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Measuring Research Impact and Quality: Predatory Publishing

Predatory Publishing

What is predatory publishing? Who are deemed predatory publishers? How do we spot a predatory publisher?

Find a list of predatory publishers here:

History and Definitions: During the Bush and Obama years, through executive orders it was proclaimed that all research done with public funds should be open to the public for free. This heralded the era of Open Access. Major publishers like Elsevier were gouging the academic world with high subscription costs, so much so that a lot of academic libraries lost a good chunk of their journal subscriptions. To this effect major universities like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford came up with the Open Access Model for publishing journals providing free access to the public.

The Open Access Publishing (OAP) model has three types:

Gold: Peer reviewed articles are published with author charges, which just shifts the financial burden from subscriptions to authors. Author charges are pretty high and need to be borne by the individual authors or their institutions. There is also a common belief that grant funded research requires publishing and is budgeted for in the grant application process. Also a Data Management Plan (DMP) is required in the application process. The copyright is with the publisher.

Green: The author sends the peer reviewed proof ready article tor upload into a public archive called an Institutional repository, which is available for free and the copyright stays with the author.

Hybrid: A regular journal publisher, like Elsevier, publishes a subscription based journal but allows the author to make their article open access for better visibility at higher cost.

Type Journal Title Article processing charges (US$) Publisher URL
Open Access journals eLife

no charge

Howard Hughes Medical InstituteMax Planck SocietyWellcome Trust http://elife.elifesciences.org/…
PLoS ONE

1350

Public Library of Science http://www.plos.org/publish/…
PLoS Medicine

2900

Journal of Medical Case Report

960

BioMed Central http://www.biomedcentral.com/…
Archives of Public Health

1730

Cancer and metabolism

2285

Nucleic Acid Research

2770

Oxford Journals http://www.oxfordjournals.org/…
PeerJ

99 – 299

PeerJ https://peerj.com/pricing/
PNAS

75 per page*

US National Academy of Sciences http://www.pnas.org/site/authors/…
Hybrid Journals Cell Reports

5000

Cell Press http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/faq
Neuron

5000

Nature Communication

4800

Nature Publishing Group http://www.nature.com/ncomms/…
Physical Review Letters

2700

American Physical Society http://publish.aps.org/authors/…
Brazilian Open Access Journals Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological
Research

790
900

Associação Brasileira de Divulgação
Científica (ABDC)
http://www.scielo.br/revistas/bjmbr/…
Revista de Saúde Pública

660

Faculdade de Saúde Pública da Universidade
de São Paulo
http://www.scielo.br/revistas/rsp/…
(*) figures and other objects are charged according to the number of pages in the manuscript

Source: https://blog.scielo.org/en/2013/09/18/how-much-does-it-cost-to-publish-in-open-access/#.XrCHnpl7k2w

Richtig, G., Berger, M., Lange‐Asschenfeldt, B., Aberer, W., & Richtig, E. (2018). Problems and challenges of predatory journals. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 32(9), 1441-1449.

As with any good system, abuses do occur. A group of people from less developed countries started creating multiple journals that are very poor in quality and charged exorbitant prices for publishing the scientists articles in journals that were considered predatory in nature, as they targeted fresh graduates and early career scientists who are all eager to publish - the publish or perish syndrome.

Shamseer, L., Moher, D., Maduekwe, O., Turner, L., Barbour, V., Burch, R., ... & Shea, B. J. (2017). Potential predatory and legitimate biomedical journals: can you tell the difference? A cross-sectional comparison. BMC medicine, 15(1), 28.

OMICS International is one example of a predatory publisher. It publishes a host of journals (about 700) in different subject categories. Click on the link and check their website.

If you visit the BenU Library's Databases page, you will find the DOAJ Directory of Open Access Journals listed there. The DOAJ's quality is good, and you can check the journals' Impact Factor in Web of Science, as explained in the page "Journal Impact Factor & Other Rankings" in this guide (in the section called "JOURNAL QUALITY WOS SCREEN SHOTS")

It's important to realize that Open Access does not make a publisher predatory, their bad behavior does.

To be clear, all OA journals are based on a model shifting from subscription based to author fees (APC) model as their revenue base. As an example most Society journals have high APCs to offset the cost of publishing. Some costs are also based on the number of figures, color photographs, greater than 8 pages etc. But these are legit. Each society publishes a few specific titles, clear address and contact info, details on the process for peer review, and no promises of articles being published within weeks. These are trustworthy and cannot be compared with the "predatory" publisher even though the APCs are high in both types of open access publishers.

The Open Access model of publishing is by no means ideal. Newer models are on the horizon and will be mainstream soon, such as Plan S.

Wise, A., & Estelle, L. (2020). How society publishers can accelerate their transition to open access and align with Plan S. Learned Publishing, 33(1), 14-27.

The info graphic below, gives in a nutshell what to look out for in identifying a predatory journal:

Under Phony you will see all the hallmarks of a predatory journal. Hence the STOP sign in red. On the Legit side you will find the characteristics to look for. And if you find them, it is a GO. The research guide at Rutgers linked below will explain more signs to look for in a predatory journal.

predatory publishing

Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers (Info graphics from the University of West Indies)

For more information, visit https://libguides.rutgers.edu/predatory, which has all the information you need to identify predatory journals. (I did not re-invent the wheel!)

Example

Here is a side-by-side example of two journals. One is the well-respected British Medical Journal (BMJ). The other is the British Journal of Medical and Health Research (BJMHR), a predatory journal that mimics the BMJ.

predatory journal example

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