Information literacy and the predatory publisher

Pay-for-publication and self-publishing are the same. It is a dangerous proposition for pre-tenure faculty to take part in these venues as neither counts for tenure, and neither should count for tenure. It’s been just over a year since I posted about this and new predatory publishers are still soliciting me and trying to get me to pay them for publishing my papers. Some have even promised 2 weeks from submission to publication for a fee. New solicitations include:

The darker side of academic publishing is now part of my teaching thanks to a few solicitations over the past few months from somewhat questionable publishers. These publishers wanted to add me to their reviewer list or their “Editorial Boards.” I use quotes there for a reason.  I have to wonder just what these editorial boards do. I am quickly learning that knowledge of predatory publishing is required to understand educational research in an internet-connected world. One must be able to pick out what is worthy of citation and what is not. An email this morning reminded me to write this post.

an adorable bunny
Taken from the 2010 film entitled “Predators.” This image describes a visual conception of some less than ethical research publishing practices

While Macrothink Inc. is to credit on this occasion, previous solicitations to the most recent one have been similar. The business model is easy enough to understand given the context. Since faculty need to publish research to make tenure, there is a demand out there for the quick publishing of less-than-polished research, for cash payments. This means the authors pay the journal and the journal publishes the article. I have to question the quality of the research if there is financial incentive to publish it. Pay-for-publishing venues immediately raise concerns when there is such a dynamic in the process. What’s the barrier to publication if there is money behind the acceptance? I don’t find acceptance rates on their homepages.  Every couple of weeks I get a request to review for such a journal- sometimes it is a request to be listed as a “Board Member.” With so many requests, I have become even more skeptical. We also need to ask just what role the reviewers have in donating their time for others’ financial gain. Is it ethical to ask faculty to donate their time towards a service that is financially driven?

The dynamic inherent in pay-for academic publishing hammers home the need for information literacy– a point Howard Rheingold makes at length in his new book- Netsmart: How to thrive online, which calls again for more information literacy. His recent talk at AECT 2013 brought up some familiar themes. He calls it a crap detector, but the skill set does not propose any new questions that others such as Damico’s critical web reader have been propoising for years.

The email however provides excellent course material for an activity, because it violates basic tenants of information literacy–  the context of the communication should be studied before consuming the content. Below you will find a copy of the solicitation email from Macrothink. It is curious that the email signature is from “John White,” the email address is unrelated – “jet@macrothink,” and the registered name is “Leonard Bai.” These are great indicators of the nuances of reading skills that are required to make sense of email these days, a topic I addressed in An instructional paradigm for the teaching of computer-mediated communication here.  The tone of this solicitation struck me as the academic equivalent of the queen of Nigeria emailing me for a business transition and bank account information. If anyone is interested in doing a lit review on predatory publishing in Ed Tech or Inst Design, the field dearly needs it. There should be more out there about how to teach this in effective ways.

All is not lost; we have a more general resource to help us. Jeffrey Beal at UC Denver keeps a running log of predatory publishers. Macrothink, the originators of this email, are listed on Jeffrey Beal’s blacklist. I have copied the solicitation email I received yesterday into the space below. I have also removed their links (by adding XXX in the HTTP space) because on the internet, links have meaning. I don’t want to appear as endorsing this publisher.


Dear Dr. Craig D. Howard,

I have had the opportunity to read your paper “An instructional paradigm for the teaching of computer-mediated communication” in Instructional Science and can tell from your work that you are an expert in this field. We are recruiting reviewers for the journal. If you are interested in this position of reviewing submissions, we welcome you to apply for. Please find further details at

I am John White, the editor of Journal of Education and Training (JET). Journal of Education and Training (JET) is an international, peer-reviewed online journal published by Macrothink Institute, USA. This Journal publishes research papers cover the whole range of education and training, aims to provide an international forum for the exchange of ideas, opinions, innovations and research on topics related to education and teaching. Professionals and researchers are encouraged to contribute their high quality, original works of the field.

