BioMed Central: New Website, Same Old Low Quality

Journal of Environmental Health Science and Engineering

Serving authors, not readers.

BioMed Central has revamped its website, but the changes appear to me to be little more than lipstick.

Take BMC’s Journal of Environmental Health Science and Engineering, for example.

IF 16.51

The impact factor is overstated.

The journal’s website prominently misstates its impact factor, which is really 0.500, significantly lower than stated. The website has great new code, but the poorly-edited content cancels it out.

Istabul

See the major typo?

It is also increasingly clear that BMC no longer does any copyediting, as the title of a recent article in Journal of Environmental Health Science and Engineering shows.

The article is entitled, “Sources of Metal Pollution in the Urban Atmosphere (A Case Study: Tuzla, Istabul),” and as you can see, there is a prominent typo in the title, an error any competent copyeditor would have recognized (and corrected) immediately.

Increasingly, it appears that articles in BMC are being published as they are received, with no copyediting being done.

The author fee for this journal is €600. For that sum, you basically get a PDF version of your manuscript created and mounted on the internet.

BioMed Central is increasingly becoming little more than a dressed up vanity press, a publisher for hire.

The scholarly publishing industry is transitioning from serving readers to serving authors.

Hat tip: Arvind Behal

33 Responses to BioMed Central: New Website, Same Old Low Quality

  1. wimcrusio says:

    “The scholarly publishing industry is transitioning from serving readers to serving authors”: well, that’s logical, companies serve who pays the bill… Although, not copy-editing articles really is a disservice to authors. Anybody can oversee typos and especially non-native speakers of English are prone to making grammatical errors, so copy-editing is a basic service that we all need (even native speakers make the occasional error, of course).

  2. Bobo says:

    “Impact Factor: 0.500”

    It’s been fixed, apparently. Almost certainly a copy-paste error from another journal.

    And BMC is hardly the worst publisher out there. In fact, they are one of the better OA venues.

    • Jared Okungu says:

      If you copy-paste impact factor for God’s sake as you admit.. then what other things do you copy-paste?

      • Bobo says:

        I’m not sure what your point is.

        Probably when you establish a new journal, large parts of it are copy-pasted from another. Then you just re-fill the blanks (IF, editor, etc.) with whatever the values are for the new journal. It’s a mistake. Mistakes happen.

        And as someone else has pointed out below, the problem probably arose from a 2013 name change in which an old (but still valid) IF was used.

        Move along. Nothing to see here.

      • Wrong.
        With pay-to-publish journals like this one, authors make decisions on where to publish based on information supplied by the publisher. The publisher has a strong obligation to supply correct information about its products and services, such as they are.

      • Bobo says:

        Sorry, Jeffrey. But your bias against OA is showing on this one.

        BMC publishes a number of highly respected, high-IF journals. I guess you wouldn’t know this since you’re not a biologist.

        Honest mistakes do happen and not all open-access publishers are bad. (Just like not all closed-access publishers are good… See how that works?)

        Did you notice how they immediately fixed the impact factor in response to your criticism? Does that sound like they’re trying to run a scam?

        “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

  3. shanecanning says:

    The name of this journal changed in 2013 and it currently has two Impact Factors: 1.651 and 0.500 – the former figure relating to the old title and the latter figure the new title, but relates only to data for part of the year after the name change occurred.

    BioMed Central journals receive varying levels of copyediting agreed by the journal’s Editor-in-Chief. This particular journal opts to provide formal mark-up without any language editing. It ensures that the manuscript is complete and puts the material in the correct sequence. If editors and/or referees cannot follow the rationale for, or the experimental design of, a study there are free to recommend the use of a language-editing service during the peer review process.

  4. dzrlib says:

    I can’t speak for Jeffrey, but the American Chemical Society publishes an interesting OA journal ‘ACS Central Science’ which is free for authors. http://pubs.acs.org/journal/acscii

  5. tekija says:

    Where is the world heading if making a research paper error free is considered a thing of the past?

