List of predatory, parasitic, or pseudoscientific publishers and journals
Because Science does not need lack of rigor and seriousness, we do not need them ...
The Dolos list is here for you, researchers, journalists, or readers of the general public. It has an informative character and is at your disposal if you still doubt a journal or publisher who is not listed.
The predatory publishing sector is harmful to the researchers that it scams, to the journalists that it deludes, and to the general public that it misinforms. It is dangerous for public health, sometimes promoting dubious practices and toxic products that it will present as innocuous or curative. Science and people would suffer greatly from its expansion.
Sorry, but Science is losing the game ...
The publication of this article has been debated within my team, especially about the usefulness that could be expected and the consequences on the image of the Dolos list. I'll be pretty clear: We do not win our fight against predatory and pseudoscientific publishing. The Dolos list is a blacklist, listing a large number of pseudoscientific journals and predatory publishers. It is a resource available for researchers, for the press, and for the general public, who are the prey of this sector. But predatory publishing seems to be winning, scientific rigor is declining, and science is losing. I think (and this is just my personal point of view) the removal of Beall's list by Jeffrey Beall himself was one of the greatest defeats of scientific rigor. But, very honestly, I understand the reasons for this withdrawal.
What is the situation?
Profit and decline of scientific rigor
First, there are recognized predators: Omics and the others. These are like a mafia. They threaten, they scam researchers, and, despite their bad image, they continue their activities peacefully. They claim to fight an intellectual dictatorship that does not exist by agreeing to publish anything for the sake of profit.
Then, there are more "borderline" cases. Those who have a pretty good image, who are present on the DOAJ index, but who are in fact DOAJ funders. As explained in my article on this subject, it is not a real whitelist. The selection criteria are fictitious and, although the index contains serious journals, DOAJ also accepts very low quality journals. Publishers in this category are Frontiers or MDPI, which are indeed predators, but who have pretended to be rigorous.
Finally, we have legitimate publishers. They are not predators, but their quality is declining year by year. The reasons are multiple. There is the profit, of course, but also a general decline in the desire to preserve scientific rigor. I let you consult the results of a study published by a team of researchers:
This and others clearly highlight an overall decline in the serious and the quality of peer reviews among the most prestigious publishers. Peer review, although criticized (sometimes with good reason) remains the most effective method to avoid the publication of low quality articles and scientifically inadmissible papers. Decreasing quality is the worst response to criticism that can be made.
Lobbies and Science
In my article on Taylor & Francis, I highlighted a thorough investigation into the fraudulent practices of this publisher, who, with his good reputation, has allowed multinationals to publish pseudoscientific articles in order to influence our legislators. This is a brilliant system that has allowed groups like Total, Exxon, and BP to question the toxicity of certain chemicals for several years, in order to influence the decisions of parliaments. They used scientific publishing, one of the most important tools at the disposal of the scientific community, to disseminate false scientific information. It was then public health and science that lost against profit.
In her book Ce que je peux enfin vous dire (What I can finally tell you), Ségolène Royal, French Minister for the Environment from 1992 to 1993 and from 2014 to 2017, declared that the fossil fuel lobby is:
"sans nul doute le plus puissant à l'échelle planétaire. Celui qui explique le revirement du président américain, lorsqu'il décide de sortir de l'accord sur le climat. Celui qui explique la lenteur de la montée en puissance de la voiture électrique non polluante. [...] Lobby des énergies fossiles encore. Alors que, en application de l'accord de Paris sur le climat, j'ai refusé de signer les permis d'exploitation d'hydrocarbures, malgré les très fortes pressions de toute nature, celles-ci ont été réautorisées jusqu'en 2040 dès mon départ du ministère par une loi, présentée comme un progrès, alors que c'est une régression."
"without a doubt the most powerful on a planetary scale, the one that explains the American president's turnaround when he decides to get out of the climate agreement. The one that explains the slow rise of the non-polluting electric car [...] Fossil fuel lobby one more time. While, under the agreement of Paris on the climate, I refused to sign the permits of exploitation of hydrocarbons, in spite of the very strong pressures of any kind, these were re-authorized until 2040 when I left the ministry by a law, presented as a progress, while it is a regression."
Yet, the scientific community is unanimous: If we continue this way, we are going towards extinction. It's not just about alarming people about a slight increase in temperature. These are currently populated regions that will become uninhabitable, it is our entire atmosphere that will be unbreathable, if we continue to let the profit destroy the future of our species and this planet. So when we see that these multinationals go so far as to invoke Science to justify this condemnation of Humanity, it is our duty, as scientists, to make them understand that they have gone too far.
What are the solutions to consider?
I only know two really effective weapons: Information and the collective effort. When you read this article, discovering what the Dolos list, the scientific community, and even a Minister of the Republic wanted you to understand, you may be outraged once again. If so, you will be able to act. Share this information publicly or, if you do not want to expose yourself for fear of the consequences you may suffer, write to the press. Yes, let's do that. This time, rather than revolt alone, take 30 minutes in your day, write an email as a scientist or even as a World citizen, and send it to newspapers you like or you usually read. Inform, disseminate, take your time to alert your representatives and the press of these fraudulent practices. If these facts are revealed, we will have helped to make the lobbies's work more difficult by depriving them of a precious tool of influence: OUR scientific publishing. Because, yes, scientific publishing is the tool of scientists, not that of lobbies. I will be honest: I do not think we are able to win. But we can not make their work easier by our inaction.
Professor Alexandre GEORGES.
Article published in December 2018.