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