    • Jared Okungu says:

      Its sad to read from maximilianhaeussler, supporting the €600 charge, also to criticizing issues of perfection of articles. If you want to be outstanding, why compare yourself with other publishers who have done mistakes? Then you policy aims are likely to be such as: to be better than peerj, BMC, PLoS, e.t.c?

  6. Niels Wedderkopp says:

    600 € for a peer review and a pdf file? Fair price, no body get paid for peer reviewing, a pdf can be created in 20 minutes, so 600 € for 20 minutes work? I am afraid this a money making machine. When Springer took over BMC, it seems it went from non-profit too high profit organization, designed to make money.

  7. Greg says:

    One more for your Publishers list: Hindawi Publishing Corporation http://www.hindawi.com/

    • dzrlib says:

      I have been concerned about Hindawi for some time. The enormous increase in the number of articles in some of their journals suggests an unsustainable peer-review process.

      • Laura Punnett says:

        I served as one of a group of guest editors for a special issue of a Hindawi journal. We got very poor service from the journal, e.g., articles were lost by them or routed to other journals or rejected before we saw them and without telling us. After our complaints they changed staff members for us twice but with no improvement. Also authors were not told of the publishing fee until after papers were accepted. I would not work with them again in this role and am unlikely to submit a MS to any of their journals.

  8. elizabeth_a says:

    Arthritis Research and Therapy is a decent rheumatology journal published by BMC. Not the best one out there, but still has respect of the people in the rheumatology field. I had an article published there in 2013. Things may have changed since then, but at the time it was a good experience and seemed professional with peer review and copy-editing.

  9. Greg says:

    The Global Business and Economics Research Journal advertise itself as “Global Business and Economics Research Journal is not listed in Beall’s predatory journal list.
    We understand that there are a lot of predatory journal nowadays, and this is to confirm that we are not listed in the Beall’s predatory journal list.” http://journal.globejournal.org/index.php/GBERJ

    It is true that they are not listed in the Beall’s predatory journal list, but maybe it should?

    • It’s true. This journal was on my list, but I removed it in July, 2015, after an appeal.
      I am not saying it is a high-quality publisher; all I am saying is that it’s no longer on the list.

  10. Greg says:

    Did not find it in the lists: http://www.sciencepublication.org/

    • It is there now! Thank you for bringing it to my attention. It is an amateurish and unprofessional publisher. The publisher’s name — Science Publications — matches the name of another publisher already on the list.

  11. liorsham says:

    The impact factor discrepancy is relatively minor. If you are interested in a real impact factor “party” you can look here:
    http://www.omicsonline.org/open-access-journals-impact-factors.php

    None of the impact factors that I checked is anywhere near the actual IF.

  12. Greg says:

    Very polite offer from International Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences and Technology (IJPAST) http://www.ijopaasat.in : “…. we encourage authors of accepted papers to arrange @ USD 10 per page for papers above 10 pages length and USD 100 for papers upto 10 pages length from research grant/institution to meet partially the post acceptance production and hosting expenditure as well as for sustainable growth of this journal.”

    Did not find it in your lists.

  13. Deepak Batura says:

    Dear Mr Beall,

    With regards to your recent post BioMed Central:New website, same old low quality. (https://scholarlyoa.com/2016/01/07/biomed-central-new-website-same-old-low-quality/)

    My understanding was that this open access publisher was from the Springer stable. Furthermore, I thought they were a founder member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers association.
    At least one of their journals (BMC Infect dis) is MEDLINE indexed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nlmcatalog/term=bmc+infectious+diseases)

    I struggle to understand this paradox.

    I may add that I have no interests with this publisher and have never submitted to their journals. I am just involved with your writings in your blog and hope to be in a position to advise my associates and students appropriately.

    • Indeed, I struggle to understand the paradox as well, and that’s why I wrote the blog post. Why would a supposedly high-quality publisher negligently misstate the impact factor of one of its journals by a factor of three? Also, why would a supposedly high-quality publisher misspell the city as “Istabul” [sic] in the title of one of its published articles? Perhaps their strategy to augment profits has caused them to cut corners and misrepresent.

