Scholarly Open Access

I kept a link to Beall’s list on my PhD Resources Reddit and received a comment that alerted me to the post (reposted below) which reported the take-down of this incredibly useful resource.

Science itself is under attack by those governments, corporations and gangsters who profit from ignorance: Beall did a great service by “outing” bogus and fake journals who increasingly have been undermining the robust verification and publication of hard science findings.

The comment on the reddit post is available here and calls for a distributed response that is resilient to the challenges that cannot be sustained by one man in academia.

The post-truth era is here, now. Objective enquiry is under attack.

Beall’s list of “predatory” publishers and journals no longer available

Scholarly Open Access, a popular blog that listed questionable journals and publishers, has recently been taken down. The blog was maintained since 2008 by Jeffrey Beall who is an academic librarian at the University of Colorado in Denver. Incidentally, his faculty page too is no longer available. While the exact reasons behind this decision remain unclear, according to a UC Denver spokesperson, it was Beall’s personal decision to take this step and added that, “Professor Beall remains on the faculty at the university and will be pursuing new areas of research.” Lacey Earle, Vice President of Business Development at Cabell’s International, tweeted that “threats & politics” forced Beall to shut down the site.

Beall’s blog that listed more than 1000 “potential, possible or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers” now stands blank, and it is not known whether this closure is permanent. While his efforts at exposing fraudulent publishers were applauded by many academics, his list – popularly known as “Beall’s list” – had been a source of controversy as some open access advocates believed that he was negative toward the model. He also received flak from some publishers and journals that objected to being included in his list. One such publisher is OMICS Publishing Group that threatened to sue Beall with a $1 billion lawsuit for defaming the company.

Cabell’s International, a publishing services company, had announced that it has been working with Beall since 2015 to develop a blacklist of publishers. Hence, there has been some speculation as to whether this was the reason behind pulling down of Beall’s blog. However, the company publicly stated that it is not involved with this incident. The shutdown of Beall’s blog is perceived by many as a loss to academia. Though it received considerable criticism for being overly biased, it was unique in the industry and many researchers considered it to be a valuable resource. It remains to be seen what effect the closedown of this blog has on academic publishing.

References:

Mystery as controversial list of predatory publishers disappears

Why did Beall’s List of potential predatory publishers go dark?

No More ‘Beall’s List’

This post Beall’s list of “predatory” publishers and journals no longer available was originally published on Editage Insights.

Dunbar Science Club: Light

On Saturday 10th January, young scientists at the Dunbar Science Club learned about lenses and light. Physics graduates undertaking a PGDE (Professional Graduate Diploma in Education) at the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education ran sessions for children aged between 4 and 12.

The sessions began with an introduction to lenses and the question “Did you know that you carry around your own personal magnifying glass?” After looking at lenses and magnifying glasses, the children were guided through their own dissection of a real eye to find the lens inside. The Moray House teachers started the cut with a scalpel to allow the children to complete the opening of the eye using scissors. A gentle squeeze, and the aqueous humour popped out, bringing the lens out with it. Children proved that this is a real lens by reading printed material through it!

Time was very tight in the workshops but some of the children had the opportunity to make a pinhole camera using an empty Pringles tub. Lenses are used in lots of things including cameras but not all cameras need a lens. Early cameras work using just a pinhole: making a pinhole in the bottom of the tub allows light to enter which can be displayed on a screen made from greaseproof paper held onto the top of the tub by an elastic band. Children got to take their camera home.

 

Finally, the groups had the chance to look at the power of light and the importance of colour. Our young scientists were able to explain that darker colours absorb energy more than light colours. Using this knowledge, they could say that if a laser was unable to pop a yellow balloon, then we should draw a black patch on the balloon. Shining a laser on the patch should pop the balloon because of the extra energy absorbed. Using a special powerful laser (used by astronomers to show constellations in the night sky), this was tested and proved with a bang!

Acknowledgements

Great fun was had by all. Credit is due to the Dunbar Science Club – the volunteers who run this and the Dunbar SciFest do an amazing job bringing great science to the young people of the town. Special thanks to Moray House technical staff and the PGDE teachers who planned, resourced and delivered this session and a big thank you to the Edinburgh businesses that helped us out with some of the equipment we needed: the Dominion Cinema who provided the Pringles tubs; George Bowers Butcher in Stockbridge who gave us pig’s eyes; and Welch Fishmongers, Newhaven who gave us haddock eyes. This couldn’t have happened without your support.