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

Jeffrey Beall

Jeffrey Beall, the University of Colorado Denver librarian who has since 2008 chronicled “potential, possible, or probable” predatory publishers, has — at least for now — pulled the plug on his influential, and at times controversial, site.

The decision to take down the site — and Beall’s faculty page at the Auraria Library, where he remains a tenured associate professor — was his own, the University of Colorado Denver tells Retraction Watch.

The site, scholarlyoa.com, which just earlier this month included a list of more than 1,000 such publishers, now contains no information. The sudden change was noted Sunday on Twitter, where questions about the move — catalogued, along with some answers, by Emil Karlsson — swirled for two days. Beall’s faculty page was also taken down.

Some of the speculation surrounded Cabell’s, a publishing services company that had earlier announced it would house a publisher blacklist beginning sometime this year. Cabell’s, however, said it was not involved in the closure, and that it supported Beall. Cabell’s tweets also hinted at legal threats, which Beall has faced in the past.

Beall has not responded to a request for comment from Retraction Watch about why he decided to take down the site.

For more on Beall, see this mini-documentary from the CBC, which also includes segments on Retraction Watch and BMJ editor Fiona Godlee.

Update 1/17/17 6:05 p.m. Eastern: We’ve received a statement from the University of Colorado Denver:

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, has decided to no longer maintain or publish his research or blog on open access journals and “predatory publishers.” CU Denver supports and recognizes the important work Professor Beall has contributed to the field and to scholars worldwide.  CU Denver also understands and respects his decision to take down his website scholarlyoa.com at this time. Professor Beall remains on the faculty at the university and will be pursuing new areas of research.

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86 thoughts on “Why did Beall’s List of potential predatory publishers go dark?”

  1. Concerning. Beall has a lot of people who disagree with him, and some of these are quite influential. The publisher of the Frontiers family has set letters to U of Colorado requesting that they force him to stop the “predatory publications” effort. In addition, the anonymous group Scholarly Open-Access is very opposed, to a rather strident degree. I wonder if these varying opponents have had an effect.

  2. Whatever the reasons, Beal provided a great service, and has at least taught us how to spot predatory and low quality journals and publishers on our own. I deeply admired his courage as he no doubt made some enemies!

  3. It was never a good idea to rely entirely on one list created by one person. This moment was obviously going to come at some point. The only surprising thing is that it happened so suddenly, without prior announcement.

  4. As noted by some (Eva Amsen and others), the individual project of Mr. Beall must now be replaced by a group interested in scientific journals and in honest and appropriate science. A group should be set up. It could be called “Scientists Concerned About Monitoring Publishers” or SCAMP.

    1. The Coalition for Responsible Publication Resources (CRPR; http://www.RPRcoalition.org; @RPRcoalition) was spearheaded a couple of years ago, and forged last year with a centralized purse of startup money, to begin to build the infrastructure and tools to help authors identify responsible publication resources (whether publishers or author services companies), and to facilitate industry dialog regarding predatory practices. The intent of the Coalition is to fill in gaps between the efforts of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE: http://www.publicationethics.org), ThinkCheckSubmit.org, and other valuable initiatives on the landscape, in order to protect the integrity of the scholarly literature.

    2. Right. This might not be a bad thing, if it leads to an accountable list with standards being set up to replace it. Beall’s habit of blacklisting open access publishers who had a mix of good and bad journals, but not traditional publishers with an equally bad track record, is particularly worrying. (See, for example, the ongoing issues with MDPI, whose proportion of crap journals is no worse than, say, Springer LNCS or IEEE, but who earn far more focused ire from Beall due to being open access.) I approve of his aims, but this is far too important to be in the hands of one man who has strong political opinions and biases.

      1. Are you kidding? The proportion of crap journals in MDPI is *far* greater than Springer.

        The MDPI journal Entropy (supposedly a physics journal) had an entire edition about “biosemiotic entropy” edited by a linguist (i.e., not a physicist nor a biologist) anti-vaxxer and creationist that was largely devoted to autism, glyphosate, etc.

