An Evaluation of Beall’s Paper “Five Scholarly Open Access Publishers” from 2012

This evaluation is about the paper:

BEALL, Jeffrey, 2012: Five Scholarly Open Access Publishers. The Charleston Advisor, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 5-10. http://dx.doi.org/10.5260/chara.13.4.5

It is a comparative review about 5 Open Access journal publishers. One of the publishers examined is SCIRP. This evaluation of Beall’s paper only considers SCIRP. The paper is wrong in some parts and most importantly it is so outdated.

Overview

The paper reviews 5 publishers. One of them is Scientific Research Publishing (SCIRP). The review of the 5 publishers consists of

  • Pricing Options,
  • Product Description,
  • Critical Evaluation,
  • Licensing.
  • One insert in the paper lists the Review Scores.
  • Another insert lists the publisher’s Contact Information.

Importance of the Paper and Problems with the Paper

The paper is one of the very few peer-reviewed papers about Scientific Research Publishing. This makes the paper a rather reliable source in Wikipedia and candidate for citations. The Wikipedia page about Scientific Research Publishing

quotes the paper four times (2015-01-13). The paper is the backbone of the critique about Scientific Research Publishing on Wikipedia. The problem with this paper is that it is wrong and that it is so outdated.

SCIRP’s Evaluation of Beall’s Paper

Pricing Options
“The author fees vary by title. Generally, the publisher charges $300-$500 for the first ten pages of each manuscript, plus $50 for each additional page.”

This statement is generally true also today, however publication charges vary more.

 

Product Description
The text starts with a general description of SCIRP.

“Little information about this publisher is available; they are secretive. The About Us page is brief and only provides a vague, short description of the publisher.”

Not true today. The opposite is true. SCIRP answers all kind of questions in its FAQ on the blog. Questions and answers are added as they come along. The About SCIRP page is quite long. The TOC on the blog shows where all information from the various places of the web site can be found.

A summary of the article by Sanderson (2010) from Nature is mentioned. SCIRP wrote a separate blog post about Sanderson (2010) in context with two other articles. Beall’s review continues:

“Scientific Research Publishing is widely known for its use of spam e-mails to solicit article submissions and editorial board service.

The remark about spam e-mails is outdated. Please see the blog post “SCIRP Practicing Legal and Moderate Email Marketing” for details. True is: If SCIRP is sending bulk e-mails, it is done legally, in moderate intervals, with unsubscribe dialog, and about content of its journals (Newsletter).

“The site is popular with Chinese authors, many of whom get a monetary incentive (Shao 2011) for publishing abroad.”

This argument comes again below and is handled there.

“Also, its author fees are on the low side, a strategy that increases article submissions, especially from lower-income countries.”

It is not clear, if this is praise or critique. Publishers are asked to provide a discount or even waiver for authors from low income countries (DOAJ Apply, No.21). Therefore, SCIRP’s low publication fees are good for authors.

 

Critical Evaluation

“This publisher exists for two reasons. First, it exists to exploit the author-pays Open Access model to generate revenue,”

This is a general statement from Beall’s campaing against fee-based open-access journals and the Gold Open Access publishing model. It is a statement from someone who is known for his dislike of Open Access. (For details see SCIRP’s blog post “Jeffrey Beall: ‘I am an academic crime fighter’ ”.)

“and second, it serves as an easy place for foreign (chiefly Chinese) authors to publish
overseas and increase their academic status.”

Beall has identified the publisher later in his paper (see below) as “really a Chinese operation”. If this would be so, it is not logical to say Chinese people use it to publish overseas. The statement seems also to imply that most authors publishing with SCIRP are Chinese. A quick look at the most recent papers published, will show that this is not true. Use the search function (tick only “Author”) and search for typical Western given or family names. You will find plenty of them. SCIRP has truly international journals, with authors from all continents.

“Scientific Research Publishing (SCIRP) has cleverly succeeded in generating lots of article submissions.”

This comes across in a negative way, but isn’t it the goal of a publisher to be successful with a high number of submissions and (after some rejections) later also with a high number of papers published?

“Though it is really a Chinese operation, it operates out of Southern California.”

SCIRP has a statement about its small office in Irvine California on its FAQ: “Q19: Does SCIRP have an office in California, USA?“ For SCIRP the Irvine office is not of importance. Fact is that SCIRP’s home is Delaware, USA because of the companies incorporation with SCIRP’s Principal Place of Business in Wuhan, China. (For details see SCIRP’s blog post “Scientific Research Publishing Inc. – A Company with Home in the USA!” and read the FAQs.)

“Its author fees are relatively low, a strategy that successfully attracts a large number of
submissions.”

Thanks for the praise! (See also above.)

“Not all of the articles published on this site are of low quality.”

Not allare of low quality” means “most … are of low quality”. Beall did not check the articles. Beall’s expertise is not sufficient to make a scientific evaluation of the content of the papers in so many diverse fields. The statement can be dismissed.

“Because the publisher is so successful at making its Web presence seem legitimate, it has attracted some quality article submissions.”