      • Toby says:

        Yeah man, but the title of your post was “BioMed Central: New Website, Same Old Low Quality” and this in my view is exaggerated. OK, you caught them there and they should wake up and react to this criticism. But BMC are not a rubbish publisher, The same way that high profile, excellent journals do not become crap just because they overlook a bad paper once in a while and have to go through painful retractions later.

        My conclusion is that you made a meal out of this one. Most respectfully etc.

  14. Jamal says:

    Dear Beall,
    I was planning to submit my manuscript to BMC oral health journal when I came across your blog. This journal is pubmed indexed. Please advise me!!

    • Being included in PubMed is not an indicator of quality.
      When a journal is included in Medline, that’s a mark of quality.
      BMC is not on my list, but like all Springer-owned journals and monographs, its quality is decreasing every week.

    • dzrlib says:

      As an aside, BMC Oral Health is ranked #52 in the Journal Citation Reports category: Dentistry, Oral Surgery and Medicine

  15. “Research Integrity and Peer Review” is a rather new journal of publisher BMC. See http://researchintegrityjournal.biomedcentral.com/about/editorial-board This journal exists for already at least a few months. The journal has until now not published articles and/or other contributions ( http://researchintegrityjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles ).
    .
    Dr. Virginia Barbour is listed as one of the members of the Editorial Board of this journal.
    .
    Jeffrey Beall wrote in https://scholarlyoa.com/2016/01/14/another-controversial-paper-from-fronters/ : “The COPE board’s chair, Virginia Barbour, has regrettably politicized COPE by writing strident essays favoring open-access and attacking Elsevier. She uses military metaphors (“The battle for open access is far from over”) to fan the flames. I think it’s inappropriate for a publishing ethics board chair to publicly favor one publishing model over another, to singularly attack one publisher that uses her unfavored model, and to politicize a so-called ethics organization. Moreover, like many open-access zealots, Barbour underhandedly fails to acknowledge today’s most significant source of ethical failures in scholarly publishing — and the biggest threat to science — predatory publishers and journals.” (…..). “COPE, the Committee on Publication Ethics, is experiencing problems that are affecting its credibility. Some believe that it has succumbed to cronyism, and as evidence of this they point to the election of Frontiers employee Mirjam J. Curno to COPE’s eleven-member Trustee Board. I guess if you own a major pay-to-publish operation known for regularly accepting payments to publish highly-questionable scholarly articles, having one of your employees on COPE’s Trustee Board could be quite convenient.”
    .
    .
    Details with complaints against the acting of Dr. Virginia Barbour can be found at https://scholarlyoa.com/2016/01/12/one-problem-with-the-scholarly-publishing-industry/#comment-405846
    .
    Please contact me when there are errors and/or mistakes in texts from my side.
    .
    DISCLAIMER: I am hereby declaring that that this text was prepared in good faith, that this is also the case for all other e-mails and/or texts from my side about the faulty paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warbler, a paper which is loaded with fabricated data. I am hereby declaring that all of these e-mails / texts from my side are 100% honest e-mails / texts. Anyone who is claiming that I am dishonest, and/or that my behaviour is partial, and/or vexatious and/or that my statements about the paper on the breeding biology of the Basra Reed Warber are untrue / false (etc.), will first need to provide me access to the full list of requested raw research data (see https://pubpeer.com/publications/CBDA623DED06FB48B659B631BA69E7#fb31538 for the full list), and will need to accept that I, Richard Porter, and all co-workers of Richard Porter are able to scrutinize this entire set of raw research data.”

  16. fb says:

    Two months ago I was unable to submit a review to BMC Cancer due to some technical problem with the web site, so I sent it as an email. When this was not acknowledged, I resent it to every email I could find related to this journal. None of these were acknowledged either. Since then I’ve been asked to review 7 (!) additional papers from this journal, all of which I have declined, stating that I am not willing to do any additional reviews until the problem with my original review is acknowledged. I still have not gotten a response. I assume these journals are now being published by bots, which seems consistent with misspelled article titles. At one time I had respect for BMC Cancer (and BMC generally); no more.

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