        MDPI *sucks*. Beall never should have removed it from his list.

        1. The comment was particular to Springer’s Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS), not to Springer as a whole. A detail that you seem to have missed.

  5. Suspicion naturally falls on timid educational bureaucrats should this be something other than an “uninfluenced” decision. I wish Mr. [Dr.?] Beall all the very best and remain interested in what I believe was his pursuit of integrity.

  6. Beals is an unperson.
    Needs investigation with transparency.
    Thanks again, RetractionWatch – I. Oransky

  7. It is far superior than no one doing it.

    Graham Steel (@McDawg)
    Trusting one person to single-handedly “police” ca 30,000 STM Journals using their own criteria was never a good idea. Have always been of that opinion.

  8. Another reminder to export interesting websites as PDF ASAP (e.g., via the print function or Plugins like those that come with DEVONthink). Even with the Internet Archive they can be gone in an instant. Question is, who will keep the list up-to-date?

  9. A comment suggested:
    “The Coalition for Responsible Publication Resources (CRPR; http://www.RPRcoalition.org; @RPRcoalition) was spearheaded a couple of years ago, and forged last year with a centralized purse of startup money,”

    I went to this site. The CRPR does not seem highly active at this time. It is a single webpage, which is undated. There is a feedback option, and I did the feedback. Looking at this, I am not greatly comforted by the notion of this group. If you are concerned and interested in the issue of predatory publications, I suggest that you respond to them.

    1. In response, the CRPR initiative is supported by Wolters Kluwer, Canadian Science Publishing, Editage, Cabell’s International, and Atlantis Press as the core group of Provisional Founding Members, along with many other interested parties (see PRNewswire; http;//prn.to/1TKtMFI). The effort is still in its infancy, and is not yet a registered entity, but has presented at roughly a dozen industry conferences around the world over the past year (US, China, Korea, Japan, France, etc.), including the recent BRISPE2016 conference in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, last November, and has run a series of industry workshops on “All Things Predatory”, including a half-day workshop at last year’s Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP) annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada.

      1. In addendum, while the CRPR website is very basic in it original and current form, there is a redesign effort underway to develop a much more robust platform for industry discussion. Please be patient. Any support is welcomed.

  10. Well, I’m not surprised. “Academic freedom” is more of a myth than a reality when push comes to shove against university administrators when they get heat from influential university donors. Who do you think has more influence . . . the sometimes multi-million dollar donor or the university professor? Almost always in my own academic experience, one can discover the reason for university decisions by following the money. See, e.g., Noble JH Jr. Cherchez l’argent: a contribution to the debate about class size, student-faculty ratios, and use of adjunct faculty. Journal of Social Work Education 2000; 36(1): 89-102.

  11. This is so sudden and unexpected at this point. I was just preparing for a publishing workshop and wanted to recommend his site/blog to authors that would be attending only to discover the site no longer existed as I tried to navigate it! I wish Dr. Jeffrey Bealls all the best for his decision and future endeavours. There is no doubt that he made many enemies as well as many friends because of his work. The enemies must be laughing now but lets see who will have the last laugh!

  12. Beall has provided a great service. Even if I disagreed on some of his viewpoints (I am an editor in Frontiers and, obviously, do not consider it a predatory journal) and think that the list smelled some xenophobia, as it was often biased against non-EU and non-US publishers. However, we receive so much badly written junk mail from junk journals that don’t even display the name of an Editor-in-chief that, at some point, someone will need to provide some sort of certification of the peer review process. Maybe the COPE, maybe the NLM, may e the funding agencies that should refuse their funds to go into those sort of publications, but there need to be something. I personally know otherwise respectable scientists that got into that trap. We need a whitelist, not a blacklist. Cited in pubmed is, so far, the best criterion.

