Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shady publishing

I was recently asked, by an anonymous individual, for my opinion on an unsolicited email that contained an offer to publish their thesis. To a young academic this might sound like an attractive proposition (more so in the arts and humanities than in the sciences, where journal articles still rule) - log a quick publication, get on Amazon and maybe even make some money.

However, if we dig a little beneath the surface we quickly uncover some pretty cynical practices. Others have documented in detail the shady nature of these companies (see here, here and here); suffice to say, the overwhelming advice is Don't Do It.

I thought I'd do my own research on the specific company that approached my colleague; LAP Publishing. Although several people have already commented at length on the various problems with their approach, and how these should all serve as significant red flags (see the last link above), perhaps the most damning evidence I found came from their own website.

I visited their main website, and soon saw a page of author comments. I'm absolutely sure that these are all completely genuine, and not at all fabricated; after all, who could make up a book with a title such as "RETURNS TO EDUCATIONAL INVESTMENTS IN A TRANSITIONAL ECONOMY: AN INVESTIGATION OF KAZAKHSTAN’S LABOR MARKET IN 2005"? It's even available on Amazon, although I'd advise you to turn off 1-Click Ordering before taking a look - you might not be able to stop yourself.

The best bit about this page, though, is the testimonials from the authors themselves:

"My experience with Lap Lambert Academic Publishing has been an experience I will never forget."

Well, that one could go one of two ways.

"Their superb customer service and support of me was the first point I noticed in my first communication with company."

Hmm, not sure about the grammar there, but we'll persevere.

"Within three short months, with their assistance I have now published six books..."

A book every two weeks!

Ok, so this getting a little suspect. No serious publisher would ever use such mangled English in their testimonials (or, indeed, actually need such things from their authors), or imply that, through them, you can knock out books at a rate that would make even Barbara Cartland question her commitment.

This isn't a post to say "let's laugh at the foreigners and their bad use of English". It's simply a comment on an absence of editorial standards that is so complete as to let these unedited "testimonials" go live on the company's own website.

These last two really are the final nails in the coffin:

"I must tell you that your contribution of publishing this book is very helpfulness and valuable for globalization of Ergonomics/Human Factors. […] I am appreciated of your contributions and also your kindly support and assist."

"This was very convenient process, because personal and printed advise were so excellent!"

Case closed.

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