Bentham wants me as reviewer ... for medicinal chemistry

BSP pretends to be a proper scientific publisher, and not a predatory one. So, why sending an invitation to become a reviewer of some medicinal journal to a former scientist (see counter on my homepage) that dealt in phylogenetics and palaeobotany?

Email from the Editorial Office of Bentham Science Publishers [homepage/wikipedia/RationalWiki]

15 May 2018

Dr. G.W. Grimm
Department of Palaeontology
University of ViennaAustria
[email with adress header, very professional; although there is no G.W. Grimm anymore in Vienna (or any other university)]

Dear Dr. G.W. Grimm
Bentham Science Publishers (BSP) is an established international publisher of over 150 subscription and open access journals covering varied disciplines of science, technology, medicine and social sciences. A number [an euphemism for few or none?] of journals published by Bentham have respectable [an euphemism for low; or non-existent, e.g. for their most expensive journal] impact factors and are indexed in various indexing agencies like Scopus [a paywalled service by RELX' Elsevier], Chemical Abstracts [paywalled, too], Engineering Index [another Elsevier cash-cow, now Ei Compendex] and many others [since all the mentioned indices are paywalled, I can't verify or test that claim; I would be mildly surprised to find a Bentham Open journal there, but you never know]. Please visit our website [odd, there was no link] for more information. [BSP has also been a company coming after Beall's List of Predatory Publishers.]

Peer review is the foundation of scientific research [I agree, but likely not the way Bentham does it, or most other publishers; prove me wrong by making your peer review process transparent], and Bentham is committed to supporting and recognizing the reviewers who dedicate their time and efforts to the peer review process [Hört, hört – apologise the German expression, but there is nothing else in my vocabulary that fits better]. Bentham Science realizes that peer review requires significant investment of time on the part of participants and in recognition of this, Bentham Science (BSP) has initiated its own reviewer recognition portal ["reviewer recognition portal"? To quote Nelson Muntz: Ha Ha!]. The BSP Reviewer Recognition portal [still laughing] provides participating reviewers with a personalized profile page wherein their journal peer review history is documented. This allows reviewers to keep a record of their activity and receive due credit for their efforts [now we're speaking]. The profile keeps track of the number of articles reviewed in a journal in the last 3 years [oh, ... great]. Each completed review is rewarded with review certificates. [In primary school, I got stars ...] The BSP Reviewer Portal will allow reviewers to collect their review certificates [why not real bucks?] and avail following the discounts for BSP services.
•  Free eBook of their Choice on completion of two reviews
[Of my Choice, let's see ... thanks, but not a deal. By the way, have uppercase substantives become fashion, Trumpelchen does it, too, in his (shi)tweets]
•  50% Fee Waiver on Quick Track rates on completion of 3 reviews
[Also didn't know what a "Quick Track rate" is? Submit, pay 'Quick Track', review (if you want to belief) + decision, revise + acceptance, publish – all in one week each.]
•  40% discount on Open Access Plus rates on completion of 4 reviews
[Finally something that makes sense; give&take is not a bad idea for rewarding reviewers; for instance, to keep your PeerJ membership active (you pay once 399–499 US$, and can publish 1, 2 or 5 papers per year for a life time), you have to contribute once a year as reviewer, comment on a published paper, or participate in the Q&A forum; when you don't your membership gets frozen, and defrost costs 99$. Bentham Open charges you 715–1205 $ per paper, oddly, review articles are more expensive than research ones]

We would like to invite you to be a member of our Reviewer Panel for Bentham journals relevant to your field of expertise (a list of journals that may be of your interest is given below [can't find it, or do you mean the listed medical journals?]). Please identify the journal most relevant to your field [none] of expertise from the following list:
Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry
Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry
Anti-Inflammatory & Anti-allergy Agents in Medicinal Chemistry
Central Nervous System Agents in Medicinal Chemistry
Current Medicinal Chemistry
Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry
Current Pharmaceutical Design
Medicinal Chemistry
[dear Sir, would you mind reading the address you used: Dr. G.W. Grimm, Department of Palaeontology, ... or check out my GoogleScholar profile.]
For a complete list of Journals, please visit our website [Don't!]
Please, could you send us your confirmation with the name of the Bentham journals for which you would be prepared to be a reviewer, along with your brief CV by replying to this email for final decision by our relevant Committee. [Oh, a Committee, with uppercase C. Surely composed of competent scientists who decide who's worthy entering the "Review Panel"]
We look forward to hearing from you. [done in form of this post, you're welcome]
M. Alam
Director (Publications)
Bentham Science Publishers 
[If you prefer not to receive any further emails from us, please send an email to click here]

Coming back to my introductory question: why did I (my GoogleScholar profile) get this invitation? Only one reason: they need just some names to uphold the claim of proper peer review. Or as RationalWiki (quite a fun wiki, strikes me as an answer to Conservapedia – the War of the Wikis is on) puts it: 'Bentham Science Publishers straddles the fine line between "open access journal publisher" and "vanity press scam.'
And, on the run, maybe gaining a customer who's stupid, desperate or mischievous enough to pay 450+ $ for the next pseudo-reviewed open access paper rather than to send the research to a proper (open access, it pays of dissemination-wise, no doubt about it) journal.

Medicinal sciences is a field with a rather high percentage of dubious and fraudulent papers because of the money in it. We are all humans. If Gazprom – they once visited my then institute in Stockholmwould have paid me a million in research money to write some green-washing paper that has nothing to do with my research and expertise and otherwise let me do whatever I want, I'd have run around with a Putin T-shirt. Money only stinks, when you burn it. And thanks to peer review confidentiality it's hard to see what was genuinely reviewed and what was waved through. So, it's little surprising that 'straddlers' like BSP focus on medicinal research.

However, next time, dear Director (Publications) M. Alam, get at least your list right.

And to all honest authors: Don't publish with Bentham Science Publishers and pay them a cent. They may not be a predatory publisher, but are obviously also not a sincere one.

PS I don't recommend paying 3000$ for 'gold open access' in a journal of an established, sincere publishers like Springer-Nature (an example) or RELX' Elsevier (example), either; there are alternatives that are cost- and science-efficient (e.g. PeerJ). But sometimes, one is forced. Your grant agency expects it, and branding is (unfortunately) important in science, too.

Another Don Quixote gone: Beall's List of Predatory Journals with links to mirrors of the last version of the now defunct Beall's List and why it is offline.
The growing Grey Zone of scientific publishing about an invitation I got from InTech Open – another BSP operating in the twilight between proper and predatory publishing.

Related posts can be found (and future ones will be flagged as) Beall's Legacy and #FightTheFog.

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