Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Not sure what to make of this new "Datasets.Com" effort from Hindawi

Just got this email and I thought I would share.  Not sure what to make of this effort.  I do support the sharing of data sets but I am think we probably do not need a whole new cadre of data journals to handle this data.

But there is a spread of what some have called "Predatory" open access publishers (see http://metadata.posterous.com/83235355 for example).  Hindawi, who is behind this, seems to have a mix of good and predatory tendencies and this seems like it may fit into the more predatory categorization.  And I just thought it would be good to bring this a bit more into the open to discuss it.

Dear Dr. Eisen,

My name is Safa Tahoon and I am a Journal Developer for the Hindawi Publishing Corporation. We are in the process of launching a new peer-reviewed, open access journal titled Dataset Papers in Genetics, which will publish Dataset Papers in all areas of genetics research, and I am writing to invite you to join the Editorial Board of this new journal.

Dataset Papers in Genetics is part of a new journal platform that Hindawi is developing called Datasets International (http://www.datasets.com). The main objective of Datasets International is to help researchers in all academic disciplines archive, document, and distribute the datasets produced in their research to the entire academic community. In addition to publishing a series of journals devoted to the dissemination of Dataset Papers, Datasets International hosts the underlying data behind these Dataset Papers and makes it accessible to all researchers worldwide.

The journal will be run using a collaborative editorial model which is designed to provide a fast peer review process for all submitted manuscripts. The journal will be edited by a distributed Editorial Board, and it aims for an average review time of 4 weeks from submission until a final decision has been reached.

Manuscripts that are submitted to the journal will be sent to a number of Editorial Board Members (typically each manuscript will be sent to at least 5 Editors), who will have two weeks to provide either a recommendation for the publication of the manuscript, along with a written commentary detailing any improvements that the authors should make to their manuscript, or a written critique of why the manuscript should not be published.

After the two-week period has elapsed, if the majority of the editorial evaluations recommend the manuscript be rejected, the manuscript will be rejected. If all the editorial evaluations that are received recommend that the manuscript be accepted for publication, the manuscript will be accepted. Otherwise, the editorial evaluations will be anonymously communicated to all of the Editors who participated in the peer review process. Each Editor will be given an additional week to review the feedback of the other Editors and to either confirm or revise their earlier editorial recommendations. If the majority of the editorial evaluations that are received by the end of this second round of review recommend the manuscript be accepted for publication, the manuscript will be accepted. Otherwise, the manuscript will be rejected. If the manuscript is accepted for publication, the names of the Editors who recommended the publication of the manuscript will be published alongside the ma!
nuscript. More information on the journal is available on the following web pages:

http://www.datasets.com/ (Datasets International Home Page)
http://www.datasets.com/journals/genetics/ (Journal Home Page)
http://www.datasets.com/journals/genetics/workflow/ (Editorial Workflow)
http://www.datasets.com/journals/genetics/editors/ (Editorial Board)

The journal will be published using an open access model, which allows disseminating scholarly articles by removing the access barriers imposed by the subscription model, in order to make the full-text of all published articles freely available for any interested reader. In this model the publication costs of an article are covered in the form of Article Processing Charges, which are publication fees paid from the research budget of accepted authors. In this model authors retain the copyright of their work, and we make every possible effort to ensure that the full-text of every published article is both visible and accessible to all potential readers.

Manuscripts that are submitted by the members of the Editorial Board of Dataset Papers in Genetics to the journal will automatically receive a 50% reduction in their Article Processing Charges.

Please do visit the web pages above and let me know if you have any questions or comments. We hope you will accept to join the Editorial Board of the journal and I will be looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,

Safa Tahoon

Safa Tahoon
Journal Developer
Hindawi Publishing Corporation


  1. Do you have some examples of predatory activity from Hindawi? I had them filed with the good guys in my brain but perhaps I am missing something.

    Not sure who would publish in this new journal though -- Dryad will take the underlying datasets for free once you publish, and there can't be many datasets that are collected with no intention of publishing anything but the data...

  2. No evidence of predatory behavior from Hindawi. But they keep adding more and more and more journals and something seems a bit, well, unusual there. But I have not had any negative experiences with them myself.

  3. I look at the ratio of Editorial Board members to published papers. Too high a ratio suggests that the journal exists mainly to support the CVs of its editors rather than the research of the field. Hindawi is mixed...

  4. I was just asking around my lab today if anyone else besides me got this and quite a few had. I figured it was just usual spam/scam.

  5. It really seems to be nothing but spam. I got this invite as well.

  6. On an ethical note, does anyone know the cost of publishing in Hindawi journals, or anything about Hindawi's business model and where the money (or profit) ends up?

  7. I got the invitation too - it seems rather than a traditional "Editorial Board", they are recruiting a "Reviewer Pool" with grand titles (something also done by the "Frontiers in ..." series published by the Frontiers Research Foundation).

