Nova Science Publishers

Nova Science Publishers June 15, 2018

I received an invitation recently to submit a manuscript which I felt I should share, despite the warning not to do so at the bottom of the email. Sending me an unsolicited email seems to me that is should invalidate any demand in a disclaimer of the sort at the bottom. Nonetheless, after sharing the text of the email, I was contacted by an attorney telling me that I was violating the sender’s intellectual property in doing so, and so I have since removed it.

There were quite a number of oddities about the email, not limited to the fact that I haven’t actually published on the “power of prayer.” But the biggest is the fact that the publisher emphasizes that they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau!

It may well seem strange to those outside academia that having a Better Business Bureau rating at all is a worrying sign. And it may be that going forward into the future, we will need something like a Better Publisher Bureau to serve as a clearinghouse for ratings and reviews of places that offer to oublish our work. Open access publishing and print on demand technology mean that things look much better for those who must “publish or perish” than they ever did before. But the proliferation of ways to publish and increased ease and lower expense involved in the process also means that it is easier than ever to get one’s work into print. There is nothing wrong with self-publishing at all, for most purposes. It just lacks the one thing that sets academic publishing apart: peer review. And so the problem with those who will publish anything is not that this is inherently “bad,” but that it lacks the very thing that makes it valuable for the purpose of tenure and promotion. Perhaps we need to change the saying to “peer review or perish”? But some of the predatory publishers claim to offer that, even if it is unclear whether they do. What else could capture what “publish or perish” used to mean, but can convey it more clearly in our era of cheap fast and easy publishing, when mere publication is not a clear sign? Not that it ever really was – there have always been vanity presses. And it used to be that self-publishing was the norm, and peer review was how your work was received after publication. If we could just move to the modern equivalent of that, where it was fine to simply post a pdf of your work online, and then the question was whether other scholars found it engaging, the concern about predatory publishers might go away.

What do others think? And what are some of the more amusing emails you have received asking you to publshe your work with this or that outlet?

Finally, here is a comic from XYKADEMIQZ that I have shared here before, depicting the “5 stages of peer review”:


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  • Erp

    Well there is arXiv for physics and related fields.

    • Yes, I think I’ve said here before that a humanities equivalent of the arXiv approach would be a wonderful thing. If not, I say it in some things I’ve written about the digital humanities that will appear in print soon! What I don’t know is how much the pdfs uploaded there count for tenure and promotion in universities.

      • Erp

        Just depositing without going on to formal peer reviewed publication elsewhere almost certainly not; however, it makes the paper easily available for others in the field to read and cite (and the full text is searchable). Being frequently cited in other peer reviewed work would count (and using an arXiv number in references makes it fairly easy to track down many of the cites). Being read and then contacted for exchange of ideas would broaden the author’s professional network and likely make it more international. There is also PMC (PubMed Central) though that only has stuff that has been formally published or is supported by government funding agencies.

        However I’m not sure how much research has been done on Digital Scholarship/tenure. Certainly some descriptive work such as

        Struppa, Daniele C. “Scripta Manent: The New Publishing Scene and the Tenure Case: An Administrator’s View.” Notices of the American Mathematical Society 59, no. 05 (May 1, 2012): 1.

        But then there is the fun “Sitnikov in Westeros: How Celestial Mechanics finally explains why winter is coming in Game of Thrones” (the paper could have done with another spell/homonym check).

        • If we can figure out a functional and equiitable approach to crowdsourced peer review of freely hosted online writing that would provide evaluation of quality in a manner comparable to the traditional publication process, it could revolutionize academia,

  • What do others think?

    Yes, that was probably a scam journal.

    Just post pdf files online — that sounds fine to me. The problem, though, is that it does not fit with typical university promotion and tenure procedures. But it is way past time for those to be overhauled.

    We should really be looking at the quality and importance of our colleagues’ work, instead of at the quantity. However, evaluating quality is subjective and fallible. Evaluating quantity is objective. So universities have put more emphasis on quantity than on quality. The result is that we have seen a proliferation of low quality research papers and low quality journals in which to publish them.

    It is time that we came up with a better way of evaluating our colleagues.

    • Great thoughts! My big concern with an open approach to peer review is that it might be biased in favor of those who network better, whether in person or online, or are already well-connected.

      • Yes, that is certainly a potential problem. But I think we have gone too far the other way.

  • Phil Ledgerwood

    Not even unsolicited money making farms consider me worthy of publication, although when I was a freshman in college, I got an invitation to enter a “poetry contest” where the winners would be published in a large, leather bound book I could buy for $60.

    • That’s very reminiscent of the approach of the various Who’s Who scams around.

    • John MacDonald

      Maybe you could team up with someone who has a PhD and co-write an article?

      • Phil Ledgerwood

        That’s a pretty cool idea, although if someone had a PhD, I’m not sure how much they’d find my contributions useful. Maybe I could find someone with a PhD in an unrelated field and convince them that I’m actually an expert in something.

        • John MacDonald

          If you want recognition/pay for your ideas, do what I do: The Muse is very old, and has been inspiring gods and humans since the beginning of time. So, her well has pretty much been emptied out. When I get an idea I think is pretty good, I write it down and put it under my pillow, and if she likes it and hasn’t thought of it before, she takes it, leaves a quarter under my pillow, and inspires an academic with the idea!