Five months after Jeffrey Beall, librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, shut down his widely consulted blog (Scholarly Open Access) that listed predatory journals and publishers, Cabell’s International based in Beaumont, Texas launched the Cabell’s Blacklist of predatory journals on June 15. Predatory journals cheat researchers by charging fees to publish papers but without carrying any peer-review, thus allowing even trash to be published.
Besides the Blacklist, the Cabell’s also publishes a Whitelist of journals, and both the lists can be accessed for a fee at the company’s website, www.cabells.com.
Kathleen Berryman, Project Manager at Cabell’s, says the company uses a set of criteria to identify deceptive practices employed by journals and will maintain transparency, unlike Beall’s.
How many publishers and/or journals have been included in the list? Is it restricted to Open Access journals?
We have chosen to review journals for our Blacklist, rather than publishers. It will launch with approximately 4,000 journals and we expect this number to continue to increase as we continue to review journals. While we are reviewing both open access and subscription journals, and include both on our Blacklist, we do not have an exact count of how many are in each category at this time.
What criteria will you use to judge a journal? How transparent will that criteria be to publishers and researchers?
We currently have a set of 65 specific violations that act as indicators of deceptive practices. As we continue to review journals and identify newly emerging predatory behaviours, we anticipate that these indicators will further evolve. As with our Whitelist criteria, our Blacklist criteria will be available to everyone on our website. In addition to this, we are listing on each journal card in our Blacklist all of the reasons why each journal is included.
Many journals have made their home page and journals look very authentic. How difficult will be to assess them?
Again, our team of research specialists is trained to seek out hard-to-find information. One way we do this is by contacting the editors, reviewers and/or authors who are listed on the journal’s website. We ask not only if they agreed to be included on the editorial board, but also what their duties are as an editorial board member.
We do not rely on how a website “looks” to determine whether or not the journal should be blacklisted. We do not include journals on our Blacklist unless we have evidence of their deceptive publication practices.
What major differences can one see in your list compared with Jeffrey Beall’s?
Our Blacklist differs from Jeffrey Beall’s lists in several ways. We have developed a set of criteria that we use to evaluate all journals suspected of deceptive behaviour and we apply this criteria equally to all journals we review. We are also reviewing journals, rather than publishers, regardless of the type of access. This means that there will be subscription access journals on our list as well as open access journals. Finally, and most importantly, we are improving transparency by listing all of the reasons why each journal is included on our Blacklist.
Of the 800 institutions that subscribe to your Whitelist, how many are from India? How much does it cost per institution to subscribe to your Whitelist and Blacklist?
We currently have four institutions in India who subscribe to our Whitelist. The cost for subscribing to our Whitelist and Blacklist is on a sliding scale, based on full time enrolment of undergraduate students. It is for this reason that we choose not to make our prices available on our website. Contacting our sales team is the best way to receive a quote tailored to the needs of the individual.
Will the Blacklist be freely available to institutions in countries like India, where most predatory journals are published?
We originally planned to make our blacklist available for free, but after analysing the time and resources it took to create it — and the resources it will take to maintain it – we realised that it would not be sustainable. We’re making every effort to keep the subscription fee for the Blacklist as low as possible, and we’re exploring other options to support it in the future.
Considering that many researchers and students from State and private universities in India publish in these journals full aware of the nature of these journals, do you think these institutions would ever subscribe to your Blacklist?
It would certainly be beneficial for all universities to subscribe to both our Whitelist and our Blacklist. Publishing in deceptive journals can be damaging to both institutions and individuals’ careers. Institutions are facing denial of accreditation when their faculty has too many publications in these journals. Individuals are facing denial of tenure for this reason and possibly rejection of manuscripts submitted to legitimate journals when references are made to articles mostly published in these journals.
A few predatory publishers have bought over genuine journal labels. Will it complicate the blacklisting process?
Our team of research specialists is trained to seek out hard-to-find information. One of the items on our list of criteria states that the journals hides or obscures relationships with for-profit partner companies.
Jeffrey Beall was forced to shut down his blog. Do you think you are well prepared to handle litigation threats, harassment and appeals?
A lot of the debate surrounding Beall’s lists was around the execution, not its usefulness. We don’t deny that there might have been some issues of transparency and objectivity with Beall’s lists and that is exactly what we aim to improve upon.
Each entry on our blacklist, in reality, is a detailed report of our investigative process. The report includes not only identifying information, but also the specific violations that the process revealed.
Why did Beall suddenly change his mind and not be associated with you anymore?
Throughout the development of the Blacklist, we consulted with several industry experts, including Jeffrey Beall. We have a great relationship with Jeffrey characterised by mutual respect and admiration. His reasons for making the statement about our relationship to you were his own and we are not at liberty to speak for him.