  8. I got the invitation as well ... obviously not too selective?

  9. @Rob, here's a JISC case study that includes some of what you are asking about:


  10. I think it is better to have central repositories, such as NCBI/GenBank and TreeBase, for this type of data, rather than to have each journal store the data.

  11. @Bill, thanks.

    If I've understood the figures correctly (in 2011, $3.4million costs, $6million in revenue), Hindawi are running at about a 75% profit margin. That's great for them, but it also suggests that the many many volunteer hours from editors and reviewers are serving to line the pockets of some very fancy trousers.

  12. My name is Paul Peters and I am the Head of Business Development from Hindawi. I have seen this post by Dr Eisen and I wanted to take this chance to answer some of the questions that have been raised both in Dr Eisen’s post and by some commenters.

    While I’m not sure how I can reply to the general comment that Hindawi has “predatory tendencies,” I would like to say that we put a lot of effort into ensuring the quality and transparency of our review process. For example, on the website of all of our journals, we have a detailed explanation of exactly how each submitted manuscript will be reviewed, and for every article that we publish we provide the name of the Editorial Board Member(s) who make the decision to accept the manuscript for publication. In addition, we have a page on our website (http://www.hindawi.com/statistics/) which lists the acceptance rates and average review speeds of each of our journals.

    In response to a few of the comments about the number of Editors who serve on the Editorial Boards of our journals, I would like to explain that these relatively large Boards are necessary given the editorial model that we use for Dataset Papers in Genetics, as well as for many of our other journals. The Editorial Model of these journals involves sending every submitted manuscript to the 5 Editorial Board Members who are closest to the manuscript’s subject, who first independently review the manuscript and then have a chance to see the comments of the other Editors before making a final decision. This model, which is explained in detail at http://www.datasets.com/journals/genetics/workflow/, has a number of advantages over more traditional review models that are based on having a hierarchy of Editors and ad-hoc peer reviewers, including a more consistent editorial standard across the journal as well as faster review speeds.

    In regard to Dr Eisen’s point about whether there is a need for a new series of journals devoted to data publications, I believe that it is indeed important to have journals that are specifically designed to address the needs of data sharing. One important distinction between traditional research journals and our new series of journals is that Datasets International only publishes “Dataset Papers,” which is a type of manuscript that is meant to describe a piece of experimental or observational data in a way that will make that data useful to other researchers. Dataset Papers should not include any extensive analysis or discussion of the data that is being presented, but rather they should focus exclusively on describing in detail the experiment that was conducted and explain how the dataset that they describe is organized (what each column in table represents, what units are being used, etc…).

    I absolutely agree with the point that was made about discipline specific databases being preferable to storing data with individual journals, since these databases can provide a huge amount of value that individual journals simply cannot provide. This is why we strongly encourage our authors to submit their data to any appropriate databases in their field, and then include a link to that data in the text of their Dataset Paper. We do require authors to provide us with a copy of their underlying data, since we need to ensure the ongoing availability of these datasets in the event that the other databases storing this data shut down for any reason, but we are very happy for this data to reside in other databases as well. Moreover, the underlying data that is associated with the Dataset Papers that we publish is released using a Creative Commons CC0 Waiver, which makes it clear that this data can be shared and analyzed in any number of public repositories.

    If there are any questions or feedback that anyone would like to share with me, feel free to contact me at paul.peters@hindawi.com.

    1. Paul

      Thanks for all the detail and the response.

      And apologies for the nebulous "predatory tendencies" statement which I should have provided more detail behind. My main concern with Hindawi has mostly been a gut feeling that is due to the recruitment e-mails I have gotten for joining editorial boards and/or submitting papers to new Hindawi journals. The emails I have gotten are not quite SPAM but they make me feel a bit uncomfortable since some of been for journals not in my research area.


    2. Frankly I'm surprised a Hindawi representative has actually posted on this blog in the firm's defense. The fact that they are "watching" what social media says about them and responding accordingly is noteworthy.

    3. I am happy they responded. It shows that they are not a SPAMMY place like OMICS which did not remove the fake researcher from their editorial board for weeks after I wrote about it.

  13. You guys know about Jeffrey Beall's List of Predatory, Open-Access Publishers, right?

    Hindawi is not on the main "Predatory" list, but is on the Watchlist: "We do not consider the following publishers to be predatory, open-access publishers, but they may show some characteristics of them, and we are closely monitoring them." Here's what he says about them:

    "Based in Cairo, Egypt, this publisher is now on its own after its collaboration with the publisher Sage ended in 2011. This publisher has way too many journals than can be properly handled by one publisher, I think, yet supporters like ITHAKA boast that the prevailing low wages in Egypt, as well as the country's large college-educated, underemployed workforce, allow the company to hire sufficient staff to get the job done. Still, this publisher continues to release new fleet startups of journals, each group having titles with phrases in common: Advances in ... (31 titles) and Case Reports in ... (32 titles). It appears that Hindawi wants to strategically dominate the open-access market by having the largest open-access journal portfolio."

    OBVIOUS DISCLAIMER: I have no opinion of my own about Hindawi; I am merely quoting.


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