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Old 15th April 2009, 07:11 AM   #538
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 974
More on Bentham

More on Bentham

The following was adapted from a post on another forum. Unfortunately since I’m a newbie I can’t post links so I trucked them.

Truthers often cite this page from the publisher in response to questions raised about how serious Bentham is. They make comments like “The Internet Journal…is 'so' bad it even gets praise from Nobel Laureates...”

Welcome to Bentham Open Access
BENTHAM OPEN are launching up to 200 peer-reviewed open access journals. These free-to-view online journals cover all major disciplines of science, technology, and medicine.

"Free open access to information is vital to scientific and socio-economic progress."
H. W. Kroto
(Nobel Laureate)

"Bentham's open access journals offer a creative avenue towards the goal of rapid publication and dissemination of relevant science results."
Richard R. Ernst
(Nobel Laureate)

"The advantage of the Open Journal series is that it is just that: open, and accessible to anyone with a PC at no charge I appeal to scholars across the disciplines to consider the Open Journal series as a forum for their work."
J.C. Jones
(University of Aberdeen, Scotland)

However since Kroto was speaking about open journals in general and not Bentham in particular they have the endorsement of "only" ONE Nobel laureate, Ernst. There is no citatition for the Ernst quote (nor the one for Kroto) and Google searches only turn up hits from Bentham's site or pages quoting it thus we no idea of the context and more importantly the date. These aren't trifling points as I will show several of Bentham open's critics are supporters of the open access (OA) movement and others have said it is a one reputable outfit that has gone into decline.

J.C. Jones' endorsement is a bit suspect because he is the editor-in-chief of one of their journals. I've seen no indication he particularly eminent. Besides being able to out the nifty title in his CV/bio he gets a cut of all fees paid for publication in "his" journal.

Others' assessments of Bentham and especially Bentham Open are quite different. In contrast to the single unsourced endorsement, I was able to find 19 academics, university librarians and journalists from various countries and areas of expertise quite critical or at least suspicious of the publisher. Some question the validity of the peer review process. It seems that they are so 'committed to quality' they invite people to be editors or even editors-in-chief in areas they have no relevant expertise. Only Mackey's comment is from after the paper was published. [NOTE - If there is no link to quote it comes from the same page as the quote below.]

1] Gunther Eysenbach, MD MPH – Editor-in-Chief and publisher of the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Associate Professor at the Department of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto, a Senior Scientist at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation in Toronto - March 2008

As a publisher and editor of the Journal of Medical Internet Research, a leading open access journal (and the #2 cited health informatics journal), I am (as many of my colleagues) usually very sympathetic to any new open access journal start-ups, and I know that some sort of marketing is necessary to attract submissions from top authors.


I fear that these practices of some black sheep among OA publishers will damage the reputation of OA journals at-large, so I decided - from now on - to publicly denounce any publishers (and others) engaging in this practice - in form of handing out a virtual spam award.

My first spam award goes to Bentham Publishers, a "publisher" of "over 200" author-pays open access journals. In the past couple of months I have received no less than 11 emails from Bentham, all mostly identical in text … "Open Bioinformatics Journal", "Open Ethics Journal", "Open Analytical Chemistry Journal" and so on - all of them sent to me "because of your eminence in the field" (wow, I didn't know I was so eminent in so many fields! …The bulk email "invites" me to submit articles and to pay for publication - "modest open access publication costs are usually covered by the author's institution or research funds.".

Buyers beware! There is a (limited) number of "serious" OA journals out there (such as PloS, JMIR, and others), where authors (or authors' institution) pay for the publication costs, but there are also throw-away journals out there from shady publishers trying to cash in on the current surge of interest in open access publishing.

Researchers who are in doubt about the reputation and scientific standing of a journal should check if the journal is Medline-indexed (none of the Bentham journals is actually Medline-indexed, although the spam emails suggest otherwise), and whether the journal receives any significant citations (check Web of Science or the Journal Citation Reports) before submitting to any Open Access journal.

2] Ted Bergstrom (Chair Economics Department, UC Santa Barbara) April 2008

…I, too, have been curious about them. I looked at to check on whether Bentham has ISI-listed journals and how they are priced. lists 14 Bentham journals, 12 are classified as "bad values" in terms of price per article and price per citation, and 2 as "medium values". It appears to me that they are an established publisher that has fallen into "bad hands".

Not only does Bentham spam for authors. They are also spamming for editors.

I have received unsolicited messages from Bentham inviting me to be an editor of the Open Journal of Education as well as the Open Journal of Economics. They also sent me an email inviting me to contribute an article to the Open Journal of Sleep.

I was particularly pleased with the following:
Based on your record of contributions in the field of Education, I would like to invite you to submit to me your CV with current list of publications so that we may consider you as a possible *Editorial Board Member* for the journal.
Since my record in the field of Education is nil, I feel particularly well-qualified. I have never written a thing in an Education journal. I don't know whether or not to be honored to be invited to contribute to the Open Journal of Sleep.

