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Predatory Publishing: Identifying Predatory Publishers

Predatory Publishing in the Health Sciences

Predatory Publishing Tactics

Predatory publishers will often go to great lengths to market their perceived credibility. To sell their product, they need to establish a successful-looking, professional facade for their customers. Some common tactics they use include:

  • Prominent Online Presence: Through online advertising, fake impact factors, and careful web design, predatory publishers often have detailed platforms showing their business model. Websites will often feature archived lists of back-issues and altmetrics ratings which look legitimate. However, closer scrutiny reveals these archives to be largely inconsistent and even plagiarized.
  • Solicitation of Authors as Peer-Reviewers or Co-Editors: Predatory publishers will often promote a collaborative model of publication whereby the author can participate in the editorial review process. This is nearly always a ruse to enlist the author and his or her colleagues. 
  • Expedited Peer Review Process: The promise of fast publication results is another common tactic. Predatory publishers promise swift, yet accurate peer reviewing, something that quality publishing rarely entails.
  • Unscrupulous Business Practices: In charging fees that are often ridiculously expensive or deceptive in their methods, predatory publsihers entrap authors who pay more than they would like for a result that is illegitimate.

Think, Check, Submit

Be On The Lookout

In recent years, individuals within both the publishing and library industries have been on the lookout for predatory publishers. The below links list recent retractions within publishing as well as known or suspected predatory publishers. The latter is maintained by blogger Jeremy Beall who also writes about current issues with open access.

Retraction Watch

Beall's List of Predatory Publishers (Recently Updated)

Digital Commons Journal Evaluation Tool (pdf)

ICMJE Accredited and Recommended Journals

Harmful Effects of Predatory Publishing

The most harmful effect of predatory publishing is that work is accepted for publication that would otherwise not meet the standards required for scholarly publications. There are other contributing factors and problems, however. For the author, some important considerations include:

  • Insufficient Editing and Peer Review: Predatory publishers often claim to have a swift, comprehensive peer-review process as a part of their editorial criteria. Really this is a myth because peer reviewing is a rigorous and frequently time-consuming effort. 
  • Obscure exposure & Limited Preservation: Most legitimate publishers are invested in the proper publicity and exposure of an author's work. In agreeing to publish an article or study by a researcher they follow through on the agreement to distribute the work into the scholarly commons where other researchers can easily access it. While claiming that their published items can be accessed through major databases like PubMed or Scopus, predatory publishers tend to ignore or limit the exposure of a published work and often do not properly archive it for long-term use. 
  • Professionally Damaging: A good CV will naturally highlight the published works of an author. But if one or more of the published works is by a predatory publisher, this can do damage to both the author and the institution. Viewed as disreputable by the academic community, authors and institutions who have published through predatory journals may be disqualified from career advancement. 

Predatory Publishing Infographic

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