Nice alliteration, eh?
Time to confess some sins, real or perceived.
Yesterday I posted the Table of Contents of the latest issue of Water, an open access electronic journal published by a Chinese company (don't let the Swiss address fool you), MDPI. I have posted this journal's TofC before. I do not read all the articles Water publishes but I have found those few I have read to be good.
Soon after posting that, a friend and colleague (who's involved in the publishing of a non-open access journal) informed me that MDPI has been added to librarian Jeffrey Beall's list of 'questionable publishers', also known to some as 'predatory publishers'. I will leave it to you to read what Beall (who performs a laudable service) says. It's a compelling case and is enough to give one pause.
After I Tweeted my friend's admonition I received messages via DMs (direct messages) on Twitter, Tweets, and emails; all were from people I know. Some were neutral or somewhat complimentary about the journal and MDPI. One expressed surprise and dismay at MDPI. Another, with somewhat of a conflict of interest, accused me of being 'fooled into promoting them' [meaning MDPI]. So I guess I am a shill - to some, anyway.
I should add that years ago I was asked to serve on the editorial board of Water (I declined - lack of time). I also keep getting requests from the OMICS Publishing Group - another online publisher - to serve on the EBs of some of its journals (it has over 350!). They flattered me with BS about my reputation in such-and-such field, blah, blah, blah. The interesting thing is that none of the journals had anything to do with my expertise - marine sciences, biology, and chemistry. Read what Beall says about them. Duhhhh.....
Upshot: I will likely continue publishing Water's TofC but will add a caveat emptor. Hoewever, I am still thinking through this issue. As much as I loathe sleazeball companies and societies who charge exorbitant fees for their journals and articles, replacing them with sleazeball companies' open access journals is not a good way to go.
Okay, I can't resist this cartoon from Chip Bok:
Last week I posted this item:
The Portland (OR) Water Bureau will drain 38M gallons (almost 117 acre-feet) of water from one of its reservoirs because a man was seen on video urinating in it. Hardly cause for concern, but it's for PR.
“Politics had no impact on our decision in this case. But this is Mt. Tabor and the reservoirs, and everything that happens up there is evaluated through a political prism. I know people are going to second guess. That’s their right.”
Imagine how many animals urinate, defecate and die in the same reservoir? You don't want to know. But they are not caught on video.
The water isn't 'wasted' - it'll ultimately go back into the river. But it is 'lost' to the PWB and is a needless expense.
Here is what Bok's site said - a quote from Commissioner Fish:
“I didn’t have a choice. I don’t have the luxury of slicing it too thin when there’s a potential risk, however small, to public health,” he said. “Frankly, it’s one of those calls where you know you’re likely to be criticized no matter what. The professionals who report to me all said, ‘Dump the water. Don’t take any chances.’ It’s the conservative but correct call.”
In my class I criticized this decision because it was unnecessary - no way that a few ounces of urine will contaminate 38M gallons of water to the point that it becomes undrinkable. But I should have remembered the mantra, 'Perception is reality.' In this case, that is the operative principle.
Portland is blessed with wonderful, high-quality water from the slopes of Mount Hood (okay - sometimes they augment their supply with groundwater, some of wioch no doubt comes from the same place). It is one of the few big-city US water supplies that is unfiltered - some of the others are New York, Boston, and San Francisco. People know the quality. So even though the urination did not compromise the quality, many people in Portland and elsewhere would perceive that it did. You lose a reputation, it's hard to get it back.
You don't want people to hesitate when it comes to supporting their water utility, or perhaps decide that it is time to make the switch to bottled water.
Fish is right - his decision was no-win. Pundits would have had a field day had he left the water in the reservoir. 'Hey, go to Portland, where they let their residents drink piss!'. On the contrary: 'How stupid can Portland be - what a waste of water and money!'
Perhaps if we had a more water-savvy electorate the decison would have been a no-brainer: leave the water there.
Here is an Op-Ed on the topic.
But Fish was being disingenuous when he said that this was not a political decision. On next month's ballot, Portland voters will decide whether or not to remove the Portland Water Bureau from the control of the city commission and place it under the control of an elected 7-member citizens' board. Board members would be vounteeers and elected by district. I suspect Fish had this on his mind when he made the decision.
It should be noted that EPA has issued a mandate that Portland cover its open-air reservoirs.
I'm done now. I will go perform penance. Need some good works.
"Three conditions are necessary for penance: contrition, which is sorrow for sin, together with a purpose of amendment; confession of sins without any omission; and satisfaction by means of good works." - Thomas Aquinas