Month: September 2013

Open Access Publishing: Predatory Publishers


The LINGUIST List hosts  over 10,000 books and almost 900 publishers from around the world. Linguistic Analyst and Publications Editor, Justin Petro, has been with the Publications team here at ILIT for three years, and is a pedestal of academic integrity for The LINGUIST List. On August 29th 2013, Justin gave a spirited talk about Open Access publishing models and some of the pitfalls and abuses the modern world has imposed on them.

Modern academic culture is faced with the dilemma of an enduring need for information constrained by business models. Legitimate scientific research articles are typically shrouded in access fees, which can hinder other researchers from disseminating the work through citation while expanding their own body of work. A major downside to this system is also the lack of substance in abstracts, requiring researchers to pay access fees just to ascertain the articles relevance. In tandem with inflated subscription fees (Serials Crisis), access to legitimate research is presented as a privilege not a right.

Justin opens his presentation with the most sensible question – what is Open Access and why should we care? Open Access is a publishing model that endorses free public access to vast repositories of publications. This system can foster recursive academic growth, as the global body of accessible publications has the opportunity to build upon itself.

The premise of Open Access has two crucial components:

  • Unrestricted access
  • Unrestricted use & reuse

The Public Library of Science lists three specific benefits to Open Access:

  1. “Accelerated discovery: With open access, researchers can read and build on the findings of others without restriction.
  2. Public enrichment: Much scientific and medical research is paid for with public funds. Open access allows taxpayers to see the results of their investment.
  3. Improved education: Open access means that teachers and their students have access to the latest research findings throughout the world.”

Open Access publication models currently have two different instantiations:

The basic difference between the Green and Gold Open Access models reside in the publisher’s practices, and how journals are made available to the public. The Green model employs “self-archiving,” in which publishers deposit published articles into repositories, whereas the Gold model implements “open access journals,” where publications are made available directly from the journal.


While both models support the free unrestricted access to information, the Gold OA model has been subject to financial exploitation. These ‘predatory publishers’ value generating revenue at the expense of scholarly discourse. They typically employ a ‘publication fee’ for authors, which is then exploited for profit – the more articles published means more revenue, regardless of legitimacy: proper editorial staff and academic integrity.

Justin and the publications team here at ILIT ensure the legitimacy of the publications and publishers posted on The LINGUIST List, and act as gatekeepers of academic integrity for our users and subscribers. The team often works under the guidance of the diligent works of Jeffrey Beal of The University of Denver. Beal’s website has an extremely current and comprehensive list of ‘predatory publishers’ which can help you and your colleagues make informed decisions about publishers.

Is it possible for a ‘free’ system to be free of abuse? Perhaps not, but Open Access fosters the flow of information before the flow of money. In order for this powerful system to grow and endure, there must be gatekeepers defending against exploitation.

To view the full presentation given by Justin Petro, please see the PDF here:

Open Access_Predatory Publishers

Presenting the New MultiTree

multitree title

During Summer 2013, one of our interns, Myles Gurule, tackled redesigning and updating the MultiTree website. This massive undertaking has now reached the beta stage of its development. The new MultiTree has a great new look, as well as having new dynamic functions and features that are very easy to use. I’m going to talk about some of those new features now.

Some general new features

For every tree, there is a comments section at the bottom of the page, using Disqus. You can also share the discussion via Facebook or Twitter. This is to promote discussion in the community of linguists who use MultiTree. If you have any questions or comments about a specific tree, now there is a place for you to voice them.

MultiTree home page 2

The red box highlights the quick links that help users navigate the website.

Another important change made is to the general design and layout of the website. One aspect of that is just making it easier to navigate that website and find the information that you’re looking for. There are now quick links along the top of the web page that directs to you to the browse, search, or help menu.

Also, within the trees themselves, there are multiple color schemes for the tree nodes that you can choose from, as well as “Turn off the Lights” function. Is the white background too hard on your eyes? No problem! You just click on the “Colors” drop-down menu, and click “Turn off the Lights”, which changes the background to a subdued gray. You can also adjust the font size or the orientation of the tree, which I describe below.

