Soon after the recent Social Policy Association (SPA) conference at York, I received an e-mail from an American publishing company called David Publishing. The e-mail said that one of David Publishing's journals - the Journal of US-China Public Administration - was interested in potentially publishing my SPA conference paper (link here).
My initial reaction was to be quite excited by the letter. This was a paper I worked on for my MSc last year, had put lots of work in to and had since been rejected by a couple of social science journals. After the SPA conference I was convinced about finally putting the paper to bed, which - after a lot of hard work - was a tough decision to make.
So the e-mail from David Publishing looked (initially at least) very promising. However, when I actually read through the e-mail for a second time, the alarm bells began to ring. The letter seemed to be worded rather strangely. For example, as you can see from below, the letter stated that the Journal 'hoped to become friends' with me. This certainly wasn't what I've been used to with previous journal experience.
So (like all good academics would) I did a bit more research: on the journal and the publishing company. The website for David Publishing seemed a bit odd with, again, lots of poor English. Another blog I found by a researcher who had been contacted by the same publishing house said that they were actually based in China and could potentially be a front for Chinese researchers to get published in 'American' journals.
I also read rumours of David Publishing charging authors to publish their paper - and this is what really riled me. Young researchers - most on low bursaries - are often desperate to get those first couple of journal articles under their belt to establish their careers. Deliberately approaching young researchers and offering to publish their work - and then subsequently charging them for it - seemed to be deeply cynical and exploitative.
So I contacted David and asked them do they charge. Their e-mail response is posted below. David Publishing charge $50 per page for a journal article. If you consider most journal articles are between 10 to 20 pages long, this means that a researcher could end up paying between $500 to $1000 dollars to publish their paper.
Although some reputable publishing houses do charge for publication, deliberately targeting PhD students with the objective of taking up to $1000 from them for an article seems wrong to me. By approaching young researchers, David Publishing are engaging in an exploitative practice, purposefully targeting eager, ambitious yet in all likelihood naive researchers; most of whom are not yet versed in how some quarters of the publishing world are happy to take advantage of them.