Late last year Jeffrey Beall published an update to his list of Predatory Open Access Publishers. The list grew from 23 questionable publishers in 2011 to 225 in 2012. With his list Beall reminds us that there is not just good in Open Access publishing:
The gold open-access model has given rise to a great many new online publishers. Many of these publishers are corrupt and exist only to make money off the author processing charges that are billed to authors upon acceptance of their scientific manuscripts.
The author pays business model opens the gates for fraudulent publishers looking to earn quick money that researchers are willing to spend in exchange for the publication of their articles. Even worse usually it’s not their own money because the fees are paid for by universities or other funding organizations. Spending someone else’s money is easy. Therefore generally acknowledged standards for good Open Access publishing are needed.
What could these standards be? Beall gives a number of reasons why publishers are included in his black list.
Yet, these are tentative criteria that just allow to identify possibly predatory journals or publishers. So the question remains how good is to be discerned from bad.
Update: Bealls comment encouraged me to take a closer look at his list of criteria for determining bad Open Access publishers. And he is right to a certain extend. I have been both too quick with my judgment and too imprecise. There are quite a few good criteria in place that allow authors and readers to decide whether a journal publisher is trustworthy or not. Nevertheless not all academic disciplines rely on journals as their primary means of publishing. Especially in the humanities there is still a strong emphasis on publishing books. In this realm some of Bealls criteria still apply, but some might be misleading. Even well renowned academic book publishers do not have a formal editorial or review board. What if one of these traditional publishers turns Open Access? Should it be labelled predatory?