I'm a world-leading biologist! Or else Open Access is a bad idea. (a short rant)

I got invited to be the editor-in-chief of a journal due to my "reputation in biology".  This is by a publishing company called Bentham

Why does Bentham think I should be an editor?  Because the more journals they make, the more money they make.  How can that be?  Surely it's hard to sell new journals?  Ah, but no -- this is an Open Access journal, so the authors pay them.  They couldn't care less if no one every reads the article, they get money for it.

And will authors pay to get published?  Oh yes!  Because some people think any journal article is good -- and academics get judged by the number of good articles they produce.  Some people think Open Access is a good idea, as in the opposite of evil, rather than good as in good quality articles.  This is because anyone can read the articles for free, since the authors already paid for them.  Tax payers pay for research, shouldn't they be able to read about it?  Well, yes, and they can, for nearly any article in any journal Google will find you a free copy.  Don't like to steal?  Then why not join the library of your local university?  Bath charges £80 a year, and then you have access to literally thousands of journals that they buy electronically.

The first few Open Access journals had nice, idealistic socialists trying to change the world working for them.  But taking money for articles this way is not just an insult to the authors (who already did all the work, and now get charged!) but also a moral hazard.

I have to go have dinner with Will, as it's Thanksgiving.  Though we already celebrated, we want to go out, and it may be crowded as there are often Americans here.  Saturday I said I was thankful Obama won the presidency.  Today I am thankful for the people who still keep working to make the scientific publication system work.  It's our main mechanism for validating research, the selective force that keeps science progressing.  Like Natural Selection, it's not perfect, but it at least generally finds a gradient.


Joanna Bryson said…
By the way, I think one of the reasons I was so offended was that they want to pay me off for scrounging up fees for them! "For all the manuscripts that you submit to the journal, for the first ten that are published, we will pay you an annual royalty of 5% of all fees received on these manuscripts."
Joanna Bryson said…
Good grief -- I got another invite from plausibly my own field, but this journal doesn't even list a real editor! The hash signs were in the email they sent me. You invite people you need the CV of? Unbelievable! (and by the way, my CV is googleable anyway.)

Dear Joanna J. Bryson,
Intelligent Control and Automation (ICA, ISSN Print: ####-####, ISSN
Online: ####-####) is a scholarly open access, peer-reviewed,
quarterly and fully refereed journal focusing on theories, methods
and applications in intelligent control and automation. To further
improve the quality of this journal, we are soliciting scholars to
expand the editorial board.
Members of the board will provide support to authors who submit
papers to the journal. As an Editorial Board Member you are
responsible for editorial review of manuscripts for publication and
advise the editors.
If you are interested, please send your resume along with your areas
of interest to ica@scirp.org, for more information about this
journal, please visit website at http://www.scirp.org/journal/ica.
We hope to hear from you soon!
On behalf of the Chief Editor
ICA Editorial Office
This message was sent to [j.j.bryson@bath.ac.uk].
Unsubscribe at any time by clicking here.
Joanna Bryson said…
Now I've been invited to the editorial board of American Journal of Analytical Chemistry http://www.scirp.org/journal/ajac I don't even know what analytical chemistry could be, and I only had one year of it in highschool, none at university.
Joanna Bryson said…
Now I've been invited to the board of The Journal of iBusiness http://www.scirp.org/journal/ib/

No one I've found on the internet can figure out whether this publisher is open access or some other kind of scam.
Joanna Bryson said…
now I've been invited to apply to be on the editorial board of J. of Creative Education.
Joanna Bryson said…
Just for the record, I still get asked to edit on journals of fields I don't work in to this day (March 2020, 10 years later). I just stopped bothering to comment every time because life is short.