Do Not Fall into a Trap: Predatory Publishing 101

The expression “predatory academic publishing” may sound as an oxymoron to a person unaware of the phenomenon. However, it is real, it is here, and it is hurting the most innocent and vulnerable members of academia: postdocs, doctoral students, and young pre-tenured faculty.

Dealing with predatory publishers can at the best lead to monetary losses, long-lasting embarrassment because of being fooled, and the forever exclusion of item from the list of publications (If all of this can be called “the best.” As a doctoral candidate myself, I can vividly imagine the frustration of somebody who would publish a book reporting five or six years of research only not to mention it on the CV). At the worst, especially if the unlucky author signs away the moral rights to the work, it can irremediably tarnish an academic reputation, undermine credibility of the research, and affect the decisions of hiring and tenure committees and granting agencies.The reality of the current highly competitive and overcrowded scholarly marketplace is such that this worst-case scenario is getting frighteningly possible, and Mary Bennet’s well-known moralising about female virtue could be easily applied to an academic reputation. Paraphrasing Jane Austen, the loss of reputation in an academic is irretrievable; one false step involves him/her in endless ruin; his/her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful; and he/she cannot be too much guarded in the behaviour towards the undeserving representatives of the publishing industry.

The ink has been flowing for a while with hundreds of pieces already penned on the subject, so why would I need to write another one? What I would like to accomplish with this blog post is to offer some simple and practical advice, some sort of “Predatory Publishing 101,” that should help to instantly weed out most of potentially harmful offers and to provide resources to learn more on the subject. A recent conversation with one of McGill graduate students prompted me to write this post. He /she came to talk to me all elated and excited to share great news. The student got an email from a publisher who offered to publish a book based on a yet unfinished and undefended thesis. To me, acquainted with the practices of predatory academic publishers, this sounded only all too familiar. The ubiquitous name of the publisher confirmed my worst suspicions. It was a well known vanity press, publishing with which would leave a stain on an academic reputation. My immediate advice to the student was to never answer that email, to never publish anything with them, and the most important to always be on guard and seek more information if he/she gets a publishing offer from an unfamiliar source. I felt sorry to break it to the student, but (to say it without a false modesty) this student got lucky. Before subscribing to a publishing deal that could in a long-term harm the academic career, the person benefited from an advice from an information professional who knows what kind of jungle is the modern academic publishing, and where most of its pitfalls and traps are.

To avoid falling into a predatory publishing trap, if you get a publishing/conference presentation offer from an unfamiliar source, get a second opinion, talk to an information professional/librarian, check resources available for you (see below), Google the publisher’s name, and do a search on Twitter to find information about them. If after a bit of research, you can say “yes” to most of the following, you need to be extra careful and seriously consider rejecting or, even better, not replying to the offer:

  1. It is not specified in their email where they got the information about your research: your recent conference presentation, your thesis supervisor, your colleague, etc.
  2. You are not a member of their “scholarly” society and never subscribed to their listserv.
  3. They mention on the website that they may charge their authors some “modest” editing/printing/book production fees.
  4. They do not mention or are vague about peer or editorial review process on their website.
  5. There is information raising suspicions on the web (lawsuits aiming to take them off the lists of vanity/predatory presses, disclaimers that they are not a vanity or predatory publisher/journal, tweets and blog posts from frustrated scholars describing dishonest dealings and swindling of the money).
  6. Their name looks very similar but is not exactly the same as a name of a respectable publishing house, a well-known academic institution, or a reputable journal.
  7. The contract they ask you to sign stipulates that you will relinquish not only the copyright to your work but also the moral rights.

This list is far from being complete, but it should give you a good start. To know more on the subject and to protect yourself from the mistakes with the long-lasting consequences, you can check the following sources:

Good luck with your research and publications!

 

Five Puzzles and Counting

Having attended some presentations at conferences about the stress and mental health of university students, we decided on a new initiative at the Law Library. This fall semester we created a de-stress corner.

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Our first puzzle of 500 pieces was done in a week! We are posting the finished puzzle images on the Law Library FaceBook page, where it has created a lot of interest.

