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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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!

 

AZIMUT / SOQUIJ: “Le roi est mort, vive le roi!”

À partir du 22 août les professeurs et les étudiants en droit inscrits au programme d’accès gratuit aux services de SOQUIJ, n’auront plus accès au service Juris.doc (AZIMUT). La Recherche juridique est dorénavant le seul moteur de recherche de jurisprudence et de doctrine offert dans le Portail SOQUIJ dans le cadre du programme.

Legal Databases Training for Law Students

The Nahum Gelber Law Library is pleased to be able to offer again  the database training by legal publishers to McGill Law students. The sessions will take place in the Law Library Computer Classroom (main floor of the library).

  • QuickLaw (LexiNexis)
    Monday, October 27, 13-14:30h
  • Westlaw Canada (Carswell)
    Wednesday, October 29, 13-14:30h
  • Azimut (SOQUIJ)
    Monday, November 3, 13-14:30h
  • CAIJ (Centre d’accès à l’information juridique)
    Wednesday, November 5, 13-14:30h

Sign-up sheets are available in the Law Library Computer Classroom.

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

New VPN

Beginning in July 2014, McGill has a new, more secure VPN server. You must go through the steps to install the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client on your computer (a one-time procedure). Thereafter, you only need to click the AnyConnect icon and sign in using your McGill Username and Password. You can then access McGill internal resources, such as departmental and personal files. You can find more about the new VPN here.

New Edition of the Red Book is Here!!!

New, 8th, edition of the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, a.k.a. McGill Cite Guide or Red Book is published.

What’s new for the 8th edition:

  • A new section in the General Rules giving guidance for citing to online sources
  • A new section providing a rule for “point in time” citations for legislation
  • A the section on the Government Documents rules was reorganised to provide clarity, especially for Non-Parliamentary Documents
  • A greatly expanded section on online sources, including forms for blogs, twitter, and online video (including a pinpoint form)

At present, we have 3 copies of the new Red Book available: two on Law Library reserve and one in the Reference collection. More copies are expected to arrive by the beginning of the 2014 – 2015 school year.

Changes in Access to Electronic Resources

The McGill Library is making important changes in the access to electronic resources.

On Wednesday, June 4, 2014, the electronic resources (e-books, e-journals, databases, open access resources) will be removed from the Classic Catalogue.

  • The Classic Catalogue will continue to contain all the items in our local collections, including print books and journals, DVDs, microform, etc.
  • E-resources will be removed from the following sub-catalogues: full, audio-visual and journal titles
  • The McGill Theses sub-catalogue will not be affected by this change, and will still contain both print and electronic materials.
  • eExams will not be affected by this change, and will continue to be available as they were before.
  • Course Reserves will still display e-resources on reserve for McGill courses.
  • You can continue to access all our e-resources through WorldCat.

On Monday, June 9, 2014 the eResearch Gateway will be taken off-line.

  • The eResearch Gateway was an alternate way of searching for articles, databases, and other electronic resources. This functionality is now provided for the most part by WorldCat and the Library’s subject guides.
  • The Law Subject guide includes all the legal databases to which the McGill Library is currently subscribing.
  • If you have used saved articles using the My Research feature, you’ll need to export those article references before June 9. You can find more information about how to export the articles here.

In June, our link old resolver (“Find It”) will be migrated to OCLC’s WorldCat Link Resolver service.

  • For the most part, the change in link resolver will happen automatically and will not require any intervention on your part.
  • If you use Google Scholar to search for articles, you will need to configure it to use the new WorldCat Link Resolver to access articles that are available through the Library. You can find the information about configuring the Google Scholar here.

If you have any questions regarding upcoming changes, please do not hesitate to contact any of the liaison librarians for Law.

New Look for the Law Subject Guide

During the holiday break, we migrated our subject guide to a new tabbed layout. We hope that this design that uses tabs instead of subheadings to divide the subsections will be more conducive to the resource discovery. It allows to avoid vertical scrolling and provides more visibility for the resources that were previously “buried” at the bottoms of the pages.