    1. I agree with the views here. Whether we completely agreed with him or not, he provided a great service, and it was easy to see why those journals and publishers made to his list. Just look at their pub policies, the kind of editors etc. Universities should get together and fund some page like this for the simple reason there is no way we can detect much less convince the whining colleague that he has a noteworthy PRJ and that it just charges money (since many reputed journals also charge money). Either that, or every year the P&T committee or departmental evaluation committees have to go through website of each journal.
      Alternative is to establish certain ground rules for acceptable pubs but that will be difficult.
      Many referred to legal threats but that is by OMICS, an India based, shall we say “vendor”. The threat hadn’t a leg to stand on, and I doubt Beall would have been so easily intimidated by that. Something else is going on, and whatever it is, we do need a service like this.

  13. Beall’s service to science and scientists is necessary to the point that it’s a job that the science community needs to address by setting up a think tank and watchdog funded by the universities with a legal department to take on the predators. I certainly wish there was self-policing here in Canada with literary publishers. We have a tremendous problem publishers who routinely abuse the people they are supposed to be supporting to the point where our culture in general is suffering on a massive scale. Here is my experience: http://duncanweller1.blogspot.ca/2015/05/international-con-artist-dimiter-savoff.html

  14. Beall’s list was pioneering and very useful but not perfect. While I find its sudden disappearance troubling in terms of freedom of speech, and, like other commenters, wish Jeffrey Beall well (and would like to thank him for his work and dedication to highlighting the problem of predatory publishers), I wonder if we might use the opportunity to create something better.

    I propose a site that not only lists journals but shows exactly which (of the many) criteria they fail to meet. My suspicion is that predators aren’t all alike and there may be a few on the list who are simply naive or misguided and would like to do a decent job (but maybe I’m being naive here!). If there was a grid showing why each publisher (or journal) was listed this *might* reduce the risk of legal threats (but I may be wrong about this) and would also show what the journal needs to do in order to be regarded as legitimate.

    I realise it’s not simple, and the criteria (of which there are over 50) do require some judgement, so decisions are subjective, but I’d be interested to know what others think of this idea. I also agree with other commenters that it would be great if this project were taken on by an independent group.

    1. The International Academy of Nursing Editors (INANE) maintains a curated list of nursing journals, with specific criteria for review. Information on the submission and review process can be found here: https://nursingeditors.com/journals-directory/.

      As for predatory journals, we recently completed a study which was published in November: Oermann, MH, Conklin, JL, Nicoll, LH, Chinn, PL, Ashton, KS, Edie, AH, Amarasekara, S, Budinger, SC. 2016. Study of Predatory Open Access Nursing Journals. J. Nurs. Scholarsh. 48: 624–632. While not all predatory publishers were exactly the same, there was enough similarity that conclusions could be drawn about their practices, which we found to be deceptive and unethical. I don’t think any of them were “misguided” or trying to do a decent job–it was pretty obvious what these poor quality publishers were up to.

      1. Interesting and thanks for the reference! I work with some journals in Asia and the Middle East which I fear might be borderline predatory (if that’s possible) and do believe that some of them would like to do a better job … but, as I say, maybe I’m being naive.

    1. I also find the timing strange. If Beall truly decided, with no pressure, to stop doing this (as University of Colorado wishes us to believe), it seems very odd to give up immediately after posting his annual list (and with no mention that it would be the last). The timing and Beall’s silence make me suspect that somebody put pressure on him. It does remind me of the problems Hal (Skip) Garner had when he ran the Deja Vu database from a university server – in the end, he moved institutions.

  15. I think the list of “predatory” outpaced Beal’s ability to list them. It will be easier to list non-predatory journal as most “reputable” journals have started exhibiting predatory behaviors. If you are a paying author, they will find someone to review your paper quickly or they will come back to you only to inform you about their failure to find a reviewer.

    1. The problem with that is then only the TOP journals will be on that list and journals that charge an OA fee that is the same as the top journals. Many of the publishers on his list were simply low cost operations that could do business without charging $1000 per page the way some traditional closed paper journals have done for almost a century.

