My commentary on the growing Web-based academic publishing scam that suckers many Nigerian university teachers predictably attracted enormous attention. It has been shared by scores of people on the Internet and has provoked strong reactions. I will respond next week to some of the issues raised in these reactions.
I enjoyed reading your write-up on bait-and-switch publishing. There is another dimension to it. There are some publishing companies in Germany who contact new PhD holders through university e-mails and some other sources. They only publish one copy of the book and others are published on request. The situation in the Third World countries is really appalling, particularly in Nigeria!
Umar Oseni, IIUM Malaysia
Ha!Ha!Ha! These bait-and-switch people remind me of some writer friends who pay vanity publishers and boast to me that their books were published in the US or UK. Good work, brother Farooq.
At this point one cannot help but imagine the quality of graduates we produce from our ivory towers. It is really unfortunate for Mr. Michael Atovigba to allow himself to be scammed so cheaply. Whatever happened to erring on the side of caution? He missed the 'red flag' and shamelessly parted with his hard-earned $$$. By the way, this particular author (?) has always been in the news with his so-called solution to the said 262-year-old mathematical puzzle right from his days as an undergraduate at Benue State University.
I enjoyed your article. I do need to correct a point you raised, though. A lot of journals in the West do charge article processing fees, especially the open access journals. An example is the Biomed Central stable, in which case if your home institution is not a Biomed Central member then you will have to pay a processing fee (currently averaging 1700 USD). Researchers from low-income countries are exempted from paying. Suffice to say BMC journals are respected in the biomedical field.
Thanks for a very articulate and enlightening contribution. You covered all the bases. As you noted, this unfortunate incident is a consequence of our desperation for heroes in a society with few authentic role models. A second reason is "colonial mentality", an uncritical admiration for anything that comes from the West...
Paul C. Nwabuike
You have this habit of doing it again. I read with gripping fascination your most articulate and very informative article. What a mind boggler! I couldn't help but share it with friends.
If the assertions therein bear any smidgen of truth, then we must fear for the prospects of things unknown and their ability to do untold damage in the hallowed turf of academia. If an intellectual of any standing, no matter how base his stature, could successfully take under-passes and bypasses to success just for a place amongst the pantheon of distinguished minds, I wonder how many have passed through the sieve unnoticed. It would be farcical if it weren't so serious. I could bet the man is very mindful of his own mediocrity, and thought this was a chance to take the short cut. Well-written and thanks for sharing.
Here in Nigeria, for publishing in a local journal, we first pay a processing fee of 1 to 2 thousand naira. Then, after acceptance, we pay a publishing fee of 5 to 7 naira. I must confess that I never thought the payments to be problematic. What is more, we were made to believe that the higher the fee, the more prestigious the journal! Thus, when my supervisor hinted I could publish for free, I thought that was a statement on the quality of my work! No wonder, during the online course on Research Methodology I recently took, my facilitators (from The University of Pretoria) never mentioned fees either in the course notes or discussions on "publication practice'! Thankfully, it's not too late for a beginner! But some Western-based journals do charge processing fees. My supervisor once suggested a journal to me that charges an equivalent of N80k. I ran away! BTW, is an international journal one in which researchers from different countries publish or what whose editors and reviewers hail from different countries?
I can't imagine someone laying claim to solving a 2-century-old puzzle falling victim to a 2-year-old scam! We have all these sorts of characters laying claim to one ingenuity or another, while in the real sense they remain less than ordinary scholars. Thanks for waking the guy up. Again, thanks for that piece on Ndi Okereke.
I am not comfortable with part of your claims that "In the proper protocols of academic journal publishing in Europe and North America and, I guess, elsewhere, academics don’t pay a dime to have their articles published" because I am a student in a well-known university in Malaysia and most of my publications through conferences and journals were published after paying a token. Yes I agree that most reviewers are not paid for their job, both most recognized journals such as Elsevier, Springer, IEEE and so on are commercialized academic journals.
So if you could clarify some of these it will be better for some of us to agree with your claims. Thank you.
Suleiman Isah Sani