October 23, 2013

Hackademia

I wouldn't generally wade into the swampy bed of sin that is predatory open access publishing on my blog, because:

(1) It's esoteric even by my standards
(2) Given the luck I've had attracting unwanted Google attention, it seems to be asking for trouble, and
(3) It's just too damn easy.

However, today I found myself giggling so much over one particularly egregious example that I decided to throw caution to the wind.

But first, for the uninitiated, a brief primer on said esoterica, folded into the jump...

In the beginning, there were Science and Nature, the two holy grails of scientific publishing. (...and The Lancet, and the New England Medical Journal, and...) They acted as gatekeepers for scientific research, carefully evaluating all submitted articles to make sure they met rigorous standards, thereby guaranteeing that only the best research was published. (N.B. Open-access proponents may quibble with you on this point, but when was the last time PLOS ONE discovered DNA?)

Anyhow, over the years more and more of these traditional journals proliferated, and during that time the internet was also invented, and so naturally all these journals wanted to be online to permit wider dissemination of their scientific knowledge. But, like subscribing to the paper version of one of these journals, to get their online version you had to pay. This in itself wouldn't have been a problem, except a few large and mildly evil academic publishers realised that they essentially had a monopoly and raised subscription prices by about 600%.

Now, scientists, being the high-minded folks they are, began to feel a little squeamish about the hundreds if not thousands of dollars readers were paying to access research that the scientists had carried out purely to advance human knowledge (and not at all to advance their own progression up the tenure ladder). So some of them started publishing in the above-referenced open access journals, in which reading is free and journal costs are defrayed through a combination of ads, grants, and publication fees.

That in itself also wouldn't have been a problem. (Though, side note: jeez, if you're squeamish at the thought of paying to read research, you ought to be at least as squeamish at the thought of paying to publish research.) No, the real problem arose when internet scammers realised they could take advantage of those junior scientists desperate to publish articles (not at all to advance their own progression up the tenure ladder), and start up fake journals that took your article and "published" it in exchange for an exorbitant publication fee. And these days there are literally dozens of these "predatory" open-access publishers, producing hundreds (if not thousands) of predatory online journals.

Which brings me back to the impetus for this entire ramble.


And now, witness: BioInfo Publications, whose website is riddled with spelling errors and broken English, and whose FAQ page is like some glorious piece of surreal, postmodern performance art, e.g.:
Can I know the Publication Charges for Bioinfo Publications Journals?
(For answer, see International Journal of Epistemology.)
What do the article-processing charges pay for?
● immediate world-wide barrier-free open access to the full text
[...]
● securing inclusion in Open Access
(See also International Journal of Ontology, for discussion of securing inclusion in something that has no barriers.)
How do Bioinfo Publications charges compare with other publishers?

Bioinfo Publications article processing charges are extremely less and competitive.
Don't submit your work to one of those journals whose charges are extremely more!
I want to know where Bioinfo Publications Journals are indexed ?
Do you know what a question is.
Bioinfo Journals Open Access Model?
Goldfish!

If you are not in academia, don't worry—I'll toss you a dick joke or something in Conversations With Greatness this week.

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