We are already on our fifth puzzle and students are loving it! Some students shared with us their questions and comments:

  • Where do you get this puzzles from?
  • The nice staff at the Gelber Law Library brings these from home or go to a thrift shop to buy these.
  • What do you do with them after these are done? Do you frame these?
  • We don’t frame the puzzles. We put them back in their boxes. We are also sharing the puzzles with an older man in his 80’s that lives in an Old Age Home Residence who loves to do puzzles and exercise his brain.

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Comments:

  • “I’m a puzzle person and it is such a good idea to have this at the Library. This last puzzle is difficult and fun!”
  • I spent an hour doing the sky and I enjoyed it very much!
  • This is becoming a social activity and bringing us to the Library. Thank you for doing this!

Our new puzzle has 1000 pieces. We all enjoyed seeing students working at it, and taking a well-deserved few minutes break from their studies.

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Legal Citations Clinic: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Red Book

Are you sill mystified and baffled by the mysteries of the Red Book? By popular demand, we are bring back the Legal Citations Clinic.

coverWhen: Wednesday, November 9th, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Where: Law Library Classroom

How: Two law librarians will be answering your questions for 1h and 20 min after a 10-minute introduction. First come first served. All law students welcome. Come and bring your citations questions!

 

 

 

De-stress Corner at the Law Library

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If you already feel stressed about all the amount of reading that you have to do or anticipate with trepidation getting your assignments graded on a curve, the law library now offers you some options that could help you relax and take your thought away from your troubles (at least for a little while). Come to our “De-stress Station” on the ground floor, right next to the Reference Collection, play a game of chess, colour some books, or make a puzzle, and feel better!

 

Quid Novi Archives are Online!

This summer, the McGill library has been hard at work digitising historic McGill student newspapers. Now the project is completed, and the digital versions are accessible online at the Internet Archive. This extensive digital collection currently includes over 10,000 issues from various McGill student publications including The Fortnightly, The McGill Outlook, Le Délit, The McGill Daily, Quid Novi, The Dram and the Failt-Ye Times.  As you can see, our beloved Quid was also part of this massive effort. You can access the full archives of Quid Novi 656 issues here:

Good reading to everybody!

Unsolicited Advice: Library Fines and How to Avoid Them…

This is not a literary text solicited by the co-editors-in-chief for this issue of the Quid, but more of a continuation of the re-emerging theme of my column, an unsolicited advice about the library. Today, I would like to talk to you not about a new “cool” rare book or a useful database that we recently bought but about something totally unglamorous and rather dull: library fines. This choice of topic is not random. From the reference desk, I begin to notice the traces of sleepless nights and mid-term-induced stress at the law students’ faces. [Here, a law student harassed by the looming deadlines and incomprehensible mysteries of the Red Book (sorry, McGill Law Journal) should burst into a fit of sarcastic laughter. “She sees how stressed we are, and she wants to speak about WHAT?”] Yes, I would like to talk to you about library fines. Not out of a malevolent desire to fill your life with a bit more stress and to see how you can handle it, but to help you, to make library fines easy to understand, and thus, easy to avoid.

So, library fines and how to avoid them… There are two main types of library fines that might affect a law student:

1. Recall fines for books – $5 per day.

As McGill students, you can borrow 80 books and renew them for an unlimited number of times. Following this logic, it may seem that you can borrow a book and keep it until you graduate. You can… unless the book is recalled. To make it possible for students and faculty members to share library resources (i.e. books and journals), any borrowed item can be recalled. Anything that you have on loan is subject to immediate recall if needed for reserves, or after 14 days from the date of the original loan if requested by another library user. When something is recalled, you receive a recall notice from the Library at your McGill student e-mail. You must return the item by the new due date or you will be charged $5 per day, with a maximum fine of $100 per item.

