Evaluating JMIR Publications vis-a-vis Beall criteria
(Result: JMIR is not meeting a single criterion of a predatory publisher)
Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers
By Jeffrey Beall
2nd edition / December 1, 2012
Note: Beall does not consistently phrase his questions in a way so that either “Yes” or “No” identifies a predatory publisher. We marked answers that represents best practices according to OASPA, STM, ICMJE, COPE etc with (+), while (-) would indicate predatory practices (not encountered when evaluating JMIR Publications)
Evaluation Date: Nov 2016
1. Complete an analysis of the publisher’s content, practices, and websites according to ethical standards established by membership organizations.
A. Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) Code of Conduct
Result: Yes (+): JMIR adheres to or exceeds all the OASPA criteria. JMIR is in fact a founding member of OASPA and is a member in good standing.
B. Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Code of Conduct for Journal Publishers [PDF]
Result: Yes (+): JMIR adheres to or exceeds all COPE criteria. The Journal of Medical Internet Research is a COPE member and all JMIR journals follow the COPE best practices and flowcharts
C. International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers (STM) Code of Conduct
Result: Yes (+): JMIR adheres to or exceeds all STM criteria. JMIR Publications is a member of STM.
2. Complete an analysis of the publisher’s content, practices, and websites: contact the publisher if necessary, read statements from the publisher’s authors about their experiences with the publisher, and determine whether the publisher commits any of the following practices (below) that are known to be committed by predatory publishers.
Result: As detailed below, JMIR Publications does not “commit” and of the practices listed below. Regarding “statements from publisher’s authors about their experiences”, reviews on the academic journal review website scirev https://scirev.sc/reviews/journal-of-medical-internet-research/ show extremely positive ratings and testimonies from authors. The average rating is “excellent” and exceeds Plos One or other journals.
Editor and Staff
- The publisher’s owner is identified as the editor of all the journals published by the organization. No (+): JMIR journals have different editorial board members which are identified at the URL (journalbaseURL//about/editorialTeam e.g. http://mental.jmir.org/about/editorialTeam ).
- No single individual is identified as the journal’s editor. No (+). JMIR journals have a minimum of 5 editorial board members
- The journal does not identify a formal editorial / review board. No (+). JMIR journals have different editorial board members which are identified at the URL (journalbaseURL//about/editorialTeam e.g. http://mental.jmir.org/about/editorialTeam ). There is a link to every editorial board in the footer of the homepage of each journal. Some start-up journals may draw from other JMIR boards as JMIR does not have static EB members, in other words, editors may take on papers from other journals.
- No academic information is provided regarding the editor, editorial staff, and/or review board members (e.g., institutional affiliation). No (+): JMIR EB members are listed with academic affiliations and a short bio
- Evident data exist showing that the editor and/or review board members do not possess academic expertise to reasonably qualify them to be publication gatekeepers in the journal’s field. No (+): JMIR EB members have typically an h-index of >8 and must have reviewed/published in the field before. The founding editor of JMIR is an elected Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics (ACMI) and is ranked #25 globally by h-index (>58) among thousands of researchers in the eHealth space (Source: Google Scholar)
- Two or more journals have duplicate editorial boards (i.e., same editorial board for more than one journal). No (+): However, editors can work across different journals, as eHealth is an interdisciplinary field. Occasionally, new sister journals which are currently being “incubated” may draw EB members from other journals, most notably JMIR. However, neither the OASPA, COPE, or STM professional codes demand that editors can be affiliated with only one journal, so this is a questionable Beall criterion
- The journals have an insufficient number of board members, have concocted editorial boards (made up names), include scholars on an editorial board without their knowledge or permission, have board members who are prominent researchers but exempt them from any contributions to the journal except the use of their names and/or photographs. No (+): JMIR journals have a minimum of 5 editorial board members
- Demonstrates a lack of transparency in publishing operations. No (+): Policies are detailed on the website, e.g. at http://www.jmir.org/about/editorialPolicies#peerReviewProcess
- Has no policies or practices for digital preservation. No (+): All JMIR journals deposit articles for long-term preservation to PubMed Central as soon as they become eligible (>25 papers published). At least 11 JMIR journals are currently in PMC, see http://mededu.jmir.org/announcement/view/134
- Depends on author fees as the sole and only means of operation with no alternative, long-term business plan for sustaining the journal through augmented income sources. No (+): JMIR Publications also offers a membership program, see http://www.jmir.org/cms/view/support_%26amp%3B_membership where departments and institutions can become members and publish in JMIR free of charge. JMIR has dozens of institutional members.
- Begins operations with a large fleet of journals, often using a template to quickly create each journal’s home page. No (+): JMIR Publications began operations in 1999 with a single journal (Journal of Medical Internet Research), and operated for over 13 years with only one journal. As submissions increased, sister journals were created to involve a larger number of editors. JMIR Publications is currently adding 1-2 new journals per year to its portfolio (currently 15 journals), which is a far cry from the hundreds of journals published by “predatory” publisher or other publishers like Elsevier, Frontiers, Hindawi etc.
