This morning I read a very interesting article from the NY Times about pseudo-academia, predatory publishers and bogus conferences. I decided to do some research about it and found so much information.

I am already used to receiving emails every now and then with call for papers from suspicious conferences that look rather bogus. I get even more suspicious when I get a call for papers for this same conference every couple of days for weeks in a row. Anyhow, I am not trying to make any claims on the legitimacy of a conference or journal. This is a job that is being done by Jeffrey Beall from the University of Colorado Denver. He is the author of a very interesting blog/data-base that investigates such suspicious conferences and (mainly) journals.

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Based on actual data and facts, Beall describes why a journal is bogus, suspicious and sometimes even at the boundary of illegality (I can’t believe how some journals try to fool authors into believing that they are associated to legitimate and well known publishers, such as Elseviver in this exaple).

Berall’s database of “potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers” and the list of “potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access journals” are a resource one can keep an eye on. It is interesting to see that he even keeps an eye on plagiarism cases.

Just to illustrate a bit more the extent of Beall’s work, here’s a couple more examples. There are so many bogus journals out there that coming up with a brand new name is becoming difficult. And, in some cases, some of these journals offer fee waivers to authors if they cite papers from that journal. And the list goes on and on and one… including other topics, like shady publishers that fool recent graduates to give them the rights of their dissertations so the publisher can print and sell it on demand on Amazon. Unbelievable!

Reading about this topic got me in the mood of finding more. I ended up at the website of “SCIgen – An Automatic CS Paper Generator“. I had already heard about it. This tool generates fake bogus papers that look good but, if you read them, are completely senseless. By means of this tool, the authors were able to uncover a very shady conference (WMSCI 2005 – the link does not work as I expected. The “organizers” probably tried to erase all evidence from such a scam… but they cannot erase this). If you are curious, this was the “paper” accepted at the conference.

Unbelievable.

EDIT: I have been receiving some comments from people stating that are attempting to explain and comment some inaccuracies of Beall’s work and those comments and related links are being erased and/or hidden. I am not aware of any of these, but I do acknowledge that it is likely that some legitimate publishers and journals end up in Beall’s lists. On his blog he encourages these journals and publishers to contact him with information that supports their legitimacy so they can be removed, and I hope this is indeed the case. Anyhow, I sympathize with the comments and agree that perhaps, given the subject being judged, perhaps it is better to lower the bar a bit to minimize “false positives”. Nevertheless, the astonishing cases of plagiarism and journals that attempt to fool scientists into believing that they are associated to some known publisher are beyond unbelievable. It is good to have a resource like Beall’s blog to alert the scientist community from those.

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