    1. What *I* think is that it is at best a very low quality Publisher (*). The English is often very poor, it claims to publish “Open Access” in “For Authors” but also states it charges for subscriptions and Open Access fees are not mentioned anywhere, many issues of some journals have only one or two papers despite also having more than 20 editorial board members, sometimes papers are in journals that make no sense (see e.g. “The Effect of Orem Self Care Program on Uremic Pruritus in Hemodialysis Patients”, which is published in Agricultural Journal), I get error messages for the doi’s, the address of the Publisher is not given anywhere (but it is likely Pakistan, as the phone number I found somewhere on the site is to Pakistan and the “Director publications” is one Muhammad Soheil (Pakistan)”) and it has a “news/media” section that just are partial copies from eurekalert with no link.

      (*) some further googling suggests there *is* an Open Access fee, but that’s not mentioned until you get your paper accepted, and apparently without peer review.

    2. There was a discussion thread at ScholarlyOA that evolved into a discussion about Medwell, the guy behind it, and the innumerable other journals and conferences he operates:
      The thread now exists in Google Cache (which is ephemeral), and in more permanent form as

  16. Jeffrey made a “blacklist” of OA publication. He really did a great thing for providing a list of low quality publishers at the beginning. However, I do think Frontiers should not be added to the list. And I think some publishers can also be removed from the list as well. According to the latest OA Publications’ Ranking (http://www.oalib.com/rank/showKeywordsOfJournal, a ranking based on the h5 index of Google Scholar), some OA journals published by Beall’s “predatory publishers” are really good. In fact, I am a kind of “Beall’s list fan”. I just completed a simple research about this list by the end of December 2016. No matter “whitelist” or “blacklist”, a useful tool for us to find a proper journal fast is good.

    1. Jeffrey made a very good and important job!
      But now we will see lots of new lists. Be aware that new white lists may probably also include predator journals, depending on who provide the list !

  17. I am also sorry to see Beall’s lists gone. However, there are “white lists” that authors can use to verify legitimate journal/publisher. Beall based his standards on the Committee on Publication Ethics (http://publicationethics.org/). COPE membership is a good indicator that a journal/publisher is legit and not predatory. Cabell’s new standards are also based on COPE so any journal/publisher that has been accepted subject to Cabell’s new standards should be good. Since DOAJ standards are mostly based on COPE, DOAJ acceptance would also work.

  18. Googled scholarlyoa today and found this topping the search results:


    Lots of personal attack on the site against Jeffery Beall. It’s not clear to what extent those claims are true, false or relevant. It’s also not clear who (individuals) authored much of the content or runs the site. They call themselves ‘Friends of Open Access’ and claim to be a group of librarians, but I don’t see any names.

    Any thoughts?

    1. A pure smear campaign that had been going on for a long time. There are no names mentioned and the website domain owner is “protected” under WhoIs. So much for the transparency that they themselves were seeking.

    2. There is a VAST amount of money in “open-access” or “desperate scientists pay to remain employed” publication. Beall’s skepticism about “pay-for-play” was fairly well-known. Keeping the waters muddied, confusing the rubes, and cashing the checks is all part of the process. Most importantly, the legitimacy of the “open-access” author-pay model could not be questioned, and Beall was questioning it. That is behind a lot of animus, IMHO.

      1. “Friends of Open Access” members need to be identified. Anonymous attacks are the work of cowards. Whoever they are, they are faceless bullies who contribute to the pollution of the research literature by suppressing others who promote truthful publication of scientific findings. Pushing back against publishers of false and misleading reports will be a long slog, given the money that can be extracted from authors who are desperate to publish lest they perish for want of needed publications to hold onto their jobs. Sad, isn’t it, how hustlers respond to make money by exploiting vulnerable people!

  19. YQ.
    Jeffrey made a “blacklist” of OA publication. He really did a great thing for providing a list of low quality publishers at the beginning. However, I do think Frontiers should not be added to the list. And I think some publishers can also be removed from the list as well. According to the latest OA Publications’ Ranking (http://www.oalib.com/rank/showKeywordsOfJournal, a ranking based on the h5 index of Google Scholar), some OA journals published by Beall’s “predatory publishers” are really good. In fact, I am a kind of “Beall’s list fan”. I just completed a simple research about this list by the end of December 2016. No matter “whitelist” or “blacklist”, a useful tool for us to find a proper journal fast is good.

