s Reuters evaluation of journals that should be indexed in their database? Just a clarification Sir. Thanks.


  10. Richard M. Magsino says:

    Dear Dr. Beale,
    Thank you for your response. These are some of the reasons :
    1. Many Filipino faculty members are lured into IAMURE’s “international” conferences. Upon submitting your abstract and full paper, it will be accepted for presentation and publication the next day or so.
    2. This publisher charges some hefty publication fee, asking for it even on the mere acceptance of the paper for publication.
    3. The publisher publishes low quality or low standard research papers even if they say that these are peer reviewed. Scientific papers were not technically prepared at all without any sound process at all.
    4. Papers presented in their conferences are automatically published contingent upon the payment of the publication fee.
    5. People in their editorial boards are not experts in the field. Professors and researchers from Philippine top universities are not part of their editorial boards.

    • Okay, thanks for that information. I’ll have another look at this publisher.

      • Bruce Chan says:

        I consider iamure a substandard publication system with the primary purpose of getting money from mediocre researchers who are seeking promotions in educational institutions here in the philippines by publishing their useless researches.. you can run their journals in anti-plagiarism softwares like plagiarism detector to verify this..

      • I agree. I have found plagiarism in their journals. I recommend avoiding this publisher.

  11. Ken Graham says:

    Well, well, well, one of the authors of Kaiser et al. mr Wuster has admitted on the “field herp forum” that the blog he wrote is riddled with errors.
    So we now know that this raft of “complaints” can be consigned to the dustbin of history!

    • Ola Sundberg says:

      Hi Raymond! (For those unfamiliar with the issue, the above comment by “Ken Graham” is likely done by Raymond Hoser, one of the persons criticised in the article. Both writing style, content and past behaviour strongly suggests this to be the case.)

  12. Wow Ray Hoser must have a lot of aliases. they include names like richard wells, robert sprackland, sloppus and more …
    Give up the slurs Ola. Fact is Hoser is ther god of herpetology and without him, no one in Australia or the USAS would still be allowed to keep them privately. Your ilk would have won the war!

    • Ola Sundberg says:

      And hi again Ray.
      For those unfamiliar with Hosers way to operate, he has a documented (admitted by himself) history of using aliases. There are usually no problems recognising them as they come with overwhelmingly positive claims about Hoser and no ones ever heard of them (and they defer communications that would establish they do exist independently from Hosers computer).

      There’s no war. Just a lot of people who are tired of the neverending lies. Stop them and people would stop pointing them out.

      Does anyone think it strange that someone with a PhD would link to “Snake Handler Melbourne” when writing a reply like this? Not only linking but entering it as their own website? (I speculate but I would guess he doesn’t care because so few will read this but it does give yet another link to his websites. This is something he is well aware of as he well know how to take advantage of SEO and web ranking methods.)

      If I am wrong and Tim Scott PHD does exist, I invite him to contact me directly. The owner of this website has my email address. If he is real and not just another pseudonym I will apologise here.

  13. Andrea says:

    Does anyone know where I can find a list of well-respected, open access taxonomy journals? Thanks!

Leave a Reply -- All comments are subject to moderation, including removal.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: