Dear Colleagues:

Išve read with great interest some of the enthusiastic commentary
generated since we posted a notice about our new Journal of Astronomy &
Earth Sciences Education. Wešve spent quite a bit of time creating this
new publishing vehicle for our community, and it is something that wešre
quite proud of. Unfortunately, it has been off-handedly suggested that
JAESE might be a predatory journal. I, JAESEšs Editor-in-Chief, along with
JAESEšs guiding Editorial Advisory Board can assure you that JAESE is not
a predatory journal. Many of the readers on this list know me, and
certainly many of our Board members. If youšre still reading this thread,
please allow me to explain without getting deep into the weeds of

If you havenšt heard of these before, predatory journals are those
publishing entities that charge authors exorbitant fees to publish their
research articles, regardless of the scholarly quality and without any
meaningful peer-review. Predatory journals have shown up in the news quite
a bit lately because of an instance where an India-based journal publisher
quickly accepted and published a submitted but nonsensical,
computer-generated article and invoiced the imaginary author several
thousand dollars with a single-word editorial review of, ŗexcellent.˛
JAESE isnšt one of these publication-mills.

JAESE is an open-access journal. This means that its peer-reviewed
articles are freely available to readers and libraries without a
subscription. Whereas traditional publishers cover their costs by
surprisingly large subscription fees to libraries, open-access journals
charge authors or their institutions a page-charge fee to cover their
costs, including copyediting, layout, indexing, permanent storage, stable
access, and curation. In other words, one canšt simply put up a website
and call it a journal, as permanent storage, indexing, and stable URLs are
important and not as easy as it might seem.

Simply charging authors or their institutions a fee is not in and of
itself any evidence of predation, as many scientific journals have such
per-page fees, including Journal of Geoscience Education (JGE charges
$100/page, but fees are optional for those without institutional support)
and the Astrophysical Journal ($225/page fees). Moreover, journals such as
Journal of Research in Science Teaching are seemingly free to publish in,
but charge a $3,000 fee if authors wish to make their articles available
open-access to those without a subscription. GSAšs Geology is $2500 per
article fee. Because JAESE isnšt connected to a big publishing company,
JAESE charges a nominal open-access fee, averaging about $500 per
article‹and authorsš retain their own copyright. In other words, the cost
is about the same as JGE, but JAESE readers do not require a subscription,
making the overall cost lower. The JAESE Editorial Board judged this to be
a much better model than other available options. If youšre really
interested in how much it actually costs to publish an article, I
recommend starting by reading the NATURE article on the subject at

JAESE wasnšt created overnight. Instead, the current form of JAESE is a
result of two years of collaborative planning, including the competitive
selection of an experienced, US-based academic publisher. Part of that
planning includes the creation and engagement of both an Editorial
Advisory Board and a Board of Reviewers who are highly respected and
well-known scholars (viz.,, including former journal
editors, who oversee the JAESE Editor, who is also himself an experienced
senior scholar. If you look at the list, youšll likely recognize many
names. Part of the motivation to create JAESE is based upon (i) the void
created with the cessation of the Astronomy Education Review and (ii) the
large number of manuscripts received by JGE.  Its not like there are an
overabundance of places for discipline-based education researchers to
publish, and most scholars seem to welcome new avenues that use new
business models.
Recent discussion about predatory journals has been further fueled by an
exuberant, list-making librarian at the University of Colorado-Denver who
has been trying to keep track of the ever-growing, fly-by-night journal
publishers, mostly in India and surrounding countries. These groups have
created fictitious journals such as the London Journal of Indian Medicine
and the Spanish Journal of African Culture. Because it is nearly
impossible to fully investigate all of these quickly waxing and waning
publishers, Jeffrey Beallšs Œs list (which was referenced in an earlier
post) is specifically titled the POTENTIAL, POSSIBLE, OR PROBABLE list of
open-access publishers. Unfortunately, JAESE was placed on this warning
list of potentially, possible, or probable predatory journals simply
because it is funded by open-access publication fees instead of
subscriptions: JAESE was placed on this list even before its first issue
was released. Suspiciously, all our attempts to contact Mr. Beall so far
to correct this or appeal this have been dismissed. In other words, once a
journal gets on his list, it seems to be impossible to get off of it.
Personally, I judge this to be dubious and Beallšs once deeply appreciated
work is now being justifiably criticized by a wide range of scholars.

To get down into the weeds of it, Beallšs criteria for being on the list
of potentially predatory journals includes: if the publisher is the editor
(for JAESE, the publisher is Ron Clute and the editor is Tim Slater ­ one
is tall with lots of hair and the other, well, is not); if there is no
substantive or knowledgably editorial/review board (for JAESE, there is a
20-member editorial review board of well-known and highly respected
scholars); and if there is little geographic or gender diversity of the
editorial board (for JAESE, there is an international representation with
a balance of gender). In addition, Beall suggests that potentially,
possible, or probable predatory publishers: have weak controls for
plagiarism (in addition to having knowledgeable reviewers, JAESE uses
software to guard against this); lack stable and permanent article
identifiers such as paid DOIs (JAESE uses an internal system with
permanent URLs and pays to be deposited in the CLOCKSS repository system);
are not members of publishing collaboratives (JAESEšs publisher Clute
Institute is an endorsing publisher for the Transfer Code of
Practice); and do not have any long-standing history (JAESEšs publisher is
based in Denver and has been publishing journals for several decades, with
more than 7,500 refereed articles permanently curated in total).

