Heads up: via TimesHigherEd.

When Alastair Harden began receiving emailed invitations earlier this year to submit papers to various similar-sounding open-access journals with what he saw as little obvious relation to his discipline, the PhD student and sessional lecturer in Classics at the University of Reading smelled a rat. Closer examination revealed that the journals were all published by the Centre for Promoting Ideas, which, despite its British spelling, claims on its website to be based at what appears to be a non-existent address in New York City. A visit to what Mr Harden described as the centre’s “hilarious” website - which includes reference to a director named “Dr John Simth Jr” (sic) - convinced him to contact Times Higher Education.

He is not the first to question the centre’s credentials.

It is among nearly 140 “predatory” publishers and 30 stand-alone journals on a list maintained since 2008 by Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and metadata librarian at the University of Colorado Denver. Dr Beall defines “predatory” journals as publications that “exploit the gold open-access model for their own profit”. That is, they present themselves as standard academic journals but seek to maximise their income from article fees by publishing all submissions with little or no scrutiny. Many predatory publishers, according to Dr Beall, refer to themselves as “centres”, “institutes” or “networks”, and are often run by people from the developing world (but who are often living in the West). He said they exploit the fact that academics in some developing nations are judged on the quantity of their research output, which gives them a strong incentive to publish as much as possible regardless of quality. But some countries give academics additional credit for publishing in foreign journals, which explained why so many predatory journals were registered in Western countries such as the UK, the US and Canada, Dr Beall added.

[Read more: TimesHigherEd]