I am reviewing the International Journal of Smart Grid and Clean Energy (IJSGCE, which is published by Engineering and Technology Publishing (ETP).
I selected this journal because the topic is in my discipline, and its publisher, ETP, is listed on Beall’s List of “potential, possible, or probably predatory scholarly open-access publishers.” I would like to review the journal myself and decide how useful or credible I find its scholarly content.
ETP’s website features seven journals, four of which are displayed with an ISSN. Each journal has a website, with the three non-ISSN journals having sites in various stages of development, from “under construction” to fully complete (with the journal’s ISSN displayed). ETP’s website has general information about open access, with links to the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), a Wikipedia article on open access, and several open access publishers, including Oxford Journals and Biomed Central. Three out of eight items listed had bad URLs. The DOAJ did not have a reciprocal listing for ETP or the International Journal of Smart Grid and Clean Energy.
The “Editors” page did not list current or past editors of the journals but only a notice that there are volunteer editor positions for various journals “for the year of 2012 to 2014.” Appointments will be made as 2-year trials, and the editor is expected to work 4 hours per week. Although there is no compensation, ETP may fund attendance at select conferences, where the volunteer editor is expected to promote the journals. Curiously, the “Subscription” link had 17 journals listed, including the open access journals, with prices quoted for printed editions of the journal. Volunteer editors are expected to utilize their own professional network to find reviewers for articles. Applicants must have doctoral degrees and significant experience in publishing and reviewing.
The contact information page indicates that the Managing Editor is located in China at an institution called UESTC, which, according to Wikipedia, is the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, located in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. UESTC is a public university founded in 1956 and modeled after MIT. A search of UESTC’s official website in English returned no results when the Managing Editor’s name was searched. Perhaps he is a graduate of the school rather than a current affiliate. This editor does have a very sparse profile on ResearchGate.
IJSGCE lists an Editor-in-Chief (the “first” for this journal) whose affiliation is stated as Woollongong University in Australia. This person is a faculty member at UOW, and his scholars profile says that he has published 75 times in ten years. The editor’s online CV does not show the IJSGCE Editor position. The University’s website emphasizes the research activity of each faculty member, with the number of publications and number of grants listed prominently in the search returns.
The web page says that the journal is indexed by Inspec, DOAJ (the Directory of Open Access Journals), and “Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory, Google Scholar, Crossref, etc.” The author information FAQ states that the journal currently does not have an impact factor, but its objective is to eventually be indexed by ISI Web of Science so that it will eventually have an impact factor. Authors are charged $200 to $300 per article to offset expenses, with discounts given to students and reviewers. There is a template, which authors are advised to adhere to strictly. Full papers must be submitted three months before intended publication date, with review taking two months. The use of a template should streamline the review, editing, and production process. The application form for prospective reviewers asks the applicant to nominate some potential reviewers.
IJSGCE has a webpage on publication ethics, which lists duties of authors, reviewers, and publishers. It outlines a procedure for treatment of retractions. Retracted papers, or papers found to be fraudulent or to contain plagiarized content, will not be removed but will be marked. The purpose of retractions, the webpage explains, is to “correct the literature and ensure its integrity” rather than be punitive toward authors. I could not find any retracted papers on the site. Perhaps the retraction would only appear in the paper itself.
I read some papers in the most recent issues of the journal. The papers were typically about 6 pages long, and I found the treatments to be shallow, almost trivial, rather than deep and detailed expositions of novel research, and many had substandard English (although the journal’s guidelines for authors states that papers will be rejected for poor English or grammar). In many cases, the paper’s conclusions told me nothing that was not already obvious. The citations were largely from IEEE sources, where topics are often addressed in depth. If these articles existed for the purpose of summarizing recent research on a topic and making the summary available to scholars that may not have access to IEEE, that would make sense. These papers claim to propose novel methodologies. I don’t see the novelty. One paper’s references were mostly works of the authors. The “Copyright” section of the paper was a notice that the authors needed to sign the copyright agreement and obtain permissions for their figures from the copyright holders before the paper can be published. Other papers did not contain this language, which makes me think that this paper did not have its copyright agreements in place. So why is it “published” electronically? The papers that I reviewed represented a mix of quality. Some papers reported interesting case studies. I believe that this publication may have some limited value, but the bar is set very low. The papers published in this “journal” do not have the depth that one expects of journal papers.
When evaluating a journal, visit its website and look for broken links, incomplete, inconsistent, and outdated information, editorial and management staff that are not listed or do not have a verified affiliation, and an overall lack of transparency. It is not surprising that a publication with several of these red flags appears on Beall’s list. When you look up an open source journal article on the DOAJ, you will see information about the Journal (home page, ISSNs, publisher, editorial information), the article (country and language of publication, available formats, subject categories), authors (name, address, and affiliation), in addition to the abstract and link to the full text article.
I do not have enough information to determine whether the journal is “predatory,” meaning that is exists primarily as a service to authors who will pay to have their article published with minimal editorial impediments. After our discussion in class that in China, “publishing is everything,” and authors receive substantial bonus monies from their institutions for publications, it seems logical that demand by authors will drive many journals to exist largely to satisfy the need of faculty to publish.
International Journal of Smart Grid and Clean Energy
Engineering and Technology Publishing (the publisher of IJSGCE)
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)