It is a great pleasure to invite you to contribute your best knowledge and research. Your contribution will help us to establish a high standard. We use a double-blind system for peer reviews. The paper will be peer-reviewed by at least two experts. The review process may take two to three weeks. If you are interested, please find the journal’s profile at: and submit your manuscripts online. Or you can send your paper directly to the e-mail: If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the editorial assistant at

We would appreciate it if you could share this information with your colleagues and associates.

Thank you.

Best regards,

John White
Journal of Education and Training
5348 Vegas Dr. #825
Las Vegas
Nevada 89108
United States
Phone: 1-702-953-1852 ext.534
Fax: 1-702-420-2900

Update March 2014, they keep coming:

Dear Dr. Craig D. Howard,

We are reaching you because of your paper entitled, ‘Designerly Talk in Non-Pedagogical Social Spaces’, which was published in Journal of Learning Design, 2014 Vol. 7 No. 1, and were very impressed at its scope and contents. We know you are an expert in your research area.

Our journals named ‘World Journal of Education’ and ‘Journal of Curriculum and Teaching’, peer-review, published by Sciedu Press. They are devoted to publishing research papers in various aspects, fields and scope of the education, teaching, learning and other relevant subjects.

It is our great honor to invite you to submit your new manuscripts to us as one of the ‘Authors’ in our next publication.

For manuscripts submission, please visit: or and e-mail the manuscripts to or

If you are interested to be a member of our editorial board, please find the application form and details at: and send the application form to: or

We would appreciate if you could share this information with your colleagues and associates who might be interested in joining us as a ‘Reviewer’ or submit their manuscripts to us as ‘Authors’.

Thank you and we hope to hear from you and/or your colleagues and associates soon.


Ms. Sara M. Lee

Editorial Assistant

Sciedu Press


Mailing Add: 1120 Finch Avenue West, Suite 701-309, Toronto, ON., M3J 3H7, Canada

Tel: 1-416-479-0028 ext. 218

Fax: 1-416-642-8548



here’s the fine print:

Author Fees

This journal charges the following author fees.

Article Publication Fee – World Journal of Education: 300.00 (USD)
If the paper is accepted for publication, you will be asked to pay an Article Publication Fee. Please find payment information at:


4 thoughts on “Information literacy and the predatory publisher

  1. I we had a list somewhere. I get this type of solicitation from pay-for-publish schemes about twice a month, and this post has hundreds of page views a year. this is clearly a problem. Thanks for the note Ahmad.

  2. Thank you very much for posting this, I’ve just got the same email from ‘World Journal of Education’. after reading your post, I know what to do.

  3. Dimitris– what a thought-out and well-written comment! It is a pleasure to respond, and thank for commenting. There is a difference, and the difference lies in who is doing the paying. With commercial publishers, the financial burden, and gain, is supported by the field. The readership and universities who consume the scholarship support the publication. In the predatory model the author supports the scholarship. The authors are not the consumers; rather, they are supporting the publication out of need, and often duress. This is a very different dynamic. The term predatory comes from the circumstance under which they are forced into payment. Often these scholars must publish out of work-related requirements. They are thus taken advantage of by a system of pay-for-publication processes. This system puts the scholarship itself in suspect circumstances. How can we trust the content when the financial gain to accept scholarship is placed on acceptance? If the paper is not accepted, the publisher is not paid? There is a dynamic here that appears to promote the publication at all costs. When the publisher seeks financial reward from the public who consumes the content, the trust is far easier to substantiate. When the publisher seeks financial incentive from the author, trust in rigor is lost. I should have mentioned this dynamic in the original post, Thank you do much for this comment!

  4. Hi Craig,

    interesting post. I can’t help wondering though how your thoughts about predatory (profit-driven?) publishing companies compare to those of their established commercial counterparts (Springer, Elsevier etc). Don’t these have financial incentives? According to the following article they do and they do profit handsomely from the work of others ( And on top of that, scientists donate their time for others’ (indirect) financial gain and are prepared to do a lot in order to see their work published. So what is the difference at the end of it?

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