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Not falling prey to predatory publishers (from the Spring 2014 Newsletter)

Strategies for steering away from predatory journals 

In the past few years, a for-profit, scam-like publishing industry has emerged, exploiting the Open Access model in order to trick scholars into contributing their work. More than ever before, it is crucial that researchers establish and confirm the credentials of a journal and its publisher before they submit a paper for publication. The following suggestions on what to watch out for and how not to fall prey to these dishonest presses is culled from Prof. Monica Berger’s (NYC College of Technology) presentation “To Catch a Predator: How to Recognize Predatory Journals and Conferences” that took place at the Graduate Center on 11/26/13. Knowing what to look for should make it easier for you steer clear from submitting your work to journals that lack credibility. 

How to recognize predatory journals

Solicitation and the publishing process typical of predatory journals

  • mass mailings of unsolicited invitations to contribute to a journal (these spam-like invitations shouldn’t be confused with the emails received from the scholarly organizations you are a member of or with emails from the journal or publisher where your past work appeared)
  • a strikingly quick turnaround from submission to publication
  • peer review process not explained and conducted in no time
  • no revisions required

Typical journal and publisher presentation

  • the title resembles the title of a well-known publication
  • the title suggests an overly broad or extremely vague scope (e.g., Galaxy: International Multidisciplinary Research Journal, British Journal of Science)
  • although the title specifies location (European Journal...) the journal is located in another part of the world
  • the publisher’s website include typos and grammatical errors; contradictory details about editorial policies, fees, etc.; dead links and no information about the publisher’s physical address; a look and interface that mimics the design of a well-known publisher

Editors

  • the publisher is also the editor
  • the email address is a popular one (Gmail or Yahoo) or not listed at all ( web form only)
  • no information about editorial or advisory boards
  • a large number of published titles (especially for new presses)

To learn more about predatory publishers, you should consult the blog maintained by Jeffrey Beall, the Scholarly Initiatives Librarian at the University of Colorado Denver at scholarlyoa.com. Beall maintains and regularly updates a list of predatory open access journals to stay away from. He has also put together a list of criteria for determining whether a journal is predatory (his list is more exhaustive than the abbreviated one above). 

Marta Bladek