Predatory Publishing: Know How to Identify the Red Flags
Have you ever been approached to submit an article to a journal unfamiliar to you?
While it may be flattering to hear that a journal is interested in publishing your work, don’t be fooled by flattery. The rise of open access publishing through legitimate publishing venues has opened the door for predatory publishers to take advantage of and profit from researchers seeking to publish the results of their research.
Predatory publishers exist for the sole purpose of collecting exorbitant author fees. The primary goal is not one of publishing scientific research; publication of such research is merely a byproduct of their business.
With the rise of predatory publishing, how can you ensure that you are publishing in a legitimate, respected, high-quality journal? Taking time to research a journal can save you from unknowingly publishing in a predatory journal, and thus help you maintain your professional reputation. Keep an eye out for the following key red flags:
» Pay careful attention to journal titles. Many predatory publishers mimic journal titles of well-respected journals or publishers or include misleading geographic information.
» Critically assess the journal/publisher website: Is it professional in appearance? Are there typos or advertisements? Do they provide adequate information in the “About” section?
» Does the journal or publisher provide full contact information including a physical address, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses? Be wary of sites that only provide a web contact form.
» Tip: Do a Google search for the address and look at the street view of the address. Does it look like a location from which a reputable publisher would operate?
» Take a critical look at available published articles. Do they seem appropriate and based on sound science? Are there numerous articles written by a single author?
» Who serves on the editorial board? Are they respected experts in the field with appropriate credentials?
» Can you verify their claimed impact factor on Incites Journal Citations Reports?
» What is the journal's peer-review process? Be wary of promises of quick publication.
» Are policies regarding author fees easily located on website? Do the author fees seem comparable to other reputable open access journals?
Until recently, Jeffrey Beall’s Scholarly Open Access blog provided a list of open access publishers with questionable publishing practices that Beall called “potential, possible, or probable predatory publishers.” Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, operated and maintained this blog. On Sunday, January 15, 2017, Beall’s List, which had been controversial at times, was effectively shut down and all content had been removed from public view. A short message explaining that “this service is no longer available” is the only content that remains on the site. It is not yet known why the site has been taken down. For more information, please refer to Retraction Watch or Inside Higher Ed articles on this matter.Taking time to really evaluate a journal or publisher can save you from falling prey to predatory publishers. For more tips on how to identify predatory publishers, take a look at Himmelfarb’s Scholarly Publishing Research Guide. If you would like help determining whether or not a journal is a predatory publisher, contact Ruth Bueter, Serials and Systems Librarian.