“Professional Junk Mail”

In addition to the usual stream of Viagra, Lotto wins and undiscovered wills, I now have a new type of spam mail to deal with, that from Open Access Journals….


Hardly a day goes by without an unsolicited invitation arriving in my In-box from one of these institutions to either submit articles or review articles.

In contrast to the traditional subscription journals (reader pays), there has been a proliferation in Open Access journals (author often pays). This “revolution” has occurred not just in microbiology, but in all aspects of science.

Open Access journals do have an advantage in terms of the research being available to everyone that wants to view it. However the fundamental problem with such a model is that the author becomes the customer. And any good salesperson will tell you that they don’t often turn customers away, no matter how many checks are put in place. Therefore the overall quality may suffer as a result.

Thus in the eye of Open Access journals, any “professional” becomes a potential author and thus becomes the target market of what seems to be increasingly aggressive and shameless sales techniques.

Young (and sometimes desperate) researchers/scientists, keen to embellish their CVs and their careers can often be persuaded by such organisations to submit (and pay for) articles.

The predatory nature of such marketing is nicely described in this article in Nature.

I am sure not all Open Access journals are as bad as I describe, but the group as a whole are clearly tainted by those who are obviously out to make a fast buck. It appears to be remarkably easy to set up a publishing website, and to make the website appear “reputable”.

I am not a big submitter of research articles (this website takes up too much of my time!), but until the “dust settles” on this new publishing model, I will stick to submitting any research type articles that I write to the tried and tested (and reputable) subscription journals.

I cannot afford to do anything else!

The worst thing of all is that “Open Access” junk mail isn’t even interesting, not providing the light entertainment often offered by the more traditional spam…



2 thoughts on ““Professional Junk Mail”

    1. I understand the charges for some of these Open Access journals can be up well over $1000. I don’t know how such charges can ever be justified, particularly if the journal is online only. There must be a huge profit margin….


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