How progressive is Progressive Academic Publishing?

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I recently read a paper by two academics on the governance of lifelong learning – an important topic, that has been widely debated in western nations but not nearly so widely studied in the very different African context. The authors are academics from Botswana, and their paper examines the challenges and potential of promoting a complex field like lifelong learning in their own country.

I enjoyed the paper, and tweeted a link to it. I was, though, concerned about the journal in which it appeared, and about the pricing practices of its publisher, Progressive Academic Publishing. The journal is called the European Journal of Research and Reflection in Educational Sciences, and a glance at its content suggests that the papers appear in a very basic format. It is hard to see what value is added, other than giving the papers a volume and issue number for the journal.

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All journals published by Progressive Academic Publishing are open access, meaning that the contents can be read for free online. And the website claims that they are peer reviewed, though I’m not sure what that actually means. You won’t be surprised to learn that EJRRES, like all other journals from the same publisher, charges an author processing fee of $90 or over per paper, which for African academics is a hefty sum.

I wouldn’t mind knowing more about this journal and the high quality standards it claims to maintain. The editor-in-chief is said to be a Dr. Elizabeth Kilbride from the UK; I’ve tried a Google search, and found no academics with that name in the UK, though there is one lab technician at a Scottish university. One other UK person, from Coventry University, is said to be on the editorial board, but finding him on Coventry’s website proved beyond my abilities. The company’s postal address is on a business park just off the M42. It was included by Jeffrey Beall in his list of predatory publishers.

Of course, none of this necessarily tells us anything about the quality of individual papers appearing in Progressive Academic Publishing’s journals. But it does help me answer one of my own questions about this type of journal: who writes for them? And if it is academics from Africa who choose this way of reaching an audience, what does this tell us about the opportunities they have for publishing in more established and – frankly – reputable journals?

 

Who or what is “Anthrologia”?

An email tells me that I have a subscription to a journal called Anthrologia. I’ve never heard of it before, so I checked out Beall’s List of Predatory Journals, and found that it wasn’t mentioned, which it would have been if it were seriously dodgy.

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Image from Wikimedia Commons

So I had a quick look at its website (you’ll find a link here), to find out who publishes it and what it aims to do. First of all, Anthrologia styles itself as a networking organisation for academic researchers in what it calls ‘the soft sciences’. Its particular focus is on inter-regional networking between Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, and it claims to have over 200,000 ‘members’.

Second, it is based in the unit for Communication and Cultural Innovation and Support, University of Malaya, a highly reputably institution, and lists a number of well-regarded bodies among its supporters, including the social science departments of several prestigious western universities. Third, it does not charge members to belong, nor does it seem to charge authors to publish their work.

No doubt Anthrologia forms part of the University of Malaya’s strategy for raising its visibility and status, but that seems to me a reasonable goal. After all, researchers who decide to become involved will hardly be unaware of the tendency of universities to seek prestige.

Taken together, anyway, this information suggests to me that Anthrologia is a kosher outfit, and not an attempt to diddle the unwary out of their money. This being so, why did the organisation behind it take the rather bizarre decision to send people unsolicited emails that look like spam, and that invite us to read or write for their journal? Surely they are aware that we are all on our guard for dodgy journals and iffy learned societies?

 

A dodgy journal and my brush with celebrity

From the Wikipedia entry for Miley Cyrus

From the Wikipedia entry for Miley Cyrus

I just had an email from Miley Cyrus. Or to be more precise, the email came from someone calling themselves “Mili Cyrus”.

At the bottom was the signature of one Dr. Kathleen M. Everling, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Tyler, inviting me to contribute to a journal of which she is editor. I won’t be writing for the Journal of Education and Human Development, whose publication processing fee for a research paper is 200 $US, and is published by a body calling itself the American Research Institute for Policy Development.

This email could be kosher, but it looks to me like another bunch of chancers who are taking advantage of – and probably damaging – the open access movement. I’ve blogged on this topic before. But I thank Mili Cyrus, whoever you are, for allowing me to post an entirely off-topic image of the qeeun of twerking.

Another dodgy publisher’s email

I have just received the following email. You may have seen somethiing similar – and it is possible that less experienced colleagues might think it is authentic.

We are contacting you because you are the corresponding author on a paper that was published in 2009. We are conducting a survey about the perceptions scientists have of information providers in scientific, technical and medical research fields.  As only a carefully selected sample of scientists and practitioners have been chosen for the study, your feedback is very valuable to us.
 
The survey is being conducted by a scientific, technical and medical publisher who will be revealed at the end of the survey. Under the terms of the Market Research Society Code of Conduct, it will not lead to any sales follow up and no individual (or organization) will be identified. Your results will be kept confidential and used only for research purposes.
 
The email was unsigned but came from the following address: scholarlyresearch@us.confirmit.com. It isn’t the first time that this bunch asked me to take part in their surveys. Last time, I asked the British Market Research Society whether they knew anything about them, and they said that they did not. I’ve heard rumours that Elsevier are behind this initiative, which might not be surprising given the publisher’s reputation among researchers, but if so it seems a clumsy way of responding.
 
The email closes with the saccharine line:

Thank you very much for your time, we really value your input.
Sincere or what?