What Is a Predatory Journal and How to Avoid Publishing there
After spending significant time and effort on your research and compiling your findings into a high-quality article, it’s time to publish your work by submitting it to a reputable journal.
Unfortunately, in a practice known as predatory publishing, some low-quality, possibly even fraudulent, journals will make it easy for you to publish with them—provided you pay a fee.
These predatory journals do not provide a peer-review process, plagiarism checking, editorial or publishing services, do not adhere to publishing ethics, and are not scientifically reliable. Instead, they rely on deceptive practices to attract scholars (especially those who are not yet published) by preying on their desire to see their work in a journal.
As published by the Interacademy Partnership (IAP) in their report, Combatting Predatory Academic Journals and Conferences, predatory publishing is “motivated by profit rather than scholarship, soliciting articles and abstracts from researchers through actions that exploit the pressure on researchers to publish and present their work.” They categorize these journals as fraudulent (including illegal and hijacked journals), deceptive, or low-quality.
The IAP lists several features to look out for, including a questionable peer-review and article selection process, hijacking or mimicking other journals, a lack of or fraudulent editorial board, misleading statements about publishing costs, and overly aggressive solicitation. Another red flag is the complete lack of citations to any of these journals.
If you are ready to publish your work and want to avoid predatory journals, you can take control of the process to make sure you work with only the most trusted publications.
Use JouroscopeTM to identify trusted journals
The first tool is a quick way to cross-reference a journal using the Jouroscope™ journal finder directory. In this database the list of journals and associated details have been verified. Each journal is indexed in at least one reputable database, such as Scopus, Web of Science, DOAJ, SJR, ERIH PLUS, Sherpa Romeo and has passed a review by one or more of these databases.
You may run a search for trusted journals here or once you know the journal’s title, check its details at Jouroscope™ using the open-ended search on the home page. Then click on the journal name, where you can view details such as ISSN, country, Publisher, journal homepage, where it is indexed, and important measures of journal quality (if any).
Additionally, you may check authors’ rating and comments, since researchers are provided with the option to rate and write their review to help other authors searching for trusted journals.
Use a self-guided checklist like Think.Check.Submit
The free service at thinkchecksubmit.org (TCS) is a more manual self-guided approach that walks you through a checklist for your selected journal to determine if it can be trusted.
For example, the checklist asks questions like “is the journal clear about the type of peer review it uses?” and “is the publisher a member of a recognized industry initiative?” among several others, with more detailed sub-questions to guide you in your determination.
Other online resources
Due to the rampant spread of predatory journals, many helpful online resources, including guides, lists, and discussion documents, have been launched in recent years to help scholars identify such journals.
For example, the Latindex Guide for Editors outlines their guidelines for ensuring publication integrity, including features to look for that indicate predatory and low-quality journals and enable you as a writer or editor to perform your own verification.
Another resource is the Cabells Predatory Reports Criteria, which explains specific criteria used to evaluate potentially spurious journals, categorized as severe, moderate, or minor. In the severe category, for example, are criteria such as “information received from the journal does not match the journal’s website” and “the journal does not indicate that there are any fees associated with publication, review, submission, etc. but the author is charged a fee after submitting a manuscript.”
Many other guides and resources are listed in the IAP report mentioned earlier.
What if you mistakenly submit to a predatory journal?
According to the Centre of Journalology, if you think you submitted to a predatory journal, take these five steps:
- Do not pay a publication fee or article processing charges
- Do not sign a copyright agreement
- Write to the journal to withdraw your paper and be persistent in following up
- Resist the journal’s request for any withdrawal fee; instead, highlight their lack of ethics in refusing to withdraw your paper
- Publish responsibly in the future by identifying trusted journals using Jouroscope™ or one of the other resources mentioned in this article.
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