Assessing Questionable Journals 2 – Anti Western Prejudice?

As I wrote earlier, I’ve been asked to do short reports on the reputability of various journals and publishers – and this has been picking up as the publishing season comes closer in our part of the world.

One such request came about InTech, a Croatian open access monograph publisher.   I checked my normal sources and found they had many publications, and had listings and memberships in the Committee for Publication Ethics, Sherpa RoMEO, indexed in Web of Science, and has works well cited in Web of Science and Scopus.  Our library catalogue has a number of InTech OA books that have been used in courses here at Canterbury.

The book designs themselves are pretty pedestrian, and they seem like a ‘good enough’ publisher, getting your words into print with as little fuss as possible.  Could they be a vanity publisher?  Potentially, but that’s always been a grey area.  In this case, for the relatively cheap price of a few hundred euros, they can get a book in print, and have an excellent network into the scholarly publishing framework.

After I sent my favourable report about InTech to the person interested, I received the following email:

Kia ora Anton

I had asked a colleague from a different institution about joining me in this. She has published a few books. Here is what she said:
• I’ve had a chance to look at these emails and unfortunately I think that this firm has been discredited as a “predatory publisher”, that is one that takes your money and publishes your work without sufficient attention to quality assurance. I think you would be best to decline their invitation. Just say your university will not fund publication in their journal.
• See the following link: https://www.researchgate.net/post/Is_InTech_Open_Science_a_predatory_or_a_ligitimate_publisher
http://retractionwatch.com/2017/05/09/faculty-publish-predatory-journals-school-become-complicit/
I thought you would be interested to see this and to compare the sources for future reference.

I had seen both of these links, and they are comments in blogs, suggesting that InTech were a predatory/questionable publisher.

So why, given the weight of evidence I found, do people think Intech is questionable?

Firstly, people (even seasoned academics) don’t seem to know the difference between a comment on a blog and a membership of a professional publishing organisation.  That’s just a straight issue about information literacy.

Secondly, the publisher is based in Croatia.  That shouldn’t make a difference, but it does.  It seems that there is a prejudice against businesses not based in Western Europe.  Hindawi, one of the biggest OA publishers, is based in Egypt, and is constantly having to defend itself against claims it is questionable, pretty much based on nothing but that.  The actually questionable publisher I wrote about earlier does have a UK address, which looks, from Google Street View, like a scungy flat!   InTech, on the other hand has a UK office in The Shard.

It makes sense to me to have operations based in places like Egypt and Croatia, where you have access to well educated graduate workers at much lower rates than Germany or even New Zealand.

So the problem here is one of anti-non-western-European prejudice: that’s all I can ascribe it to.  This is a huge shame, as I can imagine these businesses bringing relatively well paid jobs to local graduates who are using their hard won academic skills in publishing.

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