If you look at the web page of the "Open Journal Advisory Board" you will find something remarkable. There is a list of about 40 economists who are "members of the advisory board," all but one of whose last names start with the letters A-C and only one of whom I have ever heard of. I suppose these are the top of the list of people who responded to the spam letters. What an embarrassing list to have one's name on.

3] Rose Orcutt, Senior Assistant Librarian, Science & Engineering Library State U. of NY, Buffalo Jan 2009

As an example of a model that requires close scrutiny, Bentham Science Publishers has recently inaugurated over 200 new "open access" journals. See the list of "Bentham Open" journals and view the very large editorial boards for each of the journals. Note that no institutional or professional affiliations are provided for the numerous members of each journal's editorial board. Peer review is promised but the process is vaguely articulated, including the ability of an author to suggest up to four peer reviewers.

The Ub Libraries embraces the Open Access concept and promise. We are dismayed by some emerging models and the harm they may present to Open Access initiatives. Of especial concern is the legitimacy of a publisher's peer review process. We urge faculty to closely examine the Open Access models of publishers you consider for publication of your work or service on an editorial board. If you have concerns about invitations from commercial publishers, their advertised costs and payments, or their purported "peer review" process, please contact your Subject Specialist Librarian.

4] Chris Reed Distinguished Professor of Chemistry - University of California, Riverside, April 2006

I saw no mention of an ongoing parallel onslaught by Bentham. In the past month, I have received no less that three invitations to join the editorial boards of new Bentham journals -- "Current this", "Frontiers of that" -- none in areas of my real expertise.

The same old tactics are being used: exploiting a faculty weakness for seeing one's name in print, offering a career advance by having Editorial Board appointments on one's CV at promotion time, flattering authors with invitations to contribute papers in special issues, etc. All this effectively silences faculty from speaking out, or even caring about, the issues librarians understand so well. It is one of the reasons I am advocating that promotion policies at the University of California specify that appointments to the editorial boards of low quality, overpriced journals should count against promotion. The idea may not be so outrageous in five or ten years time… PS. In case you are wondering, yes, I did hit the delete key on those Bentham invitations.

5] Dr. David Goodman, Associate Professor, Library and Information Science, Long Island University and formerly Princeton University Library - April 2006

"Sometimes some faculty do not really care where they publish, as long as it counts as a referred publication. This is the reason for the existence of such journals [i.e. Bentham's]"

6] Judith Currano. Head, Chemistry Library, University of Pennsylvania (U. Penn) April 2006

"One of my faculty members becomes apoplectic every time she sees the NAME Bentham. She thinks that they are a bunch of crooks, out for whatever they can get, and she has indicated that the quality of work in the journals leaves much to be desired. Of course, she is biased. However, the phrase, "We don't NEED any new journals!" did come up."

7] Ken Friedman, Professor, Ph.D., Dr.Sci. (hc), FDRS, Dean, Swinburne Design, Swinburne University of Technology – Sept. 2008

Bentham's flavor of open access publishing is a for-profit venture, and it seems to me organized for profit rather than for scientific or scholarly contribution. The submission fees are too high as far as I am concerned, and I just don't see that Bentham has serious experience in scholarly or scientific publishing.

Few of these journals can have serious impact. Several Bentham journals appear be indexed only in Directory of Open Access Journals as well as Google and Google Scholar. DOAJ is a reference valuable tool, but it is not an index based on any factor other than the fact that a journal is available free on the web. And who on earth would claim articles are "indexed" in Google and Google Scholar? These are search engines, not indexes.


Elsevier, MIT Press, Berg, Oxford University Press, Intellect, and others publish serious journals in design, design research, and cognate fields, along with the independent publishers of specialized journals and journal hybrids. No need to waste time on journals that primarily exist to bring money into the companies that own them. My experience is that all journals need serious reviewers. It's also my experience that good reviewers are often invited to editorial boards.

8] Jeremy Hunsinger, Political Science, Center for Digital Discourse and Culture, Virginia Tech - Information Ethics Fellow, Center for Information Policy Research Sept. 2008

I agree with Ken, we should be wary of Bentham and similar efforts, like cgp and such.

9] Lisa L. Wynn, Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University, Sydney –July 2008

Yesterday I got an e-mail from a company that seems to specialize in coming up with new open-access journals:

Dear Dr. Wynn,

In recognition of your outstanding reputation and contribution in the field of Demography ,we are pleased to propose your name as the Editor-in-Chief of 'The Open Demography Journal'.


… we will pay you annual royalty of 5% of all fees received on these manuscripts.

Perhaps I would be more inclined to take the funding model seriously if it weren't obviously spam. Not only am I not a demographer, I've only ever published one article in a demography journal (which I assume is where they got my name). I'm about the furthest thing from "eminence in the field." What's uncanny is that just last month I also got invited to be the editor-in-chief of a new medical journal devoted to women's health. (Ditto as with the demography business: I'm not a physician, though I do publish in medical journals and write about reproductive health policy.)


