The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014: malware and some side notes

First, a very brief status report. As of this morning, the book has sold five copies (four paperback, one ebook)–exactly the same numbers as a week ago, September 24, 2015. This is, how you say, not especially rapid progress toward the twin goals of making the data available and carrying forward the research into 2016. (Meanwhile, the October 2015 Cites & Insights has been downloaded at least 1,300 times so far–about 85% of those downloads being the more-readable single-column version of this excerpted version of The Gold OA Landscape 2011-2014. (If one out of every 20 downloads yielded a sale of the book, that would meet the data-availability goal and probably the next-year’s-research goal…)

Second, a sad note. An article–which I’d seen from two sources before publication–that starts by apparently assuming Beall’s lists are something other than junk, then bases an investigation on sampling from the lists, has appeared in a reputable OA journal and, of course, is being picked up all over the place…with Beall being quoted, naturally, thus making the situation worse. I was asked for comments by another reporter (haven’t seen whether the piece has appeared and whether I’m quoted), and the core of my comments was that it’s hard to build good research based on junk, and I regard Beall’s lists as junk, especially given his repeated condemnation of all OA–and, curiously, his apparent continuing belief that author-side charges, which in the Bealliverse automatically corrupt scholarship, only happen in OA (page charges are apparently mythical creatures in the Bealliverse). So, Beall gains even more credibility; challenging him becomes even more hopeless. [See this followup post]

Third, a somewhat better note: Cheryl LaGuardia has published “An Interview with Peter Suber” in her “Not Dead Yet” column at Library Journal. If you haven’t already read it, you should. A couple of key quotes (in my opinion):

Not all librarians are well-informed about OA, but as a class they’re much better informed than faculty.

First, scam OA journals do exist, just as scam subscription journals exist. On the other side, first-rate OA journals also exist, just as first-rate subscription journals also exist. There’s a full range of quality on both sides of the line. Authors often need help identifying the first-rate OA journals, or at least steering clear of the frauds, and librarians can help with that. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is a “white list” of trustworthy OA journals…

I used to think [“hybrid” OA] was good, since at least it gave publishers first-hand experience with the economics of fee-based OA journals. But I changed my mind about that years ago. Because these journals still have subscriptions, they have no incentive to make the OA option attractive. The economics are artificial. Moreover, as I mentioned, most hybrid OA journals double-dip, which is dishonest. But even when it’s honest, it’s still a small OA step that’s often mistaken for a big step.

Finally, the direct tie-in to the book…and to the second quote from the Suber interview.


The excerpted version omits the whole section on exclusions–DOAJ-listed journals that weren’t included in the study for a variety of reasons. In most cases, it’s not necessarily that these journals are scam journals (the term “predatory” has been rendered meaningless in this context) but that, for one reason or another, they either don’t fit my definition of a gold OA journal devoted to peer-reviewed articles or that I was simply unable to analyze them properly.

One unfortunate subcategory includes 65 journals, which is 65 more than should appear in this category: journals with malware issues. My best guess is that some of these will disappear from DOAJ and that others either try too hard for ad revenue (accepting ads that incorporate malware) or have been badly designed, or for that matter use some convenient add-in for the website that just happens to carry malware. I don’t believe there’s any excuse for a journal to raise malware cautions–even if some of the defense tools I use might be overly cautious. (I added Malwarebytes after an OA journal infected my PC with a particularly nasty bit of malware, and at least two others attempted to load the same malware. It took me two days to get rid of the crap, and I have no interest in repeating that process. McAfee Site Adviser seems to be omnipresent in browsers and new computers, and since it’s now part of Intel I see no reason to distrust it.)

In any case: since it doesn’t look like OA publishers are rushing to buy the book and dig through it (I know, it’s early days yet), I’ll include that section here–the single case in which I actually list journal titles other than PLOS One (which I mention by name in the book because I excluded it from subject and segment discussions in order to avoid wrecking averages and distributions, since it is more than six times as large as any other OA journal).

