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Predatory Publishing: Predatory Publishing

What Is Predatory Publishing?

Predatory publishers exploit the emerging acceptance of open-access academic journals by making it attractive to publish (especially in a publish or peril world). They aggressively solicit articles from faculty and researchers with the intention of exploiting authors who need to publish their research findings in order to meet promotion, tenure or grant funding requirements.

The ultimate goal of these publishers is to make a profit - not to promote scholarly research.  They have no concern for the quality of work published and typically lack the peer-review process that legitimate journals provide. Articles are often accepted without any changes.  

Predatory publishers share common characteristics:

  • Their websites contain many grammatical, spelling and formatting errors.  Images appear distorted or fuzzy. 
  • They make false claims about services offered (such as peer review).
  • They have unethical business practices (such as charging exorbitant author publishing fees).
  • They include fake names on their editorial staff. 
  • They include names of prominent scholars among their editors, board members, or reviewers without the knowledge or consent of these individuals.
  •  They publish articles that are plagiarized, completely fake, promote unsound science, are low quality, or would not be published in more mainstream journals.
  • Their webpages contain bogus journals.
  • Unclear or deceptive fees and copyright policies.  They may promise a low article processing fees, however, once an article is "published," the publisher will invoice the author a much higher price than was originally quoted. They don't state a retraction policy.
  • Webpage or email contains vague or incomplete contact information. 
  • Promise of rapid publication.
  • Journals have no ISSN.

Why Predatory Publishing is Harmful

Predatory publishing damages the reputation of the biomedical and pharmaceutical fields due to a lack of comprehensive peer review. It helps create a rise in pseudo science and perpetuates bad research.

When you publish your article with a legitimate publisher, they provide services such as peer-review, archiving, and copyright protection. Predatory journals do not provide such services.

  • Your Work Could Disappear: Legitimate publishers are committed to preserving published work. Predatory publishers are focused on making money and don't care about preserving the articles they "publish". Papers can disappear from a journal's website at any time, making it difficult to prove a paper was ever published.
  • Your Work Will be Difficult to Find: Predatory publishers often claim ttheir journals are indexed in popular databases such as Scopus, PubMed, or Web of Science, when in fact they are not. It is easy to verify these claims by searching these databases.You can also check UlrichsWeb for indexing information.
  • Harmful to Reputation: Publishing in a predatory journal can harm your reputation, the reputation of your institution, and your career advancement.

How Do I Avoid Predatory Publishers?

Think. Check. Submit. is a campaign to help researchers identify trusted journals for their research.

Check the publisher's credentials

  • Research the publisher before sending a copy of your article or paying a processing fee. 
  • Look at a few of their published articles to ensure that they are scientifically sound.
  • Google the names of the chief editors. If they are legitimate scholars, they will likely have a legitimate online research profile.
  • Search the address on Google Maps.  One such search uncovered a "publisher's" listed address as being a strip club.
  • If the journal is only one or two years old, they are unlikely to have an Impact Factor. Many predatory publishers list fake Impact Factors, with names like CiteFactor or Universal Impact Factor.

Protect Yourself

Once an author has signed a copyright transfer or approves publication of an article in a predatory journal, the chance of having that article removed is highly unlikely.  Your might need to take legal action.

  • Google yourself often.  You might find that your name has been used without your permission through simple internet searches.
  • Contact the journal's publisher to ask that your name to be removed from all of their materials.
  • Do not list these publications on your CV or researcher profiles. Actively make it clear that you are not affiliated with these predatory publishers.

If you have submitted an article to a predatory publisher but have NOT signed a copyright agreement, your article can still be published in a legitimate journal.  Contact the editor-in-chief of the legitimate journal, explain the situation to them, and seek their guidance.

"Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office Director Kenny Crews urges authors to carefully read their publication agreements, negotiate for the rights they need, and keep a copy of all their agreements" (YouTube video description).

Attribution

The original version of this guide was created by Ruth Bueter, Serials Librarian at George Washington U. Library.  She generously gave me permission to use hers as a template for this guide.

Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and College of Pharmacy
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