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Academic Publishing

Best practices and pitfalls to avoid in the academic publishing process

What is Predatory Publishing?

According to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), predatory publishing is generally defined as “for-profit open access journal publication of scholarly articles without the benefit of peer review by experts in the field or the usual editorial oversight of the journals in question.”

Predatory publishers share common characteristics:

  • Do not follow accepted scholarly publishing best practices
  • Low publishing quality with many errors in spelling and grammar
  • False claims about services offered (e.g., peer review, editorial services, preservation)
  • Offer the chance to publish research that has already been published in legitimate publications
  • Unethical business practices, such as spamming researchers to submit papers
  • Publish everything that is submitted
  • Promise rapid publication
  • Pay little to no attention to serious ethical violations, such as fabrication of data and plagiarism

Why Predatory Publishing is Harmful

Predatory publishers lure legitimate authors with the promise of quick publication in open access (OA) journals using disreputable practices, such as invoicing authors with unusually high (or low) article processing costs, promising a peer review process that never materializes, fabricating impact factor, and holding submissions hostage so that authors may not publish their work in legitimate, scholarly journals. Predatory publishing de-legitimizes scholarship because it allows people who have little to no credentials to publish erroneous information that mimics scientific research.

Heightened awareness and an increased understanding of predatory publishing practices is the only way to ensure the integrity of peer-reviewed, academic research and support open access scholarly publishing.

Criteria for determining predatory publishers

Researchers identified thirteen evidence-based characteristics of suspected predatory journals in a 2017 study published in BMC Medicine. 

1.

The scope of interest includes non-biomedical subjects alongside biomedical topics

2.

The website contains spelling and grammar errors

3.

Images are distorted/fuzzy, intended to look like something they are not, or which are unauthorized

4.

The homepage language targets authors

5.

The Index Copernicus Value is promoted on the website

6.

Description of the manuscript handling process is lacking

7.

Manuscripts are requested to be submitted via email

8.

Rapid publication is promised

9.

There is no retraction policy

10.

Information on whether and how journal content will be digitally preserved is absent

11.

The Article processing/publication charge is very low (e.g., < $150 USD)

12.

Journals claiming to be open access either retain copyright of published research or fail to mention copyright

13.

The contact email address is non-professional and non-journal affiliated (e.g., @gmail.com or @yahoo.com)