In 2010, Jeffrey Beall, an academic librarian at the Auraria Library at University of Colorado, Denver (CU Denver), started curating a list of allegedly predatory journals/publishers. He has been a well-known vocal critic of the open access publishing movement and was responsible for coining the term “predatory open access publishing.” When accessed last, Scholarly Open Access had a list of over 1,155 allegedly predatory open access publishers. Last week, Scholarly Open Access, which was actively being used by the academic community to get information on predatory journals/publishers, was taken down by Jeffery Beall without any explanation or prior update.
Although the decision to pull down the site and its contents was a personal decision, many critics speculate that this move to shut down the website was due to threats and politics. Also, besides the list of questionable journals and publishers, Beall’s site also maintained a list of “misleading metrics companies” and “hijacked journals,” both of which have also been taken down from the website.
Currently, there is no clarity on what has led to the sudden turn of events for Scholarly Open Access. There is some speculation that Cabell’s, a publishing services company that has announced housing its own blacklist would have gained significant advantage by the closure of Scholarly Open Access. However, through Cabell’s tweets, they too have expressed their support for Jeffrey Beall and have hinted that he was forced to take the website down.
Apart from the site, Beall’s faculty page at the Auraria Library, where he is an associate professor, has also been removed along with a Facebook page that is associated with his alleged predatory publishers list. Although the content on his website is no longer available, archived copies of the details can be easily found online.
Many are speculating that a legal lawsuit by Frontiers or OMICS Publishing Group, which intend to sue Beall and seek compensation for damages worth $1 billion, could be responsible for this development. As per a spokesperson of CU Denver, Beall’s decision to call it quits was not due to any legal threat and that he no longer intended to pursue his research in this area and wanted to move on to explore other areas of research. The lack of clarity on Beall’s actions continues to feed the rumors within the academic community, and this will surely have a significant impact on how predatory publishers are being tracked around the world.
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