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Some scholarly journals charge author fees

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A Denver-based scholarly librarian leveled plagiarism allegations against a Towson University professor after doing research for his watchdog blog and alerting university officials, journals and The Baltimore Sun.

Towson is reviewing the work of legal affairs professor Benjamin A. Neil, who says that he has done nothing wrong and that the issue is a matter of "style and formatting."

Jeffrey Beall, an academic librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, specializes in scrutinizing publishers who make content available for free online but require authors to pay a fee when their articles are accepted into a journal. Among those he monitors is the Colorado-based Clute Institute, which published at least three papers by Neil that contained unattributed material.

Beall sent Sun reporters comparisons of academic papers published by Neil that show passages with identical language and others with close similarities to scholarly journals, news publications, congressional testimony, blogs and websites. In a number of cases, there was no attribution. Reporters verified Beall's findings.

Under the traditional publishing model, journals charge subscription fees but do not charge authors a fee to publish articles. Beall said the model used by the Clute Institute and others carries an inherent conflict of interest that has lowered standards and increased author misconduct.

But institute founder Ronald C. Clute said he doesn't tolerate plagiarism and pledged to look into the allegations against Neil.

Clute said authors are charged a submission and publication fee, which averages about $450, depending on the length of the article.

According to the institute's Code of Publication Ethics, manuscripts are evaluated by an "objective and fair double-blind peer-review."

Clute said the institute's vetting processes are sound.

"I am very concerned that there is a lot of concern about nothing," Clute said.

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