The American librarian and blogger Jeffrey Beall, perhaps best known for his lists of “potential, possible or probable” predatory open-access publishers and journals, has been praised by many for shining a light on those publishers whose dubious activities raise serious questions about their legitimacy. Others consider his lists to be biased and unfair as the inclusion criteria are subjective, leading to the inclusion of some publishers without any hard evidence of wrongdoing. His strong views on the open-access publishing model in general have also been met with some equally strong opposition.
Whatever your opinion of Jeffrey Beall, the recent disappearance of these lists along with all other content from his Scholarly Open Access website, the site’s corresponding Facebook page and Beall’s University of Colorado profile page, has led to much speculation. Some suggested that the sites had been hacked or the lists transferred to Cabell’s International, a publishing services company with whom Beall had been collaborating. In response, the Vice-President of Business Development at Cabell’s, Lacey Earle, tweeted that Beall was “forced to shut down blog due to threats & politics”. A subsequent statement from the University of Colorado indicated that it was Beall’s personal decision to take the sites down and this was not related to legal threats. The man himself responded in a Nature news item confirming the blog was now unpublished but asserting that he couldn’t give the reasons for this.
Cached copies of the lists have since appeared online, although whether they will be updated or maintained is unknown. However, with Cabell’s launching their own blacklist in Spring this year, and ongoing improvements in whitelists, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals, the space left by Beall’s online disappearance is likely to be quickly filled.