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Letter to dodgy open access journals

September 12th, 2014

Dear dodgy open access journals,


Every morning I open up my email with a sense of anticipation.  Who will I receive an invitation from today? Will it be Obesity Research, which is a topic at least tangentially related to stuff I have actually published on, or the International Journal of Marine Science and Ocean Technology, which has clearly not bothered to do its homework.  However, I can’t help feel, dodgy open access journals, that you’ve stopped even pretending to look legitimate. 


Take this morning’s invitation from the Journal of Geology and Geosciences.  If you’re going to try to look credible, I’d suggest you rein in your topic coverage a little.  Even the most inclusive definitions of the field do not include anthropology and primatology.  Also, if you’re aiming for credibility, I’d suggest you reconsider calling your editorial assistant “Renesmee”.  I’m pretty sure that name was invented by Stephenie Meyer in her Twilight series and anyone with a taste for pulp fiction is going to call bullshit when they see it – unless, that is, your editorial assistant is four years old (because, thanks to Steph, parents are actually saddling their offspring that with godawful name).  You may as well call your editorial assistant “Vlad the Impaler” or “Winnie the Pooh” and be done with it (and frankly, both would hold considerably more appeal). 


Starting your email with “Hope you are doing great? Let me drag your attention towards the Journal of Geology & Geosciences” probably isn’t the best idea either.  I’m all for informal writing (and even use contractions in formal academic writing, although I draw the line at run-on sentences), but at least try to make it grammatically correct.  Likewise, Obesity Research’s editorial board invitation could do with a rethink. “Openventio Publishers has started its Journey in this field with many aspirations and dedication to join hands with the worldwide eminent scientists as well as with the scientific organizations to build it up with strong foundation in its long run” does not make for a convincing sales pitch.  The point is not to sound like a character from The Celestine Prophecy.  And for Godsakes try and come up with a legitimate-sounding sounding publisher name. “Openventio”?  Seriously?  I supposed it’s a mild improvement on “Scholarena”.  And just so you know, “Enliven Archives” sounds more like the creed of nerdy library scientists than the name of a legitimate publisher.  And don’t get me started on “Herbert publications”.  Any name that makes you think of an Eddie Murphy movie is probably not going to hold up to academic scrutiny.


I’m also positive that no credible academic journal has ever featured the following image as part of its promotional materials:










I’m sorry, Omics Publishing Group, but while ‘wolf boy’ and ‘bearded lady’ pictures might have been all the rage in the nineteenth century, using them to raise your profile probably isn’t going to do so in quite the ways you anticipated.


In sum, try and learn something from the Nigerian princesses and elderly British lottery winners in the days of yore wanting to offload their millions.  The trick is to personalize your invitation in a way that sounds genuine and sincere and, most importantly, flatter the hell out of your mark.  Nail that and you will have academics in the palm of your hand. 


Yours, etc.


Kirsten Bell.

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