Colors menu

The Colors and “Turn Off the Lights” Drop-down Menu

Navigation features within a tree

When you are exploring a tree on MultiTree, there are a number of actions that you can take with our improved navigation buttons:

1) The Highlight Button

highlight path

If you want to see the path from the top parent node of the family, you can click on the language name or subgroup, and then click, “Highlight Node.” This will highlight the branch from the parent node to the node of your choice in red for easy visual reference of the language relationships.


You can do this with as many nodes as you want. Want to see how far two distantly languages diverged in a language hypothesis? You can highlight both nodes. If you don’t want to use the highlights anymore, just click “Clear Highlights” on the top right of the page. That way, you don’t have to go to every single node to remove the highlights.

Multiple nodes highlighted.

Multiple nodes highlighted.

pin it 2

The Pin-it Button

Also, if you’re looking at multiple languages within a tree and you want to switch back and forth between them, you can click the “Pin-It” button in the language information column to the left.


pin it 3

Multiple Tabs Pinned

It will save the language as a tab in the language description column, and you don’t have to go scrolling through the tree searching for it again. As you can see, you can have multiple tabs.



center node

Click on that tab, then click the “Center Node” button, and it will take straight to that node. This cuts down a lot of search time scrolling through the interface.


2) The Search Bar

search bar 3

In the Search Bar, you can search by languages names or codes. When you search for a language or subgroup, it will automatically highlight the path to that node, as you can see in the picture below.

search highlight

Highlighted path for search term “Russian”

3) Orienting the Tree

view 1

The View Drop-down Menu

The drop-down “View” menu allows you to change the view of the tree. This is really handy, because depending on the size of the tree and the number of children languages. You have a number of choices, from horizontal (side-to-side view), vertical (top-to-bottom view), and radial (a spider-web view).  You also have the option to open all the nodes in the tree at once, and if this is too overwhelming, close all the nodes so only the parent node is visible.


The “Radial” view is really useful with smaller tree, while the “Horizontal” view is better for those large Ethnologue or Composite trees. Below is an example of how the radial and horizontal views look:

view - radial

Radial View


view - horizontal

Horizontal View

Also, if you lose your place while changing the view of the tree, all you have to do is click “Center Node” to find your place again, or click “Center”, which will bring you back to the parent of the tree. You can also change the font size of the node names, making the font bigger or smaller depending on the zoom setting and tree orientation.

4) Link to the Language Profile Pages

code hyperlink

If you look to the left in the language description area, you will see that the language code has a hyperlink. This links you directly to the MultiTree language profile pages. On this profile page, you can link to any tree that uses that code in MultiTree, as well as other general information about the language, subgroup, or dialect itself, such as where the language is spoken and if it has any descendants.


If you’re having trouble finding your way around the tree, just click on the question mark, and it will explain the general functions of the tree, as well as link you to the “Help” page.

Reasons for Redesigning MultiTree

The current MultiTree website is programmed in Java, which caused a number of problems in the long run. Two of the major ones that concerned us were 1) Java has some security issues; and 2) anyone who wanted to access MultiTree through their smart phones or other alternate technologies were unable to do so, since Java was incompatible with them. To solve this particular problem, the beta version has been programmed in JavaScript, which makes MultiTree more accessible to a wider audience, such as smartphone users.

Another purpose behind redesigning the MultiTree website was that there were many features that the current MultiTree website had that nobody knew existed, solely because nobody could find them. In the beta website, MultiTree’s features are more transparent and easy to find.

The new website has many new features that the current website does not, a few of which we already talked about; however, one feature that the new MultiTree will not have is the “Compare” function, where you can have two trees open in the same window. While the new site does not have this feature, the new MultiTree allows you to open multiple trees in multiple windows or tabs in the same browser, something you cannot do with the current MultiTree.

Please keep in mind that the new MultiTree site is still under development and we still haven’t worked out all the kinks yet. However, you can explore and play with the new site and tell us what you think. Here is the temporary link to the new site. We would love to hear any feedback, comments or problems that you may have. You can send your comments and suggestions to [email protected]