In the last few days the infamous “Beall’s Blacklist” of ‘predatory journals’ has gone (see reactionwatch’s reaction). Though I have argued before that I prefer the phrase questionable to predatory, and white to blacklists, it’s not with much pleasure that I note Beall has obviously been pressured to withdraw his work.
I would guess there have been the normal academic political shenanigans, of which the less I am aware of the better. Truth is subjective, and in faculty meetings, exponentially so.
Beall’s contribution was making the problem of profiteering journals a sexy, dangerous topic. The downside was his inability to draw a link between the obviously unethical scams running out of India and the less obviously unethical scams being run out of (ooh, say) the Netherlands.
There is a bit of wailing and moaning in the comment-o-sphere claiming he was the only person singlehandedly protecting scholars from those evil scammers. The slap of face-palms from every scholarly publications office in the world combined into audible applause for such wonderful schemes as http://thinkchecksubmit.org/. Give an academic a blacklist, and he’ll publish well for a day. Show them how to assess a journal, and they’ll publish well forever!
Beall’s withdrawal from the scene makes racketeering in scholarly publishing a bit duller, and that’s sad. However, it does make the process a lot more thoughtful, and more reflective. Once of the most trenchant critics of alternative business models for scholarly publishing has gone, and now we are going to have to work it out for ourselves.