Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Publishing spam

This week, my colleague Susan Stepney posted an interesting blog article on the emerging phenomenon of "publishing spam" - unsolicited emails sent to academics in an attempt to flatter them into submitting a paper for publication. Unfortunately, such publications generally come with significant page charges attached. While the notion of page charges is not, in itself, inherently bad (most open access publishing relies on it), problems arise when they are levied by so-called "predatory publishers" - operations set up specifically to harvest fees from sometimes gullible academics (who may be desperate to add papers to their CVs in an attempt to gain tenure, or even gain a first position). The number of such outfits is growing rapidly, and they are discussed in detail here.

Susan was discreet enough to redact the name of the publisher in her case;  I, however, have been contacted several times by the same operation, despite several requests for my address to be removed from their mailing list. I therefore have no qualms about reproducing here the email I've just sent to them. MASAUM appear on the most popular list of predatory publishers, and so I can only conclude that their primary aim is to make money, rather than disseminate good scholarship.

To whom it may concern:

Despite several requests to you to remove my email address from your contact list, you still persist in sending me your academic spam. I am therefore copying this message to members of your "editorial board", in the hope that they will come to realise the precise nature of your operation.

Your messages are unsolicited and unwelcome. No credible organization would garner publications by sending out boiler-plate invitations in the way that you do. It is clear that the only objective of your operation is to gather publication fees from desperate and/or gullible academics. The role of academic editors is to use their contacts in order to solicit submissions. The people you list in your email should be made aware of the fact that associating themselves with MASAUM will do their careers a lot more harm than good; seeing such an editorship on a CV would immediately cause me to call into question a colleague's judgement, since they have clearly not done their homework on the precise nature of your business model. I would encourage them to resign immediately.You are listed in a directory of predatory publishers


and it is clear that such a listing is well-deserved.

Please do not contact me again. 


Vaguery said...

You may end up with a lawsuit threat by mentioning the name of the "publisher". I did, with another one.

Martyn Amos said...

In which case, I'll be tempted file a counter-suit for harrassment, given that I've asked them several times not to contact me... Thanks for the warning, though.

Anonymous said...

As we'll as the publication spam you've discussed, I've also had unsolicited emails from companies trying to get me to custom order peptides and other reagents from them, based upon my "VERY EXCELLENT PUBLICATION X, WHICH I WAS DIRECTED TO BY [[someone I've never heard of]]"

x said...

The journal I got spammed by is not one on the list you link to -- so there's more out there!

Martyn Amos said...

I think the list is that of publishers, rather than specific journals. It's perfectly possible that the publisher of "your" journal is on the list...

Susan Stepney said...

Ah, I checked again, for the publisher. Yes, you're quite right; it's on the list!

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