One specific criticism of JAESE is that we currently do not use DOI
numbers to specify permanent URLs for archived articles. The DOI system
was created in the 1990s to solve the problem of unstable URLs when using
Netscape and Mosaic to find online resources. Many publishers think that
the DOI system has outlived the problem it was trying to solve, especially
as membership in the DOI system is expensive for small publishers and, it
seems to me, largely unnecessary these days. The Editorial Board is
currently reconsidering DOIs, but members are understandably reluctant to
pass more costs on to authors, if it is unnecessary.

In the end, the quality of any journal is mostly independent of its
business model. Instead, I believe that the quality of any scientific
journal should be judged on its usefulness to scholarly authors and
accessibility to scholarly readers. Over the decades, there have been many
efforts to quantify a journalšs value, like impact factors and citation
indexes. Išm not going to bore you with all the ways to manipulate those
numbers, but if I havenšt overstayed my welcome yet, Išm happy to tell you
some of my opinions.

People often ask me about acceptance rates. I will tell you that JAESE
anticipates having about a 30% acceptance rate‹it might be higher or lower
over the long term‹but Išll also confess that acceptance rates as a valid
measure of journal quality is completely meaningless. On one hand, the
Astrophysical Journal, the inarguable top-tier astronomy journal has a 91%
acceptance rate. On the other hand, the Journal of Teacher Education, the
best candidate for the top-tier education journal, has a 6% acceptance
rate. Thatšs a magnificent difference between acceptance rates. Which is
the higher quality journal? I donšt know in these two cases, but I can
tell you that the value for acceptance rate doesnšt seem to have anything
to do with it.

People sometimes ask me about JAESEšs affiliation with a professional
society. To many peoplešs surprise, most professional societies publish
journals specifically as a revenue raising activity in order to fund its
office and programs. Both the American Geophysical Union and the American
Astronomical Society earn millions of dollars each year through their
publications. Across library sciences, a professional society affiliation
is rarely considered evidence of quality. JAESE is not affiliated with a
professional society, because we want to keep costs as low as possible.

Finally, I believe that a solid peer-review system is the best guarantee
for having valuable articles in onešs journal. Whereas some journals use
only a single, peer-reviewer, JAESE uses a multiple-peer review system.
Each submitted manuscript has the authorsš names and their affiliations
removed before review, as this has been shown in a variety of fields to
influence acceptance. Manuscripts are reviewed by two Review Board
members, as well as by the Editor. In cases where there is specialized
knowledge being advanced, either scientific or educational, more reviewers
are used. The philosophical inclination of our review system is formative,
rather than punitive, in an attempt to help authors get their work out
when appropriately mature. It is our hope that this review system will
enhance the usefulness of the articles and provide valuable feedback to

This informal ŗeditorial˛ has gone on for much longer than I anticipated,
but I felt compelled to explain to our community some of our thinking with
the hopes that youšll value what we are trying to do. It is my deepest
hope that JAESE can contribute to the advancement of geosciences education
research and Išm always open to hearing your suggestions on how to improve

Respectfully, Tim


Timothy F Slater, Ph.D.
University of Wyoming Excellence in Higher Education Endowed Chair of
Science Education
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Astronomy & Earth Sciences Education, <>
[log in to unmask]; office: 307-766-2334

On 3/19/15, 9:56 AM, "Mark Chandler" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>The true costs involved in open access publication (assuming no paper
>copies) really come down to the labor of the editors and reviewers. This
>is something that we have been supplying as a free service - whether it
>be to for-profit publishers or societies (or funding agencies). It is an
>absolute necessity to have a good peer-review/editing system in place to
>ensure the integrity of our science and because tenure and promotion
>systems at most institutions use a researcher's peer-reviewed publication
>record as a primary evaluation measure.
>So, assuming peer-review must be maintained, what is the cost in terms of
>person-hours to actually review and edit a typical science publication?
>Back of the envelope, bare minimum, I would say for a publication would
>involve 2 reviewers X 8 hours + 1 editor X 8 hours, and assume that a
>manuscript requires revision so double that. BARE MINIMUM then is 48
>hours for peer review. What do you want to set as a rate? Let's say
>$100/hour (it's easy to argue a bit less or a lot more). Feel free to
>disagree, but I don't believe a peer reviewed open-access publication can
>be produced for less than $4800. If there are professional editors out
>there, they will probably tell me I'm way low on that estimate.
>Who bears this cost of quality, open-access, science publication is
>something that needs to be addressed. Currently the majority of the
>expense is born by the institutions who pay our salaries (if you review
>papers during work hours) or by our families (if you review your papers
>on weekends and on family many of us do).
>side note: For K12 education research, evaluation of materials is a
>professional service that is explicitly required in many grant proposals.
>I find it interesting that evaluation of materials through scientific
>peer-review is assumed to be free, or at least is a hidden cost in grant
>proposals. One wonders how the latter system developed, anyone know the
>history of peer-review?
>On Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 9:40 AM, Davis, R Laurence <[log in to unmask]>
>Thanks all for this interesting and important discussion. My two cents is
>publish in society journals. They meet all the "rules", they are, in a
>sense, owned by us, they keep their costs as low as possible, and they
>exist to further science, not to put
> money in the pockets of shareholders. As GSA and other scientific
>societies struggle with how to combine this mission with the new
>publishing realities, there may also be opportunities for new, more
>specialized versions of the classic journals that may target
> narrower audiences and complete with some of the for profit journals.
>Look at how many Journal of Geophysical Research sections there are.
>Larry Davis
>R. Laurence Davis, Ph.D.
>Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and
>Coordinator Undergraduate Program in Environmental Sciences
>Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences
>University of New Haven
>300 Boston Post Road
>West Haven, Connecticut 06516
><[log in to unmask]>
>Office: 203-932-7108 <tel:203-932-7108>    Fax: 203-931-6097
>Mark A. Chandler
>Columbia University - NASA/GISS
>2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025(608) 445-0166