Predatory open science funding

There are some open access journals that seem to have relativley loose editorial standards. And by “editorial” I mean “ethical”, and by “relatively loose”, I mean “no”. These publishers have been called “predatory” open access publishers. The idea is simple: solicit submissions via spam email, accept submissions, and then charge publication fees that more than cover the cost of your spamming operation. Here’s a list of predatory open access publishers. Richard Poynder did a very in depth story on this phenomenon. If you’re interested to know more, read the PDF linked to on this blog post. The bottom line is, it works. At least some people send papers to predatory open access journals and pay to have them published. And that’s why any email address you’ve used as a corresponding author will get inundated with spam from these outfits.

What’s new– to me at least– is what seems to be predatory micro funding for scientific research. Microfinance has been used for many years to get enterprises off the ground. More recently, groups like Kickstarter have developed web sites to finance proposed creative and technology projects. Kickstarter is cool. It’s all above the table, as far as I can tell, and has many success stories.

By contrast, the Open Source Science Project is sketchy as hell. Here’s the model: researchers post project proposals and funders browse and decide what they want to fund. This is very similar to Kickstarter. However, the business makes money by charging the researchers monthly subscription fees. At this point, I’m gone. That’s the only red flag I need. But there are other red flags too: zero success stories, endless attempts to look legit by association (a bunch of university and industry logos all over their site), the “Privacy Policy” and “Terms of Use” do not actually link to anything, and the identity of the people running the organization is not revealed anywhere. There is no evidence that anyone has ever had a project funded through their system.

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