How to avoid getting fines for recalled books:

  • Check your McGill e-mail every day. When you see a recall notice, bring the book to the library.
  • Before you leave Montreal for vacation, holidays, or a visit, return all the books to the library. If you prefer not to do so, find a trustworthy friend/ classmate/ relative whom you can leave keys to your apartment/ room. Keep checking your McGill e-mail when on holidays (some people love working during Christmas vacation, so the books ARE being recalled even then). If a book is recalled, ask your friend to go to your lodgings, get the book, and return it to the library.  It may sound horribly insensitive, but the fact of being on vacation “up North”, on Bahamas, etc., is not a sufficient reason to waive your library fines (see below about fine waiving).

2. Reserve fines – $0.02 per minute.

First, what are reserves? Reserve materials are books and other items that because of high demand have short loan period. In the Law Library, the reserves are mostly books that are required readings for a class or some ever-popular titles, such as Canadian guide to uniform legal citations, a.k.a. Red Book. The loan period for all reserve items is 3 hours, after which the fines will kick in and will be calculated 24 hours/day. They can be borrowed overnight if they are borrowed within 3 hours before the closing of Library services. Course reserve items borrowed overnight will be due back one hour after Library services begin the next day. This means, if you borrow a reserve book on Thursday after 3:00 p.m., you can have it until Friday 10 a.m. At the Law Library, the reserve books borrowed on Friday after 3:00 p.m. need only be returned on Sunday before 11 a.m.

How to avoid getting fines for reserve materials:

  • Return them on time and to the branch library from which they were borrowed
  • When the service desk is open, return reserve materials to the desk
  • Avoid returning the reserve books borrowed before 3:00 p.m. after the service desk is closed. The mere fact of putting a book in the reserves return bin does not take it off your account because the return bin is really, you know… just a bin. It is not a fancy technological contraption that will check in books once they hit the bottom. It is a simple wooden box that will keep the books safe until the next day when one of our library assistants opens the service desk and checks the books in. For you, this means that the book stays on your account the whole night and the fines keep accumulating until the morning of the next opening day with a maximum of $100 per item.

What to do if you have already accumulated library fines?

The answer is simple. You will have to pay them. Fines can be waived only in special circumstances, for example, a documented medical situation. The lack of awareness of library policies or failure to receive a reminder email notice is not an acceptable reason for waiving a fine. Unfortunately, if you have $30 or more owing to the library or one overdue recalled item, will block you from borrowing ant library materials and from getting any diplomas and transcripts. To see if you have accumulated any fines, you can sign in your library account at http://catalogue.mcgill.ca/F/?func=login-session

Book about the McGill Law Journal: The Journal: 60 Years of People, Prose, and Publication

So many people have published and edited with the McGill Law Journal that the Journal’s institutional memory could fill a book. This was the insight of the Managing Editor of volume 54, Eytan Bensoussan, who came up with the idea of writing a book about the history and legacy of the Journal. James Cummins, a journalist and writer from Ottawa, was commissioned to write the book by the Editor-in-Chief of volume 56. The result is an account of the singular nature of the McGill Law Journal, recounting the ways it was influenced by and has influenced the Canadian legal and political landscape.9781926716251_cover_coverbookpage-v2-modal

The McGill Law Journal is the premiere legal periodical in the history of Canadian scholarship. Since its founding in 1952 by Jacques-Yvan Morin (future leader of the Official Opposition in the National Assembly of Quebec) the Journal has been at the forefront of legal history. It was the first university-based law journal in Canada to be cited by the Supreme Court, and has since been outpaced by no other university journal in the frequency at which the Court has turned to it. And it has always has been run solely by students.

The Journal’s alumni covers a who’s who of the last 60 years in Canada, from international figures to business leaders; from national politicians to larger-than-life legal scholars; from judges to global entertainers. This is the story of the people who made the Journal work; of the people who each made their first real impacts on the world through an unearthly dedication and passion to their job at the MLJ. It is also the tale of the revolutionary ideas that flowed into, and in some situations started, in the pages of the publication they ran.

The book is based on interviews with the Journal’s alumni, a history of legal journals in Canada, and the content of each of the 58 volumes that came to be between 1952 and the end of the 60th anniversary year of the Journal in the spring of 2013. The culmination of this research provides a breathtaking picture of a history that was beginning to slowly fade into the past, strengthening the identity of a key part of Canadian society.

