I first encountered Apple Academic Press (tagline: “Publishing Quality Books and Journals in the STEM & Other Fields”) when I read about Christopher W. Schadt’s unwholesome experience. he found that, without asking permission or even notifying him, they had reprinted in one of their books a PLOS ONE paper which he was a co-author of. (It’s well worth reading his article, and the comments.)
The trail of exactly what company does what is a bit murky, but it seems that Vestal Creative Services, a division of Harding House Publishing, was hired to compile books for Apple Academic Press, and that the book (maybe all Apple books?) is then distributed by CRC Press, a member of Taylor & Francis Group. Between Vestal, Harding House, Apple, CRC and T&F, there’s plenty of space to pass around the blame for what happened in Schadt’s case.
I decided to take a closer look at Apple Academic Press. From their front page, I picked a book at random — Environmental Health: Indoor Exposures, Assessments and Interventions. It contains ten chapters. I looked into the first three, before losing interest. Here’s what I found.
Chapter 1. Lead Exposure of U.S. Children from Residential Dust by Joanna M. Gaitens, Sherry L. Dixon, David E. Jacobs, Jyothi Nagaraja, Warren Strauss, Jonathan W. Wilson, Peter J. Ashley. Based on the Google Books preview, this turns out to be a retitled reprint of their 2009 paper Exposure of U.S. Children to Residential Dust Lead, 1999–2004: I. Housing and Demographic Factors, which is freely available from PubMed Central.
Chapter 2. Teachers Working in PCB-Contaminated Schools by Robert F. Herrick, John D. Meeker, and Larisa Altshul. This turns out to be a retitled reprint of their 2011 paper Serum PCB levels and congener profiles among teachers in PCB-containing schools: a pilot study, which is freely available from PubMed Central.
Chapter 3. Flame-Retardants’ Effect on Hormone Levels and Semen Quality by John D. Meeker and Heather M. Stapleton. This turns out to be a retitled reprint of their 2010 paper House Dust Concentrations of Organophosphate Flame Retardants in Relation to Hormone Levels and Semen Quality Parameters, which (all join in for the chorus!) is freely available from PubMed Central.
The Google Books preview for the Apple book omits the beginnings of these three chapters, but does show the beginning of Chapter 8 (Airborne Exposure from Common Cleaning Tasks by Anila Bello, Margaret M. Quinn, Melissa J. Perry, and Donald K. Milton, previously appearing in PubMed Central as Quantitative assessment of airborne exposures generated during common cleaning tasks: a pilot study), and I can tell you that the Apple reprint does not credit the original publication venue. There’s no reason to think that any of the others do, either.
In the comments to Schadt’s blog, I see that G. Kasperek went through a similar exercise with another Apple book, Prion biology – research and advances, and found much the same:
The fact that all chapters are reprints is not obvious to unsuspecting readers. Indication of the sources can be found only at the end of the book, and is hidden in a section called “Author’s notes”. Within this section, indication of sources for each article is hidden in a paragraph called “Acknowledgements”, which first and foremost comprises the acknowledgements from the original article, with the bibliographic details appended.
So it seems that the entire business model of Apple Academic Press is to harvest two-to-four-year-old open-access papers from PubMed Central, change their titles, and republish them at $100 per volume without drawing attention to the original sources — either not mentioning them at all, or hiding the citations in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard‘.
So any protestations from Apple or Vestal personnel over in the comments on Schadt’s blog, claiming that the lack of citation of their paper was an oversight, look rather hollow. Instead, this seems to be SOP for Apple books.
What bothers me most about this is that they change the titles of the articles. I like to think the best of people, but I find it hard to imagine any other motivation for this than to conceal what they’ve done.
Jeffrey Beall’s warnings about predatory publishers usually recommend authors to stay away. In the case of Apple, I can’t do that, since they don’t solicit authors — they just go right ahead and publish their work whether they like it or not (or indeed whether they even know about it). But I can recommend that no library buy any of Apple’s books — at least not without checking first whether all the contents are freely available in PubMed Central.