    Excellent! I like this list, it gives open access journals ranking based on the real citations

  20. Having accessed Beall’s list and found it useful, it is disappointing to see it disappear, although archives are available. I have recently returned from a visit as External Examiner at University (non-Western University), and had noted that the students had in some instances being encouraged to publish their research projects in scientific journals. Upon inspection I suspect that, in some cases, these were in predatory journals. As such the students may have been misled (also unclear who had paid for the publication), and this may have an impact on their further studies. I don’t know whether this is a common problem, but would be keen to hear from others. Clearly the lack of any definitive lists has future ramifications.

  21. I have been following these debates for some years.I edit one of the oldest OA journals in the social sciences, the Journal of Political Ecology, founded in 1994 (and definitely not predatory, since our budget is $0 and we are all volunteers). I do check journals against Beall’s list. This was useful. But his simultaneous damning of the whole shift to OA, in his Triple C article and one in Academe, (easy to look up), put me off. So I now curate a ‘whitelist’ of reputable OA social science journals that allow publication in English. This is the field that seems to have the slowest uptake of OA, much less than STEM disciplines. I update it regularly. I differ from the DOAJ because I don’t think charging more than $500 for an APC is reasonable, so I exclude all of those journals. You can make suggestions at the bottom. https://simonbatterbury.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/list-of-open-access-journals/

  22. These days, the impacts of Beall’s effort on predatory journals and publishers should not be questioned. Rather the disappointing matter for me and colleagues was the disappearance of Beall’s List of potential predatory publishers and journal. Beall, Keep it up

  23. I don’t see why a coalition of university administrators and academics cannot come together to put up a page with Beall as the site admin, and we keep updating him for vetting and including in the list. It need not be Beall’s list but just another name. Would publishers really dare to go against that, especially the dubious ones?

  24. Is it a coincidence that I have seen a roughly 1.5- to 2-fold increase in predatory spam in my inbox in the past month? It’s disturbing that Beall was shut down, and just as disturbing that so few frequent users of his free resource have responded with vigor. I agree completely with Rao Kowtha’s comment, above.

    1. I was about to write the same thing. I am getting 2-5 emails from highly questionable publisher about joining editorial board, or submitting research papers in something I am familiar with and others completely unrelated to what I do. I Miss Dr. Beall, although I have to say he did not always strike the right tune and even sometimes turned things personal. I hope somebody is working on similar list.

  25. Your Idea to list predator journal is quite important but it should be focus on organizational linkage.

  26. For the record:

    According to an article by Beall in the journal Biochemia Medica, the official journal of the Croatian Society of Medical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine, it was the “intense pressure” from the University of Colorado where he was employed and the “fear” of losing his job that forced him to shut down the blog.

    It is really sad that an academic institution gets tricked by predatory publishers. I thought that academia was for development and sharing of wisdom and knowledge.

        1. A few days ago, Cabells International (www.cabells.com), a Texas-based, publishing-services company, launched a subscription-only blacklist that contains 4,000 deceptive journals. It spent 1.5 years on the list and used Beall’s List (which contained only 1,200 journals). I’m a journalist writing an article about the new list.

  27. It is really sad that Beall faced a challenge for his endless contribution in scientific communication regarding publishing quality journals. I observed other consequence of
    that Research institutions and Universities
    challenging their young researcher stuffs during salary promotion. As to me publishing journal is Nothing!!!!! Nothing !!!!!!…..But creating new Technologies for the benefit of the people is the first criteria during promotion in the scientific communication.

  28. I frequently consulted Beall’s List and I’m sad to see it vanish. That said, there was a problem with the List. Although most of the articles in journals included on the list were at best junk, the journals also now and then contained very worthy items. These articles were typically small observational studies or evaluations of obscure programs or practices. The evaluations had numbers high enough to reach significance but showed that the project had no (or negative) impact.