- Provides insufficient information or hides information about author fees, offering to publish an author’s paper and later sending a previously-undisclosed invoice. No (+): JMIR Publications clearly discloses fees at http://www.jmir.org/about/editorialPolicies#custom7 and for extra transparency and informed consent, authors must check a checkbox on submission, confirming they are aware of the fees.
- The name of a journal is incongruent with the journal’s mission. No (+): Not the case for JMIR journals
- The name of a journal does not adequately reflect its origin (e.g., a journal with the word “Canadian” or “Swiss” in its name that has no meaningful relationship to Canada or Switzerland). No (+): There are no country/origin names in the titles of JMIR journals. JMIR Publications is based in Canada.
- The journal falsely claims to have an impact factor, or uses some made up measure (e.g. view factor), feigning international standing. No (+): The Journal of Medical Internet Research has an “official” impact factor since 2006 and has been consistently in the first quartile of its’ discipline, see http://www.jmir.org/announcement/view/133. JMIR sister journals such as JMIR mHealth are expected to have an IF starting in 2017
- The publisher sends spam requests for peer reviews to scholars unqualified to review submitted manuscripts. No (+): Invitations to peer-review papers are not spam. Reviewers have the opportunity to turn down review requests if they are not qualified. In addition, reviewers get compensated through karma credits for reviews they are conducting (worth as much as $100 per review). JMIR has automated or semi-automated processes to identify potentially qualified reviewers and its own reviewer database with >10.000 ehealth experts, who opt in to get review requests. As other journals/publishers, we cannot rule out that we occasionally contact individuals who may not be qualified, but certainly not on a scale that is typical for predatory journals
- The publisher falsely claims to have its content indexed in legitimate abstracting and indexing services or claims that its content is indexed in resources that are not abstracting and indexing services. No (+): Not the case for JMIR. Most JMIR journals are indexed in PubMed/PMC as soon as they become eligible.
- The publisher dedicates insufficient resources to preventing and eliminating author misconduct, to the extent that the journal or journals suffer from repeated cases of plagiarism, self-plagiarism, image manipulation, and the like. No (+): JMIR has currently 4 editorial fulltime staff and hundreds of academic editors. No cases of academic misconduct are known.
- The publisher asks the corresponding author for suggested reviewers and the publisher subsequently uses the suggested reviewers without sufficiently vetting their qualifications or authenticity. (This protocol also may allow authors to create faux online identities in order to review their own papers). No (+): JMIR authors can suggest reviewers, but they are being vetted and not used automatically. No cases of “self-reviewing” are known.
A predatory publisher may ...
- Publish papers already published in other venues/outlets without providing appropriate credits. No (+): JMIR has never published papers which have been published elsewhere before
- Use language claiming to be a “leading publisher” even though the publisher may only be a startup or a novice organization. No (+): While JMIR’s vision statement contains the aspiration to be “the leading eHealth publisher”, emphasizing its focus on ehealth (digital health), JMIR is not a “startup or novice organization”, rather has been publishing for over 17 years (since 1999), and there are sound metrics to demonstrate that JMIR Publications is a leading publisher in this field. It’s flagship journal (Journal of Medical Internet Research) is consistently ranked top in the medical informatics discipline by impact factor. With over 1000 articles on digital health published per year, no other publisher is publishing more articles in this field. The tagline is therefore justified. The criterion is questionable, because many other publishers brand/position their journals in a similar manner, see http://www.jmir.org/content/beall
- Operate in a Western country chiefly for the purpose of functioning as a vanity press for scholars in a developing country. No (+): Less than 1% of JMIR authors are from developing countries
- Do minimal or no copyediting. No (+): All JMIR papers are carefully copyedited by professional copyeditors and contractors such as Editage
- Publish papers that are not academic at all, e.g. essays by laypeople or obvious pseudo-science. No (+): JMIR has not published papers from laypeople of pseudoscience.
- Have a “contact us” page that only includes a web form, and the publisher hides or does not reveal its location. The “contact us” page of JMIR is extensive and does reveal its locations - http://www.jmir.org/about/contact .
The following practices are considered to be reflective of poor journal standards and, while they do not equal predatory criteria, potential authors should give due consideration to these items prior to manuscript submissions:
- The publisher copies “authors guidelines” verbatim (or with minor editing) from other publishers. No (+): JMIRs author guidelines are original and frequently iterated
- The publisher lists insufficient contact information, including contact information that does not clearly state the headquarters location or misrepresents the headquarters location (e.g., through the use of addresses that are actually mail drops). No (+): The “contact us” page of JMIR is extensive and does reveal its locations - http://www.jmir.org/about/contact .
- The publisher publishes journals that are excessively broad (e.g., Journal of Education) in order to attract more articles and gain more revenue from author fees. No (+): All JMIR journals focus on ehealth / digital health / technology in health, except JMIR Research Protocols, which publishes research protocols. As mission-driven for profit publisher we create innovative journals that address a current need or niche.
