A new model for open access: the pyramid scheme
Yesterday I got an e-mail from a company that seems to specialize in coming up with new open-access journals:
Dear Dr. Wynn,
In recognition of your outstanding reputation and contribution in the field of Demography ,we are pleased to propose your name as the Editor-in-Chief of ‘The Open Demography Journal’. After the selection your role as the Editor-in-Chief will not be an onerous one. You will not be expected to process any submitted manuscripts to the journal nor referee them (unless you choose to do so). What we would expect from you is that you would arrange to solicit and submit a minimum of ten manuscripts to the journal each year. Moreover, from time to time we would hope that you would offer advice on how best to develop the journal in order to maintain and improve on its success in the field. You would also be free to invite new editorial board members to the journal who wish to take an active editorial role. For all manuscripts that you submit to the journal, from above ten that are published, we will pay you annual royalty of 5% of all fees received on these manuscripts.
Since the launch of the new open access journal entitled “The Open Demography Journal” there has been a lot of interest in the journal from both authors and readers. The journal is freely available at no costs to readers via the journal’s website at www.todemoj.org. We expect that this year the number of submitted manuscripts to the journal will rapidly increase and that the journal will establish itself internationally.
Your term as the Editor-in-Chief would be initially for two years which is renewable by mutual agreement. We hope you will consider this offer and look forward to receiving your positive reply. Please could you reply to me by return email at email: firstname.lastname@example.org within 24 hours after receipt of this offer along with your detailed CV and list of publications so that it can be sent to the Advisory Board for review.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
With kind regards,
[This message has been sent to you because of your eminence in the field. If, however, you do not want to receive any email/offer/invitation in future from Bentham Open, then please click here.]
Hmm. I know that open access publishing requires a different funding model than the traditional subscriber-pays, and perhaps that will entail a different approach to soliciting and rewarding academic labor. Yet I hadn’t quite imagined my way to the model outlined in this letter, which is almost a pyramid scheme. It does explain all the e-mails I’ve gotten this year from the editors of obscure open-access journals, inviting me to contribute. They’re all looking for their 5%, I guess.
Perhaps I would be more inclined to take the funding model seriously if it weren’t obviously spam. Not only am I not a demographer, I’ve only ever published one article in a demography journal (which I assume is where they got my name). I’m about the furthest thing from “eminence in the field.” What’s uncanny is that just last month I also got invited to be the editor-in-chief of a new medical journal devoted to women’s health. (Ditto as with the demography business: I’m not a physician, though I do publish in medical journals and write about reproductive health policy.)
Is anyone else getting stuff like this?