What I want to know is why I get invited to be the editor in chief of obscure medical and demography journals, and not of obscure anthropology journals!!

10] Maximilian Forte, Associate Professor, Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal July 2008

"There is also an "Open Anthropology" journal, which I only discovered after I named my blog Open Anthropology as well. It's pretty embarrassing actually."

11] Bruria Funkenstein, Senior Scientist, National Institute of Oceanography, Israel – July 2008

"I am also receiving from time to time similar invitations from Bentham.
The last one I received today is from the open journal of Anatomy.
I am a fish Endocrinologist and certainly do not have any "eminent contributions in the field of Anatomy""

12] Ben Wagner, Associate Librarian, Science & Engineering Library State U. of NY, Buffalo

"A search of Worldcat for Bentham serials publications is revealing, 92 serials ranging from 41 libraries for Current Medicinal Chemistry (if one does not count an annual index held by 131 libraries) down to 1 library for Current Alheimer Research. 68 of the Bentham serials are held by less than 10 libraries. Scary isn't it.

I have no ill will towards Bentham, but one wonders why anyone would publish in a journal held by less than 10 Worldcat libraries."

13] Charles Oppenheim, professor of information science Loughborough University, March or April 2008

"Bentham once enjoyed a reputation as a high-priced reputable scholarly publisher. In my view, it has damaged that reputation by the flood of emails it has sent inviting people to join the editorial board of, or contribute to, new OA journals it has launched. Not merely are the emails sometimes misaddressed, but when the publisher has been emailed by the recipient with queries, the publisher rarely replies. Bentham has made a mistake by launching so many OA journals and by bombarding scholars with email invitations."

14] Richard Poynder – Freelance journalist and blogger covering the OA movement – April 2008

After the first flush of enthusiasm, however, researchers began to question Bentham's activities, not least because many of the invitations they were receiving seemed decidedly badly targeted. For instance, psychologists were being invited to contribute papers on ornithology, health policy researchers were being invited to submit papers on analytical chemistry and economists were being invited to submit papers on sleep research or, even more oddly, invited to join the editorial board of educational journals. This inevitably raised concerns about the likely quality of the new journals, particularly as researchers were being asked to pay from $600 to $900 a time for the privilege of being published in them.

15] Petr Karlovsky, PhD, Karlovsky Lab, Department of Molecular Phytopathology, University of Goettingen, Germany.

To me, the number of OA journals launched by Bentham and their spam advertisement do no leave a good impression. Listing in Google and Google scholar is not of much relevance, one would need to check ISI (needed to get an impact factor) and Pubmed (MEDLINE). I have not bothered to check their 200+ journals but the few I checked are not listed anywhere. OA publishing is a way of earning money, too.

16] Kieran Healy - Associate Prof. Of Sociology, Duke; Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford

This sort of scam is in the same family tree as entries in random prestigious (hem hem) Who’s Who databases/books, and those conferences in Hawaii and Florida designed to allow you to have a personal holiday using your research budget.

17] Jeremy Freese - Professor, Department of Sociology and Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

I’ve wondered about these e-mails I’ve gotten asking me to submit to or serve on the editorial board of “Open Access” journals, including for fields to which I have only very indirect connection.

18] “Anomie” blogger and PhD CANDIDATE [LOL –It seems they were so desperate they even spammed people who don’t have their doctorates yet. -Len]

I’ve been getting those emails, too! Each paragraph was in a different font. I dismissed them as spam.


I also included Ryan’s comments which don’t need to be repeated here. I didn’t include a part of Dr. Wynn’s post [#9 above] where she included the following excerpt from the e-mail they sent her.

“…your role as the Editor-in-Chief will not be an onerous one. You will not be expected to process any submitted manuscripts to the journal nor referee them (unless you choose to do so). What we would expect from you is that you would arrange to solicit and submit a minimum of ten manuscripts to the journal each year.”

That corresponds with Ryan’s discovery that Mr. Alam from the company’s Pakistan office rather than Dr. Jeng, the Editor-in Chief of the Open Civil Engineering Journal, was handling the journal’s peer review process. It seems to be a company wide practice.

Speaking of which last Saturday I e-mailed the E-in-C of the Open Chemical Physics Journal, Marie-Paule Pileni, who seems to be a big deal and a nanochemist. I asked her if she chose the refrees or even knew who they were, I’ve yet to get a reply. Perhaps if one of you science types tried she would feel more compelled to respond.

This part of Bentham’s letter to Dr. Wynn was also quite revealing “You would also be free to invite new editorial board members to the journal who wish to take an active editorial role.”

In other words most or at least many of the board members were chosen before the editor-in-chief. I have no experience with new publications but I imagine the standard practice would be for the E-in-C to been chosen first and them for him or her to choose the other members.
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