- The publisher publishes journals that combine two or more fields not normally treated together (e.g., International Journal of Business, Humanities and Technology). No (+): All JMIR journals focus at emerging topics of the intersection of technology and medicine. As an aside, this is a questionable criterion as sometimes it is a hallmark of innovation to create new journals in fields that are “not normally treated together”.
- The publisher requires transfer of copyright and retains copyright on journal content. Or the publisher requires the copyright transfer upon submission of manuscript. No (+): JMIR authors retain the copyright and publish under a Creative Commons license. This is clearly disclosed at the bottom of each published article as well as on http://www.jmir.org/about/submissions#copyrightNotice
- The publisher has poorly maintained websites, including dead links, prominent misspellings and grammatical errors on the website. No (+): We are not aware of any dead links, prominent misspellings and grammatical errors. The responsive website has won reader accolades (http://www.jmir.org/announcement/view/83)
- The publisher makes unauthorized use of licensed images on their website, taken from the open web, without permission or licensing from the copyright owners. No (+): Most of the images on the JMIR site are licensed from authors under Creative Commons. Stock photos are purchased/licensed from stock photo databases or respective copyright holders.
- The publisher engages in excessive use of spam email to solicit manuscripts or editorial board memberships. No (+): JMIR does not “spam” to solicit manuscripts or editorial board memberships. We limit specific invitations to less than 10 per day. Such invitations are in line with CAN-SPAM legislation and industry/OASPA best practices for responsible marketing.
- The publishers’ officers use email addresses that end in .gmail.com, yahoo.com some other free email supplier. No (+): While JMIR also uses gmail, the primary contact email addresses end in @jmir.org, see http://www.jmir.org/about/contact
- The publisher fails to state licensing policy information on articles or shows lack of understanding of well-known OA journal article licensing standards. No (+): JMIR authors retain the copyright and publish under a Creative Commons license. This is clearly disclosed at the bottom of each published article as well as on http://www.jmir.org/about/submissions#copyrightNotice
- The publisher lacks a published article retraction policy or retracts articles without a formal statement; also the publisher does not publish corrections or clarifications and does not have a policy for these issues. No (+): Corrections and clarification or addenda (and in theory also retractions, although in practice no JMIR article ever had to be retracted) are published in line with COPE Best Practices, e.g. in http://www.jmir.org/collection/view/38
- The publisher does not use ISSN numbers, DOI numbers or uses them improperly. No (+): All JMIR journals have ISSN numbers, and all articles have DOIs, which are submitted to the DOI handle system via Crossref. Example: http://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.2012
- For the name of the publisher, the publisher uses names such as “Network,” “Center,” “Association,” “Institute,” and the like when it is only a publisher and does not meet the definition of the term used. No (+): The name of the publisher is “JMIR Publications”.
- The publisher has excessive advertising on its site to the extent that it interferes with site navigation and content access. No (+): There is no advertising on JMIR journals.
- The publisher has no membership in industry associations and/or intentionally fails to follow industry standards. No (+): JMIR Publications is a member in various associations including OASPA (founding member), COPE, and STM.
- The publisher includes links to legitimate conferences and associations on its main website, as if to borrow from other organizations’ legitimacy, and emblazon the new publisher with the others’ legacy value. No (+): JMIR Publications does have partnerships with other organizations, which are legitimate partnership. It does not feature such logos or links prominently
- The publisher displays prominent statements that promise rapid publication and/or unusually quick peer review. No (+): JMIR Publications offers a fast-track peer-review, promising decisions within 3 weeks. Other publishers (Nature Publishing Group) have experimented with similar models.
- The publisher focuses on authors (not readers) and on getting their fees at the expense of due quality, and offers few or no value adds to readers such as RSS feeds, hotlinked references, or the like. No (+): JMIR journals do have RSS feeds (e.g. http://www.jmir.org/about/editorialPolicies#custom6) and all references are painstakingly crosslinked to PubMed and via Crossref to full-text articles
- The publisher creates a publishing operation that is set up and run by a single individual who engages in rapacious entrepreneurial behavior. The individual might have business administration experience, and the site may have business journals but it also has journals that are outside the experience of the entrepreneur or anyone on staff. No (+): JMIR Publications is owned by scientists and publishes for scientists. There is no “rapacious entrepreneurial behavior” - at least not more than what can be observed from Elsevier or any other for-profit publisher..
- The publisher or its journals are not listed in standard periodical directories or are not widely cataloged in library databases. No (+): All JMIR journals (unless they are very new) are in Pubmed and PMC.
- The publisher copies or egregiously mimics journal titles from other publishers. No (+): All JMIR journals have “JMIR” in the title and distinctively focus on technology topics. Many of the journal titles are original and the niche topics are created by JMIR.
- The publisher uses text on the publisher’s main page that describes the open access movement and then foists the publisher as if the publisher is active in fulfilling the movement’s values and goals. No (+): However, it should be pointed out that JMIR Publications has in fact been a pioneer in open access publishing (publishing since 1999, before BMC and Plos etc) and has been a co-founder of OASPA.
- None of the members of a particular journal’s editorial board have ever published an article in the journal. No (+): Publishing an article in JMIR is usually a prerequisite to be on the EB of a JMIR journal