Spotting Predatory Journals

Predatory journals have become a growing problem. For those not familiar, predatory journals have similar characteristics to scientific journals that utilize an open-access publishing model. However, unlike legitimate open-access journals, predatory journals often do not enforce practices like peer review, do not have quality checks, and do not get manuscripts indexed in scientific databases.

These journals will often get authors to submit manuscripts to them by attracting their attention with low costs for submission, and rapid publishing. There really is no quality control sometimes.

For example, here’s a case where an academic wrote a manuscript about conservatives and their hygiene practices. The researcher associated himself with the “Institute of Interdisciplinary Political and Fecal Science" and had the paper published in a predatory journal.


So how can you spot a predatory journal?

Previously, a librarian at the University of Colorado by the name of Jeffrey Beall published an extensive list of predatory journals that he had developed with his own unique criteria. Unfortunately, Beall took down the list for unclear reasons, though it is believed that the publisher, Frontiers Media, demanded that Beall’s employer open a research misconduct case against him, which may have pressured him to take down the list.

Luckily, other websites now host Beall’s list.  

Two researchers decided to do a cross-sectional study to investigate the characteristics of predatory journals. Their paper suggests that we completely abandon the term “predatory journals” and instead, describe them as “illegitimate publishers.” They’ve also created this beautiful table of characteristics of these types of publishers.

Hope this helps. That's all I have for today!

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