    How do I know this? I curate SafetyLit a free database service (presented without advertising) of articles, reports, and theses on all aspects of the research and prevention of unintentional injuries (accidents), interpersonal violence, and self harm. SafetyLit volunteers examine the contents of almost 15 thousand scholarly journals for articles that meet the inclusion criteria. We draw material from publications of more than 35 distinct professional disciplines. Some of these studies are well worth being included in the accepted literature. Often these compare favorably with articles published in U.S. state medical society journals. Although the English language prose is typically poor, I find it no worse than that of some articles published by Elsevier, Wolters, and others. Before we get too worked up about low quality peer review and editing of journals that appear on Beall’s List, we must also pay attention to the reductions in quality of some long-time journals from major publishers.

    I am old enough to remember the 1960s and 1970s when many social science journals required a subscription but also charged per-page fees. If I recall correctly, this was more common than no-fee publications. Except for medical journals (also requiring subscriptions but no page fees) that were supported by slick advertising was this pay to publish practice not common?

    [SafetyLit isn’t really for the general public. we do not screen for quality and defer to the journal’s own label concerning peer review. We trust our users to maintain a well-tuned crap detector. SafetyLit is not only a database but a “current contents” of about 400 recently published items each week. We give preference to reports mentioned in the news or magazines — things that SafetyLit users ( typically employees of small government agencies) — are likely to receive questions about from the people they serve. Our users appreciate being able to say something other than “you can’t trust everything you read on the internet” and “that article was published in a junk journal”. It is better to be able to say that “the spectacular results were from a study of too few people with faulty measures because …”. The SafetyLit database has records dating back to the mid-17 century about the safety of farmers, mariners, and miners followed by those related to the changing risks through the past three centuries.]

    1. Lest my previous comment appear to support publishers that lure unsuspecting, naive authors I must add that I do not and regret that sometimes good material is published by these creeps.

      I have sympathy for Dr. Beall. have had my own threats from not only the publishers but also from the faculty at universities where authors attend classes or teach. About a year ago, within a period of less than 3 months I found several near-identical articles about Twitter’s potential for identifying traffic tie-ups. Each of these was published in different journals with different authors. Curiously, the abstracts of each presented results data that matched to the second decimal place. Since that time I found one additional article that was clearly copied from the original. As I point out in my editorial, identification of the original is not straightforward. See:


  29. In my opinion, to do such a job requires a solid team, clear and rigorous rules. If the work is only done by a few people, of course, this would lead to bias. I strongly support this activity, because it is very helpful to academics, especially the new academy.

  30. Jeffrey Beall is a pioneer in his effort to provide a reliable consulting source for avoiding unworthy publishers/journals (so-called predatory). Open Access (AO) publishing is a positive step in promoting science provided it is done under a strict scientific ethical procedures. I had a personal experience with Jeffrey in identifying a “predatory” journal that published an article where the author(s) copied full pages, word by word, from previously published work of other authors,including mine. IT IS UNFORTUNATE that Bealls effort was suddenly vanished for whatever reason.

  31. There’s a bit of “McCarthyism” in all this, although the effort to publicize predatory/deceptive journals is needed (if done objectively). Traditional (paper) journals often have biased editorial processes, as I’ve documented here:

    Vadas, R.L. Jr. 1994. The anatomy of an ecological controversy: honey bee searching behavior. Oikos 69: 158-166 (http://beesource.com/point-of-view/adrian-wenner/the-anatomy-of-an-ecological-controversy-honey-bee-searching-behavior).

    Vadas, R. Jr. 2015. Bias in aquatic-habitat science and potential solutions, with a focus on instream-flow issues (abstract). Page 21423 in American Fisheries Society (ed.). 145th Annual Meeting. Portland, OR (https://afs.confex.com/afs/2015/webprogram/Paper21423.html).

    Traditional journals also have committed errors like accepting a paper that they later rejected because of faulty online-submission software. They often also have page charges for publication. Hence, any “black list” should include both paper and online journals.

    -Bob Vadas, Jr.

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