New guide: Understanding Predatory Publishers

As with all industries, academic publishing isn’t all smiles and rainbows, it has its share of spam and scams. I’d only been at my job at Iowa State for about 3 months before I got an email inviting me to submit an article to a journal only referred to by a three-letter acronym. My warning bells went off – and rightly so – the email was from a predatory publisher.

A predatory publisher is an opportunistic publishing venue that exploits the academic need to publish but offers little reward for those using their services.

It’s not always easy but usually five minutes of investigation is enough to know if the publisher is a legitimate business that values academic research or one that’s just looking to make a profit. To help others with this process I recently published a Library guide called Understanding Predatory Publishers. The guide works in tandem with the guide on Journal Evaluation Tools which provides resources on how to look up rankings like Journal Impact Factors, SCImago stats, publishing frequency, and more.

As a disclaimer: each author needs to decide for themselves what they expect from their publisher. As a librarian, my bar may be a little higher than most, so take the advice offered as a starting point, not an end point.




A preprints server for chemistry

Not to be outdone by other preprint archives that have been announced in the past few months, the American Chemical Society (ACS) has announced plans to establish a preprint server for chemistry: chemRxiv. ChemRxiv will follow in the footsteps of arXiv and other preprint servers in hosting publicly available, pre-peer review copies of papers and data.

While details, including a potential launch date, are scarce at this point, ACS is currently “in the process of inviting interested stakeholders to participate in helping to shape the service ahead of its anticipated launch.”

Some scholarly communication updates from the world of engineering:

This past weekend saw the launch of engrXiv, “a free, open access, open source archive for engineering research and design” which accepts and provides access to preprints in all disciplines of engineering.

Working with the Center for Open Science, engrXiv will “provide access to not just engineering papers but also important engineering assets such as data, code, and design and computational models. It will also provide an environment for public peer review of these engineering assets.”

engrXiv follows in the same vein as the well-known, and the more recently announced bioRxiv and SocArXiv.  engrXiv’s steering committee notes the site is intended to be pronounced “Engineering Archive,” and that going to will redirect you to engrXiv.

Learn more at


The Electrochemical Society (ECS), a small, nonprofit society which focuses on energy storage, clean energy, and clean water, has embarked upon a mission to make all their content open access without charging author or reader fees.

Called Free the Science, this initiative plans to convert the entire ECS Digital Library to open access by 2024, and ECS will fund the access entirely themselves.

Learn more at,, or