What is a Predatory Publisher
The term Predatory Publisher was coined by Jeffrey Bealle of the eponymous (now defunct) Beall's List which blacklisted journals that were purported to be predatory when set againt the COPE standard. Essentially they are journals which are set up solely for the purpose of making money. Although they predate Open Access Publishing, they really came into their own with the widespread evolution of the Open Access Publishing Model - specifically the Author Pays aspect. They do this by taking unsuspecting author fees without providing any of the quality or value added services such as: peer review, editing, indexing and permanence in a repository.
How can you make sure
There are a number of factors you can take into consideration as well as checks that can be made when trying to determine if a journal is predatory. According to a study by Shameer et al (2017), the main characteristics of a predatory journal are:
- Scope of interests includes non-biomedical subjects alongside biomedical topics
- The website contains spellling and grammer errors
- Images are distorted / fuzzy, intended to look like something they are not
- The homepage language targets authors
- The Index Copernicus value is promoted on the website.
- Description of the manual handling process is lacking
- Manuscripts are requested to be submitted by email
- Rapid publication is promised
- There is no retraction policy
- Information on whether and how journal content will be digitally preserved is absent
- The article processing / publication charge is very low
- Journals claiming to be open access either retain copyright of published research fail to mention copyright
- THe contact email address is non-professional and non-journal affiliated (e.g. @gmail.com or @yahoo.com)
If you are interested in the what the characterstics of a 'good' journal are please see the COPE standard.
What impact might publishing in a predatory journal have
- Predatory Publishing diminishes the value of the evidence base. You do not want your work associated with that
- There is no guarantee for the permanence of your work, so once you have paid the fee your work may disappear
- Having your work published without peer review or editorial process diminishes your work - which can impact on your CV and standing amongst your peers.
- Your work will not be found via searching key biomedical or evidence based databases such as CINAHL or MEDLINE, making it less visible for work in the NHS and for patient care.
- If you are using work or research funds to pay for publication, this could be seen as a misuse of those funds.
Check both white lists and black lists for your journal
- Bealls List- note that this is no longer active, but it has been archived and is still worth checking - See here
- DOAJ - Director of Open Access Journals - See here
- OASPA - Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association - See here
Check to see what databases the journal of your choice is indexed in - and check in that database that this is true eg.MEDLINE - Journal Indexing Fact Sheet - Login to OVID, and select MEDLINE and do a journal name search (type in the journal title followed by .jn e.g. BMJ.jn)
There is also this natty little resource that you can check out: Think Check Submit
If you are unsure, contact your librarian who will run a search on your journal of choice.
By Michelle Kirkwood, Knowledge Services Manager & Catriona Denoon, Library Services Manager
If you would like to comment or add to this article please login and leave your comments below.
- Beall, J. (2017) Predatory journals threaten the quality of published medical research. The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy 1; pp3-5.
- Berger, M., Cirasella, J. Beyond Beall's List: We need a better understanding of predatory publishing without overstating its size and danger. LSE Impact Blog - Full text here (accessed 25/07/2017)
- Danevska, L., M. Spiroski, D. Donev, N. Pop-Jordanova, and M. Polenakovic. 2016. How to recognize and avoid potential, possible, or probable predatory open-access publishers, standalone, and hijacked journals. Contributions, Section of Medical Sciences 37 (2–3): 5–13. Full text here (accessed 25/07/2017)
- Clark J, Smith R. Firm action needed on predatory journals. BMJ. 2015;350(jan16_1):h210. Full text here (accessed 25/07/2017)
- Oransky, I., and A. Marcus. 2017. A famed journal blacklist is dead. Long live a blacklist! Full text here (accessed 25/07/2017)
- Shamseer, L., Moher, D., Maduekwe, O., et al. Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC Medicine (Open Access) 16 March 2017. Full text here (accessed 18/07/2017)
- Shen, C., and B.-C. Björk. 2015. ‘Predatory’ open access: A longitudinal study of article volumes and market characteristics. BMC Medicine 13: 230. Full text here (accessed 25/07/2017)
- ten Have, H., Gordijn, B. Publication ethics: science v commerce. Medicine, Health and Philosophy 20(2): 159-161, 2017. Full text here (accessed 25/07/2017)
- Beall's list: Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers. [archive copy] Scholarly Open Access, last updated 31st Dec 2016. Full text here (accessed 27/07/2017)
- Beall's list: List of standalone journals. Potential, possible, or probably predatory scholarly open-access journals. [archive copy] Scholarly Open Access, last updated 9th Jan 2017. Full text here (accessed 27/07/2017)
- Nova Southeastern University, Health Professions Division Library. Resources for publishing: predatory publishing. Last updated 2nd June 2017. Full text here (accessed 27/07/2017)
- Kolata, G. A scholarly sting operation shines a light on "predatory" journals. New York Times 22/03/2017. Last updated 27th March 2017. Full text here (accessed 27/07/2017)
- ThinkCheckSubmit http://thinkchecksubmit.org (accessed 11/10/2017)