The journal: 60 Years of People, Prose, and Publication is now available at the Nahum Gelber Law Library: KEQ322 M34 2013.

Sources: http://lawjournal.mcgill.ca/en/text/2998, http://49thshelf.com/Books/T/The-McGill-Law-Journal-60-Years-of-People-Prose-and-Publication

Survival Guide to the Cite Guide :)

Last two or three weeks (as usual on this time of year), there was number of students looking for help on how to cite the sources for their first memo. For their benefit, I decided to reiterate my last year’s not-totally-unsolicited advice on the matter.

  1. Ask a librarian for a help. We will not do or check your footnotes, but we will walk you through the maze of the Red Book (no offence meant) to make sure that the next time you will be comfortable to use it by yourself.  Do not be shy to come several times if you need more help, and please, please do not come 5 minutes before your paper is due – in this case, we can only commiserate with you.
  2. When your TL gives you a piece of paper, a pdf, or a photocopy of something, ask what this is, and from where it is coming from (book, website, encyclopaedia, etc.). You will save some precious minutes (or hours) later when you are pressed for time and have to finish your work by a deadline. It is quite unpleasant to discover suddenly that the TL’s piece of paper is a book chapter, and you have no slightest idea about the book title and/ or author.
  3. Do not wait until the last minute to make your footnotes. If you ‘cite while you write’, you will have your paper AND your footnotes ready, except for the final proofing, when you finish writing the last paragraph. If you leave all your footnotes to be done after you finish the paper, you will end up frantically trying to figure out where this or that quotation is coming from, or what all the supra(s) and idem(s) mean. Everybody works differently, but try at least once…
  4. Add some common sense and reasoning to the Red Book. Do not expect it to contain a correct form of footnote for every possible source. Red Book will not necessarily have an answer to your particular question. When you have something to cite, think about what rule fits the best the type of source that you have in hand.
    Read carefully the section to apply the rule, do not scan and skim the text.
  5. In short, to cite a source, proceed as follows:
  • READ General Rules section (optional after you know it by heart)
  • determine what it is that you have to cite
  • find the chapter corresponding to the type of your source (Jurisprudence for cases, Secondary Sources for books and journal articles, etc.)
  • find the section corresponding to the particular source that you have
  • READ this section
  • apply the rule to cite the source making analogies if necessary
  • repeat as needed:)

Dot or no dot (while citing codes) that is the question

According to the questions that we received at the reference desk recently, there seems to be quite a confusion if a period (full stop/ dot) should be used at the end of the footnote when you are referring to a code. I contacted the editor of the Cite Guide, Alexander Max Jarvie, who kindly provided this clarification that I am sharing with you:

“The period that appears at the end of examples provided elsewhere in the Legislation section is intended as an indication of the terminal period for the entire citation. Although we have removed most periods from citation forms in the 7th edition, a citation footnote is still a sentence and as such punctuation is used in normal fashion. Hence, if the citation to a codal article is the last (or the only) source to be referenced within a particular footnote, a period would follow. To illustrate these rules in practice, I have provided examples below:
2 Art 1214 CCQ.
Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11.
35 See Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11; see also art 1214 CCQ.”

No Previous Years Exams & Secure Exams Laptops at the Law Library

Apparently, there has been quite a bit of confusion about where the Law students can find the exams from previous years or get a laptop with the secure exam software. To save you some trouble and time, this is a short summary of what we have and what we do not have at the Library:

  • The Faculty of Law exams are NOT available through the McGill Library’s E-Exams Catalogue
  • The Law Library does NOT have any print copies of the exams from previous years. We used to have them in the olden days when the Law Library was still in the New Chancellor Day Hall
  • The McGill Library, including the Law Library, does NOT lend the laptops where you can install the secure exams software. To get more information about the secure exams software for your laptops, Law students should contact the Student Affairs Office tel. 514-398-3544 info.law@mcgill.ca http://www.mcgill.ca/law-studies/undergrad-programs/ 

Good luck with your exams!