Jeffrey Beall has been on my radar for quite some time. Partly due to comments he has posted on blog posts of mine, but more importantly this piece that he wrote as a contribution to Radical Cataloging: Essays at the Front. I’m into criticism as much as the next person, but character assassination? Really? K. R. Roberto claimed to edit the volume, but one wonders if that even included reading the contributions, let alone exercising some professional judgment. Read the chapter and decide for yourself whether he exhibited professional behavior.
But that was then. This is now, and in the present day he seems to have dug a much bigger hole and with an entirely new community. His list of “predatory publishers” brought him to the attention of the Open Access community, which includes many people who only knew him through this work. Work that was widely recognized as helpful except by the publishers so named.
So you can perhaps imagine the consternation of those working to make the scholarly literature openly available that their supposed friend has turned on them. In an article just published, Beall has taken on the entire Open Access movement by claiming some sort of bizarre conspiracy theory. Here is but one example lifted from his diatribe: “I do find that the open-access movement is a Euro-dominant one, a neo-colonial attempt to cast scholarly communication policy according to the aspirations of a cliquish minority of European collectivists.” What?
Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, has come to some fame in science publication circles for highlighting the growing number of “predatory” open access publishers and curating a list of them. His work has provided a useful service to people seeking to navigate the sometimes confusing array of new journals – many legitimate, many scammers – that have popped up in the last few years.
Unfortunately, as he has gained some degree of notoriety, it turns out he isn’t just trying to identify bad open access publishers – he is actively trying to discredit open access publishing in general. There were signs of this before, but any lingering doubt that Beall is a credible contributor to the discourse on science publishing was erased with an article he published last week. The piece is so ill-informed and angry that I can’t really describe it.
He then republishes the (yes, open access) article in full, responding to almost every paragraph. If you have the fortitude for it, it’s really quite entertaining.
This time Beall’s bile may have finally caught up to him. It’s one thing to say outrageous things about a library vendor, and more unfortunately, individuals associated with said vendor. But it’s quite another to take on the entire Open Access movement as if it were some kind of insidious plot to undermine the very foundations of capitalism.