January 22, 2022

Journal Article: “Format Aside: Applying Beall’s Criteria to Assess the Predatory Nature of Both OA and Non-OA Library and Information Science Journals” (Preprint)

The following accepted for publication preprint is scheduled for publication in the January 2018 issue of C&RL (College and Research Libraries).


Format Aside: Applying Beall’s Criteria to Assess the Predatory Nature of Both OA and Non-OA Library and Information Science Journals”


Joseph D. Olivarez
Texas A&M University

Stephen Bales
Texas A&M University

Laura Sare
Texas A&M University

Wyoma vanDuinkerken
Texas A&M University


C&RL Website

From the Introduction

While the open access (OA) movement is growing throughout academia and has gained traction in some disciplines, there is still skepticism on the part of researchers who question the quality of OA publishing and may associate OA journals with “predatory” journals.  Jeffrey Beall defines “predatory” journals as those that “exploit the gold open-access model for their own profit” while not engaging in a rigorous peer review process.1 Beall developed a tool on his blog to help researchers identify potential predatory journals and publishers. This tool is a list of potential predatory journals and publishers, as well as the Criteria for Determining Predatory Open Access Publishers.

The authors of this interpretive analysis (hereafter referred to as the “analysts”) believe that users need to be cautioned about the subjective nature of the Criteria. They recommend discretion because the criteria used are so general that an evaluator might label a scholarly journal as “predatory” when it is not, or may disregard the article as being without merit solely because it is published in a journal found on Beall’s List. Promotion and tenure committees may even look to this List when reviewing tenure candidate publications, thereby influencing future research.2  Although Beall noted that such committees need to “decide for themselves how importantly or not to rate articles published in these journals in the context of their own institutional standards and/or geocultural locus,”3 there is the potential to misconstrue and misapply the Criteria in terms of its objectivity. Indiscriminate application could affect promotion and tenure decisions, especially those decisions concerning faculty members in emerging fields of scholarship where needs for publishing outlets are met with OA journals.4

In this study, the analysts argue that the individual elements of Beall’s Criteria are so general in design that evaluators might broadly apply them as measures of illegitimacy to any refereed academic journal, regardless of publishing model. By applying Beall’s Criteria to a list of both OA and non-OA well regarded refereed academic LIS journals, this study demonstrates the subjective nature of his Criteria. While the Criteria may serve as an aid to researchers’ selecting publication outlets, this Criteria is presently not adequate for making such determinations because its elements focus more on the publisher and/or journal attributes rather than the quality of articles published by the outlet.

Direct to Full Text Article (26 pages; PDF)

See Also: Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers 2017 (Jan. 3, 2017)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.