Canadian Center of Science and Education SLAPPs Jeffrey Beall, but they also publish plagiarized content
The Canadian Center of Science and Education (CCSE), established in 2006, has implemented a version of the Open Journals System and hosts a number of open access journals.
An article in the February 14, 2013, Chronicle of Higher Education mentioned that CCSE “is threatening to sue Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado at Denver, after he included the center and three of its related companies on his blog’s list of journals he considers to be “potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers,” which take advantage of academics desperate to get their work published.”
I guess I should state my competing interest in the fate of Jeffrey Beall:
I admire Jeffrey Beall for the free, non-commercial service he provides, the application of scrutiny to the burgeoning number of open access publishers who accept article processing charges (APC) and publish articles without documenting their peer review practices (I don’t mean how they claim to do peer review, but what that actual content of any editorial decision was or what specific changes were required for the original manuscript to be acceptable). CCSE‘s is threatening an action that falls into a category called a SLAPP, or “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” litigation that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.
CCSE should understand that the effect of making a librarian’s opinion potential SLAPP litigation is to invite scrutiny.
I decided to get to know the publications of CCSE a little better, so I started with the Journal of Molecular Biology Research(JMBR), ” an international, double-blind peer-reviewed, open-access journal, published by the Canadian Center of Science and Education. It publishes original research, applied, and educational articles in all areas of molecular biology,” including molecular gene expression, proteins, and nucleic acids, as well as research methods in these fields. Authors are encouraged to submit complete, unpublished, original works.
I also noticed in the Paper Submission Guide that the 2nd step in their manuscript selection system describes their promise to avoid plagiarism by authors:
Step 2: Similarity Check
Please be aware that we check all submitted manuscripts for plagiarism. We use CrossCheck (powered by iThenticate, the leading plagiarism-detection system) to check for similarity to previously published documents. All manuscripts containing plagiarism, including self-plagiarism, and dishonesty are rejected.
Now I don’t have a subscription to iThenitcate’s CrossCheck, but I and a nearly everyone with unfiltered internet have access to Google for searching. Why not “kick the tires” and just try one phrase from a randomly selected JMBR article?
I chose a research article published in late December 2012, Atherosclerotic Events: The Role of Air Particulate Matter, Vol. 2, No. 1; by the author Obinaju Blessing Ebele. I scrolled through the paper and copied this phrase (without the author attribution, though I include it in this illustration):
Mechanisms of PM at cellular level involve free radical production (by transition metals and
organic compounds), oxidative stress, cytokine release, inflammation, endotoxin-mediated damage, stimulation
of capsaicin receptors, autonomic nervous system activity, covalent modification of key cellular molecules and
increased pro-coagulant activity (Brook, 2008; Mills et al., 2008; Bhatnagar, 2006; Nel et al., 1998)
My Google search result identified not only the JMBR article, but at least one other with what seems to be an identical sentence from the BioMed Central Journal Particle and Fibre Toxicology 2009, 6:24, Particulate matter and atherosclerosis: role of particle size, composition and oxidative stress by Jesus A Araujo and Andre E Nel. In this paper there is a sentence:
At the cellular level, these various mechanisms involve free radical production (by transition metals and organic compounds), oxidative stress, cytokine release, inflammation, endotoxin-mediated damage, stimulation of capsaicin receptors, autonomic nervous system activity, covalent modification of key cellular molecules and increased pro-coagulant activity (followed by the same four footnote references used by Obele in the JMBR article)