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Research Sans Frontières: predatory publications

Posted on: May 21, 2020

We continue to update this initiative to include additional resources as they are identified or become available. On this occasion, we bring you information on predatory publishers. The gold standard for academic publications is peer-review. However, the rapid evolution of some fields and the need for near-immediate information highlights one of the main shortcomings of peer-review: it takes time.

Technological advances and market needs have been a fertile ground for predatory publications. Publications with nonexistent or questionable peer-review processes have sprouted and thrived, creating confusion among academics. In many occasions, predatory journals assume identities similar to those of reputable journals, making the task of publishing the results of our research a very complicated matter.

Predatory journals are money-centric. Quality of the publication and academic rigour are second to publication fees. However, the damage created by predatory journals extends well beyond economical burden:

  • Academics that publish in these journals suffer damage to their reputation, and their work is considered questionable.
  • Second, their original research loses value since, once published in a predatory journal, it is ineligible for publication on peer-reviewed (i.e., “indexed”) academic sources.
  • Third, once non-peer-reviewed “evidence” has been published, there is a real danger for rigorous research findings not being able to be published.
  • Finally, researchers frequently become targets of similar “scams”, where academics are harassed by these publishers to prepare research articles for their journals. In many occasions, multiple predatory journals are “owned” by the same individuals, and their client databases are shared.

A new version has emerged in the last few years: predatory conferences. Pseudo-academic conferences led by individuals with no qualifications, who arrange multiple versions of conferences on a variety of subjects, all of which are organized all over the world. These conferences usually have low levels of attendance and provide zero-to-negative real value to attendees and presenters.

To highlight the risks of these predatory organizations, our Scholarly Communications Librarian, Victoria Eke, has prepared a presentation that can help you better understand this problem, and to assist you in the identification of these questionable sources. A very helpful checklist to identify predatory publications is also included in the presentation. Additional resources are also available online, such as Think.Check.Submit.