SCIRP has a clear structure of its web pages, but this is only seen as a trick by Beall.

“Nevertheless, it is really little more than a vanity press.”

Beall calls all publishing with publication charges “vanity press”. The statement has no substance. It is Beall’s usual polemic against Open Access.

“This publisher reveals little about itself; it is not transparent.”

Yes, there was much less information online in 2012. “Not transparent” is certainly not true in 2015. Just compare with SCIRP-FAQ!

“The Contact Us page is a bare Web form,”

Not true today. Outdated statement.

“and it lists no telephone contact.”

Not true today. Outdated statement. But why is a telephone contact necessary for transparency. Take e.g. the white listing professionals DOAJ and OASPA. They also do not provide a telephone number.

“SCIRP has something to hide, and researching this publisher is difficult because it reveals so little about itself, its peer-review process, and its operations.”

Beall does not know what it is, what is hidden at SCIRP in the peer-review process, or in SCIRP’s operation. If he would know, things would not be hidden. But one thing Beall knows: “something is hidden” and one thing is clear: Beall will write, no matter if he knows something or not. This kind of reasoning is typical for Beall.

“Scientific Research Publishing is among the sneakiest and most clever predatory Open
Access publishers I have seen.”

Beall has the gut feeling something is quite good with SCIRP. Only, he can not understand why the publisher leaves such a good overall impression. Of course Beall finds the answer to this: SCIRP only pretends it would be good. The quality that shines through its (hidden) operation is just a tricky facade only built up carefully to deceive innocent and inexperienced authors. Beall’s logic is simple: If something is bad it is bad. If something looks good it is only to deceive and it must be the facade with something bad behind it. Beall uses the unacceptable word “predatory”. See SCIRP’s blog post “Jeffrey Beall: ‘I am an academic crime fighter’ ” where his terminology is discussed.

 

Licensing

“This publisher adds its own copyright statement to each article (e.g., Copyright © 2011 SciRes) yet simultaneously declares the articles it publishes are Open Access. It places some limits on authors’ reuse of their own submissions. Other than the copyright statement, the publisher makes no mention of any standard license.”

Since 2012 much has happened in Open Access publishing. The appropriate CC licenses have been discussed and selected at OASPA. Today everyone can read on About SCIRP: “SCIRP has signed the Budapest Open Access Initiative and shows its ‚openness’ clearly in the standardized form on the Open Access Spectrum. Open Access embraces 6 core components related to: 1.) Reader Rights, 2.) Reuse Rights, 3.) Copyrights, 4.) Author Posting Rights, 5.) Automatic Posting,  and 6.) Machine Readability.

  1. SCIRP is fully open on Reader Rights.
  2. Starting with 1st April 2013, SCIRP is fully open on Reuse Rights by granting a Creative Commons license “Attribution” (CC BY).
  3. SCIRP asks authors to grant SCIRP a nonexclusive copyright. In this way, authors continue to hold the copyright with no restrictions (and SCIRP is safe when publishing the paper).

In his critique Beall is mixing Reader Rights and Copyright.

Outdated statement.

 

Insert with Review Scores

“User Interface/Searchability:It has a simple search box (but the response is slow) plus an A-Z list of journals.”

Not true today. Outdated statement. The search box on the Article page offers many search options: Title, Keywords, Abstract, Author DOI, Journal Name, ISSN, Affiliation, Subject. It is possible to demand Complete Matching.

“Author Fee Pricing: On the low side, a strategy that increases article submissions from authors without grants.”

Thanks for the praise! (See also above.)

Summary of the Evaluation of Beall’s Paper

A summary can be drawn from this paper (taking also SCIRP’s new achievements into account) as far as the arguments from Beall’ paper about SCIRP are concerned:

  • SCIRP’s web pages are well organized and have extended search functionality.
  • SCIRP answers all kind of questions in its FAQ on the blog.
  • SCIRP’s web pages offer ample contact options.
  • SCIRP’s publication fees are low. In addition discounts and fee waiver options are offered for authors from low income countries.
  • SCIRP is open on Reader Rights, Reuse Rights, and Copyright.
  • SCIRP has international journals and an international mix of authors and editors.
  • SCIRP’s home is Delaware, USA
  • SCIRPs Principal Place of Business is Wuhan, China
  • If SCIRP is sending bulk e-mails, it is done legally, in moderate intervals, with unsubscribe dialog, and about content of its journals (Newsletter).

About scirp

(SCIRP: http://www.scirp.org) is an academic publisher of open access journals. It also publishes academic books and conference proceedings. SCIRP currently has more than 200 open access journals in the areas of science, technology and medicine. Readers can download papers for free and enjoy reuse rights based on a Creative Commons license. Authors hold copyright with no restrictions. SCIRP calculates different metrics on article and journal level. Citations of published papers are shown based on Google Scholar and CrossRef. Most of our journals have been indexed by several world class databases. All papers are archived by PORTICO to guarantee their availability for centuries to come.
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