Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Paul Royster

Date of this Version



Presented at Reference Refresher Day, Love Library, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, July 21, 2015.


Copyright (c) 2015 Paul Royster. Re-use is permitted.


All publishers are predators. Even the ones who are reasonably honest and responsible. But some take it too far, and they use business practices that are extremely misleading and dishonest.

“People I don’t know keep contacting me online.” The DOAJ and Beall's List. How the scam works; a matter of degree. Troll publishers entice authors to sign over the rights.

Bad signs: You never heard of them, even though you have been doing research in the area for 5 years. Title is vague and overly broad. Physical location is obscure. No affiliation with school or society. Interest in receiving money up-front. Negotiable “deals” are offered.

Good signs: Published by organization, department, or university Demonstrates working knowledge of the field You can find them online, along with Editorial Board, Aim and Scope statements, author guidelines, etc. You recognize some names of other authors or editorial board members.

Most publishers want the author to transfer the copyright to the publisher. Sometimes they settle for “all publishing rights”, which amounts to the same thing in effect. When you sign over your copyright, the assignee can keep your work totally locked up for: the rest of your life plus 70 years after you die.

Giving and keeping rights to distribute. Gold and Green Open Access.

The publishing industry needs new content like the beef industry needs dead cows. Some publishers are more unscrupulous, and so the industry calls them “predatory.” This may distract us from the “normal” practices that victimize authors routinely.

Publishers say: • We are all in this together. • We are doing it for scholarship/science. • Our interests are aligned. • We want to work together.

Publishers do: • Restrict distribution. • Earn extravagant profits. • Take and hoard copyrights. • Exploit faculty and researchers. • Sue libraries over fair use of educational materials. • Circulate misleading advice on copyright issues. • Misrepresent their own motives.

So we live in a jungle, watch out for predators!

(PowerPoint slides .pptx file attached below).