Here’s the excerpt:

M: Malware

When attempting to reach these journals’ webpages, either Microsoft Office, McAfee Site Advisor, Windows Defender or Malwarebytes Anti-Malware threw up a caution screen indicating that the site had malware of some sort. (Actually, in one case the website got past all four—and showed an overlay that was a clear phishing attempt.)

In some few cases, the warning was a McAfee “yellow flag”; in most, it was either a McAfee red flag or Malwarebytes blocked the site.

Given that I encountered a serious virus with at least three different journals in a previous pass (getting rid of the virus is one reason I now run Malwarebytes as well as Windows Defender; note that I do not run McAfee’s general suite, but only the free Site Advisor that flags suspicious websites on the fly), I was not about to ignore the warnings and go look at the journals. I’d guess that, in some cases, the malware is in an ad on the journal page. In any case, it’s simply not acceptable for an OA journal to have malware or even possible malware.

I find it sad that there are 65 of these. They are not dominated by any one country of publication: 27 countries are represented among the 65 offending sites, although only a dozen have more than one each. The countries with more than three possible-malware journals include Germany and India (seven each), Brazil (six), Romania and the Russian Federation (five each), and the United States (four).

Malware Possibilities

While this report generally avoids naming individual journal titles or publishers, since it’s intended as an overall study, I think it’s worth making an exception for these 65 cases. These journals may have fixed their problems, but I’d approach with caution:

Acta Medica Transilvanica

Algoritmy, Metody i Sistemy Obrabotki Dannyh

Analele Universitatii din Oradea, Fascicula Biologie

Andhra Pradesh Journal of Psychological Medicine

Annals and Essences of Dentistry

Applied Mathematics in Engineering, Management and Technology

Avances en Ciencias e Ingeniería


Breviário de Filosofia Pública

Chinese Journal of Plant Ecology

Communications in Numerical Analysis

Confines de Relaciones Internacionales y Ciencia Política

Contemporary Materials

Data Envelopment Analysis and Decision Science



Economic Sociology

Education Research Frontier


European Journal of Environmental Sciences

Exatas Online

Filosofiâ i Kosmologiâ

Forum for Inter-American Research (Fiar)


Global Engineers and Technologists Review

Health Sciences and Disease

Impossibilia : Revista Internacional de Estudios Literarios

International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences

International Journal of Ayurvedic Medicine

International Journal of Educational Research and Technology

International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Research

International Journal of Pharmaceutical Frontier Research

İşletme Araştırmaları Dergisii

Journal of Behavioral Science for Development

Journal of Community Nutrition & Health

Journal of Interpolation and Approximation in Scientific Computing

Journal of Management and Science

Journal of Nonlinear Analysis and Application

Journal of Numerical Mathematics and Stochastics

Journal of Soft Computing and Applications

Journal of Wetlands Environmental Management

Kritikos. Journal of postmodern cultural sound, text and image

Latin American Journal of Conservation

Mathematics Education Trends and Research

Nesne Psikoloji Dergisi

Networks and Neighbours


Potravinarstvo : Scientific Journal for Food Industry

Proceedings of the International Conference Nanomaterials : Applications and Properties

Psihologičeskaâ Nauka i Obrazovanie

Psikiyatride Guncel Yaklasimlar

Regionalʹnaâ Èkonomika i Upravlenie: Elektronnyi Nauchnyi Zhurnal

Revista Caribeña e Ciencias Sociales

Revista de Biologia Marina y Oceanografia

Revista de Educación en Biología

Revista de Engenharia e Tecnologia

Revista de Estudos AntiUtilitaristas e PosColoniais

Revista Pădurilor

Romanian Journal of Regional Science

Studii de gramatică contrastivă

Tecnoscienza : Italian Journal of Science & Technology Studies

Tekhnologiya i Konstruirovanie v Elektronnoi Apparature

Vestnik Volgogradskogo Gosudarstvennogo Universiteta. Seriâ 4. Istoriâ, Regionovedenie, Meždunarodnye Otnošeniâ


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