A few weeks ago, I found this note in my email in box:
Dear Dr. Ronald C Lasky,
Well, we are in shortfall of article for successful release of Upcoming Issue of our XXX Journal. Is it probable for you to support us with your valuable manuscript for this issue before 27th June 2019?
If this is a short notice please do send 2page opinion/mini review, we hope a 2page article isn’t time taken for renowned person like you.
Hope you will fulfill our concern with your valuable submission and await your valuable optimistic response.
Please acknowledge this email within 24 hours.
Note that the English is a bit off. Well, I wanted to be helpful and knew that some journals were published in other countries (explaining the awkward English), so I thought about it and decided to try and offer an two page opinion piece. The topic would be related to my many adventures writing about calculating alloy densities.
So, I wrote a 2.5 page opinion piece and submitted it. I got a response that it would be published, but I needed to pay $600 to support the publication. I declined and a reoffer came in at $300. Finally, they published it for free after I declined at $300.
I did a little research, and found that there is an entire industry of thousands of publishers whose business model is to charge for publishing with little or no peer review (even though they claim peer review). They range from almost legitimate to scams. It appears that the one that targeted me is in the almost legitimate category. I read a handful of articles in their materials journal and they seemed reasonable. I was also able to find the authors and their institutions online; however, I doubt the articles were peer reviewed and my request letter was clearly a form letter. I found a similar request letter online.
Yale has a list of suspicious journals and a librarian name Beall has developed an independent list. Beall’s list contains hundreds, if not thousands, of journals. Beall received much pushback from some on his list and took it down in 2017. The history of his list is well documented. In the publish or perish world of academia, I guess this disheartening discovery is not surprising.
Well for me, the publication cost nothing and I still own the copyright!