I prefer to use peer reviewed journals of the highest integrity as the sources of what I would consider a good answer on this site. While perusing the JREF Forums, I was struck by a question asked there:

How did crackpot Electric Universe papers get published in a peer-reviewed journal?

The folks at JREF point out that "Bentham Open uses a pay-for-publication model." In this context, it means that the author pays the journal to be published beyond just basic administrative fees.

Open access has been criticized on quality grounds, as the desire to obtain publishing fees could cause the journal to relax the standard of peer review.

I can see this practice seriously impacting the peer-review process, as well as the impartiality of published papers (see my comment below as well). As of late, when trying to find papers, I am running into the Sage Journals a lot, and am noticing some papers there that make me ponder the impartiality and reputability of that site.

Are the Sage Journals truly a peer reviewed series of publications, or are they more of a vanity publishing?

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    I realize that this may not have a broad public notoriety, however, I feel that it has applicability to this community, hence why I am posting this here. Posting from the road though, so please feel free to edit... Commented May 4, 2012 at 15:03
  • The question is if this is a notable claim or an isolated incident? Or both? Commented May 4, 2012 at 15:11
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    @maple_shaft this is more a big debate in the scientific publication field about this practice. The fear is that groups such as Discovery Institute will use these publications to promote their non-scientific agenda. Or any other "crank" or crackpot group (anti-vax, electric universe, creationism, etc.). Commented May 4, 2012 at 15:20
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    You may want to specify what you mean with "pay for publication" model. Most, if not all of the scientific journals I know require you to pay publishing -and sometime even submission- fees (not counting that you review for free and then you have to pay to access the papers that you have written or reviewed... but that's another story). That however happens after peer-review, and does not determine the acceptability of the paper for publication.
    – nico
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 15:31
  • I echo what @nico says: it needs to be compared to a control group.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented May 4, 2012 at 16:10

1 Answer 1


SAGE Publications is the fifth-largest journals publisher in the world. It is a reputable academic publisher that has been in business for just under 50 years. Almost all SAGE journals are traditionally peer-reviewed and require no author payments of any kind, contrary to @nico's experience. There may be one or two exceptions; if in doubt, check the individual journal's homepage and author submission guidelines. All relevant information is available on the web. Recently, SAGE, in common with other academic publishers, has begun to publish Gold Open Access articles and journals (e.g. SAGE Open) - i.e. in return for payment, an article that has been accepted for publication after traditional peer review will be made freely accessible to readers. Note: the article has to be peer reviewed and accepted before any payment would arise, as @nico also points out in his final sentence.

Fifth-largest journals publisher: http://apy.sagepub.com/content/20/1/76.1.full

Reputable (winner of Independent Publisher's Guild Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year 2012): http://www.uk.sagepub.com/aboutus/award-won.htm

List of SAGE-published journals (600+): http://online.sagepub.com/browse/by/title

Non-peer-reviewed journals: http://ioc.sagepub.com/ and www.uk.sagepub.com/journals/Journal201746

SAGE Open press release: http://www.sagepub.com/press/2010/november/SAGE_open.sp

SAGE Choice (Open Access option): http://www.uk.sagepub.com/sagechoice.sp

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    Can you please cite some sources for this answer? For example, stats showing that "almost all" SAGE journals are peer reviewed (which ones aren't?), a SAGE press release about the SAGE Open, etc.
    – John Lyon
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 22:22

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